Nitya and Lila — The seed of bhakti cannot be destroyed — Reality includes both Absolute and universe — Futility of mere scholarship — Advice to the worldly — The real teacher — Go beyond knowledge and ignorance — Nature of the worldly — Master’s adherence to truth — Divine Incarnation — Master reprimands Captain — Significance of Radhika — Master’s boyhood reminiscences — Magician and his magic — Harmless ego — “Wicked ego” must be killed — Signs of God-realisation — Man’s peace in God — Sincere yearning enables one to realise God — Advice to householders.
Saturday, May 25, 1885
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in the drawing-room on the ground floor of Ram’s house. He was surrounded by devotees and was conversing with them. Mahima sat in front of him, M. to his left. Paltu, Bhavanath, Nityagopal, Haramohan, and a few others sat around him. It was about five o’clock in the afternoon. The Master inquired after several devotees.
MASTER (to M.): “Hasn’t the younger Naren arrived yet?”
Presently the younger Naren entered the room.
MASTER: “What about him?”
M: “Who, sir?”
MASTER: “Kishori. Isn’t Girish Ghosh coming? What about Narendra?”
A few minutes later Narendra arrived and saluted Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER (to the devotees): “It would be fine if Kedar were here. He agrees with Girish. (To Mahima, smiling) He says the same thing.”1
Ram had arranged the kirtan. With folded hands the musician said to Sri Ramakrishna, “Sir, I can begin if you give the order.”
The Master drank some water and chewed spices from a small bag. He asked M. to close the bag.
The musician started the kirtan. As Sri Ramakrishna heard the sound of the drum he went into an ecstatic mood. While listening to the prelude of the kirtan he plunged into deep samadhi. He placed his legs on the lap of Nityagopal, who was sitting near him. The devotee, too, was in an ecstatic mood. He was weeping. The other devotees looked on intently.
Regaining partial consciousness, Sri Ramakrishna said: “From the Nitya to the Lila and from the Lila to the Nitya. (To Nityagopal) What is your ideal?”
NITYAGOPAL: “Both are good.”
Sri Ramakrishna closed his eyes and said: “Is it only this? Does God exist only when the eyes are closed; and cease to exist when the eyes are opened? The Lila belongs to Him to whom the Nitya belongs, and the Nitya belongs to Him to whom the Lila belongs. (To Mahima) My dear sir, let me tell you —”
MAHIMA: “Revered sir, both are according to the will of God.”
MASTER: “Some people climb the seven floors of a building and cannot get down; but some climb up and then, at will, visit the lower floors.
“Uddhava said to the gopis: ‘He whom you address as your Krishna dwells in all beings. It is He alone who has become the universe and its living beings.’
“Therefore I say, does a man meditate on God only when his eyes are closed? Doesn’t he see anything of God when his eyes are open?”
MAHIMA: “I have a question to ask, sir. A lover of God needs Nirvana2 some time or other, doesn’t he?”
MASTER: “It can’t be said that bhaktas need Nirvana. According to some schools there is an eternal Krishna and there are also His eternal devotees. Krishna is Spirit embodied, and His Abode also is Spirit embodied. Krishna is eternal and the devotees also are eternal. Krishna and the devotees are like the moon and the stars — always near each other. You yourself repeat: ‘What need is there of penance if God is seen within and without?’ Further, I have told you that the devotee who is born with an element of Vishnu cannot altogether get rid of bhakti. Once I fell into the clutches of a jnani,3 who made me listen to Vedanta for eleven months. But he couldn’t altogether destroy the seed of bhakti in me. No matter where my mind wandered, it would come back to the Divine Mother. Whenever I sang of Her, Nangta would weep and say, ‘Ah! What is this?’ You see, he was such a great jnani and still he wept. (To the younger Naren and the others) Remember the popular saying that if a man drinks the juice of the alekh creeper, a plant grows inside his stomach. Once the seed of bhakti is sown, the effect is inevitable: it will gradually grow into a tree with flowers and fruits.
“You may reason and argue a thousand times, but if you have the seed of bhakti within you, you will surely come back to Hari.”
The devotees listened silently to the Master. Sri Ramakrishna asked Mahima, laughing, “What is the thing you enjoy most?”
MAHIMA (smiling): “Nothing, sir. I like mangoes.”
MASTER (smiling): “All by yourself? Or do you want to share them with others?”
MAHIMA (smiling): “I am not so anxious to give others a share. I may as well eat them all by myself.”
MASTER: “But do you know my attitude? I accept both, the Nitya and the Lila. Doesn’t God exist if one looks around with eyes open? After realizing Him, one knows that He is both the Absolute and the universe. It is He who is the Indivisible Satchidananda. Again, it is He who has become the universe and its living beings.
“One needs sadhana. Mere study of the scriptures will not do. I noticed that though Vidyasagar had no doubt read a great deal, he had not realised what was inside him; he was satisfied with helping boys get their education, but had not tasted the Bliss of God. What will mere study accomplish? How little one assimilates! The almanac may forecast twenty measures of rain; but you don’t get a drop by squeezing its pages.”
MAHIMA: “We have so many duties in the world. Where is the time for sadhana?”
MASTER: Why should you say such a thing? It is you who describe the world as illusory, like a dream.
“Rama and Lakshmana wanted to go to Ceylon. But the ocean was before them. Lakshmana was angry. Taking his bow and arrow, he said: ‘I shall kill Varuna. This ocean prevents our going to Ceylon.’ Rama explained the matter to him, saying: ‘Lakshmana, all that you are seeing is unreal, like a dream. The ocean is unreal. Your anger is also unreal. It is equally unreal to think of destroying one unreal thing by means of another.'”
Mahimacharan kept quiet. He had many duties in the world. He had lately started a school to help others.
