Brahman and Sakti identical — Many forms of divine manifestation — Duties and ceremonial devotions — Practice of God-communion — Necessity of spiritual discipline — Self-surrender to God — Illustration of monkey and kitten — God with form and the formless Deity — The Master’s prayer for pure love — Unswerving devotion to God — How to receive God’s grace — Renunciation of worldly attachment — Unselfish love of God — Futility of reasoning — The Master’s visions — Master exhorts M. not to reason — Different attitudes toward God — Master and the Brahmo Samaj — Master and philanthropy — Meaning of free will — Master’s prayer to the Divine Mother — Advice to M.
December 26, 1883
SRI RAMAKRISHNA, accompanied by Manilal Mallick, M., and several other devotees, was in a carriage on his way to Ram’s new garden. The garden, which Ram had recently purchased, was next to Surendra’s. Ram adored the Master as an Incarnation of God. He visited Sri Ramakrishna frequently at Dakshineswar. Manilal Mallick was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. The Brahmos do not believe in Divine Incarnations.
MASTER (to Manilal): “In order to meditate on God, one should try at first to think of Him as free from upadhis, limitations. God is beyond upadhis. He is beyond speech and mind. But it is very difficult to achieve perfection in this form of meditation.
“But it is easy to meditate on an Incarnation — God born as man. Yes, God in man. The body is a mere covering. It is like a lantern with a light burning inside, or like a glass case in which one sees precious things.”
Arriving at the garden, the Master got out of the carriage and accompanied Ram and the other devotees to the sacred tulsi-grove. Standing near it, he said: “How nice! It is a fine place. You can easily meditate on God here.”
Sri Ramakrishna sat down in ,the house, which stood to the south of the lake. Ram offered him a plate of fruit and sweets which he enjoyed with the devotees. After a short time he went around the garden.
Next Sri Ramakrishna proceeded toward Surendra’s garden. He walked on foot a little distance and saw a sadhu sitting on a couch under a tree. At once he went up to the holy man and joyfully began a conversation with him.
MASTER: “To which order of monks do you belong? Have you any title — Giri, Puri, or the like?”
SADHU: “People call me a paramahamsa.”
MASTER: “That is good. ‘I am Siva’ — that is a good attitude. But I must tell you something else. The process of creation, preservation, and destruction that is going on day and night is due to Sakti, the Power of God. This Primal Power and Brahman are one and the same. Sakti cannot exist without Brahman, just as waves cannot exist without water. There cannot be any instrumental music without an instrument.
“As long as God keeps us in His relative world, so long we feel that there are two. If one accepts Sakti, one accepts Brahman as well. If one is aware of night, one is also aware of day. If one is aware of knowledge, one is also aware of ignorance.
“But there is another state in which God reveals to His devotee that Brahman is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. It cannot be described in words. What exists, exists.”
After a pleasant conversation with the sadhu, the Master returned to the carriage, the holy man walking with him. Sri Ramakrishna looked upon him as a friend of long acquaintance, and they walked arm in arm.
The Master arrived at Surendra’s garden. The very first thing he talked about was the sadhu.
MASTER: “He is a very nice man. (To Ram) Bring him to Dakshineswar when you come. He is really a good man. There is a line in a song to the effect that a man cannot recognize a holy person unless he is holy himself.
“The sadhu believes in God without form. That is good. God is both formless and endowed with form. He is many things more. The Absolute and the Relative belong to one and the same Reality. What is beyond speech and mind is born in the flesh, assuming various forms and engaging in various activities. From that one Om have sprung ‘Om Siva’, ‘Om Kali’, and ‘Om Krishna’. Suppose the master of a house has sent out a small boy of the family to invite people to a feast. All look on the boy with great fondness and affection because he is the son or grandson of a prominent man.”
The Master took refreshments at Surendra’s garden house and then set out for Dakshineswar with the devotees.
Thursday, December 27, 1883
The temple garden was filled with the sweet music of the dawn service, which mingled with the morning melody from the nahabat. Leaving his bed, Sri Ramakrishna chanted the names of God in sweet tones. Then he bowed before the pictures of the different deities in his room and went to the west porch to salute the Ganges.
Some of the devotees who had spent the night at the temple garden came to the Master’s room and bowed before him. Rakhal was staying with the Master, and Baburam had come the previous evening. M. had been staying there two weeks.
Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: “I have been invited to Ishan’s this morning. Baburam will accompany me, and you too.” M. made ready to go with the Master.
At eight o’clock the carriage hired for the Master stood waiting in front of the nahabat. On all sides plants and trees were in flower, and the river sparkled in the sunlight of the bright winter’s day. The Master bowed once more before the pictures. Then, still chanting the name of the Divine Mother, he got into the carriage, followed by M. and Baburam. The devotees took with them Sri Ramakrishna’s woolen shawl, woolen cap, and small bag of spices.
Sri Ramakrishna was very happy during the trip and enjoyed it like a child. About nine o’clock the carriage stopped at the door of Ishan’s house.
Ishan and his relatives greeted the Master and led him to the parlour on the first floor. Shrish, Ishan’s son, was introduced to Sri Ramakrishna. The young man practised law at Alipur. He had been a brilliant student, having stood first in two of the university examinations, but he was extremely modest.
MASTER (to Shrish): “What is your profession?”
SHRISH: “I am practising law at Alipur.”
MASTER (to M.): “For such a man to be a lawyer! (To Shrish) Well, have you any questions to ask? Perhaps you want to know how to live unattached in the world. Isn’t that so?”
SHRISH: “Under the pressure of duties people do many unrighteous things in the world. Further, some are engaged in good work, and some in evil. Is this due to their actions in previous births? Is that why they act this way?”
