Rare it is when we make contact with a sadhak whose devotion is so intense and purely expressed that he or she is able to influence millions of people through the centuries.
Yet, Ramprasad Sen, through his devotional words expressed in his poetry and songs, left imprints on the hearts of Bengalis since the eighteenth century.
This great mystic poet composed thousands of songs about the Divine Mother Kali.
His songs were a dialogue between the soul and the mind, and explain the essence of spiritual life and the principles of classical Indian Philosophy. For example, this popular poem describes the human attempt to understand the Goddess Kali:
Human beings are a fertile field in which to grow a good crop.
If you put the fence of the name of Kali around your field, then your crops will not be attacked from the outside.”
Recognized as one of the greatest poets in India, he shared the spirit of devotional surrender, expressing a yearning so powerful, and at times so heart-wrenching, that listeners were inspired to renounce all selfish concerns and worldly attachments.
His poetry is unyielding in the intensity of its fervor for the dissolution of the ego in the ocean of Divine Love:
I want the total dissolution of my mind, and I want the dissolution of all this principle of ego.
Then I can have the Wisdom of Supreme Divinity.”
Ramprasad Sen was the most influential member of the Bhakti movement in eighteenth century Bengal. His music was unique, as it combined classical ragas with Baul folk music, which nobody had ever done previously.
He was also an ancestor in Shree Maa’s family, and She grew up with his music in her house.
Of course she learned all of his songs from her early childhood, for which she won many prizes during her school days.
But even more touching is that Shree Maa still sings his songs today at the Devi Mandir.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa often sang his songs and regarded Ramprasad as his beloved poet.
Many of these songs were included in the book on his life in Bengali, called Katha Amrita. We translated this book as The Nectar of Eternal Bliss.
In this book, Ramakrishna said of Pundit Padmalochan: “He was so wise and a very renowned pundit; yet when he heard me sing the songs of Ramprasad, he began to cry.”
Paramhansa Yogananda also was an admirer of Ramprasad and he frequently sang his devotional songs.
Sister Nivedita too was touched by this great sadhu and compared Ramprasad with the English poet William Blake.
Ramprasad emanated great light and exuded such purity and divinity in his writing that the only way to convey this is by sharing his work. Below are a few of his poetic songs which Shree Maa sings at the Saturday night kirtan at the Devi Mandir.