Master praises Captain’s devotion — The spell of Divine Sakti — Nature of gopis’ love for Krishna — Unfulfilled desires make one deviate from yoga — About Rakhal — Balaram’s devotion — Narendra’s first visit — Master warns the devotees about women — Master’s attraction for people — His own reminiscences — Master’s following of different paths — His acceptance of all religions — Master’s praise of Vijay Goswami — Bondage and freedom are of the mind — Master’s prayer to Divine Mother — Advice to Hazra — Scriptures and sadhana — Master’s spiritual practice — Master praises Naran — Occult powers — Divine madness — Master’s God-intoxicated condition — Two kinds of yogis — Identity of Brahman and Sakti — Master at Star Theatre.
Friday, September 19, 1884
IT WAS MAHALAYA, a sacred day of the Hindus, and the day of the new moon. At two o’clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room with Mahendra Mukherji, Priya Mukherji, M., Baburam, Harish, Kishori, and Latu. Some were sitting on the floor, some standing, and others moving about. Hazra was sitting on the porch. Rakhal was still at Vrindavan with Balaram.
MASTER (to the devotees): “I was at Captain’s house in Calcutta. It was very late when I returned. What a sweet nature Captain has! What devotion! He performs the arati before the image. First he waves a lamp with three lights, then a lamp with one light, and last of all he waves burning camphor. When performing the worship he does not speak. Once he motioned to me to take my seat. During the worship his eyes become swollen from spiritual emotion, They look as if they have been stung by wasps. He cannot sing, but he chants hymns beautifully. In his mother’s presence he sits on a lower level; she sits on a high stool.
“His father was a havildar in the English army. He would hold a gun with one hand and with the other worship Siva. His servant made a clay image of Siva for him. He wouldn’t even touch water before performing the worship. He earned six thousand rupees a year.
“Captain sends his mother to Benares now and then. Twelve or thirteen servants attend her there; it is very expensive. Captain knows the Vedanta, the Gita, and the Bhagavata by heart. He says that the educated gentlemen of Calcutta follow the ways of the mlechchhas.
“In his earlier years he practised hathayoga. That is why he strokes my head gently when I am in samadhi. His wife worships the Deity in another form — that of Gopala. This time I didn’t find her so miserly. She too knows the Gita and other scriptures. What devotion they have!
“They cooked a goat curry. Captain said they could eat it for fifteen days, but she said, ‘No, no! Only seven days.’ But I liked the taste of it. They serve a very small quantity of each dish, but nowadays they give me good portions since I eat more than they do. After the meal either Captain or his wife fans me.
“They are very pious souls and show great respect to holy men. The people of upper India are greatly devoted to sadhus. The sons and nephews of the Jung Bahadur of Nepal once visited the temple garden; before me they showed great respect and humility. Once a young girl of Nepal came to see me with Captain. She was a great devotee, and unmarried; she knew the whole of the Gitagovinda by heart. Dwarika Babu (A son of Mathur Babu) and the others wanted to hear her music. When she sang the Gitagovinda, Dwarika Babu was profoundly moved and wiped the tears from his eyes with his handkerchief. She was asked why she was not married. She said: ‘I am the handmaid of God. Whom else shall I serve?’ Her people respect her as a goddess, as the scriptures enjoin.
(To Mahendra Mukherji and the others) “I shall feel very happy to know that you are being benefited by your visits here. (To M.) Why do people come here? I don’t know much of reading and writing.”
M: “God’s power is in you. That is why there is such power of attraction. It is the Divine Spirit that attracts.”
MASTER: “Yes, this is the attraction of Yogamaya, the Divine Sakti. She casts the spell. God performs all His lila through the help of Yogamaya.
“The love of the gopis was like the attachment of a woman to her paramour. They were intoxicated with ecstatic love for Sri Krishna. A woman cherishing illicit love is not very keen about her own husband. If she is told that her husband has come, she will say: ‘What if he has? There is food in the kitchen. He can help himself.’ But if she is told of the arrival of a stranger — jovial, handsome, and witty — she will run to see him and peep at him from behind a screen.
“You may raise an objection and say: ‘We have not seen God. How can we feel attracted to Him as the gopis felt attracted to Krishna?’ But it is possible. ‘I do not know Him. I have only heard His name, and that has fixed my mind upon Him.'”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, what is the significance of Sri Krishna’s stealing the gopis’ clothes?”
MASTER: “There are eight fetters that bind a person to the world. The gopis were free from all but one: shame. Therefore Krishna freed them from that one, too, by taking away their clothes. On attaining God one gets rid of all fetters. (To Mahendra Mukherji and the others) By no means all people feel attracted to God. There are special souls who feel so. To love God one must be born with good tendencies. Otherwise, why should you alone of all the people of Baghbazar come here? You can’t expect anything good in a dunghill. The touch of the Malaya breeze turns all trees into sandal-wood, no doubt. But there are a few exceptions — the banyan, the cotton-tree, and the aswattha, for example.
(To the Mukherji brothers) “You are well off. If a man slips from the path of yoga, then he is reborn in a prosperous family and starts again his spiritual practice for the realisation of God.”
MAHENDRA: “Why does one slip from the path of yoga?”
MASTER: “While thinking of God the aspirant may feel a craving for material enjoyment. It is this craving that makes him slip from the path. In his next life he will be born with the spiritual tendencies that he failed to translate into action in his present life.”
MAHENDRA: “Then what is the way?”
MASTER: “No salvation is possible for a man as long as he has desire, as long as he hankers for worldly things. Therefore fulfil all your desires regarding food, clothes, and sex. (Smiling) What do you say about the last one? Legitimate or illegitimate? (M. and Mahendra laugh.)
“It is not good to cherish desires and hankerings. For that reason I used to fulfil whatever desires came to my mind. Once I saw some coloured sweet-meats at Burrabazar and wanted to eat them. They brought me the sweets and I ate a great many. The result was that I fell ill.
“In my boyhood days, while bathing in the Ganges, I saw a boy with a gold ornament around his waist. During my state of divine intoxication I felt a desire to have a similar ornament myself. I was given one, but I couldn’t keep it on very long. When I put it on, I felt within my body the painful uprush of a current of air. It was because I had touched gold to my skin. I wore the ornament a few moments and then had to put it aside. Otherwise I should have had to tear it off.
“I once felt a desire to eat the famous sweetmeats of different cities. (All laugh.) I had a desire to hear Sambhu’s musical recital of the Chandi. After fulfilling that desire I wanted to hear the same thing by Rajnarayan. That desire also was satisfied.
“At that time many holy men used to visit the temple garden. A desire arose in my mind that there should be a separate store-room to supply them with their provisions. Mathur Babu arranged for one. The sadhus were given food-stuffs, fuel, and the like from that store-room.
“Once the idea came to me to put on a very expensive robe embroidered with gold and to smoke a silver hubble-bubble. Mathur Babu sent me the new robe and the hubble-bubble. I put on the robe. I also smoked the hubble-bubble in various fashions. Sometimes I smoked it reclining this way, and sometimes that way, sometimes with head up, and sometimes with head down. Then I said to myself, ‘O mind, this is what they call smoking a silver hubble-bubble.’ Immediately I renounced it. I kept the robe on my body a few minutes longer and then took it off. I began to trample it underfoot and spit on it, saying: ‘So this is an expensive robe! But it only increases man’s rajas.'”
Rakhal had been staying at Vrindavan with Balaram. At first he had written excited letters praising the holy place. He had written to M.: “It is the best of all places. Please come here. The peacocks dance around, and one always hears and sees religious music and dancing. There is an unending flow of divine bliss.” But then Rakhal had been laid up with an attack of fever. Sri Ramakrishna was very much worried about him and vowed to worship the Divine Mother for his recovery. So he began to talk about Rakhal.
MASTER: “Rakhal had his first religious ecstasy while sitting here massaging my feet. A Bhagavata scholar had been expounding the sacred book in the room. As Rakhal listened to his words, he shuddered every now and then. Then he became altogether still.
