Nature of Brahman — Glories of Kali — Mere study of scriptures is futile — Reading, hearing, and seeing — The nature of jnanis and vijnanis — Both Nitya and Lila easily accessible to the vijnani — All-embracing realisation of the vijnani — Three states of God-Consciousness — Samadhi described — The vijnani is fearless and joyous — Parable of the weaver woman — The two kinds of ego — God listens to our prayer — Different classes of perfect souls — Description of the nityasiddha — Different stages of divine love — Different paths to suit different tastes — Image of Kali — Master’s advice to householders — Balaram’s father — Dogmatism in religion — Master’s harmony of religious — Childlike nature of a paramahamsa — Other traits of a paramahamsa — Master and Keshab — Three kinds of bhakti — Faith in God’s name.
Monday, June 30, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was in his room, sitting on a mat spread on the floor. Pundit Shashadhar and a few devotees were with him on the mat, and the rest sat on the bare floor. Surendra, Baburam, M., Harish, Latu, Hazra, and others were present. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.
Sri Ramakrishna had met Pundit Shashadhar six days before in Calcutta, and now the pundit had come to Dakshineswar to visit the Master. Bhudar Chattopadhyaya and his elder brother, the pundit’s hosts, were with him.
The pundit was a follower of the path of jnana. The Master was explaining this path to him. He said: “Nitya and Lila are the two aspects of one and the same Reality. He who is the Indivisible Satchidananda has assumed different forms for the sake of His Lila.” As he described the nature of the Ultimate Reality the Master every now and then became unconscious in samadhi. While he talked he was intoxicated with spiritual fervour. He said to the pundit: “My dear sir. Brahman is immutable and immovable, like Mount Sumeru. But He who is ‘immovable’ can also ‘move’.”
The Master was in ecstasy. He began to sing in his melodious voice:
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kali is?
Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her. . . .
He went on:
Is Mother merely a simple woman, born as others are born?
Only by chanting Her holy name
Does Siva survive the deadly poison.1
She it is who creates the worlds. She who preserves and destroys,
With a mere wink of Her wondrous eyes;
She holds the universe in Her womb.
Seeking a shelter at Her feet, the gods themselves feel safe;
And Mahadeva, God of Gods,
Lies prostrate underneath Her feet.
Again he sang:
Is Mother only Siva’s wife? To Her must needs bow down
The all-destroying King of Death!
Naked She roams about the world, slaying Her demon foes,
Or stands erect on Siva’s breast.
Her feet upon Her Husband’s form! What a strange wife She makes!
My Mother’s play, declares Prasad, shatters all rules and laws:
Strive hard for purity, O mind,
And understand my Mother’s ways.
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
As I repeat my Mother Kali’s name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk! . . .
Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kali’s treasure for everyone?
Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true!
Even with all His penances, rarely does Siva Himself behold
The mind-bewitching sight of Mother Syama’s crimson feet.
To him who meditates on Her the riches of heaven are poor indeed;
If Syama casts Her glance on him, he swims in Eternal Bliss.
The prince of yogis, the king of the gods, meditate on Her feet in vain;
Yet worthless Kamalakanta yearns for the Mother’s blessed feet!
The Master’s ecstatic mood gradually relaxed. He stopped singing and sat in silence. After a while he got up and sat on the small couch.
Pundit Shashadhar was charmed with his singing. Very humbly he said to Sri Ramakrishna, “Are you going to sing any more?”
A little later the Master sang again:
High in the heaven of the Mother’s feet, my mind was soaring like a kite,
When came a blast of sin’s rough wind that drove it swiftly toward the earth. . . .
Then he sang:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One2 who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava.
A man has come to me from a country where there is no night,
And now I cannot distinguish day from night any longer;
Rituals and devotions have all grown profitless for me.
My sleep is broken; how can I slumber any more?
For now I am wide awake in the sleeplessness of yoga.
O Divine Mother, made one with Thee in yoga-sleep3 at last,
My slumber I have lulled asleep for evermore.
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.
Sri Ramakrishna continued:
I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother;
Am I afraid of Death any more?
Unto the tuft of hair on my head
Is tied the almighty mantra, Mother Kali’s name.
My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga’s name.
As Sri Ramakrishna sang the line, “And with it have bought Sri Durga’s name”, the tears flowed from Pundit Shashadhar s eyes. The Master went on with the song:
Deep within my heart I have planted the name of Kali,
The Wish-fulfilling Tree of heaven;
When Yama, King of Death, appears,
To him I shall open my heart and show it growing these.
I have cast out from me my six unflagging foes; (The six passions.)
Ready am I to sail life’s sea,
Crying, “To Durga, victory!”
Again he sang:
Dwell, O mind, within yourself;
Enter no other’s home.
If you but seek there, you will find
All you are searching for. . . .
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. . . .
The pundit had studied the Vedas and the other scriptures. He loved to discuss philosophy. The Master, seated on the couch, cast his benign look on the pundit and gave him counsel through parables.
MASTER (to the pundit): “There are many scriptures like the Vedas. But one cannot realise God without austerity and spiritual discipline. ‘God cannot be found in the six systems, the Vedas, or the Tantra.’
“But one should learn the contents of the scriptures and then act according to their injunctions. A man lost a letter. He couldn’t remember where he had left it. He began to search for it with a lamp. After two or three people had searched, the letter was at last found. The message in the letter was: ‘Please send us five seers of sandesh and a piece of wearing-cloth.’ The man read it and then threw the letter away. There was no further need of it; now all he had to do was to buy the five seers of sandesh and the piece of cloth.
“Better than reading is hearing, and better than hearing is seeing. One understands the scriptures better by hearing them from the lips of the guru or of a holy man. Then one doesn’t have to think about their non-essential part. Hanuman said: ‘Brother, I don’t know much about the phase of the moon or the position of the stars. I just contemplate Rama.’
“But seeing is far better than hearing. Then all doubts disappear. It is true that many things are recorded in the scriptures; but all these are useless without the direct realisation of God, without devotion to His Lotus Feet, without purity of heart. The almanac forecasts the rainfall of the year. But not a drop of water will you get by squeezing the almanac. No, not even one drop.
“How long should one reason about the texts of the scriptures? So long as one does not have direct realisation of God. How long does the bee buzz about? As long as it is not sitting on a flower. No sooner does it light on a flower and begin to sip honey than it keeps quiet.
“But you must remember, another thing. One may talk even after the realisation of God. But then one talks only of God and of Divine Bliss. It is like a drunkard’s crying, ‘Victory to the Divine Mother!’ He can hardly say anything else on account of his drunkenness. You can notice, too, that a bee makes an indistinct humming sound after having sipped the honey from a flower.
“The jnani reasons about the world through the process of ‘Neti, neti’, ‘Not this, not this’. Reasoning in this way, he at last comes to a state of Bliss, and that is Brahman. What is the nature of a jnani? He behaves according to scriptural injunctions.
“Once I was taken to Chanak and saw some sadhus there. Several of them were sewing. (All laugh.) At the sight of us they threw aside their sewing. They sat straight, crossing their legs, and conversed with us. (All laugh.)
“But jnanis will not talk about spiritual things without being asked. They will inquire, at first, about such things as your health and your family.
“But the nature of the vijnani is different. He is unconcerned about anything. Perhaps he carries his wearing-cloth loose under his arm, like a child; or perhaps the cloth has dropped from his body altogether.
“The man who knows that God exists is called a jnani. A jnani is like one who knows beyond a doubt that a log of wood contains fire. But a vijnani is he who lights the log, cooks over the fire, and is nourished by the food. The eight fetters have fallen from the vijnani. He may keep merely the appearance of lust, anger, and the rest.”
PUNDIT: “‘The knots of his heart are cut asunder; all his doubts are destroyed.'”
MASTER: “Yes. Once a ship sailed into the ocean. Suddenly its iron joints, nails, and screws fell out. The ship was passing a magnetic hill, and so all its iron was loosened.
