Eulogy of Narendra — Master in spiritual mood — Efficacy of truthfulness — Difference between scholar and holy man — Path of love suited to modern times — Description of various monks — Divine grace removes bondage — Surrender to the Divine Mother — Visit to Adhar’s house — Glories of the Divine Mother — Master’s harmony of religions — Different classes of spiritual aspirants — Futility of worship without yearning — Unwavering devotion to God — The many and the One — Knowledge and ignorance — Chanting God’s holy name — Truthfulness leads to God — Advice to householders — Steps of bhakti — Transitoriness of earthly things.
Sunday, September 23, 1883
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar with Rakhal, M., and other devotees. Hazra sat on the porch outside. The Master was conversing with the devotees.
MASTER (to a devotee): “Narendra doesn’t like even you, nowadays. (To M.) Why didn’t he come to see me at Adhar’s house?
“How versatile Narendra is! He is gifted in singing, in playing on instruments, and in studies. He is independent and doesn’t care about anybody. The other day he was returning to Calcutta with Captain in his carriage. Captain begged Narendra to sit beside him, but he took a seat opposite. He didn’t even look at Captain.
“What can a man achieve through mere scholarship? What is needed is prayer and spiritual discipline. Gauri of Indesh was both a scholar and a devotee. He was a worshipper of the Divine Mother. Now and then he would be overpowered with spiritual fervour. When he chanted a hymn to the Mother, the pundits would seem like earth-worms beside him. I too would be overcome with ecstasy.
“At first he was a bigoted worshipper of Sakti. He used to pick up tulsi-leaves1 with a couple of sticks, so as not to touch them with his fingers. (All laugh.) Then he went home. When he came back he didn’t behave that way any more. He gave remarkable interpretations of Hindu mythology. He would say that the ten heads of Ravana represented the ten organs. Kumbhakarna was the symbol of tamas, Ravana of rajas, and Bibhishana of sattva. That was why Bibhishana obtained favour with Rama.”
After the Master’s midday meal, while he was resting, Ram, Tarak,2 and some other devotees arrived from Calcutta.
Nityagopal, Tarak, and several others were staying with Ram, a householder disciple of the Master. Nityagopal was always in an exalted spiritual mood. Tarak’s mind, too, was always indrawn; he seldom exchanged words with others. Ram looked after their physical needs. Rakhal now and then spent a few days at Adhar’s house.
RAM (to the Master): “We have been taking lessons on the drum.”
MASTER (to Ram): “Nityagopal too?”
RAM: “No, sir. He plays a little.”
MASTER: “And Tarak?”
RAM : “He knows a good deal.”
MASTER: “Then he won’t keep his eyes on the ground so much. If the mind is much directed to something else, it doesn’t dwell deeply on God.”
RAM: “I have been studying the drum only to accompany the kirtan.”
MASTER (to M.): “I hear that you too are taking singing lessons. Is that so?”
M: “No, sir. I just open my mouth now and then.”
MASTER: “Have you practised that song: “O Mother, make me mad with Thy love’? If you have, please sing it. The song expresses my ideal perfectly.”
The conversation turned to Hazra’s hatred for certain people, which Sri Ramakrishna did not like.
MASTER (to the devotees): “I used frequently to visit a certain house at Kamarpukur. The boys of the family were of my age. The other day they came here and spent two or three days with me. Their mother, like Hazra, used to hate people. Then something happened to her foot, and gangrene set in. On account of the foul smell, no one could enter her room. I told the incident to Hazra and asked him not to hate anyone.”
Toward evening, as Sri Ramakrishna was standing in the northwest corer of the courtyard, he went into samadhi. In those days the Master remained almost always in an ecstatic state. He would lose consciousness of the world at the slightest suggestion from outside. But for scant conversation with visiting devotees, he remained in an indrawn mood and was unable to perform his daily worship and devotions.
Coming down to the relative world, he began to talk to the Divine Mother, still standing where he was. “O Mother,” he said, “worship has left me, and japa also. Please see, Mother, that I do not become an inert thing. Let my attitude toward God be that of the servant toward the master. O Mother, let me talk about Thee and chant Thy holy name. I want to sing Thy glories. Give me a little strength of body that I may move about, that I may go to places where Thy devotees live, and sing Thy name.”
In the morning Sri Ramakrishna had been to the Kali temple to offer flowers at the Mother’s feet.
Continuing, the Master said: O Mother, I offered flowers at Thy feet this morning. I thought: ‘That is good. My mind is again going back to formal worship.’ Then why do I feel like this now? Why art Thou turning me into a sort of inert thing?”
The moon had not yet risen. It was a dark night. The Master, still in an abstracted mood, sat on the small couch in his room and continued his talk with the Divine Mother. He said: “Why this special discipline of the Gayatri? Why this jumping from this roof to that? . . . Who told him to do it? Perhaps he is doing it of his own accord. . . . Well, he will practise a little of that discipline.”
The previous day Sri Ramakrishna had discouraged Ishan about Vedic worship, saying that it was not suitable for the Kaliyuga. He had asked Ishan to worship God as the Divine Mother.
The Master said to M., “Are these all my fancies, or are they real?” M. remained silent with wonder at the Master’s intimate relationship with the Divine Mother. He thought She must be within us as well as without. Indeed She must be very near us; or why should the Master speak to Her in a whisper?
Wednesday, September 26, 1883
There were very few devotees with the Master, for most of them came on Sundays. Rakhal and Latu were living with him the greater part of the time. M. arrived in the afternoon and found the Master seated on the small couch. The conversation turned to Narendra.
MASTER (to M.): “Have you seen Narendra lately? (With a smile) He said of me: ‘He still goes to the Kali temple. But he will not when he truly understands.’ His people are very much dissatisfied with him because he comes here now and then. The other day he came here in a hired carriage, and Surendra paid for it. Narendra’s aunt almost had a row with Surendra about it.”
The Master left the couch and went to the northeast verandah, where Hazra, Kishori, Rakhal, and a few other devotees were sitting.
MASTER (to M.): “How is it that you are here today? Have you no school?”
M: “Our school closed today at half past one.”
MASTER: “Why so early?”
M: “Vidyasagar visited the school. He owns the school. So the boys get a half holiday whenever he comes.”
MASTER: “Why doesn’t Vidyasagar keep his word? ‘If one who holds to truth and looks on woman as his mother does not realise God, then Tulsi is a liar.’3 If a man holds to truth he will certainly realise God. The other day Vidyasagar said he would come here and visit me. But he hasn’t kept his word.
“There is a big difference between a scholar and a holy man. The mind of a mere scholar is fixed on ‘woman and gold’, but the sadhu’s mind is on the Lotus Feet of Hari. A scholar says one thing and does another. But it is quite a different matter with a sadhu. The words and actions of a man who has given his mind to the Lotus Feet of God are altogether different. In Benares I saw a young sannyasi who belonged to the sect of Nanak. He was the same age as you. He used to refer to me as the ‘loving monk’. His sect has a monastery in Benares. I was invited there one day. I found that the mohant was like a housewife. I asked him, ‘What is the way?’ ‘For the Kaliyuga,’ he said, ‘the path of devotion as enjoined by Narada.’ He was reading a book. When the reading was over, he recited: ‘Vishnu is in water, Vishnu is on land, Vishnu is on the mountain top; the whole world is pervaded by Vishnu.’ At the end he said, ‘Peace! Peace! Abiding Peace!’
