Master and M. — Discussion about Divine Incarnation — Kirtan about Radha and Krishna — About Hazra — Master’s exalted mood — Difference between a jiva and an Incarnation — Divine knowledge destroys egotism — The ego after God-vision — Hazra’s selfishness — God’s grace — Unreality of all worldly relationships — Narendra’s scepticism — Narendra’s music — Vidyamaya and avidyamaya — Knowledge of Brahman — The all-powerful maya.
Friday, April 24, 1885
ABOUT ONE O’CLOCK in the afternoon M. arrived at Balaram’s house in Calcutta and found the Master asleep in the drawing-room, one or two devotees resting near him. M. began to fan the Master gently. A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna woke up and sat on the bed with his clothes in a rather untidy condition. M. saluted him and took the dust of his feet.
MASTER (tenderly to M.): “Are you well? I’m feeling rather uneasy. I have a sore (The beginning of his cancer of the throat.) in my throat. I suffer very much during the early hours of the morning. Can you tell me how I may be cured? (In a worried tone) They served pickled mango with the meal. I ate a little of it.
“How is your wife? I noticed the other day that she was looking rather sickly. Give her soothing drinks to keep her nerves cool.”
M: “Green coconut milk, sir?”
MASTER: “Yes. A drink made of sugar candy is also good.”
M: “Since last Sunday I have been living at our house with my parents.
MASTER: “You have done well. It will be convenient for you to live at home. Since your parents live there, you won’t have to worry so much about the family.”
While Sri Ramakrishna was talking, his mouth became dry. He said to M., like a child: “I feel a dryness in my mouth. Do you all feel that way?
M. (to Jogin): “Is your mouth also drying up?”
JOGIN: “No. Perhaps it is due to the heat.”
Jogindra of Ariadaha was an intimate disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and later, after the passing away of the Master, renounced the world.
Sri Ramakrishna’s clothes were still untidy. Some of the devotees smiled.
MASTER: “I look like a mother nursing her babies. (All laugh.) Well, my tongue is drying up. Shall I eat a pear or a jamrul?” (A kind of juicy fruit.)
BABURAM: “Let me get a jamrul for you.”
MASTER: “You don’t have to go out in this sun.”
M. was still fanning the Master.
MASTER: “You may stop now. You have been fanning a long time.”
M: “I am not tired, sir.”
MASTER (tenderly): “No?”
M. taught in a school in the neighbourhood. He had a little recess at one o’clock, during which he visited Sri Ramakrishna. It was time for him to go back to the school. He saluted the Master.
MASTER (to M.): “Must you go now?”
A DEVOTEE: “School is not over yet. He came here during recess.”
MASTER (smiling): “He is like a mother with seven or eight children. Day and night she is busy with her worldly duties. But now and then she makes time to serve her husband.”
M.’s school closed at four o’clock. He came back to Balaram’s house and found the Master sitting in the drawing-room. The devotees were arriving one by one. The younger Naren arid Ram came. Narendra, too, was there. M. saluted the Master and took a seat. The ladies sent a plate of halua for Sri Ramakrishna. Because of the sore in his throat he could not eat any hard food.
MASTER (to Narendra): “Ah! This is nice stuff! Eat some! It is good! Eat some!” (All laugh.)
Dusk was coming on. Sri Ramakrishna was about to go to the house of Girish, who had arranged a festival to celebrate the Master’s coming. The Master came down from the second floor of Balaram’s house with M. and a few other devotees. Near the gate he saw a beggar chanting the name of Rama, and he stood still. He fell into a meditative mood and remained standing a few minutes. He said to M., “He sings well.” A devotee gave the beggar four pice.
Sri Ramakrishna entered Bosepara Lane. Laughing, he said to M.: “What are these people saying? ‘There comes Paramahamsa’s battalion!’ What these fools say!” (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna entered Girish’s house. The latter had invited a large number of devotees to join the festival. Many of them were present. They all stood up to receive the Master, who, smiling, took his seat. The devotees sat around him. Among them were Girish, Mahimacharan, Ram, and Bhavanath, and also Baburam, Narendra, Jogin, the younger Naren, Chuni, Balaram, M., and the other devotees who had accompanied the Master from Balaram’s house.
MASTER (to Mahimacharan): “I said. to Girish about you, ‘There is one — very deep. You are only knee-deep.’ Now you must help me check up on what I said. I want to see you two argue. But don’t compromise.” (All laugh.)
Girish and Mahimacharan started their discussion. Soon Ram said: “Let them stop. Let us have some kirtan.”
MASTER (to Ram): “No, no! This has a great deal of meaning. They are ‘Englishmen’. I want to hear what they say.”
Mahimacharan contended that all could become Krishna by means of sadhana. Girish said that Sri Krishna was an Incarnation of God. However much a man practised sadhana, he could never be an Incarnation.
MAHIMA: “Do you know what I mean? Let me give an illustration. The bel-tree can become a mango-tree if only the obstructions are removed. It can be done by the practice of yoga.”
GIRISH: “You may say whatever you like, but it cannot be done either by the practice of yoga or by anything else. Only a Krishna can become Krishna. If anybody has all the attributes of another person, Radha for instance, then he is none other than that person — Radha herself. If I see in a person all the attributes of Krishna, then I shall conclude that I am seeing Krishna Himself.”
