God in all beings — Master and Hriday — Bhava and mahabhava — Discipline for God-vision — Futility of mere study — Yearning for God — Work hard for His realisation — Favourable conditions for realisation of God — See God in the world — Story of “the will of Rama” — Master’s first meeting with Keshab — Master and Devendra Tagore— Colonel Viswanath — Essence of Vedanta — Qualified Advaita — Synthesis of Sankara and Ramanuja — Explanation of “Aum” — Duty to one’s mother — God supplies the needs of devotees — Three classes of sadhus — Faith in guru — “I-consciousness” — Sincere and formal devotion — Sign of a true devotee — Advantage of a householder’s life — Master and Narayan.
Sunday, October 26, 1884
IT WAS AFTERNOON, and many devotees were present in the Master’s room. Among them were Manomohan, Mahimacharan, and M. They were joined later by Ishan and Hazra. Balaram and Rakhal were still staying at Vrindavan. The many young boys who at this time began to seek the Master’s company later became his intimate disciples. Latu lived with the Master, and Jogin,1 who lived in the village, was a frequent visitor.
Sri Ramakrishna, happy child of the Divine Mother that he was, radiated a joy and peace that were reflected in the hearts of his devotees and found expression in their happy faces. They were seated on the floor and had their eyes fixed on the Master, who was standing in a pensive mood, like a boy.
MASTER (to Manomohan): “I see Rama in all things. You are all sitting here, but I see only Rama in every one of you.”
MANOMOHAN: “Yes, sir. It is Rama who has become everything. But, as you say, though all water is Narayana, yet some water is fit for drinking, some for washing the hands and face, and some only for cleaning pots and pans.”
MASTER: “It is true. But I see that it is God Himself who has become everything — the universe and its living beings.”
Presently the Master sat down on the small couch near his bed.
MASTER (to Mahimacharan): “There is no question of my being truthful; but must I develop a mania for it? If I once say that I shall not eat, then it is impossible for me to eat, even if I am hungry. Again, if I ask a particular man to take my water-jug to the pine-grove, he alone must carry it. If another man carries it, he will have to take it back. What a fix I am in! Is there no way out of it?
“Besides, I can’t carry anything with me, neither food nor betel-leaf; for that means laying up for the future. I can’t carry a little clay in my hand.”
Just then a man entered the room and told the Master that Hriday was waiting to see him in Jadu Mallick’s garden, near the gate.
The Master said to the devotees: “I shall have to see Hriday. Please don’t leave the room.” He put on his slippers and went toward the east gate of the temple garden, M. accompanying him. The road through the garden was covered with red brick-dust. The manager of the temple, who was standing on the road, saluted Sri Ramakrishna. The Master passed the north entrance of the temple compound, where the bearded sentries sat. On his left he passed the kuthi, the building used by the proprietors of the temple. Then he walked on down the road which was lined on both sides with flowering trees, passing the reservoir on his right, and went outside the temple garden. He found Hriday waiting for him near the gate of Jadu Mallick’s garden.
At the sight of the Master, Hriday, who had been standing there with folded hands, prostrated himself before him. When the Master told him to get up, he rose and began to cry like a child. How strange! Tears also appeared in the Master’s eyes. He wiped them away with his hands. Hriday had made him suffer endless agonies, yet the Master wept for him.
MASTER: “Why are you here now?”
HRIDAY (weeping): “I have come to see you. To whom else shall I tell my sorrows?”
Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said to him by way of consolation: “One cannot avoid such sorrows in the world. Pleasure and pain are inevitable in worldly life. (Pointing to M.) That is why they come here now and then. They get peace of mind by hearing about God. What is your trouble?”
HRIDAY (weeping): “I am deprived of your company and so I suffer.”
MASTER: “Why, was it not you who said to me, ‘You follow your ideal and let me follow mine’?”
HRIDAY: “Yes, I did say that. But what did I know?”
MASTER: “I shall say good-bye to you now. Come another day and we shall talk together. Today is Sunday and many people have come to see me. They are waiting in my room. Have you had a good crop in the country?”
HRIDAY: “”It isn’t bad.”
MASTER: “Let me say good-bye. Come another day.”
Hriday again prostrated himself before the Master, who started back to his room with M.
MASTER (to M.): “He tormented me as much as he served me. When my stomach trouble had reduced my body to a couple of bones and I couldn’t eat anything, he said to me one day: ‘Look at me — how well I eat! You’ve just taken a fancy that you can’t eat.’ Again he said: ‘You are a fool! If I weren’t living with you, where would your profession of holiness be?’ One day he tormented me so much that I stood on the embankment ready to give up my body by jumping into the Ganges, which was then at flood-tide.”
M. became speechless at these words of the Master. For such a man he had shed tears a few minutes before!
MASTER (to M.): “Well, he served me a great deal; then why should he have fallen on such evil days? He took care of me like a parent bringing up a child. As for me, I would remain unconscious of the world day and night. Besides, I was ill for a long time. I was completely at his mercy.”
M. did not know how to answer Sri Ramakrishna; so he kept silent.
Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room and sat on the small couch. The devotees had been waiting for him eagerly. Several devotees from Konnagar had arrived. One of them came forward to question the Master.
DEVOTEE: “Sir, we hear that you go into samadhi and experience ecstasy. Please explain why and how you get into that mood.”
MASTER: “Sri Radha used to experience mahabhava. If any of her companions wanted to touch her while she was in that state, another of them would say: ‘Please do not touch that body, the playground of Sri Krishna. Krishna is now sporting in her body.’ It is not possible to experience bhava or mahabhava without the realisation of God. When a fish comes up from a great depth, you see a movement on the surface of the water; and if it is a big one there, is much splashing about. That is why a devotee ‘laughs and weeps and dances and sings in the ecstasy of God’.
“One cannot remain in bhava very long. People take a man to be crazy if he sits before a mirror and looks at his face all the time.”
DEVOTEE: “Sir, we hear that you see God. If you do, please show Him to us.”
MASTER: “Everything depends on God’s will. What can a man do? While chanting God’s name, sometimes tears flow and at other times the eyes remain dry. While meditating on God, some days I feel a great deal of inner awakening, and some days I feel nothing.
“A man must work. Only then can he see God. One day, in an exalted mood, I had a vision of the Haldarpukur. I saw a low-caste villager drawing water after pushing aside the green scum. Now and then he took up the water in the palm of his hand and examined it. In that vision it was revealed to me that the water cannot be seen without pushing aside the green scum that covers it; that is to say, one cannot develop love of God or obtain His vision without work. Work means meditation, japa, and the like. The chanting op God’s name and glories is work too. You may also include charity, sacrifice, and so on.
“If you want butter, you must let the milk turn to curd. It must be left in a quiet place. When the milk becomes curd, you must work hard to churn it. Only then can you get butter from the milk.”
MAHIMACHARAN: “That is true, sir. Work is certainly necessary. One must labour hard. Only then does one succeed. There is so much to read! The scriptures are endless.”
MASTER (to Mahimacharan): “How much of the scriptures can you read? What will you gain by mere reasoning? Try to realise God before anything else. Have faith in the guru’s words, and work. If you have no guru, then pray to God with a longing heart. He will let you know what He is like.