“One day he was reading the Gita. He was so strict about his monastic rules that he would not read a holy book looking at a worldly man. So he turned his face toward me and his back on Mathur, who was also present. It was this holy man who told me of Narada’s path of devotion as suited to the people of the Kaliyuga.”
M: “Are not sadhus of his class followers of the Vedanta?”
MASTER: “Yes, they are. But they also accept the path of devotion. The fact is that in the Kaliyuga one cannot wholly follow the path laid down in the Vedas. Once a man said to me that he would perform the purascharana of the Gayatri. I said: ‘Why don’t you do that according to the Tantra? In the Kaliyuga the discipline of Tantra is very efficacious.’
“It is extremely difficult to perform the rites enjoined in the Vedas. Further, at the present time people lead the life of slaves.4 It is said that those who serve others for twelve years or so become slaves. They acquire the traits of those they serve. While serving their masters they acquire the rajas, the tamas, the spirit of violence, the love of luxury, and the other traits of their masters. Not only do they serve their masters, but they also enjoy a pension after their term of service is over.
“Once a Vedantic monk came here. He used to dance at the sight of a cloud. He would go into an ecstasy of joy over a rain-storm. He would get very angry if anyone went near him when he meditated. One day I came to him while he was meditating, and that made him very cross. He discriminated constantly, ‘Brahman alone is real and the world is illusory.’ Since the appearance of diversity is due to maya, he walked about with a prism from a chandelier in his hand. One sees different colours through the prism; in reality there is no such thing as colour. Likewise, nothing exists, in reality, except Brahman. But there is an appearance of the manifold because of maya, egoism. He would not look at an object more than once, lest he should be deluded by maya and attachment. He would discriminate, while taking his bath, at the sight of birds flying in the sky. He knew grammar. He stayed here for three days. One day he heard the sound of a flute near the embankment and said that a man who had realised Brahman would go into samadhi at such a sound.”
While talking about the monk, the Master showed his devotees the manners and movements of a paramahamsa: the gait of a child, face beaming with laughter, eyes swimming in joy, and body completely naked. Then he again took his seat on the small couch and poured out his soul-enthralling words.
MASTER (to M.): “I learnt Vedanta from Nangta: ‘Brahman alone is real; the world is illusory.’ The magician performs his magic. He produces a mango-tree which even bears mangoes. But this is all sleight of hand. The magician alone is real.”
M: “It seems that the whole of life is a long sleep. This much I understand, that we are not seeing things rightly. We perceive the world with a mind by which we cannot comprehend even the nature of the sky. So how can our perceptions be correct?”
MASTER: “There is another way of looking at it. We do not see the sky rightly. It looks as if the sky were touching the ground at the horizon. How can a man see correctly? His mind is delirious, like the mind of a typhoid patient.”
The Master sang in his sweet voice:
What a delirious fever is this that I suffer from!
O Mother, Thy grace is my only cure. . . .
Continuing, the Master said: “Truly it is a state of delirium. Just see how worldly men quarrel among themselves. No one knows what they quarrel about. Oh, how they quarrel! ‘May such and such a thing befall you!’ How much shouting! How much abuse!”
M: “I said to Kishori: “The box is empty; there is nothing inside. But two men pull at it from either side, thinking the box contains money.’ Well, the body alone is the cause of all this mischief, isn’t it? The jnanis see all this and say to themselves, ‘What a relief one feels when this pillow-case of the body drops off.'”
The Master and M. went toward the Kali temple.
MASTER: “Why should you say such things? This world may be a framework of illusion’, but it is also said that it is a ‘mansion of mirth’. Let the body remain. One can also turn this world into a mansion of mirth.”
M: “But where is unbroken bliss in this world?”
MASTER: “Yes, where is it?” Sri Ramakrishna stood in front of the shrine of Kali and prostrated himself before the Divine Mother. M. followed him. Then the Master sat on the lower floor in front of the shrine room, facing the blissful image, and leaned against a pillar of the natmandir. He wore a red-bordered cloth, part of which was on his shoulder and back. M. sat by his side.
M: “Since there is no unbroken happiness in the world, why should one assume a body at all? I know that the body is meant only to reap the results of past action. But who knows what sort of action it is performing now? The unfortunate part is that we are being crushed.”
MASTER: “If a pea falls into filth, it grows into a pea-plant none the less.”
M: “But still there are the eight bonds.”
MASTER: “They are not eight bonds, but eight fetters. But what if they are? These fetters fall off in a moment, by the grace of God. Do you know what it is like? Suppose a room has been kept dark a thousand years. The moment a man brings a light into it, the darkness vanishes. Not little by little. Haven’t you seen the magician’s feat? He takes a string with many knots, and ties one end to something, keeping the other in his hand. Then he shakes the string once or twice, and immediately all the knots come undone. But another man cannot untie the knots however he may try. All the knots of ignorance come undone in the twinkling of an eye, through the guru’s grace.
“Well, can you tell me why Keshab Sen has changed so much lately? He used to come here very often. He learnt here how to bow low before a holy man. One day I told him that one should not salute a holy man as he had been doing. Harish says rightly: ‘All the cheques must be approved here. Only then will they be cashed in the bank.'” (Laughter.)
M. listened to these words breathlessly. He began to realise that Satchidananda, in the form of the guru, passes the “cheque”.
MASTER : “Do not reason. Who can ever know God? I have heard it from Nangta, once for all, that this whole universe is only a fragment of Brahman.
“Hazra is given to too much calculation. He says, ‘This much of God has become the universe and this much is the balance.’ My head aches at his calculations. I know that I know nothing. Sometimes I think of God as good, and sometimes as bad. What can I know of Him?”
M: “It is true, sir. Can anyone ever know God? Each thinks, with his little bit of intelligence, that he has understood all of God. As you say, an ant went to a sugar hill and, finding that one grain of sugar filled its stomach, thought that the next time it would take the entire hill into its hole.”
MASTER: “Who can ever know God? I don’t even try. I only call on Him as Mother. Let Mother do whatever She likes. I shall know Her if it is Her will; but I shall be happy to remain ignorant if She wills otherwise. My nature is that of a kitten. It only cries, ‘Mew, mew!’ The rest it leaves to its mother. The mother cat puts the kitten sometimes in the kitchen and sometimes on the master’s bed. The young child wants only his mother. He doesn’t know how wealthy his mother is, and he doesn’t even want to know. He knows only, ‘I have a mother; why should I worry?’ Even the child of the maidservant knows that he has a mother. If he quarrels with the son of the master, he says: ‘I shall tell my mother. I have a mother.’ My attitude, too, is that of a child.”
