Chaitanya’s exalted state — Practice of hathayoga — Master’s intimate relationship with disciples — Story of a Vaishnava devotee — Work and worship — How to live in the world — Women as embodiments of the Divine Mother — Image worship — God-vision through yearning — Singing of devotional songs — Story of Prahlada — Master admonishes M. — Human affection and divine love — Brahman and the world — Nature of Brahman — “Woman and gold” — Different stages of spiritual progress — Is the world unreal? — Divine Mother is the Universal Consciousness.
Sunday, December 9, 1883
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was seated on the small couch in his room with Adhar, Manomohan, Rakhal, M., Harish, and other devotees. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon. The Master was describing to them the exalted state of Sri Chaitanya.
MASTER: “Chaitanya experienced three states of mind. First, the conscious state, when his mind dwelt on the gross and the subtle. Second, the semi-conscious state, when his mind entered the causal body and was absorbed in the bliss of divine intoxication. Third, the inmost state, when his mind was merged in the Great Cause.
“This agrees very well with the five koshas, or ‘sheaths’, described in the Vedanta. The gross body corresponds to the annamayakosha and the pranamayakosha, the subtle body to the manomayakosha and the vijnanamayakosha, and the causal body to the anandamayakosha. The Mahakarana, the Great Cause, is beyond the five sheaths. When Chaitanya’s mind merged in That, he would go into samadhi. This is called the nirvikalpa or jada samadhi.
“While conscious of the outer world, Chaitanya sang the name of God; while in the state of partial consciousness, he danced with the devotees; and while in the inmost state of consciousness, he remained absorbed in samadhi.”
M. (to himself): “Is the Master hinting at the different states of his own mind? There is much similarity between Chaitanya and the Master.”
MASTER: “Chaitanya was Divine Love incarnate. He came down to earth to teach people how to love God. One achieves everything when one loves God. There is no need of hathayoga.”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, what is hathayoga like?”
MASTER: “A man practising hathayoga dwells a great deal on his body. He washes his intestines by means of a bamboo tube through his anus. He draws ghee and milk through his sexual organ. He learns how to manipulate his tongue by performing exercises. He sits in a fixed posture and now and then levitates. All these are actions of prana. A magician was performing his feats when his tongue turned up and clove to the roof of his mouth. Immediately his body became motionless. People thought he was dead. He was buried and remained many years in the grave. After a long time the grave somehow broke open. Suddenly the man regained consciousness of the world and cried out, ‘Come delusion! Come confusion!1 (All laugh.) All these are actions of prana.
“The Vedantists do not accept hathayoga. There is also rajayoga. Rajayoga describes how to achieve union with God through the mind — by means of discrimination and bhakti. This yoga is good. Hathayoga is not good. The life of a man in the Kaliyuga is dependent on food.”
Sri Ramakrishna was standing in the road by the side of the nahabat. He was on his way to his room, having come from the pine-grove. He saw M. seated on the verandah of the nahabat, behind the fence, absorbed in meditation.
MASTER: “Hello! You are here? You will get results very soon. If you practise a little, then someone will come forward to help you.”
M. looked up at the Master, startled; he remained sitting on the floor.
MASTER: “The time is ripe for you. The mother bird does not break the shell of the egg until the right time arrives. What I told you is indeed your Ideal.”
Sri Ramakrishna again mentioned to M. his spiritual Ideal.
MASTER: “It is not necessary for all to practise great austerity. But I went through great suffering. I used to lie on the ground with my head resting on a mound for a pillow. I hardly noticed the passing of the days. I only called on God and wept, ‘O Mother! O Mother!'”
M. had been visiting Sri Ramakrishna for the past two years. Since he had been educated along English lines, he had acquired a fondness for Western philosophy and science, and had liked to hear Keshab and other scholars lecture. Sri Ramakrishna would address him now and then as the “Englishman”. Since coming to Sri Ramakrishna, M. had lost all relish for lectures and for books written by English scholars. The only thing that appealed to him now was to see the Master day and night, and hear the words that fell from his blessed lips. M. constantly dwelt on certain of Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings. The Master had said, “One can certainly see God through the practice of spiritual discipline”, and again, “The vision of God is the only goal of human life.”
MASTER (to M.): “If you practise only a little, someone will come forward to tell you the right path. Observe the ekadasi.
“You are my very own, my relative; otherwise, why should you come here so frequently? While listening to the kirtan, I had a vision of Rakhal in the midst of Sri Krishna’s companions in Vrindavan. Narendra belongs to a very high level. Hirananda2 too; how childlike his nature is! What a sweet disposition he has! I want to see him too.
“Once I saw the companions of Chaitanya, not in a trance but with these very eyes. Formerly I was in such an exalted state of mind that I could see all these things with my naked eyes; but now I see them in samadhi. I saw the companions of Chaitanya with these naked eyes. I think I saw you there, and Balaram too. You must have noticed that when I see certain people I jump up with a start. Do you know why? A man feels that way when he sees his own people after a long time.
“I used to pray to the Mother, crying: ‘Mother, if I do not find the devotees I’ll surely die. Please bring them to me immediately.’ In those days whatever desire arose in my mind would come to pass. I planted a tulsi-grove in the Panchavati in order to practise japa and meditation. I wanted very much to fence it around with bamboo sticks. Soon afterwards a bundle of bamboo sticks and some string were carried by the flood-tide of the Ganges right in front of the Panchavati. A temple servant noticed them and joyfully told me.