“His second ecstasy was at Balaram Bose’s house. In that state he could not keep himself sitting upright; he lay flat on the floor. Rakhal belongs to the realm of the Personal God. He leaves the place if one talks about the Impersonal.
“I have taken a vow to worship the Divine Mother when he recovers. You see, he has renounced his home and relatives and completely surrendered himself to me. It was I who sent him to his wife now and then. He still had a little desire for enjoyment.
(Pointing to M.) “Rakhal has written him from Vrindavan that it is a grand place — the peacocks dance around. Now let the peacocks take care of him. He has really put me in a fix.
“Rakhal has been staying with Balaram at Vrindavan. Ah, what a nice nature Balaram has! It is only for my sake that he doesn’t go to Orissa, where his family owns an estate. His brother stopped his monthly allowance and wrote to him: ‘Come and stay with us here. Why should you waste so much money in Calcutta?’ But he didn’t listen. He has been living in Calcutta because he wants to see me. What devotion to God! He is busy day and night with his worship. His gardener is always making garlands of flowers for the Deity. He has decided to spend four months a year at Vrindavan to reduce his expenses. He gets a monthly allowance of two hundred rupees.
“Why am I so fond of the youngsters? They are still untouched by ‘woman and gold’. I find that they belong to the class of the nityasiddhas, the ever-perfect.
“When Narendra first came here he was dressed in dirty clothes; but his eyes and face betokened some inner stuff. At that time he did not know many songs. He sang one or two: ‘Let us go back once more, O mind, to our own abode!’ and ‘O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?’.
“Whenever he came here, I would talk only with him, though the room was filled with people. He would say to me, ‘Please talk to them’, and then I would talk with the others.
“I became mad for the sight of him and wept for him in Jadu Mallick’s garden house. ‘I wept here, too, holding Bholanath’s hand. Bholanath said, ‘Sir, you shouldn’t behave that way for a mere kayastha boy.’ One day the ‘fat brahmin’1 said to me about Narendra, with folded hands, ‘Sir, he has very little education; why should you be so restless for him?’
“Bhavanath and Narendra are a pair. They are like man and woman. So I asked Bhavanath to rent a house near Narendra’s. Both of them belong to the realm of the formless Reality.
“I forbid the youngsters to spend a long time with women or visit them too frequently. Haripada has fallen into the clutches of a woman of the Ghoshpara sect. She shows maternal feeling for him; but Haripada is a child and doesn’t understand its real meaning. The women of that sect act that way when they see young boys. I understand that Haripada lies on her lap and that she feeds him with her own hands. I shall tell him that this is not good. This very maternal feeling leads to a downfall. The women of that sect practise spiritual discipline in the company of men; they regard men as Krishna. A teacher of that sect asks a woman devotee, ‘Have. you found your Krishna?’ and she says, ‘Yes, I have found my Krishna.’
“The other day that woman came here. I watched the way she looked around and I didn’t approve of it. I said to her, ‘You may treat Haripada any way you like, but don’t have any wrong feeling for him.’
“The youngsters are now in the stage of sadhana. They are aspirants. For them the only thing now is renunciation. A sannyasi must not look even at the portrait of a woman. I say to them: ‘Don’t sit beside a woman and talk to her, even if she is a devotee. You may say a word or two to her, standing.’ Even a perfect soul must follow this precept for his own protection and also to set an example to others. When women come to me, I too say to them after a few minutes, ‘Go-and visit the temples.’ If they don’t get up, I myself leave the room. Others will learn from my example.
“Can you tell me why all these youngsters, and you people, too, visit me? There must be something in me, or why should you all feel such a pull, such attraction?
“Once I visited Hriday’s house at Sihore. From there I was taken to Syambazar. I had a vision of Gauranga before I entered the village, and I realised that I should meet Gauranga’s devotees there. For seven days and nights I was surrounded by a huge crowd of people. Such attraction! Nothing but kirtan and dancing day and night. People stood in rows on the walls and even were in the trees.
“I stayed at Natavar Goswami’s house. It was crowded day and night. In the morning I would run away to the house of a weaver for a little rest. There too I found that people would gather after a few minutes. They carried drums and cymbals with them, and the drum constantly played: ‘Takuti! Takuti!’ We would have our meal at three in the afternoon.
“The rumour spread everywhere that a man had arrived who died (Referring to the Master’s samadhi.) seven times and came back to life again. Hriday would drag me away from the crowd to a paddy-Held for fear I might have an attack of heat apoplexy. The crowd would follow us there like a line of ants. Again the cymbals and the never-ending ‘Takuti! Takuti!’ of the drums. Hriday scolded them and said: ‘Why do you bother us like this? Have we never heard kirtan?’
“The Vaishnava priests of the village came and almost started a quarrel. They thought I would take their share of the fees from the devotees. But soon they discovered that I didn’t touch a piece of cloth or even a thread. Someone remarked that I was a Brahmajnani. So the Vaishnava pundits wanted to test me. One said, ‘Why hasn’t he beads, and a mark on his fore-head?’ Another of them replied, ‘They have dropped from him, as the dry branch from a coconut tree.’ It was there that I learnt this illustration of the dry branch of a coconut tree. The upadhis, limitations, drop when one attains Knowledge.
“People came thronging from distant villages. They even spent the night there. At Syambazar I learnt the meaning of divine attraction. When God incarnates Himself on earth He attracts people through the help of Yogamaya, His Divine Power. People become spellbound.”
It was about three o’clock in the afternoon. The Master had been conversing with the Mukherji brothers and the other devotees, when Radhika Goswami, a Vaishnava scholar, arrived and bowed before him. This was his first visit to the Master. Radhika Goswami took a seat.
MASTER: “Are you a descendant of Advaita?” (An intimate companion of Sri Chaitanya.)
GOSWAMI: “Yes, sir.”
At this the Master saluted him with folded hands.
MASTER: “You are descended from Advaita Goswami. You must have inherited some of his traits. A sweet-mango tree produces only sweet mangoes and not sour ones. Of course, it happens that some trees produce large mangoes and some small; that depends on the soil. Isn’t that true?”
GOSWAMI (humbly): “Sir, what do I know?”
MASTER: “Whatever you may say, others will not let you off so easily. Brahmins, however imperfect they may be, are worshipped by all on account of their having been born in the lines of great sages. (To M.) Tell us the story of the samkhachila.” (A bird similar to the kite.)
M. sat in silence.
MASTER: “If one of your ancestors was a great soul, he will certainly pull you up, however unworthy you may be. When King Duryodhana and his brothers were taken captive by the gandharvas, Yudhisthira released them in spite of the fact that King Duryodhana was his enemy and had banished him to the forest.
“Besides, one must show respect to the religious garb. Even the mere garb recalls to mind the real object. Chaitanya once dressed an ass in a religious garb and then prostrated himself before it.
“Why do people bow before a samkhachila? When Kamsa was about to kill the Divine Mother, She flew away taking the form of a samkhachila.2 So even now people salute the bird.
“An Englishman arrived at the cantonment of Chanak. The sepoys saluted him. Koar Singh explained to me: ‘India is under the rule of the English. Therefore one should salute an Englishman.’
“The Saktas follow the Tantra, and the Vaishnavas the Purana. There is no harm for the Vaishnavas in speaking publicly of their spiritual practices. But the Saktas maintain secrecy about theirs. For this reason it is difficult to understand a Sakta.
(To Goswami) “You are all good people. How much japa you practise! How much you chant the name of Hari!”
GOSWAMI (humbly): “Oh, no! We do very little. I am a great sinner.”
MASTER (smiling): “You have humility. That is good. But there is also another way: ‘I chant the name of Hari. How can I be a sinner?’ He who constantly repeats: ‘I am a sinner! I am a wretch!’ verily becomes a sinner. What lack of faith! A man chants the name of God so much, and still he talks of sin!”
Radhika Goswami listened to these words in amazement.