MASTER: “How long should a man perform his duties? As long as he has not attained God. Duties drop away after the realisation of God. Then one goes beyond good and evil. The flower drops off as soon as the fruit appears. The flower serves the purpose of begetting the fruit.
“How long should a devotee perform daily devotions such as the sandhya? As long as his hair does not stand on end and his eyes do not shed tears at the name of God. These things indicate that the devotee has realised God, From these one knows that he has attained pure love of God. Realizing God one goes beyond virtue and vice.
I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both righteousness and sin.
“The more you advance toward God, the less He will give you worldly duties to perform.”
SHRISH: “It is extremely difficult to proceed toward God while leading the life of a householder.”
MASTER: “Why so? What about the yoga of practice? At Kamarpukur I have seen the women of the carpenter families selling flattened rice. Let me tell you how alert they are while doing their business. The pestle of the husking-machine that flattens the paddy constantly falls into the hole of the mortar. The woman turns the paddy in the hole with one hand and with the other holds her baby on her lap as she nurses it. In the mean time customers arrive. The machine goes on pounding the paddy, and she carries on her bargains with the customers. She says to them, ‘Pay the few pennies you owe me before you take anything more.’ You see, she has all these things to do at the same time — nurse the baby, turn the paddy as the pestle pounds it, take the flattened rice out of the hole, and talk to the buyers. This is called the yoga of practice. Fifteen parts of her mind out of sixteen are fixed on the pestle of the husking-machine, lest it should pound her hand. With only one part of her mind she nurses the baby and talks to the buyers. Likewise, he who leads the life of a householder should devote fifteen parts of his mind to God; otherwise he will face ruin and fall into the clutches of Death. He should perform the duties of the world with only one part of his mind.
“A man may lead the life of a householder after attaining Knowledge. But he must attain Knowledge first. If the milk of the mind is kept in the water of the world, they get mixed. Therefore he should turn the milk into curd and extract butter from it by churning it in solitude; then he may keep the butter in the water of the world. Therefore, you see, spiritual discipline is necessary. When the aswattha tree is a mere sapling, it must be enclosed by a fence; otherwise the cattle will eat it. But the fence may be taken away when the trunk grows thick and strong. Then even an elephant tied to the tree cannot harm it.
“Therefore at the beginning the aspirant should go into solitude now and then. Spiritual discipline is necessary. You want to eat rice; suppose you sit down somewhere and say, ‘Wood contains fire and fire cooks rice.’ Can saying it cook the rice? You must get two pieces of wood and by rubbing them together bring out the fire.
“By eating siddhi one becomes intoxicated and feels happy. But suppose you haven’t eaten the stuff or done anything else with it; you simply sit down somewhere and mutter, ‘Siddhi! siddhi!’ Will that intoxicate you or make you happy?
“You may learn a great deal from books; but it is all futile if you have no love for God and no desire to realise Him. A mere pundit, without discrimination and renunciation, has his attention fixed on ‘woman and gold’. The vulture soars very high but its eyes are fixed on the charnel pit.
“That alone is Knowledge through which one is able to know God. All else is futile. Well, what is your idea about God?”
SHRISH: “Sir, I feel that there is an All-knowing Person. We get an indication of His Knowledge by looking at His creation. Let me give an illustration. God has made devices to keep fish and other aquatic animals alive in cold regions. As water grows colder, it gradually shrinks. But the amazing thing is that, just before turning into ice, the water becomes light and expands. In the freezing cold, fish can easily live in the water of a lake: the surface of the lake may be frozen, but the water below is all liquid. If a very cold breeze blows, it is obstructed by the ice. The water below remains warm.”
MASTER: “That God exists may be known by looking at the universe. But it is one thing to hear of God, another thing to see God, and still another thing to talk to God. Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and some, again, have tasted it. You feel happy when you see milk; you are nourished and strengthened when you drink it. You will get peace of mind only when you have seen God. You will enjoy bliss and gain strength only when you have talked to Him.”
SHRISH: “We do not have time to pray to God.’
MASTER (with a smile): “That is true. Nothing comes to pass except at the right time. Going to bed, a child said to his mother, ‘Mother, please wake me up when I feel the call of nature.’ ‘My son,’ said the mother, ‘that urge itself will wake you up. I don’t have to wake you.’
“It is all decided beforehand by God what each one shall receive. A mother-in-law used to measure rice with a dish for her daughters-in-law. But it was not enough for them. One day the dish was broken and that made the girls happy. But the mother-in-law said to them, ‘Children, you may shout and dance, but I can measure the rice with the palm of my hand.’
(To Shrish): “Surrender everything at the feet of God. What else can you do? Give Him the power of attorney. Let Him do whatever He thinks best. If you rely on a great man, he will never injure you.
“It is no doubt necessary to practise spiritual discipline; but there are two kinds of aspirants. The nature of the one kind is like that of the young monkey, and the nature of the other kind is like that of the kitten. The young monkey, with great exertion, somehow clings to its mother. Likewise, there are some aspirants who think that in order to realise God they must repeat His name a certain number of times, meditate on Him for a certain period, and practise a certain amount of austerity. An aspirant of this kind makes his own efforts to catch hold of God. But the kitten, of itself, cannot cling to its mother. It lies on the ground and cries, ‘Mew, mew!’ It leaves everything to its mother. The mother cat sometimes puts it on a bed, sometimes on the roof behind a pile of wood. She carries the kitten in her mouth hither and thither. The kitten doesn’t know how to cling to the mother. Likewise, there are some aspirants who cannot practise spiritual discipline by calculating about japa or the period of meditation. All that they do is cry to God with yearning hearts. God hears their cry and cannot keep Himself away. He reveals Himself to them.”