Mahimacharan could not argue well. At last he had to accept Girish’s views.
MAHIMA (to Girish): “Yes, sir, both views are right. God has willed the path of knowledge. He has also willed the path of bhakti. (Pointing to Sri Ramakrishna) As he says, by different paths people ultimately reach one and the same goal.”
MASTER (aside to Mahima): “You see, what I said was right, wasn’t it?”
MAHIMA: “Yes, sir. As you say, both paths are right.”
MASTER (pointing to Girish): “Haven’t you noticed how deep his faith is? He forgot to eat his refreshments. Like a dog, he would have torn your throat if you hadn’t accepted his view. But we have enjoyed the discussion. You two have known each other and I myself have learnt many things.”
The musician arrived with his party and sat in the middle of the room. He was waiting for a sign from Sri Ramakrishna to begin the kirtan. The Master gave his permission.
RAM (to the Master): “Please tell them what to sing.”
MASTER: “What shall I suggest? (After a little reflection) Well, let them sing the prelude to the union of Radha and Krishna.”
The musician sang:
My Gora, my treasure, the jewel among men,
Weeps as he chants Sri Radha’s name
And rolls on the ground; with fervent love
He chants her name again and again.
The tears stream from his love-filled eyes;
Once more he rolls upon the ground,
As chanting her name he faints away.
The hair on his body stands on end;
His tongue can lisp but a single word.
Says Basu: (The author of the song.) Why is Gora so restless?
The kirtan continued.
Radha had met Krishna on the bank of the Jamuna under the kadamba tree. Her companions describe her physical and mental condition:
A hundred times each hour, in and out of the room she goes;
Restless, breathing hard, she looks toward the kadamba grove.
Is she afraid of the elders? Has she been possessed by a ghost?
Filled with restlessness, she cannot keep her dress arranged;
Her jewels have fallen off; she trembles every now and then.
Alas, she is so young! A princess born, and a wife besides!
What is it that she craves? We do not understand her mind;
But we can guess her hand is reaching out to catch the moon.
Humbly says Chandidas: (The author of the song.) Radha has fallen in Krishna’s trap.
The Kirtan went on.
Radha’s friends say to her.
Tell us, O Radha of comely face! Tell us what it is that ails you.
Why has your mind wandered away? Why do you claw the earth in frenzy?
Tell us why your golden skin has taken the ashy hue of cinders.
From your body the scarlet cloth has dropped unheeded to the ground;
Ah! Your eyes are red with tears; your lovely lotus face has withered.
Tell us what it is that ails you, lest our hearts should break with grief.
Radha says to her friends:
I long for the sight of Krishna’s face.
The musician sang again.
Hearing Krishna’s flute, Radha has gone mad. She says to her friends:
Who is the Sorcerer that dwells in the kadamba grove?
His flute-notes suddenly enter my ears and strike a chord in my heart;
Piercing my very soul, they slay my dharma and drive me mad.
With restless mind and streaming eyes, alas! I can scarcely breathe:
How He plays His magic flute, whose music thrills my soul!
Because He is out of my sight, my heart expires; I cannot stay home.
My soul yearns for Him; racked with pain, it longs to see Him once more.
Says Uddhava Das: But you will die, O Radha, when you behold Him!
The music continued.
Radha’s heart yearns for the vision of Krishna. She says to her friends:
First I heard His magic flute from the kadamba grove,
And the next day the minstrel told me of Him and thrilled my soul;
Another day, O friend of my heart, you chanted His blessed name.
(Ah, the blessed name of Krishna, full of honeyed sweetness!)
The wise men, too, described to me His virtues without number.
I am a weak and simple girl, and stern, alas! are my elders;
My love for my Beloved grows; how can I live any longer?
After reflecting long, I find that I must die at last:
Can you not tell me a way, O friend, by which I may meet my Krishna?
As Sri Ramakrishna heard the line, “Ah, the blessed name of Krishna, full of honeyed sweetness!”, he could not remain seated any longer. He stood up in a state of unconsciousness and went into deep samadhi. The younger Naren stood at his right. Regaining partial consciousness, the Master repeated the name of Krishna in his melodious voice. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He sat down again. The musician continued his singing.
Visakha, a friend of Radha, runs out and brings a portrait of Krishna. She holds it before Radha’s eyes. Radha says: “I see the picture of Him whom I beheld on the Jamuna’s bank. Ever since then I have been in this plight.
I see the picture of Him whom I beheld on the Jamuna’s bank;
The name Visakha spoke is the name of Him who is painted here.
He who played on the flute is the Beloved of my soul;
His virtues the minstrel sang to me; He has bewitched my heart.
It is none other than He!” So saying, Radha falls in a swoon.
Restored to her senses by her friends, at once she says to them,
“Show me Him, O friends, whom I saw reflected in my soul.”
And they promise her that they will.
Now Sri Ramakrishna with Narendra and the other devotees began to sing the kirtan in a loud voice. They sang:
Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari’s name. . . .
See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga’s love. . . .
Again Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. After regaining consciousness of the outer world, he returned to his seat. Turning to M., he said, “I don’t remember which way I was facing before.” Then he began to talk to the devotees.