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna caught M.’s attention and said, touching his own chest: “Well, there must be something here. Isn’t that so?”
M. looked wonderingly at the Master. He said to himself; “Does the Mother Herself dwell in the Master’s heart? Is it the Divine Mother who has assumed this human body for the welfare of humanity?”
Sri Ramakrishna was praying to the Divine Mother: “O Mother! O Embodiment of Om! Mother, how many things people say about Thee! But I don’t understand any of them. I don’t know anything, Mother. I have taken refuge at Thy feet. I have sought protection in Thee. O Mother, I pray only that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, love that seeks no return. And Mother, do not delude me with Thy world-bewitching maya. I seek Thy protection. I have taken refuge in Thee.”
The evening worship in the temples was over. Sri Ramakrishna was again seated in his room with M.
M. had been visiting the Master for the past two years and had received his grace and blessings. He had been told that God was both with form and without form, that He assumed forms for the sake of His devotees. To the worshipper of the formless God, the Master said: “Hold to your conviction, but remember that all is possible with God. He has form, and again. He is formless. He can be many things more.”
MASTER (to M.): “You have accepted an ideal, that of God without form — isn’t that so?”
M: “Yes, sir. But I also believe what you say — that all is possible with God. It is quite possible for God to have forms.”
MASTER; “Good. Remember further that, as Consciousness, He pervades the entire universe of the living and non-living.”
M: “I think of Him as the consciousness in conscious beings.”
MASTER: “Stick to that ideal now. There is no need of tearing down and changing one’s attitude. You will gradually come to realise that the consciousness in conscious beings is the Consciousness of God. He alone is Consciousness.
“Let me ask you one thing. Do you feel attracted to money and treasures?”
M: “No, sir. But I think of earning money in order to be free from anxiety, to be able to think of God without worry.”
MASTER: “Oh, that’s perfectly natural.”
M: “Is it greed? I don’t think so.”
MASTER: “You are right. Otherwise, who will look after your children? What will become of them if you feel that you are not the doer?”
M: “I have heard that one cannot attain Knowledge as long as one has the consciousness of duty. Duty is like the scorching sun.”
MASTER: “Keep your present attitude. It will be different when the consciousness of duty drops away of itself.”
They remained silent a few minutes.
M: “To enter the world after attaining partial knowledge! Why, it is like dying in full consciousness, as in cholera!”
MASTER: “Oh, Ram! Ram!”
The idea in M.’s mind was that just as a cholera patient feels excruciating pain at the time of death, because of retaining consciousness, so also a jnani with partial knowledge must feel extremely miserable leading the life of the world, which he knows to be illusory.
M: “People who are completely ignorant are like typhoid patients, who remain unconscious at the time of death and so do not feel the pain.”
MASTER: “Tell me, what does one attain through money? Jaygopal Sen is such a wealthy man; but he complains that his children don’t obey him.”
M: “Is poverty the only painful thing in the world? There are the six passions besides. Then disease and grief.”
MASTER: “And also name and fame, the desire to win people’s recognition. Well, what do you think my attitude is?”
M: “It is like that of a man just awakened from sleep. He becomes aware of himself. You are always united with God.”
MASTER: “Do you ever dream of me?”
M: “Yes, sir. Many times.”
MASTER: “How? Did you dream of me as giving you instruction?”
M. remained silent.
MASTER: “If you ever see me instructing you, then know that it is Satchidananda Himself that does so.”
M. related his dream experiences to Sri Ramakrishna, who listened to them attentively.
MASTER (to M.): “That is very good. Don’t reason any more. You are a follower of Sakti.”
Wednesday, October 10, 1883
Adhar had invited the Master to come to his house on the occasion of the Durga Puja festival. It was the third day of the worship of the Divine Mother. When Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Adhar’s house, he found Adhar’s friend Sarada, Balaram’s father, and Adhar’s neighbours and relatives waiting for him.
The Master went into the worship hall to see the evening worship. When it was over, he remained standing there in an abstracted mood and sang in praise of the Divine Mother:
Out of my deep affliction rescue me, O Redeemer!
Terrified by the threats of the King of Death am I!
Left to myself, I shall perish soon;
Save me, oh, save me now, I pray!
Mother of all the worlds! Thou, the Support of mankind!
Thou, the Bewitcher of all, the Mother of all that has life!
Vrindavan’s charming Radha art Thou,
Dearest playmate of Braja’s Beloved.
Blissful comrade of Krishna, well-spring of Krishna’s lila,
Child of Himalaya, best of the gopis, beloved of Govinda!
Sacred Ganga, Giver of moksha!
Sakti! The universe sings Thy praise.
Thou art the Spouse of Siva, the Ever-blessed, the All;
Sometimes Thou takest form and sometimes art absolute.
Eternal Beloved of Mahadeva,
Who can fathom Thine infinite glories?
The Master went to Adhar’s drawing-room on the second floor and took a seat, surrounded by the guests. Still in a mood of divine fervour, he said: “Gentlemen, I have eaten. Now go and enjoy the feast.” Was the Master hinting that the Divine Mother had partaken of Adhar’s offering? Did he identify himself with the Divine Mother and therefore say, “I have eaten”?
Then, addressing the Divine Mother, he continued: “Shall I eat, O Mother? Or will You eat? O Mother, the very Embodiment of the Wine of Divine Bliss!” Did the Master look on himself as one with the Divine Mother? Had the Mother incarnated Herself as the Son to instruct mankind in the ways of God? Was this why the Master said, “I have eaten”?
In that state of divine ecstasy Sri Ramakrishna saw the six centres in his body, and the Divine Mother dwelling in them. He sang a song to that effect.
Again he sang:
My mind is overwhelmed with wonder,
Pondering the Mother’s mystery;
Her very name removes
The fear of Kala, Death himself;
Beneath Her feet lies Maha-Kala.
Why should Her hue be kala, black?
Many the forms of black, but She
Appears astoundingly black;
When contemplated in the heart,
She lights the lotus that blossoms there.
Her form is black, and She is named
Kali, the Black One. Blacker than black
Is She! Beholding Her,
Man, is bewitched for evermore;
No other form can he enjoy.
In wonderment asks Ramprasad:
Where dwells this Woman so amazing?
At Her mere name, his mind
Becomes at once absorbed in Her,
Though he has never yet beheld Her.
The fear of the devotees flies away if they but seek shelter at the feet of the Divine Mother. Was that why the Master sang the following song?
I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother;
Am I afraid of Death any more?
Unto the tuft of hair on my head
Is tied the almighty mantra, Mother Kali’s name.
My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga’s name.
Deep within my heart I have planted the name of Kali,
The Wish-fulfilling Tree of heaven;
When Yama, King of Death, appears,
To him I shall open my heart and show it growing there.
I have cast out from me my six unflagging foes;5
Ready am I to sail life’s sea,
Crying, “To Durga, victory!”
Sarada was stricken with grief on account of his son’s death. So Adhar had taken him to Dakshineswar to visit the Master. Sarada was a devotee of Sri Chaitanya. Sri Ramakrishna looked at him and was inspired with the ideal of Gauranga.
