Master on Purna — Purna’s divine traits — Story of Ranjit Raya • Gopal Ma — God dwelling in the Master — Worries associated with human birth — Nitya and Lila — Essence of Vedanta — Absolute and Relative are correlatives — Brahman and Sakti — Synthesis of the formless Reality and God with form — Intimate Knowledge of God — Master’s spiritual experiences — Spiritual fervour of Gopal Ma — Man and woman devotees — Free will — The Car Festival — Master’s love for young disciples — Master’s praise of Narendra — Knowledge of God is the same as love of Him — Divine love leads to union with God — Two kinds of samadhi — Master praises his young disciples — Respect for one’s own mother — Master’s spiritual experiences.
Monday, July 13, 1885
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in Balaram’s drawing-room with the devotees. It was nine o’clock in the morning. Balaram was going to celebrate the Car Festival the following day. The Deity Jagannath1 was worshipped daily at his house. He had a small car which would be drawn along the verandah to celebrate the festival. The Master had been specially invited for the occasion.
Sri Ramakrishna and M. were talking together. Narayan, Tejchandra, Balaram, and other devotees were in the room. The Master was talking about Purna, a lad of fifteen. He was very eager to see the boy.
MASTER (to M.): “Well, by which road will he come to see me? Please have Purna and Dwija meet each other.
“When two people are of the same age and have the same inner nature, I bring them together. There is a meaning in this. In this way both make progress. Have you noticed Purna’s longing for God?”
M: “Yes, sir. One day I was riding on a tram. He saw me from the roof of his house and ran down to the street. With great fervour he saluted me from the street.”
MASTER (with tears in his eyes): “Ah! Ah! It is because you have helped him make the contact through which he will find out the supreme ideal of his life. One doesn’t act like that unless one longs for God.
“Narendra, the younger Naren, and Purna — these three have a manly nature. It is not so with Bhavanath. He has a womanly nature.
“Purna is in such an exalted state that either he will very soon give up his body — the body is useless after the realisation of God — or his inner nature will within a few days burst forth.
“He has a divine nature — the traits of a god. It makes a person less fearful of men. If you put a garland of flowers round his neck or smear his body with sandal-paste or burn incense before him, he will go into samadhi; for then he will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Narayana Himself dwells in his body, that it is Narayana who has assumed the body. I have come to know about it.
“A few days after my first experience of the God-intoxicated state at Dakshineswar, a lady of a brahmin family arrived there. She had many good traits. No sooner was a garland put round her neck and incense burnt before her than she went into samadhi. A few moments later she experienced great bliss; tears streamed from her eyes. I saluted her and said, ‘Mother, shall I succeed?’ ‘Yes’, she replied.
“I want to see Purna once more. But how will it be possible for me? It seems he is a part. (A part of the Divine Incarnation.) How amazing! Not a mere particle, but a part. Very intelligent, too. I understand that he is very clever in his studies. Therefore I have hit it right.
“By dint of austerity, a man may obtain God as his son. By the roadside on the way to Kamarpukur is Ranjit Raya’s lake. Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, was born as his daughter. Even now people hold an annual festival there in the month of Chaitra, in honour of this divine daughter. I feel very much like going there.
“Ranjit Raya was the landlord of that part of the country. Through the power of his tapasya he obtained the Divine Mother as his daughter. He was very fond of her, and she too was much attached to him; she hardly left his presence. One day Ranjit Raya was engaged in the duties of his estate. He was very busy. The girl, with her childlike nature, was constantly interrupting him, saying: ‘Father, what is this? What is that?’ Ranjit Raya tried, with sweet words, to persuade her not to disturb him, and said: ‘My child, please leave me alone. I have much work to do.’ But the girl would not go away. At last, absent-mindedly, the father said, ‘Get out of here!’ On this pretext she left home. A pedlar of conch-shell articles was going along the road. From him she took a pair of bracelets for her wrists. When he asked tor the price, she said that he could get the money from a certain box in her home. Then she disappeared. Nobody saw her again. In the mean time the pedlar came to the house and asked for the price of his bracelets. When she was not to be found at home, her relatives began to run about looking for her. Ranjit Raya sent people in all directions to search for her. The money owed to the pedlar was found in the box, as she had indicated. Ranjit Raya was weeping bitterly, when people came running to him and said that they had noticed something in the lake. They all ran there and saw an arm, with conch-shell bracelets on the wrist, being waved above the water. A moment afterwards it disappeared. Even now people worship her as the Divine Mother at the time of the annual festival. (To M.) All this is true.”
M: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “Narendra now believes these things.
“Purna was born with an element of Vishnu. I worshipped him mentally with bel-leaves; but the offering was not accepted. Then I worshipped him with tulsi-leaves and sandal-paste.2 That proved to be all right. God reveals Himself in many ways: sometimes as man, sometimes in other divine forms made or Spirit. One must believe in divine forms. What do you say?”
M: “It is true, sir.”
MASTER: “The brahmani of Kamarhati3 sees many visions. She lives all by herself in a lonely room in a garden on the bank of the Ganges. She spends her time in japa. Gopala (The Baby Krishna.) sleeps with her. (The Master gives a start.) It is not imagination, but fact. She saw that Gopala’s palms were red. He walks with her. She suckles Him at her breast. They talk to each other. When Narendra heard the story he wept. Formerly I too used to see many visions, but now in my ecstatic state I don’t see so many. I am gradually getting over my feminine nature; I feel nowadays more like a man. Therefore I control my emotion; I don’t manifest it outwardly so much.
“The younger Naren has the nature of a man. Therefore in meditation his mind completely merges in the Ideal. He does not show emotion. Nityagopal has a feminine nature. Therefore while he is in a spiritual mood his body becomes distorted and twisted; it becomes flushed.