NARENDRA (to the Master): “Hazra has now become a good man.”
MASTER: “You don’t know. There are people who repeat Rama’s name with their tongues but hide stones under their arms to throw at others.”
NARENDRA: “I don’t agree with you, sir. I asked him about the things people complain of. He denied them.”
MASTER: “He is steadfast in his devotions. He practises japa a little. But he also behaves in a queer way. He doesn’t pay the coachman his fare.”
NARENDRA: “That isn’t true, sir. He said he had paid it.”
MASTER: “Where did he get the money?”
NARENDRA: “From Ramlal or someone else.”
MASTER: “Did you ask him all these things in detail? Once I prayed to the Divine Mother, O Mother, if Hazra is a hypocrite then please remove him from here.’ Later on I told him of my prayer. After a few days he came to me and said, ‘You see, I am still here.’ (The Master and the others laugh.) But soon afterwards he left.
“Hazra’s mother begged me through Ramlal to ask Hazra to come home. She was almost blind with weeping. I tried in various ways to persuade him to visit her. I said: ‘Your mother is old. Go and see her once.’ I couldn’t make him go. Afterwards the poor mother died weeping for him.”
NARENDRA: “This time he will go home.”
MASTER: “Yes, yes! He will go home! He is a rogue. He is a rascal. You don’t understand him. You are a fool. Gopal said that Hazra stayed at Sinthi a few days. People used to supply him with butter, rice, and other food. He had the impudence to tell them he couldn’t swallow such coarse rice and bad butter. Ishan of Bhatpara accompanied him there. He ordered Ishan to carry water for him. That made the other brahmins very angry.”
NARENDRA: “I asked him about that too. He said that Ishan Babu had himself come forward with the water. Besides, many brahmins of Bhatpara showed him respect.”
MASTER (smiling): “That was the result of his japa and austerity. You see, physical traits to a great extent influence character. Short stature and a body with dents here and there are not good traits. People with such traits take a long time to acquire spiritual knowledge.”
BHAVANATH: “Let us stop talking about these things.”
MASTER: “Don’t misunderstand me. (To Narendra) You say you understand people; that is why I am telling you all this. Do you know how I look on people like Hazra? I know that just as God takes the form of holy men, so He also takes the form of cheats and rogues. (To Mahimacharan) What do you say? All are God.”
MAHIMA: “Yes, sir. All are God.”
GIRISH (to the Master): “Sir, what is ekangi prema?”
MASTER: “It means one-sided love. For instance, the water does not seek the duck, but the duck loves water. There are other kinds of love: sadharani, samanjasa, and samartha. In the first, which is ordinary love, the lover seeks his own happiness; he doesn’t care whether the other person is happy or not. That was Chandravali’s attitude toward Krishna. In the second, which is a compromise, both seek each other’s happiness. This is a noble kind of love. But the third is the highest of all. Such a lover says to his beloved, ‘Be happy yourself, whatever may happen to me.’ Radha had this highest love. She was happy in Krishna’s happiness. The gopis, too, had attained this exalted state.
“Do you know who the gopis were? Ramachandra was wandering in the forest where sixty thousand rishis dwelt. They were very eager to see Him. He cast a tender glance at them. According to a certain Purana, they were born later on as the gopis of Vrindavan.”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, who may be called an antaranga?”
MASTER: “Let me give an illustration. A natmandir has pillars inside and outside. An antaranga is like the inside pillars. Those who always live near the guru are the antarangas.
(To Mahimacharan) “The jnani wants neither a form of God nor His Incarnation. While wandering in the forest, Ramachandra saw a number of rishis. They welcomed Him to their asrama with great love and said to Him: ‘O Rama, today our life is blessed because we have seen You. But we know You as the son of Dasaratha. Bharadvaja and other sages call You a Divine Incarnation; but that is not our view. We meditate on the Indivisible Satchidananda.’ Rama was pleased with them and smiled.
“Ah, what a state of mind I passed through! My mind would lose itself in the Indivisible Absolute. How many days I spent that way! I renounced bhakti and bhakta, devotion and devotee. I became inert. I could not feel the form of my own head. I was about to die. I thought of keeping Ramlal’s aunt (Referring to his own wife.) near me.
“I ordered the removal of all pictures and portraits from my room. When I regained outer consciousness, when the mind climbed down to the ordinary level, I felt as if I were being suffocated like a drowning person. At last I said to myself, ‘If I can’t bear people, then how shall I live?’ Then my mind was again directed to bhakti and bhakta. ‘What has happened to me?’ I kept asking people. Bholanath (A clerk at the Dakshineswar temple garden.) said to me, ‘This state of mind has been described in the Mahabharata.’ How can a man live, on coming down from the plane of samadhi? Surely he requires devotion to God and the company of devotees. Otherwise, how will he keep his mind occupied?”
MAHIMACHARAN (to the Master): “Sir, can a man return from the plane of samadhi to the plane of the ordinary world?”
MASTER (in a low voice, to Mahima): “I shall tell you privately. You are the only one fit to hear it.
