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object:2.20 - 2.29 - RULES FOR HOUSEHOLDERS AND MONKS
book class:The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
class:chapter

Sunday, March 9, 1884

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar with many devotees.

Among them were Mani Mallick, Mahendra Kaviraj, Balarm, M., Bhavanath, Rkhl, Ltu, and Harish. The Master's injured arm was in a splint. In spite of the injury he was constantly absorbed in samdhi or instructing the devotees.

Mani Mallick and Bhavanath referred to the exhibition which was then being held near the Asiatic Museum. They said: "Many maharajas have sent precious articles to the exhibition-gold couches and the like. It is worth seeing."

MASTER (to the devotees, with a smile): "Yes, you gain much by visiting those things.

You realize that those articles of gold and the other things sent by maharajas are mere trash. That is a great gain in itself. When I used to go to Calcutta with Hriday, he would show me the Viceroy's palace and say: 'Look, uncle! There is the Viceroy's palace with the big columns.' The Mother revealed to me that they were merely clay bricks laid one on top of another.

God and His splendour

"God and His splendour. God alone is real; the splendour has but a two days existence.

The magician and his magic. All become speechless with wonder at the magic, but it is all unreal. The magician alone is real. The rich man and his garden. People see only the garden; they should look for its rich owner."

MANI MALLICK (to the Master): "What a big electric light they have at the exhibition! It makes us think how great He must be who has made such an electric light."

God Himself has become everything

MASTER (to Mani): "But according to one view it is He Himself who has become everything. Even those who say that are He. It is Satchidananda Itself that has become all-the Creator, my, the universe, and living beings."

The conversation turned to the museum.

Influence of company

MASTER (to the devotees): "I visited the museum once. I was shown fossils. A whole animal has become stone! Just see what an effect has been produced by company!

Likewise, by constantly living in the company of a holy man one verily becomes holy."

MANI (smiling): "Had you visited the exhibition only once, we could receive instruction for ten or fifteen years."

MASTER (with a smile): "How so? You mean illustrations?"

BALARM: "No, you shouldn't go. Your arm won't heal if you go here and there."

MASTER: "I should like to have two pictures. One of a yogi seated before a lighted log, and another of a yogi smoking hemp and the charcoal blazing up as he pulls. Such pictures kindle my spiritual consciousness, as an imitation fruit awakens the idea of a real one.

Obstacles to Yoga

"The obstacle to yoga is 'woman and gold'. Yoga is possible when the mind becomes pure. The seat of the mind is between the eyebrows; but its look is fixed on the navel and the organs of generation and evacuation, that is to say, on 'woman and gold'. But through spiritual discipline the same mind looks upward.


Spiritual discipline

"What are the spiritual disciplines that give the mind its upward direction? One learns all this by constantly living in holy company. The rishis of olden times lived either in solitude or in the company of holy persons; therefore they could easily renounce 'woman and gold' and 'fix their minds on God. They had no fear nor did they mind the criticism of others.


Will-power needed for renunciation

"In order to be able to renounce, one must pray to God for the will power to do so. One must immediately renounce what one feels to be unreal. The rishis had this will-power.

Through it they controlled the sense-organs. If the tortoise once tucks in its limbs, you cannot make it bring them out even by cutting it into four pieces.


Master denounces hypocrisy

"The worldly man is a hypocrite. He cannot be guileless. He professes to love God, but he is attracted by worldly objects. He doesn't give God even a very small part of the love he feels for 'woman and gold'. But he says that he loves God. (To Mani Mallick) Give up hypocrisy."

MANI: "Regarding whom, God or man?"

MASTER: "Regarding everything-man as well as God. One must not be a hypocrite.

"How guileless Bhavanath is! After his marriage he came to me and asked, 'Why do I feel so much love for my wife?' Alas, he is so guileless!

"Isn't it natural for a man to love his wife? This is due to the world bewitching my of the Divine Mother of the Universe. A man feels about his wife that he has no one else in the world so near and dear; that she is his very own in life and death, here and hereafter.

"Again, how much a man suffers for his wife! Still he believes that there is no other relative so near. Look at the sad plight of a husband. Perhaps he earns twenty rupees a month and is the father of three children. He hasn't the means to feed them well. His roof leaks, but he hasn't the wherewithal to repair it. He cannot afford to buy new books for his son. He cannot invest his son with the sacred thread. He begs a few pennies from his different friends.