“I used to go to Krishnakishore’s house. Once, when I was there, he said to me, ‘Why do you chew betel-leaf?’ I said: ‘It is my sweet pleasure. I shall chew betel-leaf, look at my face in the mirror, and dance naked among a thousand girls.’ (Because the Master was a Vijnani) Krishnakishore’s wife scolded him and said: ‘What have you said to Ramakrishna? You don’t know how to talk to people.’
“In this state, passions like lust and anger are burnt up, though nothing happens to the physical body. It looks just like any other body; but the inside is all hollow and pure.”
A DEVOTEE: “Does the body remain even after the realisation of God?”
MASTER: “The body survives with some so that they may work out their prarabdha karma or work for the welfare of others. By bathing in the Ganges a man gets rid of his sin and attains liberation. But if he happens to be blind, he doesn’t get rid of his blindness. Of course, he escapes future births, which would otherwise be necessary for reaping the results of his past sinful karma. His present body remains alive as long as its momentum5 is not exhausted; but future births are no longer possible. The wheel moves as long as the impulse that has set it in motion lasts. Then it comes to a stop. In the case of such a person, passions like lust and anger are burnt up. Only the body remains alive to perform a few actions.”
PUNDIT: “That is called samskara.”
MASTER: “The vijnani always sees God. That is why he is so indifferent about the world. He sees God even with his eyes open. Sometimes he comes down to the Lila from the Nitya, and sometimes he goes up to the Nitya from the Lila.”
PUNDIT: “I don’t understand that.”
MASTER: “The jnani reasons about the world through the process of ‘Neti, neti’, and at last reaches the Eternal and Indivisible Satchidananda. He reasons in this manner: ‘Brahman is not the living beings; It is neither the universe nor the twenty-four cosmic principles.’ As a result of such reasoning he attains the Absolute. Then he realises that it is the Absolute that has become all this — the universe, its living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.
“Milk sets into curd, and the curd is churned into butter. After extracting the butter one realises that butter is not essentially different from buttermilk and buttermilk not essentially different from butter. The bark of a tree goes with the pith and the pith goes with the bark.”
PUNDIT (smiling, to Bhudar): “Did you understand that? It is very difficult.”
MASTER: “If there is butter, there must be buttermilk also. If you think of butter, you must also think of buttermilk along with it; for there cannot be any butter without buttermilk. Just so, if you accept the Nitya, you must also accept the Lila. It is the process of negation and affirmation. You realise the Nitya by negating the Lila. Then you affirm the Lila, seeing in it the manifestation of the Nitya. One attains this state after realizing Reality in both aspects: Personal and Impersonal. The Personal is the embodiment of Chit, Consciousness; and the Impersonal is the Indivisible Satchidananda. “Brahman alone has become everything. Therefore to the vijnani this world is a ‘mansion of mirth’. But to the jnani it is a ‘framework of illusion’, Ramprasad described the world as a ‘framework of illusion’. Another man said to him by way of retort:
This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.
O physician,6 you are a fool!
You see only the surface of things.
Janaka’s might was unsurpassed;
What did he lack of the world or the Spirit?
Holding to one as well as the other,
He drank his milk from a brimming cup!
“The vijnani enjoys the Bliss of God in a richer way. Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and some have drunk it. The vijnani has drunk milk, enjoyed it, and been nourished by it.”
The Master remained silent a few moments and then asked Pundit Shashadhar to have a smoke. The pundit went to the southeast verandah to smoke. Soon he came back to the room and sat on the floor with the devotees. Seated on the small couch, the Master continued the conversation.
MASTER (to the pundit): “Let me tell you something. There are three kinds of ananda, joy: the joy of worldly enjoyment, the joy of worship, and the Joy of Brahman. The joy of worldly enjoyment is the joy of ‘woman and gold’, which people always enjoy. The joy of worship one enjoys while chanting the name and glories of God. And the Joy of Brahman is the joy of God-vision. After experiencing the joy of God-vision the rishis of olden times went beyond all rules and conventions.
“Chaitanyadeva used to experience three spiritual states: the inmost, the semi-conscious, and the conscious. In the inmost state he would see God and go into samadhi. He would be in the state of jada samadhi. In the semiconscious state he would be partially conscious of the outer world. In the conscious state he could sing the name and glories of God.”
HAZRA (to the pundit): “So your doubts are now solved.”
MASTER (to the pundit): “What is samadhi? It is the complete merging of the mind in God-Consciousness. The jnani experiences jada samadhi, in which no trace of ‘I’ is left. The samadhi attained through the path of bhakti is called ‘chetana samadhi’. In this samadhi there remains the consciousness of ‘I’ — the ‘I’ of the servant-and-Master relationship, of the lover-and-Beloved relationship, of the enjoyer-and-Food relationship. God is the Master; the devotee is the servant. God is the Beloved; the devotee is the lover. God is the Food, and the devotee is the enjoyer. ‘I don’t want to be sugar. I want to eat it.'”
PUNDIT: “What will happen if God dissolves all of the ‘I’, if He changes the enjoyer himself into sugar?”
MASTER (smiling): “Come, come! Tell me what is in your mind. But don’t the scriptures mention Narada, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sananda, and Sanatkumara?”
PUNDIT: “Yes, sir. They do.”
MASTER: “Though they were jnanis, yet they kept the ‘I’ of the bhakta. Haven’t you read the Bhagavata?”
PUNDIT: “I have read only part of it, not the whole.”
MASTER: “Pray to God. He is full of compassion. Will He not listen to the words of His devotee? He is the Kalpataru. You will get whatever you desire from Him.”
PUNDIT: “I haven’t thought deeply about these things before. But now I understand.”
MASTER: “God keeps a little of ‘I’ in His devotee even after giving him the Knowledge of Brahman. That ‘I’ is the ‘I of the devotee’, the ‘I of the jnani’. Through that ‘I’ the devotee enjoys the infinite play of God.
“The pestle7 was almost worn out with rubbing. Only a little was left. That fell into the underbrush and brought about the destruction of the lunar race, the race of the Yadus. The vijnani retains the ‘I of the devotee’, the ‘I of the jnani’, in order to taste the Bliss of God and teach people.
“The rishis of old had timid natures. They were easily frightened. Do you know their attitude? It was this: ‘Let me somehow get my own salvation; who cares for others?’ A hollow piece of drift-wood somehow manages to float; but it sinks if even a bird sits on it. But Narada and sages of his kind are like a huge log that not only can float across to the other shore but can carry many animals and other creatures as well. A steamship itself crosses the ocean and also carries people across.
“Teachers like Narada belong to the class of the vijnani. They were much more courageous than the other rishis. They are like an expert satrancha-player. You must have noticed how he shouts, as he throws the dice: “What do I want? Six? No, five! Here is five!’ And every time he throws the dice he gets the number he wants. He is such a clever player! And while playing he even twirls his moustaches.
“A mere jnani trembles with fear. He is like an amateur satrancha-player; He is anxious to move his pieces somehow to the safety zone, where they won’t be overtaken by his opponent. But a vijnani isn’t afraid of anything. He has realised both aspects of God: Personal and Impersonal. He has talked with God. He has enjoyed the Bliss of God.
“It is a joy to merge the mind in the Indivisible Brahman through contemplation. And it is also a joy to keep the mind on the Lila, the Relative, without dissolving it in the Absolute.
“A mere jnani is a monotonous person. He always analyses, saying: ‘It is not this, not this. The world is like a dream.’ But I have ‘raised both my hands’. Therefore I accept everything.