“Koar Singh also asked me that question. You see, there is a vast difference between the jiva and Isvara. Through worship and austerity, a jiva can at the utmost attain samadhi; but he cannot come down from that state. On the other hand, an Incarnation of God can come down from samadhi. A jiva is like an officer of the king; he can go as far as the outer court of the seven-storey palace. But the king’s son has access to all the seven floors; he can also go outside. Everybody says that no one can return from the plane of samadhi. In that case, how do you account for sages like Sankara and Ramanuja? They retained the ‘ego of Knowledge’.”
MAHIMA: “That is true, indeed. Otherwise, how could they write books?”
MASTER: “Again, there are the instances of sages like Prahlada, Narada, and Hanuman. They too retained bhakti after attaining samadhi.”
MAHIMA: “That is true, sir.”
MASTER: “Some people indulge in philosophical speculation and think much of themselves. Perhaps they have studied a little Vedanta. But a man cannot be egotistic if he has true knowledge. In other words, in samadhi man becomes one with God and gets rid of his egotism. True knowledge is impossible without samadhi. In samadhi man becomes one with God. Then he can have no egotism.
“Do you know what it is like? Just at noon the sun is directly overhead. If you look around then, you do not see your shadow. Likewise, you will not find the ‘shadow’ of ego after attaining Knowledge, samadhi.
“But if you see in anyone a trace of ‘I-consciousness’ after the attainment of true Knowledge, then know that it is either the ‘ego of Knowledge’ or the ‘ego of Devotion’ or the ‘servant ego’. It is not the ‘ego of ignorance’.
“Again, jnana and bhakti are twin paths. Whichever you follow, it is God that you will, ultimately reach. The jnani looks on God in one way and the bhakta looks on Him in another way. The God of the jnani is full of brilliance, and the God of the bhakta full of sweetness.”
Bhavanath was seated near the Master, listening to these words.
BHAVANATH (to the Master): “Sir, I have a question to ask. I don’t quite understand the Chandi. It is written there that the Divine Mother kills all beings. What does that mean?”
MASTER: “This is all Her lila. Her sportive pleasure. That question used to bother me too. Later I found out that all is maya. Both creation and destruction are God’s maya.”
Girish conducted Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees to the roof, where the meal was served. There was a bright moon in the sky. The devotees took their seats. The Master occupied a seat in front of them. All were in a joyous mood.
Sri Ramakrishna was beside himself with joy at the sight of Narendra. The beloved disciple sat in the front row. Every now and then the Master asked how he was getting along. He had hardly finished half his meal when he came to Narendra with some water-melon sherbet and curd from his own plate. Tenderly he said to the disciple, “Please eat this.” Then he went back to his own place.
Saturday, May 9, 1885
It was about three o’clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna sat in Balaram’s drawing-room in a happy mood. Many devotees were present. Narendra, M., Bhavanath, Purna, Paltu, the younger Naren, Girish, Ram, Binode, Dwija, and others sat around him.
Balaram was not there. He had gone to Monghyr for a change of air. His eldest daughter had invited Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees and celebrated the occasion with a feast. The Master was resting after the meal.
Again and again the Master asked M.: “Am I liberal-minded? Tell me.”
BHAVANATH (smiling): “Why do you ask him? He will only keep quiet.”
A beggar entered the room. He wanted to sing. The devotees listened to a song or two. Narendra liked his singing and asked him to sing more.
MASTER: “Stop! Stop! We don’t want any more songs. Where is the money? (To Narendra) You may order the music, but who will pay?”
A DEVOTEE (smiling): “Sir, the beggar may think you are an amir, a wealthy aristocrat, the way you are leaning against that big pillow.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): “He may also think I am ill.”
The conversation drifted to Hazra and his egotism. For some reason he had had to go away from Dakshineswar.
NARENDRA: “Hazra now admits he was egotistic.”
MASTER: “Don’t believe him. He says so in order to come back to Dakshineswar. (To the devotees) Narendra always insists that Hazra is a grand person.”
NARENDRA: “Even now I say so.”
MASTER: “Why? You have heard so much about him, and still you think so?”
NARENDRA: “He has slight defects but many virtues.”
MASTER: “I admit that he has devotion to his ideal. He said to me, ‘You don’t care for me now, but later you will be seeking my company.’ A goswami came from Srerampore. He was a descendant of Advaita Goswami. He intended to spend a night or two at the temple garden. I asked him very cordially to stay. Do you know what Hazra said to me? He said, ‘Send him to the temple officer.’ What was in his mind was that the goswami might ask for milk or food, and that he might have to give him some from his own share. I said to Hazra: ‘Now, you rogue! Even I prostrate myself before him because he is a goswami. And you, after leading a worldly life and indulging a great deal in “woman and gold”, have so much pride because of a little japa! Aren’t you ashamed of yourself?’
“One realises God through sattva. Rajas and tamas take one away from Him. The scriptures describe sattva as white, rajas as red, and tamas as black. Once I asked Hazra: Tell me what you think of the people that come here. How much sattva does each one possess?’ He said, ‘Narendra has one hundred per cent and I have one hundred and ten per cent.’ ‘What about me?’ I asked. And he said: ‘You still have a trace of pink. You have only seventy-five per cent, I should say.’ (All laugh.)