MASTER (to Mahima): “Sambhu once said to me: ‘I have some money. It is my desire to spend it for good works — for schools and dispensaries, roads, and so forth.’ I said to him: ‘It will be good if you can do these works in a selfless spirit. But it is extremely difficult to perform unselfish action. Desire for fruit comes from nobody knows where. Let me ask you something. Suppose God appears before you; will you pray to Him, then, for such things as schools and dispensaries and hospitals?'”
A DEVOTEE: “Sir, what is the way for worldly people?”
MASTER: “The company of holy men. Worldly people should listen to spiritual talk. They are in a state of madness, intoxicated with ‘woman and gold’. A drunkard should be given rice-water as an antidote. Drinking it slowly, he gradually recovers his normal consciousness.
“A worldly person should also receive instructions from a sadguru, a real teacher. Such a teacher has certain signs. You should hear about Benares only from a man who has been to Benares and seen it. Mere book-learning will not do. One should not receive instruction from a pundit who has not realised the world to be unreal. Only if a pundit has discrimination and renunciation is he entitled to instruct.
“Samadhyayi remarked that God was dry. Think of his speaking like that of Him who is the embodiment of sweetness! It sounds like the remark, ‘My uncle’s cow-shed is full of horses.’ (All laugh.)
“Yes, a worldly person is in a state of intoxication. He always says to himself: ‘It is I who am doing everything. All these — the house and family — are mine.’ Baring his teeth, he says: ‘What will happen to my wife and children without me? How will they get along? Who will look after my wife and children?’ Rakhal said one day, ‘What will happen to my wife?'”
HARAMOHAN: “Did Rakhal say that?”
MASTER: “What else could he do? He who has knowledge has ignorance also. ‘How amazing!’ Lakshmana said to Rama. ‘Even a sage like Vasishtha is stricken with grief because of the death of his sons!’ ‘Brother,’ replied Rama, ‘he who has knowledge has ignorance also. Therefore go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.’
“Suppose a thorn has pierced a man’s foot. He picks another thorn to pull out the first one. After extracting the first thorn with the help of the second, he throws both away. One should use the thorn of knowledge to pull out the thorn of ignorance. Then one throws away both the thorns, knowledge and ignorance, and attains vijnana. What is vijnana? It is to know God distinctly by realizing His existence through an intuitive experience and to speak to Him intimately. That is why Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘Go beyond the three gunas.’
“In order to attain vijnana one has to accept the help of vidyamaya. Vidyamaya includes discrimination — that is to say, God is real and the world illusory — and dispassion, and also chanting God’s name and glories, meditation, the company of holy persons, prayer, and so forth. Vidyamaya may be likened to the last few steps before the roof. Next is the roof, the realisation of God.
“Worldly people are in a state of chronic intoxication — mad with ‘woman and gold’; they are insensible to spiritual ideas. That is why I love the youngsters not yet stained by ‘woman and gold’. They are ‘good receptacles’ and may become useful in God’s work. But as for worldly people, you lose almost everything while trying to eliminate the worthless stuff in them. They are like bony fish — almost all bones and very little meat.
“Worldly people are like mangoes struck by hail. If you want to offer them to God you have to purify them by sprinkling them with Ganges water. Even then they are seldom used in the temple worship. If you are to use them at all, you have to apply Brahmajnana, that is to say, you have to persuade yourself that it is God alone who has become everything.”
A Theosophist gentleman arrived with Aswini Kumar Dutta and the son of Behari Bhaduri. The Mukherji brothers entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. Arrangements were being made for devotional music in the courtyard. At the first beat of the drum the Master left the room and went there. The devotees followed him.
Bhavanath introduced Aswini to the Master. The Master introduced him to M. Aswini and M. were talking together when Narendra arrived. Sri Ramakrishna said to Aswini, “This is Narendra.”
Saturday, June 13, 1885
About three o’clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was resting in his room after the midday meal. A pundit was sitting on a mat on the floor. Near the north door of the room stood a brahmin woman who had recently lost her only daughter and was stricken with grief. Kishori, too, was in the room. M. arrived and saluted the Master. He was accompanied by Dwija and a few other devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna was not well. He had been suffering from an inflamed throat. These were the hot days of summer. M. was not keeping well either, and of late he had not been able to visit Sri Ramakrishna frequently.
MASTER (to M.): “How are you? It is nice to see you. The bel-fruit you sent me was very good.”
M: “I am slightly better now, sir.”
MASTER: “It is very hot. Take a little ice now and then. I have been feeling the heat very much myself; so I ate a great deal of ice-cream. That is why I have this sore throat. The saliva smells very bad.
“I have said to the Divine Mother: ‘Mother, make me well. I shall not eat ice-cream any more.’ Next I said to Her that I wouldn’t eat ice either. Since I have given my word to the Mother, I shall certainly not eat these things. But sometimes I become forgetful. Once I said that I wouldn’t eat fish on Sundays; but one Sunday I forgot and ate fish. But I cannot consciously go back on my word. The other day I asked a devotee to bring my water-jug to the pine-grove. As he had to go elsewhere, another man brought the jug. But I couldn’t use that water. I was helpless. I waited there until the first man brought water for me.
“When I renounced everything with an offering of flowers at the Lotus Feet of the Mother, I said: ‘Here, Mother, take Thy holiness, take Thy unholiness. Here, Mother, take Thy dharma, take Thy adharma. Here, Mother, take Thy sin, take Thy virtue. Here, Mother, take Thy good, take Thy evil. And give me only pure bhakti.’ But I could not say, ‘Here, Mother, take Thy truth, take Thy falsehood.'”
A devotee had brought some ice. Again and again the Master asked M., “Shall I eat it?”
M. said humbly, “Please don’t eat it without consulting the Mother.” Sri Ramakrishna could not take-the ice.
MASTER: “It is the bhakta, and not the jnani, who discriminates between holiness and unholiness. Vijay’s mother-in-law said to me: ‘How little I have achieved of my spiritual ideal! I cannot take food from everybody.’ I said to her: ‘Is eating everybody’s food a sign of jnana? A dog eats anything and everything. Does that make it a jnani?’