“Listen to a story. Once a woman went to see her weaver friend. The weaver, who had been spinning different kinds of silk thread, was very happy to see her friend and said to her: ‘Friend, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you. Let me get you some refreshments.’ She left the room. The woman looked at the threads of different colours and was tempted. She hid a bundle of thread under one arm. The weaver returned presently with the refreshments and began to feed her guest with great enthusiasm. But, looking at the thread, she realised that her friend had taken a bundle. Hitting upon a plan to get it back, she said: ‘Friend, it is so long since I have seen you. This is a day of great joy for me. I feel very much like asking you to dance with me.’ The friend said, ‘Sister, I am feeling very happy too.’ So the two friends began to dance together. When the weaver saw that her friend danced without raising her hands, she said: ‘Friend, let us dance with both hands raised. This is a day of great joy.’ But the guest pressed one arm to her side and danced raising only the other. The weaver said: ‘How is this, friend? Why should you dance, with only one hand raised? Dance with me raising both hands. Look at me. See how I dance with both hands raised.’ But the guest still pressed one arm to her side. She danced with the other hand raised and said with a smile, ‘This is all I know of dancing.'”
The Master continued: “I don’t press my arm to my side. Both my hands are free. I am not afraid of anything. I accept both the Nitya and the Lila, both the Absolute and the Relative.
“I said to Keshab Sen that he would not be able to realise God without renouncing the ego. He said, ‘Sir, in that case I should not be able to keep my organization together.’ Thereupon I said to him: ‘I am asking you to give up the “unripe ego”, the “wicked ego”. But there is no harm in the “ripe ego”, the “child ego”, the “servant ego”, the “ego of Knowledge”.’
“The worldly man’s ego, the ‘ignorant ego’, the ‘unripe ego’, is like a thick stick. It divides, as it were, the water of the Ocean of Satchidananda. But the ‘servant ego’, the ‘child ego’, the ‘ego of Knowledge’, is like a line on the water. One clearly sees that there is only one expanse of water. The dividing line makes it appear that the water has two parts, but one clearly sees that in reality there is only one expanse of water.
“Sankaracharya kept the ‘ego of Knowledge’ in order to teach people. God keeps in many people the ‘ego of a jnani’ or the ‘ego of a bhakta’ even after they have attained Brahmajnana. Hanuman, after realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspect, cherished toward God the attitude of a servant, a devotee. He said to Rama: ‘O Rama, sometimes I think that You are the whole and I am a part of You. Sometimes I think that You are the Master and I am Your servant. And sometimes, Rama, when I contemplate the Absolute, I see that I am You and You are I.’
“Yasoda became grief-stricken at being separated from Krishna, and called on Radha. Radha saw Yasoda’s suffering and revealed herself to her as the divine Sakti, which was her real nature. She said to Yasoda: ‘Krishna is Chidatma, Absolute Consciousness, and I am Chitsakti, the Primal Power. Ask a boon of Me.’ Yasoda said: ‘I don’t want Brahmajnana. Please grant me only this; that I may see the form of Gopala in my meditation; that I may always have the company of Krishna’s devotees; that I may always serve the devotees of God; that I may always chant God’s name and glories.’
“Once the gopis felt a great desire to see the forms of the Lord. So Krishna asked them to dive into the water of the Jamuna. No sooner did they dive into the water than they all arrived at Vaikuntha. There they saw the form of the Lord endowed with His six celestial splendours. But they did not like it. They said to Krishna: ‘We want to see Gopala and serve Him. Please grant us that boon alone. We don’t want anything else.’
“Before His departure for Mathura, Krishna wanted to give the Knowledge of Brahman to the gopis. He said to them: ‘I dwell both inside and outside all beings. Why should you see only one form of Mine?’ The gopis cried in chorus: ‘O Krishna, do You want to go away from us? Is that why You are instructing us in Brahmajnana?’
“Do you know the attitude of the gopis? It is this: ‘We are Radha’s and Radha is ours.'”8
A DEVOTEE: “Does this ‘I’ of the devotee never disappear altogether?”
MASTER: “Yes, it disappears at times. Then one attains the Knowledge of Brahman and goes into samadhi. I too lose it, but not for all the time. in the musical scale there are seven notes: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni. But one cannot keep one’s voice on ‘ni’ a long time. One must bring it down again to the lower notes. I pray to the Divine Mother, ‘O Mother, do not give me Brahmajnana.’ Formerly believers in God with form used to visit me a great deal. Then the modern Brahma jnanis9 began to arrive. During that period I used to remain unconscious in samadhi most of the time. Whenever I regained consciousness, I would say to the Divine Mother, ‘O Mother, please don’t give me Brahmajnana.'”
PUNDIT: “Does God listen to our prayers?”
MASTER: “God is the Kalpataru, the Wish-fulfilling Tree. You will certainly get whatever you ask of Him. But you must pray standing near the Kalpataru. Only then will your prayer be fulfilled. But you must remember another thing. God knows our inner feeling. A man gets the fulfilment of the desire he cherishes while practising sadhana. As one thinks, so one receives. A magician was showing his tricks before a king. Now and then he exclaimed: ‘Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!’ Suddenly his tongue turned upward and clove to the roof of his mouth. He experienced kumbhaka. He could utter neither word nor sound, and became motionless. People thought he was dead. They built a vault of bricks and buried him there in that posture. After a thousand years someone dug into the vault. Inside it people found a man seated in samadhi. They took him for a holy man and worshipped him. When they shook him his tongue was loosened and regained its normal position. The magician became conscious of the outer world and cried, as he had a thousand years before: “Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!’
“I used to weep, praying to the Divine Mother, ‘O Mother, destroy with Thy thunderbolt my inclination to reason.'”
PUNDIT: “Then you too had an inclination to reason?”
MASTER: “Yes, once.”
PUNDIT: “Then please assure us that we shall get rid of that inclination too. How did you get rid of yours?”
MASTER: “Oh, somehow or other.”
Sri Ramakrishna was silent awhile. Then he went on with his conversation.
MASTER: “God is the Kalpataru. One should pray standing near It. Then one will get whatever one desires.
“How many things God has created! Infinite is His universe. But what need have I to know about His infinite splendours? If I must know these, let me first realise Him. Then God Himself will tell me all about them. What need have I to know how many houses and how many government securities Jadu Mallick possesses? All that I need is somehow to converse with Jadu Mallick. I may succeed in seeing him by jumping over a ditch or through a petition or after being pushed about by his gate-keeper. Once I get a chance to talk to him, then he himself will tell me all about his possessions if I ask him. If one becomes acquainted with the master, then one is respected by his officers too. (All laugh.)
“There are some who do not care to know the splendours of God. What do I care about knowing how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? One bottle is enough for me. Why should I desire the knowledge of God’s splendours? I am intoxicated with the little wine I have swallowed.
“Both bhaktiyoga and jnanayoga are paths by which you can realise God. Whatever path you may follow, you will certainly realise Him. The path of bhakti is an easy one. The path of knowledge and discrimination is very difficult. Why should one reason so much to know which path is the best? I talked about this with Vijay for many days. Once I told him about a man who used to pray, ‘O God, reveal to me who and what You are.’
“The path of knowledge and discrimination is difficult indeed. Parvati, the Divine Mother, revealed Her various forms, to Her father and said, ‘Father,’ if you want Brahmajnana, then live in the company of holy men.’
“Brahman cannot be described in words. It is said in the Rama Gita that Brahman has only been indirectly hinted at by the scriptures. When one speaks about the ‘cowherd village on the Ganges’, one indirectly states that the village is situated on the bank of the Ganges.
“Why shouldn’t a man be able to realise the formless Brahman? But it is extremely difficult. He cannot if he has even the slightest trace of worldliness. He can be directly aware of Brahman in his inmost consciousness only when he renounces all sense-objects — form, taste, smell, touch, and sound — and only when his mind completely stops functioning. And then, too, he knows only this much of Brahman — that It exists.”
Quoting from an Upanishad, the pundit said, “It is to be experienced only as Existence.”
MASTER: “In order to realise God a devotee should make use of a particular attitude — the attitude of a ‘hero’ or a friend or a handmaid or a child.”
MANI MALLICK: “Only then can one feel attached to God.”