MASTER: “At Vrindavan I myself put on the garb of the Vaishnavas and wore it for fifteen days. (To the devotees) I have practised the disciplines of all the paths, each for a few days. Otherwise I should have found no peace of mind. (Smiling) I have practised all the disciplines; I accept all paths. I respect the Saktas, the Vaishnavas, and also the Vedantists. Therefore people of all sects come here. And every one of them thinks that I belong to his school. I also respect the modern Brahmajnanis. (The members of the Brahmo Samaj.)
“A man had a tub of dye. Such was its wonderful property that people could dye their clothes any colour they wanted by merely dipping them in it. A clever man said to the owner of the tub, ‘Dye my cloth the colour of your dye-stuff.’ (All laugh.)
“Why should I be one-sided? The idea that the people of a particular sect will not come to me does not frighten me. I don’t care a bit whether people come to me or not. The thought of keeping anyone under my control never crosses my mind. Adhar Sen asked me to ask the Divine Mother for a big position for him, but he didn’t get it. If that makes him think differently about me, what do I care?
“Once at Keshab’s house I found myself in a new mood. The Brahmos always speak of the Impersonal; therefore I said to the Divine Mother in an ecstatic mood: ‘Mother, please don’t come here. They don’t believe in Your forms.'”
Radhika Goswami listened to these words of the Master against sectarianism and remained silent.
MASTER (smiling): “Vijay3 is in a wonderful state of mind nowadays. He falls to the ground while chanting the name of Hari. He devotes himself to kirtan, meditation, and other spiritual practices till four in the morning. He now puts on an ochre robe and prostrates himself before the images of God. Once he accompanied me to Gadadhar’s (A celebrated Vaishnava saint.) schoolhouse. I pointed out the place where Gadadhar used to meditate. At once Vijay prostrated himself there. Again he fell prostrate before the picture of Chaitanyadeva.”
GOSWAMI: “What about the image of Radha-Krishna?”
MASTER: “He prostrated himself there too. Vijay also follows all the. conventions of religious life.”
GOSWAMI: “He can now be accepted in Vaishnava society.”
MASTER: “People’s opinions don’t count for much with him.”
GOSWAMI: “I don’t mean that. By accepting him Vaishnava society will honour itself.”
MASTER: “He respects me very much. But it is difficult to reach him. One day he is called to Dacca, the next day to some other place. He is always busy. His presence has created great trouble in the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.”4
GOSWAMI: “Why so, sir?”
MASTER: “The Brahmos tell him: ‘You mix with people who worship God with form. You are an idolater.’ Vijay is liberal and straightforward. Unless a man is guileless, he doesn’t receive the grace of God.”
Sri Ramakrishna talked to the Mukherji brothers. Mahendra, the elder, had his own business. Priyanath, the younger, had been an engineer. After making some provision for himself, he had given up his job. Mahendra was thirty-five or thirty-six years old. The brothers had homes both in the country and in Calcutta.
MASTER (smiling): “Don’t sit idle simply because your spiritual consciousness has been awakened a little. Go forward. Beyond the forest of sandal-wood there are other and more valuable things — silver-mines, gold-mines, and so on.”
PRIYA (smiling): “Sir, our legs are in chains. We cannot go forward.”
MASTER: “What if the legs are chained? The important thing is the mind. Bondage is of the mind, and freedom also is of the mind.
“Listen to a story. There were two friends. One went into a house of prostitution and the other to hear a recital of the Bhagavata. ‘What a shame!’ thought the first. ‘My friend is hearing spiritual discourse, but just see what I have slipped down to!’ The second friend said to himself: ‘Shame on me! My friend is having a good time, but how stupid I am!’ After death the soul of the first was taken to Vaikuntha by the messenger of Vishnu, while that of the second was taken to the nether world of Yama.”
PRIYA: “But the mind is not under my control.”
MASTER: “How is that? There is such a thing as abhyasayoga, yoga through practice. Keep up the practice and you will find that your mind will follow in whatever direction you lead it. The mind is like a white cloth just returned from the laundry. It will be red if you dip it in red dye and blue if you dip it in blue. It will have whatever colour you dip it in.
(To Goswami) “Have you anything to ask?”
GOSWAMI: “No, sir. I am satisfied that I have seen you and have been listening to your words.”
MASTER: “Go and visit the temples.”
GOSWAMI (very humbly): “Won’t you please sing something about Sri Chaitanya?”
The Master complied. He sang:
Why has My body turned so golden? It is not time for this to be:
Many the ages that must pass, before as Gauranga I appear! . . .
Gora gazes at Vrindavan and tears stream from his eyes;
In an exuberance of joy, he laughs and weeps and dances and sings.
He takes a wood for Vrindavan, the ocean for the blue Jamuna;
He rolls on the ground for love of Hari.
After singing, the Master went on with the conversation.
MASTER (to Goswami): “I have sung these songs to suit your Vaishnava temperament. But I must sing differently when the Saktas or others come.
“Here (Referring to himself.) people of all sects come — Vaishnavas, Saktas, Kartabhajas, Vedantists, and also members of the modern Brahmo Samaj. Therefore one finds here all ideals and attitudes. It is by the will of God that different religions and opinions have come into existence. God gives to different people what they can digest. The mother does not give fish pilau to all her children. All cannot digest it; so she prepares simple fish soup for some. Everyone cherishes his own special ideal and follows his own nature.
“They provide various images for the Baroari5 because people of different sects assemble at it. You see there images of Radha-Krishna, Siva-Durga, and Sita-Rama — different images in different places. A crowd gathers before each image. The Vaishnavas spend most of their time before the image of Radha-Krishna, the Saktas before Siva-Durga, and the devotees of Rama before Sita-Rama.
“But it is quite different with those who are not spiritually minded at all. In the Baroari one sees another image also — a prostitute beating her paramour with a broomstick. Those people stand there with gaping mouths and cry to their friends: ‘What are you looking at over there? Come here! Look at this!'” (All laugh.)
Radhika Goswami saluted the Master and took his leave.
It was about five o’clock. The Master was on the semicircular west porch. Baburam, Latu, the Mukherji brothers, M., and some other devotees were with him.
MASTER (to M. and the others): “Why should I be one-sided? The goswamis belong to the Vaishnava school and are very bigoted. They think that their opinion alone is right and all other opinions are wrong. My words have hit him hard. (Smiling) One must strike the elephant on the head with the goad; that is the elephant’s most sensitive spot.”
Then Sri Ramakrishna told a few naughty jokes for the young men.
MASTER (to the devotees): “I don’t give the youngsters a pure vegetarian diet: now and then I give them a little water smelling of fish. Otherwise, why should they come?”
The Mukherji brothers left the porch. They went to the garden for a stroll.
MASTER (to M.): “I wonder whether the Mukherjis have taken offence at my jokes?”
M: “Why should they? Captain said that you are like a child. After realizing God a man becomes childlike.”
MASTER: “Yes, and sometimes he behaves like a boy, and sometimes like a young man. As a boy he is very light-hearted. He may use frivolous language. As a young man he is like a roaring lion while teaching others. You had better explain my state of mind to the Mukherjis.”
M: “I don’t have to do that. Haven’t they the sense to see it?”
Again the Master became light-hearted with the boys. Then he said to one of the devotees: “Today is the new moon. Go to the Kali temple in the evening.”6
It was dusk. They heard the sound of gongs, cymbals, and other instruments used in the evening service in the temples. The Master said to Baburam, “Come with me to the Kali temple.” He and Baburam went toward the temple, accompanied by M. At the sight of Harish sitting on the porch, the Master said: “What is this? Is he in ecstasy?”
Going through the courtyard, the Master and the devotees stopped a minute in front of the Radhakanta temple to watch the worship. Then they proceeded to the shrine of Kali. With folded hands the Master prayed to the Divine Mother: “O Mother! O Divine Mother! O Brahmamayi!”
Reaching the raised platform in front of the shrine, he bowed low before the image. The arati was going on. He entered the shrine and fanned the image.
The evening worship was over. The devotees “bowed before the Deity. It was the night of the new moon. The Master was in a spiritual mood. Gradually his mood deepened into intense ecstasy. He returned to his room, reeling like a drunkard and holding to Baburam’s hand.