The ideal of a spiritual family

"But a wife endowed with spiritual wisdom is a real partner in life. She greatly helps her husband to follow the religious path. After the birth of one or two children they live like brother and sister. Both of them are devotees of God-His servant and His handmaid.

Their family is a spiritual family. They are always happy with God and His devotees.

They know that God alone is their own, from everlasting to everlasting. They are like the Pandava brothers; they do not forget God in happiness or in sorrow.

"The longing of the worldly-minded for God is momentary, like a drop of water on a redhot frying-pan. The water hisses and dries up in an instant. The attention of the worldly-minded is directed to the enjoyment of worldly pleasure. Therefore they do not feel yearning and restlessness for God.

Different forms of austerity

"People may observe the ekadasi in three ways. First, the 'waterless' ekadasi-they are not permitted to drink even a drop of water. Likewise, an all-renouncing religious mendicant completely gives up all forms of enjoyment. Second, while observing the ekadasi they take milk and sandesh. Likewise, a householder devotee keeps in his house simple objects of enjoyment. Third, while observing the ekadasi they eat luchi and chakka. They eat their fill. They keep a couple of loaves soaking in milk, which they will eat later on

"A man practises spiritual discipline, but his mind is on 'woman and gold'-it is turned toward enjoyment. Therefore, in his case, the spiritual discipline does not produce the right result.

"Hazra used to practise much japa and austerity here. But in the country he has his wife, children, and land. Therefore along with his Spiritual discipline he carried on the business of a broker. Such people cannot be true to their word. One moment they say they will give up fish, but the next moment they break their vow.

"Is there anything that a man will not do for money? He will even compel a brahmin or a holy man to carry a load.

"In my room sweets would turn bad; still I could not give them away to the worldly-minded. I could accept dirty water from others, but not even touch the jar of a worldly person.

"At the sight of rich people Hazra would call them to him. He would give them long lectures. He would say to them: 'You see Rkhl and the other youngsters. They do not practise any spiritual discipline. They simply wander about merrily.'

"A man may live in a mountain cave, smear his body with ashes, observe fasts; and practise austere discipline; but if his mind dwells on worldly objects, on 'woman and gold', I say, 'Shame on him!' But I say that a man is blessed indeed who eats, drinks, and roams about, but who keeps his mind free from 'woman and gold'.

(Pointing to Mani Mallick) "There is no picture of a holy man at his house. Divine feeling is awakened through such pictures."

MANILAL: "Yes, there is. In one room there is a picture of a pious Christian woman engaged in prayer. There is another picture in which a man holds to the Hill of Faith; below is an ocean of immeasurable depth. If he gives up his hold on faith, he will drop into the bottomless water. There is still a third picture. Several virgins are keeping vigil, feeding their lamps with oil in expectation of the Bridegroom. A sleeping virgin is by their side. She will not behold the Bridegroom when He arrives. God is described here as the Bridegroom."

MASTER (smiling): "That's very nice."

MANILAL: "I have other pictures too-one of the 'Tree of Faith' and another of 'Sin and Virtue'."

MASTER (to Bhavanath): "Those are good pictures. Go to his house and see them."

The Master remained silent a few minutes.

Sin and repentance

MASTER: "Now and then I reflect on these ideas and find that I do not like them. In the beginning of spiritual life a man should think about sin and how to get rid of it. But when, through the grace of God, devotion and ecstatic love are awakened in his heart, then he altogether forgets virtue and sin. Then he leaves the scriptures and their injunctions far behind. Thoughts of repentance and penance do not bother him at all.

"It is like going to your destination along a winding river. This requires great effort and a long time. But when there is a flood all around, then you can go straight to your destination in a short time. Then you find the land lying under water deep as a bamboo pole.

"In the beginning of spiritual life one goes by a roundabout way. One has to suffer a great deal. But the path becomes very easy when ecstatic love is awakened in the heart. It is like going over the paddy-field after the harvest is over. You may then walk in any direction. Before the harvest you had to go along the winding balk, but now you can walk in any direction. There may be stubble in the field, but you will not be hurt by it if you walk with your shoes on. Just so, an aspirant does not suffer if he has discrimination, dispassion, and faith in the guru's words."

Rules for concentration

MANILAL (to the Master): "Well, what is the rule for concentration? Where should one concentrate?"

MASTER: "The heart is a splendid place. One can meditate there or in the Sahasrara.

These are rules for meditation given in the scriptures. But you may meditate wherever you like. Every place is filled with Brahman-Consciousness. Is there any place where It does not exist? Narayana, in Vali's presence, covered with two steps the heavens, the earth, and the interspaces. Is there then any place left uncovered by God? A dirty place is as holy as the bank of the Ganges. It is said that the whole creation is the Virat, the Universal Form of God.