(To M.) “Why do I eat a variety of dishes? In order not to become monotonous. Otherwise I should have to renounce the devotees.
“I said to Keshab: ‘If I instruct you from a still higher standpoint, then you won’t be able to preserve your organization. In the state of jnana organizations and things, like that become unreal, like a dream.’
“One time I gave up fish. At first I suffered from it; afterwards it didn’t bother me much. If someone burns up a bird’s nest, the bird flies about; it takes shelter in the sky. If a man truly realises that the body and the world are unreal, then his soul attains samadhi.
“Formerly I had the state of mind of a jnani: I couldn’t enjoy the company of men. I would hear that a jnani or a bhakta lived at a certain place; then, a few days later, I would learn that he was dead. Everything seemed to me impermanent; so I couldn’t enjoy people’s company. Later the Mother brought my mind down to a lower plane; She so changed my mind that I could enjoy love of God and His devotees.”
Next the Master began to talk about Divine Incarnation.
MASTER (to M.): “Do you know why God incarnates Himself as a man? It is because through a human body one can hear His words. He sports through it. He tastes divine bliss through a human body. But through His other devotees God manifests only a small part of Himself. A devotee is like something you get a little juice from after much sucking — like a flower you get a drop of honey from after much sucking. (To M.) Do you understand this?”
M: “Yes, sir. Very well.”
Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Dwija, who was about sixteen years old. His father had married a second time. Dwija often accompanied M. to Dakshineswar, and Sri Ramakrishna was fond of him. The boy said that his father opposed his coming to Dakshineswar.
MASTER: “And your brothers too? Do they speak slightingly of me?”
Dwija did not answer.
M. (to the Master): “Those who speak slightingly of you will be cured of it after getting a few more blows from the world.”
MASTER (referring to Dwija’s brothers): “They live with their step-mother. So they are getting blows.”
All were silent a moment.
MASTER (to M.): “Introduce Dwija to Purna some time.”
M: “Yes, I shall. (To Dwija) Go to Panihati.”
MASTER: “I am asking everyone to send people to Panihati. (To M.) Won’t you go?”
Sri Ramakrishna intended to visit the religious festival at Panihati; so he was asking the devotees to go too.
M: “Yes, sir, I want to go.”
MASTER: “We shall engage a big boat; then it won’t toss about. Will Girish Ghosh be there?”
Sri Ramakrishna looked steadily at Dwija.
MASTER: “Well, there are so many youngsters in the city; why does this boy come here? (To M.) Tell me what you think. Certainly he has inherited some good tendencies from his previous birth.”
M: “Undoubtedly, sir.”
MASTER: “There is such a thing as inborn tendencies. When a man has performed many good actions in his previous births, in the final birth he becomes guileless. In the final birth he acts somewhat like a madcap.
“To tell you the truth, everything happens by God’s will. When He says ‘Yea’, everything comes to pass, and when He says ‘Nay’, everything comes to a standstill.
“Why is it that one man should not bless another? Because nothing can happen by man’s will: things come to pass or disappear by God’s will.
“The other day I went to Captain’s house. I saw some young boys going along the road. They belong to a different class. I saw one of them, about nineteen or twenty years old, with his hair parted on the side. He was whistling as he walked along.
“I see some immersed in the thickest tamas. They play the flute and are proud of it.
(To Dwija) “Why should a man of Knowledge be afraid of criticism? His understanding is as immovable as the anvil in a blacksmith s shop. Blows from the hammer fall continually on the anvil but cannot affect it in the least.
“I saw X —’s father going along the street.”
M; “He is a very artless man.”
MASTER: “But he has red eyes.”
Sri Ramakrishna told the devotees about his visit to Captain’s house. Captain had criticized the young men who visited the Master. Perhaps Hazra had poisoned his mind.
MASTER: “I was talking to Captain. I said: ‘Nothing exists except Purusha and Prakriti. Narada said to Rama, “O Rama, all the men You see are parts of Yourself, and all the women are parts of Sita.”‘
“Captain was highly pleased. He said: ‘You alone have the right perception. All men are really Rama, being parts of Rama; all women are really Sita, being parts of Sita.’
“Immediately after saying this he began to criticize the young devotees. He said: ‘They study English books and don’t discriminate about their food. It is not good that they should visit you frequently. It may do you harm. Hazra is a real man, a grand fellow. Don’t allow those young people to visit you so much.’ At first I said, ‘What can I do if they come?’ Then I gave him some mortal blows. His daughter laughed. I said to him: ‘God is far, far away from the worldly-minded. But God is very near the man — nay, within a distance, of three cubits — whose mind is free from worldliness.’ Speaking of Rakhal, Captain said, ‘He eats with all sorts of people.’ Perhaps he had heard it from Hazra. Thereupon I said to him: ‘A man may practise intense austerity and japa, but he won’t achieve anything if his mind dwells on the world. But blessed is the man who keeps his mind on God even though he eats pork. He will certainly realise God in due time. Hazra, with all his austerity and japa, doesn’t allow an opportunity to slip by for earning money as a broker.’
“‘Yes, yes!’ said Captain. ‘You are right.’ I said to him further, ‘A few minutes ago you said that all men were parts of Rama and all women parts of Sita, and now you are talking like this!’
“Captain said: ‘Yes, that’s true. But you don’t love everybody.’
“I said: ‘According to the scriptures, water is God. We see water everywhere. But some water we drink, some we bathe in, and some we use for washing dirty things. Here sit your wife and daughter. I see them as embodiments of the Blessed Mother.’
“Thereupon Captain said, ‘Yes, yes! That’s true.’ He wanted to apologize by touching my feet.”
After speaking thus, Sri Ramakrishna laughed. Then he began to tell of Captain’s many virtues.
MASTER: “Captain has many virtues. Every day he attends, to his devotions. He himself performs the worship of the Family Deity. How many mantras he recites while bathing the image! He is a great ritualist. He performs his daily devotions, such as worship, japa, arati, recital of the scriptures, and chanting of hymns.