MASTER: “For many days I cherished the feeling that I was a companion of the Divine Mother. I used to say: ‘I am the handmaid of Brahmamayi, the Blissful Mother. O companions of the Divine Mother, make me the Mother’s handmaid! I shall go about proudly, saying, “I am Brahmamayi’s handmaid!”‘
“Some souls realise God without practising any spiritual discipline. They are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. Those who have realised God through austerity, japa, and the like, are called sadhanasiddha, perfect through spiritual discipline. Again, there are those called kripasiddha, perfect through divine grace. These last may be compared to a room kept dark a thousand years, which becomes light the moment a lamp is brought in.
“There is also a class of devotees, the hathatsiddha, that is to say, those who have suddenly attained God-vision. Their case is like that of a poor boy who has suddenly found favour with a rich man. The rich man marries his daughter to the boy and along with her gives him land, house, carriage, servants, and so forth.
“There is still another class of devotees, the svapnasiddha, who have had the vision of God in a dream.”
SURENDRA (smiling): “Let us go to sleep then. We shall wake and find ourselves babus, aristocrats.”
MASTER (tenderly): “You are already a babu. When the letter ‘a’ is joined to the letter ‘ka’, ‘ka’ becomes ‘ka’. It is futile to add another ‘a’. If you add it, you will still have the same ‘ka’. (All laugh.)
“The nityasiddha is in a class apart. He is like arani wood.10 A little rubbing produces fire. You can get fire from it even without rubbing. The nityasiddha realises God by practising slight spiritual discipline and sometimes without practising any at all. But he does practise spiritual discipline after realizing God. He is like the gourd or pumpkin vine — first fruit, then flower.”
The pundit smiled at this illustration.
MASTER: “There is the instance of Prahlada. He was a nityasiddha. While writing the letter ‘ka’ he shed a stream of tears.”11
The Master was pleased with the pundit’s humility. He praised him to the devotees.
MASTER: “He has such a nice nature. You find no difficulty in driving a nail into a mud wall. But its point breaks if you try to drive it against a stone; and still it will not pierce it. There are people whose spiritual consciousness is not at all awakened even though they hear about God a thousand times. They are like a crocodile, on whose hide you cannot make any impression with a sword.”
PUNDIT: “But one can hurt a crocodile by throwing a spear into its belly.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): “What good is there in reading a whole lot of scriptures? What good is there in the study of philosophy? What is the use of talking big? In order to learn archery one should first aim at a banana tree, then at a reed, then at a wick, and last at a flying bird. At the beginning one should concentrate on God with form.
“Then there are devotees who are beyond the three gunas. They are eternally devoted to God, like Narada. These devotees behold Krishna as Chinmaya, all Spirit, His Abode as Chinmaya, His devotee as Chinmaya. To them God is eternal. His Abode is eternal, His devotee is eternal.
“Those who reason and speculate following the process of ‘Neti, neti’ do not accept the Incarnation of God. Hazra says well that Divine Incarnation is only for the bhakta, and not for the jnani, because the jnani is quite contented with his ideal, ‘I am He’.”
Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees remained silent awhile. The pundit resumed the conversation.
PUNDIT: “Sir, how does one get rid of callousness? Laughter makes me think of muscles and nerves. Grief makes me think of the nervous system.”
MASTER (smiling): “That is why Narayan Shastri used to say. The harmful effect of the study of the scriptures is that it encourages reasoning and arguing.'”
PUNDIT: “Is there no way for us then?”
MASTER: “Yes, there is the path of discrimination. In a song occurs the line: ‘Ask her son Discrimination about the Truth.’
“The way lies through discrimination, renunciation, and passionate yearning for God. Unless a man practises discrimination, he cannot utter the right words. One time, after expounding religion at great length, Pundit Samadhyayi said, ‘God is dry.’ He reminded me of the man who once said, ‘My uncle’s cow-shed is full of horses.’ Now, does anyone keep horses in a cowshed? (With a smile) You have become like a chanabara12 fried in butter. Now it will be good for you, and for others as well, if you are soaked in syrup a few days. Just a few days.”
PUNDIT (smiling): “The sweetmeat is over-fried. It has become charred.”
MASTER (with a laugh): “No! No! It is brown as a cockroach. Just the right colour.”
HAZRA: “The sweetmeat is well cooked. It has become spongy. Now it will soak up the syrup nicely.”
MASTER: “You see, there is no need to read too much of the scriptures. If you read too much you will be inclined to reason and argue. Nangta used to teach me thus: What you get by repeating the word ‘Gita’ ten times is the essence of the book. In other words, if you repeat ‘Gita’ ten times it is reversed into ‘tagi’, which indicates renunciation.
“Yes, the way to realise God is through discrimination, renunciation, and yearning for Him. What kind of yearning? One should yearn for God as the cow, with yearning heart, runs after its calf.”
PUNDIT: “The same thing is said in the Vedas: ‘O God, we call on Thee as the cow lows for the calf.'”
MASTER: “Add your tears to your yearning. And if you can renounce everything through discrimination and dispassion, then you will be able to see God. That yearning brings about God-intoxication, whether you follow the path of knowledge or the path of devotion. The sage Durvasa was mad with the Knowledge of God.
“There is a great deal of difference between the knowledge of a house-holder and that of an all-renouncing sannyasi. The householder’s knowledge is like the light of a lamp, which illumines only the inside of a room. He cannot see anything, with the help of such knowledge, except his own body and his immediate family. But the knowledge of the all-renouncing monk is like the light of the sun. Through that light he can see both inside and outside the room. Chaitanyadeva’s knowledge had the brilliance of the sun — the sun of Knowledge. Further, he radiated the soothing light of the moon of Devotion. He was endowed with both — the Knowledge of Brahman and ecstatic love of God.
(To the pundit) “One can attain spiritual consciousness through both affirmation and negation. There is the positive path of love and devotion, and there is the negative path of knowledge and discrimination. You are preaching the path of knowledge. But that creates a very difficult situation: there the guru and the disciple do not see each other. Sukadeva went to Janaka for instruction about the Knowledge of Brahman. Janaka said to him: ‘You must pay me the guru’s fee beforehand. When you attain the Knowledge of Brahman you won’t pay me the fee, because the knower of Brahman sees no difference between the guru and the disciple.’
“Both negation and affirmation are ways to realise one and the same goal. Infinite are the opinions and infinite are the ways. But you must remember one thing. The injunction is that the path of devotion described by Narada is best suited to the Kaliyuga. According to this path, first comes bhakti; then, bhava, when bhakti is mature. Higher than bhava are mahabhava and prema. An ordinary mortal does not attain mahabhava and prema. He who has achieved these has realised the goal, that is to say, has attained God.”
PUNDIT: “In expounding religion one has to use a great many words.”
MASTER: “While preaching, eliminate the ‘head and tail’, that is to say, emphasize only the essentials.”
The pundit and Mani Mallick became engaged in conversation. Mani was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. The pundit argued vehemently about the good and bad sides of the Samaj. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch and looked on, smiling. Presently he remarked: “This is the tamasic aspect of sattva, the attitude of a hero. This is necessary. One should not hold one’s tongue at the sight of injustice and untruth. Suppose a bad woman wants to drag you from the path of righteousness. You must then assume the heroic attitude and say: ‘What? You witch! You dare injure my spiritual life? I shall cut your body in two right now.'”
With a smile Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: “Mani Mallick has been following the tenets of the Brahmo Samaj a long time. You can’t convert him to your views. Is it an easy thing to destroy old tendencies? Once there lived a very pious Hindu who always worshipped the Divine Mother and chanted Her name. When the Mussalmans conquered the country, they forced him to embrace Islam. They said to him: ‘You are now a Mussalman. Say “Allah”. From now on you must repeat only the name of Allah.’ With great difficulty he repeated the word ‘Allah’, but every now and then blurted out ‘Jagadamba’.13 At that the Mussalmans were about to beat him. Thereupon he said to them: ‘I beseech you! Please do not kill me. I have been trying my utmost to repeat the name of Allah, but our Jagadamba has filled me up to the throat. She pushes out your Allah.’ (All laugh.)