Two forms of meditation

"There are two kinds of meditation, one on the formless God and the other on God with form. But meditation on the formless God is extremely difficult. In that meditation you must wipe out all that you see or hear. You contemplate only the nature of your Inner Self. Meditating on His Inner Self, Shiva dances about. He exclaims, 'What am I! What am I!' This is called the Shiva yoga'. While practising this form of meditation, one directs one's look to the forehead. It is meditation on the nature of one's Inner Self after negating the world, following the Vedantic method of 'Neti, neti'.

"There is another form of meditation, known as the 'Vishnu yoga', The eyes are fixed on the tip of the nose. Half the look is directed inward and the other half outward. This is how one meditates on God with form. Sometimes Shiva meditates on God with form, and dances. At that time he exclaims, 'Rma! Rma!' and dances about."

Meaning of Om

Sri Ramakrishna then explained the sacred Word "Om" and the true Knowledge of Brahman and the state of mind after the attainment of Brahmajnana.

MASTER: "The sound Om is Brahman. The rishis and sages practised austerity to realize that Sound-Brahman. After attaining perfection one hears the sound of this eternal Word rising spontaneously from the navel.

"'What will you gain', some sages ask, 'by merely hearing this sound?' You hear the roar of the ocean from a distance. By following the roar you can reach the ocean. As long as there is the roar, there must also be the ocean. By following the trail of Om you attain Brahman, of which the Word is the symbol. That Brahman has been described by the Vedas as the ultimate goal. But such vision is not possible as long as you are conscious of your ego. A man realizes Brahman only when he feels neither 'I' nor 'you', neither 'one' nor 'many'.

"Think of the sun and of ten jars filled with water. The sun is reflected in each jar. At first you see one real sun and ten reflected ones. If you break nine of the jars, there will remain only the real sun and one reflection. Each jar represents a jiva. Following the reflection one can find the real sun. Through the individual soul one can reach the Supreme Soul. Through spiritual discipline the individual soul can get the vision of the Supreme Soul. What remains when the last jar is broken cannot be described.

Ignorance, knowledge, and Supreme Wisdom

"The jiva at first remains in a state of ignorance. He is not conscious of God, but of the multiplicity. He sees many things around him. On attaining Knowledge he becomes conscious that God dwells in all beings. Suppose a man has a thorn in the sole of his foot. He gets another thorn and takes out the first one. In other words, he removes the thorn of ajnna, ignorance, by means of the thorn of jnna, knowledge. But on attaining vijnna, he discards both thorns, knowledge and ignorance. Then he talks intimately with God day and night. It is no mere vision of God.

"He who has merely heard of milk is 'ignorant'. He who has seen milk has 'knowledge'.

But he who has drunk milk and been strengthened by it has attained vijnna."

Thus the Master described his own state of mind to the devotees. He was indeed a vijnni.


MASTER (to the devotees): "There is a difference between, a Sdhu endowed with jnna and one endowed with vijnna. The Jnni Sdhu has a certain way of sitting. He twirls his moustache and asks the visitor, 'Well, sir! Have you any question to ask?' But the man who always sees God and talks to Him intimately has an altogether different nature. He is sometimes like an inert thing, sometimes like a ghoul, sometimes like a child, and sometimes like a madman.

"When he is in samdhi, he becomes unconscious of the outer world and appears inert.

He sees everything to be full of Brahman-Consciousness; therefore he behaves like a ghoul. He is not conscious of the holy and the unholy. He does not observe any formal purity. To him everything is Brahman. He is not aware of filth as such. Even rice and other cooked food after a few days become like filth.

"Again, he is like a madman. People notice his ways and actions and think of him as insane. Or sometimes he is like a child-no bondage, no shame, no hatred, no hesitation, or the like.

"One reaches this state of mind after having the vision of God. When a boat passes by a magnetic hill, its screws and nails become loose and drop out. Lust, anger, and the other passions cannot exist after the vision of God.

"Once a thunderbolt struck the Kli temple. I noticed that it flattened the points of the screws.

"It is no longer possible for the man who has seen God to beget children and perpetuate the creation. When a grain of paddy is sown it grows into a plant; but a grain of boiled paddy does not germinate.

"He who has seen God retains his 'I' only in name. No evil can be done by that 'I'. It is a mere appearance, like the mark left on the coconut tree by its branch. The branch has fallen off. Only the mark remains.