“I scolded Captain and said: ‘Too much reading has spoiled you. Don’t read any more.’
“About my own spiritual state Captain said, ‘Your soul, like a bird, is ready to fly.’ There are two entities: jivatma, the embodied soul, and Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. The embodied soul is the bird. The Supreme Soul is like the akasa; it is the Chidakasa, the akasa of Consciousness. Captain said: ‘Your embodied soul flies into the akasa of Consciousness. Thus you go into samadhi.’
(Smiling) “He criticized the Bengalis. He said: The Bengalis are fools. They have a gem (Sri Ramakrishna.) near them, but they cannot recognize it.’
“Captain’s father was a great devotee. He was a subeder in the English army. Even on the battle-field he would perform his worship at the proper time. With one hand he would worship Siva and with the other he would wield his gun and sword.
(To M.) “But Captain is engaged in worldly duties day and night. Whenever I go to his house I see him surrounded by his wife and children. Besides, his men bring him their account books now and then. But at times his mind dwells on God also. It is like the case of a typhoid patient who is always in a delirium. Now and then he gets a flash of consciousness and cries out: ‘I want a drink of water! I want a drink of water!’ But while you are giving him the water, he becomes unconscious again and is not aware of anything. I said to Captain, ‘You are a ritualist.’ He said: ‘Yes, I feel very happy while performing worship and things like that. Worldly people have no other way.’
“I said to him: ‘But must one perform formal worship for ever? How long does a bee buzz about? As long as it hasn’t lighted on a flower. While sipping honey it doesn’t buzz.’ ‘But’, he said, ‘can we, like you, give up worship and other rituals?’ Yet he doesn’t always say the same thing. Sometimes he says that all this is inert, sometimes that all this is conscious. I say: ‘What do you mean by inert? Everything is Chaitanya, Consciousness.'”
Sri Ramakrishna asked M. about Purna.
MASTER: “If I see Purna once more, then my longing for him will diminish. How intelligent he is! His mind is much drawn to me. He says, ‘I too feel a strange sensation in my heart for you.’ (To M.) They have taken him away from your school. Will that harm you?”
M: “If Vidyasagar (The founder of the school.) tells me that Purna’s relatives have taken him away from the school on my account, I have an explanation to give him.”
MASTER: “What will you say?”
M: “I shall say that one thinks of God in holy company. That is by no means bad. Further, I shall tell him that the text-books prescribed by the school authorities say that one should love God with all one’s soul.” (The Master laughs.)
MASTER: “At Captain’s house I sent for the younger Naren. I said to him: Where is your house? I want to see it.’ ‘Please do come’, he said. But he became nervous as we were going there, lest his father should know about it” (All laugh.)
(To a visitor) “You haven’t been here for a long time — about seven or eight months.”
VISITOR: “About a year, sir.”
MASTER: “Another gentleman used to come with you.”
VISITOR: “Yes, sir. Nilmani Babu.”
MASTER: “Why doesn’t he come any more? Ask him to come some time. I want to see him. Who is this boy with you?”
VISITOR: “He comes from Assam.”
MASTER: “Where is Assam? In which direction?”
Dwija spoke to the Master about Ashu. Ashu’s father was arranging for his marriage, but Ashu had no wish to marry.
MASTER: “See, he doesn’t want to marry. They are forcing him.”
Sri Ramakrishna said to a devotee that he should show respect to his elder brother. He said: “The elder brother is like one’s father. Respect him.”
A pundit was sitting with the devotees. He came from upper India.
MASTER (smiling, to M.): “The pundit is a great student of the Bhagavata.” M. and the devotees looked at the pundit.
MASTER (to the pundit): “Well, sir, what is Yogamaya?”
The pundit gave some sort of explanation.
MASTER: “Why isn’t Radhika called Yogamaya?”
The pundit also answered this question after a fashion.
MASTER: “Radhika is full of unmixed sattva, the embodiment of prema. Yogamaya contains all the three gunas — sattva, rajas, and tamas; but Radhika has nothing but pure sattva.
(To M.) “Narendra now respects Radhika very much. He says that if anyone wants to know how to love Satchidananda, he can learn it from her.
“Satchidananda wanted to taste divine bliss for Itself. That is why It created Radhika. She was created from the person of Satchidananda Krishna. Satchidananda Krishna is the ‘container’, and He Himself, in the form of Radhika, is the ‘contained’. He manifested Himself in that way in order to taste His own bliss, that is to say, in order to experience divine bliss by loving Satchidananda.
“Therefore it is written in the Vaishnava books that after her birth Radhika did not open her eyes. The idea is that she did not wish to see any human being. Yasoda came with Krishna in her arms to see Radhika. Only then did she open her eyes, to behold Krishna. In a playful mood Krishna touched her eyes. (To the Assamese boy) Haven’t you seen this? Small children touch others’ eyes with their hands.”
The pundit was about to take leave of Sri Ramakrishna.
PUNDIT : “I must go home.”
MASTER (tenderly): “Have you earned anything?”
PUNDIT: “The market is very dull. I’ve earned nothing.”
A few minutes later he saluted the Master and departed.
MASTER (to M.): “You see how great the difference is between worldly people and the youngsters? This pundit has been worrying about money day and night. He has come to Calcutta to earn money; otherwise his people at home will have nothing to eat. So he has to knock at different doors. When will he concentrate his mind on God? But the youngsters are untouched by ‘woman and gold’; hence they can direct their mind to God whenever they desire.
“The youngsters do not enjoy worldly people’s company. Rakhal used to say, ‘I feel nervous at the sight of the worldly-minded.’ When I was first beginning to have spiritual experiences, I used to shut the doors of my room when I saw worldly people coming.
