There have been numerous biographies on the 19th century mystic saint Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. The biographies written by his direct disciples are stated below:
- Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master by Swami Saradananda & Swami Jagadananda
- Sri Ramakrishna: The Face of Silence by Swami Nikhilananda & Dhan Gopal Mukerji
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by Mahendranath Gupta & Swami Nikhilananda
All the above books have been written by Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's direct disciples and so these books are likely to give the most accurate account of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa's life. This is why I would like to know whether any of the above books say that Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ate fish or meat. Most people say He ate fish. However, the following quote from His favourite disciple Swami Vivekananda seems to indicate that Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a vegetarian:
About vegetarian diet I have to say this — first, my Master was a vegetarian; but if he was given meat offered to the Goddess, he used to hold it up to his head. The taking of life is undoubtedly sinful; but so long as vegetable food is not made suitable to the human system through progress in chemistry, there is no other alternative but meat-eating. So long as man shall have to live a Râjasika (active) life under circumstances like the present, there is no other way except through meat-eating. It is true that the Emperor Asoka saved the lives of millions of animals by the threat of the sword; but is not the slavery of a thousand years more dreadful than that? Taking the life of a few goats as against the inability to protect the honour of one's own wife and daughter, and to save the morsels for one's children from robbing hands — which of these is more sinful? Rather let those belonging to the upper ten, who do not earn their livelihood by manual labour, not take meat; but the forcing of vegetarianism upon those who have to earn their bread by labouring day and night is one of the causes of the loss of our national freedom. Japan is an example of what good and nourishing food can do. (Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, 4.486-7)
As a result, a doubt has come to my mind that perhaps Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was a vegetarian. But I cannot confirm this without checking the biographies written by His direct disciples. I know many people will argue that Bengalis treat fish as vegetarian but the following quote, again from Swami Vivekananda seems to indicate that fish was seen Swami Vivekananda as non-vegetarian.
All liking for fish and meat disappears when pure Sattva is highly developed, and these are the signs of its manifestation in a soul: sacrifice of everything for others, perfect non-attachment to lust and wealth, want of pride and egotism. The desire for animal food goes when these things are seen in a man. And where such indications are absent, and yet you find men siding with the nonkilling party, know it for a certainty that here there is either hypocrisy or a show of religion. (Complete works of Swami Vivekananda, 5.403)
So do any of those 3 biographies indicate Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa ate meat or fish?