A lamp was lighted on the west porch. The Master sat there a few minutes, chanting: “Hari Om! Hari Om! Hari Om!” and other mystic syllables of the Tantra. Presently he returned to his room and sat on the small couch facing the east. He was still completely absorbed in divine fervour. He said to the Divine Mother: “Mother, that I should first speak and You then act — oh, that’s nonsense! What is the meaning of talk? It is nothing but a sign. One man says, ‘I shall eat.’ Again, another says, ‘No! I won’t hear of it.’ Well, Mother, suppose I had said I would not eat; wouldn’t I still feel hungry? Is it ever possible that You should listen only when one prays aloud and not when one feels an inner longing? You are what You are. Then why do I speak? Why do I pray? I do as You make me do. Oh, what confusion! Why do You make me reason?”
As Sri Ramakrishna was thus talking to God, the devotees listened wonderstruck to his words. The Master’s eyes fell upon them.
MASTER (to the devotees): “One must inherit good tendencies to realise God. One must have done something, some form of tapasya, either in this life or in another.
“When Draupadi’s7 clothes were being taken off, she cried earnestly, praying to God. God revealed Himself to her and said: Try to remember. whether you have ever made a gift of a cloth to anyone. Then your modesty will be preserved.’ Draupadi replied: ‘Yes, I remember now. Once a rishi was taking his bath when his loin-cloth was carried away by the current. I tore off half my cloth and gave it to him.’ Thereupon the Lord said, Then you have nothing to fear.'”
M. was sitting on the small foot-rug.
MASTER (to M.): “You have understood what I said.”
M: “Yes, sir. You spoke about inherent tendencies.”
MASTER: “Repeat what I said.”
M. repeated the story of Draupadi.
Hazra entered the room. He had been living with Sri Ramakrishna in the temple garden for the past two years and had first met the Master in 1880 at Sihore in the house of Hriday, the Master’s nephew. Hazra’s native village was near Sihore, and he owned some property there. He had a wife and children and also some debts. From youth he had felt a spirit of renunciation and sought the company of holy men and devotees. The Master had asked him to live with him at Dakshineswar and looked after his necessities. Hazra’s mind was a jumble of undigested religious moods. He professed the path of knowledge and disapproved of Sri Ramakrishna’s attitude of bhakti and his longing for the young devotees. Now and then he thought of the Master as a great soul, but again he slighted him as an ordinary human being. He spent much of his time in telling his beads, and he criticized Rakhal and the other young men for their indifference to the practice. He was a strong advocate of religious conventions and rules of conduct, and made a fad of them. He was about thirty-eight years old.
As Hazra came in, the Master became a little abstracted and in that mood began to talk.
MASTER (to Hazra): “What you are doing is right in principle, but the application is not quite correct. Don’t find fault with anyone, not even with an insect. As you pray to God for devotion, so also pray that you may not find fault with anyone.”
HAZRA: “Does God listen to our prayer for bhakti?”
MASTER: “Surely. I can assure you of that a hundred times. But the prayer must be genuine and earnest. Do worldly-minded people weep for God as they do for wife and children? At Kamarpukur the wife of a certain man fell ill. The man thought she would not recover; he began to tremble and was about to faint. Who feels that way for God?”
Hazra was about to take the dust of the Master’s feet.
MASTER (shrinking): “What is this?”
HAZRA: “Why should I not take the dust of his feet who has so kindly kept me with him?”
MASTER: “Satisfy God and everyone will be satisfied. ‘If He is pleased the world is pleased.’ Once the Lord ate a few greens from Draupadi’s cooking-pot and said, ‘Ah, I am satisfied.’ Immediately the whole world and all its living beings were satisfied; they felt as if they had eaten their fill. But was the world satisfied or did it feel that way when the rishis ate their food?
(To Hazra) “A perfect soul, even after attaining Knowledge, practises devotions or observes religious ceremonies to set an example to others. I go to the Kali temple and I bow before the holy pictures in my room; therefore others do the same. Further, if a man has become habituated to such ceremonies, he feels restless if he does not observe them.
“One day I saw a sannyasi under the banyan-tree. He had put the salagram on the same carpet with his guru’s sandals. He was worshipping them. I said to him, ‘If you have attained Knowledge to that extent,8 then why such formal worship at all?’ He replied: ‘What difference does it make? Since I do everything else, why not this too? Sometimes I offer the flowers at the guru’s feet and sometimes to God.’
“One cannot renounce work as long as one has a body. As long as there is mud at the bottom of the lake, bubbles will be produced.
(To Hazra) “If there is knowledge of one, there is also knowledge of many. What will you achieve by mere study of the scriptures? The scriptures contain a mixture of sand and sugar, as it were. It is extremely difficult to separate the sugar from the sand. Therefore one should learn the essence of the scriptures from the teacher or from a sadhu. Afterwards what does one care for books?
(To the devotees) “Gather all the information and then plunge in. Suppose a pot has dropped in a certain part of a lake. Locate the spot and dive there.
“One should learn the essence of the scriptures from the guru and then practise sadhana. If one rightly follows spiritual discipline, then one directly sees God. The discipline is said to be rightly followed only when one plunges in. What will a man gain by merely reasoning about the words of the scriptures? Ah, the fools! They reason themselves to death over information about the path. They never take the plunge. What a pity!
“You may say, even though you dive deep you are still in danger of sharks and crocodiles, of lust and anger. But dive after rubbing your body with turmeric powder; then sharks and crocodiles will not come near you. The turmeric, is discrimination and renunciation.
(To the devotees) “God made me pass through the disciplines of various paths. First according to the Purana, then according to the Tantra. I also followed the disciplines of the Vedas. At first I practised sadhana in the Panchavati. I made a grove of tulsi-plants and used to sit inside it and meditate. Sometimes I cried with a longing heart, ‘Mother! Mother!’ Or again, ‘Rama! Rama!’
“While repeating the name of Rama, I sometimes assumed the attitude of Hanuman and fixed a tail to the lower end of my backbone. I was in a God-intoxicated state. At that time I used to put on a silk robe and worship the Deity. What joy I experienced in that worship!
“I practised the discipline of the Tantra under the bel-tree. At that time I could see no distinction between the sacred tulsi and any other plant. In that state I sometimes ate the leavings from a jackal’s meal,9 food that had been exposed the whole night, part of which might have been eaten by snakes or other creatures. Yes, I ate that stuff.
“Sometimes I rode on a dog and fed him with luchi, also eating part of the bread myself. I realised that the whole world was filled with God alone. One cannot have spiritual realisation without destroying ignorance; so I would assume the attitude of a tiger and devour ignorance.
“While practising the disciplines of the Vedas, I became a sannyasi. I used to lie down in the chandni and say to Hriday: ‘I am a sannyasi. I shall take my meals here.’10
“I vowed to the Divine Mother that I would kill myself if I did not see God. I said to Her: ‘O Mother, I am a fool. Please teach me what is contained in the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and the other scriptures.’ The Mother said to me, ‘The essence of the Vedanta is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory.’ The Satchidananda Brahman described in the Vedas is the Satchidananda Siva of the Tantra and the Satchidananda Krishna of the Purana. The essence of the Gita is what you get by repeating the word ten times. It is reversed into ‘tagi’, which indicates renunciation.
“After the realisation of God, how far below lie the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Purana, the Tantra! (To Hazra) I cannot utter the word ‘Om’ in samadhi. Why is that? I cannot say ‘Om’ unless I come down very far from the state of samadhi.
“I had all the experiences that one should have, according to the scriptures, after one’s direct perception of God. I behaved like a child, like a madman, like a ghoul, and like an inert thing.
“I saw the visions described in the scriptures. Sometimes I saw the universe filled with sparks of fire. Sometimes I saw all the quarters glittering with light, as if the world were a lake of mercury. Sometimes I saw the world as if made of liquid silver. Sometimes, again, I saw all the quarters illumined as if with the light of Roman candles. So you see my experiences tally with those described in the scriptures.