“Hazra used to practise japa at Dakshineswar. While telling his beads, he would also try to do a little brokerage business. He has a debt of a few thousand rupees which he must clear up. About the brahmin cooks of the temple he remarked, ‘Do you think I talk with people of that sort?’
“The truth is that you cannot attain God if you have even a trace of desire. Subtle is the way of dharma. If you are trying to thread a needle, you will not succeed if the thread has even a slight fibre sticking out.
“There are people who perform japa for thirty years and still do not attain any result. Why? A gangrenous sore requires very drastic treatment. Ordinary medicine won’t cure it.
“No matter how much sadhana you practise, you will not realise the goal as long as you have desire. But this also is true, that one can realise the goal in a moment through the grace of God, through His kindness. Take the case of a room that has been dark a thousand years. If somebody suddenly brings a lamp into it, the room is lighted in an instant.
“Suppose a poor man’s son has fallen into the good graces of a rich person. He marries his daughter. Immediately he gets an equipage, clothes, furniture, a house, and other things.”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, how does one receive God’s grace?”
MASTER: “God has the nature of a child. A child is sitting with gems in the skirt of his cloth. Many a person passes by him along the road. Many of them pray to him for gems. But he hides the gems with his hands and says, turning away his face, ‘No, I will not give any away.’ But another man comes along. He doesn’t ask for the gems; and yet the child runs after him and offers him the gems, begging him to accept them.
“One cannot realise God without renunciation. Who will accept my words? I have been seeking a companion, a sympathetic soul who will understand my feelings. When I see a great devotee, I say to myself, ‘Perhaps he will accept my ideal.’ But later on I find that he behaves in a different way.
“A ghost sought a companion. One becomes a ghost if one dies from an accident on a Saturday or a Tuesday. So whenever the ghost found someone who seemed to be dying from an accident on either of these days, he would run to him. He would say to himself that at last he had found his companion. But no sooner would he run to the man than he would see the man getting up. The man, perhaps, had fallen from a roof and after a few moments regained consciousness.
“Once Mathur Babu was in an ecstatic mood. He behaved like a drunkard and could not look after his work. At this all said: ‘Who will look after his estate it he behaves like that? Certainly the young priest (Sri Ramakrishna, who was at that time a priest in the Kali temple.) has cast a spell upon him.’
“During one of Narendra’s early visits I touched his chest and he became unconscious. Regaining consciousness, he wept and said: ‘Oh, why did you do that to me? I have a father! I have a mother!’ This ‘I’ and ‘mine’ spring from ignorance.
“A guru said to his disciple: ‘The world is illusory. Come away with me.’ ‘But, revered sir,’ said the disciple, ‘my people at home — my father, my mother, my wife — love me so much. How can I give them up?’ The guru said: ‘No doubt you now have this feeling of “I” and “mine” and say that they love you; but this is all an illusion of your mind. I shall teach you a trick, and you will know whether they love you truly or not.’ Saying this, the teacher gave the disciple a pill and said to him: ‘Swallow this at home. You will appear to be a corpse, but you will not lose consciousness. You will see everything and hear everything. Then I shall come to your house and gradually you will regain your normal state.’
“The disciple followed the teacher’s instructions and lay on his bed like a dead person. The house was filled with loud wailing. His mother, his wife, and the others lay on the ground weeping bitterly. Just then a brahmin entered the house and said to them, ‘What is the matter with you?’ ‘This boy is dead’, they replied. The brahmin felt his pulse and said: ‘How is that? No, he is not dead. I have a medicine for him that will cure him completely.’ The joy of the relatives was unbounded; it seemed to them that heaven itself had come down into their house. ‘But’, said the brahmin, ‘I must tell you something else. Another person must take some of this medicine first, and then the boy must swallow the rest. But the other person will die. I see he has so many dear relatives here; one of them will certainly agree to take the medicine. I see his wife and mother crying bitterly. Surely they will not hesitate to take it.’
“At once the weeping stopped and all sat quiet. The mother said: ‘Well, this is a big family. Suppose I die; then who will look after the family?’ She fell into a reflective mood. The wife, who had been crying a minute before and bemoaning her ill luck, said: ‘Well, he has gone the way of mortals. I have these two or three young children. Who will look after them if I die?’
“The disciple saw everything and heard everything. He stood up at once and said to the teacher: ‘Let us go, revered sir. I will follow you.’ (All laugh.)
“Another disciple said to his teacher: ‘Revered sir, my wife takes great care of me. It is for her sake that I cannot give up the world.’ The disciple practised hathayoga. The teacher taught him, too, a trick to test his wife’s love. One day there was a great wailing in his house. The neighbours came running and saw the hathayogi seated in a posture, his limbs paralysed and distorted. They thought he was dead. His wife fell on the ground, weeping piteously: ‘Oh, what has befallen me? How have you provided for our future? Oh, friends, I never dreamt I should meet such a fate!’
“In the mean time the relatives and friends had brought a cot to take the corpse out. But suddenly a difficulty arose as they started to move it. Since the body was twisted and stiff, it could not be taken out through the door. A neighbour quickly brought an axe and began to chop away the door-frame. The wife was crying bitterly, when she heard the sound of the axe. She ran to the door. ‘What are you doing, friends?’ she asked, still weeping. The neighbour said, ‘We can’t take the body out; so we are chopping away the door-frame.’