Why has My body turned so golden? It is not time for this to be:
Many the ages that must pass, before as Gauranga I appear.
Here in the age of Dwapara My sport is not yet at an end;
How strange this transformation is!
The peacock glistens, all of gold; and golden, too, the cuckoo gleams!
Everything around Me here has turned to gold! Naught else appears
But gold, whichever way I look.
What can it mean, this miracle, that everything I see is gold?
Ah, I can guess its meaning now:
Radha has come to Mathura,7 and that is why My skin is gold.
For she is like the brahmara,8 and so has given Me her hue.
Dark blue My body was but now; yet in the twinkling of an eye
It turned to gold. Have I become Radha by contemplating her?
I cannot imagine where I am — in Mathura or Navadvip.
But how could this have come to pass?
Not yet is Balarama born as Nitai, nor has Narada
Become Srivas, nor Yasoda as Mother Sachi yet returned.
Then why should I, among them all, alone assume a golden face?
Not yet is Father Nanda born as Jagannath;9 then why should I
Be thus transmuted into gold?
Perhaps because in Mathura sweet Radha has appeared, My skin
Has borrowed Gauranga’s golden hue.
Sri Ramakrishna sang again, still overpowered with the ideal of Gauranga:
Surely Gauranga is lost in a state of blissful ecstasy;
In an exuberance of joy, he laughs and weeps and dances and sings.
He takes a wood for Vrindavan, the Ganges for the blue Jamuna;
Loudly he sobs and weeps. Yet, though he is all gold without,
He is all black within — black with the blackness of Krishna!
The Master continued to sing, assuming the attitude of a woman devotee infatuated with love for Gauranga:
Why do my neighbours raise such a scandal?
Why do they cast aspersions upon me
Simply because of Gauranga?
How can they understand my feelings?
How can I ever explain?
Can I ever explain at all?
Alas, to whom shall I explain it?
Ah, but they make me die of shame!
Once on a time, at the house of Srivas,
Gora was loudly singing the kirtan,
When, on the ground of the courtyard,
Falling, he rolled in an ecstasy.
I, who was standing near him,
Seeing him where he lay entranced,
Was suddenly lost to outward sense,
Until the wife of Srivas revived me.
Another day, in the bhaktas’ procession,
Gora was sweetly singing the kirtan;
Clasping the outcastes to him,
He softened the unbelievers’ hearts.
Through Nadia’s market-place
He chanted Lord Hari’s holy name.
I followed the throng, and from close by
Caught a glimpse of his golden feet.
Once by the Ganges’ bank he stood,
His body bright as the sun and moon,
Charming all with his beauty,
I too had come, to fetch some water,
And, as I looked from one side,
My water-jar slipped and fell to the ground.
My sister-in-law, the gossip, saw me,
And now she is spreading it everywhere.
Balaram’s father was a Vaishnava; hence the Master also sang of the divine love of the gopis for their beloved Krishna:
I have not found my Krishna, O friend! How cheerless my home without Him!
Ah, if Krishna could only be the hair upon my head,
Carefully I should braid it then, and deck it with bakul-flowers;
Carefully I should fashion the braids out of my Krishna-hair.
Krishna is black, and black is my hair; black would be one with black!
Ah, if Krishna could only be the ring I wear in my nose,
Always from mv nose He would hang, and my two lips could touch Him.
But it can never be, alas! Why should I idly dream?
Why should Krishna care at all to be the ring in my nose?
Ah, if Krishna could only be the bracelets on my arms,
Always He would cling to my wrists, and proudly I should walk,
Shaking my bracelets to make them sound, shaking my arms to show them;
Down the king’s highway I should walk, wearing my Krishna bracelets.
Balaram’s father was a wealthy man with estates in different parts of Orissa. An orthodox member of the Vaishnava sect, he had built temples and arranged for distribution of food to the pilgrims at various holy places. He had been spending the last years of his life in Vrindavan. The Vaishnavas, for the most part, are bigoted in their religious views. Some of them harbour malicious feelings toward the followers of the Tantra and Vedanta. But Sri Ramakrishna never encouraged such a narrow outlook. According to his teachings, through earnestness and yearning all lovers of God will ultimately reach the same goal. The Master began the conversation in order to broaden the religious views of Balaram’s father.
MASTER (to M.): “Once I thought, ‘Why should I be one-sided?’ Therefore I was initiated into Vaishnavism in Vrindavan and took the garb of a Vaishnava monk. I spent three days practising the Vaishnava discipline. Again, at Dakshineswar I was initiated into the mystery of Rama worship. I painted my forehead with a long mark and put on a string with a diamond round my neck. But after a few days I gave them up.
“A certain man had a tub. People would come to him to have their clothes dyed. The tub contained a solution of dye. Whatever colour a man wanted for his cloth, he would get by dipping the cloth in the tub. One man was amazed to see this and said to the dyer, ‘Please give me the dye you have in your tub.'”
Was the Master hinting that people professing different religions would come to him and have their spiritual consciousness awakened according to their own ideals?
MASTER (to Balaram’s father): “Don’t read books any more. But you may read books on devotion, such as the life of Chaitanya.’
“The whole thing is to love God and taste His sweetness. He is sweetness and the devotee is its enjoyer. The devotee drinks the sweet Bliss of God. Further, God is the lotus and the devotee the bee. The devotee sips the honey of the lotus.
“As a devotee cannot live without God, so also God cannot live without His devotee. Then the devotee becomes the sweetness, and God its enjoyer. The devotee becomes the lotus, and God the bee. It is the Godhead that has become these two in order to enjoy Its own Bliss. That is the significance of the episode of Radha and Krishna.10
“At the beginning of spiritual life the devotee should observe such rites as pilgrimage, putting a string of beads around his neck, and so forth. But outward ceremonies gradually drop off as he attains the goal, the vision of God. Then his only activity is the repetition of God’s name, and contemplation and meditation on Him.
“The pennies equivalent to sixteen rupees make a great heap. But sixteen silver coins do not look like such a big amount. Again, the quantity becomes much smaller when you change the sixteen rupees into one gold mohur. And if you change the gold into a tiny piece of diamond, people hardly notice it.”
Orthodox Vaishnavas insist on the outer insignia of religion. They criticize any devotee who does not wear these marks. Was that why the Master said that, after the vision of God, a devotee becomes indifferent to outer marks, giving up formal worship when the goal of spiritual life is attained?
MASTER (to Balaram’s father): “The Kartabhajas group the devotees into four classes: the pravartaka, the sadhaka, the siddha, and the siddha of the siddha. The pravartaka, the beginner, puts the mark of his religion on his forehead, wears a string of beads around his neck, and observes other outer conventions. The sadhaka, the struggling devotee, does not care so much for elaborate rites. An example of this class is the Baul. The siddha, the perfect, firmly believes that God exists. The siddha of the siddha, the supremely perfect, like Chaitanya, not only has realised God but also has become intimate with Him and talks with Him all the time. This is the last limit of realisation.