“It was revealed to me further that God Himself has become the universe and all its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. It is like the process of evolution and involution.11
“Oh, what a state God kept me in at that time! One experience would hardly be over before another overcame me. It was like the movement of the husking-machine: no sooner is one end down than the other goes up.
“I would see God in meditation, in the state of samadhi, and I would see the same God when my mind came back to the outer world. When looking at this side of the mirror I would see Him alone, and when looking on the reverse side I saw the same God.”
The devotees listened to these words with rapt attention.
(To the Mukherji brothers) “Captain is now really in the state of the sadhaka. That the mere possession of wealth should create attachment is by no means true. Sambhu Mallick used to say to Hriday, ‘Hridu, I have packed my things and am ready for the journey.’ I said to him: ‘God forbid! Why do you say such ominous words?’ ‘No’, replied Sambhu. ‘Please bless me that I may cast aside all-these possessions and go to God.’
“God’s devotees have nothing to fear. They are His own. He always stands by them. Once Duryodhana and his brothers were imprisoned by the gandharvas. It was Yudhisthira who freed them. Yudhisthira said, ‘If our relatives are placed in such a plight, then it is our disgrace.'”
It was about nine o’clock in the evening. The Mukherji brothers were ready to return to Calcutta. The Master left his seat and began to pace the room and the porch. He could hear the kirtan sung in the Vishnu temple. A devotee said that Harish and Latu were in the singing party.
Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees went to the Vishnu temple and saluted the Deity. The brahmins belonging to the staff of the temple garden, and also the priests, the cooks, and the servants, were singing the kirtan. He stood there a few minutes and encouraged the singers. On the way back to his room he remarked to the devotees, “You see, some of them polish the metal utensils and some go to houses of prostitution.”
The Master returned to his room and took his seat. Presently the singers came and bowed low before him. The Master Said to them: “One should perspire, dancing and singing the name of God, as people do earning money. I had thought of joining you in the dancing; but I found that you did everything very well. You had flavoured the curry with all the seasoning. What could I add? It will be nice if you sing devotional songs that way now and then.”
The Mukherji brothers saluted the Master. Their carriage was ready near the verandah north of the room. The Master stood facing the north. On his left was the Ganges; in front of him were the nahabat, the garden, and the kuthi; and to his right was the road leading to the gate. The night was dark, and a devotee had brought a lantern to show the visitors their way. One by one the devotees bowed and took the dust of the Master’s feet. The carriage seemed too heavily loaded for the horses. The Master said, “Aren’t there too many people in the carriage?”
Sri Ramakrishna remained standing. As the carriage rolled away, the devotees looked back at the Master’s face beaming with compassion and love.
Sunday, September 21, 1884
A large number of devotees were in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, among them Ram, Mahendra Mukherji, M., and Chunilal. Chunilal had just returned from Vrindavan, where he had gone with Rakhal and Balaram. The two latter were still there. Nityagopal also was staying there. The Masi began to talk with Chunilal about Vrindavan.
MASTER: “How is Rakhal?”
CHUNI: “He is quite well now, sir.”
MASTER: “Isn’t Nityagopal coming back?”
CHUNI: “He was still there when I left.”
MASTER: “Who will bring your family back?”
CHUNI: “Balaram Babu told me he would arrange it with some reliable person. He didn’t mention any name.”
Sri Ramakrishna then spoke to Mahendra Mukherji about Narayan, a school-boy sixteen or seventeen years old, who often visited the Master an was very dear to him.
MASTER: “He is quite guileless, isn’t he?”
The very uttering of the word “guileless” filled the Master with great joy.
MAHENDRA: “Yes, sir. Completely guileless.”
MASTER: “His mother came here the other day. I was a little frightened to see that she was a proud woman. That day she found that Captain, you and many others, too, visited me. Then she must have realised that she and her son were not the only people to come here. (All laugh.) There was some sugar candy in the room and she remarked that it was good. That made her feel there was no scarcity of food here. I happened to tell Baburam, in front of her, to keep some sweets for himself and Naran. Ganu’s mother said that Naran always bothered his mother for the boat hire to come here. His mother said to me, ‘Please ask Naran to consent to marry.’ I replied, ‘All that depends on one’s fate.’ Why should I interfere? (All laugh.) Naran is indifferent to his studies. His mother said, ‘Please ask him to pay a little more attention.’ So I said to Naran, ‘Attend to your studies.’ Then his mother said, ‘Please tell him seriously.’ (All laugh.)
(To Chunilal) “Why doesn’t Gopal come here?”
CHUNILAL: “He has been suffering from dysentery.”
MASTER: “Is he taking any medicine?”
Sri Ramakrishna was planning to go to a performance of the Chaitanyalila at the Star Theatre. Mahendra Mukherji was to take him to Calcutta in his carriage. They were talking about choosing good seats. Some suggested that one could see the performance well from the one-rupee gallery. Ram said, “Oh, no! I shall engage a box for him.” The Master laughed. Some of the devotees said that public women took part in the play. They took the parts of Nimai, Nitai, and others.
MASTER (to the devotees): “I shall look upon them as the Blissful Mother Herself. What if one of them acts the part of Chaitanya? An imitation custard-apple reminds one of the real fruit. Once, while going along a road, a devotee of Krishna noticed some babla-trees. Instantly his mind was thrown into ecstasy. He remembered that the wood of babla-trees was used for the handles of the spades that the garden of the temple of Syamasundar (A name of Krishna.) was dug with. The trees Instantly reminded him of Krishna. I was once taken to the Maidan in Calcutta to see a balloon go up. There I noticed a young English boy leaning against a tree, with his body bent in three places. It at once brought before me the vision of Krishna12 and I went into samadhi.
“Once Chaitanyadeva was passing through a village. Someone told him that the body of the drum used in the kirtan was made from the earth of that village, and at once he went into ecstasy.
“Radha could not control herself at the sight of a cloud or the blue throat of a peacock. It would at once awaken in her mind the thought of Krishna, and she would go into ecstasy.”
The Master was silent a few moments and then resumed the conversation.
MASTER: “Radha had attained mahabhava. There was. no desire behind the ecstatic love of the gopis. A true lover does not seek anything from God. He prays only for pure love. He doesn’t want any powers or miracles. “It is very troublesome to possess occult powers. Nangta taught me this by a story. A man who had acquired occult powers was sitting on the seashore when a storm arose. It caused him great discomfort; so he said, ‘Let the storm stop.’ His words could not remain unfulfilled. At that moment a ship was going full sail before the wind. When the storm ceased abruptly the ship capsized and sank. The passengers perished and the sin of causing their death fell to the man. And because of that sin he lost his occult powers and went to hell.
“Once upon a time a sadhu acquired great occult powers. He was vain about them. But he was a good man and had some austerities to his credit. One day the Lord, disguised as a holy man, came to him and said, ‘Revered sir, I have heard that you have great occult powers.’ The sadhu received the Lord cordially and offered him a seat. Just then an elephant passed by. The Lord, in the disguise of the holy man, said to the sadhu, ‘Revered sir, can you kill this elephant if you like?’ The sadhu said, ‘Yes, it is possible.’ So saying, he took a pinch of dust, muttered some mantras over it, and threw it at the elephant. The beast struggled awhile in pain and then dropped dead. The Lord said: ‘What power you have! You have killed the elephant!’ The sadhu laughed. Again the Lord spoke: ‘Now can you revive the elephant?’ ‘That too is possible’, replied the sadhu. He threw another pinch of charmed dust at the beast. The elephant writhed about a little and came back to life. Then the Lord said: ‘Wonderful is your power. But may I ask you one thing? You have killed the elephant and you have revived it. But what has that done for you? Do you feel uplifted by it? Has it enabled you to realise God?’ Saying this the Lord vanished.
“Subtle are the ways of dharma. One cannot realise God if one has even the least trace of desire. A thread cannot pass through the eye of a needle if it has the smallest fibre sticking out.
“Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘Friend, if you want to realise Me, you will not succeed if you have even one of the eight occult powers.’ This is the truth. Occult power is sure to beget pride, and pride makes one forget God.