“In that state of divine exaltation I could no longer perform the formal worship. ‘Mother,’ I said, ‘who will look after me? I haven’t the power to take care of myself. I want to listen only to talk about Thee. I want to feed Thy devotees. I want to give a little help to those whom I chance to meet. How will all that be possible, Mother? Give me a rich man to stand by me.’ That is why Mathur Babu did so much to serve me.
“I said further, ‘Certainly I shall not have any children, Mother. But it is my desire that a boy with sincere love for God should always remain with me. Give me such a boy.’ That is the reason Rakhal came here. Those whom I think of as my own are part and parcel of me.”
The Master started again for the Panchavati accompanied by M. No one else was with them. Sri Ramakrishna with a smile narrated to him various incidents of the past years of his life.
MASTER: “You see, one day I saw a strange figure covering the whole space from the Kali temple to the Panchavati. Do you believe this?”
M. remained silent with wonder. He plucked one or two leaves from a branch in the Panchavati and put them in his pocket.
MASTER: “See there — that branch has been broken. I used to sit under it.”
M: “I took a young twig from that tree — I have it at home.”
MASTER (with a smile): “Why?”
M: “I feel happy when I look at it. After all this is over, this place will be considered very holy.”
MASTER (smiling): “What kind of holy place? Like Panihati?”
Almost every year, for some time past, the Master had been attending the religious festival at Panihati.
It was evening. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch in his room, absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother. The evening worship in the temples began, with the music of gong and conch-shell. M. was going to spend the night with the Master.
After a time Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to read from the Bhaktamala, a book about the Vaishnava saints.
There was a king named Jayamal who loved Krishna with all his heart. He followed with unfailing devotion all the rites and ceremonies associated with the adoration of Krishna, whom he worshipped under the name of Syamalasundara. Completely satisfied with his own Ideal Deity, he never directed his attention to any other god or goddess. One of the inflexible rules of his devotions was to worship the Deity daily till almost midday. He would never deviate from this practice, even at the risk of his wealth or his kingdom. Learning this secret, an enemy king invaded the kingdom during the morning hours. Jayamal’s soldiers could not fight without his command; so they watched the invasion silently. Slowly the enemy surrounded the moat of the capital; yet Jayamal did not come out of his shrine room. His mother came to him and wept bitterly, trying to persuade the king to fight. He said to her calmly: “Why are you worried? Syamalasundara gave me this kingdom. What can I do if He has decided to take it away? On the other hand, none will be able to do me harm if He protects me. Our own efforts are vain!”
And actually, in the mean time, Syamalasundara, the Deity Himself, had taken the king’s horse from the stable and had ridden fully armed to the field. Alone He faced the hostile king and alone destroyed his army. Having crushed the enemy forces, the Deity returned to the temple and fastened the horse near by.
Jayamal, on completing his worship, came out and discovered the horse there, panting and covered with sweat. “Who has been riding my horse?” he demanded. “Who brought it to the temple?” The officers declared they knew nothing about it. In a pensive mood the king proceeded to the battle-field with his army and there found the enemy, with the exception of their leader, lying dead. He was staring uncomprehendingly at the scene, when the enemy king approached, worshipped him, and said: “Please permit me to tell you something. How could I fight? You have a warrior who could conquer the entire world. I do not want your wealth or your kingdom; indeed, I will gladly give you my own, if you will tell me about that Blue Warrior, your friend. No sooner did I turn my eves on him than he cast a spell on my heart and soul.”
Jayamal then realised it had been none other than Syamalasundara that had appeared on the battle-field. The enemy king understood too. He worshipped Jayamal and through his blessings received Krishna’s grace.
MASTER: “Do you believe all that? Do you believe Krishna rode on that horse and killed Jayamal’s enemies?”
M: “I believe that Jayamal, Krishna’s devotee, prayed to Him with a yearning heart. But I don’t know whether the enemy really saw Him coming to the battle-field on a horse. Krishna might have come there riding the horse, but I do not know whether they really saw Him.”
MASTER (with a smile): “The book contains nice stories about devotees. Bur it is one-sided. Also, it abuses those who differ with its views.”
The following morning the Master and M. were talking in the garden.
M: “Then I shall stay here.”
MASTER: “Well, you all come here so often. What does it mean? People visit a holy man once at the most. But you all come here so often. What is the significance of that?”
M. remained silent. The Master himself gave the reply.
MASTER: “Could you come here unless you belonged to my inner circle? That means you all are my own relatives, my own people — like father and son, brother and sister.
“I do not tell you everything. If I did, would you come here any more? “Once Sukadeva went to Janaka to be instructed in the Knowledge of Brahman. Janaka said, ‘First give me my fee.’ ‘But’, said Sukadeva, ‘why should I give you the fee before receiving the instruction?’ Janaka laughed and said: ‘Will you be conscious of guru and disciple after attaining Brahmajnana? That is why I asked you to give me the fee first.'”
It was night. The moon rose, flooding all the quarters with its silvery light. M. was walking alone in the garden of the temple. On one side of the path stood the Panchavati, the bakul-grove, the nahabat, and the Master’s room, and on the other side flowed the Ganges, reflecting millions of broken moons on its rippling surface’.
M. said to himself: “Can one really see God? The Master says it is possible. He says that, if one makes a little effort, then someone comes forward and shows the way. Well, I am married. I have children. Can one realise God in spite of all that?”
M. reflected awhile and continued his soliloquy: “Surely one can. Otherwise, why should the Master say so? Why shouldn’t it be possible through the grace of God?