(To M.) “Well, people renounce grain by grain, but what a mood these youngsters are in!
“Binode said: ‘I have to sleep with my wife. That makes me feel very bad.’ It is bad for an aspirant to sleep with his wife, whether he has intercourse with her or not. There is the friction of the body and also the physical warmth.
“What a state Dwija is passing through! In my presence he only sways his body and fixes his glance on me. Is that a trifling thing? If a man gathers his whole mind and fixes it on me, then, indeed, he achieves everything.
“But what am I? It is all He. I am the machine and He is its Operator. It is God alone who exists in this [meaning his body]. That is why so many people are feeling more and more attracted to it. A mere touch is enough to awaken (heir spirituality. This attraction, this pull, is the attraction of God and of none else.
“Tarak of Belgharia was going home from Dakshineswar. I clearly noticed that a flame-like thing came out of this [meaning his body] and followed him. A few days later Tarak came back to Dakshineswar. In a state of samadhi He who dwells in this body placed His foot on Tarak’s chest.
“Well, are there more youngsters like these?”
M: “Mohit is very nice. He came to you once or twice. He is studying enough books to pass two university examinations. He has great longing for God.”
MASTER: “That may be. But he doesn’t belong to a high plane. His physical traits are not so good; he has a puggish face. But these other youngsters belong to a high plane.
“Many troubles and worries follow in the wake of a birth in a physical body. Further, if a person is cursed, he may have to be born seven times. One must be very careful. One has to assume a human body it one cherishes the slightest desire.”
A DEVOTEE: “What are the desires of those who are Incarnations of God?”
MASTER (smiling): “I find that I have not got rid of all my desires. Once I saw a holy man with a shawl, and I too wanted to put on one like it. Even now I have that desire. I don’t know whether I shall have to be born again for it.”
BALARAM (smiling): “Then will you be born again just for a shawl?” (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): “One has to keep a good desire so that one may give up the body meditating on it. There are four-holy places for the sadhus to visit. They visit three and leave out one. Many of them leave out Puri, the place of Jagannath, so that they can give up their bodies meditating on Jagannath.”
A man dressed in an ochre robe entered the room and greeted the Master. Privately he was in the habit of criticizing Sri Ramakrishna; so at the sight of him Balaram laughed. Sri Ramakrishna could read a man’s mind. He said to Balaram: “Never mind. Let him say I am a cheat.”
Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Tejchandra.
MASTER: “I send for you so often. Why don’t you come? If you practise meditation and prayer it will make me happy. I look on you as my own; that is why I send for you.”
TEJCHANDRA: “Sir, I have to go to the office. I am very busy with my duties.”
M. (smiling): “There was a marriage ceremony at his home and he got leave from his office for ten days,”
MASTER: “Well, well! You say you have no leisure. You told me just now that you were going to renounce the world.”
NARAYAN: “M. said to us one day that this world is a wilderness.”
MASTER (to M.): “Please tell them that story of the disciple who became unconscious after taking the medicine. His teacher arrived at the house and said he would revive if someone else swallowed a pill that he would prescribe. The disciple would get back his life, but the man who swallowed the pill would die.
“Please tell the other one, too, of the hathayogi who thought that his wife and children were his very own, and who feigned death with his limbs stretched out. It will do them good to hear those stories.”
It was noon. Sri Ramakrishna partook of the food that had been offered to the Family Deity, Jagannath. The Master often used to say that the food at Balaram’s house was very pure. Afterwards he rested awhile.
Late in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna sat with the devotees in the drawing-room of Balaram’s house. Chandra Babu, of the Kartabhaja sect, and a witty brahmin were there. The brahmin was something of a buffoon; his words made everybody laugh.
About six o’clock Girish’s brother Atul and Tejchandra’s brother arrived. Sri Ramakrishna was in samadhi. A few minutes later he said, still in the ecstatic mood: “Can one become unconscious by meditating on Consciousness? Can one lose one’s mind by thinking of God? God is of the very nature of Knowledge; He is of the very nature of Eternity, Purity, and Consciousness.”
Sri Ramakrishna said to the witty brahmin: “Why do you waste your time with these frivolous jokes about insignificant worldly things? Direct your mind to God. If a man can calculate about salt, he can also calculate about sugar candy.”
BRAHMIN (smiling): “Please attract me.”
MASTER: “What can I do? Everything depends on your effort. Your mind is your own. Give up this trifling buffoonery and go forward toward God. You can go farther and farther along that way. The brahmachari asked the wood-cutter to go forward. At first the wood-cutter found a sandal-wood forest; next, a silver-mine; next, a gold-mine; and then gems and diamonds.”
BRAHMIN: “There is no end to this path.”
MASTER: “Where you find peace, there is the end.”
About a new visitor Sri Ramakrishna said: “I didn’t find any substance in him. He seemed worthless.”
It was dusk. Lamps were lighted in the room. Sri Ramakrishna was meditating on the Divine Mother and chanting Her name in his melodious voice. The devotees sat around him. Since Balaram was going to celebrate the Car Festival at his house the following day, Sri Ramakrishna intended to spend the night there.
After taking some refreshments in the inner apartments, Sri Ramakrishna returned to the parlour. It was about ten o’clock. The Master said to M., “Please bring my towel from the other room.”
A bed was made for Sri Ramakrishna in the adjoining sir all room. About half past ten Sri Ramakrishna lay down to sleep. It was summertime. He said to M., “You had better bring a fan.” He asked the disciple to fan him. At midnight Sri Ramakrishna woke up. He said to M., “Don’t fan me any more; I feel chilly.”