“Once a cross-eyed rich man came here. He said to me: ‘You are a paramahamsa. That is good. You must perform a swastyayana ceremony for me.’ What a small-minded person he was! He called me a paramahamsa yet wanted me to perform that ceremony. To secure welfare by means of swastyayana is to exercise occult power.
“An egotistic person cannot realise God. Do you know what egotism like? It is like a high mound, where rain-water cannot collect: the water runs off. Water collects in low land. There seeds sprout and grow into trees. Then the trees bear fruit.
“Therefore I say to Hazra, ‘Never think that you alone have true understanding and that others are fools.’ One must love all. No one is a stranger. It is Hari alone who dwells in all beings. Nothing exists without Him.
“The Lord said to Prahlada, ‘Ask a boon of Me.’ ‘I have seen You’, replied Prahlada. ‘That is enough. I don’t need anything else.’ But the Lord insisted. Thereupon Prahlada said, ‘If You must give me a boon, let it be that those who have tortured me may not have to suffer punishment.’ The meaning of those words is that it was God who tortured Prahlada in the form of his persecutors, and, if they suffered punishment, it would really be God who suffered.
“Radha was mad with prema, ecstatic love of God. But there is also the madness of bhakti. Hanuman’s was such. When he saw Sita entering the fire he was going to kill Rama. Then, too, there is the madness of Knowledge I once saw a jnani behaving like a madman. He came here very soon after the temple garden was dedicated. People said he belonged to the Brahmo Sabha of Rammohan Roy. He had a torn shoe on one foot, a stick in one hand, and a potted mango-plant in the other. After, a dip in the Ganges he went to the Kali temple where Haladhari was seated. With great fervour he began to chant a hymn to the Divine Mother. Then he went up to a dog, held it by the ear, and ate some of its food. The dog didn’t mind. Just at that time I too was about to experience the state of divine madness. I threw my arm around Hriday’s neck and said, ‘Oh, Hride! Shall I too fall into that plight?’
“I became mad. Narayan Shastri came here and saw me roaming about with a bamboo pole on my shoulder. He said to the people, ‘Ah, he is mad!’ In that state I could not observe any caste restrictions. The wife of a low-caste man used to send me cooked greens, and I ate them.
“I touched my head and lips with the leaf-plates from which the beggars ate their food in the guest-house of the Kali temple. Thereupon Haladhari said to me: ‘What have you done? You have taken the food left by beggars. How will you marry off your children?’13 These words aroused my anger. Haladhari was my cousin, older than myself. But could that restrain me? I said to him: ‘You wretch! Isn’t it you who take pride in the study of the Gita and the Vedanta? Isn’t it you who teach people that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory? And yet you imagine that I shall beget children! May your mouth that recites from the Gita be blighted!’
(To M.) “You see, mere study of books avails nothing. One may recite the written part for the drum glibly from memory, but to play the drum is exceedingly difficult.”
The Master continued with the description of his divine madness:
“Once, for a few days, I was out on an excursion with Mathur Babu in his house-boat. We took the trip for a change of air. During that trip we visited Navadvip. One day I saw the boatmen cooking their meal and stood and watched them. Mathur said to me, ‘What are you doing there?’ I replied with a smile, ‘The boatmen are cooking, and their food looks very good.’ Mathur felt that I might ask the boatmen to give me a portion of their food; so he said: ‘Come away! Come away!’
“But I cannot do such a thing now. I am no longer in that mood. Now the food must be cooked by a brahmin observing ceremonial purity, and be offered to the Deity; then only can I eat it.
“Oh, what moods I passed through! At Kamarpukur I said to Chine Sankhari and the other chums of my boyhood days, ‘Oh, I fall at your feet and beg of you to utter the name of Hari.’ I was about to prostrate myself before them all. Thereupon Chine said, ‘This is the first outburst of your divine love; so you don’t see any distinction between one man and another.’ When the storm breaks and raises the dust, then mango and tamarind trees look the same. One cannot distinguish the one from the other.”
A DEVOTEE: “How can a householder keep on with his worldly duties if he is overwhelmed by such bhakti-madness or Love-madness or Knowledge-madness?”
MASTER (looking at him): “There are two kinds of yogis, the ‘revealed’ and the ‘hidden’. The householder may be a ‘hidden’ yogi. None recognizes him. The householder should renounce mentally, not outwardly.”
RAM: “You talk as if you were consoling children. A householder may be a jnani but never a vijnani.”
MASTER: “He may become a vijnani in the end. But it is not good to force oneself into renunciation.”
RAM: “Keshab Sen used to say: ‘Why do people go to him so much? One day he will sting them and they will flee from him.'”
MASTER: “Why should I sting people? I say to people: ‘Do this as well as that. Do your worldly duties and call on God as well.’ I don’t ask them to renounce everything. (With a smile) One day Keshab was delivering a lecture. He said, ‘O Lord, grant us that we may dive into the river of divine love and go straight to the Ocean of Satchidananda.’ The ladies were seated behind the screen. I said to Keshab, ‘How can you all dive once for all?’ Pointing to the ladies’, I said: ‘Then what would happen to them? Every now and then you must return to dry land. You must dive and rise alternately.’ Keshab and the others laughed.
“Hazra says to me, ‘You love most those endowed with rajas, those who have great wealth and name and fame.’ If that is so, then why do I love people like Harish and Noto? (Referring to Latu.) Why do I love Narendra? He can’t even afford salt to season his roast banana!”
Sri Ramakrishna left his room and went toward the pine-grove talking with M. A devotee followed them with water and towel. The Master was talking about his intended visit to the Star Theatre. He said to M.: “What Ram says applies to rajasic people. What is the use of reserving an expensive seat?”
About five o’clock that afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was on his way to Calcutta. M., Mahendra Mukherji, and a few other devotees accompanied him in Mahendra’s carriage. Thinking of God, the Master soon went into an ecstatic mood. After a long time he regained consciousness of the world, He observed: “That fellow Hazra dares teach me! The rascal!” After a short pause he said, “I shall drink some water.” He often made such remarks in order to bring his mind down to the sense plane.
MAHENDRA (to M.): “May I get some refreshments for him?”
M: “No, he won’t eat anything now.”
MASTER (still in ecstatic mood): “I shall eat.”
Mahendra took the Master to his flour-mill located at Hathibagan. After a little rest Sri Ramakrishna was to go to the theatre. Mahendra did not care to take him to his own house, for the Master was not well acquainted with his father. Priyanath, Mahendra’s second brother, was also a devotee of the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on a cot over which a carpet had been spread, and was engaged in spiritual talk.
MASTER (to M. and the others): “Once, while listening to the various incidents of the life of Chaitanya, Hazra said that these were manifestations of Sakti, and that Brahman, the All-pervasive Spirit, had nothing to do with hem. But can there be Sakti without Brahman? Hazra wants to nullify the teachings of this place. (Referring to himself.)
“I have realised that Brahman and Sakti are identical, like water and its wetness, like fire and its power to burn. Brahman dwells in all beings as the Bibhu; the All-pervasive Consciousness, though Its manifestation is greater in some places than in others. Hazra says, further, that anyone who realises God must also acquire God’s supernatural powers; that he possesses these powers, though he may or may not use them.”
M: “Yes, one must have control over these supernatural powers!” (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): “Yes, one must have them in one’s grasp! How mean! He who has never enjoyed power and riches becomes impatient for them. But a true devotee never prays to God for them.”
Sri Ramakrishna washed his face. A smoke was prepared for him. He said to M.: “Is it dusk. now? If it is, I won’t smoke. During the twilight hour of the dusk you should give up all other activities and remember God.” Saying this he looked at the hairs on his arm. He wanted to see whether he could count them. If he could not, it would be dusk.
About half past eight in the evening the carriage with the Master and the devotees drew up in front of the Star Theatre on Beadon Street. He was accompanied by M., Baburam, Mahendra, and two or three others. They were talking about engaging seats, when Girish Chandra Ghosh, the manager of the theatre, accompanied by several officials, came out to the carriage, greeted the Master, and took him and the party upstairs. Girish had heard of the Master and was very glad to see him at the theatre. The Master was conducted to one of the boxes. M. sat next to him; Baburam and one or two devotees sat behind.