“Here is the world around me — the sun, moon, stars, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. How did they come into existence? Who is their Creator? What am I to Him? Life is indeed vain without this knowledge.
“Sri Ramakrishna is certainly the best of men. In all my life I have not seen another great soul like him. He must have seen God. Otherwise, how could he talk with God day and night, addressing Him so intimately as ‘Mother’? Otherwise, how could he love God so intimately? Such is his love for God that he forgets the outer world. He goes into samadhi and remains like a lifeless thing. Again, in the ecstasy of that love, he laughs and cries and dances and sings.”
Friday, December 14, 1883
At nine o’clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna was standing on the southeast verandah near the door of his room, with Ramlal by his side. Rakhal and Latu were moving about. M. arrived and prostrated himself before the Master. Sri Ramakrishna said to him affectionately: “You have come. That’s very good. Today is an auspicious day.”
It was the last day of the Bengali month and the day of the full moon. M. was going to spend a few days with the Master practising spiritual discipline. The Master had said to him, “If an aspirant practises a little spiritual discipline, then someone comes forward to help him.”
The Master had said to M: “You should not eat every day at the guest-house of the Kali temple. The guest-house is intended to supply free food to monks and the destitute. Bring your own cook with you.” M. had accordingly done so. The Master arranged a place for the man to cook and he asked Ramlal to speak to the milkman about milk.
A little later Ramlal began to read from the Adhyatma Ramayana. The Master and M. listened while he read:
Rama had married Sita after breaking the great bow of Siva. On the way to Ayodhya with His bride, Rama was confronted by the warrior sage Parasurama, who was about to make trouble for Him. Parasurama threw a bow at Rama and challenged Him to string it. Dasaratha, Rama’s father, was seized with fear. With a smile, Rama took the bow in His left hand and strung it. Then, twanging the bow-string, He fixed an arrow and asked Parasurama where to shoot it. That curbed the pride of the warrior sage. Prostrating himself before Rama, Parasurama worshipped Him as the Supreme Brahman.
As Sri Ramakrishna listened to Parasurama’s hymn, he went into a spiritual mood and now and then chanted the name of Rama in his melodious voice.
Then the Master asked Ramlal to read about Guhaka. Ramlal read:
Guhaka, the pariah, was chief of the untouchables and an intimate friend of Rama. When Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana were starting into the forest to redeem Dasaratha’s pledge, Guhaka ferried them across the river. Rama embraced Guhaka tenderly and told him He was going to spend fourteen years in exile, wearing the bark of trees and eating the herbs, fruits, and roots that grew in the woods. He promised to visit Guhaka again on His way back to Ayodhya after the period of exile was over. The pariah king waited patiently. But when the fourteenth year had run out and Rama had not returned, Guhaka lighted a funeral pyre. He was on the point of entering it when Hanuman arrived as Rama’s messenger. In a celestial chariot Rama and Sita soon appeared, and Guhaka’s joy was unbounded.
After the midday meal Sri Ramakrishna lay down on his bed to rest. M. was seated on the floor. Presently Dr. Shyama and a few devotees arrived. The Master sat up on the bed and began to converse with them.
MASTER: “It is by no means necessary for a man always to be engaged in his duties. Actions drop away when one realises God, as the flower drops of itself when the fruit appears.
“He who has realised God no longer performs religious duties such as the sandhya. In his case the sandhya merges in the Gayatri. When that happens, it is enough for a person to repeat just the Gayatri mantra. Then the Gayatri merges in Om. After that one no longer chants even the Gayatri; it is enough then to chant simply Om. How long should a man practise such devotions as the sandhya? As long as he does not feel a thrill in his body and shed tears of joy while repeating the name of Rama or of Hari. People worship God to win money or a lawsuit. That is not good.”
A DEVOTEE: “We find that everyone strives after money. Even Keshab Sen married his daughter to a prince.”
MASTER: “Keshab’s case is quite different. God provides everything for a genuine devotee, even without his making any effort. The son of a real king gets his monthly allowance. I am not talking of lawyers and men of that sort, who go through suffering in order to earn money, and who become slaves of others to that end. I am speaking of a real prince. A true devotee has no desire. He does not care for money. Money comes to him of itself. The Gita describes such a devotee as ‘content with what comes to him without effort’. A good brahmin, without any personal motive, can accept food even from the house of an untouchable. He does not desire it; it comes of its own accord.”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, how should one live in the world?”
MASTER: “Live in the world as the mudfish lives in the mud. One develops love of God by going away from the world into solitude, now and then and meditating on God. After that one can live in the world unattached. The mud is there, and the fish has to live in it, but its body is not stained by the mud. Such a man can lead the life of a householder in a spirit of detachment.”
The Master noticed that M. was listening to his words with great attention.
MASTER (looking at M.): “One can realise God if one feels intense dispassion for worldly things. A man with such dispassion feels that the world is like a forest on fire. He regards his wife and children as a deep well. If he really feels that kind of dispassion, he renounces home and family. It is not enough for him to live in the world in a spirit of detachment.
“‘Woman and gold’ alone is maya. If maya is once recognized, it feels ashamed of itself and takes to flight. A man put on a tiger skin and tried to frighten another man. But the latter, said: ‘Ah! I have recognized you! You are our Hare.’ At that the man dressed in the skin went away smiling to frighten someone else.