“‘Please’, said the wife, ‘don’t do any such thing. I am a widow now; I have no one to look after me. I have to bring up these young children. If you destroy this door, I shall not be able to replace it. Friends, death is inevitable for all, and my husband cannot be called back to life. You had better cut his limbs.’ The hathayogi at once stood up. The effect of the medicine had worn off. He said to his wife: ‘You evil one! You want to cut off my hands and feet, do you?’ So saying, he renounced home and followed his teacher. (All laugh.)
“Many women make a show of grief. Knowing beforehand that they will have to weep, they first take off their nose-rings and other ornaments, put them securely in a box, and lock it. Then they fall on the ground and weep, ‘O friends, what has befallen us?'”
NARENDRA: “How can I believe, without proof, that God incarnates Him self as a man?”
GIRISH: “Faith alone is sufficient. What is the proof that these objects exist here? Faith alone is the proof.”
A DEVOTEE: “Have philosophers been able to prove that the external world exists outside us? But they say we have an irresistible belief in it.”
GIRISH (to Narendra): “You wouldn’t believe, even if God appeared before you. God Himself might say that He was God born as a man, but perhaps you would say that He was a liar and a cheat.”
The conversation turned to the immortality of the gods.
NARENDRA: “What is the proof of their immortality?”
GIRISH: “You wouldn’t believe it even if the gods appeared before you.”
NARENDRA: “That the immortals existed in the past requires proof.”
M. whispered something to Paltu.
PALTU (smiling, to Narendra): “What need is there for the immortals to be without beginning? To be immortal one need only be without end.”
MASTER (smiling): “Narendra is the son of a lawyer, but Paltu of a deputy magistrate.” (All laugh.)
All kept silent awhile.
JOGIN (smiling): “He [meaning the Master] doesn’t accept Narendra’s words any more.”
MASTER (smiling): “One day I remarked that the chatak bird doesn’t drink any water except that which falls from the sky. Narendra said, ‘The chatak drinks ordinary water as well.’ Then I said to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, then are my words untrue?’ I was greatly worried about it. Another day, later on, Narendra was here. Several birds were flying about in the room. He exclaimed, ‘There! There!’ ‘What is there?’ I asked. He said, ‘There is your chatak!’ I found they were only bats. Since that day I don’t accept what he says. (All laugh.)
“At Jadu Mallick’s garden house Narendra said to me, ‘The forms of God that you see are the fiction of your mind.’ I was amazed and said to him, ‘But they speak too!’ Narendra answered, ‘Yes, one may think so.’ I went to the temple and wept before the Mother. ‘O Mother,’ I said, ‘what is this? Then is this all false? How could Narendra say that?’ Instantly I had a revelation. I saw Consciousness — Indivisible Consciousness — and a divine being formed of that Consciousness. The divine form said to me, ‘If your words are untrue, how is it that they tally with the facts?’ Thereupon I said to Narendra: ‘You rogue! You created unbelief in my mind. Don’t come here any more.'”
The discussion continued. Narendra was arguing. He was then slightly over twenty-two years of age.
NARENDRA (to Girish, M., and the others): “How am I to believe in the words of scripture? The Mahanirvana Tantra says, in one place, that unless a man attains the Knowledge of Brahman he goes to hell; and the same book says, in another place, that there is no salvation without the worship of Parvati, the Divine Mother. Manu writes about himself in the Manusamhita; Moses describes his own death in the Pentateuch.
“The Samkhya philosophy says that God does not exist, because there is no proof of His existence. Again, the same philosophy says that one must accept the Vedas and that they are eternal.
“But I don’t say that these are not true. I simply don’t understand them. Please explain them to me. People have explained the scriptures according to their fancy. Which explanation shall we accept? White light coming through a red medium appears red, through a green medium, green.”
A DEVOTEE: “The Gita contains the words of God.”
MASTER: “Yes, the Gita is the essence of all scriptures. A sannyasi may or may not keep with him another book, but he always carries a pocket Gita.”
A DEVOTEE: “The Gita contains the words of Krishna.”
NARENDRA: “Yes, Krishna or any fellow for that matter!”
Sri Ramakrishna was amazed at these words of Narendra.
MASTER: “This is a fine discussion. There are two interpretations of the scriptures: the literal and the real. One should accept the real meaning alone — what agrees with the words of God. There is a vast difference between the words written in a letter and the direct words of its writer. The scriptures are like the words of the letter; the words of God are direct words. I do not accept anything unless it agrees with the direct words of the Divine Mother.”
The conversation again turned to Divine Incarnation.
NARENDRA: “It is enough to have faith in God. I don’t care about what He is doing or what He hangs from. Infinite is the universe; infinite are the Incarnations.”
As Sri Ramakrishna heard the words, “Infinite is the universe; infinite are the Incarnations”, he said with folded hands, “Ah!”
M. whispered something to Bhavanath.
BHAVANATH: “M. says: ‘As long as I have not seen the elephant, how can I know whether it can pass through the eye of a needle? I do not know God; how can I understand through reason whether or not He can incarnate Himself as man?”