At noon the host wished to feed the Master and the devotees. Sri Ramakrishna was smilingly pacing the room. Now and then he exchanged a few words with the musician.
MUSICIAN: “It is God alone who is both the ‘instrument’ and the ’cause’. Duryodhana said to Krishna: ‘O Lord, Thou art seated in my heart. I act as Thou makest me act.'”
MASTER (with a smile): “Yes, that is true. It is God alone who acts through us. He is the Doer, undoubtedly, and man is His instrument. But it is also true that an action cannot fail to produce its result. Your stomach will certainly burn if you eat hot chilli. It is God who has ordained that chilli will burn your stomach. If you commit a sin, you must bear its fruit. But one who has attained perfection, realised God, cannot commit sin. An expert singer cannot sing a false note. A man with a trained voice sings the notes correctly: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni.”
The meal was ready. The Master and the devotees went to the inner court, where they were treated to a generous feast.
About three o’clock in the afternoon the Master was seated again in Ishan’s drawing-room with M. and Shrish. He resumed his conversation with Shrish.
MASTER: “What is your attitude toward God? ‘I am He’, or ‘Master and servant’? For the householder it is very good to look on God as the Master. The householder is conscious of doing the duties of life himself. Under such conditions how can he say, ‘I am He’? To him who says, ‘I am He’ the world appears to be a dream. His mind, his body, even his ego, are dreams to him. Therefore he cannot perform worldly duties. So it is very good for the householder to look on himself as the servant and on God as the Master.
“Hanuman had the attitude of a servant. He said to Rama: ‘O Rama, sometimes I meditate on You as the whole and on myself as the part. Sometimes I feel that You are the Master and I am the servant. But when I have the Knowledge of Reality, I see that I am You and You are I.’
“In the state of Perfect Knowledge one may feel, ‘I am He’; but that is far beyond the ordinary man’s experience.”
SHRISH: “That is true, sir. The attitude of a servant relieves a man of all his worries. The servant depends entirely upon his master. A dog is devoted to its master. It depends upon him and is at peace.”
MASTER: “Well, what suits your taste — God with form or the formless. Reality? But to tell you the truth, He who is formless is also endowed with form. To His bhaktas He reveals Himself as having a form. It is like a great ocean, an infinite expanse of water, without any trace of shore. Here and there some of the water has been frozen. Intense cold has turned it into ice. Just so, under the cooling influence, so to speak, of the bhakta’s love, the Infinite appears to take a form. Again, the ice melts when the sun rises; it becomes water as before. Just so, one who follows the path of knowledge — the path of discrimination — does not see the form of God any more. To him everything is formless. The ice melts into formless water with the rise of the Sun of Knowledge. But mark this: form and formlessness belong to one and the same Reality.”
At dusk the Master was ready to start for Dakshineswar. He stood on the south porch of the drawing-room, talking to Ishan. Someone remarked that the chanting of God’s holy name did not always produce results. Ishan said: “How can you say that? The seeds of an aswattha tree are no doubt tiny, but in them lie the germs of big trees. It may take a very long time for them to grow.”
“Yes, yes!” said the Master. “It takes a long time to see the effect.”
Next to Ishan’s was his father-in-law’s house. Sri Ramakrishna stood at the door of this house, ready to get into the carriage. Ishan and his friends stood around to bid him adieu. Sri Ramakrishna said to Ishan: “You are living in the world as a mudfish lives in the mud. It lives in the mud but its body is not stained.
There are both vidya and avidya in this world of maya. Who may be called a paramahamsa? He who, like a swan, can take the milk from a mixture of milk and water, leaving aside the water. He who, like an ant, can take the sugar from a mixture of sugar and sand, leaving aside the sand.”
It was evening. The Master stopped at Ram’s house on his way to Dakshineswar. He was taken to the drawing-room and there he engaged in conversation with Mahendra Goswami. Mahendra belonged to the Vaishnava sect and was Ram’s neighbour. Sri Ramakrishna was fond of him.
MASTER: ‘The worshippers of Vishnu and the worshippers of Sakti will all ultimately reach one and the same goal; the ways may be different. The true Vaishnavas do not criticize the Saktas.”
GOSWAMI (smiling): “Siva and Parvati are our Father and Mother.”
Sri Ramakrishna, out of his stock of a dozen English words, said sweetly, “Thank you!” Then he added, “Yes, Father and Mother!”
GOSWAMI: “Besides, it is a sin to criticize anyone, especially a devotee of God. All sins may be forgiven, but not the sin of criticizing a devotee.”
MASTER: “But this idea of sin does not by any means affect all. For instance, the Isvarakotis, such as Incarnations of God, are above sin. Sri Chaitanya is an example.
“A child, walking on a narrow ridge and holding to his father, may slip into the ditch. But that can never happen if the father holds the child by the hand.
“Listen. I prayed to the Divine Mother for pure love. I said to Her: ‘Here is Thy righteousness, here is Thy unrighteousness. Take them both and give me pure love for Thee. Here is Thy purity, here is Thy impurity. Take them both and give me pure love for Thee. O Mother, here is Thy virtue, here is Thy vice. Take them both and give me pure love for Thee.'”
GOSWAMI: “Yes, sir. That is right.”
MASTER: “You should undoubtedly bow before all views. But there is a thing called unswerving devotion to one ideal. True, you should salute everyone. But you must love one ideal with your whole soul. That is unswerving devotion.
“Hanuman could not take delight in any other form than that of Rama. The gopis had such single-minded love for the cowherd Krishna of Vrindavan that they did not care to see the turbaned Krishna of Dwaraka.