“There are many kinds of spiritual aspirants. Those endowed with sattva perform their spiritual practices secretly. They look like ordinary people, but they meditate inside the mosquito net.
“Aspirants endowed with rajas exhibit outward pomp — a string of beads around the neck, a mark on the forehead, an ochre robe, a silk cloth, a rosary with a gold bead, and so on. They are like stall-keepers advertising their wares with signboards.
“All religions and all paths call upon their followers to pray to one and the same God. Therefore one should not show disrespect to any religion or religious opinion. It is God alone who is called Satchidananda Brahman in the Vedas, Satchidananda Krishna in the Puranas, and Satchidananda Siva in the Tantras. It is one and the same Satchidananda.
“There are different sects of Vaishnavas. That which is called Brahman in the Vedas is called Alekh-Niranjan by one Vaishnava sect. ‘Alekh’ means That which cannot be pointed out or perceived by the sense-organs. According to this sect, Radha and Krishna are only two bubbles of the Alekh.
“According to the Vedanta,11 there is no Incarnation of God. The Vedantists say that Rama and Krishna are but two waves in the Ocean of Satchidananda.
“In reality there are not two. There is only One. A man may call on God by any name; if he is sincere in his prayer he will certainly reach Him. He will succeed if he has longing.”
As Sri Ramakrishna spoke these words to the devotees, he was overwhelmed with divine fervour. Coming down to partial consciousness of the world, he said to Balaram’s father, “Are you the father of Balaram?”
All sat in silence. Balaram’s aged father was silently telling his beads.
MASTER (to M. and the others): “Well, these people practise so much japa and go to so many sacred places, but why are they like this? Why do they make no progress? In their case it seems as if the year consists of eighteen months.
“Once I said to Harish: ‘What is the use of going to Benares if one does not feel restless for God? And if one feels that longing, then this very place is Benares.’
“They make so many pilgrimages and repeat the name of God so much, but why do they not realise anything? It is because they have no longing for God. God reveals Himself to the devotee if only he calls upon Him with a longing heart.
“At the beginning of a yatra performance much light-hearted restlessness is to be observed on the stage. At that time one does not see Krishna. Next the sage Narada enters with his flute and sings longingly, ‘O Govinda! O my Life! O my Soul!’ Then Krishna can no longer remain away and appears with the cowherd boys.”
Tuesday, October 16, 1883
Sri Ramakrishna was in his room with Rakhal, Balaram’s father, Beni Pal, M., Mani Mallick, Ishan, Kishori, and other devotees.
MASTER: “Liberal-minded devotees accept all the forms of God: Krishna, Kali, Siva, Rama, and so on.”
BALARAM’S FATHER: “Yes, sir. It is like a woman’s recognizing her husband, whatever clothes he wears.”
MASTER: “But again, there is a thing called nishtha, single-minded devotion. When the gopis went to Mathura they saw Krishna with a turban on His head. At this they pulled down their veils and said, ‘Who is this man? Where is our Krishna with the peacock feather on His crest and the yellow cloth on His body?’ Hanuman also had that unswerving devotion. He came to Dwaraka in the cycle of Dwapara. Krishna said to Rukmini, His queen, ‘Hanuman will not be satisfied unless he sees the form of Rama.’ So, to please Hanuman, Krishna assumed the form of Rama.
“But, my dear sir, I am in a peculiar state of mind. My mind constantly descends from the Absolute to the Relative, and again ascends from the Relative to the Absolute.
“The attainment of the Absolute is called the Knowledge of Brahman. But it is extremely difficult to acquire. A man cannot acquire the Knowledge of Brahman unless he completely rids himself of his attachment to the world. When the Divine Mother was born as the daughter of King Himalaya, She showed Her various forms to Her father. The king said, ‘I want to see Brahman.’ Thereupon the Divine Mother said: ‘Father, it that is your desire, then you must seek the company of holy men. You must go into solitude, away from the world, and now and then live in holy company.’
“The manifold has come from the One alone, the Relative from the Absolute. There is a state of consciousness where the many disappears, and the One, as well; for the many must exist as long as the One exists. Brahman is without comparison. It is impossible to explain Brahman by analogy. It is between light and darkness. It is Light, but not the light that we perceive, not material light.
“Again, when God changes the state of my mind, when He brings my mind down to the plane of the Relative, I perceive that it is He who has become all these — the Creator, maya, the living beings, and the universe.
“Again, sometimes He shows me that He has created the universe and all living beings. He is the Master, and the universe His garden.
“‘He is the Master, and the universe and all its living beings belong to Him’ — that is Knowledge. And, ‘I am the doer’, ‘I am the guru’, ‘I am the father’ — that is ignorance. ‘This is my house; this is my family; this is my wealth; these are my relatives’ — this also is ignorance.”
BALARAM’S FATHER: “That is true, sir.”
MASTER: “As long as you do not feel that God is the Master, you must come back to the world, you must be born again and again. There will be no rebirth when you can truly say, ‘O God, Thou art the Master.’ As long as you cannot say, ‘O Lord, Thou alone art real’, you will not be released from the life of the world. This going and coming, this rebirth, is inevitable. There will be no liberation. Further, what can you achieve by saying, ‘It is mine’? The manager of an estate may say, ‘This is our garden; these are our couches and furniture.’ But when he is dismissed by the master, he hasn’t the right to take away even a chest of worthless mango-wood given to him for his use.
“The feeling of ‘I and mine’ has covered the Reality. Because of this we do not see Truth. Attainment of Chaitanya, Divine Consciousness, is not possible without the knowledge of Advaita, Non-duality. After realizing Chaitanya one enjoys Nityananda, Eternal Bliss. One enjoys this Bliss after attaining the state of a paramahamsa.
“Vedanta does not recognize the Incarnation of God. According to it, Chaitanyadeva is only a bubble of the non-dual Brahman.
“Do you know what the vision of Divine Consciousness is like? It is like the sudden illumination of a dark room when a match is struck.
“The Incarnation of God is accepted by those who follow the path of bhakti. A woman belonging to the Kartabhaja sect observed my condition and remarked: ‘You have inner realisation. Don’t dance and sing too much. Ripe grapes must be preserved carefully in cotton. The mother-in-law lessens her daughter-in-law’s activities when the daughter-in-law is with child. One characteristic of God-realisation is that the activities of a man with such realisation gradually drop away. Inside this man [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] is the real Jewel.’
“Watching me eat, she remarked, ‘Sir, are you yourself eating, or are you feeding someone else?’
“The feeling of ego has covered the Truth. Narendra once said, ‘As the “I” of man recedes, the “I” of God approaches.’ Kedar says, ‘The more clay there is in the jar, the less water it holds.’
“Krishna said to Arjuna: ‘Brother, you will not realise Me if you possess even one of the eight siddhis.’ These give only a little power. With healing and the like one may do only a little good to others. Isn’t that true?
“Therefore I prayed to the Divine Mother for pure love only, a love that does not seek any return. I never asked for occult powers.”
