Master’s visions — The doctor and M. — Influence of holy company — Master’s mystic experiences — About miracles — Soul is different from body — Guilelessness of the young devotees — Hard rules for sannyasis — “Woman and gold” — Preaching without God’s command — Confusion of mere scholars — Dr. Sarkar explains samadhi — Narendra’s music — Mahima’s three paths — On japa — Dr. Sarkar on Mahima — Vijay Goswami — Master in ecstasy — Use of scriptures — God’s Incarnation as man — The duty of a physician — Cultivating holy company — Narendra sings — Doctor suppresses his emotion.
Friday, October 23, 1885
IT WAS THE DAY of the full moon following the Durga Puja, the worship of the Divine Mother. At ten o’clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M., who was helping him with his socks.
MASTER (smiling): “Why can’t I cut my woolen scarf into two pieces and wrap them around my legs like socks? They will be nice and warm.”
M. smiled. The previous evening Sri Ramakrishna had had a long conversation with Dr. Sarkar. Referring to it, the Master said laughingly, “I told him the story of the calf, and about egotism being the cause of all suffering.”
The younger Naren reminded Sri Ramakrishna that he, the Master, had told the doctor about people’s suffering from the threefold misery of the world and still bragging of their well-being. The disciple said, “That was a very nice thing you said yesterday about the thorn, and also about burning it in the fire of Knowledge.”
MASTER: “I had direct visions of those things. One day I was passing back of the kuthi when my whole body burst into flames, as it were, like the fire in a homa. Padmalochan once said to me, ‘I shall convene an assembly of pundits and proclaim your spiritual experiences before all.’ But he died shortly after.”
At eleven o’clock M. went to Dr. Sarkar’s house to report Sri Ramakrishna’s condition. The doctor showed great eagerness to hear about him.
DOCTOR (laughing): “How well I told him yesterday that in order to be able to say ‘Tuhu! Tuhu!’, ‘Thou! Thou!’, one must fail into the hands of an expert carder!”
M: “It is true, sir. One cannot get rid of egotism without the help of a capable teacher. How well he spoke last night of bhakti! Bhakti, like a woman, can go into the inner court.”
DOCTOR: “Yes, that is very nice. But still one cannot give up jnana.”
M: “But he does not say that. He accepts both knowledge and love, the Impersonal Truth and the Persona! God. He says that through the cooling influence of bhakti a part of the Reality takes the solid form of the Personal God; and with the rise of the sun of jnana the ice of form melts again into the formless water of the Absolute. In other words, you realise God with form through bhaktiyoga, and the formless Absolute through jnanayoga.
“You must have noticed that he sees God so near him that he always converses with Him. When suffering from illness, he says to God, like a small child, ‘Oh, Mother, it is hurting me!’
“How wonderful his power of observation is! He saw a fossil in the museum. At once he gave it as an example of the effect of companionship with holy persons. Just as an object is turned into stone by remaining near stone, so does a man become holy by living with a holy man.”
DOCTOR: “Yesterday Ishan Babu talked of the Incarnation of God. What is that? To call man God!”
M: “Everyone has his own faith. What is the use of interfering with it?”
DOCTOR: “Yes, what is the use?”
M: “How the Master made us laugh when he told us about a certain man who refused to believe that a house had collapsed, because it was not published in the newspaper!”
Doctor Sarkar remained silent. Sri Ramakrishna had said to him, “Your ‘science’ does not speak of God’s Incarnation; therefore you say that God cannot incarnate Himself as man.”
It was midday. Doctor Sarkar took M. with him in his carriage. He was going to visit Sri Ramakrishna after seeing his other patients.
A few days before, at Girish’s invitation, Doctor Sarkar had seen his play about Buddha’s life. He said to M.: “It would have been better to speak of Buddha as the Incarnation of Compassion. Why did he speak of him as an Incarnation of Vishnu?”
The doctor set M. down at the corner of Cornwallis Square.
It was three o’clock in the afternoon. One or two devotees were seated near Sri Ramakrishna. He became impatient, like a child. Repeatedly he asked the devotees, “When is the doctor coming?” “What time is it now?” Doctor Sarkar was expected in the evening.
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna was overwhelmed with a strange mood. He placed his pillow on his lap. Filled with maternal love, he began to caress it and hold it to his breast as if it were his child. He was in an ecstatic mood. His face was lighted with a childlike smile. He put on his cloth in a strange manner. The devotees looked at him in amazement.
A little later Sri Ramakrishna was in his normal mood. It was time for his meal. He ate a little boiled farina.
He was talking to M. about his mystic experiences.
MASTER (to M., aside): “Do you know what I saw just now in my ecstatic state? There was a meadow covering an area of seven or eight miles, through which lay the road to Sihore. I was alone in that meadow. I saw a sixteen-year-old paramahamsa boy exactly like the one I had seen in the Panchavati.
“A mist of bliss lay all around. Out of it emerged a boy thirteen or fourteen years old. I saw his face. He looked like Purna. Both of us were naked. Then we began to run around joyfully in the meadow. Purna felt thirsty. He drank some water from a tumbler and offered me what was left. I said to him, ‘Brother, I cannot take your leavings.’ Thereupon he laughed, washed the glass, and brought me fresh water.”
Sri Ramakrishna was again in samadhi. He regained consciousness and began to talk to M.