“As a boy, at Kamarpukur, I loved Ram Mallick dearly. But afterwards, when he came here, I couldn’t even touch him. Ram Mallick and I were great friends during our boyhood. We were together day and night; we slept together. At that time I was sixteen or seventeen years old. People used to say, ‘If one of them were a woman they would marry each other.’ Both of us used to play at his house. I remember those days very well. His relatives used to come riding in palanquins. Now he has a shop at Chanak. I sent for him many a time; he came here the other day and spent two days. Ram said he had no children; he brought up his nephew, but the boy died. He told me this with a sigh; his eyes were filled with tears; he was grief-stricken for his nephew. He said further that since they had no children of their own, all his wife’s affection had been turned to the nephew. She was completely overwhelmed with grief. Ram said to her: ‘You are crazy. What will you gain by grieving? Do you want to go to Benares?’ You see, he called his wife crazy. Grief for the boy totally ‘diluted’ him. I found he had no stuff in him. I couldn’t touch him.”
The brahmin lady still stood near the north door. She was a widow. Her only daughter had been married to a very aristocratic man, a landlord in Calcutta with the title of Raja. Whenever the daughter visited her she was escorted by liveried footmen. Then the mother’s heart swelled with pride. Just a few days ago the daughter had died, and now she was beside herself with sorrow.
The brahmin lady listened to the account of Ram Mallick’s grief for his nephew. For the last few days she had been running to the Master from her home at Baghbazar like an insane person. She was eager to know whether Sri Ramakrishna could suggest any remedy for her unquenchable grief. Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.
MASTER: “A man came here the other day. He sat a few minutes and then said, ‘Let me go and see the “moon-face” of my child.’ I couldn’t control myself and said: ‘So you prefer your son’s “moon-face” to God’s “moon-face”! Get out, you fool!’
(To M.) “The truth is that God alone is real and all else unreal. Men, universe, house, children — all these are like the magic of the magician. The magician strikes his wand and says: ‘Come delusion! Come confusion!’ Then he says to the audience, ‘Open the lid of the pot; see the birds fly into the sky,’ But the magician alone is real and his magic unreal. The unreal exists tor a second and then vanishes.
“Siva was seated in Kailas. His companion Nandi was near Him. Suddenly a terrific noise arose. ‘Revered Sir,’ asked Nandi, ‘what does that mean?’ Siva said: ‘Ravana is born. That is its meaning.’ A few moments later another terrific noise was heard. ‘Now what is this noise?’ Nandi asked. Siva said with a smile, ‘Now Ravana is dead.’ Birth and death are like magic: you see the magic for a second and then it disappears. God alone is real and all else unreal. Water alone is real; its bubbles appear and disappear. They disappear into the very water from which they rise.
“God is like an ocean, and living beings are its bubbles. They are born there and they die there. Children are like the few small bubbles around a big one.
“God alone is real. Make an effort to cultivate love for Him and find out the means to realise Him. What will you gain by grieving?”
All sat in silence. The brahmin lady said, “May I go home now?” The Master said to her tenderly: “Do you want to go now? It is very hot. Why now? You can go later in a carriage with the devotees.”
Because the day was so hot, a devotee gave the Master a new fan made of sandal-wood. He was very much pleased and said: “Good! Good! Om Tat Sat! Kali!” First he fanned the pictures of the gods and goddesses, and then he fanned himself. He said to M.: “See! Feel the breeze!” M. was highly pleased.
Captain arrived with his children.
Sri Ramakrishna said to Kishori, “Please show the temples to the children.” He began to talk to Captain. M., Dwija, and the other devotees were sitting on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch, facing the north. He asked Captain to sit in front of him on the same couch.
MASTER: “I was telling the devotees about you — your devotion, worship, and arati.”
CAPTAIN (bashfully): “What do I know of worship and arati? How insignificant I am!”
MASTER: “Only the ego that is attached to ‘woman and gold’ is harmful. But the ego that feels it is the servant of God does no harm to anybody. Neither does the ego of a child, which is not under the control of any guna. One moment children quarrel, and the next moment they are on friendly terms. One moment they build their toy houses with great care, and immediately afterwards they knock them down. There is no harm in the ‘I-consciousness’ that makes one feel oneself to be a child of God or His servant. This ego is really no ego at all. It is like sugar candy, which is not like other sweets. Other sweets make one ill; but sugar candy relieves acidity. Or take the case of Om. It is unlike other sounds.
“With this kind of ego one is able to love Satchidananda. It is impossible to get rid of the ego. Therefore it should be made to feel that it is the devotee of God, His servant. Otherwise, how can one live? How intense was the love of the gopis for Sri Krishna! (To Captain) Please tell us something about the gopis. You read the Bhagavata so much.”
CAPTAIN: “When Sri Krishna lived at Vrindavan, without any of His royal splendour, even then the gopis loved Him more than their own souls. Therefore Sri Krishna said, ‘How shall I be able to pay off my debt to the gopis, who surrendered to me their all — their bodies, minds, and souls?'”
Captain’s words awakened intense love for Krishna in the Master’s mind.
He exclaimed, “Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!” and was about to go into an ecstatic mood. Captain was amazed and said: “How blessed he is! How blessed he is!”
Captain and the devotees watched this love-ecstasy of Sri Ramakrishna. They sat quietly gazing at him, awaiting his return to the consciousness of the world.
MASTER: “Tell us more.”
CAPTAIN: “Sri Krishna is unattainable by the yogis, by yogis like you; but He can be attained by lovers like the gopis. How many years did the yogis practise yoga for His vision! Yet they did not succeed. But the gopis realised Him with such ease!”
MASTER (smiling): “Yes, He ate from the. hands of the gopis, wept for them, played with them, and made many demands on them.”
A DEVOTEE: “Bankim has written a life of Krishna.”
MASTER: “He accepts Krishna but not Radhika.”
CAPTAIN: “I see he doesn’t accept Krishna’s lila with the gopis.”
MASTER: “I also hear that Bankim says that one needs passions such as lust.”
A DEVOTEE: “He has written in his magazine that the purpose of religion is to give expression to our various faculties: physical, mental, and spiritual.”