“A wife may serve her husband’s brothers by fetching water, or in other ways, but she cannot serve them in the way she does her husband. With him she has a special relationship.”
Ram treated the Master to sweets. Sri Ramakrishna was ready to start for Dakshineswar. He put on his woolen shawl and cap, and got into the carriage with M. and the other devotees. Ram and his friends saluted the Master.
Saturday, December 29, 1883
It was the day of the new moon, auspicious for the worship of the Divine Mother. At one o’clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna got into a carriage to visit the temple of Kali at Kalighat. He intended to stop at Adhar’s house on the way, since Adhar was to accompany him to the temple. While the carriage was waiting near the north porch of the Master’s room, M. went to the Master and said, “Sir, may I also go with you?”
M: “I should like to visit my home in Calcutta.”
Sri Ramakrishna reflected a moment and said: “Must you go home? Why? You are quite all right here.”
M. wanted to see his people a few hours, but evidently the Master did not approve.
Sunday, December 30, 1883
At three o’clock in the afternoon, while M. was walking up and down under a tree, a devotee came to him and said that the Master had sent for him. M. went to Sri Ramakrishna’s room and found a number of devotees there. He saluted the Master.
Ram, Kedar, and others had arrived from Calcutta. Ram had brought with him the Vedantist monk whom the Master had visited near his garden a few days earlier. On that occasion Sri Ramakrishna had asked him to bring the sadhu to Dakshineswar.
The monk was sitting on the small couch with the Master. They were talking happily in Hindusthani.
MASTER: “What do you feel about all this?”
MONK: “It is all like a dream.”
MASTER: “Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. Well, sir, what is Brahman?”
MONK: “Brahman is the Sound. It is Om.”
MASTER: “But there must be something indicated by the sound. Isn’t that so?”
MONK: “That Itself is the thing indicated as well as the indicator.”
At these words Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi and sat motionless. The monk and the devotees looked wonderingly at him in his ecstatic condition. Kedar said to the monk: “Look at him, sir. This is samadhi.”
The monk had read of samadhi but had never seen it before. After a few minutes the Master began gradually to come down to the normal plane of consciousness. He said to the Divine Mother: “Mother, I want to be normal. Please don’t make me unconscious. I should like to talk to the sadhu about Satchidananda. Mother, I want to be merry talking about Satchidananda.”
The monk was amazed to see the Master’s condition and to hear these words. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: “Please do away with your ‘I am He’. Let us now keep ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ to enjoy the fun.”
A little later the Master was walking in the Panchavati with Ram, Kedar, M., and the other devotees.
MASTER (to Kedar, with a smile): “What did you think of the sadhu?”
KEDAR: “It is all dry knowledge. The pot has just been put on the fire, but as yet there is no rice in it.”
MASTER: “That may be true. But he has renounced everything. He who has renounced the world has already made great progress. The sadhu belongs to the stage of the beginner. Nothing can be achieved without the realisation of God. When a man is intoxicated with ecstatic love of God, he doesn’t take delight in anything else. Then —
Cherish my precious Mother Syama
Tenderly within, O mind;
May you and I alone behold Her,
Letting no one else intrude.”
Kedar repeated the words of a song in keeping with the Master’s feeling:
How shall I open my heart, O friend?
It is forbidden me to speak.
I am about to die, for lack of a kindred soul
To understand my misery. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room. About four o’clock the door of the Kali temple was opened, and the Master walked to the temple with the monk; M. accompanied them. Entering the inner chamber, the Master prostrated himself reverently before the image. The monk, with folded hands, also bowed his head repeatedly before Kali.
MASTER: “What do you think of Kali?”
MONK (with devotion): “Kali is supreme.”
MASTER: “Kali and Brahman are identical. Is that not so?”
MONK: “As long as one’s mind is turned to the outer world, one must accept Kali. As long as a man sees the outer world, and discriminates between good and evil, he must accept good and reject evil. To be sure, all names and forms are illusory; but as long as the mind sees the outer world, the aspirant must give up woman. The ideas of good and evil are applied to one who is still a student on the path; otherwise he will stray from the path of righteousness.”
Thus conversing, the Master and the monk returned from the temple.
MASTER (to M.): “Did you notice that the sadhu bowed before Kali?”
M: “Yes, sir.”
Monday, December 31, 1883
At four o’clock in the afternoon the Master was sitting in his room with M., Rakhal, Latu, Harish, and other devotees.
Addressing M. and Balaram, the Master said: “Haladhari followed the path of knowledge. Day and night he used to study the Upanishads, the Adhyatma Ramayana, and similar books on Vedanta. He would turn up his nose at the mention of the forms of God. Once I ate from the leaf-plates of the beggars. At this Haladhari said to me, ‘How will you be able to marry your children?’ I said: ‘You rascal! Shall I ever have children? May your mouth that repeats words from the Gita and the Vedanta be blighted!’ Just fancy! He declared that the world was illusory and, again, would meditate in the temple of Vishnu with turned-up nose.”
In the evening Balaram and the other devotees returned to Calcutta. The Master remained in his room, absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother. After a while the sweet music of the evening worship in the temples was heard.
A little later the Master began to talk to the Mother in a tender voice that touched the heart of M., who was seated on the floor. After repeating, “Hari Om! Hari Om! Om!”, the Master said: “Mother, don’t make me unconscious with the Knowledge of Brahman. Mother, I don’t want Brahmajnana. I want to be merry. I want to play.” Again he said: “Mother, I don’t know the Vedanta; and Mother, I don’t even care to know. The Vedas and the Vedanta remain so far below when Thou art realised, O Divine Mother!” Then he said: “O Krishna, I shall say to Thee, ‘Eat, my Child! Take this, my Child!’ O Krishna, I shall say to Thee, ‘My Child, Thou hast assumed this body for my sake.'”