MASTER: “My mind is undergoing a change. I cannot take prasad any more. The Real and the Appearance are becoming one to me. Do you know what I saw just now? A divine form — a vision of the Divine Mother. She had a child in Her womb. She gave birth to it and the next instant began to swallow it; and as much of it as went into Her mouth became void. It was revealed to me that everything is void. The Divine- Mother said to me, as it were: ‘Come confusion! Come delusion! Come!'”
This reminded M. of Sri Ramakrishna’s saying that the magician alone is real and all else unreal.
MASTER: “Well, how is it that the other time I tried to attract Purna but failed? This weakens my faith a little.”
M: “But to attract a person is to work a miracle.”
MASTER: “Yes, a downright miracle.”
M: “You remember, one day we were returning to Dakshineswar in a carriage from Adhar’s house, when a bottle broke. One of us said to you: ‘Does this mean that any harm will befall us? What do you think?’ You said: ‘What do I care? Why should I bother about it? That would be miracle-working.'”
MASTER: “Yes, people lay ailing children down on the ground where men chant the name of God, in order that they may be cured; or people cure disease through occult powers. All this is miracle-working. Only those whose spiritual experience is extremely shallow call on God for the healing of disease.”
It was evening. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his bed, thinking of the Divine Mother and repeating Her hallowed name. The devotees sat near him in silence. Latu, Sashi, Sarat, the younger Naren, Paltu, Bhupati, Girish, and others were present. Ramtaran of the Star Theatre had come with Girish to entertain Sri Ramakrishna with his singing. A few minutes later Dr. Sarkar arrived.
DOCTOR (to the Master): “I was much worried about you last night at three o’clock. It was raining. I said to myself, ‘Who knows whether or not the doors and windows of his room are shut?'”
“Really?” said Sri Ramakrishna. He was much pleased at the doctor’s love and thoughtfulness for him.
MASTER: “As long as there is the body, one should take care of it. But I find that the body is quite separate from the Self. When a man rids himself entirely of his love for ‘woman and gold’, then he clearly perceives that the body is one thing and the Self another. When the milk inside the coconut is all dried up, then the kernel becomes separated from the shell; you feel the kernel rattling inside when you snake the coconut. Or it is just like a sword and its sheath. The sword is one thing and the sheath is another.
“Therefore I cannot speak much to the Divine Mother about the illness of the body.”
GIRISH (to the devotees): “Pundit Shashadhar said to him [meaning the Master]: ‘Please bring your mind to bear on the body during samadhi. That will cure your illness.’ And he, the Master, saw in a vision that the body was nothing but a loose mass of flesh and bones.”
MASTER: “Once, a long time ago, I was very ill. I was sitting in the Kali temple. I felt like praying to the Divine Mother to cure my illness, but couldn’t do so directly in my own name. I said to Her, ‘Mother, Hriday asks me to tell You about my illness.’ I could not proceed any farther. At once there flashed into my mind the Museum of the Asiatic Society, and a human skeleton strung together with wire. I said to Her, ‘Please tighten the wire of my body like that, so that I may go about singing Your name and glories.’ It is impossible for me to ask for occult powers.
“At first Hriday asked me — I was then under his control — to pray to the Mother for powers. I went to the temple. In a vision I saw a widow thirty or thirty-five years old, covered with filth. It was revealed to me that occult powers are like that filth. I became angry with Hriday because he had asked me to pray for powers.”
Ramtaran began to sing:
Behold my vina, my dearly beloved,
My lute of sweetest tone;
If tenderly you play on it,
The strings will waken, at your touch,
To rarest melodies.
Tune it neither low nor high,
And from it in a hundred streams
The sweetest sound will flow;
But over-slack the strings are mute,
And over-stretched they snap in twain.
DOCTOR (to Girish): “Is it an original song?”
GIRISH: “No, it is an adaptation from Edwin Arnold.”
Ramtaran sang from the play, The Life of Buddha:
We moan for rest, alas! hut rest can never find;
We know not whence we come, nor where we float away.
Time and again we tread this round of smiles and tears;
In vain we pine to know whither our pathway leads,
And why we play this empty play.
We sleep, although awake, as if by a spell bewitched;
Will darkness never break into the light of dawn?
As restless as the wind, life moves unceasingly:
We know not who we are, nor whence it is we come;
We know not why we come, nor where it is we drift;
Sharp woes dart forth on every side.
How many drift about, now gay, now drowned in tears!
One moment they exist; the next they are no more.
We know not why we come, nor what our deeds have been,
Nor, in our bygone lives, how well we played our parts;
Like water in a stream, we cannot stay at rest;
Onward we flow for evermore.
Burst Thou our slumber’s bars, O Thou that art awake!
How long must we remain enmeshed in fruitless dreams?
Are you indeed awake? Then do not longer sleep!
Thick on you lies the gloom fraught with a million woes.
Rise, dreamer, from your dream, and slumber not again!
Shine forth, O Shining One, and with Thy shafts of light
Slay Thou the blinding dark! Our only Saviour Thou!
We seek deliverance at Thy feet.
As Sri Ramakrishna listened to the song he went into samadhi. Ramtaran sang again:
Blow, storm! Rage and roar! . . .
When the song was over, Sri Ramakrishna said to the singer: “What is this? Why this decoction of bitter neem-leaves after the rice pudding? The moment you sang —
Shine forth, O Shining One, and with Thy shafts of light
Slay Thou the blinding dark!
I had a vision of the Sun. As He arose, the darkness vanished, and all men took refuge at His feet.”