The hall was brilliantly lighted. The Master looked down at the pit and saw that it was crowded. The boxes also were full. For every box there was a man to fan those who occupied it. Sri Ramakrishna was filled with joy and said to M., with his childlike smile: “Ah, it is very nice here! I am glad to have come. I feel inspired when I see so many people together. Then I clearly perceive that God Himself has become everything.”
M: “It is true, sir.”
MASTER: “How much will they charge us here?”
M: “They won’t take anything. They are very happy that you have come to the theatre.”
MASTER: “It is all due to the grace of the Divine Mother.”
The Chaitanyalila was about to be performed. It was a play about the early life of Sri Chaitanya, who was also known as Nimai, Gaur, Gora, and Gauranga. The curtain rose; the attention of the audience was fixed on the stage.
The first scene depicts a council of Sin and the Six Passions. On a forest path behind them walk Viveka, Vairagya, and Bhakti, engaged in conversation.
Bhakti says to her companions: “Gauranga is born in Nadia. Therefore the vidyadharis, (Demigoddesses.) the munis, and the rishis have come down to earth in disguise to pay their respects to him.”
Blest indeed is the earth! Gora is born in Nadia!
Behold the vidyadharis, coming in chariots to adore him;
Behold the munis and rishis, who come, allured by the spell of Love.
The vidyadharis, munis, and rishis sing a hymn to Gauranga and adore him as an Incarnation of God.
Sri Ramakrishna watched the scene and was overpowered with divine ecstasy. He said to M.: “Look at it! Ah! Ah!”
Sages: O Kesava, bestow Thy grace
Upon Thy luckless servants here!
O Kesava, who dost delight
To roam Vrindavan’s glades and groves!
Goddesses: O Madhava, our mind’s Bewitcher!
Sweet One, who dost steal our hearts,
Sweetly playing on Thy flute!
Chorus: Chant, O mind, the name of Hari,
Sing aloud the name of Hari,
Praise Lord Hari’s name!
Sages: O Thou Eternal Youth of Braja,
Tamer of fierce Kaliya,
Slayer of the afflicted’s fear!
Goddesses: Beloved with the arching eyes
And crest with arching peacock feather,
Charmer of Sri Radha’s heart!
Sages: Govardhan’s mighty Lifter, Thou,
All garlanded with sylvan flowers!
O Damodara, Kamsa’s Scourge!
Goddesses: O Dark One, who dost sport in bliss With sweet Vrindavan’s gopi maids.
Chorus: Chant, O mind, the name of Hari,
Sing aloud the name of Hari,
Praise Lord Hari’s name!
As the vidyadharis sang the lines,
Beloved with the arching eyes
And crest with arching peacock feather!
the Master went into deep samadhi. The orchestra played on, but he was not aware of the outer world.
Another scene: A guest has arrived at the house of Jagannath Misra, Nimai’s father. The boy Nimai plays about, singing with his friends, in a happy mood:14
Tell Me, where is My blessed Vrindavan?’
Where is Mother Yasoda?
Where Father Nanda and Brother Balai?
Where My twin cows, black and, white?
Tell Me, where is My magic flute?
My friends Sudama and Sridama?
Where My Jamuna’s bank. My banyan?
Where My beloved gopi maids?
Where is Radha, queen of My heart?
The guest closes his eyes while offering food to the Lord. Nimai runs to him. and eats the food from the plate. The guest recognizes Nimai as an Incarnation of God and seeks to please him with the Hymn of the Ten Incarnations. Before taking leave of Gauranga’s parents he sings:
Glory to Gora, the Source of Bliss!
Hail Gauranga, Redeemer of earth!
Help of the helpless, Life of the living,
Slayer of fear in the hearts of the fearful!
Age after age we see Thy play —
New sports unfolding, moods ever new;
New waves rolling, new tales to be told.
Thou who bearest the whole world’s burden,
Shower on us the nectar of Love!
Take away our grief and affliction:
Thou in Love’s pleasure-cave dost dwell.
Hope of the suffering! Chastiser of sin!
Scourge of the wicked! Victory to Thee!
Listening to the hymn, the Master was thrilled with ecstasy.
The next scene is at Navadvip on the bank of the Ganges. After bathing in the holy water, the brahmin men and women engage in worship by the riverside. As they close their eyes, Nimai steals their food offerings and begins to eat them. A brahmin loses his temper and says: “You scapegrace! You rascal! You are taking away my offering for Vishnu. Ruin will seize you!” Nimai holds on to the offering and is about to run away. Many of the women love him dearly and cannot bear to have him go away. They call to him: “Return, O Nimai! Come back, O Nimai!” Nimai turns a deaf ear to them.
One of the women, however, knows the irresistible charm that will bring him back. She loudly chants the name of Hari. Immediately he repeats the name of Hari and comes back.
M. was seated beside the Master. Sri Ramakrishna could not control himself. He cried out, “Ah!” and shed tears of love. He said to Baburam and M.: “Don’t make a fuss if I fall into an ecstatic mood or go into samadhi. Then the worldly people will take me for a cheat.”
Another scene: Nimai is invested with the sacred thread of the brahmins. He puts on the traditional ochre robe of the sannyasi. Mother Sachi and the women of the neighbourhood stand about while he begs for alms, singing:
Drop a morsel of food, I pray, into my begging-bowl;
Alone I roam, a new-made yogi, on the highways of the world.
People of Braja, you I love, and so, time and again,
I come to you; at hunger’s call I beg my food from door to door.
The sun is low, and I must seek my home on the Jamuna’s bank;
Into its waters fall my tears, as onward murmuring it flows.
The onlookers leave the stage. Nimai stands alone. The gods, in the guise of brahmin men and women, sing his praises.
Men: Thy body gleams like liquid moonlight;
Thou hast put on man’s dwarfish form.
O Lord, Thee we salute!
Women: Bewitcher of the gopis’ hearts,
Thou roamest in the shady groves
About Vrindavan’s vale.
Nimai: Hail Sri Radha! Glory to Radha!
Men: The youths of Braja are Thy friends;
Thou curbest haughty Madan’s15 pride.
Women: Thy love has made the gopis mad;
In ecstasy the Jamuna thrills.
Men: Narayana, Deluder of demons!
Refuge of the fear-stricken gods!
Women: O Lover of Braja, Thou dost beg
The love of Braja’s comely maidens!
Nimai: Hail Sri Radha! Glory to Radha!
Listening to the music, the Master went into samadhi. The curtain fell and the orchestra played on.
A new scene: Srivas and other devotees are engaged in conversation in front of Advaita’s house. Mukunda sings:
Sleep no more! How long will you lie
In maya’s slumber locked, O mind?
Who are you? Why have you been born?
Forgotten is your own true Self.
O mind, unclose your eyes at last
And wake yourself from evil dreams;
A fool you are to bind yourself
So to the passing shows of life,
When in you lives Eternal Bliss.
Come out of the gloom, O foolish mind!
Come out and hail the rising Sun!
Sri Ramakrishna praised the voice of the singer highly.
Another scene: Nimai is staying at home. Srivas comes to visit him. First he meets Sachi. The mother weeps and says: “My son doesn’t attend to his household duties. My eldest son, Viswarupa, has renounced the world, and my heart has ached ever since. Now I fear that Nimai will follow in his steps.”
Nimai arrives. Sachi says to Srivas: “Look at him. Tears run down his cheeks and breast. Tell, tell me how I can free him from these notions.”
At the sight of Srivas, Nimai clings to his feet and says, with eyes full of tears: “Ah me! Revered sir, I have not yet attained devotion to Krishna. Futile is this wretched life! Tell me, sir, where is Krishna? Where shall I find Krishna? Give me the dust of your feet with your blessing, that I may realise the Blue One with the garland of wild-flowers hanging about His neck.”
Sri Ramakrishna looked at M. He was eager to say something but he could not. His voice was choked with emotion; the tears ran down his cheeks; with unmoving eyes he watched Nimai clinging to Srivas’s feet and saying, “Sir, I have not yet attained devotion to Krishna.”