Tuesday, July 14, 1885
It was the day of the Car Festival. Sri Ramakrishna left his bed very early in the morning. He was alone in the room, dancing and chanting the name of God. M. entered and saluted the Master. Other devotees arrived one by one. They saluted the Master and took seats near him. Sri Ramakrishna was longing intensely for Purna. He was talking to M. about him.
MASTER: “Did vu give Purna any instruction?”
M: “I asked him to read the life of Chaitanya. He is familiar with the incidents of his life. I told him further that you ask people to stick to the truth.”
MASTER: “How did he take it when you said about me, ‘He is an Incarnation of God’?’
M: “I said to him, ‘Come with me if you want to see a person like Chaitanya.'”
MASTER: “Anything else?”
M: “Also that remark of yours that when an elephant enters a small pool there is a great splashing of water all around; likewise, in the case of a ‘small receptacle’, emotion overflows.
“About his giving up of fish, I said to him: ‘Why have you done that? Your family will make a great fuss about it.'”
MASTER: “That’s good. One should keep one’s feelings and emotions to oneself.”
It was about half past six in the morning. M. was going to bathe in the Ganges, when suddenly tremors of an earthquake were felt. At once he returned to Sri Ramakrishna’s room. The Master stood in the drawing-room. The devotees stood around him. They were talking about the earthquake. The shaking had been rather violent, and many of the devotees were frightened.
M: “You should all have gone downstairs.”
MASTER: “Such is the fate of the house under whose roof one lives; and still people are so egotistic. (To M.) Do you remember the great storm of the month of Aswin?”
M: “Yes, sir. I was very young at that time — nine or ten years old. I was alone in a room while the storm was raging, and I prayed to God.”
M. was surprised and said to himself: “Why did the Master suddenly ask me about the great storm of Aswin? Does he know that I was alone at that time earnestly praying to God with tears in my eves? Does he know all this? Has he been protecting me as my guru since my very birth?”
MASTER: “It was quite late in the day at Dakshineswar when the storm broke, but somehow they managed to cook the meals. The trees were uprooted You see, this is the fate of the house one lives in.
“But when one attains Perfect Knowledge, then one finds that dying and killing are one and the same thing; that is to say, both are unreal. When one is dead, one has not really died; and when one has killed another, the man is not really dead. Both the Lila and the Nitya belong to the same Reality. In one form It is the Absolute, and in another, the Lila. Even though the Lila is destroyed, the Nitya always exists. Water is water, whether it is still or in waves; it is the same water when the waves quiet down.”
Sri Ramakrishna sat in the drawing-room with the devotees. Mahendra Mukherji, Hari, the younger Naren, and many other devotees were there. Hari lived alone and studied Vedanta. He was about twenty-three years old, and unmarried. Sri Ramakrishna was very fond of him. He wanted Hari to visit him frequently. But since Hari loved solitude he did not often come to the Master.
MASTER (to Hari): “Well, I haven’t seen you for a long time.
“You see, in one form He is the Absolute and in another He is the Relative. What does Vedanta teach? Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. Isn’t that so? But as long as God keeps the ‘ego of a devotee’ in a man, the Relative is also real. When He completely effaces the ego, then what is remains. That cannot be described by the tongue. But as long as God keeps the ego, one must accept all. you removing the outer sheaths of the plantain-tree, you reach the inner pith. As long as the tree contains sheaths, it also contains pith. So too, as long as it contains pith, it also contains sheaths. The pith goes with the sheaths and the sheaths go with the pith. In the same way, when you speak of the Nitya, it is understood that the Lila also exists; and when you speak of the Lila, it is understood that the Nitya also exists.
“It is He alone who has become the universe, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. When He is actionless, I call Him Brahman; when He creates, preserves, and destroys, I call Him Sakti. Brahman and Sakti are not different from each other. Water is water, whether it is still or moving.
“It is not possible to rid oneself of ‘I-consciousness’. And as long as one is aware of this ‘I-consciousness’, one cannot speak of the universe and its living beings as unreal. You cannot get the correct weight of the bel-fruit if you leave out its shell and pits.
“The brick, lime, and brick-dust of which the stairs are made are the same brick, lime, and brick-dust of which the roof is made. The universe and its living beings exist on account of the Reality of Him who is known as Brahman.
“The devotees — I mean the vijnanis — accept both God with form and the Formless, both the Personal God and the Impersonal. In a shoreless ocean — an infinite expanse of water — visible blocks of ice are formed here and there by intense cold. Similarly, under the cooling influence, so to say, of the deep love of Its worshipper, the Infinite reduces Itself to the finite and appears before the .worshipper as God with form. Again, as, on the rising of the sun, the ice melts away, so, on the awakening of Knowledge, God with form melts away into the same Infinite and Formless.
“As long as a man analyses with the mind, he cannot reach the Absolute. As long as you reason with your mind, you have no way of getting rid of the universe and the objects of the senses — form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. When reasoning stops, you attain the Knowledge of Brahman. Atman cannot be realised through this mind; Atman is realised through Atman alone. Pure Mind, Pure Buddhi, Pure Atman — all these are one and the same.
“Just think how many things you need to perceive an object. You need eyes; you need light; you need mind. You cannot perceive the object if you leave out any one of these three. As long as the mind functions, how can you say that the universe and the ‘I’ do not exist?
“When the mind is annihilated, when it stops deliberating pro and con, then one goes into samadhi, one attains the Knowledge of Brahman. You know the seven notes of the scale: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni. One cannot keep one’s voice on ‘ni’ very long.”
Looking at the younger Naren, Sri Ramakrishna said: “What will you gain by merely being intuitively aware of God’s existence? A mere vision of God is by no means everything. You have to bring Him into your room. You have to talk to Him.