Wednesday, January 2, 1884
Rakhal, Latu, Harish, Ramlal, and M. had been staying with Sri Ramakrishna at the temple garden. About three o’clock in the afternoon M. found the Master on the west porch of his room engaged in conversation with a Tantrik devotee. The Tantrik was wearing an ochre cloth. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to sit by his side. Perhaps the Master intended to instruct him through his talk with the Tantrik devotee. Mahima Chakravarty had sent the latter to the Master.
MASTER (to the Tantrik): “It is a part of the Tantrik discipline to drink wine from a human skull. This wine is called ‘karana’. Isn’t that so?”
TANTRIK: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “But I cannot touch wine at all.”
TANTRIK: “You have spontaneous Divine Bliss. One who enjoys that Bliss wants nothing else.”
MASTER: “I don’t care for japa and austerity. But I have constant remembrance and consciousness of God.
“Tell me, when they speak of the six centres, what do they mean?”
TANTRIK: “These are like different holy places. In each of the centres dwell Siva and Sakti. One cannot see them with the physical eyes. One cannot take them out by cutting open the body.”
M. listened silently to the conversation. Looking at him, the Master asked the Tantrik devotee, “Can a man attain perfection without the help of a vija mantra, a sacred word from the guru?”
TANTRIK: “Yes, he can if he has faith — faith in the words of the guru.”
The Master turned to M. and said, drawing his attention, “Faith!”
After the Tantrik devotee had taken his leave, Jaygopal Sen, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, arrived. The Master talked with him.
MASTER (to Jaygopal): “One should not harbour malice toward any person or any opinion. The believers in the formless God and the worshippers of God with form are all, without exception, going toward God alone. The jnani, the yogi, the bhakta — all, without exception, are seeking Him alone. The follower of the path of knowledge calls Him ‘Brahman’. The yogi calls Him ‘Atman’ or ‘Paramatman’. The bhakta calls Him ‘Bhagavan’. Further, it is said that there is the Eternal Lord and His Eternal Servant.”
JAYGOPAL: “How can we know that all paths are true?”
MASTER: “A man can reach God if he follows one path rightly. Then he can learn about all the other paths. It is like reaching the roof by some means or other. Then one is able to climb down by the wooden or stone stairs, by a bamboo pole, or even by a rope.
“A devotee can know everything when God’s grace descends on him. If you but realise Him, you will be able to know all about Him. You should somehow meet the master of a house and become acquainted with him; then he himself will tell you how many houses he owns and all about his gardens and government securities.”
JAYGOPAL: “How does one receive the grace of God?”
MASTER: “Constantly you have to chant the name and glories of God and give up worldly thoughts as much as you can. With the greatest effort you may try to bring water into your field for your crops, but it may all leak out through holes in the ridges. Then all your efforts to bring the water by digging a canal will be futile.
“You will feel restless for God when your heart becomes pure and your mind free from attachment to the things of the world. Then alone will your prayer reach God. A telegraph wire cannot carry messages if it has a break or some other defect.
“I used to cry for God all alone, with a longing heart. I used to weep, ‘O God, where art Thou?’ Weeping thus, I would lose all consciousness of the world. My mind would merge in the Mahavayu.
“How can one attain yoga? By completely renouncing attachment to worldly things. The mind must be pure and without blemish, like the telegraph wire that has no defect.
“One must not cherish any desire whatever. The devotion of a man who has any desire is selfish. But desireless devotion is love for its own sake. You may love me or not, but I love you: this is love for its own sake.
“The thing is that one must love God. Through intense love one attains the vision of Him. The attraction of the husband for the chaste wife, the attraction of the child for its mother, the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man — when a man can blend these three into one, and direct it all to God, then he gets the vision of God.”
Jaygopal was a man of the world. Was this why the Master gave instruction suited to him?
At eight o’clock that evening the Master was sitting m his room with Rakhal and M. It was the twenty-first day of M.’s stay with Sri Ramakrishna. The Master had forbidden him to indulge in reasoning.
MASTER (to Rakhal): “It is not good to reason too much. First comes God, and then the world. Realise God first; then you will know all about His world. (To M. and Rakhal) If first one is introduced to Jadu Mallick, then one can know everything about him — the number of his houses, gardens, government securities, and so on. For this reason the rishi Narada advised Valmiki1 to repeat the word ‘mara’. ‘Ma’ means God, and ‘ra’ the world. First comes God, and then the world. Krishnakishore said that the word ‘mara’ is a holy mantra because it was given to Valmiki by the rishi. ‘Ma’ means God, and ‘ra’ the world.
“Therefore, like Valmiki, one should at first renounce everything and cry to God in solitude with a longing heart. The first thing necessary is the vision of God; then comes reasoning — about the scriptures and the world.
(To M.) “That is why I have been telling you not to reason any more. I came from the pine-grove to say that to you. Through too much reasoning your spiritual life will be injured; you will at last become like Hazra. I used to roam at night in the streets, all alone, and cry to the Divine Mother, ‘O Mother, blight with Thy thunderbolt my desire to reason!’ Tell me that you won’t reason any more.”
M: “Yes, sir. I won’t reason any more.”
MASTER: “Everything can be achieved through bhakti alone. Those who want the Knowledge of Brahman will certainly achieve that also by following the trail of bhakti.
“Can a man blessed with the grace of God ever lack Knowledge? At Kamarpukur I have seen grain-dealers measuring paddy. As one heap is measured away another heap is pushed forward to be measured. The Mother supplies the devotees with the ‘heap’ of Knowledge.