Nimai has opened a school, but he cannot teach the students any longer. Gangadas, his former teacher, comes to persuade him to direct his attention to his worldly duties. He says to Srivas: “Listen, Srivas! We are brahmins, too, and devoted to the worship of Vishnu. But you people are ruining Nimai’s worldly prospects.”
MASTER (to M.): “That is the advice of the worldly-wise: Do ‘this’ as well as ‘that’. When the worldly man teaches spirituality he always advises a compromise between the world and God.”
M: “Yes, sir. That is true.”
Gangadas continues his argument with Nimai. He says: “Nimai, undoubtedly you are versed in the scriptures. Reason with me. Explain to me if any other duty is superior to worldly duties. You are a house-holder. Why disregard the duties of a householder and follow others’ duties?”
MASTER (to M.): “Did you notice? He’s trying to persuade Nimai to make a compromise.”
M: “Yes, sir.”
Nimai says to Gangadas: “I am not wilfully indifferent to a householder’s duties. On the contrary, it is my desire to hold to all sides. But, revered sir, I don’t know what it is that draws me on. I don’t know what to do. I want to cling to the shore but I cannot. My soul wanders away. I am helpless. My soul constantly wants to plunge headlong into the boundless Ocean.”
MASTER: “Ah me!”
The scene changes: Nityananda has arrived at Navadvip. After a search he meets Nimai, who, in turn, has been seeking him. When they meet, Nimai says to him: “Blessed is my life! Fulfilled is my dream! You visited me in a dream and then disappeared.”
The Master said in a voice choked with emotion, “Nimai said he had seen him in a dream.”
Nimai is in an ecstatic mood and becomes engaged in conversation with Advaita, Srivas, Haridas, and other devotees. Nitai sings a song suited to Nimai’s mood:
Where is Krishna? Where is my Krishna?
He is not in the grove, dear friends.
Give me Krishna! Bring me my Krishna!
Radha’s heart knows naught but Him.
At this song Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. He remained in that state a long time. The orchestra played on. Gradually his mind came down to the relative plane. In the mean time a young man of Khardaha, born in the holy family of Nityananda, had entered the box. He was standing behind the Master’s chair. Sri Ramakrishna was filled with delight at the sight of him. He held his hand and talked to him affectionately. Every now and then he said: “Please sit down here. Your very presence awakens my spiritual feeling.” He played tenderly with the young man’s hands and lovingly stroked his face.
After he had left, Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: “He is a great scholar. His father is a great devotee of God. When I go to Khardaha to visit Syamasundar, the father entertains me with sacred offerings such as one cannot buy even for a hundred rupees. This young man has good traits. A little shaking will awaken his inner spirit. At the sight of him my spiritual mood is aroused. I should have been overwhelmed with ecstasy it he had stayed here a little longer.”
The curtain rises: Nityananda is walking in a procession on the public road with his companions, chanting the name of Hari. He meets two ruffians, Jagai and Madhai, who are sworn enemies of all religious people. Madhai strikes Nitai with a piece of broken pottery. Nitai is hurt and bleeds profusely, but he pays no heed, inebriated as he is with the love of God.
Sri Ramakrishna was in an ecstatic mood.
Nitai embraces both Jagai and Madhai, and sings a song to the two ruffians:
Jagai! Madhai! Oh, come and dance,
Chanting Hari’s name with fervour!
What does it matter that you struck me?
Dance, dear friends, in Hari’s name!
Sing the name of our Beloved:
He will embrace you in love’s rapture!
Let the heavens resound with His name!
You have not tasted true emotion:
Weep as you chant the name of Hari,
And you will see the Moon of your soul.
Hari’s name would I lovingly give you;
Nitai calls you to share His love.
Nimai speaks to Sachi of his desire to enter the monastic life. His mother faints and falls to the ground.
At this point many in the audience hurst into tears. Sri Ramakrishna remained still and looked intently at the stage. A single tear appeared in the corner of teach eye. The performance was over.
Sri Ramakrishna was about to enter a carriage. A devotee asked him how he had enjoyed the play. The Master said with a smile, “I found the representation the same as the real.”
The carriage proceeded toward Mahendra’s mill. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna went into an ecstatic mood and murmured to himself in loving tones: “O Krishna! O Krishna! Krishna is knowledge! Krishna is soul! Krishna is mind! Krishna is life! Krishna is body!” He continued: “O Govinda, Thou art my life! Thou art my soul!”
The carriage reached the mill. Mahendra fed the Master tenderly with various dishes. M. sat by his side. ‘Affectionately he said to M., “Here, eat a little.” He put some sweets in his hands.
With Mahendra and a few other devotees, Sri Ramakrishna left in the carriage for the Dakshineswar temple garden. The Master was in a happy mood. He sang a song about Gauranga and Nitai, M. sang with him:
Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!
I have heard how kind you are,
And therefore I have come to you. . . .
The Master and Mahendra talked about the latter’s intended pilgrimage.
MASTER (smiling): “The divine love in you is barely a sprout now. Why should you let it wither? But come back very soon. Many a time I have thought of visiting your place. At last I have done it. I am so happy.”
MAHENDRA: “My life is indeed blessed, sir.”
MASTER: “You were already blessed. Your father is also a good man. I saw him the other day. He has faith in the Adhyatma Ramayana.”
MAHENDRA: “Please bless me that I may have love for God.”
MASTER: “You are generous and artless. One cannot realise God without sincerity and simplicity. God is far, far away from the crooked heart.”
Near Syambazar, Mahendra bade the Master good-bye, and the carriage continued on its way.
- ^A nickname for Prankrishna, a devotee of the Master.
- ^The following story is recorded in connexion with the birth of Sri Krishna: Kamsa, the king of Mathura, was the very personification of evil. His god-fearing sister Devaki was married to Vasudeva. When Kamsa came to know that a son of Devaki would be his slayer, and that his sister was already expecting a child, he was about to kill her. But he spared her life on her promise to deliver her child to him as soon as it was born. Both Vasudeva and Devaki were kept in prison under a strong guard. In the prison seven sons were born to Devaki, one after another, and they were all slain by the evil Kamsa. The eighth child was Sri Krishna. Immediately after His birth, Vasudeva, through, divine help, took Him across the Jamuna river to the village of Gokula, where Nanda and his wife Yasoda lived. To them had just been born a daughter, who was an Incarnation of the Divine Power. Sri Krishna was exchanged for the girl, who was then delivered to Kamsa as the new-born child of Devaki. Kamsa was about to kill her when she flew into the sky in the form of a bird, the samkhachila, remarking that Kamsa’s slayer was growing up at Gokula. This is why the samkhachila is held in respect. Eventually Sri Krishna killed Kamsa.
- ^Vijaykrishna Goswami. Though born in a Vaishnava family, he became a member of the Brahmo Samaj. Later he returned to the worship of the Personal God.
- ^Vijay and several of his friends, on account of a disagreement with Keshab, seceded from Keshab’s organization and founded the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj.
- ^A religious festival, the cost of which is borne by the whole community.
- ^The night of the new moon is especially auspicious for the worship of the Divine Mother.
- ^The wife of the five Pandava brothers. In order to humiliate her in the court, Duryodhana ordered her clothes to be taken off.
- ^That is to say, realisation of the identity of the guru and God.
- ^In a certain form of Tantrik worship, food is offered to the jackals, the companions of the Goddess Kali.
- ^The chandni is an open portico in the temple garden with steps descending to the Ganges. According to the orthodox Hindu tradition, a monk is forbidden to live in a house.
- ^That is to say. God Himself evolves as the universe, at the time of creation, and names and forms are involved back into God, at the time of dissolution.
- ^Images of Krishna are usually bent in three parts of the body, namely, the neck, the waist, and the knees.
- ^According to the rules of Hindu society, brahmins lose their caste by eating food left or touched by people of a lower caste.
- ^In this song Gauranga identifies himself with Krishna.
- ^In this song Gauranga identifies himself with Krishna.