“What will you learn of God from books? As long as you are at a distance from the market-place you hear only an indistinct roar. But it is quite different when you are actually there. Then you hear and see everything distinctly. You hear people saying: ‘Here are your potatoes. Take them and give me the money.’
“From a distance you hear only the rumbling noise of the ocean. Go near it and you will see many boats sailing about, birds flying, and waves rolling.
“One cannot get true feeling about God from the study of books. This feeling is something very different from book-learning. Books, scriptures, and science appear as mere dirt and straw after the realisation of God.
“The one thing needful is to be introduced to the master of the house. Why are you so anxious to know beforehand how many houses and gardens, and how many government securities, the master possesses? The servants of the house would not allow you even to approach these, and they would certainly not tell you about their master’s investments. Therefore, somehow or other become acquainted with the master, even if you have to jump over the fence or take a few pushes from the servants. Then the master himself will tell you all about his houses and gardens and his government securities. And what is more, the servants and the door-keeper will salute you when you are known to the master.” (All laugh.)
DEVOTEE: “Now the question is how to become acquainted with the master.” (Laughter.)
MASTER: “That is why I say that work is necessary. It will not do to say that God exists and then idle away your time. You must reach God somehow or other. Call on Him in solitude and pray to Him, ‘O Lord! reveal Thyself to me.’ Weep for Him with a longing heart. You roam about in search of ‘woman and gold’ like a madman; now be a little mad for God. Let people say, ‘This man has lost his head for God.’ Why not renounce everything for a few days and call on God in solitude?
“What will you achieve by simply saying that God exists and doing nothing about it? There are big fish in the Haldarpukur; but can you catch them by merely sitting idly on the bank? Prepare some spiced bait and throw it into the lake. Then the fish will come from the deep water and you will see ripples. That will make you happy. Perhaps a fish will jump with a splash and you will get a glimpse of it. Then you will be so glad!
“Milk must be turned to curd and the curd must be churned. Only then will you get butter. (To Mahima) What a nuisance! Someone must show God to a man, while he himself sits idly by all the while! Someone must extract the butter and hold it in front of his mouth! (All laugh.) What a bother! Someone else must catch the fish and give it to him!
“A man wanted to see the king. The king lived in the inner court of the palace, beyond seven gates. No sooner did the man pass the first gate than he exclaimed, ‘Oh, where is the king?’ But there were seven gates, and he must pass them one after another before he could see the king.”
MAHIMACHARAN: “By what kind of work can one realise God?”
MASTER: “It is not that God can be realised by this work and not by that. The vision of God depends on His grace. Still a man must work a little with longing for God in his heart. If he has longing he will receive the grace of God.
“To attain God a man must have certain favourable conditions: the company of holy men, discrimination, and the blessings of a real teacher. Perhaps his elder brother takes the responsibility for the family; perhaps his wife has spiritual qualities and is very virtuous; perhaps he is not married at all or entangled in worldly life. He succeeds when conditions like these are fulfilled.
“In a certain family a man lay seriously ill. He was at the point of death. Someone said: ‘Here is a remedy: First it must rain when the star Svati is in the ascendant; then some of that rain-water must collect in a human skull; then a frog must come there and a snake must chase it; and as the frog is about to be bitten by the snake, it must jump away and the poison of the snake must drop into the skull. You must prepare a medicine from this poison and give it to the patient. Then he will live.’ The head of the family consulted the almanac about the star and set out at the right moment. With great longing of heart he began to search for the different ingredients. He prayed to God, ‘O Lord, I shall succeed only if You bring together all the ingredients.’ As he was roaming about he actually saw a skull lying on the ground. Presently there came a shower of rain. Then the man exclaimed: ‘O gracious Lord, I have got the rain-water under Svati, and the skull too. What is more, some of the rain has fallen into the skull. Now be kind enough to bring together the other ingredients.’ He was reflecting with a yearning heart when he saw a poisonous snake approaching. His joy knew no bounds. He became so excited that he could feel the thumping of his own heart. ‘O God,’ he prayed, ‘now the snake has come too. I have procured most of the ingredients. Please be gracious and give me the remaining ones.’ No sooner did he pray thus than a frog hopped up. The snake pursued it. As they came near the skull and the snake was about to bite the frog, the frog jumped over the skull and the snake’s poison fell into it. The man began to dance, clapping his hands for joy. — So I say that one gets everything through yearning.
“A man cannot realise God’ unless he renounces everything mentally. A sadhu cannot lay things up. ‘Birds and wandering monks do not make provision for the morrow.’ Such is the state of my mind that I cannot carry even clay in my hand. Once, when Hriday tormented me, I thought of leaving this place and going to Benares. I thought of taking some clothes with me. But how could I take money? So I could not go to Benares. (All laugh.)
(To Mahima) “You are a householder. Therefore you should hold both to ‘this’ and to ‘that’ — both to the world and to God.”
MAHIMA: “Sir, can one who holds to ‘that’ also hold to ‘this’?”
MASTER: “Once, sitting on the bank of the Ganges near the Panchavati, holding a rupee in one hand and clay in the other, I discriminated, ‘The rupee is the clay — the clay is verily the rupee, and the rupee is verily the clay’, and then threw the rupee into the river. But I was a little frightened. ‘How foolish of me to offend the goddess of fortune!’ I thought. ‘What shall I do if she doesn’t provide me with food any more?’ Then, like Hazra, I sought help in a ruse. I said to the goddess, ‘Mother, may you dwell in my heart.’ Once the Divine Mother was pleased with a man’s austerities and said to him, ‘You may ask a favour of Me.’ ‘O Mother,’ said he, ‘if You are so pleased with me, then grant that I may eat from a gold plate with my grandchildren.’ Now, in one boon the man got everything: grandchildren, wealth, and gold plate. (All laugh.)
“When the mind is freed from ‘woman and gold’, it can be directed to God and become absorbed in Him. It is the bound alone who can be freed. The moment the mind turns away from God, it is bound. When does the lower needle of a pair of scales move away from the upper one? When one pan is pressed down by a weight. ‘Woman and gold’ is the weight.
“Why does a child cry on coming out of its mother’s womb? With its cry it says, as it were: ‘Just see where I am now! In my mother’s womb I was meditating on the Lotus Feet of God; but see where I am now!’
(To Mahima) “You should renounce mentally. Live the life of a householder in a spirit of detachment.”
MAHIMA: “Can a man live in the world if his mind is once directed to God?”
MASTER: “Why not? Where will he go away from the world? I realise that wherever I live I am always in the Ayodhya of Rama. This whole world is Rama’s Ayodhya. After receiving instruction from His teacher, Rama said that He would renounce the world. Dasaratha sent the sage Vasishtha to Rama to dissuade Him. Vasishtha found Him filled with intense renunciation. He said to Rama: ‘First of all, reason with me, Rama; then You may leave the world. May I ask You if this world is outside God? If that is so, then You may give it up.’ Rama found that it is God alone who has become the universe and all its living beings. Everything in the world appears real on account of God’s reality behind it. Thereupon Rama became silent.
“In the world a man must fight against passions like lust and anger, against many desires, against attachment. It is convenient to fight from inside a fort — from his own home. At home he gets his food and other help from his wife. In the Kaliyuga the life of a man depends entirely on food. It is better to get food at one place than to knock at seven doors for it.2 Living at home is like facing the battle from a fort.