CAPTAIN: “I see. He believes that lust and so forth are necessary. But he doesn’t believe that Sri Krishna could enjoy His sportive pleasure in the world, that God could incarnate Himself in a human form and sport in Vrindavan with Radha and the gopis.”
MASTER (smiling): “But these things are not written in the newspaper. How could he believe them?
“A man said to his friend, ‘Yesterday, as I was passing through a certain part of the city, I saw a house fall with a crash.’ ‘Wait’, said the friend. ‘Let me look it up in the newspaper.’ But this incident wasn’t mentioned in the paper. Thereupon the man said, ‘But the paper doesn’t mention it.’ His friend replied, ‘I saw it with my own eyes.’ ‘Be that as it may,’ said the man, ‘I can’t believe it as long as it isn’t in the paper.’
“How can Bankim believe that God sports about as a man? He doesn’t get it from his English education. It is very hard to explain how God fully incarnates Himself as man. Isn’t that so? The manifestation of Infinity in this human body only three and a half cubits tall!”
CAPTAIN: “Krishna is God Himself. In describing Him we have to use such terms as ‘whole’ and ‘part’.”
MASTER: “Whole and part are like fire and its sparks. An Incarnation of God is for the sake of the bhaktas and not of the jnanis. It is said in the Adhyatma Ramayana that Rama alone is both the Pervading Spirit and everything pervaded. ‘You are the Supreme Lord distinguished as the vachaka, the signifying symbol, and the vachya, the object signified.'”
CAPTAIN: “The ‘signifying symbol’ means the pervader, and the ‘object signified’ means the thing pervaded.”
MASTER: “The pervader in this case is a finite form. It is God incarnating Himself as a human being.”
Sri Ramakrishna was talking thus to Captain and the devotees when Jaygopal Sen and Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. They saluted the Master and sat down. Sri Ramakrishna looked at Trailokya with a smile and continued the conversation.
MASTER: “It is on account of the ego that one is not able to see God. In front of the door of God’s mansion lies the stump of ego. One cannot enter the mansion without jumping over the stump.
“There was once a man who had acquired the power to tame ghosts. One day, at his summons, a ghost appeared. The ghost said: ‘Now tell me what you want me to do. The moment you cannot give me any work I shall break your neck.’ The man had many things to accomplish, and he had the ghost do them all, one by one. At last he could find nothing more for the ghost to do. ‘Now’, said the ghost, ‘I am going to break your neck.’ ‘Wait a minute’, said the man. ‘I shall return presently.’ He ran to his teacher and said: ‘Revered sir, I am in great danger. This is my trouble.’ And he told his teacher his trouble and asked, ‘What shall I do now?’ The teacher said: ‘Do this. Tell the ghost to straighten this kinky hair.’ The ghost devoted itself day and night to straightening the hair. But how could it make a kinky hair straight? The hair remained kinky.
“Likewise, the ego seems to vanish this moment, but it reappears the next. Unless one renounces the ego, one does not receive the grace of God.
“Suppose there is a feast in a house and the master of the house puts a man in charge of the stores. As long as the man remains in the store-room, the master doesn’t go there; but when of his own will he renounces the store-room and goes away, then the master locks it and takes charge of it himself.
“A guardian is appointed only for a minor. A boy cannot safeguard his property; therefore the king assumes responsibility for him. God does not take over our responsibilities unless we renounce our ego.
“Once Lakshmi and Narayana were seated in Vaikuntha, when Narayana suddenly stood up. Lakshmi had been stroking His feet. She said, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Narayana answered: ‘One of My devotees is in great danger. I must save him.’ With these words He went out. But He came back immediately. Lakshmi said, ‘Lord, why have You returned so soon?’ Narayana smiled and said: ‘The devotee was going along the road overwhelmed with love for Me. Some washermen were drying clothes on the grass, and the devotee walked over the clothes. At this the washermen chased him and were going to beat him with their sticks. So I ran out to protect him.’ ‘But why have You come back?’ asked Lakshmi. Narayana laughed and said: ‘I saw the devotee himself picking up a brick to throw at them. (All laugh.) So I came back.’
“I said to Keshab, ‘You must renounce your ego.’ Keshab replied, ‘If I do, how can I keep my organization together?’
“I said to him: ‘How slow you are to understand! I am not asking you to renounce the “ripe ego”, the ego that makes a man feel he is a servant of God or His devotee. Give up the “unripe ego”, the ego that creates attachment to “woman and gold”. The ego that makes a man feel he is God’s servant. His child, is the “ripe ego”. It doesn’t harm one.'”
TRAILOKYA: “It is very difficult to get rid of the ego. People only think they are free from it.”
MASTER: “Gauri would not refer to himself as ‘I’ lest he should feel egotistic. He would say ‘this’ instead. I followed his example and would refer to myself as ‘this’ instead of ‘I’. Instead of saying, ‘I have eaten,’ I would say, ‘This has eaten.’ Mathur noticed it and said one day: ‘What is this, revered father? Why should you talk that way? Let them talk that way. They have their egotism. You are free from it; you don’t have to talk like them.’
“I said to Keshab, ‘Since the ego cannot be given up, let it remain as the servant, the servant of God.’ Prahlada had two moods. Sometimes he would feel that he was God. In that mood he would say, Thou art verily I, and I am verily Thou.’ But when he was conscious of his ego, he felt that God was the Master and he was His servant. After a man is firmly established in the ideal of ‘I am He’, he can live as God’s servant. He may then think of himself as the servant of God.
(To Captain) “When a man attains the Knowledge of Brahman he shows certain characteristics. The Bhagavata describes four of them: the state of a child, of an inert thing, of a madman, and of a ghoul. Sometimes the knower of Brahman acts like a five-year-old child. Sometimes he acts like a madman. Sometimes he remains like an inert thing. In this state he cannot work; he renounces all action. You may say that jnanis like Janaka were active. The truth is that people in olden times gave responsibility to their subordinate officers and thus freed themselves from worry. Further, at that time men possessed intense faith.”