MASTER: “Everything is possible for God. It is He who casts the spell. The magician swallows the knife and takes it out again; he swallows stones and bricks.”
A DEVOTEE: “The Brahmos say that a man should perform his worldly duties. He must not renounce them.”
GIRISH: “Yes, I saw something like that in their paper, the Sulabha Samachar. But a man cannot even finish all the works that are necessary for him in order to know God, and still he speaks of worldly duties.”
Sri Ramakrishna smiled a little, looked at M., and made a sign with his eye, as if to say, “What he says is right.”
M. understood that this question of performing duties was an extremely difficult one.
MASTER: “Who told you about our being here?”
MASTER (to the woman devotees): “Give him some refreshments.”
Narendra was preparing to sing. The Master and the devotees were eager to hear his music. Narendra sang:
Siva, Thy ready thunderbolt rules over meadows, hills, and sky!
O God of Gods! O Slayer of Time! Thou the Great Void, the King of Dharma!
Siva, Thou Blessed One, redeem me; take away my grievous sin.
He sang again:
Sweet is Thy name, O Refuge of the humble!
It falls like sweetest nectar on our ears
And comforts us, Beloved of our souls! . . .
Why, O mind, do you never call on Him
Who takes away all fear of danger?
Tricked by delusion you forget yourself,
Enamoured of the world’s bleak wilderness.
Alas, what mockery is here!
Comrades and wealth you cannot always keep;
Take care lest you forget Him quite.
Give up the false, O mind! Adore the Real;
And all the grief will vanish from your life.
Keep my good counsel in your heart.
With sounding voice proclaim Lord Hari’s name
And cast away your false desires,
If you would cross the ocean of this life;
Surrender to Him body, mind, and soul,
And worship Him with trusting love.
PALTU: “Won’t you sing that one?”
NARENDRA: “Which one?”
PALTU: “‘When I behold Thy peerless face.'”
When I behold Thy peerless face, beaming with love, O Lord,
What fear have I of earthly woe or of the frown of sorrow?
As the first ray of the dawning sun dispels the dark,
So too, Lord, when Thy blessed light bursts forth within the heart,
It scatters all our grief and pain with sweetest balm.
When on Thy love and grace I ponder, in my heart’s deepest depths,
Tears of joy stream down my cheeks beyond restraining.
Hail, Gracious Lord! Hail, Gracious One! I shall proclaim Thy love.
May my life-breath depart from me as I perform Thy works!
At M.’s request Narendra sang again, M. and many of the devotees listening with folded hands:
Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!
Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari’s sweet name! . . .
Narendra sang again:
Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through.
How peerless is the light that in Him shines!
How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form!
How dear is He to all His devotees! . . .
He sang another song:
This universe, wondrous and infinite,
O Lord, is Thy handiwork;
And the whole world is a treasure-house
Full of Thy beauty and grace.
The stars glisten innumerable,
Like gems on a necklace of gold;
How can the myriad suns and moons
Ever be numbered above?
The earth is glowing with grain and gold,<
Thine ever brimming store;
Uncounted stars, O God, sing forth:
Blessed, blessed art Thou!
Then he sang:
Upon the tray of the sky blaze bright
The lamps of sun and moon;
Like diamonds shine the glittering stars
To deck Thy wondrous form. . . .
Fasten your mind, O man, on the Primal Purusha,
Who is the Cause of all causes,
The Stainless One, the Beginningless Truth.
As Prana He pervades the infinite universe;
The man of faith beholds Him,
Living, resplendent, the Root of all. . . .
At Narayan’s request Narendra sang:
Come! Come, Mother! Doll of my soul! My heart’s Delight!
In my heart’s lotus come and sit, that I may see Thy face.
Alas! sweet Mother, even from birth I have suffered much;
But I have borne it all. Thou knowest, gazing at Thee.
Open the lotus of my heart, dear Mother! Reveal Thyself there.
Then Narendra sang a song of his own choice:
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave. . . .
As Sri Ramakrishna heard this soul-enthralling song, he went into samadhi.
Narendra again sang:
Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss! . . .
The Master was in samadhi. He was sitting on a pillow, dangling his feet, facing the north and leaning against the wall. The devotees were seated around him.
In an ecstatic mood Sri Ramakrishna talked to the Divine Mother. He said: “I shall take my meal now. Art Thou come? Hast Thou found Thy lodging and left Thy baggage there and then come out?” He continued: “I don’t enjoy anybody’s company now. Why should I listen to the music, Mother? That diverts part of mv mind to the outside world.”
The Master was gradually regaining consciousness of the outer world. Looking at the devotees he said: “Years ago I used to be amazed to see people keeping kai fish alive in a pot of water. I would say: ‘How cruel these people are! They will finally kill the fish.’ But later, as changes came over my mind, I realised that bodies are like pillow-cases. It doesn’t matter whether they remain or drop off.”
BHAVANATH: “Then may one injure a man without incurring sin? Kill him?”
MASTER: “Yes, it is permissible if one has achieved that state of mind, But not everyone has it. It is the state of Brahmajnana.