The two egos

"I said to Keshab Sen, 'Give up the ego that makes you feel, "I am the doer; I am teaching people." 'Keshab said to me, 'Sir, then I cannot keep the organization.'

Thereupon I said to him, 'Give up the "wicked ego".' One doesn't have to renounce the ego that makes one feel, 'I am the servant of God; I am His devotee.' One doesn't develop the 'divine ego' as long as one retains the 'wicked ego'. If a man is in charge of the store-room, the master of the house doesn't feel responsible for it.


God's manifestation through man

(To the devotees) "You see, my nature is changing on account of this injury to my arm.

It is being revealed to me that there is a greater manifestation of God in man than in other created beings. God is telling me, as it were: 'I dwell in men. Be merry with men.' Among men God manifests Himself in a still greater degree in pure-souled devotees. That is why I feel great longing for Narendra, Rkhl, and other such youngsters.

"One often sees small holes along the edge of a lake. Fish and crabs accumulate there.

Just so, there is a greater accumulation of divinity in man. It is said that man is greater than the salagram. Man is Narayana Himself. If God can manifest Himself through an image, then why not through man also?

"God is born as man for the purpose of sporting as man. Rma, Krishna, and Chaitanya are examples. By meditating on an incarnation of God one meditates on God Himself."

Bhagavan Das, a Brahmo devotee, arrived.

The Eternal Religion

MASTER (to Bhagavan Das): "The Eternal Religion, the religion of the rishis, has been in existence from time out of mind and will exist eternally. There exist in this Sanatana Dharma all forms of worship-worship of God with form and worship of the Impersonal Deity as well. It contains all paths-the path of knowledge, the path of devotion, and so on. Other forms of religion, the modern cults, will remain for a few days and then disappear."


March 23, 1884

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room after his midday meal, with Rkhl, Ram, and some other devotees. He was not quite well. The injured arm was still bandaged.

But in spite of his illness, his room was a veritable mart of joy and he the centre of it.

Devotees thronged there daily to see the Master. Spiritual talk went on incessantly, and, the very air of the room vibrated with bliss. Sometimes the Master would sing the name and glories of God, and sometimes he would go into samdhi, the devotees being amazed at the ease with which the Master freed himself from the consciousness of the body.

RAM: "There is talk of Narendra's marrying Mr. R. Mitra's daughter. Narendra has been offered a large dowry."

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, Narendra may thus become a leader of society or something like that. He will be an outstanding man, whatever career he follows."

The Master did not much encourage the conversation about Narendra.

MASTER (to Ram): "Well, can you tell me why I become so impatient when I am ill?

Sometimes I ask this man and sometimes that man how I may be cured. You see, one must either believe everyone or no one at all.

"It is God Himself who has become the physicians. Therefore one must believe all of them. But one cannot have faith in them if one thinks of them as mere men.

"Sambhu was fearfully delirious. Dr. Sarvadhikari said that the delirium was due to the strong medicine. Haladhri asked the doctor to feel his pulse. The doctor said: 'Let me see your eyes. Oh, it is an enlargement of the spleen!' Haladhri said he had nothing of the sort. But Dr. Madhu gives good medicine."

RAM: "The medicine by itself does no good, though it greatly helps nature."

MASTER: "If that is so, why does opium cause constipation?"

Ram referred to Keshab Sen's death.

RAM: "You were quite right. You said that a gardener uncovers the roots of a good rose-plant so that it may absorb the dew and grow stronger and healthier. The words of a holy man have been fulfilled."

MASTER: "I don't know about that. I wasn't calculating when I said it. It is you who say that."

RAM: "The Brahmos have published something about you in their magazine."

MASTER: "Published about me? Why? Why should they write now? I eat and drink and make merry. I don't know anything else.

Man teaches by God's power

"I once asked Keshab, 'Why have you written about me?' He said that it would bring people here. But man cannot teach by his own power. One cannot conquer ignorance without the power of God.

"At one time two men were engaged to wrestle. One of them was Hanuman Singh and the other a Mussalman from the Punjab. The Mussalman was a strong, stout man. He had eaten lustily of butter and meat for fifteen days before the day of the wrestling-match, and even on that day. All thought he would be the victor. Hanuman Singh, on the other hand, clad in a dirty cloth, had eaten sparingly for some days before the day of the match and devoted himself to repeating the holy name of Mahavir. On the day of the match he observed a complete fast. All thought that he would surely be defeated.

