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Life of Ramakrishna Hardcover – 30 Apr 2010
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In 1929 Rolland wrote Life of Ramakrishna with the cooperation of the Ramakrishna Mission. His impeccable sources were the memoirs of Swami Shivananda (head of the Order), "M", memoirs of Sister Christine, Josephine MacLeod, Swami Ashokananda and others. The book was written for Western readers and the publisher (Advaita Ashrama) acknowledges the views and interpretations are sometimes different from the Ramakrishna Order.
Modern readers may find the flowery language harmless or annoying. Rolland was a big name writer who was building up Sri Ramakrishna, the author's mission "the voice of a legend." European references abound such as Hercules, Leonardo Da Vinci, St. Paul, Beethoven, Balzac and Flaubert. A lot of attention is paid to Keshab Chundra Sen, the Brahmo Samaj and their relationship with Sri Ramakrishna. The nature of this relationship is a point of contention (pp. 152, 288). The main criticism, however, is a lack of balance (we now know more about Sri Ramakrishna) and not appreciating Sri Ramakrishna from a purely Indian point of view. That aside, the author's sincerity and spirit is strong, even in English translation, with the book still in print after 80 years.