Sri Ramakrishna began to speak about the renunciation of action. But he also said that those who felt they must do their duties should do them in a detached spirit.
MASTER: “After attaining Knowledge one cannot do much work.”
TRAILOKYA: “Why so, sir? Pavhari Baba was a great yogi and yet he reconciled people’s quarrels, even lawsuits.”
MASTER: “Yes, yes. That’s true. Dr. Durgacharan was a great drunkard. He used to drink twenty-four hours a day. But he was precise in his actions; he did not make any mistake in treating his patients. There is no harm in doing work after the attainment of bhakti. But it is very hard. One needs intense tapasya.
“It is God who does everything. We are His instruments. Some Sikhs said to me in front of the Kali temple, ‘God is compassionate.’ I said, ‘To whom is He compassionate?’ ‘Why, revered sir, to all of us’, said the Sikhs. I said: ‘We are His children. Does compassion to one’s own children mean much? A father must look after his children; or do you expect the people of the neighbourhood to bring them up?’ Well, won’t those who say that God is compassionate ever understand that we are God’s children and not someone else’s?”
CAPTAIN: “You are right. They don’t regard God as their own.”
MASTER: “Should we not, then, address God as compassionate? Of course we should, as long as we practise sadhana. After realizing God, one rightly feels that God is our Father or Mother. As long as we have not realised God, we feel that we are far away from Him, children of someone else.
“During the stage of sadhana one should describe God by all His attributes. One day Hazra said to Narendra: ‘God is Infinity. Infinite is His splendour. Do you think He will accept your offerings of sweets and bananas or listen to your music? This is a mistaken notion of yours.’ Narendra at once sank ten fathoms. So I said to Hazra, ‘You villain! Where will these youngsters be if you talk to them like that?’ How can a man live if he gives up devotion? No doubt God has infinite splendour; yet He is under the control of His devotees. A rich man’s gate-keeper comes to the parlour where his master is seated with his friends. He stands on one side of the room. In his hand he has something covered with a cloth. He is very hesitant. The master asks him, ‘Well, gate-keeper, what have you in your hand?’ Very hesitantly the servant takes out a custard-apple from under the cover, places it in front of his master, and says, ‘Sir, it is my desire that you should eat this.’ The Master is impressed by his servant’s devotion. With great love he takes the fruit in his hand and says: ‘Ah! This is a very nice custard-apple. Where did you pick it? You must have taken a great deal of trouble to get it.’
“God is under the control of His devotees. King Duryodhana was very attentive to Krishna and said to Him, ‘Please have your meal here.’ But the Lord went to Vidura’s hut. He is very fond of His devotees. He ate Vidura’s simple rice and greens as if they were celestial food.
“Sometimes a perfect jnani behaves like a ghoul. He does not discriminate about food and drink, holiness and unholiness. A perfect knower of God and a perfect idiot have the same outer signs. A perfect jnani perhaps does not utter the mantras while bathing in the Ganges. While worshipping God, perhaps he offers all the flowers together at His feet. He doesn’t utter the mantras, nor does he observe the rituals.
“A man cannot renounce action as long as he desires worldly enjoyment. As long as one cherishes a desire for enjoyment, one performs action.
“A bird sat absent-mindedly on the mast of a ship anchored in the Ganges. Slowly the ship sailed out into the ocean. When the bird came to its senses, it could find no shore in any direction. It flew toward the north hoping to reach land; it went very far and grew very tired but could find no shore. What could it do? It returned to the ship and sat on the mast. After a long while the bird flew away again, this time toward the east. It couldn’t find land in that direction either; everywhere it saw nothing but limitless ocean. Very tired, it again returned to the ship and sat on the mast. After resting a long while, the bird went toward the south, and then toward the west. When it found no sign of land in any direction, it came back and settled down on the mast. It did not leave the mast again, but sat there without making any further effort. It no longer felt restless or worried. Because it was free from worry, it made no further effort.”
CAPTAIN: “Ah, what an illustration!”
MASTER: “Worldly people wander about to the four quarters of the earth for the sake of happiness. They don’t find it anywhere; they only become tired and weary. When through their attachment to ‘woman and gold’ they only suffer misery, they feel an urge toward dispassion and renunciation. Most people cannot renounce ‘woman and gold’ without first enjoying it. There are two sorts of people: those who stay in one place and those who go about to many places. There are some sadhakas who visit many sacred places. They cannot settle down in one spot; they must drink the water of many holy places. Thus roaming about, they satisfy their unfulfilled desires. And at last they build a hut in one place and settle down there. Then, free from worry and effort, they meditate on God.
“But what is there to enjoy in the world? ‘Woman and gold’? That is only a momentary pleasure. One moment it exists and the next moment it disappears.
“The world is like an overcast sky that steadily pours down rain: the face of the sun is seldom seen. There is mostly suffering in the world. On account of the cloud of ‘woman and gold’ one cannot see the sun. Some people ask me: ‘Sir, why has God created such a world? Is there no way out for us?’ I say to them: ‘Why shouldn’t there be a way out? Take shelter with God and pray to Him with a yearning heart for a favourable wind, that you may have things in your favour. If you call on Him with yearning. He will surely listen to you.’
“A man had a son who was on the point of death. In a frenzy he asked remedies of different people. One of them said: ‘Here is a remedy: First it must rain when the star Svati is in the ascendant; then some of the rain must fall into a skull; then a frog must come there to drink the water, and a snake must chase it; and when the snake is about to bite the frog, the frog must hop away and the poison must fall into the skull. You should give the patient a little of the poison and rain-water from the skull.’ The father set out eagerly to find the medicine when the star Svati was in the sky. It started raining. Fervently he said to God, ‘O Lord, please get a skull for me.’ Searching here and there, he at last found a skull with rain-water in it. Again he prayed to God, saying, ‘O Lord, I beseech Thee, please help me find the frog and the snake.’ Since he had great longing, he got the frog and the snake also. In the twinkling of an eye he saw a snake chasing a frog, and as it was about to bite the frog, its poison fell into the skull.