“All women are the embodiments of Sakti. It is the Primal Power that has become women and appears to us in the form of women. It is said in the Adhyatma Ramayana that Narada and others praised Rama, saying: ‘O Rama, Thou alone art all that we see as male, and Sita, all that we see a female. Thou art Indra, and Sita is Indrani; Thou art Siva, and Sita is Sivani; Thou art man, and Sita is woman. What more need I say? Thou alone dost exist wherever there is a male, and Sita wherever there is female.’
(To the devotees) “One cannot renounce by the mere wish. There a prarabdha karma — inherited tendencies — and the like. Once a yogi said to a king, ‘Live with me in the forest and think of God.’ The king replied ‘That I cannot very well do. I could live with you, but I still have the desire for enjoyment. If I live in this forest, perhaps I shall create a kingdom even here. I still have desires.’
“Natabar Panja used to look after his cows in this garden during his boyhood. He had many desires. Hence he has established a castor-oil factory and earned a great deal of money. He has a prosperous castor-oil business at Alambazar.
“There is one sect that prescribes spiritual discipline in company with women. I was once taken to the women belonging to the Kartabhaja sect. They all sat around me. I addressed them as ‘mother’. At that they whispered among themselves: ‘He is still a pravartaka. He doesn’t know the way.’ According to that sect the pravartaka is the beginner. Then comes the sadhaka, the struggling aspirant, and last of all the siddha of the siddha, the supremely perfect. A woman walked over to Vaishnavcharan and sat near him. Asked about it, he answered, ‘She feels just like a young girl.’ One quickly strays from the religious path by looking on woman as wife. But to regard her as mother is a pure attitude.”
Some of the devotees took leave of the Master, saying that they were going to visit the temple of Kali and several of the other temples.
M. went walking alone in the Panchavati and other places in the temple garden. He thought about the Master’s assurance that God can be easily realised, and about his exhortation to lead a life of intense renunciation, and his saying that maya, when recognized, takes to flight.
At half past three in the afternoon M. again entered the Master’s room and sat on the floor. A teacher from the Broughton Institution had come with several students to pay a visit to Sri Ramakrishna. They were conversing together. Now and then the teacher asked questions. The conversation was about the worship of images.
MASTER (to the teacher): “What is wrong with image worship? The Vedanta says that Brahman manifests Itself where there is ‘Existence, Light, and Love’. Therefore nothing exists but Brahman.
“How long do small girls play with their dolls? As long as they are not married and do not live with their husbands. After marriage they put the dolls away in a box. What further need is there of worshipping the image after the vision of God?”
The Master glanced at M. and said: “One attains God when one feels yearning for Him. An intense restlessness is needed. Through it the whole mind goes to God.
A man had a daughter who became a widow when she was very young. She had never known her husband. She noticed the husbands of other girls and said one day to her father, ‘Where is my husband?’ The father replied: Govinda (A name of Krishna.) is your husband. He will come to you if you call Him.’ At these words the girl went to her room, closed the door, and cried to Govinda, saying: ‘O Govinda, come to me! Show Yourself to me! Why don’t You come? God could not resist the girl’s piteous cry and appeared before her.
One must have childlike faith — and the intense yearning that a child feels to see its mother. That yearning is like the red sky in the east at dawn. After such a sky the sun must rise. Immediately after that yearning one sees God.
“Let me tell you the story of a boy named Jatila. He used to walk to school through the woods, and the journey frightened him. One day he told his mother of his fear. She replied: ‘Why should you be afraid? Call Madhusudana.’ (A name of Krishna.) ‘Mother,’ asked the boy, ‘who is Madhusudana?’ The mother said, ‘He is your Elder Brother.’ One day after this, when the boy again felt afraid in the woods, he cried out, ‘O Brother Madhusudana!’ But there was no response. He began to weep aloud: ‘Where are You, Brother Madhusudana? Come to me. I am afraid.’ Then God could no longer stay away. He appeared before the boy and said: ‘Here I am. Why are you frightened?’ And so saying He took the boy out of the woods and showed him the way to school. When He took leave of the boy, God said: ‘I will come whenever you call Me. Do not be afraid.’ One must have this faith of a child, this yearning.
“A brahmin used to worship his Family Deity daily with food offerings. One day he had to go away on business. As he was about to leave the house, he said to his young son: ‘Give the offering to the Deity today. See that God is fed.’ The boy offered food in the shrine, but the image remained silent on the altar. It would neither talk nor eat. The buy waited a long time, but still the image did not move. But the boy firmly believed that God would come down from His throne, sit on the floor, and partake of the food. Again and again he prayed to the Deity, saying: ‘O Lord, come down and eat the food. It is already very late. I cannot sit here any longer.’ But the image did not utter a word. The boy burst into tears and cried: ‘O Lord, my father asked me to feed You. Why won’t You come down? Why won’t You eat from my hands?’ ‘The boy wept for some time with a longing soul. At last the Deity, smiling, came down from the altar and sat before the meal and ate it. After feeding the Deity, the boy came out of the shrine room. His relatives said: ‘The worship is over. Now bring away the offering.’ ‘Yes,’ said the boy, ‘the worship is over. But God has eaten everything.’ ‘How is that?’ asked the relatives. The boy replied innocently, ‘Why, God has eaten the food.’ They entered the shrine and were speechless with wonder to see that the Deity had really eaten every bit of the offering.”
Late in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M. They were standing on the south side of the nahabat. Since it was winter the Master was wrapped in his woolen shawl.
MASTER: “Where will you sleep? In the hut in the Panchavati?”
M: “Won’t they let me have the room on the upper floor of the nahabat?”
M. selected the nahabat because he had a poetic temperament. From there he could see the sky, the Ganges, the moonlight, and the flowers in the garden.