“Live in the world like a cast-off leaf in a gale. Such a leaf is sometimes blown inside a house and sometimes to a rubbish heap. The leaf goes wherever the wind blows — sometimes to a good place and sometimes to a bad. Now God has put you in the world. That is good. Stay here. Again, when He lifts you from here and puts you in a better place, that will be time enough to think about what to do then.
“God has put you in the world. What can you do about it? Resign everything to Him. Surrender yourself at His feet. Then there will be no more confusion. Then you will realise that it is God who does everything. All depends on ‘the will of Rama’.”
A DEVOTEE: “What is that story about ‘the will of Rama’?”
MASTER: “In a certain village there lived a weaver. He was a very pious soul. Everyone trusted him and loved him. He used to sell his goods in the market-place. When a customer asked him the price of a piece of cloth, the weaver would say: ‘By the will of Rama the price of the yarn is one rupee and the labour four annas; by the will of Rama the profit is two annas. The price of the cloth, by the will of Rama, is one rupee and six annas.’ Such was the people’s faith in the weaver that the customer would at once pay the price and take the cloth. The weaver was a real devotee of God. After finishing his supper in the evening, he would spend long hours in the worship hall meditating on God and chanting His name and glories. Now, late one night the weaver couldn’t get to sleep. He was sitting in the worship hall, smoking now and then, when a band of robbers happened to pass that way. They wanted a man to carry their goods and said to the weaver, ‘Come with us.’ So saying, they led him off by the hand. After committing a robbery in a house, they put a load of things on the weaver’s head, commanding him to carry them. Suddenly the police arrived and the robbers ran away. But the weaver, with his load, was arrested. He was kept in the lock-up for the night. Next day he was brought before the magistrate for trial. The villagers learnt what had happened and came to court. They said to the magistrate, ‘Your Honour, this man could never commit a robbery.’ Thereupon the magistrate asked the weaver to make his statement.
“The weaver said: ‘Your Honour, by the will of Rama I finished my meal at night. Then by the will of Rama I was sitting in the worship hall. It was quite late at night by the will of Rama. By the will of Rama I had been thinking of God and chanting His name and glories, when by the will of Rama a band of robbers passed that way. By the will of Rama they dragged me with them; by the will of Rama they committed a robbery in a house; and by the will of Rama they put a load on my head. Just then, by the will of Rama the police arrived, and by the will of Rama I was arrested. Then by the will of Rama the police kept me in the lock-up for the night, and this morning by the will of Rama I have been brought before Your Honour.’ The magistrate realised that the weaver was a pious man and ordered his release. On his way home the weaver said to his friends, ‘By the will of Rama I have been released.’
“Whether a man should be a householder or a monk depends on the will of Rama. Surrender everything to God and do your duties in the world. What else can you do? A clerk was once sent to prison. After the prison term was over he was released. Now, what do you think he did? Cut capers or do his old clerical work?
“If the householder becomes a jivanmukta, then he can easily live in the world if he likes. A man who has attained Knowledge does not differentiate between ‘this place’ and ‘that place’. All places are the same to him. He who thinks of ‘that place’ also thinks of ‘this place’.
“When I first met Keshab at Jaygopal’s garden house, I remarked, ‘He is the only one who has dropped his tail.’ At this people laughed. Keshab said to them: ‘Don’t laugh. There must be some meaning in his words. Let us ask him.’ Thereupon I said to Keshab: ‘The tadpole, so long as it has not dropped its tail, lives only in the water. It cannot move about on dry land. But as soon as it drops its tail it hops out on the bank; then it can live both on land and in water. Likewise, as long as a man has not dropped his tail of ignorance, he can live only in the water of the world. But when he drops his tail, that is to say, when he attains the Knowledge of God, then he can roam about as a free soul, or live as a householder if he likes.'”
Mahimacharan and the other devotees remained spellbound, listening to the Master’s words.
MASTER: “Once I visited Devendranath Tagore (The father of Rabindranath Tagore.) with Mathur Babu. I said to Mathur: ‘I have heard that Devendra Tagore thinks of God. I should like to see him.’ ‘All right,’ said Mathur, ‘I will take you to him. We were fellow students in the Hindu College and I am very friendly with him.’ We went to Devendra’s house. Mathur and Devendra had not seen each other for a long time. Devendra said to Mathur: ‘You have changed a little. You have grown fat around the stomach.’ Mathur said, referring to me: ‘He has come to see you. He is always mad about God.’ I wanted to see Devendra’s physical marks and said to him, ‘Let me see your body.’ He pulled up his shirt, and I found that he had very fair skin tinted red. His hair had not yet turned grey.
“At the outset I noticed a little vanity in Devendra. And isn’t that natural? He had such wealth, such scholarship, such name and fame! Noticing that streak of vanity, I asked Mathur: ‘Well, is vanity the outcome of knowledge or ignorance? Can a knower of Brahman have such a feeling as, “I am a scholar; I am a jnani; I am rich”?’
“While I was talking to Devendra, I suddenly got into that state of mind in which I can see a man as he really is. I was convulsed with laughter inside. In that state I regard scholars and the book-learned as mere straw. If I see that a scholar has no discrimination and renunciation, I regard him as worthless straw. I see that he is like a vulture, which soars high but fixes its look on a charnel-pit down below.
“I found that Devendra had combined both yoga and bhoga in his life. He had a number of children, all young. The family physician was there. Thus, you see, though he was a jnani, yet he was preoccupied with worldly life. I said to him: ‘You are the King Janaka of this Kaliyuga.
Holding to one as well as the other,
He drank his milk from a brimming cup!
I have heard that you live in the world and think of God; so I have come to see you. Please tell me something about God.’
“He recited some texts from the Vedas. He said, ‘This universe is like a chandelier and each living being is a light in it.’ Once, meditating in the Panchavati, I too had had a vision like that. I found his words agreed with my vision, and I thought he must be a very great man. I asked him to explain his words. He said; ‘God has created men to manifest His own glory; otherwise, who could know this universe? Everything becomes dark without the lights in the chandelier. One cannot even see the chandelier itself.’
“We talked a long time. Devendra was pleased and said to me, ‘You must come to our Brahmo Samaj festival.’ ‘That’, I said, ‘depends on the will of God. You can see the state of my mind. There’s no knowing when God will put me into a particular state.’ Devendra insisted: ‘No, you must come. But put on your cloth and wear a shawl over your body. Someone might say something unkind about your untidiness, and that would hurt me.’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘I cannot promise that. I cannot be a babu.’ Devendra and Mathur laughed.
“The very next day Mathur received a letter from Devendra forbidding me to go to the festival. He wrote that it would be ungentlemanly of me not to cover my body with a shawl. (All laugh.)
“There is another big man: Captain. Though a man of the world, he is a great lover of God. (To Mahima) Talk to him some time. He knows the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Bhagavata, the Gita, the Adhyatma Ramayana, and other scriptures by heart. You will find that out when you talk to him.
“He has great piety. Once I was going along a street in Baranagore and he held an umbrella over my head. He invites me to his house and shows me great attention. He fans me, massages my feet, and feeds me with various dishes. Once at his house I went into samadhi in the toilet; and he took care of me there though he is so particular about his orthodox habits. He didn’t show any abhorrence for the place.