(To the pundit) “Please don’t say anything to Mani Mallick. You must know that there are different tastes. There are also different powers of digestion. God has made different religions and creeds to suit different aspirants. By no means all are fit for the Knowledge of Brahman. Therefore the worship of God with form has been provided.
“The mother brings home a fish for her children. She curries part of the fish, part she fries, and with another part she makes pilau. By no means all can digest the pilau. So she makes fish soup for those who have weak stomachs. Further, some want pickled or fried fish. There are different temperaments. There are differences in the capacity to comprehend.”
All sat in silence. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit, “Go and visit the temples and take a stroll in the garden.” It was about half past five in the afternoon. The pundit left the room with his friends and several of the devotees.
After a while the Master went with M. toward the bathing-ghat on the Ganges. He said to M., “Baburam now says, ‘What shall I gain by study?'” On the bank of the river he met the pundit and said to him, “Aren’t you going to the Kali temple?” The pundit said: “Yes, sir. Let us go together.”
With a smiling face Sri Ramakrishna proceeded to the temple through the courtyard. He said to the pundit, “Listen to a song.”
Is Kali, my Mother, really black?
The Naked One, of blackest hue,
Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .
As he was going through the courtyard, he quoted to the pundit from a song:
Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart,
Behold the face of the Mother, Brahman’s Embodiment.
They came to the temple. Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother, touching the ground with his forehead.
Red hibiscus flowers and vilwa-leaves adorned the Mother’s feet. Her three eyes radiated love for Her devotees. Two of Her hands were raised as if to give them boons and reassurance; the other two hands held symbols of death. She was clothed in a sari of Benares silk and was decked with ornaments.
Referring to the image, one of the party remarked, “I heard it was made by the sculptor Nabin.” The Master answered: “Yes, I know. But to me She is the Embodiment of Spirit.”
As Sri Ramakrishna was coming back to his room with the devotees, he said to Baburam, “Come with us.” M. also joined them.
It was dusk. The Master was sitting on the semicircular porch west of his room. Baburam and M. sat near him. He was in a mood of partial ecstasy.
Rakhal was not then living with Sri Ramakrishna, and therefore the Master was having difficulties about his personal service. Several devotees lived with him, but he could not bear the touch of everyone during his spiritual moods. He hinted to Baburam: “Do stay with me. It will be very nice. In this mood I cannot allow others to touch me.”
The pundit entered the Master’s room after visiting the temples. The Master said to him from the porch, “Take some refreshments.” The pundit said that he had not yet performed his evening devotions. At once Sri Ramakrishna stood up and sang in an exalted mood:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
So long as I can breathe my last with Kali’s name upon my lips?
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother’s name at the three holy hours? . . .
Intoxicated with ecstatic love, the Master said: “How long should one perform devotions? So long as one’s mind does not merge in God while repeating Om.”
PUNDIT: “Then let me eat the refreshments. I shall perform the devotions later on.”
MASTER: “No, I don’t want to obstruct the current of your life. It is not good to renounce anything before the proper time arrives. When the fruit ripens, the flower drops off of itself. One shouldn’t forcibly tear off the green branch of a coconut tree. That injures the tree.”
Surendra was about to leave. He invited his friends into his carriage. The Master, still in an ecstatic mood, said, “Don’t take more people than your horse can draw.” Surendra took leave of Sri Ramakrishna. The pundit left the room to perform his worship. M. and Baburam saluted the Master. They were about to leave for Calcutta. Sri Ramakrishna was still in an ecstatic mood.
MASTER (to M.): “I cannot utter a word now. Stay a few minutes.”
M. again took his seat and waited for the Master’s command. Sri Ramakrishna motioned to Baburam to take a seat and asked him to fan him a little. M. also took part in rendering this personal service to the Master.
MASTER (to M., tenderly): “Why don’t you come here so frequently now?”
M: “Not for any special reason. I have been rather busy at home.”
MASTER: “Yesterday I came to know Baburam’s inner nature. That is why I have been trying so hard to persuade him to live with me. The mother bird hatches the egg in proper time. Boys like Baburam are pure in heart. They have not yet fallen into the clutches of ‘woman and gold’. Isn’t that so?”
M: “It is true, sir. They are still stainless.”
MASTER: “They are like a new pot. Milk kept in it will not turn sour.”
M: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “I need Baburam here. I pass through certain spiritual states when I need someone like him. He says he must not, all at once, live with me permanently, for it will create difficulties. His relatives will make trouble. I am asking him to come here Saturdays and Sundays.”
The pundit entered the room with his friends. He had finished his devotions and was ready to eat the refreshments. One of his companions asked the Master: “Shall we succeed in spiritual life? Please tell us what our way is.”
MASTER: “You all have the yearning for liberation. If an aspirant has yearning, that is enough for him to realise God. Don’t eat any food of the sraddha ceremony.14 Live in the world like an unchaste woman. She performs forms her household duties with great attention, but her mind dwells day and night on her paramour. Perform your duties in the world but keep your mind always fixed on God.”
The pundit finished eating his refreshments.
MASTER (to the pundit): “You have read the Gita, no doubt. It says that there is a special power of God in the man who is honoured and respected by all.”
The pundit quoted the verse from the Gita.
MASTER: “You surely possess divine power.”
PUNDIT: “Shall I labour with perseverance to finish the task that I have accepted?”
Sri Ramakrishna forced himself, as it were, to say, “Yes.” He soon changed the conversation.
MASTER: “One cannot but admit the manifestation of power. Vidyasagar once asked me, ‘Has God given more power to some than to others?’ I said to him: ‘Certainly. Otherwise, how can one man kill a hundred? If there is no special manifestation of power, then why is Queen Victoria so much honoured and respected? Don’t you admit it?’ He agreed with me.”
The pundit and his friends saluted the Master and were about to take their leave. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: “Come again. One hemp-smoker rejoices in the company of another hemp-smoker. They even embrace each other. But they hide at the sight of people not of their own kind. A cow licks the body of her calf; but she threatens a strange cow with her horns.” (All laugh.)
The pundit left the room. With a smile the Master said: “He has become ‘diluted’ even in one day. Did you notice how modest he was? And he accepted everything I said.”
Moonlight flooded the semicircular porch. Sri Ramakrishna was still seated there. M. was about to leave.
MASTER (tenderly): “Must you go now?”
M: “Yes, sir. Let me say good-bye.”
MASTER: “I have been thinking of visiting the houses of the devotees. I want to visit yours also. What do you say?”
M: “That will be very fine.”
Thursday, July 3, 1884
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in Balaram Bose’s house in Calcutta. It was the day of the “Return Car Festival”. The Lord of the Universe was worshipped in Balaram’s house as Jagannath. There was a small car in the house for use during the Car Festival.
Balaram’s father was a pious Vaishnava who devoted most of his time to prayer and meditation in his garden house at Vrindavan. He also studied devotional books and enjoyed the company of devotees. Balaram had brought his father to Calcutta to meet the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna was in a very happy mood. Seated near him were Ram, Balaram, Balaram’s father, M., Manomohan, and several young devotees. He was conversing with them.
MASTER (to Balaram’s father and the others): “The Bhaktamala is one of the Vaishnava books. It is a fine book. It describes the lives of the various Vaishnava devotees. But it is one-sided. At one place the author found peace of mind only after compelling Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, to take Her initiation according to the Vaishnava discipline.
“Once I spoke highly of Vaishnavcharan to Mathur and persuaded him to invite Vaishnavcharan to his house. Mathur welcomed him with great courtesy. He fed his guest from silver plates. Then do you know what happened? Vaishnav said in front of Mathur, ‘You will achieve nothing whatsoever in spiritual life unless you accept Krishna as your Ideal.’ Mathur was a follower of the Sakta cult and a worshipper of the Divine Mother. At once his face became crimson. I nudged Vaishnavcharan.