MASTER: “Oh, they’ll let you have it. But I suggested the Panchavati because so much contemplation and meditation have been practised3 there and the name of God has been chanted there so often.”
It was evening. Incense was burning in the Master’s room. He was sitting on the small couch, absorbed in meditation. M. was sitting on the floor with Rakhal, Latu, and Ramlal.
The Master said to M., “The sum and substance of the whole thing is to cultivate devotion for God and love Him.” At Sri Ramakrishna’s request Ramlal sang a few songs, the Master himself singing the first line of each.
Oh, what a vision I have beheld in Keshab Bharati’s 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. . . .
Then he sang:
Though I4 am never loath to grant salvation,
I hesitate indeed to grant pure love.
Whoever wins pure love surpasses all;
He is adored by men; He triumphs over the three worlds. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna said to Ramlal, “Sing that one — ‘Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers’.” Ramlal began the song and the Master joined him:
Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!
I have heard how kind you are,
And therefore I have come to you.
When I visited Benares,
Siva, Lord of Kasi, told me
Of the Parabrahman’s birth,
As man, in Mother Sachi’s home.
O Brahman, Thee I recognize!
Many a sadhu have I seen,
But never one so kind as you.
Once at Braja you were born
As Kanai and Balai, His brother;
Now, once more, in Nadia,
As Gaur and Nitai do you appear,
Hiding the shapes that then you wore.
In Braja’s pastures running freely,
Once you frolicked; now, for play,
You roll on the ground in Nadia,
Chanting aloud Lord Hari’s name.
Laughing, shouting, once you played
At Braja with your cowherd friends;
And now you chant Lord Hari’s name.
O Gaur, how cleverly you hide
The dark-blue form5 you wore at Braja!
But your slanting eyes betray you.
Through the blessing of your name
The sinner is set free, they say;
And so my soul is filled with hope.
Now with eager heart I hasten
To your feet: Lord! I implore you,
Keep me safe within their shadow.
You redeemed Jagai and Madhai,
Wretched sinners though they were;
I pray you, do the same for me.
I have heard that you embrace
All men as brothers, even the outcaste,
Whispering in the ears of all
Lord Hari’s life-renewing name.
Late at night M. sat alone in the nahabat. The sky, the river, the garden, the steeples of the temples, the trees, and the Panchavati were flooded with moonlight. Deep silence reigned everywhere, broken only by the melodious murmuring of the Ganges. M. was meditating on Sri Ramakrishna.
At three o’clock in the morning M. left his seat. He proceeded toward the Panchavati as Sri Ramakrishna had suggested. He did not care for the nahabat any more and resolved to stay in the hut in the Panchavati.
Suddenly he heard a distant sound, as if someone were wailing piteously, “Oh, where art Thou, Brother Madhusudana?” The light of the full moon streamed through the thick foliage of the Panchavati, and as he proceeded he saw at a distance one of the Master’s disciples sitting alone in the grove, crying helplessly, “Oh, where art Thou, Brother Madhusudana?”
Silently M. watched him.
Saturday, December 15, 1883
M. had been staying at Dakshineswar with Sri Ramakrishna. The Master was sitting in his room, listening to the life of Prahlada, which Ramlal was reading from the Bhaktamala. M. was sitting on the floor. Rakhal, Latu, and Harish were also in the room, and Hazra was on the verandah. While listening to the story of Prahlada’s love for God, Sri Ramakrishna went into an ecstatic mood.
Hiranyakasipu, the king of the demons and father of Prahlada, had put his son to endless torture to divert the boy’s mind from the love of God. But through divine grace all the king’s attempts to kill Prahlada were ineffective. At last God appeared, assuming the form of Nrisimha, the Man-lion, and killed Hiranyakasipu. The gods were frightened at the rage and roaring of the Man-lion and thought that the destruction of the world was imminent. They sent Prahlada to pacify the Deity. The boy sang a hymn to Him in words of love, and the Man-lion, moved by affection, licked Prahlada’s body.
Still in an ecstatic mood, the Master said, “Ah! Ah! What love for the devotee!” The Master went into deep samadhi. He sat there motionless. A tear-drop could be seen at the corner of each of his eyes.
The Master came down to the plane of the sense world and spoke to M., expressing his abhorrence for those who, while practising spiritual discipline, enjoyed sex-life.
MASTER: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? You have children, and still you enjoy intercourse with your wife. Don’t you hate yourself for thus leading an animal life? Don’t you hate yourself for dallying with a body which contains only blood, phlegm, filth, and excreta? He who contemplates the Lotus Feet of God looks on even the most beautiful woman as mere ash from the cremation ground. To enjoy a body which will not last and which consists of such impure ingredients as intestines, bile, flesh, and bone! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?”
M. sat there silently, hanging his head in shame.
MASTER: “A man who has tasted even a drop of God’s ecstatic love looks on ‘woman and gold’ as most insignificant. He who has tasted syrup made from sugar candy regards a drink made from treacle as a mere trifle. One gradually obtains that love for God if one but prays to Him with a yearning heart and always chants His name and glories.”
The Master was in an ecstasy of love. He began to dance about the room and sing:
Who is singing Hari’s name upon the sacred Ganges’ bank?
Is it Nitai that has come, the giver of heavenly love? . . .