Ramtaran sang again:
O Mother, Saviour of the helpless. Thou the Slayer of sin!
In Thee do the three gunas dwell — sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Thou dost create the world; Thou dost sustain it and destroy it;
Binding Thyself with attributes, Thou yet trandescendest them;
For Thou, O Mother, art the All.
Kali Thou art, and Tara, and Thou the Ultimate Prakriti;
Thou art the Fish, the Turtle, the Boar, and all other Avatars;
Earth, water, air, and fire art Thou, and Thou the sky,
O Mother of the Absolute!
The Samkhya, Patanjala, Mimamsaka, and Nyaya
For ever seek to fathom Thee and know Thine inmost nature;
Vedanta and Vaiseshika are searching after Thee;
But none of them has found Thee out.
Though free of limitations, beginningless and without end,
Yet for Thy loving bhaktas’ sake Thou wearest varying forms.
The terrors of this world Thou dost remove, and Thou dost dwell
Alike in present, past, and future.
Thou dost appear with form, to him who loves Thee as a Person;
Thou art the Absolute, to him who worships formless Truth.
Some there are who speak alone of the resplendent Brahman;
Even this, O Blissful Mother, is nothing else but Thee!
Each man, according to his measure, makes his image of the Truth,
Calling it the Highest Brahman.
Beyond this does Turiya shine, the Indescribable;
O Mother of all things, who dost pervade the universe,
Every one of these art Thou!
Then he sang:
Dear friend, my religion and piety have come to an end:
No more can I worship Mother Syama; my mind defies control.
Oh, shame upon me! Bitter shame!
I try to meditate on the Mother with sword in hand,
Wearing Her garland of human heads;
But it is always the Dark One,(Krishna) wearing His garland of wild wood-flowers
And holding the flute to His tempting lips,
That shines before my eyes.
I think of the Mother with Her three eyes, but alas! I see
Him alone with the arching eyes, and I forget all else!
Oh, shame upon me! Bitter shame!
I try to offer fragrant flowers at the Mother’s feet
But the ravishing thought of His graceful form unsettles my helpless mind,
And all my meditations meant for the Naked One (Syama) are drawn away By the sight of His yellow scarf.
Sri Ramakrishna was in an ecstatic mood as he listened to the song.
The musician sang again:
O Mother, who has offered these red hibiscus flowers at Thy feet?
I beg of Thee, O Mother, place one or two upon my head.
Then I shall cry aloud to Thee, “Oh, Mother! Mother!”
And I shall dance around Thee and clap my hands for joy,
And Thou wilt look at me and laugh, and tie the flowers in my hair.
The singing was over. Many of the devotees were in a rapturous mood. There was a deep silence in the room. The younger Naren was absorbed in meditation. He sat like a stump. Pointing him out to the doctor, Sri Ramakrishna said, “A very pure soul, unstained by the slightest touch of worldliness.”
MANOMOHAN (to the doctor): “He (pointing to the Master) says of your son, ‘I don’t care for the father if I have the son.'”
DOCTOR: “Ah, you see! That is why I say that you forget everything else when you have the ‘Son’.”1 MASTER (smiling): “I don’t say that I do not want the Father.”
DOCTOR: “Yes, I understand you. How can you save your face unless you say a few things like that?”
MASTER: “Your boy is quite guileless. One day Sambhu’s face became red as he said, ‘God will surely listen to a man’s prayer if he prays to Him with sincerity.’
“Why am I so fond of the boys? They are like unadulterated milk: only a little boiling is needed. Moreover it can be offered to the Deity. But milk adulterated with water needs much boiling. It consumes a large quantity of fuel.
“The boys are like fresh earthen pots, good vessels in which one can keep milk without any worry. Spiritual instruction arouses their inner consciousness without delay. But it is not so with the worldly-minded. One is afraid to keep milk in a pot that has been used for curd. The milk may turn sour.
“Your boy is still free from worldliness, untouched by ‘women and gold’.”
DOCTOR: “That is because he is living on his father’s earnings. I should love to see how free he would keep himself from worldliness if he had to earn his own livelihood.”
MASTER: “Yes, yes. That is true. But God is far, far away from the worldly-minded. For those who have renounced the world He is in the palm of the hand.
(To Dr. Sarkar and Dr. Dukari) “But renunciation of ‘woman and gold’ is not meant for you. You may renounce these mentally. That is why I said to the goswamis: ‘Why do you speak of renunciation? That will not do for you. You have to attend the daily worship of Syamasundar.’
“Total renunciation is for sannyasis. They must not look even at the picture of a woman. To them a woman is poison. They must keep themselves at least ten cubits away from her; and if that is not possible, at least one cubit. And they must not talk much with a woman, no matter how devout she may be. Further, they should choose their dwelling at a place where they will never, or scarcely ever, see the face of a woman.
“Money, too, is like poison to a sannyasi. If he keeps money with him, he has worries, pride, anger, and the desire for physical comforts. Money inflames his rajas, which brings tamas in its train. Therefore a sannyasi must not touch ‘gold’. ‘Woman and gold’ makes him forget God.
“For householders money is a means of getting food, clothes, and a dwelling-place, worshipping the Deity, and serving holy men and devotees.
“It is useless to try to hoard money. With great labour the bees build a hive; but a man breaks it and takes the honey away.”
DOCTOR: “Whom shall we hoard for? — For a wicked son, perhaps.”