“He has many expenses. He supports his brothers who live in Benares. His wife was a miserly woman at first. Now she is so burdened by the expenses of the family that she cannot spend all the money she would like to.
“Captain’s wife said to me: ‘He doesn’t enjoy worldly life. That is why he once said he would renounce the World.’ True, every now and then he expressed that desire.
“Captain was born in a family of devotees. His father was a soldier. I have heard that on the battle-field he would worship Siva with one hand and hold a naked sword in the other.
“Captain is a strong upholder of orthodox conventions. Because of my visiting Keshab Chandra Sen, he stopped coming here for a month. He said to me that Keshab had violated the social conventions: he dined with the English, had married his daughter into another caste, and had lost his own caste. I said to Captain: ‘What do I care for such things? Keshab chants the name of God; so I go to him to hear about God. I eat only the plum; what do I care about the thorns?’ But Captain remained stubborn. He said to me, ‘Why do you see Keshab?’ I answered him rather sharply: ‘But I don’t go to him for money; I go there to hear the name of God. And how is it that you visit the Viceroy’s house? He is a mlechchha. How can you be in his company?’ That silenced him a little.
“But he is a great devotee. When he worships he performs arati with camphor. When he recites hymns he becomes a totally different person. He becomes absorbed.
(To Mahimacharan) “In the light of Vedantic reasoning the world is illusory, unreal as a dream. The Supreme Soul is the Witness — the witness of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep. These things are in your line of thought. The waking state is only as real as the dream. Let me tell you a story that agrees with your attitude.
“There was a farmer who lived in the countryside. He was a real jnani. He earned his living by farming. He was married, and after many years a son was born to him, whom he named Haru. The parents loved the boy dearly. This was natural, since he was the one precious gem in the family. On account of his religious nature the farmer was loved by the villagers. One day he was working in the field when a neighbour came and told him that Haru had had an attack of cholera. The farmer at once returned home and arranged tor treatment for the boy. But Haru died. The other members of the family were grief-stricken, but the farmer acted as if nothing had happened. He consoled his family and told them that grieving was futile. Then he went back to his field. On returning home he found his wife weeping even more bitterly. She said to him: ‘How heartless you are! You haven’t shed one tear for the child.’ The farmer replied quietly: ‘Shall I tell you why I haven’t wept? I had a very vivid dream last night. I dreamt I had become a king; I was the father of eight sons and was very happy with them. Then I woke up. Now I am greatly perplexed. Should I weep for those eight sons or for this one Haru?’
“The farmer was a jnani; therefore he realised that the waking state is as unreal as the dream state. There is only one eternal Substance, and that is the Atman.
“But for my part I accept everything: Turiya and also the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep. I accept all three states. I accept all — Brahman and also maya, the universe, and its living beings. If I accepted less I should not get the full weight.”
A DEVOTEE: “The full weight? How is that?” (All laugh.)
MASTER: “Brahman is qualified by the universe and its living beings. At the beginning, while following the method of ‘Not this, not this’, one has to eliminate the universe and its living beings. But as long as ‘I-consciousness’ remains, one cannot but feel that it is God Himself who has become everything. He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles.
“When a man speaks of the essential part of the bel-fruit, he means its flesh only, and not the seeds and shell. But if he wants to speak of the total weight of the fruit, it will not do for him to weigh only the flesh. He must accept the whole thing: seeds and shell and flesh. Seeds and shell and flesh belong to one and the same fruit.
“The Nitya and the Lila belong to the same Reality. Therefore I accept everything, the Relative as well as the Absolute. I don’t explain away the world as maya. Were I to do that I should get short weight.”
MAHIMACHARAN: “It is a good synthesis: from the Absolute to the Relative, and from the Relative to the Absolute.”
MASTER: “The jnanis regard everything as illusory, like a dream; but the bhaktas accept all the states. The milk flows only in dribblets from the jnani. (All laugh.) There are some cows that pick and choose their fodder; hence their milk flows only in dribblets. But cows that don’t discriminate so much, and eat whatever they get, give milk in torrents. A superior devotee of God accepts both the Absolute and the Relative; therefore he is able to enjoy the Divine even when his mind comes down from the Absolute. Such a devotee is like the cows that give milk in torrents.” (All laugh.)
MAHIMA: “But the milk of a cow that eats without discrimination smells a little.” (Laughter.)
MASTER (with a smile): “That’s true, no doubt. Therefore that milk should be boiled. One should boil such milk over the fire a little while; there will be no smell whatever if you boil the milk over the fire of Knowledge. (All laugh)
(To Mahima) “You explain ‘Aum’ with reference to ‘a’, ‘u’, and ‘m’ only.”
MAHIMA: “‘A’, ‘u’, and ‘m’ mean creation, preservation, and destruction.”
MASTER: “But I give the illustration of the sound of a gong: ‘torn’,3 t—o—m. It is the merging of the Lila in the Nitya: the gross, the subtle, and the causal merge in the Great Cause; waking, dream, and deep sleep merge in Turiya. The striking of the gong is like the falling of a heavy weight into a big ocean. Waves begin to rise; the Relative rises from the Absolute; the causal, subtle, and gross bodies appear out of the Great Cause; from Turiya emerge the states of deep sleep, dream, and waking. These waves arising from the Great Ocean merge again in the Great Ocean. From the Absolute to the Relative, and from the Relative to the Absolute. Therefore I give the illustration of the gong’s sound, ‘tom’. I have clearly perceived all these things. It has been revealed to me that there exists an Ocean of Consciousness without limit. From It come all things of the relative plane, and in It they merge again. Millions of Brahmandas rise in that Chidakasa and merge in It again. All this has been revealed to me; I don’t know much about what your books say.”
MAHIMA: “Those to whom such things were revealed did not write the scriptures. They were rapt in their own experiences; when would they write? One needs a somewhat calculating mind to write. Others learnt these things from the seers and wrote the books.”
MASTER: “Worldly people ask why one does not get rid of attachment to ‘woman and gold’. That attachment disappears after the realisation of God. If a man once tastes the Bliss of Brahman, then his mind no longer runs after the enjoyment of sense pleasures or wealth or name and fame. It the moth once sees the light, it no longer goes into the darkness.
“Some friends said to Ravana: ‘You have been assuming different forms4 for Sita. Why don’t you go to her in the form of Rama?’ Ravana replied: ‘When I contemplate Rama, even the position of Brahma appears insignificant to me, not to speak of the company of another man’s wife! How could I take the form of Rama for such a purpose?’
“All worship and spiritual discipline are directed to one end alone, namely, to get rid of worldly attachment. The more you meditate on God, the less you will be attached to the trifling things of the world. The more you love the Lotus Feet of God, the less you will crave the things of the world or pay heed to creature comforts. You will look on another man’s wife as your mother and regard your own wife as your companion in spiritual life. You will get rid of your bestial desires and acquire godly qualities. You will be totally unattached to the world. Though you may still have to live in the world, you will live as a jivanmukta. The disciples of Sri Chaitanya lived as householders in a spirit of detachment.
“You may quote thousands of arguments from Vedanta philosophy to a true lover of God, and try to explain the world as a dream, but you cannot shake his devotion to God.5 In spite of all your efforts he will come back to his devotion.