“I understand that the Bhagavata also contains some statements like that. I hear that it is said there that trying to cross the ocean of the world without accepting Krishna as the Ideal Deity is like trying to cross a great sea by holding to the tail of a dog. Each sect magnifies its own view.
“The Saktas, too, try to belittle the Vaishnavas. The Vaishnavas say that Krishna alone is the Helmsman to take one across the ocean of the world. The Saktas retort: ‘Oh, yes! We agree to that. Our Divine Mother is the Empress of the Universe. Why should She bother about a ferry-boat? Therefore She has engaged that fellow Krishna for the purpose.’ (All laugh.)
“Besides, how vain people are about their own sects! There are weavers in the villages near Kamarpukur. Many of them are Vaishnavas and like to talk big. They say: ‘Which Vishnu does he worship? The Preserver? Oh, we wouldn’t touch him!’ Or: ‘Which Siva are you talking about? We accept the Atmarama Siva.’ Or again, ‘Please explain to us which Hari you worship.’ They spin their yarn and indulge in talk like that.
“Rati’s mother, Rani Katyayani’s favourite confidante, is a follower of Vaishnavcharan. She is a bigoted Vaishnava. She used to visit me very frequently, and none could outdo her in devotion. One day she noticed me eating the prasad from the Kali temple. Since then I haven’t seen even her shadow.
“He is indeed a real man who has harmonized everything. Most people are one-sided. But I find that all opinions point to the One. All views — the Sakta, the Vaishnava, the Vedanta — have that One for their centre. He who is formless is, again, endowed with form. It is He who appears in different forms. The attributeless Brahman is my Father. God with attributes is my Mother. Whom shall I blame? Whom shall I praise? The two pans of the scales are equally heavy.’
“He who is described in the Vedas is also described in the Tantras and the Puranas. All of them speak about the one Satchidananda. The Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of the one Reality. It is described in the Vedas as ‘Om Satchidananda Brahman’, in the Tantras as ‘Om Satchidananda Siva’, the ever-pure Siva, and in the Puranas as ‘Om Satchidananda Krishna’. All the scriptures, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras, speak only of one Satchidananda. It is stated in the Vaishnava scriptures that it is Krishna Himself who has become Kali.”
Sri Ramakrishna went to the porch for a few minutes and then returned. As he was going out, Vishvamvhar’s daughter, six or seven years old, saluted him. On returning to the room, the Master began talking to the little girl and her companions, who were of the same age.
THE CHILD (to the Master): “I saluted you and you didn’t even notice it.”
MASTER (smiling): “Did you? I really didn’t notice.”
CHILD: “Then wait. I want to salute you again — the other foot too.”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed and sat down. He returned the salute and bowed to the child, touching the ground with his forehead. He asked her to sing. The child said, “I swear I don’t sing.” When the Master pressed her again, she said, “Should you press me when I said ‘I swear’?” The Master was very happy with the children and sang light and frivolous songs to entertain them.
Come, let me braid your hair,
Lest your husband should scold you
When he beholds you!
The children and the devotees laughed.
MASTER (to the devotees): “The paramahamsa is like a five-year-old child. He sees everything filled with Consciousness. At one time I was staying at Kamarpukur when Shivaram (A nephew of the Master.) was four or five years old. One day he was trying to catch grasshoppers near the pond. The leaves were moving. To stop their rustling he said to the leaves: ‘Hush! Hush! I want to catch a grass-hopper.’ Another day it was stormy. It rained hard. Shivaram was with me inside the house. There were flashes of lightning. He wanted to open the door and go out. I scolded him and stopped him, but still he peeped out now and then. When he saw the lightning he exclaimed, There, uncle! They are striking matches again!’
“The paramahamsa is like a child. He cannot distinguish between a stranger and a relative. He isn’t particular about worldly relationships. One day Shivaram said to me, ‘Uncle, are you my father’s brother or his brother-in-law?’
“The paramahamsa is like a child. He doesn’t keep any track of his whereabouts. He sees everything as Brahman. He is indifferent to his own movements. Shivaram went to Hriday’s house to see the Durga Puja. He slipped out of the house and wandered away. A passer-by saw the child, who was then only four years old, and asked, ‘Where do you come from?’ He couldn’t say much. He only said the word ‘hut’. He was speaking of the big hut in which the image of the Divine Mother was being worshipped. The stranger asked him further, ‘Whom are you living with?’ He only said the word ‘brother’.
“Sometimes the paramahamsa behaves like a madman. When I experienced that divine madness I used to worship my own sexual organ as the Siva-phallus. But I can’t do that now. A few days after the dedication of the temple at Dakshineswar, a madman came there who was really a sage endowed with the Knowledge of Brahman. He had a bamboo twig in one hand and a potted mango-plant in the other, and was wearing torn shoes. He didn’t follow any social conventions. After bathing in the Ganges he didn’t perform any religious rites. He ate something that he carried in a corner of his wearing-cloth. Then he entered the Kali temple and chanted hymns to the Deity. The temple trembled. Haladhari was then in the shrine. The madman wasn’t allowed to eat at the guest-house, but he paid no attention to this slight. He searched for food in the rubbish heap where the dogs were eating crumbs from the discarded leaf-plates. Now and then he pushed the dogs aside to get his crumbs. The dogs didn’t mind either. Haladhari followed him and asked: ‘Who are you? Are you a purnajnani?’ (A perfect knower of Brahman.) The madman whispered, ‘Sh! Yes, I am a purnajnani.’ My heart began to palpitate as Haladhari told me about it. I clung to Hriday. I said to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, shall I too have to pass through such a state?’ We all went to see the man. He spoke words of great wisdom to us but behaved like a madman before others. Haladhari followed him a great way when he left the garden. After passing the gate he said to Haladhari: ‘What else shall I say to you? When you no longer make any distinction between the water of this pool and the water of the Ganges, then you will know that you have Perfect Knowledge.’ Saying this he walked rapidly away.”
Sri Ramakrishna began to talk with M. Other devotees, too, were present.
MASTER (to M.): “How do you feel about Shashadhar?”
M: “He is very nice.”
MASTER: “He is very intelligent, isn’t he?”
M: “Yes, sir. He is very erudite.”
MASTER: “According to the Gita there is a power of God in one who is respected and honoured by many. But Shashadhar has still a few things to do.
What will he accomplish with mere scholarship? He needs to practise some austerity. It is necessary to practise some spiritual discipline.
“Gauri Pundit practised austerity. When he chanted a hymn to the Divine Mother, the other pundits would seem no more than earthworms.
“Naravan Shastri was not merely a scholar, either. He practised sadhana as well. He studied for twenty-five years without a break. Nyaya alone, he studied for seven years. Still he would go into ecstasy while repeating the name of Siva. The King of Jaipur wanted to make him his court pundit, but Narayan refused. He used to spend much time here. He had a great desire to go to the Vasishtha Asrama to practise tapasya. He often spoke to me about it, but I forbade him to go there. At that he said: ‘Who knows when I shall die? When shall I practise sadhana? Any day I may crack.’ After much insistence on his part I let him go. Some say that he is dead, that he died while practising austerity. Others say that he is still alive and that they saw him off on a railway train.
“Before meeting Keshab, I asked Narayan Shastri to visit him and tell me what he thought of him. Narayan reported that Keshab was an adept in japa. He knew astrology and remarked that Keshab had been born under a good star. Then I went to visit Keshab in the garden house at Belgharia. Hriday was with me. The moment I saw Keshab, I said: ‘Of all the people I see here, he alone has dropped his tail. He can now live on land as well as in water, like a frog.’