“By coming down a step or two from samadhi I enjoy bhakti and bhakta. “There exist in God both vidya and avidya. Vidyamaya leads one to God, and avidyamaya away from Him. Knowledge, devotion, compassion; and renunciation belong to the realm of vidya. With the help of these a man comes near God. One step more and he attains God, Knowledge of Brahman. In that state he clearly feels and sees that it is God who has become everything. He has nothing to give up and nothing to accept. It is impossible tor him to be angry with anyone.
“One day I was riding in a carriage. I saw two prostitutes standing on a verandah. They appeared to me to be embodiments of the Divine Mother Herself. I saluted, them.
“When I first attained this exalted state I could not worship Mother Kali or give Her the food offering. Haladhari and Hriday told me that on account of this the temple officer had slandered me. But I only laughed; I wasn’t in the least angry. Attain Brahmajnana and then roam about enjoying God’s lila. A holy man came to a town and went about seeing the sights. He met another sadhu, an acquaintance. The latter said: ‘I see you are gadding about. Where is your baggage. I hope no thief has stolen it.’ The first sadhu said: ‘Not at all. First I found a lodging, put my things in the room in proper order, and locked the door. Now I am enjoying the fun of the city.'” (All laugh.)
BHAVANATH: “These are very lofty words.”
M. (to himself): “Tasting God’s lila after Brahmajnana! Climbing down to the ordinary plane of consciousness after the attainment of samadhi!”
MASTER (to M. and the others): “Is it an easy thing to obtain the Knowledge of Brahman? It is not possible unless the mind is annihilated. The guru said to the disciple, ‘Give me your mind and I shall give you Knowledge.’ In this state one enjoys only spiritual talk and the company of devotees.
(To Ram) “You are a physician. You know that medicine works only when it mixes with the patient’s blood and becomes one with it. Likewise, in the state of Brahmajnana one sees God both within and without. One sees that it is God Himself who has become the body, mind, life, and soul.”
M. (to himself): “Assimilation!”
MASTER: “A man attains Brahmajnana as soon as his mind is annihilated. With the annihilation of the mind dies the ego, which says ‘I’, ‘I’. One also attains the Knowledge of Brahman by following the path of devotion. One also attains It by following the path of knowledge, that is to say, discrimination. The jnanis discriminate, saying, ‘Neti, neti’, that is, ‘All this is illusory, like a dream.’ They analyse the world through the process of ‘Not this, not this’; it is maya. When the world vanishes, only the jivas, that is to say, so many egos, remain.
“Each ego may be likened to a pot. Suppose there are ten pots filled with water, and the sun is reflected in them. How many suns do you see?”
A DEVOTEE: “Ten reflections. Besides, there certainly exists the real sun.”
MASTER: “Suppose you break one pot. How many suns do you see now?”
DEVOTEE: “Nine reflected suns. But there certainly exists the real Sun.”
MASTER : “All right. Suppose you break nine pots. How many suns do you see now?”
DEVOTEE: “One reflected sun. But there certainly exists the real sun.”
MASTER (to Girish): “What remains when the last pot is broken?”
GIRISH: “That real sun, sir.”
MASTER: “No. What remains cannot be described. What is remains. How will you know there is a real sun unless there is a reflected sun? ‘I- consciousness’ is destroyed in samadhi. A man climbing down from samadhi to the lower plane cannot describe what he has seen there.”
It was late in the evening. Lamps were burning in the drawing-room. Sri Ramakrishna was in a spiritual mood. The devotees sat around him.
MASTER (in the ecstatic mood): “There is no one else here; so I am telling you this. He who from the depth of his soul seeks to know God will certainly realise Him. He must. He alone who is restless for God and seeks nothing but Him will certainly realise Him.
“Those who belong to this place (The inner circle of the Master’s devotees.) have already come. Those who will come from now on are outsiders. Such people will come now and then. The Divine Mother will tell them: ‘Do this. Call on God in this way.’
“Why doesn’t man’s mind dwell on God? You see, more powerful than God is His Mahamaya, His Power of Illusion. More powerful than the judge is his orderly. (All laugh.)
“Rama said to Narada: ‘I am very much pleased with your prayer. Ask a boon of Me.’ Narada replied, ‘O Rama, may I have pure devotion to Your Lotus Feet, and may I not be deluded by Your world-bewitching maya!’ Rama said, ‘Be it so: ask for something else.’ Narada replied, ‘No, Rama, I do not want any other boon.’
“Everyone is under the spell of this world-bewitching maya. When God assumes a human body, He too comes under the spell. Rama wandered about weeping for Sita. ‘Brahman weeps entangled in the snare of the five elements.’ But you must remember this: God, by His mere will, can liberate Himself from this snare.”
BHAVANATH: “The guard of a railway train shuts himself of his own will in a carriage; but he can get out whenever he wants to.”
MASTER: “The Isvarakotis — Divine Incarnations, for instance — can liberate themselves whenever they want to; but the jivakotis cannot. Jivas are imprisoned by ‘woman and gold’. When the doors and windows of a room are fastened with screws, how can a man get out?”
BHAVANATH (smiling): “Ordinary men are like the third-class passengers on a railway train. When the doors of their compartments are locked, they have no way to get out.”
GIRISH: “If a man is so strongly tied hand and foot, then what is his way?”
MASTER: “He has nothing to fear if God Himself, as the guru, cuts the chain of maya.”