“A man born with an element of Siva becomes a jnani; his mind is always inclined to the feeling that the world is unreal and Brahman alone is real. But when a man is born with an element of Vishnu he develops ecstatic love of God. That love can never be destroyed. It may wane a little now and then, when he indulges in philosophical reasoning, but it ultimately returns. to him increased a thousandfold.”
After the devotees had left the Master, Mahimacharan brought Hazra to the room. M. was present. Mahima said to Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, I have a complaint against you. Why have you asked Hazra to go home? He has no desire to return to his family.”
MASTER: “His mother has told Ramlal how much she is suffering on account of his being away from home; so I have asked Hazra to go home, at least for three days, and see her. Can anyone succeed in spiritual discipline if it causes suffering to his mother? While visiting Vrindavan I had almost made up my mind to live there, when I remembered my mother. I said to myself, ‘My mother will weep if I stay away from her.’ So I returned here with Mathur Babu. Besides, why should a jnani like Hazra be afraid of going back to the world?”
MAHIMA (with a smile): “Sir, that would be a pertinent question if Hazra were a jnani.”
MASTER (smiling): “Oh, Hazra has attained everything. He has just a little attachment to the world because of his children and a small debt. As people say, my aunt is now in perfect health, only she is slightly ill!”
MAHIMA: “Where, sir, is Hazra’s knowledge?”
MASTER (smiling): “Oh, you don’t know! Everybody says Hazra is quite a man. Everybody knows that he lives in the Dakshineswar temple garden. People talk of nothing but Hazra. Who would bother to mention my name?” (All laugh.)
HAZRA: “You, sir, are incomparable. You have no peer in the world. Therefore nobody understands you.”
MASTER: “There you are! To be sure, no one can have dealings with the incomparable. So why should people mention me at all?”
MAHIMA: “What does he know, sir? He will do your bidding.”
MASTER: “That is not so. You had better ask him about it. He said to me, ‘You and I are on even terms.'”
MAHIMA: “He argues a great deal.”
MASTER: “Now and then he teaches me a lesson. (All laugh.) Sometimes I scold him when he argues too much. Later, when I am lying in bed inside the mosquito curtain, I feel unhappy at the idea of having offended him. So I leave the bed, go to Hazra, and salute him. Then I feel peace of mind.
(To Hazra) “Why do you address the Pure Atman as ‘Isvara’? The Pure Atman is inactive and is the Witness of the three states. When I think of the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, then I call the Pure Atman ‘Isvara’. What is the Pure Atman like? It is like a magnet lying at a great distance from a needle. The needle moves, but the magnet lies motionless, inactive.”
Toward evening Sri Ramakrishna was pacing the room. M. was sitting alone, thinking. Suddenly the Master said to him tenderly: “Please give me a couple of linen shirts. As you know, I cannot use everybody’s things. I thought of asking Captain for the shirts, but you had better give them to me.” M. felt highly gratified and said, “As you please, sir.”
At dusk incense was burnt in Sri Ramakrishna’s room, and, as usual, he bowed before the pictures of gods and goddesses on the walls and chanted their names softly. From outside one could hear the murmuring of the Ganges and the music of the evening worship in the temples of Kali, Vishnu, and Siva. Through the door one could see the priest at a distance moving from one temple to another, a bell in his left hand and a light in his right, an attendant carrying the gong. The evening melody was in harmony with the spirit of the hour and place and with the innermost thoughts of the worshippers. For the time being the sordid things of daily life were forgotten.
Later Sri Ramakrishna was seated in his room in his usual blissful mood. Ishan had come from Calcutta. He had burning faith in God. He used to say, “If a man leaves the house with the hallowed name of Durga on his lips, then Siva Himself protects him with His celestial weapons.”
MASTER (to Ishan): “You nave great faith. But I haven’t so much. (All laugh.) God can be realised only through faith.”
ISHAN: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “You practise religious rites — japa, fasting, and the like. That is very good. If a man feels sincerely drawn to God, then God makes him practise all these disciplines. The devotee will certainly realise God if he practises them without desiring their results. A devotee observes many rites because of the injunctions of the scriptures. Such devotion is called vaidhi-bhakti. But there is a higher form of devotion known as raga-bhakti, which springs from yearning and love for God. Prahlada had such devotion. When the devotee develops that love, he no longer needs to perform prescribed rites.”
November 9, 1884
Sri Ramakrishna was in his room, seated on the small couch and facing the east. The devotees were sitting on the floor. It was about midday when M. arrived and took a seat after saluting the Master. Gradually other devotees began to gather. Vijaykrishna Goswami was there with several Brahmo devotees. The priest Ram Chakravarty was present also. Mahimacharan, Narayan, and Kishori arrived a few minutes later.
It was the beginning of winter. Sri Ramakrishna had felt the need of some shirts and had asked M. to bring them. Besides two broadcloth shirts, M. had brought another of a heavy material, for which Sri Ramakrishna had not asked.
MASTER (to M.): “You had better take that one back with you. You can use it yourself. There is nothing wrong in that. Tell me, what kind of shirt did I ask you to bring?”
M: “Sir, you told me to get you plain ones. You didn’t ask me to buy the heavier one.”
MASTER: “Then please take that one hack. (To Vijay and the others) You see, Dwarika Babu gave me a shawl. The Marwari devotees also brought one for me. I couldn’t accept —”
Vijay interrupted the Master, saying: “That is right, sir. If a man needs a thing, he must accept it. And there must be a man to give it. Who but a man will give?”
MASTER: “The giver is the Lord Himself. The mother-in-law said to her daughter-in-law: ‘My child, I see that everybody has someone to render him a little personal service. It would be so nice if you could find someone to massage your feet.’ The daughter-in-law said: ‘Mother, God Himself will massage my feet. I don’t need anyone else.’ She spoke thus because she was a sincere lover of God.
‘Once a fakir went to the Emperor Akbar to ask for money. The Emperor was saying his prayers. He prayed, ‘O Lord, give me money; give me wealth.’ The fakir started to leave the palace, but the Emperor motioned to him to wait. After finishing his prayers, Akbar came to the holy man and said, ‘Why were you going away?’ The fakir replied, You yourself were begging for money and wealth; so I thought that if I must beg, I would beg of God and not of a beggar.'”
VIJAY: “I saw a sadhu at Gaya. He did not take the initiative in anything. One day he wanted to feed some devotees. Suddenly we found that butter, flour, fruits, and other food-stuff had arrived from no one knew where.”
MASTER (to Vijay and the others): “There are three classes of sadhus: good, mediocre, and bad. The good sadhu makes no effort to get his food. The dandis, among others, belong to the mediocre and bad classes. To get food the mediocre sadhu will knock at the door of a house and say, ‘Namo Narayana’.6 The bad sadhu starts a quarrel if he doesn’t get his alms.
“The good sadhu behaves like a python. He sits in one place and the food comes to him. The python doesn’t move from where it is. A young sadhu, who had been a brahmachari from his boyhood, went out to beg. A young girl offered him alms. The sadhu saw her breasts and thought she had abscesses. He asked about them. The elderly women of the family explained that she would some day be a mother and that God had given her breasts to give milk to her children; God had provided for all this beforehand. At these words the sadhu was struck with wonder. He said: ‘Then I don’t need to beg. God must have provided for me too.'”