“Some have heard of milk, some have seen milk, and some have drunk milk. Some have seen the king, but only one or two can bring the king home and entertain him.”
M. went to the Ganges to take his bath. It was ten o’clock. Sri Ramakrishna was still talking with the devotees. After finishing his bath, M. returned to Balaram’s house. He saluted the Master and sat down near him.
Sri Ramakrishna was filled with intense spiritual fervour. Words of wisdom flowed from him. Now and then he narrated his profound mystical experiences to the devotees.
MASTER: “I went to Benares with Mathur Babu. Our boat was passing the Manikarnika Ghat on the Ganges, when suddenly I had a vision of Siva. I stood near the edge of the boat and went into samadhi. The boatman, fearing that I might fall into the water, cried to Hriday: ‘Catch hold of him! Catch hold of him!’ I saw Siva standing on that ghat, embodying in Himself all the seriousness of the world. At first I saw Him standing at a distance; then I saw Him approaching me. At last He merged in me.
“Another time, in an ecstatic mood, I saw that a sannyasi was leading me by the hand. We entered a temple and I had a vision of Annapurna made of gold.
“God alone has become all this; but He manifests Himself more in certain things than in others.
(To M.) “Perhaps you do not believe in the salagram. ‘Englishmen’ do not believe in it. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in it or not. A salagram should contain the mark of a disc and other signs; only then can it be worshipped as an emblem of God.”
M: “Yes, sir. It is like the fuller manifestation of God in a man with good physical traits.”
MASTER: “At first Narendra used to say that these were figments of my imagination; but now he accepts everything.”
Sri Ramakrishna was describing the vision of God, when he went into samadhi. The devotees looked at him with fixed gaze. After a long time he regained consciousness of the world and talked to the devotees.
MASTER (to M.): “What do you think I saw? I saw the whole universe as a salagram, and in it I saw your two eyes.”
In silent wonder M. and the devotees listened to these words about his inner experience. At this moment Sarada, another young disciple of the Master, entered the room and saluted him.
MASTER (to Sarada): “Why don’t you come to Dakshineswar? Why don’t you see me when I come to Calcutta?”
SARADA: “Nobody tells me about it.”
MASTER: “Next time I shall let you know. (To M., smiling) Make a list of these youngsters.” (M. and the devotees laugh.)
SARADA: “My relatives at home want me to marry. (Pointing to M.) How many times he has scolded me about marriage!”
MASTER: “Why should you marry just now? (To M.) Sarada is now in a very good state of mind. Formerly he had a hesitant look; now his face beams with joy.”
Sri Ramakrishna said to a devotee, “Will you kindly fetch Purna?”
Narendra arrived. Sri Ramakrishna asked a devotee to give him some refreshments. He was greatly pleased at the sight of Narendra. When he fed Narendra, he felt that he was feeding Narayana Himself. He stroked Narendra’s body affectionately.
Gopal Ma entered the room. She was a great devotee of Gopala and was blessed with many lofty spiritual visions. Sri Ramakrishna had asked Balaram to send a man to bring her from Kamarhati. As soon as she entered the room she said, “I am shedding tears of joy.” With these words she bowed before the Master, touching the ground with her forehead.
MASTER: “What is this? You address me as ‘Gopala’ and still you salute me! Now go into the inner apartments and cook some curry for me. Put some spicy seasoning in it so that I may get the smell from here.” (All laugh.)
GOPAL MA: “What will they [meaning the members of the household] think of me?”
Before she left the room she said to Narendra in a very fervent voice, “My child, have I reached the goal, or have I farther to go?”
It was the day of the Car Festival; so there was some delay in the worship of the Family Deity. When the worship was finished Sri Ramakrishna was asked to have his meal. He went to the inner apartments. The woman devotees were anxious to see him.
Sri Ramakrishna had many woman devotees, but he did not talk much about them to his man devotees. He would warn the men against visiting woman devotees. He would say: “Don’t overdo it. Otherwise you will slip.” To some of his man devotees he would say, “Don’t go near a woman even if she rolls on the ground with devotion.” The Master wanted the men to live apart from woman devotees; only thus would the two groups make progress. He did not like the woman devotees to caress the men as “Gopala”; for too much of this motherly affection was not good; it degenerated in time into a harmful relationship.
After his midday meal Sri Ramakrishna sat in the drawing-room with the devotees. It was one o’clock. A devotee brought Purna from his home. With great joy the Master exclaimed to M.: “Here he is! Purna has come.” Narendra, the younger Naren, Narayan, Haripada, and other devotees were talking with the Master.
THE YOUNGER NAREN: “Sir, have we any free will?”
MASTER: “Just try to find out who this ‘I’ is. While you are searching for ‘I’, ‘He’ comes out. ‘I am the machine and He is the Operator.’ You have heard of a mechanical toy that goes into a store with a letter in its hand. You are like that toy. God alone is the Doer. Do your duties in the world as if you were the doer, but knowing all the time that God alone is the Doer and you are the instrument.
“As long as the upadhi exists there is ignorance. ‘I am a scholar’, ‘I am a jnani’, ‘I am wealthy’, ‘I am honourable, ‘I am the master, father, and teacher’ — all these ideas are begotten of ignorance. ‘I am the machine and You are the Operator’ — that is Knowledge. In the state oF Knowledge all upadhis are destroyed. When the log is burnt in entirely, there is no more sound; no heat either. Everything cools down. Peace! Peace! Peace! (To Narendra) Sing a little.”
NARENDRA: “I must go home. I have many things to do.”
MASTER: “Yes, yes, my child! Why should you listen to us? The words of those who have gold in their ears are valuable; no one listens to him who hasn’t even a rag round his waist.’ (All laugh.) You frequent the garden house of the.Guhas. I always hear about it. Whenever I ask, ‘Where is Narendra today?’ I am told, ‘Oh, he has gone to the Guhas.’ I should not have said all these things, but you have wrung them out of me.”