“Keshab sent three members of the Brahmo Samaj to the temple garden at Dakshineswar to test me. Prasanna was one of them. They were commissioned to watch me day and night, and to report to Keshab. They were in my room and intended to spend the night there. They constantly uttered the word ‘Dayamaya’15 and said to me: ‘Follow Keshab Babu. That will do you good.’ I said, ‘I believe in God with form.’ Still they went on with their exclamations of ‘Dayamaya!’ Then a strange mood came over me. I said to them, ‘Get out of here!’ I didn’t allow them to spend the night in my room. So they slept on the verandah. Captain also spent the night in the temple garden the first time he visited me.
“Michael16 visited the temple garden when Narayan Shastri was living with me. Dwarika Babu, Mathur’s eldest son, brought him here. The owners of the temple garden were about to get into a lawsuit with the English proprietors of the neighbouring powder magazine; so they wanted Michael’s advice. I met him in the big room next to the manager’s office. Narayan Shastri was with me. I asked Narayan to talk to him. Michael couldn’t talk very well in Sanskrit. He made mistakes. Then they talked in the popular dialect. Narayan Shastri asked him his reason for giving up the Hindu religion. Pointing to his stomach, Michael said, ‘It was for this.’ Narayan said, ‘What shall I say to a man who gives up his religion for his belly’s sake?’ Thereupon Michael asked me to say something. I said: ‘I don’t know why, but I don’t feel like saying anything. Someone seems to be pressing my tongue.'”
MANOMOHAN: “Mr. Choudhury will not come. He said: ‘That fellow Shashadhar from Faridpur will be there. I shall not go.'”
Mr. Choudhury had obtained his Master’s degree from Calcutta University. He drew a salary of three or four hundred rupees. After the death of his first wife he had felt intense dispassion for the world, but after some time he had married again. He frequently visited the Master at the temple garden.
MASTER: “How mean of him! He is vain of his scholarship. Besides, he has married a second time. He looks on the world as a mere mud-puddle.
(To the devotees) “This attachment to ‘woman and gold’ makes a man small-minded. When I first saw Haramohan he had many good traits. I longed to see him. He was then seventeen or eighteen years old. I used to send for him every now and then, but he wouldn’t come. He is now living away from the family with his wife. He had been living with his uncle before. That was very good. He had no worldly troubles. Now he has a separate home and does the marketing for his wife daily. The other day he came to Dakshineswar. I said to him: ‘Go away. Leave this place. I don’t even feel like touching you.'”
Sri Ramakrishna went to the inner apartments to see the Deity. He offered some flowers. The ladies of Balaram’s family were pleased to see him.
The Master came back to the drawing-room and said: “The worldly-minded practise devotions, japa, and austerity only by fits and starts. But those who know nothing else but God repeat His name with every breath. Some always repeat mentally, ‘Om Rama’. Even the followers of the path of knowledge repeat, ‘Soham’, ‘I am He’. There are others whose tongues are always moving, repeating the name of God. One should remember and think of God constantly.”
Pundit Shashadhar entered the room with one or two friends and saluted the Master.
MASTER (smiling): “We are like the bridesmaids waiting near the bed for the arrival of the groom.”
The pundit laughed. The room was filled with devotees, among them Dr. Pratap and Balaram’s father. The Master continued his talk.
MASTER (to Shashadhar): “The first sign of knowledge is a peaceful nature, and the second is absence of egotism. You have both. There are other indications of a jnani. He shows intense dispassion in the presence of a sadhu, is a lion when at work, for instance, when he lectures, and is full of wit before his wife. (All laugh.)
“But the nature of the vijnani is quite different, as was the case with Chaitanyadeva. He acts like a child or a madman or an inert thing or a ghoul. While in the mood of a child, he sometimes shows childlike guilelessness, sometimes the frivolity of adolescence, and sometimes, while instructing others, the strength of a young man.”
PUNDIT: “By what kind of bhakti does one realise God?”
MASTER: “Three kinds of bhakti are found, according to the nature of the man: sattvic bhakti, rajasic bhakti, and tamasic bhakti.
“Sattvic bhakti is known to God alone. It makes no outward display. A man with such devotion loves privacy. Perhaps he meditates inside the mosquito net, where nobody sees him. When this kind of devotion is awakened, one hasn’t long to wait for the vision of God. The appearance of the dawn in the east shows that the sun will rise before long.
“A man with rajasic bhakti feels like making a display of his devotion before others. He worships the Deity with ‘sixteen ingredients’, (As prescribed in the books of Hindu ritual.) enters the temple wearing a silk cloth, and puts around his neck a string of rudraksha beads interspersed here and there with beads of gold and ruby.
“A man with tamasic bhakti shows the courage and boisterousness of a highway robber. A highway robber goes on his expedition openly, shouting, ‘Kill! Plunder!’ He isn’t afraid even of eight police inspectors. The devotee with tamasic bhakti also shouts like a madman: ‘Hara! Hara! Vyom! Vyom!17 Victory to Kali!’ He has great strength of mind and burning faith.
“A Sakta has such faith. He says: ‘What? I have uttered once the name of Kali and of Durga! I have uttered once the name of Rama! Can there be any sin in me?’
“The Vaishnavas have a very humble and lowly attitude. (Looking at Balaram’s father) They tell their rosary and whine and whimper: ‘O Krishna, be gracious to us! We are wretched! We are sinners!’
“A man should have such fiery faith as to be able to say, ‘I have uttered the name of God; how can I be a sinner?’ Imagine a man repeating the name of Hari day and night and at the same time saying that he is a sinner!”
So saying, Sri Ramakrishna became overwhelmed with divine ecstasy and sang:
If only I can pass away repeating Durga’s name,
How canst Thou then, O Blessed One,
Withhold from me deliverance,
Wretched though I may be?
I may have stolen a drink of wine, or killed a child unborn,
Or slain a woman or a cow,
Or even caused a brahmin’s death;
But, though it all be true,
Nothing of this can make me feel the least uneasiness;
For through the power of Thy sweet name
My wretched soul may still aspire
Even to Brahmanhood.
He sang again:
Behold my Mother playing with Siva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!
Drunk with a draught of celestial wine, She reels, and yet She does not fall.
Erect She stands on Siva’s bosom, and the earth trembles under Her tread;
She and Her Lord are mad with frenzy, casting aside all fear and shame!
Pundit Shashadhar was weeping. Vaishnavcharan, the musician, sang:
O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga!
Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress?
Thou art the heavens and the earth, and Thou the nether world;
From Thee have the twelve Gopalas and Hari and Siva sprung.
The ten Embodiments of Divine Sakti art Thou,
And Thou the ten Avatars: this time, save me Thou must!
The moving and the unmoving, the gross and the subtle, art Thou;
Creation and preservation art Thou, and the last dissolution.
Thou art the Primal Root of this manifold universe;
The Mother of the three worlds, their only Saviour, art Thou;
Thou art the Sakti of all, and Thou Thine own Sakti, too.
As the Master listened to the last few lines, he went into an ecstatic mood. The Master himself sang: (This song signifies the oneness of Krishna and Kali.)
O Mother, for Yasoda Thou wouldst dance, when she called Thee her precious “Blue Jewel”:18
Where hast Thou hidden that lovely form, O terrible Syama?
Dance that way once for me, O Mother! Throw down Thy sword and take the flute;
Cast off Thy garland of heads, and wear Thy wild-Hower garland.
If without Siva Thou canst not dance, then let Balarama be Thy Siva.
Dance, O Syama, as Thou didst dance when Thou wast Krishna!
Mother, play on Thy flute again, once so full of delight for the gopis;
Play again on Thy magic flute, which called the cattle in from the pasture,
Stopping the Jamuna’s murmuring flow and turning it backward.
Hot in the sky the sun would burn, when Yasoda, restless for her Krishna, Fondly would call: “Here, my Gopala! Cream and butter — eat them, my Darling!” And she would comb His long black hair and carefully braid it.