Some of the devotees thought that in that case they should not take any initiative either.
MASTER: “But those who think that an effort is needed must make the effort.”
VIJAY: “There is a nice story about that in the Bhaktamala.”
MASTER: “Tell it to us.”
VIJAY: “Please tell us yourself.”
MASTER: “No, you tell it. I don’t remember it very well.
“One should hear these things at the beginning. That is why I listened to them years ago. But now I am no longer in that mood. Hanuman said: ‘I don’t know the position of the stars or the phase of the moon. I only think of Rama.’
“The chatak bird craves only rain-water. Even when it is dying of thirst, it turns its beak upward and wants only water from the sky. The Ganges, the Jamuna, and the seven oceans are filled to the brim, but still it will not touch the water of the earth.
“Rama and Lakshmana visited Pampa Lake. Lakshmana saw a crow very eager for water. Again and again it went to the edge of the water but would not drink. Lakshmana asked Rama about it. Rama said: ‘Brother, this crow is a great devotee of God. Day and night it repeats the name of Rama. Its throat is parched with thirst, but still it won’t drink for tear of missing a repetition of Rama’s name.’
“On a full-moon night I said to Haladhari, ‘Brother, is it the night of the new moon?’ (All laugh.)
(Smiling) “Yes, it is true. Once I was told that a characteristic of a man of Perfect Knowledge is that he cannot distinguish between the full moon and the new moon. But how could one convince Haladhari of that? He said: ‘This is certainly the dark Kaliyuga. He cannot distinguish the full moon from the new moon! And people respect him!'”
Mahimacharan entered the room.
MASTER (respectfully): “Come in. Come in, sir. Please take a seat.
(To Vijay and the other devotees) “In the ecstatic state of mind I cannot remember a date. The other day there was a religious festival at Beni Pal’s garden. I forgot the date. I can no longer remember the last day of the month, when it is very auspicious to repeat the name of God.”
Sri Ramakrishna remained thoughtful a few minutes.
MASTER: “But I remember if a man makes an engagement to visit me.
“A man attains this state when his mind is one hundred per cent absorbed in God. When Hanuman returned from Ceylon, Rama said to him: ‘You have seen Sita. Tell me, how did you find her?’ Hanuman said: ‘O Rama, I saw that only the body of Sita lay there; it held neither her mind nor her soul. She has indeed consecrated her mind and soul to Your Lotus Feet. Therefore I saw only her body in Ceylon. Further, I saw the King of Death prowling about. But what could he do? It was only a body; it had neither mind nor soul.’
It you meditate on an ideal you will acquire its nature. If you think of God day and night, you will acquire the nature of God. A salt doll went into the ocean to measure its depth. It became one with the ocean. What is the goal of books or scriptures? The attainment of God. A man opened a book belonging to a sadhu. He saw the word Rama written on every page. There was nothing else.
“If a man loves God, even the slightest thing kindles spiritual feeling in him. Then, repeating the name of Rama but once, he gets the fruit of ten million sandhyas. At the sight of a cloud the peacock’s emotion is awakened: he dances, spreading his tail. Radha had the same experience. Just the sight of a cloud recalled Krishna to her mind.
“Chaitanyadeva was passing a village. He heard that drums were made from the earth of that place. At once he was overwhelmed with ecstasy because drums are used in kirtan.
“But who can have this spiritual awakening? Only he who has renounced his attachment to worldly things. If the sap of attachment is totally dried up in a man, the slightest suggestion kindles, his spiritual emotion. Though you strike a wet match a thousand times, it will not produce a spark. But if it is dried, the slightest rubbing will set it aflame.
“Pain and pleasure are inevitable in a body. He who has realised God dedicates his mind and life, his body and soul, to God. When Rama and Lakshmana went to take their bath in Pampa Lake, they thrust their bows into the ground. Coming out of the water, Lakshmana took out his bow and found its tip stained with blood. Rama said to him: ‘Look, brother! Look. Perhaps we have hurt some creature.’ Lakshmana dug in the earth and found a big bullfrog. It was dying. Rama said to the frog in a sorrowful voice: ‘Why didn’t you croak? We should have tried to save you. You croak lustily enough when you are in the jaws of a snake.’ The frog said: ‘O Lord, when I am attacked by a snake I croak, saying: “O Rama, save me! O Rama, save me!” This time I found that it was Rama who was killing me; so I kept still.'”
Sri Ramakrishna remained silent a few moments watching the devotees. He had heard that Mahimacharan did not believe in following a guru. He began the conversation again.
MASTER: “A man should have faith in the words of his guru. He doesn’t have to look into his guru’s character. ‘Though, my guru visits the grog-shop, still he is the Embodiment of Eternal Bliss.’
“A man who used to give recitals of the Chandi and the Bhagavata once said, ‘A broomstick is itself unclean, but it cleans dirty places.'”
Mahimacharan studied the Vedanta. His aim was to attain Brahmajnana. He followed the path of knowledge and was always reasoning.
MASTER (to Mahima): “The aim of the jnani is to know the’ nature of his own Self. This is Knowledge; this is liberation. The true nature of the Self is that It is the Supreme Brahman: I and the Supreme Brahman are one. But this Knowledge is hidden on account of maya.
“I said to Harish, ‘This is the whole thing: the gold is hidden under a few basketfuls of earth, and you must remove the earth.’
“The bhaktas retain ‘I-consciousness’; the jnanis do not. Nangta used to teach how to establish oneself in the true Self, saying, ‘Merge the mind in the buddhi and the buddhi in the Atman; then you will be established in your true Self.’
“But the ‘I’ persists. It cannot be got rid of. Imagine a limitless expanse of water: above and below, before and behind, right and left, everywhere there is water. In that water is placed a jar filled with water. There is water inside the jar and water outside, but the jar is still there. The ‘I’ is the jar.
“Even after attaining Knowledge, the jnani keeps his body as before. But the fire of Knowledge burns away his lust and other passions. Many days ago, during an electric storm, a thunderbolt struck the Kali temple. We saw that no injury had been done to the doors; only the points of the screws were broken. The doors are the body, and the passions — lust and so forth — are the screws.
“A jnani loves to talk only about God. He feels pained if one talks about worldly things. But a worldly man belongs to a different class. He always has the turban of ignorance on his head. He always comes back to worldly topics.
“The Vedas speak of the ‘seven planes’ of mind. When the jnani’s mind ascends to the fifth plane, he cannot listen to anything or talk of anything but God. At that stage only words of wisdom come from his lips.
“The Vedas speak of Satchidananda Brahman. Brahman is neither one nor two; It is between one and two. It cannot be described either as existence or as non-existence; It is between existence and non-existence.
“When the devotee develops raga-bhakti, passionate love of God, he realises Him. But one loses vaidhi-bhakti, formal devotion, as easily as one gains it. This is formal devotion: so much japa, so much meditation, so much sacrifice and homa, so many articles of worship, and the recitation of so many mantras before the Deity. Such devotion comes in a moment and goes in a moment. Many people say: ‘Well, friend, we have lived on havishya for so many days! How many times we have worshipped the Deity at our home! And what have we achieved?’ But there is no falling away from raga-bhakti. And who gets this passionate love for God? Those who have performed many meritorious deeds in their past births, or those who are eternally perfect. Think of a dilapidated house, for instance: while clearing away the undergrowth and rubbish one suddenly discovers a fountain fitted with a pipe. It has been covered with earth and bricks, but as soon as they are removed the water shoots up.