“After attaining God, one looks on a pundit as mere straw and dust. Padmalochan said to me: ‘What does it matter if I accompany you to a meeting at the house of a fisherman?2 With you I can dine even at the house of a pariah.’
“Everything can be realised simply through love of God. If one is able to love God, one does not lack anything. Kartika and Ganesa3 were seated near Bhagavati, who had a necklace of gems around Her neck. The Divine Mother said to them, ‘I will present this necklace to him who is the first to go around the universe.’ Thereupon Kartika, without losing a moment, set out on the peacock, his carrier. Ganesa, on the other hand, in a leisurely fashion went around the Divine Mother and prostrated himself before Her. He knew that She contained within Herself the entire universe. The Divine Mother was pleased with him and put the necklace around his neck. After a long while Kartika returned and found his brother seated there with the necklace on.
“Weeping, I prayed to the Mother: ‘O Mother, reveal to me what is contained in the Vedas and the Vedanta. Reveal to me what is in the Purana and the Tantra.’ One by one She has revealed all these to me.
“Yes, She has taught me everything. Oh, how many things She has shown me! One day She showed me Siva and Sakti everywhere. Everywhere I saw the communion of Siva and Sakti. Siva and Sakti existing in all living things — men, animals, trees, plants. I saw Them in the communion of all male and female elements.
“Another day I was shown heaps of human heads, mountain high. Nothing else existed, and I was seated alone in their midst.
“Still another day She showed me an ocean. Taking the form of a salt doll, I was going to measure its depth. While doing this, through the grace of the guru I was turned to stone. Then I saw a ship and at once got into it. The helmsman was the guru. I hope you pray every day to Satchidananda, who is the Guru. Do you?”
M: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “The guru was the helmsman in that boat. I saw that ‘I’ and ‘you’ were two different things. Again I jumped into the ocean, and was changed into a fish. I found myself swimming joyfully in the Ocean of Satchidananda.
“These are all deep mysteries. What can you understand through reasoning ing? You will realise everything when God Himself teaches you. Then you will not lack any knowledge.”
Friday, January 4, 1884.
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room. M. was still staying with the Master, devoting his time to the practice of spiritual discipline. He had been spending a great part of each day in prayer and meditation under the bel-tree, where the Master had performed great austerities and had seen many wonderful visions of God.
MASTER (to M.): “Don’t reason any more. In the end, reasoning only injures the aspirant. One should assume a particular attitude toward God while praying to Him — the attitude of friend or servant or son or ‘hero’.
“I assume the attitude of a child. To me every woman is my mother. The divine Maya, seeing this attitude in an aspirant, moves away from his path out of sheer shame.
“The attitude of ‘hero’ is extremely difficult. The Saktas and the Bauls among the Vaishnavas follow it, but it is very hard to keep one’s spiritual life pure in that attitude. One can assume other attitudes toward God as well — the attitude in which the devotee serenely contemplates God as the Creator, the attitude of service to Him, the attitude of friendship, the attitude of motherly affection, or the attitude of conjugal love. The conjugal relationship, the attitude of a woman to her husband or sweetheart, contains all the rest — serenity, service, friendship, and motherly affection. (To M.) Which one of these appeals to your mind?”
M: “I like them all.”
MASTER: “When one attains perfection one takes delight in all these relationships. In that state a devotee has not the slightest trace of lust. The holy books of the Vaishnavas speak of Chandidas and the washerwoman. Their love was entirely free from lust.
“In that state a devotee looks on himself as a woman. He does not regard himself as a man. Sanatana Goswami refused to see Mirabai because she was a woman. Mira informed him that at Vrindavan the only man was Krishna and that all others were His handmaids. ‘Was it right of Sanatana to think of himself as a man?’ Mira inquired.”
At dusk M. was sitting at the Master’s feet. Sri Ramakrishna had been told that Keshab’s illness had taken a turn for the worse. He was talking about Keshab and incidentally about the Brahmo Samaj.
MASTER (to M.): “Do they only give lectures in the Brahmo Samaj? Or do they also meditate? I understand that they call their service in the temple upasana.
“Keshab at one time thought a great deal of Christianity and the Christian views. At that time, and even before, he belonged to Devendranath Tagore’s organization.”
M: “Had Keshab Babu come here from the very beginning, he would not have been so preoccupied with social reform. He would not have been so busy with the abolition of the caste system, widow remarriage, intercaste marriage, women’s education, and such social activities.”
MASTER: “Keshab now believes in Kali as the Embodiment of Spirit and Consciousness, the Primal Energy. Besides, he repeats the holy name of the Mother and chants Her glories.
“Do. you think the Brahmo Samaj will develop in the future into a sort of social-reform organization?”
M: “The soil of this country is different. Only what is true survives here.”
MASTER: “Yes, that is so. The Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Religion declared by the rishis, will alone endure. But there will also remain some sects like the Brahmo Samaj. Everything appears and disappears through the will of God.”
Earlier in the afternoon several devotees from Calcutta had visited the Master and had sung many songs. One of the songs contained the following idea: “O Mother, You have cajoled us with red toys. You will certainly come running to us when we throw them away and cry ourselves hoarse for You.”
MASTER (to M.): “How well they sang about the red toys!”
M: “Yes, sir. You once told Keshab about the red toys.”
MASTER: “Yes. I also told him about the Chidakasa, the Inner Consciousness, and about many other things. Oh, how happy we were! We used to sing and dance together.”