It was ten o’clock in the morning. Ramlal had finished the daily worship in the Kali temple. The Master went to the temple accompanied by M. Entering the shrine, the Master sat before the image. He offered a flower or two at the feet of the Divine Mother. Then he put a flower on his own head and began to meditate. He sang a song to the Divine Mother:
Thy name, I have heard, O Consort of Siva, is the destroyer of our fear,
And so on Thee I cast my burden: Save me! Save me, O kindly Mother! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna returned from the Kali temple and sat on the southeast verandah of his room. He ate some refreshments which had been offered at the temple, and the devotees also received a share.
Rakhal sat by the Master and read about Lord Erskine from Self-Help by Smiles.
MASTER (to M.): “What does the book say?”
M: “It says that Lord Erskine performed his duty without desiring any result for himself. Disinterested duty.”
MASTER: “That is very good. But the characteristic of a man of Perfect Knowledge is that he doesn’t keep a single book with him. He carries all his Knowledge on the tip of his tongue. There’s the instance of Sukadeva. Books — I mean the scriptures — contain a mixture of sand and sugar. The sadhu takes the sugar, leaving aside the sand. He takes only the essence.”
Vaishnavcharan, the musician, arrived and sang a few devotional songs.
M. spent the night in the nahabat.
Sunday, December 16, 1883
Sri Ramakrishna was seated with M. on the semicircular porch of his room at about ten o’clock in the morning. The fragrance of gardenias, jasmines, oleanders, roses, and other flowers filled the air. The Master was singing, looking at M:
Thou must save me, sweetest Mother! Unto Thee I come for refuge,
Helpless as a bird imprisoned in a cage.
I have done unnumbered wrongs, and aimlessly I roam about,
Misled by maya’s spell, bereft of wisdom’s light,
Comfortless as a mother cow whose calf has wandered far away.
MASTER: “But why? Why should I live like a ‘bird imprisoned in a sage’? Fie! For shame!”
As the Master said these words he went into an ecstatic mood. His body became motionless and his mind stopped functioning; tears streamed down his cheeks. After a while he said, “O Mother, make me like Sita, completely forgetful of everything — body and limbs —, totally unconscious of hands, feet, and sense-organs — only the one thought in her mind, ‘Where is Rama?'”
Was the Master inspired by the ideal of Sita to teach M. the yearning that a devotee should feel for God? Sita’s very life was centred in Rama. Completely absorbed in the thought of Rama, Sita forgot even the body, which is so dear to all.
At four o’clock in the afternoon Mr. Mukherji, a relative of Prankrishna, arrived in the company of a brahmin well versed in the scriptures.
MUKHERJI: “I am very happy to meet you, sir.”
MASTER: “God dwells in all beings. He is the gold in all. In some places it is more clearly manifest than in others. God dwells in the worldly-minded, no doubt, but He is hidden there, like gold under deep layers of clay.”
MUKHERJI: “Sir, what is the difference between worldly and other-worldly things?”
MASTER: “While striving for the realisation of God, the aspirant has to practise renunciation, applying the logic of ‘Neti, neti’ — ‘Not this, not this’. But after attaining the vision of God, he realises that God alone has become all things.
“At one time Rama was overpowered by the spirit of renunciation. Dasaratha, worried at this, went to the sage Vasishtha and begged him to persuade Rama not to give up the world. The sage came to Rama and found him in a gloomy mood. The fire of intense renunciation had been raging in the Prince’s mind. Vasishtha said: ‘Rama, why should You renounce the world? Is the world outside God? Reason with me.’ Rama realised that the world had evolved from the Supreme Brahman. So He said nothing.
“Buttermilk is made from the same substance as butter. One who realises this knows that butter goes with buttermilk and buttermilk with butter. After separating the butter with great effort — that is to say, after attaining Brahmajnana — you will realise that as long as butter exists, buttermilk also must exist. Wherever there is butter there must be buttermilk as well. As long as one feels that Brahman exists, one must also be aware that the universe, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles exist as well.
“What Brahman is cannot be described in words. Everything has been polluted, like food that has touched the tongue — that is, everything has been described in words. But no one has been able to describe Brahman. It is therefore unpolluted. I said this to Vidyasagar and he was delighted.
“But the Knowledge of Brahman cannot be realised if the aspirant is worldly-minded even in the slightest degree. He succeeds in acquiring this Knowledge only when his mind is totally free from ‘woman and gold’. Parvati once said to Her father, ‘Father, seek the company of holy men if you want the Knowledge of Brahman.'”
Addressing Mr. Mukherji, Sri Ramakrishna said: “You are rich, and still you call on God. That is very good indeed. It is said in the Gita that those who fall from the path of yoga are born in their next birth as devotees of God in rich families.”
Mr. Mukherji. quoted the line from the Gita.
MASTER: “God, if He so desires, can keep a jnani in the world too. The world and all living beings have been created by His will. But He is self-willed.”
MUKHERJI (with a smile): “How can God have any will? Does He lack anything?”
MASTER (with a smile): “What’s wrong in that? Water is water whether it is still or in waves. The snake is a snake whether it is coiled up motionless or wriggles along. A man is the same man whether sitting still or engaged in action.
“How can you eliminate from the Reality the universe and its living beings? If you do that, It will lack Its full weight. You cannot find out the total weight of the bel-fruit if you eliminate the seeds and shell.
“Brahman is unattached. One finds good and bad smells in the air, but the air itself is untainted. Brahman and Sakti are identical. It is the Primordial Power that has become the world and all living beings.”
MUKHERJI: “Why does one deviate from the path of yoga?”
MASTER: “As the saying goes: ‘In my mother’s womb I was in a state of yoga; coming into the world, I have eaten its clay. The midwife has cut one shackle, the navel cord; but how shall I cut the shackle of maya?’