MASTER: “It is not a wicked son alone. Perhaps the wife is unchaste. She may have a secret lover. Perhaps she will give him your watch and chain!
“You should not renounce woman completely. It is not harmful for a householder to live with his wife. But after the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister.
“It is attachment to ‘woman and gold’ that begets pride of learning, pride of money, and pride of social position.
“One cannot attain divine knowledge till one gets rid of pride. Water does not stay on the top of a mound; but into low land it flows in torrents from all sides.”
DOCTOR: “But the water that flows into the low land from all sides contains good water and bad water, muddy water and ditch-water. Again, there are hollows on mountain-tops as well, as at Nainital and Manasoravar. These contain only pure water from the sky.”
MASTER: “Only pure water from the sky — that is good!”
DOCTOR: “Further, from an elevated place the water can be distributed on all sides.”
MASTER (smiling): “A certain man came to possess a siddha mantra.2 He then went to the top of a hill and cried aloud. ‘Repeat this mantra and you will realise God.'”
MASTER: “But you must remember one thing. When his soul feels restless for God, a man forgets the difference between good water and ditch-water. In order to know God, he sometimes goes to good men, sometimes to imperfect men. Dirty water cannot injure an aspirant if God’s grace descends on him. When God grants him Knowledge, He reveals to the aspirant what is good and what is bad.
“There may be hollows on the top of a hill, but they cannot exist on the hill of the ‘wicked ego’. Only if it is an ‘ego of Knowledge’ or an ‘ego of bhakti’, does the pure water from the sky collect there.
“It is true that the water from a hill-top may flow in all directions, but that is possible only from the hill of the ‘ego of Knowledge’.
“One cannot teach men without the command of God. After attaining Knowledge, Sankaracharya retained the ego of Knowledge’ in order to teach mankind. But to lecture without realizing God! What good will that do?
“I went to the Nandanbagan Brahmo Samaj. After the worship the preacher gave a lecture from the raised platform. He had written it at home. As he read from the manuscript he looked around. While meditating he opened his eyes from time to time to look at people.
“The instruction of a man who has not seen God does not produce the right effect. He may say one thing rightly, but he becomes confused about the next.
“Samadhyayi delivered a lecture. He said: ‘God is beyond words and mind; He is dry. Worship Him through the bliss of your love and devotion.’ Just see, he thus described God, whose very nature is Joy and Bliss! What will such a lecture accomplish? Can it teach people anything? Such a lecturer is like the man who said, ‘My uncle’s cow-shed is full of horses.’ Horses in the cow-shed! (All laugh.) From that you can understand that there were no horses at all.”
DOCTOR (smiling): “Nor cows either!” (All laugh.)
In the mean time the devotees who had been in a rapturous state had regained their normal mood. The doctor was highly pleased with them and asked M. about them. M. introduced to him Paltu, the younger; Naren, Bhupati, Sarat, Sashi, and the other youngsters. About Sashi, M. said, “He is going to appear for the B. A. examination.”
The doctor was a little inattentive.
MASTER (to the doctor): “Look here! Listen to what he is saying.”
The doctor heard from M. about Sashi.
MASTER (to the doctor, pointing to M.): “He instructs the school-boys.”
DOCTOR: “So I have heard.”
MASTER: “I am unlettered and yet educated people come here. How amazing! You must admit that it is the play of God.”
It was nine o’clock in the evening. The doctor had been sitting there since six o’clock, watching all these things.
GIRISH (to the doctor): “Well, sir, does it ever happen to you that, though you do not intend to come here, you are drawn as if by a subtle force? I feel that way; that is why I am asking you.”
DOCTOR: “I don’t know whether I feel that. But the heart alone knows the promptings of the heart. (To Sri Ramakrishna) Besides, there isn’t much use in speaking about it.”
October 24, 1885
It was about one o’clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the second floor of the house at Syampukur. Dr. Sarkar, Narendra, Mahimacharan, M., and other devotees were in the room. Referring to the homeopathic system of medicine, the Master said to Dr. Sarkar, “This treatment of yours is very good.”
DOCTOR: “According to homeopathy the physician has to check up the symptoms of the disease with the medical book. It is like Western music. The singer follows the score.
“Where is Girish Ghosh? Never mind. Don’t trouble him. He didn’t sleep last night.”
MASTER: “Well, when I am in samadhi I feel intoxicated as if I were drunk with siddhi. What have you to say about that?”
DOCTOR (to M.): “In that state the nerve centres cease to function. Hence the limbs become numb. Again, the legs totter because all the energy rushes toward the brain. Life consists of the nervous system. There is a nerve centre in the nape of the neck called the medulla oblongata. If that is injured, one may die.”
Mahima Chakravarty began to describe the Kundalini. He said: “The Sushumna nerve runs through the spinal cord in a subtle form. None can see it. That is what Siva says.”
DOCTOR: “Siva examined man only in his maturity. But the Europeans have examined man in all stages of his life from the embryo to maturity. It is good to know comparative history. From the history of the Sonthals one learns that Kali was a Sonthal woman. She was a valiant fighter. (All laugh.)
“Don’t laugh, please. Let me tell you how greatly the study of comparative anatomy has benefited men. The difference between the actions of the pancreatic juice and bile was at first unknown. But later Claude Bernard examined the stomach, liver, and other parts of the rabbit and demonstrated that the action of bile is different from the action of the pancreatic juice. Therefore it stands to reason that we should watch the lower animals as well. The study of man alone is not enough.