But it was he who won, while the man who had feasted for fifteen days lost the fight.

"What is the use of printing and advertising? He who teaches men gets his power from God. None but a man of renunciation can teach others. I am the greatest of all fools!"

(All laugh.)

A DEVOTEE: "Then how is it that the Vedas and the Vednta, and many things besides, come out of your mouth?"

MASTER (smiling): "During my boyhood I could understand what the Sdhus read at the Lahas' house at Kamarpukur, although I would miss a little here and there. If a pundit speaks to me in Sanskrit I can follow him, but I cannot speak it myself.

"To realize God is the one goal of life. While aiming his arrow at the mark, Arjuna said, 'I see only the eye of the bird and nothing else-not the kings, not the trees, not even the bird itself.'

"The realization of God is enough for me. What does it matter if I don't know Sanskrit?

"The grace of God falls alike on all His children, learned and illiteratewhoever longs for Him. The father has the same love for all his children. Suppose a father has five children. One calls him 'Baba', some 'Ba', and some 'Pa'. These last cannot pronounce the whole word. Does the father love those who address him as 'Baba' more than those who call him 'Pa'? The father knows that these last are simply too young to say 'Baba'

correctly.

"Since this injury to my arm a change has been coming over my mind. I have been feeling much inclined to the Naralila. It is God Himself who plays about as human beings. If God can be worshipped through a clay image, then why not through a man?

"Once a merchant was shipwrecked. He floated to the shore of Ceylon, where Bibhishana was the king of the monsters. Bibhishana ordered his servants to bring the merchant to him. At the sight of him Bibhishana was overwhelmed with joy and said: 'Ah! He looks like my Rma. The same human form!' He adorned the merchant with robes and jewels, and worshipped him. When I first heard this story, I felt such joy that I cannot describe it.

"Vaishnavcharan said to me, 'If a person looks on his beloved as his Ishta, he finds it very easy to direct his mind to God.' The men and women of a particular sect at Syambazar, near Kamarpukur, say to each other, 'Whom do you love?' 'I love so-and-so.' 'Then know him to be your God.' When I heard this, I said to them: 'That is not my way. I look on all women as my mother.' I found out that they talked big but led immoral lives. The women then asked me if they would have salvation. 'Yes,' I said, 'if you are absolutely faithful to one man and look on him as your God. But you cannot be liberated if you live with five men.' "

RAM: "I understand that Kedr Babu has recently visited the Kartabhajas' place."

MASTER: "He gathers honey from various flowers. (To Ram, Nityagopal, and the others) If a devotee believes one hundred per cent that his Chosen Ideal is God, then he attains God and sees Him.

"People of bygone generations had tremendous faith. What faith Haladhri's father had!

Once he was on the way to his daughter's house when he noticed some beautiful flowers and vilwa-leaves. He gathered them for the worship of the Family Deity and walked back five or six miles to his own house.

"Once a theatrical troupe in the village was enacting the life of Rma. When Kaikeyi asked Rma to go into exile in the forest, Haladhri's father, who had been watching the performance, sprang up. He went to the actor who played Kaikeyi, crying out, 'You wretch!', and was about to burn the actor's face with a torch. He was a very pious man.

After finishing his ablutions he would stand in the water and meditate on the Deity, reciting the invocation: 'I meditate on Thee, of red hue and four faces', while tears streamed down his cheeks.

"When my father walked along the lanes of the village wearing his wooden sandals, the shopkeepers would stand up out of respect and say, 'there he comes!' When he bathed in the Haldrpukur, the villagers would not have the courage to get into the water.

Before bathing they would inquire if he had finished his bath.

"When my father chanted the name of Raghuvir, his chest would turn crimson. This also happened to me. When I saw the cows at Vrindvan returning from the pasture, I was transported into a divine mood and my body became red.

"Very strong was the faith of the people in those days. One hears that God used to dance then, taking the form of Kli, while the devotee clapped his hands keeping time."

A hathayogi was staying in the hut at the Panchavati. Ramprasanna, the son of Krishnakishore of Ariadh, and several other men had become his devotees: The yogi needed twenty-five rupees a month for his milk and opium; so Ramprasanna had requested Sri Ramakrishna to speak to his devotees about the yogi and get some money. The Master said to several devotees: "A hathayogi has come to the Panchavati.

Go and visit him. See what sort of man he is."