“Those who have passionate love for God do not say any such thing as: ‘O brother, how strict I have been about food! But what have I achieved?’ New farmers give up cultivating if their fields do not yield any crops. But hereditary farmers will continue to cultivate their fields whether they get a crop or not. Their fathers and grandfathers were farmers; they know that they too must accept farming as their means of livelihood.
“Only those who have developed raga-bhakti for God may be called His sincere devotees. God becomes responsible for them. If you enter your name in a hospital register, the doctor will not discharge you until you are cured. Those who are held by God have nothing to fear. The son who holds to his father, while walking along the narrow ridge of a paddy-field, may slip if he absent-mindedly lets go his father’s hand; but if the father holds the son by the hand, there is no such danger.
“Is there anything that is impossible for faith? And a true devotee has faith in everything: the formless Reality, God with form, Rama, Krishna, and the Divine Mother.
“Once, while, going to Kamarpukur, I was overtaken by a storm. I was in the middle of a big meadow. The place was haunted by robbers. I began to repeat the names of all the deities: Rama, Krishna, and Bhagavati. I also repeated the name of Hanuman. I chanted the names of them all. What does that mean? Let me tell you. While the servant is counting out the money to purchase supplies, he says, These pennies are for potatoes, these for egg-plants, these for fish.’ He counts the money separately, but after the list is completed, he puts the coins together.
“When one develops love of God, one likes to talk only of God. If you love a person, you love to talk and hear about him. A worldly person’s mouth waters while he talks about his son. If someone praises his son, he will at once say to the boy, ‘Go and get some water for your uncle to wash his feet.’
“Those who love pigeons are highly pleased if you praise pigeons before them. But if you speak ill of pigeons, they will at once exclaim, ‘Has anyone in your line for fourteen generations ever raised pigeons?'”
Sri Ramakrishna now addressed Mahimacharan, who was a householder.
MASTER: “What need is there of renouncing the world altogether? It is enough if you can rid yourself of attachment. But you must have sadhana; you have to fight the sense-organs.
“It is a great advantage to fight from inside a fort. You get much help from the fort. The world is the place for enjoyment. After enjoying different things, you should give them up one by one. Once I had a desire to put a gold chain around my waist. I obtained one at last and put it on, but I had to take it off immediately.
“Once I ate some onion.7 While eating it I discriminated, ‘O mind, this is onion.’ Then I moved it to different places in my mouth and at last spat it out.”
A musician was expected. He was to sing with his party. Sri Ramakrishna asked the devotees every now and then, “Where is the musician?”
MAHIMA: “We are quite all right as we are.”
MASTER: “No, sir. You get this all through the year.”
A devotee outside the room said, “The musician has come.”
Sri Ramakrishna was filled with joy and said, “Ah! Has he?”
Mats were spread on the floor of the long verandah northeast of the Master’s room. Sri Ramakrishna said: “Sprinkle a little Ganges water on the mats. Many worldly people have sat on them.”
The ladies of Pyari Babu’s family, from Bali, had come to visit the temples. They wanted to listen to the kirtan. A devotee said to Sri Ramakrishna: “These ladies have been inquiring whether there would be any place in the room for them. Can they have seats?” The kirtan had already begun. The Master said, “No, no! Where is any room here?”
Narayan arrived and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. The latter said tenderly: “Why have you come? Your people at home have beaten you so much!” He signed to Baburam to give Narayan something to eat. Narayan entered the Master’s room. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna followed him. He wanted to feed Narayan with his own hands. Afterwards he returned to the verandah.
Many devotees were present, including Vijay, Mahimacharan, Narayan, M., and the younger Gopal. Soon Narayan came back to the verandah and took his seat by the Master.
About three o’clock Adhar arrived. At the sight of him Sri Ramakrishna appeared excited. The devotee saluted the Master and sat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna beckoned to him to come nearer.
When the music was over the gathering of devotees broke up. Some began to stroll in the garden and some went to the temples to watch the evening service.
In the evening arrangements were made for kirtan inside the Master’s room. Sri Ramakrishna eagerly asked a devotee to have an extra lamp. The two lamps lit the room brightly.
Sri Ramakrishna said to Vijay: “Why are you sitting there? Come nearer to me.” This time the kirtan created an intense atmosphere. The Master danced in an ecstasy of joy; the devotees also danced encircling him. While Vijay was dancing his cloth dropped. He was unconscious.
When the music was over, Vijay began to look for his key, which had fallen somewhere. The Master said to him with a laugh, “Why bother about it any more?” He meant that Vijay should have nothing more to do with boxes and keys.
Kishori saluted Sri Ramakrishna and was about to take his leave. The Master blessed him, touching his chest tenderly, and bade him good-bye. His words were full of love. M. and Gopal saluted the Master. They too were about to take their leave. He said to them with the same affection: “Couldn’t you go tomorrow morning? You may catch cold at night.”
M. and Gopal decided to spend the night with Sri Ramakrishna. They sat on the floor with a few other devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna had had no rest the whole day: the devotees had been with him all the time. He went out for a few minutes. Returning to the room he saw M. taking down a song from Ramlal.
MASTER: “What are you doing?”
M. said that he was writing down a song. On being told what the song was, the Master remarked that it was a rather long song. M. wrote a line or two and then stopped writing.
A little later Sri Ramakrishna took his supper of farina pudding and one or two luchis. A lighted lamp stood on a stand by his side. M. sat near him. The Master asked if there were any sweets in the room. M. had brought some sandesh which he had put on the shelf. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to give him a sweet. M. searched for the sweets but could not find them. He was embarrassed. They had been given to the devotees.
After finishing his supper, Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch and M. seated himself on the foot-rug. The Master, talking about Narayan, was overcome with emotion.
MASTER: “I saw Naran today.”
M: “Yes, sir. His eyes were moist. When I looked at his face I felt like weeping.”
MASTER: “The sight of him arouses a mother’s love in me, as it were. His relatives beat him at home because he comes here. There is none to defend him.”
M: “The other day he left his books at Haripada’s house and fled to you.”
MASTER: “It was not good for him to do that.”
Sri Ramakrishna was silent. After a few minutes he continued.
MASTER: “You see, he has much substance in him. Otherwise, how could I be attracted to him even though I was listening to the kirtan at the time? I had to leave the music and go into the room. That never happened before.”
Again Sri Ramakrishna fell silent. A few minutes later he began to talk.
MASTER: “In an ecstatic state I asked him how he was feeling. He just said he was happy. (To M.) Feed him now and then—as parents do their child.”
Sri Ramakrishna then spoke about Tejchandra.
MASTER (to M.): “Please ask him what he thinks of me. Does he think of me as a jnani? Or what does he say about me? I understand that he is very reticent. (To Gopal) Ask Tejchandra to come here Saturdays and Tuesdays. (To M.) Suppose I go to your school and look for —”
M. thought that Sri Ramakrishna wanted to go to his school to see Narayan. He said to the Master, “You might as well wait at our house.”