While talking thus, Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. He sat there motionless, completely forgetful of the outer world. Then, coming down to the sense world, he sang:
Ah, friend’ I have not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad. …
At the Master’s request, Ramlal sang a song describing how Chaitanya embraced the monastic life:
Oh, what a vision I have beheld in Keshab Bharati’s12 hut!
Gora, in all his matchless grace,
Shedding tears in a thousand streams!
Like a mad elephant
He dances in ecstasy and sings,
Drunk with an overwhelming love.
Rolling flat upon the ground and swimming in his tears,
He weeps and shouts Lord Hari’s name,
Piercing the very heavens with his cries,
Loud as a lion’s roar;
Then most humbly he begs men’s love,
To feel himself the servant of God.
Shorn of his locks, he has put on the yogi’s ochre robe;
Even the hardest heart must melt
To see his pure and heavenly love.
Smitten by man’s deep woe,
He has abandoned everything
And pours out love unstintingly.
Oh, would that Premdas were his slave and, passing from door to door,
Might sing Gauranga’s endless praise!
The Master asked Mani Mallick to quote the words of Tulsidas to the effect that one who had developed love of God could not observe caste distinctions.
MANI: “The throat of the chatak bird is pierced with thirst. All around are the waters of the Ganges, the Jamuna, the Saraju, and of innumerable other rivers and lakes; but the bird will not touch any of these. It only looks up expectantly for the rain thai falls when the star Svati is in the ascendant.'”
MASTER: “That means that love for the Lotus Feet of God is alone real, and all else illusory.”
MANI: “Tulsi also said: ‘At the touch of the philosopher’s stone, the eight metals become gold. Likewise all castes, even the butcher and the untouchable, become pure by repeating Hari’s name. Without Hari’s name the people of the four castes are but butchers.'”
MASTER: “The hide that the scriptures forbid one to touch can be taken inside the temple after it has been tanned.
“Man becomes pure by repeating the name of God. Therefore one should practise the chanting of God’s name. I said to Jadu Mallick’s mother: ‘In the hour of death you will think only of worldly things — of family, children, executing the will, and so forth. The thought of God will not come to your mind. The way to remember God in the hour of death is to practise, now, the repetition of His name and the chanting of His glories. If one keeps up this practice, then in the hour of death one will repeat the name of God. When the cat pounces upon the bird, the bird only squawks and does not say, ‘Rama, Rama, Hare-Krishna’.
“It is good to prepare for death. One should constantly think of God and chant His name in solitude during the last years of one’s life. If the elephant is put into the stable after its bath it is not soiled again by dirt and dust.”
Balaram’s father, Mani Mallick, and Beni Pal were all elderly men. Did the Master give this instruction especially for their benefit?
MASTER: “Why do I ask you to think of God and chant His name in solitude? Living in the world day and night, one suffers from worries. Haven’t you noticed brother killing brother for a foot of land? The Sikhs said to me, ‘The cause of all worry and confusion is these three: land, woman, and money.’
“You are leading a householder’s life. Why should you be afraid of the world? When Rama said to Dasaratha that He was going to renounce the world, it worried His father, and the king sought counsel of Vasishtha. Vasishtha said to Rama: ‘Rama, why should You give up the world? Reason with me. Is this world outside God? What is there to renounce and what is there to accept? Nothing whatever exists but God. It is Brahman alone that appears as Isvara, maya, living beings, and the universe.'”
BALARAM’S FATHER: “It is very difficult, sir.”
MASTER: “The aspirant, while practising spiritual discipline, looks upon the world as a ‘framework of illusion’. Again, after the attainment of Knowledge, the vision of God, this very world becomes to him a ‘mansion of mirth.’
“It is written in the books of the Vaishnavas: ‘God can be attained through faith alone; reasoning pushes Him far away.’ Faith alone!
“What faith Krishnakishore had! At Vrindavan a low-caste man drew water for him from a well. Krishnakishore said to him, ‘Repeat the name of Siva.’ After the man had repeated the name of Siva, Krishnakishore unhesitatingly drank the water. He used to say, ‘If a man chants the name of God, does he need to spend money any more for the atonement of his sins? How foolish!’ He was amazed to see people worshipping God with the sacred tulsi-leaf in order to get rid of their’ illnesses. At the bathing-ghat here he said to us, ‘Please bless me, that I may pass my days repeating Rama’s holy name.’ Whenever I went to his house he would dance with joy at the sight of me. Rama said to Lakshmana, ‘Brother, whenever you find people singing and dancing in the ecstasy of divine love, know for certain that I am there.’ Chaitanya is an example of such ecstatic love. He laughed and wept and danced and sang in divine ecstasy. He was an Incarnation. God incarnated Himself through Chaitanya.”
Sri Ramakrishna sang a song describing the divine love of Chaitanya. Then Balaram’s father, Mani Mallick, Beni Pal, and several other devotees took leave of the Master.
In the evening, devotees from Kansaritola, Calcutta, arrived. The Master danced and sang with them in a state of divine fervour. After dancing, he went into a spiritual mood and said, “I shall go part of the way myself.” Kishori came forward to massage his feet, but the Master did not allow anyone to touch him.
Ishan arrived. The Master was seated, still in a spiritual mood. After a while he became engaged in talk with Ishan. It was Ishan’s desire to practise the purascharana of the Gayatri.
MASTER (to Ishan): “Follow your own intuition. I hope there is no more doubt in your mind. Is there any? The path of the Vedas is not meant for the Kaliyuga. The path of Tantra is efficacious.”
ISHAN: “I have almost resolved to perform an atonement ceremony.”
MASTER: “Do you mean to say that one cannot follow the path of Tantra? That which is Brahman is also Sakti, Kali.
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both righteousness and sin.”
ISHAN: “It is mentioned in a hymn in the Chandi that Brahman alone is the Primal Energy. Brahman is identical with Sakti.”
MASTER: “It will not do simply to express that idea in words. Only when you assimilate it will all be well with you.
“When the heart becomes pure through the practice of spiritual discipline, then one rightly feels that God alone is the Doer. He alone has become mind, life, and intelligence. We are only His instruments.
Thou it is that boldest the elephant in the mire;
Thou, that helpest the lame man scale the loftiest hill.
“When your heart becomes pure, then you will realise that it is God who makes us perform such rites as the purascharana.
Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs.
“All doubts disappear after the realisation of God. Then the devotee meets the favourable wind. He becomes free from worry. He is like the boatman who, when the favourable wind blows, unfurls the sail, holds the rudder lightly, and enjoys a smoke.”
Ishan took his leave and Sri Ramakrishna talked with M. No one else was present. He asked M. what he thought of Narendra, Rakhal, Adhar, and Hazra, and whether they were guileless. “And”, asked the Master, “what do you think of me?”
M. said: “You are simple and at the same time deep. It is extremely difficult to understand you.”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed.