Narendra kept quiet a few moments. Then he said: “There are no instruments to accompany me. Shall I just sing?”
MASTER: “My child, this is all we have. Please sing if it suits you. You must know how Balaram arranges things.
“Balaram says to me, ‘Please come to Calcutta by boat; take a carriage only if you must.’ (All laugh). You see, he has given us a feast today; so this afternoon he will make us all dance! (All laugh.) One day he hired a carriage for me from here to Dakshineswar. He said that the carriage hire was twelve annas. I said to him, ‘Will the coachman take me to Dakshineswar for twelve annas?’ ‘Oh, that will be plenty’, he replied. One side of the carriage broke down before we reached Dakshineswar. (All laugh.) Besides, the horse stopped every now and then; it simply would not go. Once in a while the coachman whipped the horse, and then it ran a short distance. (All laugh.) The program for the evening is that Ram will play on the drum and we shall all dance. Ram has no sense of rhythm. (All laugh.) Anyhow, that is Balaram’s attitude — sing yourselves, dance yourselves, and make yourselves happy!” (All laugh.)
Other devotees were arriving. Mahendra Mukherji saluted the Master from a distance. The Master returned the salute. Then he salaamed to Mahendra like a Mussalman. The Master said to a young devotee who sat next to him: “Why don’t you tell him I have salaamed to him? He will appreciate it.” (All laugh.)
Many of the householder devotees were accompanied by their wives and other woman relatives. They wanted to salute the Master and watch his dancing before the car. Ram, Girish, and other devotees gradually assembled. Many young devotees were present.
Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
When Love will waken in my heart?
When will my tears flow uncontrolled
As I repeat Lord Hari’s name,
And all my longing be fulfilled?
When will my mind and soul be pure?
Oh, when shall I at last repair
Unto Vrindavan’s sacred groves?
When will my worldly bonds fall off
And my imperfect sight be healed
By Wisdom’s cool collyrium?
When shall I learn true alchemy
And, touching the Philosopher’s Stone,
Transmute my body’s worthless iron
Into the Spirit’s purest gold?
When shall I see this very world
As God, and roll on Love’s highway?
When shall I give up piety
And duty and the thought of caste?
When shall I leave behind all fear,
All shame, convention, worry, pride?
Oh, I shall smear my body then
With dust from the feet of devotees;
Across my shoulders I shall sling
Renunciation’s pack, and drink
From my two hands a cooling draught
Of Jamuna’s life-renewing stream.
Oh, then I shall be mad with love;
I shall both laugh and weep for joy!
Then I shall swim upon the Sea
Of blessed Satchidananda;
Drunk with His love, I shall make all
As drunk as I! Oh, I shall sport
At Hari’s feet for evermore!
He sang again:
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave. . . .
Balaram had arranged for kirtan with Vaishnavcharan, the musician. Vaishnavcharan sang:
O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga;
Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress? …
When Sri Ramakrishna had heard a line or two of the song he went into samadhi. He stood up in that ecstatic mood. The younger Naren supported him. The Master’s face was lighted with a smile. Gradually his body became motionless; his mind appeared to have gone to another realm. All the devotees in the room looked at him in amazement. The woman devotees watched the scene from behind the screen. After a long time he came down from samadhi, chanting the holy name of God.
As the Master sat down, Vaishnavcharan sang again:
O vina, sing Lord Hari’s name!
Without the blessing of His feet
You cannot know the final Truth.
The name of Hari slays all grief:
Sing Hari’s name! Sing Krishna’s name! . . .
Then he sang:
O vina, forgetting to worship Hari,
I pass the days of my life in vain. . . .
It was afternoon. In the mean time the small car of Jagannath, decorated with flowers, flags, and bunting, had been brought to the inner verandah. The images of Jagannath Subhadra, and Balarama, were adorned with sandal-paste, flower garlands, robes, and jewelry. Sri Ramakrishna left the room where the professional musicians were singing and came to the verandah, accompanied by the devotees. He stood in front of the car and pulled it by the rope. He began to sing and dance with the devotees in front of the car.
The Master sang:
Behold, the two brothers (Gauranga and Nityananda.) have come, who weep
while chanting Hari’s name. . . .
He sang again:
See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga’s love! . . .
The music and dancing went on in the verandah as the car was pulled to and fro. A large crowd entered the house on hearing the loud music and the beating of the drums. Sri Ramakrishna was completely intoxicated with divine love. The devotees felt its contagion and danced with the Master in an ecstasy of love.
Afterwards Sri Ramakrishna returned to the drawing-room. M. and other devotees stroked his feet.
Filled with divine fervour, Narendra sang to the accompaniment of the tanpura:
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. . . .
Then he sang:
Mother, Thou art our sole Redeemer,
Thou the Support of the three gunas,
Higher than the most high.
Thou art compassionate, I know,
Who takest away our bitter grief.
Sandhya art Thou, and Gayatri;
Thou dost sustain this universe.
Mother, the Help art Thou
Of those, that have no help but Thee,
O Eternal Beloved of Siva!
Thou art in earth, in water Thou;
Thou liest at the root of all.
In me, in every creature,
Thou hast Thy home; though clothed with form,
Yet art Thou formless Reality.
He sang another song:
I have made Thee, O Lord, the Pole-star of my life;
No more shall I lose my way on the world’s trackless sea.
Wherever I wander here. Thy brilliance shines undimmed;
With Thy serene and gracious light
Thou drivest all the tears out of my troubled soul.