“Similarly, the study of comparative religion is highly beneficial.
“Why do his [meaning the Master’s] words go straight to our hearts? He has experienced the truths of different religions. He himself has practised the disciplines of the Hindu, Christian, Mussalman, Sakta, and Vaishnava religions. The bees can make good honey only if they gather nectar from different flowers.”
M. (to Dr. Sarkar): “He (pointing to Mahimacharan) has studied science a great deal.”
DOCTOR (smiling): “What science? Do you mean Max Muller’s Science of Religion?’
MAHIMA< (to the Master): “You are ill. But what can the doctor do about it? When I heard of your illness, I thought that you were only going to pamper the doctor’s pride.”
MASTER (pointing to Dr. Sarkar): “But he is a very good physician. He is very learned too.”
MAHIMA: “Yes, sir. He is a ship and we are only small boats.”
Dr. Sarkar folded his hands in humility.
MAHIMA: “But here in the Master’s presence all are equal.”
Sri Ramakrishna asked Narendra to sing. Narendra sang:
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. …
Then he sang:
Ever insane with pride am I, and many the cravings of my heart! . . .
He sang again:
This universe, wondrous and infinite,
O Lord, is Thy handiwork;
And the whole world is a treasure-house
Full of Thy beauty and grace. . . .
O Father of the Universe, upon Thy lofty throne,
Thou dost enjoy the music of the worlds,
As Thy creation’s praise they sweetly sing.
Behold, I too, though born of earth, have come with feeble voice
Before the portal of Thy House.
I seek alone Thy vision. Lord! I crave no other boon.
Here I have come to sing my song for Thee;
From a far corner of the mighty throng
Where sun and moon are hymning Thee, I too would sing Thy praise:
This is Thy lowly servant’s prayer.
He sang another song:
O King of Kings, reveal Thyself to me!
I crave Thy mercy. Cast on me Thy glance!
At Thy dear feet I dedicate my life,
Seared in the fiery furnace of this world.
My heart, alas, is deeply stained with sin;
Ensnared in maya, I am all but dead.
Compassionate Lord! Revive my fainting soul
With the life-giving nectar of Thy grace.
Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!
Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari’s sweet name! . . .
MASTER: “And sing that one — ‘All that exists art Thou.'”
I have joined my heart to Thee: all that exists art Thou;
Thee only have I found, for Thou art all that exists. . . .
The singing was over. Dr. Sarkar sat there almost spellbound. After a time, with folded hands, he said very humbly to Sri Ramakrishna: “Allow me to take my leave now. I shall come again tomorrow.”
MASTER: “Oh, stay a little. Girish Ghosh has been sent for. (Pointing to Mahima) He is a scholar, yet he dances in the name of Hari. He has no pride. He went to Konnagar just because we were there. He is wealthy; he is free; he serves nobody. (Pointing to Narendra) What do you think of him?”
MASTER (pointing to a devotee): “And him?”
MAHIMA: “It can by no means be said that one knows philosophy unless one has read Hindu philosophy. The European philosophers do not know the twenty-four cosmic principles of the Samkhya philosophy. They cannot even grasp them.”
MASTER (smiling): “What are the three paths you speak of?”
MAHIMA: “The path of Sat, which is the path of knowledge. Next, the path of Chit, of yoga, of karmayoga, which includes the duties and functions of the four stages of life. Last, the path of Ananda, the path of devotion and ecstatic love. You are an adept in all three paths; you can speak of them all with authority.”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed.
Dr. Sarkar took his leave. It was evening, the first night after the full moon. Sri Ramakrishna stood up, lost in samadhi. Nityagopal stood beside him in a reverent attitude.
Sri Ramakrishna took his seat. Nityagopal was stroking his feet. Devendra, Kalipada, and many other devotees were seated by his side.
MASTER (to the devotees): “My mind tells me that Nityagopal’s present state will undergo a change. His entire mind will be concentrated on me — on Him who dwells in me. Don’t you see how Narendra’s whole mind is being drawn toward me?”
Many of the devotees were taking their leave. Sri Ramakrishna stood up. Referring to japa, he said to a devotee: “Japa means silently repeating God’s name in solitude. When you chant His name with single-minded devotion you can see God’s form and realise Him. Suppose there is a piece of timber sunk in the water of the Ganges and fastened with a chain to the bank. You proceed link by link, holding to the chain, and you dive into the water and follow the chain. Finally you are able to reach the timber. In the same way, by repeating God’s name you become absorbed in Him and finally realise Him.”
KALIPADA (smiling, to the devotees): “Ours is a grand teacher! We are not asked to practise meditation, austerity, and other disciplines.”
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna said, “This is troubling me.” The Master’s throat was hurting him. Devendra said, “Your words cannot fool us any more.” He thought that the Master feigned illness to hoodwink the devotees.
Most of the devotees departed. It was arranged that a few of the younger men should stay to nurse the Master by turns. M. also was going to spend the night there.
Sunday, October 25, 1885
It was about half past six in the morning when M. arrived at Syampukur and asked Sri Ramakrishna about his health. He was on his way to Dr. Sarkar to report the Master’s condition. The Master said to M.: “Tell the doctor that during the early hours of the morning my mouth becomes filled with water and I cough. Also ask him if I may take a bath.”