“If one takes shelter with God and prays to Him with great longing, God will surely listen; He will certainly make everything favourable.”
CAPTAIN: “What an apt illustration!”
MASTER: “Yes, God makes everything favourable. Perhaps the aspirant doesn’t marry. Thus he is able to devote his whole attention to God. Or perhaps his brothers earn the family’s livelihood. Or perhaps a son takes on the responsibilities of the family. Then the aspirant will not have to bother about the world; he can give one hundred per cent of his mind to God.
But one cannot succeed unless one renounces ‘woman and gold’. Only by renunciation is ignorance destroyed. The sun’s rays, falling on a lens, burn many objects. But if a room is dark inside, you cannot get that result. You must come out of the room to use the lens.
But some people live in the world even after attaining jnana. They see both what is inside and what is outside the room. The light of God illumines the world. Therefore with that light they can discriminate between good and bad, permanent and impermanent. The ignorant, who lead a worldly life without knowing God, are like people living in a house with mud walls. With the help of a dim light they can see the inside of the house but nothing more. But those who live in the world after having attained Knowledge and realised God, are like people living in a glass house. They see the inside of the room and also all that is outside. The light from the sun of Knowledge enters strongly into the room. They perceive everything inside the room very clearly. They know what is good and what is bad, what is permanent and what is impermanent.
“God alone is the Doer, and we are all His instruments. Therefore it is impossible even for a jnani to be egotistic. The writer of a hymn to Siva felt proud of his achievement; but his pride was dashed to pieces when Siva’s bull bared his teeth. He saw that each tooth was a word of the hymn. Do you understand the meaning of this? These words had existed from the beginningless past. The writer had only discovered them.
“It is not good to be a guru by profession. One cannot be a teacher without a command from God. He who says he is a guru4 is a man of mean intelligence. Haven’t you seen a balance? The lighter side goes higher. He who is spiritually higher than others does not consider himself a guru.5 Everyone wants to be a teacher, but a disciple is hard to find.”
Trailokya was seated on the floor, to the north of the small couch. He was going to sing. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, “Ah, how sweetly you sing!”
Trailokya sang to the accompaniment of a tanpura:
I have joined my heart to Thee: all that exists art Thou;
Thee only have I found, for Thou art all that exists.
O Lord, Beloved of my heart! Thou art the Home of all;
Where indeed is the heart in which Thou dost not dwell?
Thou hast entered every heart: all that exists art Thou.
Whether sage or tool, whether Hindu or Mussalman,
Thou makest them as Thou wilt: all that exists art Thou.
Thy presence is everywhere, whether in heaven or in Kaaba;
Before Thee all must bow, for Thou art all that exists.
From earth below to the highest heaven, from heaven to deepest earth,
I see Thee wherever I look: all that exists art Thou.
Pondering, I have understood; I have seen it beyond a doubt;
I find not a single thing that may be compared to Thee.
To Jafar6 it has been revealed that Thou art all that exists.
He sang again:
Thou art my All in All, O Lord! — the Life of my life, the Essence of essence;
In the three worlds I have none else but Thee to call my own.
Thou art my peace, my joy, my hope; Thou my support, my wealth, my glory;
Thou art my wisdom and my strength.
Thou art my home, my place of rest; my dearest friend, my next of kin;
My present and my future, Thou; my heaven and my salvation.
Thou art my scriptures, my commandments; Thou art my ever gracious Guru;
Thou the Spring of my boundless bliss.
Thou art the Way, and Thou the Goal; Thou the Adorable One, O Lord!
Thou art the Mother tender-hearted; Thou the chastising Father;
Thou the Creator and Protector; Thou the Helmsman who dost steer
My craft across the sea of life.
While Sri Ramakrishna listened to the songs he was overwhelmed with emotion. Again and again he said: “Ah, Thou art all! Ah me! Ah me!”
The music was over. It was six o’clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna went to the pine-grove, M. accompanying him. Sri Ramakrishna was laughing and talking. Suddenly he said to M.: “Why haven’t you eaten any refreshments? Why haven’t the others eaten either?” He was eager for the devotees to take some refreshments.
Sri Ramakrishna was to go to Calcutta in the evening. While returning from the pine-grove he said to M., “I don’t know who will take me to Calcutta in his carriage.”
It was evening. A lamp was lighted in Sri Ramakrishna’s room and incense was burnt. Lamps also were lighted in the different temples and buildings. The orchestra was playing in the nahabat. Soon the evening service would begin in the temples.
Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch. After chanting the names of the different deities, he meditated on the Divine Mother. The evening service was over. Sri Ramakrishna paced the room, now and then talking to the devotees. He also consulted M. about his going to Calcutta.
Presently Narendra arrived. He was accompanied by Sarat and one or two other young devotees. They all saluted the Master.’
At the sight of Narendra Sri Ramakrishna’s love overflowed. He tenderly touched Narendra’s chin as one touches a baby’s to show one’s love. He said in a loving voice, “Ah, you have come!”
The Master was standing in his room, facing the Ganges. Narendra and his young friends were talking to him, facing the east. The Master turned toward M. and said: “Narendra has come. How can I go to Calcutta now? I sent for Narendra. How can I go now? What do you think?”
M: “As you wish, sir. Let us put it off today.”
MASTER: “All right. We shall go tomorrow, either by boat or by carriage. (To the other devotees) It is late. Go home now.”
One by one the devotees saluted him and departed.
- ^Kedar spoke of Sri Ramakrishna as an Incarnation of God.
- ^Nirvana, or total annihilation of the ego, is the ideal of the jnanis, the non-dualists.
- ^The Master was speaking of Totapuri, whom he always referred to as “Nangta”, the “naked one”.
- ^The word means both “spiritual teacher” and “heaviness”.
- ^The meaning is that if a man thinks of himself as “guru” he is “heavy” and goes down, like the heavier pan of a balance.
- ^The author of the song.