Saturday, January 5, 1884
It was the twenty-third day of M.’s stay with Sri Ramakrishna. M. had finished his midday meal about one o’clock and was resting in the nahabat when suddenly he heard someone call his name three or four times. Coming out, he saw Sri Ramakrishna calling to him from the verandah north of his room.
M. saluted the Master and they conversed on the south verandah.
MASTER: “I want to know how you meditate. When I meditated under the bel-tree I used to see various visions clearly. One day I saw in front of me money, a shawl, a tray of sandesh, and two women. I asked my mind, ‘Mind, do you want any of these?’ I saw the sandesh to be mere filth. One of the women had a big ring in her nose. I could see both their inside and outside — entrails, filth, bone, flesh, and bloods The mind did not want any of these — money, shawl, sweets, or women. It remained fixed at the Lotus Feet of God.
“A small balance has two needles, the upper and the lower. The mind is the lower needle. I was always afraid lest the mind should move away from the upper needle — God. Further, I would see a man always sitting by me with a trident in his hand. He threatened to strike me with it if the lower needle, moved away from the upper one.
“But no spiritual progress is possible without the renunciation of ‘woman and gold’. I renounced these three: land, wife, and wealth. Once I went to the Registry Office to register some land, the title of which was in the name of Raghuvir. The officer asked me to sign my name; but I didn’t do it, because I couldn’t feel that it was ‘my’ land. I was shown much respect as the guru of Keshab Sen. They presented me with mangoes, but I couldn’t carry them home. A sannyasi cannot lay things up.
“How can one expect to attain God without renunciation? Suppose one thing is placed upon another; how can you get the second without removing the first?
“One must pray to God without any selfish desire. But selfish worship, if practised with perseverance, is gradually turned into selfless worship. Dhruva practised tapasya to obtain his kingdom, but at last he realised God. He said, ‘Why should a man give up gold if he gets it while searching for glass beads?’
“God can be realised when a man acquires sattva. Householders engage in philanthropic work, such as charity, mostly with a motive. That is not good. But actions without motives are good. Yet it is very difficult to leave motives out of one’s actions.
“When you realise God, will you pray to Him, ‘O God, please grant that I may dig reservoirs, build roads, and found hospitals and dispensaries’? After the realisation of God all such desires are left behind.
“Then mustn’t one perform acts of compassion, such as charity to the poor? I do not forbid it. If a man has money, he should give it to remove the sorrows and sufferings that come to his notice. In such an event the wise man says, ‘Give the poor something.’ But inwardly he feels: ‘What can I do? God alone is the Doer. I am nothing.’
“The great souls, deeply affected by the sufferings of men, show them the way to God. Sankaracharya kept the ‘ego of Knowledge’ in order to teach mankind. The gift of knowledge and devotion is far superior to the gift of food. Therefore Chaitanyadeva distributed bhakti to all, including the out-caste. Happiness and suffering are the inevitable characteristics of the body. You have come to eat mangoes. Fulfil that desire. The one thing needful is jnana and bhakti. God alone is Substance; all else is illusory.
“It is God alone who does everything. You may say that in that case man may commit sin. But that is not true. If a man is firmly convinced that God alone is the Doer and that he himself is nothing, then he will never make a false step.
“It is God alone who has planted in man’s mind what the ‘Englishman’4 calls free will. People who have not realised God would become engaged in more and more sinful actions if God had not planted in them the notion of free will. Sin would have increased if God had not made the sinner feel that he alone was responsible for his sin.
“Those who have realised God are aware that free will is a mere appearance. In reality man is the machine and God its Operator, man is the carriage and God its Driver.”
It was about four o’clock. Rakhal and several other devotees were listening to a kirtan by M. in the hut at the Panchavati. Rakhal went into a spiritual mood while listening to the devotional song. After a while the Master came to the Panchavati accompanied by Baburam and Harish. Other devotees followed.
RAKHAL: “How well he [referring to M.] sang kirtan for us! He made us all very happy.”
The Master sang in an ecstatic mood:
O friends, how great is my relief
To hear you chanting Krishna’s name! . . .
To the devotees he said, “Always sing devotional songs.” Continuing, he said: “To love God and live in the company of the devotees: that is all. What more is there?” He said, again: “When Krishna went to Mathura, Yasoda came to Radha, who was absorbed in meditation. Afterwards Radha said to Yasoda: ‘I am the Primordial Energy. Ask a boon of Me.’ ‘What other boon shall I ask of You?’ said Yasoda. ‘Only bless me that I may serve God with my body, mind, and tongue; that I may behold His devotees with these eyes, that I may meditate on Him with this mind, and that I may chant His name and glories with this tongue.’
“But those who are firmly established in God may do as well without the devotees. This is true of those who feel the presence of God both within and without. Sometimes they don’t enjoy the devotees’ company. You don’t whitewash a wall inlaid with mother of pearl — the lime won’t stick.”
The Master returned presently from the Panchavati, talking to M.
MASTER: “You have the voice of a woman. Can’t you practise a song such as this? —
Tell me, friend, how far is the grove
Where Krishna, my Beloved, dwells?
(To M., pointing to Baburam) “You see, my own people have become strangers; Ramlal and my other relatives seem to be foreigners. And strangers have become my own. Don’t you notice how I tell Baburam to go and wash his face? The devotees have become relatives.
(Looking at the Panchavati) “I used to sit there. In course of time I became mad. That phase also passed away. Kala, Siva, is Brahman. That which sports with Kala is Kali, the Primal Energy. Kali moves even the Immutable”
Saying this, the Master 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. . . .
Then he said to M.: “Today is Saturday.5 Go to the temple of Kali.”