After seven o’clock M. came to Dr. Sarkar’s house and told him about the Master’s condition. The physician’s old teacher and one or two friends were in the room. Dr. Sarkar said to his teacher, “Sir, I have been thinking of the Paramahamsa (Referring to Sri Ramakrishna.) since three in the morning. I couldn’t sleep at all. Even now he is in my mind.”
One of the doctor’s friends said to him: “Sir, I hear that some speak of the Paramahamsa as an Incarnation of God. You see him every day. How do you feel about it?”
DOCTOR: “I have the greatest regard for him as a man.”
M. (to the doctor’s friend): “It is very kind of Dr. Sarkar to treat him.”
DOCTOR. “Kindness? What do you mean?”
M: “Not toward him, but toward us.”
DOCTOR: “You see, you don’t know my actual loss on account of the Paramahamsa. Every day I fail to see two or three patients. When the next day I go to their houses, of my own accord, I cannot accept any fee since I am seeing them without being called. How can I charge them for my visit?”
The conversation turned to Mahima Chakravarty. He had been with the Master when Dr. Sarkar had visited him the previous Saturday. Pointing to the doctor, Mahima had said to Sri Ramakrishna, “Sir, you yourself have created this disease in order to pamper the doctor’s pride.”
M. (to the doctor’s friend): “Mahima Chakravarty used to come to your place to attend your lectures on medical science.”
DOCTOR: “Is that so? How full of tamas he is! Didn’t you notice it? I saluted him as ‘God’s Lower Third’. There exist in God sattva, rajas, and tamas. Tamas is the third and an inferior quality. Didn’t you hear him say to the Paramahamsa, ‘You yourself have created this disease in order to pamper the doctor’s pride’?”
M: “Mahima Chakravarty believes that the Paramahamsa can cure his disease himself, if he wants to.”
DOCTOR: “What? Cure that disease himself? Is that possible? We are physicians; we know what cancer is. We ourselves cannot cure it. And he to cure himself! Why, he doesn’t know anything about cancer. (To his friends) The illness is no doubt incurable, but these gentlemen have been nursing him with sincere devotion.”
M. requested the doctor to visit Sri Ramakrishna and returned home.
In the afternoon, about three o’clock, M. came to the Master and repeated the conversation he had had with Dr. Sarkar. He said to Sri Ramakrishna, “Today the doctor embarrassed me.”
MASTER: “What happened?”
M: “Yesterday he heard here that you yourself had created this illness in order to pamper the doctor’s pride.”
MASTER: “Who made that remark?”
M: “Mahima Chakravarty.”
MASTER : “What did the doctor say to you?”
M: “He described Mahima Chakravarty as ‘God’s Lower Third’. Now he admits that all the qualities — sattva, rajas, and tamas — exist in God. (The Master laughs.) Then he told me that he had waked at three in the morning and had been thinking of you ever since. When I saw him it was eight o’clock. He said to me, ‘Even now the Paramahamsa is in my mind.'”
MASTER (laughing): “You see, he has studied English. I cannot ask him to meditate on me; but he is doing it all the same, of his own accord.”
M: “He also said about you, ‘I have the greatest regard for him as a man.'”
MASTER: “Did you talk of anything else?”
M: “I asked him, ‘What is your suggestion today about the patient?’He said: ‘Suggestion? Hang it! I shall have to go to him again myself. What else shall I suggest?’ (Sri Ramakrishna laughs.) Further he said: ‘You don’t know how much money I am losing every day. Every day I miss two or three calls.'”
There were many devotees, including Narendranath, in the room. Vijaykrishna Goswami arrived and respectfully took the dust of the Master’s feet. Several Brahmo devotees came with him. Vijay had cut off his connection with the Brahmo Samaj and was practising spiritual discipline independently. Sri Ramakrishna was very fond of him on account of his piety and devotion. Though not a disciple of the Master, Vijay held him in very high respect. He had lived in Dacca a long time. Recently he had visited many sacred places in upper India.
MAHIMA CHAKRAVARTY (to Vijay): “Sir, you have visited many holy places and new countries. Please tell us some of your experiences.”
VIJAY: “What shall I say? I realise that everything is here where we are sitting now. This roaming about is useless. At other places I have seen two, five, ten, or twenty-five per cent of him [meaning the Master], at the most. Here alone I find the full one hundred per cent manifestation of God.”
MAHIMA: “You are right, sir. Again, it is he [the Master] who makes us roam about or remain in one place.”
MASTER (to Narendra): “See what a change has come over Vijay’s mind. He is an altogether different person. He is like thick milk from which all the water has been boiled off. You see, I can recognize a paramahamsa by his neck and forehead. Yes, I can recognize a paramahamsa.”
MAHIMA (to Vijay): “Sir, you seem to eat less now. Isn’t that so?”
VIJAY; “Perhaps you are right. (To the Master) I heard about your illness and have come to see you. Again, in Dacca —”
MASTER: “What about Dacca?”
Vijay did not reply and was silent a few moments.
VIJAY: “It is difficult to understand him [meaning the Master] unless he reveals himself. Here alone is the one hundred per cent manifestation of God.”
MASTER: “Kedar said the other day, ‘At other places we don’t get anything to eat, but here we get a stomachful!'”
MAHIMA: “Why a stomachful? It overflows the stomach.”
VIJAY (to the Master, with folded hands): “I have now realised who you are. You don’t have to tell me.”
MASTER (in a state of ecstasy): “If so, then so be it!”