In my heart’s inmost shrine Thy face for ever beams;
If, for a moment even, I cannot find it there,
My soul is overwhelmed with woe;
And when my witless mind strays from the thought of Thee,
The vision of Thy face strikes me with deepest shame.
A devotee said to Narendra, “Will you sing that one — ‘O Mother, Thou my Inner Guide, ever awake within my heart’?”
MASTER: “Oh, no! Why that song now? The proper thing now is to sing of divine bliss — a song like ‘O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine’.”
O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine!
Who knows how Thou dost sport in the world?
Thy fun and frolic and Thy glances put to shame the god of love.
O Wielder of the sword! O Thou of terrifying face!
The earth itself is shaken under Thy leaps and strides!
O Thou Abode of the three gunas! O Redeemer! Fearsome One!
Thou who art the Consort of Siva!
Many the forms Thou dost assume, fulfilling Thy bhaktas’ prayers.
Thou dancest in the Lotus of the Heart,
O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!
Full of divine ecstasy, Narendra sang again and again the lines:
Thou dancest in the Lotus of the Heart,
O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!
Sri Ramakrishna was dancing, drunk with divine love, and he sang again and again, “O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!”
After dancing a long time Sri Ramakrishna resumed his seat. He was very much pleased to see Narendra in a spiritual mood, singing with tears in his eyes.
It was about nine o’clock in the evening. The devotees still sat around the Master. Vaishnavcharan sang about Gauranga:
The beautiful Gauranga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold. …
Next he sang about Sri Krishna. Krishna had left His pastoral life in Vrindavan and become the king of Mathura. A gopi met Him there and said:
O Hari, how shall we know You now?
In Mathura’s royal splendour You have forgotten us.
Now, in Your kingly robes. You ride an elephant;
Have You utterly forgotten how in Vrindavan You tended cows?
O Hari, have You forgotten how You would steal the butter
From Braja’s innocent gopi maids?
About eleven o’clock the devotees saluted the Master and were departing one by one.
MASTER: “You may all go. (Pointing to Narendra and the younger Naren) It will be enough if these two stay. (To Girish) Will you eat your supper at home? You may stay a few minutes if you want to. You want a smoke! But Balaram’s servant is just like his master. Ask him for a smoke; he won’t give it! (All laugh.) But don’t go away without having your smoke.”
Girish had brought with him a bespectacled friend. The latter observed all these things and left the place. Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish: “I say this to you and to everyone: Please do not force anybody to come here. Nothing happens except at the right time.”
Before leaving, a devotee saluted the Master. He had a young boy with him. Sri Ramakrishna said to him affectionately, “It is getting late, and you have this boy with you.” Narendra, the younger Naren, and a few other devotees stayed awhile and then took their leave.
Wednesday, July 15, 1885
It was four o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was in bed in the small room next to the drawing-room. M. was sitting on a bench on the outer verandah to the south of the room. A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna came out to the verandah. M. saluted him.
MASTER: “I have already been up once. Well, shall we go to Dakshineswar this morning?”
M: “The Ganges is less choppy in the morning.”
Day was gradually breaking. The devotees had not yet arrived. Sri Ramakrishna had washed his mouth and was chanting the names of God in his sweet voice. He stood near the north door of the room. M. was by his side. A few minutes later Gopal Ma arrived and stood near him. One or two woman devotees were looking at the Master from behind the doors of the inner apartments. They were like the gopis of Vrindavan looking at Sri Krishna, or the woman devotees of Nadia looking at Gauranga from behind the screen.
After chanting the name of Rama, Sri Ramakrishna chanted the name of Krishna: “Krishna! Krishna! Krishna of the gopis! Gopi! Gopi! Krishna, the Life of the cowherd boys of Vrindavan! Krishna, the son of Nanda! Govinda! Govinda!”
Next he chanted the name of Gauranga. Then he repeated, “Alekh Niranjana”, which is a name of God. Saying, “Niranjana”, he wept. The devotees wept too. With tears in his eyes the Master said: “O Niranjan! O my child! Come! Eat this! Take this! When shall I make my life blessed by feeding you? You have assumed this human form for my sake.”
He prayed to Jagannath in a very touching voice: “O Jagannath, Lord of the Universe! O Friend of the world! O Friend of the poor! I am not O Lord, outside Thy universe. Be gracious to me!”
While he sang in praise of Jagannath he was beside himself with divine love.
Now he chanted the name of Narayana. He danced and sang: “O Narayana! O Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!”
He danced and sang again:
Ah, friend! I have not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad. . . .
Afterwards the Master sat in the small room with the devotees. He was completely stripped of his clothes, like a five-year-old child. M., Balaram, and a few other devotees were in the room.
MASTER: “One can see God’s form. One sees God when all upadhis disappear and reasoning stops. Then a man becomes speechless and goes into samadhi. Coming to the theatre, people indulge in all kinds of gossip. But the moment the curtain goes up, all conversation stops; the spectators become fully absorbed in what they see on the stage.
“I want to tell you something very secret. Why do I love boys like Purna and Narendra so much? Once, in a spiritual mood, I felt intense love for Jagannath, love such as a woman feels for her sweetheart. In that mood I was about to embrace Him, when I broke my arm. It was then revealed to me: “You have assumed this human body. Therefore establish with human beings the relationship of friend, father, mother, or son.’
“I now feel for Purna and the other young boys as I once felt for Ramlala.4 I used to bathe Ramlala, feed Him, put Him to bed, and take Him wherever I went. I used to weep for Ramlala. Now I have the same feeling for these young boys. Look at Niranjan. He is not attached to anything. He spends money from his own pocket to take poor patients to the hospital. At the proposal of marriage he says, ‘Goodness! That is the whirlpool of the Visalakshi!’ (A stream near Kamarpukur.) I see him seated on a light.