“Maya is nothing but ‘woman’ and ‘gold’. A man attains yoga when he has freed his mind from these two. The Self — the Supreme Self — is the magnet; the individual self is the needle. The individual self experiences the state of yoga when it is attracted by the Supreme Self to Itself. But the magnet cannot attract the needle if the needle is covered with clay; it can draw the needle only when the clay is removed. The clay of ‘woman’ and ‘gold’ must be removed.”
MUKHERJI: “How can one remove it?”
MASTER: “Weep for God with a longing heart. Tears shed for Him will wash away the clay. When you have thus freed yourself from impurity, you will be attracted by the magnet. Only then will you attain yoga.”
MUKHERJI: “Priceless words!”
MASTER: “If a man is able to weep for God, he will see Him. He will go into samadhi. Perfection in yoga is samadhi. A man achieves kumbhaka without any yogic exercise if he but weeps for God. The next stage is samadhi.
“There is another method — that of meditation. In the Sahasrara, Siva manifests Himself in a special manner. The aspirant should meditate on Him. The body is like a tray; the mind and buddhi are like water. The Sun of Satchidananda is reflected in this water. Meditating on the reflected sun, one sees the Real Sun through the grace of God.
“But the worldly man must constantly live in the company of holy men. It is necessary for all, even for sannyasis. But it is especially necessary for the householder. His disease has become chronic because he has to live constantly in the midst of ‘woman and gold’.”
MUKHERJI: “Yes, sir. The disease has indeed become chronic.”
MASTER: “Give God the power of attorney. Let Him do whatever He wants. Be like a kitten and cry to Him with a fervent heart. The mother cat puts the kitten wherever she wants to. The kitten doesn’t know anything. It is left sometimes on the bed and sometimes near the hearth.”
MUKHERJI: “It is good to read sacred books like the Gita.”
MASTER: “But what will you gain by mere reading? Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and there are some, besides, who have drunk it. God can indeed be seen; what is more, one can talk to Him.
“The first stage is that of the beginner. He studies and hears. Second is the stage of the struggling aspirant. He prays to God, meditates on Him, and sings His name and glories. The third stage is that of the perfect soul. He has seen God, realised Him directly and immediately in his inner Consciousness. Last is the stage of the supremely perfect, like Chaitanya. Such a devotee establishes a definite relationship with God, looking on Him as his Son or Beloved.”
M., Rakhal, Jogin, Latu, and the other devotees were entranced by these words of divine realisation.
Mr. Mukherji and his friend were taking leave of the Master. After saluting him, they stood up. The Master also stood up to show them courtesy.
MUKHERJI (smiling): “That you should stand up or sit down!”
MASTER (smiling): “But what’s the harm? Water is water whether it is placid or in waves. I am like a cast-off leaf in the wind. The wind blows that leaf wherever it lists. I am the machine and God is its Operator.”
Mr. Mukherji and his friend left the room. M. thought: “According to the Vedanta all is like a dream. Are all these — the ego, the universe, and the living beings — unreal then?”
M. had studied a little of the Vedanta. He also had read the German philosophers, such as Kant and Hegel, whose writings are only a faint echo of the Vedanta. But Sri Ramakrishna did not arrive at his conclusions by reasoning, as do ordinary scholars. It was the Divine Mother of the Universe who revealed the Truth to him. These were the thoughts that passed through M.’s mind.
A little later Sri Ramakrishna and M. were conversing on the porch west of the Master’s room. No one else was there. It was a late winter afternoon, and the sun had not yet gone below the horizon.
M: “Is the world unreal?”
MASTER: “Why should it be unreal? What you are asking is a matter for philosophical discussion.
“In the beginning, when a man reasons following the Vedantic method of ‘Not this, not this’, he realises that Brahman is not the living beings, not the universe, not the twenty-four cosmic principles. All these things become like dreams to him. Then comes the affirmation of what has been denied, and he feels that God Himself has become the universe and all living beings.
“Suppose you are climbing to the roof by the stairs. As long as you are aware of the roof, you are also aware of the stairs. He who is aware of the high is also aware of the low. But after reaching the roof you realise that the stairs are made of the same materials — brick, lime, and brick-dust — as the roof.
“Further, I have given the illustration of the bel-fruit. Both changeability and unchangeability belong to one and the same Reality.
“The ego cannot be done away with. As long as ‘I-consciousness’ exists, living beings and the universe must also exist. After realizing God, one sees that it is He Himself who has become the universe and the living beings. But one cannot realise this by mere reasoning.
“Siva has two states of mind. First, the state of samadhi, when He is transfixed in the Great Yoga. He is then Atmarama, satisfied in the Self. Second, the state when He descends from samadhi and keeps a trace of ego. Then He dances about, chanting, ‘Rama, Rama!'”
Did the Master describe Siva to hint at his own state of mind?
It was evening. Sri Ramakrishna was meditating on the Divine Mother and chanting Her holy name. The devotees also went off to solitary places and meditated on their Chosen Ideals. Evening worship began at the temple garden in the shrines of Kali, Radha-Krishna, and Siva.
It was the second day of the dark fortnight of the moon. Soon the moon rose in the sky, bathing temples, trees, flowers, and the rippling surface of the Ganges in its light. The Master was sitting on the couch and M. on the floor. The conversation turned to the Vedanta.
MASTER (to M.): “Why should the universe be unreal? That is a speculation of the philosophers. After realizing God, one sees that it is God Himself who has become the universe and all living beings.