Saying, “Yes, I have understood”, Vijay tell prostrate before the Master. He held the Master’s feet on his chest and clung to them. The Master was in deep samadhi, motionless as a picture. The devotees were overwhelmed by this sight. Some burst into tears and some chanted sacred hymns. All eyes were riveted on Sri Ramakrishna. They viewed him in different ways, according to their spiritual unfoldment: some as a great devotee, some as a holy man, some as God Incarnate.
Mahimacharan sang, with tears in his eyes: “Behold, behold the embodiment of Love Divine!”
Now and then he chanted, as if enjoying a glimpse of Brahman:
The Transcendental, beyond the One and the many, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.
Navagopal was weeping. Bhupati sang:
Hallowed be Brahman, the Absolute, the Infinite, the Fathomless!
Higher than the highest, deeper than the deepest depths!
Thou art the Light of Truth, the Fount of Love, the Home of Bliss!
This universe with all its manifold and blessed modes
Is but the enchanting poem of Thine inexhaustible thought;
Its beauty overflows on every side.
O Thou Poet, great and primal, in the rhythm of Thy thought
The sun and moon arise and move toward their setting;
The stars, shining like bits of gems, are the fair characters
In which Thy song is written across the blue expanse of sky;
The year, with its six seasons, in tune with the happy earth,
Proclaims Thy glory to the end of time.
The colours of the flowers reveal Thy sovereign Beauty,
The waters in their stillness. Thy deep Serenity;
The thunder-clap unveils to us the terror of Thy Law.
Deep is Thine Essence, truly; how can a foolish mind perceive it?
Wondering, it meditates on Thee from yuga to yuga’s end;
Millions upon millions of suns and moons and stars
Bow down to Thee, O Lord, in rapturous awe!
Beholding Thy creation, men and women weep for joy;
The gods and angels worship Thee, O All-pervading Presence!
O Thou, the Fount of Goodness, bestow on us Thy Knowledge;
Bestow on us devotion, bestow pure love and perfect peace;
And grant us shelter at Thy hallowed feet!
Bhupati sang again:
Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness waves of ecstatic love arise:
Rapture divine! Play of God’s Bliss!
Oh, how enthralling! . . .
He sang a third song:
Here vanish my fear and my delusion, my piety, rituals, and good works;
Here vanish my pride of race and caste! Where am I? Where art Thou, O Hari?
Thou hast stolen my life and soul, and now, O Friend, Thou dost desert me:
Ah, what a fool I was to come here to the shore of this Sea of Love!
Full to the brim with heavenly bliss is filled this little soul of mine;
Premdas says: Hearken, one and all! This in truth is the way of God!
After a long time Sri Ramakrishna regained consciousness of the world.
MASTER (to M.): “Something happens to me in that state of intoxication. Now I feel ashamed of myself. In that state I feel as if I were possessed by a ghost. I cease to be my own self. While coming down from that state I cannot count correctly. Trying to count, I say, ‘One, seven, eight’, or some such thing.”
NARENDRA: “It is because everything is one.”
MASTER: “No, it is beyond one and two.”
MAHIMA: “Yes, you are right. ‘It is neither one nor two.'”
MASTER: “There reason withers away. God cannot be realised through scholarship. He is beyond the scriptures — the Vedas, Puranas, and Tantras. If I see a man with even one book in his hand, I call him a rajarshi,3 though he is a jnani. But the brahmarshi4 has no outer sign whatsoever.
“Do you know the use of the scriptures? A man once wrote a letter to a relative, asking him to send five seers of sweetmeats and a piece of cloth. The relative received the letter, read it, and remembered about the sweet-meats and the cloth. Then he threw the letter away. Of what further use was it?”
VIJAY: “I see that the sweetmeat has been sent.”
MASTER: “God incarnates Himself on earth in a human body. He is, no doubt, present everywhere and in all beings, but man’s longing is not satisfied unless he sees God in a human form. Man’s need is not satisfied without the Divine Incarnation. Do you know what it is like? By touching any part of a cow you undoubtedly touch the cow herself. Even by touching her horns you touch the cow. But the milk comes through the cow’s udder.”
MAHIMA: “If a man wants milk he must put his mouth to the ud8er. What will he get by sucking the horns?” (All laugh.)
VIJAY: “But a calf at first licks other parts of the cow.”
MASTER (smiling): “True. But seeing the calf doing so, someone perhaps puts its mouth to the udder.” (All laugh.)
The conversation was thus going on, when Dr. Sarkar came into the room and took a seat. He said to the Master: “I woke up at three this morning, greatly worried that you might catch cold. Oh, I thought many other things about you.”
MASTER: “I have been coughing and my throat is sore. In the small hours of the morning my mouth was filled with water. My whole body is aching.”
DOCTOR: “Yes, I heard all about it this morning.’
Mahimacharan told of his trip to various parts of the country and said that in Ceylon no man laughed. Dr. Sarkar said, “It may be so; but I shall have to inquire about it.” (All laugh.)
The conversation turned to the duties of life.
MASTER (to the doctor): “Many think that the duty of a physician is a very noble one. The physician is undoubtedly a noble man if he treats his patients free, out of compassion and moved by their suffering. Then his work may be called very uplifting. But a physician becomes cruel and callous if he carries on his profession for money. It is very mean to do such things as examine urine and stool in order to earn money, like a business man carrying on his trade.”