“Purna belongs to the realm of the Personal God. He was born with an element of Vishnu. Ah, what yearning he has!
(To M.) “Didn’t you notice that he looked at you as if you were his spiritual brother, his very own? He said he would visit me again, at Captain’s house.
“Narendra belongs to a very high plane — the realm of the Absolute. He has a manly nature. So many devotees come here, but there is not one like him.
“Every now and then I take stock of the devotees. I find that some are like lotuses with ten petals, some like lotuses with sixteen petals, some like lotuses with a hundred petals. But among lotuses Narendra is a thousand-petalled one.
“Other devotees may be like pots or pitchers; but Narendra is a huge water-barrel.
“Others may be like pools or tanks; but Narendra is a huge reservoir like the Haldarpukur.
“Among fish, Narendra is a huge red-eyed carp; others are like minnows or smelts or sardines. Tarak of Belgharia may be called a bass.
“Narendra is a ‘very big receptacle’, one that can hold many things. He is like a bamboo with a big hollow space inside.
“Narendra is not under the control of anything. He is not under the control of attachment or sense pleasures. He is like a male pigeon. If you hold a male pigeon by its beak, it breaks away from you; but the female pigeon keeps still. Narendra has the nature of a man; so he sits on the right side in a carriage. Bhavanath has a woman’s nature; so I make him sit on the other side. I feel great strength when Narendra is with me in a gathering.”
About eight o’clock in the morning Mahendra Mukherji arrived and saluted the Master. Haripada, Tulsiram, and other devotees arrived one by one and saluted him. Baburam was laid up with fever and could not come.
MASTER (to M. and the others): “Hasn’t the younger Naren come? Perhaps he thought I had left. (To Mukherji) How amazing! Even during his boyhood, on returning from school, he cried for God. Is it a small thing to cry for God? He is very intelligent, too. He is like a bamboo with a big hollow space inside. All of his mind is fixed on me. Girish Ghosh said to me: The younger Naren went to Navagopal’s house when a kirtan was going on. On entering the house he inquired about you and exclaimed, “Where is he?” He was totally unconscious of his surroundings and practically walked over the people.’ He has no fear of his relatives’ threats. Sometimes he spends three nights at a stretch at Dakshineswar.”
MUKHERJI: “Hari5 became simply speechless at what you said yesterday. He said to me: ‘Such wisdom can be found only in the philosophical systems of Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta. He is no ordinary person.'”
MASTER: “But I have never studied Samkhya or Vedanta.
“Perfect jnana and perfect bhakti are one and the same thing. A man reasons, saying, ‘Not this, not this’; he rejects the unreal. When his reasoning comes to an end, he attains the Knowledge of Brahman. Then he accepts what he rejected before. A man carefully climbs to the roof, rejecting the steps one by one. After reaching the roof he realises that the steps are made of the same materials as the roof, namely, brick, lime, and brick-dust.
“He who is aware of the high is also aware of the low. After the attainment of Knowledge one looks alike on high and low.
“While Prahlada dwelt on the plane of the Supreme Reality, he maintained the attitude of ‘I am He’; but when he climbed down to the physical plane, he would look on himself as the servant of God.
“Hanuman also sometimes said, ‘I am He’, sometimes, ‘I am the servant of God’, sometimes, ‘I am a part of God.’
“Why should a man cherish love of God in his heart? How else will he live? How else will he spend his days?
“To be sure, the ego does not disappear altogether. As long as the pot of ‘I’ (Body-consciousness.) persists, one cannot realise ‘I am He.’ In samadhi the ego totally disappears; then what is remains. Ramprasad says: ‘O Mother, when I shall attain Knowledge, then You alone will know whether I am good or You are good.’
“As long as ‘I-consciousness’ exists, one should have the attitude of a bhakta; one should rot say, ‘I am God.’ A man aware of his body should feel that he is not Krishna Himself, but His devotee. But if God draws the devotee to Himself, then it is different. It is like the master saying to his beloved servant: ‘Come, take your seat near me. You are the same as I.’
“The waves are part of the Ganges, but the Ganges is not part of the waves.
“Siva experiences two states of mind. When He is completely absorbed in His own Self, He feels, ‘I am He.’ In that union neither body nor mind functions. But when He is conscious of His separate ego, He dances, exclaiming, ‘Rama! Rama!’
“That which is unmoving also moves. Just now you are still, but a few moments later the same you will be engaged in action.
“Jnana and bhakti are one and the same thing. The difference is like this: one man says ‘water’, and another, ‘a block of ice’.
“Generally speaking there are two kinds of samadhi. First, sthira or jada samadhi: one attains it by following the path of knowledge — as a result of the destruction of the ego through reasoning. Second, bhava samadhi: one attains this by following the path of bhakti. In this second samadhi a trace of ego remains, like a line, in order to enable the devotee to enjoy God, to taste His lila. But one cannot understand all this if one is attached to ‘woman and gold’.
“I said to Kedar, ‘You will never succeed if your mind dwells on “woman and gold”.’ I wanted to pass my hand over his chest, but I could not. He has knots and twists inside. It was like a room smelling of filth, which I could not enter. His attachment to the world is very deep; it is like a natural emblem of Siva, whose root spreads as far as Benares. One will never succeed if one is attached to the world — to ‘woman and gold’.
“The youngsters are yet untouched by ‘woman and gold’. That is why I love them so dearly. Hazra says to me, ‘You love a boy if he comes from a wealthy family or if he is handsome.’ If that is so, then why do I love Harish, Latu, and Narendra? Narendra hasn’t a penny to buy salt to season his rice.