MASTER: “No, I have something else in mind. I should like to see whether there are other worth-while boys in the school.”
M: “Of course you can go. Other visitors come to the school. You can come too.”
Sri Ramakrishna was smoking. M. and Gopal finished their supper. They decided to sleep in the nahabat. M. again sat on the floor near Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER (to M.): ‘There may be some pots and pans in the nahabat. Why not sleep here in this room?”
M: “Very well, sir.”
It was ten or eleven o’clock at night. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch, resting against a pillow. M. sat on the floor. The Master was conversing with him. A lamp burnt on a stand near the wall.
The Master felt great compassion for his devotees. He wanted to bless M. by accepting his personal service.
MASTER: “My feet ache. Please rub them gently.”
M. seated himself on the small couch and took the Master’s feet on his lap. He stroked them. Now and then Sri Ramakrishna would ask his disciple a question.
MASTER (smiling): “How did you like today’s conversation?”
M: “Very much indeed.”
MASTER (smiling): “How I spoke about the Emperor Akbar!”
M: “It was very good.”
MASTER: “Repeat it to me.”
M: “A fakir came to visit Akbar. The Emperor was saying his prayers. In his prayers he was asking God to give him wealth and riches. Thereupon the fakir was about to leave the room quietly. Later, when the Emperor asked him about it, the fakir said, ‘It I must beg, why should I beg of a beggar?'”
MASTER: “What else did we talk about?”
M: “You told us a great deal about saving up for the future.”
MASTER (smiling): “What did I say?”
M: “As long as a man feels that he must try, he should make an effort. How well you told us about it at Sinthi!”
MASTER: “What did I say?”
M: “God takes upon Himself complete responsibility for one who totally depends upon Him. It is like a guardian taking charge of a minor. You also told us that at a feast a child cannot by himself find a place to eat his meal; someone finds a place for him.”
MASTER: “No, that is not quite to the point. I said that the child doesn’t fall if the father leads him and holds his hand.”
M: “You also described the three classes of sadhus. The best sadhu does not move about to get his food; he lives in one place and gets his food there. You told us about that young sadhu who said, when he saw the breasts of a young girl, ‘Why has she those abscesses?’ You told us many other things.”
MASTER (smiling): “What else?”
M: “About the crow of Pampa Lake. He repeated the name of Rama day and night. That is why he couldn’t drink the water though he went to its edge. And about the holy man in whose book was written only ‘Om Rama’. And what Hanuman said to Rama.”
MASTER: “What did he say?”
M: “Hanuman said to Rama: ‘I saw Sita in Ceylon; but it was only her body. Her mind and soul were lying at Your feet.’
“And about the chatak bird. He will not drink anything but rain-water. And about jnanayoga and bhaktiyoga.”
MASTER: “What did I say about them?”
M: “As long as one is conscious of the ‘jar’, the ego will certainly remain. As long as one is conscious of ‘I’, one cannot get rid of the idea, ‘I am the devotee and Thou art God’.”
MASTER: “No, it is not that; the ‘jar’ doesn’t disappear whether one is conscious of it or not. One cannot get rid of the ‘I’. You may reason a thousand times; still it will not go.”
M. remained silent a few moments.
M: “You had that talk with Ishan Mukherji in the Kali temple. We were very lucky to be there.”
MASTER (smiling): “Yes, yes. Tell me, what did I say?”
M: “You said that work is only the first step. You told us that you said to Sambhu Mallick, ‘If God appears before you, will you ask Him for a number of hospitals and dispensaries?’
You said another thing: God does not reveal Himself to a person as long as he is attached to work. You said that to Keshab Sen.”
MASTER: “What did I say?”
M: “As long as the baby plays with the toy and forgets everything else, its mother looks after her cooking and other household duties; but when the baby throws away the toy and cries, then the mother puts down the rice-pot and comes to the baby.
“You said another thing that day: Lakshmana asked Rama where one could find God; after a great deal of explanation, Rama said to him, ‘Brother, I dwell in the man in whom you find ecstatic love — a love which makes him laugh and weep and dance and sing.'”
MASTER: “Ah me! Ah me!”
Sri Ramakrishna sat in silence a few minutes.
M: “That day you spoke only words of renunciation to Ishan. Since then many of us have come to our senses. Now we are eager to reduce our duties. You said that day, ‘Ravana died in Ceylon and Behula wept bitterly for him.'”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed aloud.
M. (humbly): “Sir, isn’t it desirable to reduce the number of one’s duties and entanglements?”
MASTER: “Yes. But it is a different thing if you happen to come across a sadhu or a poor man. Then you should serve him.”
M: “And that day you spoke very rightly to Ishan about flatterers. They are like vultures on a carcass. You once said that to Padmalochan also.”
MASTER: “No, to Vamandas of Ulo.”
After a while M. sat on the floor near the small couch. Sri Ramakrishna felt sleepy; he said to M.: “Go to sleep. Where is Gopal? Please shut the door.”
Next morning Sri Ramakrishna left his bed very early. As usual, he chanted the holy names of the different gods and goddesses. Now and then he looked at the sacred river. The morning worship began in the temples of Radhakanta and Mother Kali. M. had spent the night on the floor of the Master’s room. He left his bed and watched the worship in the different temples.
Sri Ramakrishna finished his bath and went with M. to the Kali temple. He asked the disciple to lock the door of his room.
In the temple he took the seat in front of the image of Kali and offered flowers, sometimes at Her feet and sometimes on his own head. He fanned the Deity. Then he returned to his room and asked M. to unlock the door. Entering the room, he sat on the small couch. He was completely overwhelmed with divine fervour and began to chant the name of God. M. sat alone on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna began to sing about the Divine Mother:
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kali is?
Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her.
It is She, the scriptures say, that is the Inner Self
Of the yogi, who in Self discovers all his joy;
She that, of Her own sweet will, inhabits every living thing. . . .
Then he sang:
All creation is the sport of my mad Mother Kali;
By Her maya the three worlds are bewitched. . . .
O Kali, who can know Thee? Numberless are Thy forms. . . .
Again he sang:
O Mother, redeem me speedily!
From terror of the King of Death I am about to die. . . .
M. said to himself, “I wish he would sing:
Mother, Thou canst not trick me any more,
For I have seen Thy crimson Lotus Feet.”
Strangely enough, no sooner had the thought passed through M.’s mind than Sri Ramakrishna sang the song. A few minutes later he said to M., “What do you think of the present state of my mind?”
M. (smiling): “It is your simple and natural state.”
Sri Ramakrishna sang to himself the following refrain of a song:
Unless a man is simple, he cannot recognize God, the Simple One.
- ^A monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, later known as Swami Jogananda.
- ^It is the custom of monks in India to beg their food from householders.
- ^The “o” is to be pronounced as “aw” in dawn.
- ^During the period when Sita was kept in prison in his capital, Ravana used to visit her in various forms in order to court her favour.
- ^According to the non-dualistic Vedanta the Personal God is as illusory as the relative universe; but to a bhakta, a devotee, He is real.
- ^“Salutations to God.” With these words a sadhu greets another person.
- ^The onion is considered a rajasic food and not conducive to spiritual life.