November 26, 1883
It was the day of the annual festival of the Sinduriapatti Brahmo Samaj. The ceremony was to be performed in Manilal Mallick’s house. The worship hall was beautifully decorated with flowers, wreaths, and evergreens, and many devotees were assembled, eagerly awaiting the worship. Their enthusiasm had been greatly heightened by the news that Sri Ramakrishna was going to grace the occasion with his presence. Keshab, Vijay, Shivanath, and other leaders of the Brahmo Samaj held him in high respect. His God-intoxicated state of mind, his intense love of spiritual life, his burning faith, his intimate communion with God, and his respect for women, whom he regarded as veritable manifestations of the Divine Mother, together with the unsullied purity of his character, his complete renunciation of worldly talk, his love and respect for all religious faiths, and his eagerness to meet devotees of all creeds, attracted the members of the Brahmo Samaj to him. Devotees came that day from far-off places to join the festival, for it would give them a chance to get a glimpse of the Master and listen to his inspiring talk.
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the house before the worship began, and became engaged in conversation with Vijaykrishna Goswami and the other devotees. The lamps were lighted and the divine service was about to begin.
The Master asked if Shivanath would come to the festival. A Brahmo devotee said that he had other important things to do and was not coming.
MASTER: “I feel very happy when I see Shivanath. He always seems to be absorbed in the bliss of bhakti. Further, a man who is respected by so many surely possesses some divine power. But he has one great defect: he doesn’t keep his word. Once he said to me that he would come to Dakshineswar, but he neither came nor sent me word. That is not good. It is said that truthfulness alone constitutes the spiritual discipline of the Kaliyuga. If a man clings tenaciously to truth he ultimately realises God. Without this regard for truth, one gradually loses everything. If by chance I say that I will go to the pine-grove, I must go there even if there is no further need of it, lest I lose my attachment to truth. After my vision of the Divine Mother, I prayed to Her, taking a flower in my hands: ‘Mother, here is Thy knowledge and here is Thy ignorance. Take them both, and give me only pure love. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy good and here is Thy evil. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love. Here is Thy righteousness and here is Thy unrighteousness. Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.’ I mentioned all these, but I could not say: ‘Mother, here is Thy truth and here is Thy falsehood. Take them both.’ I gave up everything at Her feet but could not bring myself to give up truth.”
Soon the service began according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj. The preacher was seated on the dais. After the opening prayer he recited holy texts of the Vedas and was joined by the congregation in the invocation to the Supreme Brahman. They chanted in chorus: “Brahman is Truth, Knowledge, and Infinity. It shines as Bliss and Immortality. Brahman is Peace, Blessedness, the One without a Second; It is pure and unstained by sin.” The minds of the devotees were stilled, and they closed their eyes in meditation.
The Master went into deep samadhi. He sat there transfixed and speechless. After some time he opened his eyes, looked around, and suddenly stood up with the words “Brahma! Brahma!” on his lips. Soon the devotional music began, accompanied by drums and cymbals. In a state of divine fervour the Master began to dance with the devotees. Vijay and the other Brahmos danced around him. The guests and the devotees were enchanted. Many of them drank the sweet bliss of God’s name and forgot the world. The happiness ness of the material world appeared bitter to them, at least for the time being.
After the kirtan all sat around the Master, eager to hear his words.
MASTER: “It is difficult to lead the life of a householder in a spirit of detachment. Once Pratap13 said to me: ‘Sir, we follow the example of King Janaka. He led the life of a householder in a detached spirit. We shall follow him.’ I said to him: ‘Can one be like King Janaka by merely wishing it? How many austerities he practised in order to acquire divine knowledge! He practised the most intense form of asceticism for many years and only then returned to the life of the world.’
“Is there, then, no hope for householders? Certainly there is. They must practise spiritual discipline in solitude for some days. Thus they will acquire knowledge and devotion. Then it will not hurt them to lead the life of the world. But when you practise discipline in solitude, keep yourself entirely away from your family. You must not allow your wife, son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, friends, or relatives near you. While thus practising discipline in solitude, you should think: ‘I have no one else in the world. God is my all,’ You must also pray to Him, with tears in your eyes, for knowledge and devotion.
“If you ask me how long you should live in solitude away from your family, I should say that it would be good for you if you could spend even one day in such a manner. Three days at a time are still better. One may live in solitude for twelve days, a month, three months, or a year, according to one’s convenience and ability. One hasn’t much to fear if one leads the life of a householder after attaining knowledge and devotion.
“If you break a jack-fruit after rubbing your hands with oil, then its sticky milk will not smear your hands. While playing the game of hide-and-seek, you are safe if you but once touch the ‘granny’. Be turned into gold by touching the philosopher’s stone. After that you may remain buried underground a thousand years; when you are taken out you will still be gold.
“The mind is like milk. If you keep the mind in the world, which is like water, then the milk and water will get mixed. That is why people keep milk in a quiet place and let it set into curd, and then churn butter from it. Likewise, through spiritual discipline practised in solitude, churn the butter of knowledge and devotion from the milk of the mind. Then that butter can easily be kept in the water of the world. It will not get mixed with the world. The mind will float detached on the water of the world.”
Vijay had just returned from Gaya, where he had spent a long time in solitude and holy company. He had put on the ochre robe of a monk and was in an exalted state of mind, always indrawn. He was sitting before the Master with his head bent down, as if absorbed in some deep thought.
Casting his benign glance on Vijay, the Master said; “Vijay, have you found your room?
“Let me tell you a parable: Once two holy men, in the course of their wanderings, entered a city. One of them, with wondering eyes and mouth agape, was looking at the market-place, the stalls, and the buildings, when he met his companion. The latter said: ‘You seem to be filled with wonder at the city. Where is your baggage?’ He replied: ‘First of all I found a room. I put my things in it, locked the door, and felt totally relieved. Now I am going about the city enjoying all the fun.’
“So I am asking you, Vijay, if you have found your room. (To M. and the others) You see, the spring in Vijay’s heart has been covered all these days. Now it is open.
(To Vijay) “Well, Shivanath is always in trouble and turmoil. He has to write for magazines and perform many other duties. Worldly duties bring much worry and anxiety along with them.
“It is narrated in the Bhagavata that the Avadhuta had twenty-four gurus, one of whom was a kite. In a certain place the fishermen were catching fish. A kite swooped down and snatched a fish. At the sight of the fish, about a thousand crows chased the kite and made a great noise with their cawing. Whichever way the kite flew with the fish, the crows followed it. The kite flew to the south and the crows followed it there. The kite flew to the north and still the crows followed after it. The kite went east and west, but with the same result. As the kite began to fly about in confusion, lo, the fish dropped from its mouth. The crows at once let the kite alone and flew after the fish. Thus relieved of its worries, the kite sat on the branch of a tree and thought: ‘That wretched fish was at the root of all my troubles. I have now got rid of it and therefore I am at peace.’
“The Avadhuta learnt this lesson from the kite, that as long as a man has the fish, that is, worldly desires, he must perform actions and consequently suffer from worry, anxiety, and restlessness. No sooner does he renounce these desires than his activities fall away and he enjoys peace of soul.