“The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of Consciousness. The Image was Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water-vessels were Consciousness, the door-sill was Consciousness, the “marble floor was Consciousness — all was Consciousness.
I found everything inside the room soaked, as it were, in Bliss — the Bliss of Satchidananda. I saw a wicked man in front of the Kali temple; but in him also I saw the Power of the Divine Mother vibrating.
“That was why I fed a cat with the food that was to be offered to the Divine Mother. I clearly perceived that the Divine Mother Herself had become everything — even the cat. The manager of the temple garden wrote to Mathur Babu saving that I was feeding the cat with the offering intended for the Divine Mother. But Mathur Babu had insight into the state of my mind. He wrote back to the manager: ‘Let him do whatever he likes. You must not say anything to him.’
“After realizing God, one sees all this aright — that it is He who has become the universe, living beings, and the twenty four cosmic principles. But what remains when God completely effaces the ego cannot be described in words. As Ramprasad said in one of his songs, ‘Then alone will you know whether you are good or I am good!’ I get into even that state now and then.
“A man sees a thing in one way through reasoning and in an altogether different way when God Himself shows it to him.”
Monday, December 17, 1885
It was about eight o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was in his room with M., when Dr. Madhu arrived and sat down beside the Master on the small couch. He was an elderly man and full of wit. He used to visit the Master when the latter felt indisposed.
MASTER: “The whole thing in a nutshell is that one must develop ecstatic love for Satchidananda. What kind of love? How should one love God? Gauri used to say that one must become like Sita to understand Rama; like Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, to understand Bhagavan, Siva. One must practise austerity, as Bhagavati did, in order to attain Siva. One must cultivate the attitude of Prakriti in order to realise Purusha — the attitude of a friend, a handmaid, or a mother.
“I saw Sita in a vision. I found that her entire mind was concentrated on Rama. She was totally indifferent to everything — her hands, her feet, her clothes, her jewels. It seemed that Rama had filled every bit of her life and she could not remain alive without Rama.”
M: “Yes, sir. She was mad with love for Rama.”
MASTER: “Mad! That’s the word. One must become mad with love in order to realise God. But that love is not possible if the mind dwells on ‘woman and gold’. Sex-life with a woman! What happiness is there in that? The realisation of God gives ten million times more happiness. Gauri used to say that when a man attains ecstatic love of God all the pores of the skin, even the roots of the hair, become like so many sexual organs, and in every pore the aspirant enjoys the happiness of communion with the Atman.
“One must call on God with a longing heart. One must learn from the guru how God can be realised. Only if the guru himself has attained Perfect Knowledge can he show the way.
“A man gets rid of all desires when he has Perfect Knowledge. He becomes like a child five years old. Sages like Dattatreya and Jadabharata had the nature of a child.”
M: “One hears about them. But there were many others like them that the world doesn’t hear about.”
MASTER: “Yes. The jnani gets rid of all desire. If any is left, it does not hurt him. At the touch of the philosopher’s stone the sword is transformed into gold. Then that sword cannot do any killing. Just so, the jnani keeps only a semblance of anger and passion. They are anger and passion only in name and cannot injure him.”
M: “Yes, sir. The jnani goes beyond the three gunas, as you say. He is not under the control of any of the gunas — sattva, rajas, or tamas. All these three are so many robbers, as it were.”
MASTER: “Yes, one must assimilate that.”
M: “In this world there are perhaps not more than three or four men of Perfect Knowledge.”
MASTER: “Why do you say that? One sees many holy men and sannyasis in the monasteries of upper India.”
M: “Well, I too can become a sannyasi like one of those.”
The Master fixed his gaze on M. and said, “By renouncing everything?”
M: “What can a man achieve unless he gets rid of maya? What will a man gain by merely being a sannyasi, if he cannot subdue maya?”
Both remained silent a few minutes.
M: “Sir, what is the nature of the divine love transcending the three gunas?”
MASTER: “Attaining that love, the devotee sees everything full of Spirit and Consciousness. To him ‘Krishna is Consciousness, and His sacred Abode is also Consciousness’. The devotee, too, is Consciousness. Everything is Consciousness. Very few people attain such love.”
DR. MADHU: “The love transcending the three gunas means, in other words, that the devotee is not under the control of any of the gunas.”
MASTER (smiling): “Yes, that’s it. He becomes like a child five years old, not under the control of any of the gunas.”
The Master was resting after his noon meal. Mani Mallick arrived and saluted him. Sri Ramakrishna remained lying on the couch and said a word or two to Mani.
MANI: “I hear you visited Keshab Sen.”
MASTER: “Yes. How is he now?”
MANI: “He hasn’t recovered to any extent from his illness.”
MASTER: “I found him to be very rajasic. I had to wait a long time before I could see him.”
The Master sat up on the couch and continued his conversation with the devotees.
MASTER (to M.): “I became mad for Rama. I used to walk about carrying an image of Ramlala (A brass image of the Boy Rama.) given to me by a monk. I bathed it, fed it, and laid it down to sleep. I carried it wherever I went. I became mad for Ramlala.”
- ^Magicians, while performing their feats, cry in this way in order to cast a spell on the spectators.
- ^A devotee of the Master from Sindh.
- ^During the period of his sadhana Sri Ramakrishna practised spiritual discipline in the hut in the Panchavati.
- ^The song represents Sri Krishna’s words.
- ^An allusion to Krishna’s dark-blue complexion; Gauranga’s complexion was golden.