“The youngsters’ minds are not yet coloured by worldliness. That is why they are so pure in heart. Besides, many of them are eternally perfect; they have been drawn to God from their very birth. It is like a garden in which, while cleaning it, you suddenly discover water-pipes. The water gushes forth without any effort on your part.”
BALARAM: “Sir, how was it possible for Purna to know all of a sudden that the world is illusory?”
MASTER: “He has inherited that knowledge from his previous births. In his past lives he practised many disciplines. It is the body alone that is small or grows big, and not the Atman.
“Do you know what these youngsters are like?’They are like certain plants that grow fruit first and then flowers. These devotees first of all have the vision of God; next they hear about His glories and attributes; and at last they are united with Him. Look at Niranjan. He always keeps his accounts clear. He will be able to go whenever he hears the call. But one should look after one’s mother as long as she is alive. I used to worship my mother with flowers and sandal-paste. It is the Mother of the Universe who is embodied as our earthly mother.
“As long as you look after your own body, you must look after your mother too. Therefore I said to Hazra: ‘When you have a cold, you procure black pepper, sugar candy, and salt. As long as you feel you must look after your body, you must look after your mother too.’
“But it is quite different when you completely forget your body. Then God Himself assumes your responsibilities. A minor cannot look after himself; therefore a guardian is appointed for him. Chaitanyadeva, like a minor, could not look after himself.”
M. went to the Ganges to bathe.
Sri Ramakrishna was talking with the devotees in the small room in Balaram’s house. Mahendra, Balaram, Tulasi, Haripada, Girish, and other devotees were sitting on the floor. M. returned from the Ganges. After saluting the Master he took a seat near him. Sri Ramakrishna was recounting to the devotees some of his spiritual experiences.
MASTER: “One day in the Kali temple Haladhari and Nangta were reading the Adhyatma Ramayana. Suddenly I had a vision of a river with woods on both sides. The trees and plants were green. Rama and Lakshmana were walking along wearing their shorts. One day, in front of the kuthi, I saw Arjuna’s chariot. Sri Krishna was seated in it as the charioteer. I still remember it. Another day, while listening to kirtan at Kamarpukur, I saw Gauranga in front of me.
“At that time a naked person, emerging from my body, used to go about with me. I used to joke with him. He looked like a boy and was a paramahamsa. I can’t describe to you all the divine forms I saw at that time. I was suffering then from indigestion, which would become worse when I saw visions; so I would try to shun these divine forms and would spit on the ground when I saw them. But they would follow me and obsess me like ghosts. I was always overwhelmed with divine ecstasy and couldn’t tell the passing of day and night. On the day after such a vision I would have a severe attack of diarrhoea, and all these ecstasies would pass out through my bowels.”
GIRISH (smiling): “I am examining your horoscope.”
MASTER (smiling): “I was born on the second day of the bright fortnight of the moon. My horoscope shows the positions of the sun, the moon, and Mercury at the time of my birth. There are not many more details.”
GIRISH: “You were born under Kumbha. Rama and Krishna were born under Karkat and Brisha, and Chaitanya under Simha.”6
MASTER: “I had two desires: first, that I should be the king of the devotees, and second, that I should not be a dry sadhu.”
GIRISH (smiling): “Why did you have to practise spiritual discipline?”
MASTER (smiling): “Even the Divine Mother had to practise austere sadhana to obtain Siva as Her husband. She practised the panchatapa. She would also immerse Her body in water in wintertime, and look fixedly at the sun. Krishna Himself had to practise much sadhana. I had many mystic experiences, but I cannot reveal their contents. Under the bel-tree I had many flaming visions. There I practised the various sadhanas prescribed in the Tantra. I needed many articles — human skulls, and so forth and so on. The Brahmani used to collect these things for me. I practised a number of mystic postures.
“I had another strange experience: if I felt egotistic on a particular day, I would be sick the following day.”
M. sat motionless as a picture on canvas, hearing about these unique visions of the Master. The other devotees also were spellbound. There was a dead silence in the room.
TULASI (pointing to M.): “He never laughs.”
MASTER: “But he laughs inside. The surface of the river Phalgu is covered with sand; but if you dig into the sand, water comes up.
(To M.) “Don’t you scrape your tongue? Scrape it every day.”
BALARAM: “Well, Purna has heard much about you from M.”
MASTER: “Perhaps the account of my early spiritual experiences.”
BALARAM: “If Purna is perfect by nature, then what is M.’s function?”
MASTER: “A mere instrument.”
It was nine o’clock. Sri Ramakrishna was about to leave for Dakshineswar. Arrangements were being made for his departure. A boat bad been hired at Baghbazar. The devotees saluted the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna went to the boat with one or two devotees. Gopal Ma accompanied them. She intended to spend the morning at Dakshineswar and go to Kamarhati in the afternoon. The camp cot generally used by Rakhal at Dakshineswar had been sent to Calcutta for repair. It was put in the boat, and the boat left for Dakshineswar.
According to the Hindu almanac the day was not auspicious. So Sri Ramakrishna decided to return to Balaram’s house the next Saturday and start again for Dakshineswar on an auspicious day.
- ^The name of Krishna as He is worshipped in Puri; literally, “Lord of the Universe”.
- ^The leaves of the bel-tree are offered to Siva, whereas tulsi-leaves and sandal-paste are offered to Vishnu.
- ^Referring to one of the Master’s woman devotees known as Gopal Ma.
- ^A name of the Boy Rama. A metal image of the Boy Rama given to Sri Ramakrishna during his sadhana period by a Vaishnava saint.
- ^Later Hari embraced the monastic life and became known as Swami Turiyananda.
- ^Kumbha, Karkat, Brisha, and Simha are signs of the Hindu zodiac corresponding to Aquarius, Scorpio, Taurus, and Leo.