Bending Thy supple body, Mother, both at the neck, the waist, and the knee,
Thou didst dance with Thy friend Sridama, while Thy two anklets played the music:
Ta-thaia! Ta-thaia! Ta-ta! Thaia-thaia!
Hearing their captivating sound, the gopis would rush there.
Again Pundit Shashadhar shed tears of love.
Sri Ramakrishna came down to consciousness of the world. Pointing to Shashadhar, he said to M., “Why don’t you prod him?” He wanted M. or some other devotee to ask Shashadhar a question.
RAMDAYAL (to Shashadhar): “The scriptures speak of Brahman’s form as a projection of mind. Who is it that projects?”
SHASHADHAR: “It is Brahman Itself that does so. It is no projection of a man’s mind.”
PRATAP: “Why does Brahman project the form?”
MASTER: “You ask why? Brahman doesn’t act in consultation with others. It is Brahman’s pleasure. Brahman is self-willed. Why should we try to know the reason for Brahman’s acting this way or that? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat the mangoes. What is the good of calculating how many trees there are in the orchard, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves? One cannot realise Truth by futile arguments and reasoning.”
PRATAP: “Shouldn’t we reason any more then?”
MASTER: “I am asking you not to indulge in futile reasoning. But reason, by all means, about the Real and the unreal, about what is permanent and what is transitory. You must reason when you are overcome by lust, anger, or grief.”
SHASHADHAR: “That is different. It is called reasoning based on discrimination.”
MASTER: “Yes, discrimination between the Real and the unreal.”
All sat in silence. Again the Master spoke, addressing the pundit.
MASTER: “Formerly many great men used to come here.”
SHASHADHAR: “You mean rich people?”
MASTER: “No. Great scholars.”
In the mean time the small car of Jagannath had been brought to the verandah. Inside the car were the images of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra. They were adorned with flowers, garlands, jewelry, and yellow apparel. Balaram was a sattvic worshipper: there was no outward grandeur in his worship. Outsiders did not even know of this Car Festival at his house. The Master and the devotees went to the verandah. Sri Ramakrishna pulled the car by the rope. Then he began to sing:
See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga’s love. . . .
He sang again:
Behold, the two brothers19
have come, who weep while chanting Hari’s name,
The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari’s love. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna danced with the devotees. The musician and his party joined the Master in the music and dancing. Soon the whole verandah was filled with people. The ladies witnessed this scene of joy from an adjoining room. It appeared as if Chaitanya himself were dancing with his devotees, intoxicated with divine love!
It was not yet dusk. Sri Ramakrishna returned to the drawing-room with the devotees.
MASTER (to Shashadhar): “This is called bhajanananda, the bliss of devotees in the worship of God. Worldly people keep themselves engrossed in the joy of sensuous objects, of ‘woman and gold’. Through worship devotees receive the grace of God, and then His vision. Then they enjoy Brahmananda, the Bliss of Brahman.”
Shashadhar and the devotees listened to these words with rapt attention.
SHASHADHAR (humbly): “Sir, please tell us what kind of yearning gives one this blissful state of mind.”
MASTER: “One feels restless for God when one’s soul longs for His vision. The guru said to the disciple: ‘Come with me. I shall show you what kind of longing will enable you to see God.’ Saying this, he took the disciple to a pond and pressed his head under the water. After a few moments he released the disciple and asked, ‘How did you feel?’ The disciple answered: ‘Oh, I felt as if I were dying! I was longing for a breath of air.'”
SHASHADHAR: “Yes! Yes! That’s it. I understand it now.”
MASTER: “To love God is the essence of the whole thing. Bhakti alone is the essence. Narada said to Rama, ‘May I always have pure love for Your Lotus Feet; and may I not be deluded by Your world-bewitching maya!’ Rama said to him, ‘Ask for some other boon.’ ‘No,’ said Narada, ‘I don’t want anything else. May I have love for Your Lotus Feet. This is my only prayer.'”
Pundit Shashadhar was ready to leave. Sri Ramakrishna asked a devotee to bring a carriage for the pundit.
SHASHADHAR: “Don’t trouble yourself. I shall walk.”
MASTER (smiling): “Oh, how can that be? ‘You are beyond the reach of even Brahma’s meditation.'”
SHASHADHAR: “There is no particular need of my going just now. The only thing is that I shall have to perform my sandhya.”
MASTER: “The Divine Mother has taken away my sandhya and other devotions. The purpose of the sandhya is to purify body and mind. I am no longer in that state.”
The Master sang the following lines of a song:
When will you learn to lie, O mind, in the abode of Blessedness,
With Cleanliness and Defilement on either side of you?
Only when you have found the way
To keep these wives contentedly under a single roof,
Will you behold the matchless form of Mother Syama.
Pundit Shashadhar saluted the Master and went away.
RAM: “I visited Shashadhar yesterday. You asked me to.”
MASTER: “Did I? I don’t remember. But it is nice that you went.”
RAM: “The editor of a newspaper (The Indian Empire.) was abusing you.”
MASTER: “Suppose he was. What does it matter?”
RAM: “Please listen. Then I began to talk to the editor about you. He wanted to hear more and wouldn’t let me go.”
It was dusk. Sri Ramakrishna began to chant the names of the Divine Mother, Krishna, Rama, and Hari. The devotees sat in silence. The Master chanted the names in such sweet tones that the hearts of the devotees were deeply touched. That day Balaram’s house was like Navadvip when Chaitanya lived there. On the verandah it was like Navadvip, and in the parlour it was like Vrindavan.
That same night Sri Ramakrishna was to go to Dakshineswar. Balaram took him into the inner apartments and served him with refreshments. The ladies of the family saluted the Master.
The devotees were singing kirtan in the drawing-room, awaiting the Master’s coming. Presently Sri Ramakrishna came and joined the singers.
The kirtan went on:
Behold, my Gora is dancing! With the devotees
He dances in Srivas’s courtyard, singing the kirtan.
Gora says to all, “Repeat the name of Hari!”
He looks at Gadadhar, and from his red eyes
Are flowing tears of love over his golden body.
The Master improvised the lines:
Gora is dancing in the kirtan:
There he dances, Sachi’s darling!
There he dances, my Gauranga!
There he dances, my soul’s beloved!
- ^An allusion to the poison that appeared when the ocean was churned by the gods and demons. Siva drank it out of kindness to others, and the poison remained in His throat, giving it a blue colour. Therefore Siva is known as the “god with a blue throat”.
- ^God, whom the poet worshipped as the Divine Mother.
- ^Samadhi, which makes one appear asleep.
- ^The song represents Sri Krishna’s words.
- ^The momentum of the actions of his previous birth, which has given rise to his present body.
- ^Ramprasad belonged to the physician caste.
- ^The story is told .in the Mahabharata of how the relatives of Krishna quarrelled over a fragment of a pestle and exterminated themselves by fighting with one another.
- ^The ideal of the gopis was not to merge themselves in God-Consciousness, but to keep their individuality in order to enjoy the communion of Radha and Krishna. They regarded themselves as the companions of Radha.
- ^The members of the Brahmo Samaj, who believed in the formless Brahman.
- ^A piece of wood used for kindling the sacred fire by friction.
- ^Because the latter “ka” reminded Prahlada of Krishna, his Ideal Deity.
- ^A Bengali sweetmeat made from cheese, first fried in butter and then soaked in syrup.
- ^“The Mother of the Universe”, a name of the Divine Mother.
- ^Offering of food and drink to deceased relatives, especially ancestors.
- ^“The Compassionate One.” The Brahmos are fond of using this name for God, whom they believe to be formless and yet personal and endowed with attributes.
- ^Michael Madhusudan Dutt, a lawyer, and one of the greatest of Bengali poets. He was a convert to Christianity.
- ^By such loud exclamations a devotee of Siva invokes his Ideal Deity.
- ^A pet name of the Baby Krishna.
- ^Gauranga and Nityananda.