DOCTOR: “You are right. It is undoubtedly wrong for a physician to perform his duties in that spirit. But I don’t like to brag before you —”
MASTER: “But the medical profession is certainly very noble if the physician devotes himself to the welfare of others in an unselfish spirit.
“Whatever may be a householder’s profession, it is necessary for him to live in the company of holy men now and then. If a man loves God, he will himself seek the company of holy men. I give the illustration of the hemp-smoker. One hemp-smoker loves the company of another hemp-smoker. At the sight of a person who does not smoke, he goes away with downcast eyes or hides himself in a corner; but his joy is unbounded if he meets a hemp addict. Perhaps they embrace each other. (All laugh.) Again, a vulture loves the company of another vulture.”
DOCTOR: “It has also been noticed that a vulture runs away for fear of a crow. In my opinion one should serve all creatures, not men alone. Often I feed the sparrows with flour. I throw small pellets of flour to them and they come in swarms. They love to eat them.”
MASTER: “Bravo! That’s grand. Holy men should feed other creatures. They feed ants with sugar.”
DOCTOR: “Will there be no singing today?”
MASTER (to Narendra): “Why don’t you sing a little?”
Narendra sang to the accompaniment of the tanpura and other instruments:
Sweet is Thy name, O Refuge of the humble!
It falls like sweetest nectar on our ears
And comforts us, Beloved of our souls!
The priceless treasure of Thy name alone
Is the abode of Immortality,
And he who chants Thy name becomes immortal.
Falling upon our ears, Thy holy name
Instantly slays the anguish of our hearts,
Thou Soul of our souls, and fills our hearts with bliss!
Narendra sang again:
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?
Make me drunk with Thy love’s Wine;
O Thou who stealest Thy bhaktas’ hearts,
Drown me deep in the Sea of Thy love!
Here in this world, this madhouse of Thine,
Some laugh, some weep, some dance for joy:
Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga,
All are drunk with the Wine of Thy love.
O Mother, when shall I be blessed
By joining their blissful company?
A strange transformation came over the devotees. They all became mad, as it were, with divine ecstasy. The pundit stood up, forgetting the pride of his scholarship, and cried:
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?
Vijay was the first on his feet, carried away by divine intoxication. Then Sri Ramakrishna stood up, forgetting all about his painful and fatal illness. The doctor, who had been sitting in front of him, also stood up. Both patient and physician forgot themselves in the spell created by Narendra’s music. The younger Naren and Latu went into deep samadhi. The atmosphere of the room became electric. Everyone felt the presence of God. Dr. Sarkar, eminent scientist that he was, stood breathless, watching this strange scene. He noticed that the devotees who had gone into samadhi were utterly unconscious of the outer world. All were motionless and transfixed. After a while, as they came down a little to the plane of the relative world, some laughed and some wept. An outsider, entering the room, would have thought that a number of drunkards were assembled there.
A little later Sri Ramakrishna resumed his conversation, the devotees taking their seats. It was about eight o’clock in the evening.
MASTER: “You have just noticed the effect of divine ecstasy. What does your ‘science’ say about that? Do you think it is a mere hoax?”
DOCTOR (to the Master): “I must say that this is all natural, when so many people have experienced it. It cannot be a hoax. (To Narendra) When you sang the lines:
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?
I could hardly control myself. I was about to jump to my feet. With great difficulty I suppressed my emotion. I said to myself, ‘No, I must not display my feelings.'”
MASTER (with a smile, to the doctor): “You are unshakable and motionless, like Mount Sumeru. You are a very deep soul. Nobody could perceive the deep emotion of Rupa and Sanatana. If an elephant enters a small pool, there is a splashing of water on all sides. But this does not happen when it plunges into a big lake; hardly anyone notices it. Radha once said to her companion: ‘Friend, you are weeping so much at our separation from Sri Krishna. But look at me. How stony my heart is! There is not a tear in my eyes.’ Brinde, her friend, replied: ‘Yes, your eyes are dry. But there is a deep meaning in it. A fire of grief is constantly raging in your heart because of your separation from Krishna. No sooner do the tears gather in your eyes than they are dried up in the heat of that fire.'”
DOCTOR: “Nobody can beat you in talk!” (Laughter.)
The conversation turned to other things. Sri Ramakrishna described to the doctor his ecstasies at Dakshineswar. He also told him how to control anger, lust, and the other passions.
DOCTOR: “I have heard the story that you were once lying on the ground unconscious in samadhi when a wicked man kicked you with his boots.”
MASTER : “You must have heard it from M. The man was Chandra Haldar, a priest of the Kali temple at Kalighat; he often came to Mathur Babu’s house. One day I was lying on the ground in an ecstatic mood. The room was dark. Chandra Haldar thought I was feigning that state in order to win Mathur’s favour. He entered the room and kicked me several times with his boots. It left black marks on my body. Everybody wanted to tell Mathur Babu about it, but I forbade them.”
DOCTOR; “This is also due to the will of God. Thus you have taught people how to control anger and practise forgiveness.”
In the mean time Vijay had become engaged in conversation with the other devotees.
VIJAY: “I feel as if someone were always moving with me. He shows me what is happening even at a distance.”
NARENDRA: “Like a guardian angel.”
VIJAY: “I have seen him [meaning the Master] in Dacca. I even touched his body.”
MASTER (with a smile): “It must have been someone else.”
NARENDRA: “I too have seen him many a time. (To Vijay) How can I say I do not believe your words?”