“But work without any selfish motive is good. It does not create any worry. But it is very difficult to be totally Unselfish. We may think that our work is selfless, but selfishness comes, unknown to us, from no one knows where. But if a man has already undergone great spiritual discipline, then as a result of it he may be able to do work without any selfish motive. After the vision of God a man can easily do unselfish work. In most cases action drops away after the attainment of God. Only a few, like Narada, work to bring light to mankind.
“The Avadhuta accepted a bee as another teacher. Bees accumulate their honey by days of hard labour. But they cannot enjoy their honey, for a man soon breaks the comb and takes it away. The Avadhuta learnt this lesson from the bees, that one should not lay things up. Sadhus should depend one hundred per cent on God. They must not gather for the morrow. But this does not apply to the householder. He must bring up his-family; therefore it is necessary for him to provide. Birds and monks do not hoard. Yet birds also hoard after their chicks are hatched: they collect food in their beaks for their young ones.
“Let me tell you one thing, Vijay. Don’t trust a sadhu if he keeps bag and baggage with him and a bundle of clothes with many knots. I have seen such sadhus under the banyan tree in the Panchavati. Two or three of them were seated there. One was picking over lentils, some were sewing their clothes, and all were gossiping about a feast they had enjoyed in a rich man’s house. They said among themselves, ‘That rich man spent a hundred thousand rupees on the feast and fed the sadhus sumptuously with cake, sweets, and many such delicious things.'” (All laugh.)
VIJAY: “It is true, sir. I have seen such sadhus at Gaya. They are called the lotawalla sadhus14 of Gaya.”
MASTER (to Vijay): “When love of God is awakened, work drops away of itself. If God makes some men work, let them work. It is now time for you to give up everything. Renounce all and say, ‘O mind, may you and I alone behold the Mother, letting no one else intrude.'”
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna began to sing in his soul-enthralling voice:
Cherish my precious Mother Syama
Tenderly within, O mind;
May you and I alone behold Her,
Letting no one else intrude.
O mind, in solitude enjoy Her,
Keeping the passions all outside;
Take but the tongue, that now and again
It may cry out, “O Mother! Mother!”
Suffer no breath of base desire
To enter and approach us there,
But bid true knowledge stand on guard,
Alert and watchful evermore.
The Master said to Vijay: “Surrender yourself completely to God, and set aside all such things as fear and shame. Give up such feelings as, What will people think of me if I dance in the ecstasy of God’s holy name?’ The saying, ‘One cannot have the vision of God as long as one has these three — shame, hatred, and tear’, is very true. Shame, hatred, fear, caste, pride, secretiveness, and the like are so many bonds. Man is free when he is liberated from all these.
“When bound by ties one is jiva, and when free from ties one is Siva. Prema, ecstatic love of God, is a rare thing.
“First of all one acquires bhakti. Bhakti is single-minded devotion to God, like the devotion a wife feels for her husband. It is very difficult to have unalloyed devotion to God. Through such devotion one’s mind and soul merge in Him.
“Then comes bhava, intense love. Through bhava a man becomes speechless. His nerve currents are stilled. Kumbhaka comes by itself. It is like the case of a man whose breath and speech stop when he fires a gun.
“But prema, ecstatic love, is an extremely rare thing. Chaitanya had that love. When one has prema one forgets all-outer things. One forgets the world. One even forgets one’s own body, which is so dear to a man.”
The Master began to sing:
Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
When tears of joy will flow from my eyes
As I repeat Lord Hari’s name?
Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
When all my craving for the world
Will vanish straightway from my heart,
And with the thrill of His holy name
All of my hair will stand on end?
Oh, when will dawn that blessed day?
So the talk of divine things was proceeding, when some invited Brahmo devotees entered the room. There were among them a few pundits and high government officials.
Sri Ramakrishna had said that bhava stills the nerve currents of the devotee. He continued: “When Arjuna was about to shoot at the target, the eye of a fish, his eyes were fixed on the eye of the fish, and on nothing else. He didn’t even notice any part of the fish except the eye. In such a state the breathing stops and one experiences kumbhaka.
“Another characteristic of God-vision is that a great spiritual current rushes up along the spine and goes toward the brain. If then the devotee goes into samadhi, he sees God.”
Looking at the Brahmo devotees who had just arrived, the Master said: “Mere pundits, devoid of divine love, talk incoherently. Pundit Samadhyayi once said, in the course of his sermon: ‘God is dry. Make Him sweet by your love and devotion.’ Imagine! To describe Him as dry, whom the Vedas declare as the Essence of Bliss! It makes one feel that the pundit didn’t know what God really is. That was why his words were so incoherent.
“A man once said, ‘There are many horses in my uncle’s cow-shed.’ From that one could know that the man had no horses at all. No one keeps a horse in a cow-shed.
“Some people pride themselves on their riches and power — their wealth, honour, and social position. But these are only transitory. Nothing will remain with you in death.
“There is a song that runs:
Remember this, O mind! Nobody is your own:
Vain is your wandering in this world.
Trapped in the subtle snare of maya as you are,
Do not forget the Mother’s name.
Only a day or two men honour you on earth
As lord and master; all too soon
That form, so honoured now, must needs be cast away,
When Death, the Master, seizes you.
Even your beloved wife, for whom, while yet you live,
You fret yourself almost to death,
Will not go with you then; she too will say farewell,
And shun your corpse as an evil thing.
“One must not be proud of one’s money. If you say that you are rich, then one can remind you that there are richer men than you, and others richer still, and so on. At dusk the glow-worm comes out and thinks that it lights the world. But its pride is crushed when the stars appear in the sky. The stars feel that they give light to the earth. But when the moon rises the stars fade in shame. The moon feels that the world smiles at its light and that it lights the earth. Then the eastern horizon becomes red, and the sun rises. The moon fades and after a while is no longer seen.
“If wealthy people would think that way, they would get rid of their pride in their wealth.”
Manilal had provided a sumptuous feast in celebration of the festival. He entertained the Master and the other guests with great love and attention. It was late at night when they returned to their homes.
- ^These leaves are sacred to Vishnu. The bigoted worshipper of Sakti hates everything associated with Vishnu, and vice versa.
- ^A monastic disciple of the Master, known later as Swami Shivananda.
- ^A quotation from the sayings of Tulsidas, a great sage and poet.
- ^Perhaps the Master was referring to the foreign rule in India.
- ^The six passions.
- ^The song represents the words of Gauranga in the mood of Krishna. Gauranga, who had a golden complexion, is regarded as an Incarnation of Krishna.
- ^The capital of Krishna’s kingdom, where He lived after leaving Vrindavan.
- ^According to a Hindu legend, the cockroach, by intently meditating upon the brahmara, becomes transformed into the latter.
- ^Sachi and Jagannath were Gauranga’s parents; Yasoda and Nanda were Krishna’s parents.
- ^According to one school of the Vaishnava religion, the Supreme God Himself became Radha and Krishna in order to enjoy the bliss of their mutual communion.
- ^A reference to the Advaita Vedanta.
- ^The monastic teacher of Sri Chaitanya.
- ^Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, a celebrated leader of the Brahmo Samaj.
- ^Sadhus carrying water-pots.