As the Master came to the bakul-tree he spoke to M. again: “Chidatma and Chitsakti. The Purusha is the Chidatma and Prakriti is the Chitsakti. Sri Krishna is the Chidatma and Sri Radha the Chitsakti. The devotees are so many forms of the Chitsakti. They should think of themselves as companions or handmaids of the Chitsakti, Sri Radha. This is the whole gist of the thing.”
After dusk Sri Ramakrishna went to the Kali temple and was pleased to see M. meditating there.
The evening worship was over in the temples. The Master returned to his room and sat on the couch, absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother. M. sat on the floor. There was no one else in the room.
The Master was in samadhi. He began to come gradually down to the normal plane. His mind was still filled with the consciousness of the Divine Mother. In that state he was speaking to Her like a small child making importunate demands on his mother. He said in a piteous voice: “Mother, why haven’t You revealed to me that form of Yours, the form that bewitches the world? I pleaded with You so much for it. But You wouldn’t listen to me. You act as You please.”
The voice in which these words were uttered was very touching.
He went on: “Mother, one needs faith. Away with this wretched reasoning! Let it be blighted! One needs faith — faith in the words of the guru, childlike faith. The mother says to her child, ‘A ghost lives there’, and the child is firmly convinced that the ghost is there. Again, the mother says to the child, ‘A bogy man is there’, and the child is sure of it. Further, the mother says, pointing to a man, ‘He is your elder brother’, and the child believes that the man is one hundred and twenty-five per cent his brother. One needs faith. But why should I blame them, Mother? What can they do? It is necessary to go through reasoning once. Didn’t You see how much I told him about it the other day? But it all proved useless.”
The Master was weeping and praying to the Mother in a voice choked with emotion. He prayed to Her with tearful eyes for the welfare of the devotees: “Mother, may those who come to You have all their desires fulfilled! But please don’t make them give up everything at once, Mother. Well, You may do whatever You like in the end. If You keep them in the world, Mother, then please reveal Yourself to them now and then. Otherwise, how will they live? How will they be encouraged if they don’t see You once in a while? But You may do whatever You like in the end.”
The Master was still in the ecstatic mood. Suddenly he said to M: “Look here, you have had enough of reasoning. No more of it. Promise that you won’t reason any more.”
M. (with folded hands): “Yes, sir. I won’t.”
MASTER: “You have had enough of it. When you came to me the first time, I told you your spiritual Ideal. I know everything about you, do I not?”
M. (with folded hands): “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “Yes, I know everything: what your Ideal is, who you are, your inside and outside, the events of your past lives, and your future. Do I not?”
M. (with folded hands): “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “I scolded you on learning that you had a son. Now go home and live there. Let them know that you belong to them. But you must remember in your heart of hearts that you do not belong to them nor they to you.”
M. sat in silence. The Master went on instructing him.
MASTER: “You have now learnt to fly. But keep your loving relationship with your father. Can’t you prostrate yourself before him?”
M. (with folded hands): “Yes, sir. I can.”
MASTER: “What more shall I say to you? You know everything. You understand, don’t you?”
M. sat there without uttering a word.
MASTER: “You have understood, haven’t you?”
M: “Yes, sir, I now understand a little.”
MASTER: “No, you understand a great deal. Rakhal’s father is pleased about his staying here.”
M. remained with folded hands.
MASTER: “Yes, what you are thinking will also come to pass.”
Sri Ramakrishna now came down to the normal state of mind. Rakhal and Ramlal entered the room. At the Master’s bidding Ramlal sang:
Who is the Woman yonder who lights the field of battle?
Darker Her body gleams even than the darkest storm-cloud
And from Her teeth there Hash the lightning’s blinding flames! . . .
He sang again:
Who is this terrible Woman, dark as the sky at midnight?
Who is this Woman dancing over the field of battle? . . .
MASTER: “The Divine Mother and the earthly mother. It is the Divine Mother who exists in the form of the universe and pervades everything as Consciousness. The earthly mother gives birth to this body. I used to go into samadhi uttering the word ‘Ma’. While repeating the word I would draw the Mother of the Universe to me, as it were, like the fishermen casting their net and after a while drawing it in. When they draw in the net they find big fish inside it.
“Gauri once said that one attains true Knowledge when one realises the identity of Kali and Gauranga.6 That which is Brahman is also Sakti, Kali. It is That, again, which, assuming the human form, has become Gauranga.”
At the Master’s request, Ramlal sang again, this time about Gauranga.
MASTER (to M.): “The Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of the Reality. God plays in the world as man for the sake of His devotees. They can love God only if they see Him in a human form; only then can they show their affection for Him as their Brother, Sister, Father, Mother, or Child.
“It is just for this love of the devotees that God contracts Himself into a human form and descends on earth to play His lila.”
- ^The author of the Ramayana. It is said that this sage had lived the life of a highwayman. Coming in contact with Narada, he became eager to lead a spiritual life. Narada asked him to chant the holy name of Rama as a spiritual discipline; but on account of the sinful tendency of his mind, Valmiki could not utter the holy word. He was then advised to repeat the word ‘mara’, the reverse of ‘Rama’. Through yearning and earnestness the heart of the robber became purified, and it was then possible for him to chant Rama’s name. As a result he attained perfection.
- ^A reference to Mathur Babu, who belonged to the fisherman caste. The orthodox brahmin refuses to set foot in the house of a fisherman, who belongs to a low caste.
- ^The two sons of Bhagavati, the Divine Mother.
- ^Sri Ramakrishna used this word to denote Europeans in general, and also those whose ways and thoughts were largely influenced by Western ideas,
- ^Saturday and Tuesday are regarded as auspicious days for the worship of the Divine Mother.
- ^An uncompromising hostility exists between the devotees of Kali and the devotees of Gauranga.