Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is known to have taught Advaita Vedanta to His devotees. However, in one of well-known quotes, He says both Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman:

It's enough to have faith in one aspect of God. You have faith in God without form. That is very good. But never get into your head that your faith alone is true and every other is false. Know for certain that God without form is real (i.e. Nirguna Brahman) and that God with form is also real (i.e. Saguna Brahman). Then hold fast to whichever faith appeals to you.

Why does Sri Ramakrishna say Saguna Brahman to be real despite being an Advaitin?

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    Because Nirguna and Saguna are the one and the same Brahman. When Brahman is seen - perceived - through the lens of Maya, Brahman is seen as Saguna. We, in Maya, cannot perceive Nirguna Brahman. We can only perceive Brahman with attributes (Saguna). Feb 11, 2018 at 14:32
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    Sri Ramakrishna did not subscribe to a man made sect..it was not necessary for him to do so..
    – Rickross
    Feb 11, 2018 at 14:52
  • @Swami are you sure? I can't even perceive Sagun Brahman. Feb 11, 2018 at 15:15
  • @Rajas. Lol why not?
    – user9969
    Feb 11, 2018 at 15:16
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    @Surya I think Saguna Brahman is not exactly centralized to be perceived if we talk about mAyA. Feb 11, 2018 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


Sri Ramakrishna never called himself an Advaitin. These systems are what he considered to be true.

'Again I cannot utter a word unless I come down at least two steps from the plane of Samadhi. Sankara's Non-dualistic explanation of Vedanta is true, and so is the Qualified Non-dualistic interpretation of Ramanuja.'

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 38, With the Devotees in Calcutta, March 11, 1885

Why did he consider Saguna Brahman real?

'You see, in one form He is the Absolute and in another He is the Relative. What does Vedanta teach? Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. Isn't that so? But as long as God keeps the 'ego of a devotee' in a man, the Relative is also real. When He completely effaces the ego, then what is remains. That cannot be described by the tongue. But as long as God keeps the ego, one must accept all. By removing the outer sheaths of the plantain-tree, you reach the inner pith. As long as the tree contains sheaths, it also contains pith. So too, as long as it contains pith, it also contains sheath. The pith goes with the sheaths and the sheaths go with the pith. In the same way, when you speak of the Nitya, it is understood that the Lila also exists; and when you speak of the Lila, it is understood that the Nitya also exists.'

The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Chapter 42, Car Festival At Balaram's House, July 14,1885

  • What do you mean by "ego of the devotee"?
    – user9969
    Feb 26, 2018 at 17:58
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    @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury, Swami Nikhilananda, the English translator of Ramakrishna Kathamrita, explains the term 'ego of devotion' to mean the ego purified and illumined by the love of God. The Bhakta, the lover of God, coming down to the relative plane after having attained Samadhi, retains the "I-consciousness" by which he feels to be a lover, a child, or a servant of God. Sri Ramakrishna called this the 'devotee ego', the child ego, or the 'servant ego'. Feb 27, 2018 at 6:05

once you achieve nirvikalpa samadhi - all distinctions cease. you can't be in samadhi all the time and you can worship your ishta devata when you are not in samadhi. remember that his beloved Kali was an obstacle to formless brahman taught to him by totapuri - he had to to imagine "killing" her with a sword to pass through to Nirvikalpa samadhi.


"At that moment, Ramakrishna created the sword and cut Kali down, becoming free from the Mother and the ecstasy of feeding off her. That is when he truly became a Paramahamsa, he became fully enlightened. Till then he was a lover, he was a devotee, he was a child to the Mother Goddess that he created."

  • Killing of Kali is a misconception. Can God be killed? The triputibeda of samadhi makes the seer, seeing and seen one.
    – user17294
    Jan 20, 2019 at 13:10

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