A young man of twenty-seven or twenty-eight, known as Thakur Dada, entered the room with a few friends and saluted the Master. He lived at Baranagore and was the son of a brahmin pundit. He was practising the kathakata in order to earn money to meet his family's expenses. At one time he had been seized with the spirit of renunciation and had gone away from his family. Even now he practised spiritual discipline at home.

MASTER: "Have you come on foot? Where do you live?"

DADA: "Yes, sir, I have walked from home. I live at Baranagore."

MASTER: "Have you come here for any particular purpose?"

DADA: "I have come here to visit you. I pray to God. But why do I suffer now and then from worries? For a few days I feel very happy. Why do I feel restless afterwards?"

MASTER: "I see. Things have not been fitted quite exactly. The machine works smoothly if the mechanic fits the cogs of the wheels correctly. In your case there is an obstruction somewhere."

DADA: "Yes, sir. That must be so."

MASTER: "Are you initiated?"

DADA: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Do you have faith in your mantra?"

A friend of Thkur Dd said that the latter could sing well. The Master asked him to sing.

Thkur Dd sang:

I shall become a yogi and dwell in Love's mountain cave; I shall be lost in yoga beside the Fountain-head of Bliss.

I shall appease my hunger for Knowledge with the fruit of Truth;

I shall worship the feet of God with the flower of Dispassion.

I shall not seek a well to slake the burning thirst of my heart, But I shall draw the water of Peace into the jar of my soul.

Drinking the glorious Nectar of Thy blessed Lotus Feet, I shall both laugh and dance and weep and sing on the heights of Joy.

MASTER: "Ah, what a nice song! 'Fountain-head of Bliss'! 'Fruit of Truth'! 'Laugh and dance and weep and sing'! Your song tastes very sweet to me. Why should you worry?

"Pleasure and pain are inevitable in the life of the world. One suffers now and then from a little worry and trouble. A man living in a room full of soot cannot avoid being a little stained."

DD: "Please tell me what I should do now."

MASTER: "Chant the name of Hari morning and evening, clapping your hands. Come once more when my arm is healed a bit."

Mahimacharan entered the room and saluted the Master. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "Ah! He has sung a nice song. Please sing it again." Thakur Dada repeated the song.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Please recite that verse, the one about devotion to Hari"

Mahimacharan recited, quoting from the Nrada Pancharatra: What need is there of penance if God is worshipped with love?

What is the use of penance if God is not worshipped with love?

What need is there of penance if God is seen within and without?

What is the use of penance if God is not seen within and without?

MASTER: "Recite that part also-'Obtain from Him the love of God'."

Mahima recited:

O Brahman! O my child! Cease from practising further penances.

Hasten to Sankara, the Ocean of Heavenly Wisdom; Obtain from Him the love of God, the pure love praised by devotees,

Which snaps in twain the shackles that bind you to the world.

MASTER: "Yes, Sankara will bestow the love of God."

MAHIMA: "One who is free from bondage is the eternal Shiva."

MASTER: "Shame, hatred, fear, hesitation-these are the shackles. What do you say?"

MAHIMA: "Yes, sir. And also the desire to conceal, and shrinking before praise."

Signs of Knowledge

MASTER: "There are two signs of knowledge. First, an unshakable buddhi. No matter how many sorrows, afflictions, dangers, and obstacles one may be faced with, one's mind does not undergo any change. It is like the blacksmith's anvil, which receives constant blows from the hammer and still remains unshaken. And second, manliness-very strong grit. If lust and anger injure a man, he must renounce them once for all. If a tortoise once tucks in its limbs, it won't put them out again though you may cut it into four pieces.



Two kinds of renunciation

(To Thakur Dada and the others) There are two kinds of renunciation: intense and feeble. Feeble renunciation is a slow process; one moves in a slow rhythm. Intense renunciation is like the sharp edge of a razor. It cuts the bondage of my easily and at once.

"One farmer labours for days to bring water from the lake to his field. But his efforts are futile because he has no grit. Another farmer, after labouring for two or three days, takes a vow and says, 'I will bring water into my field today, and not till then will I go home.' He puts aside all thought of his bath or his meal. He labours the whole day and feels great joy when in the evening he finds water entering his field with a murmuring sound. Then he goes home and says to his wife: 'Now give me some oil. I shall take my bath.' After finishing his bath and his meal he lies down to sleep with a peaceful mind.

"A certain woman said to her husband: 'So-and-so has developed a spirit of great dispassion for the world, but I don't see anything of the sort in you. He has sixteen wives. He is giving them up one by one.' The husband, with a towel in his shoulder, was going to the lake for his bath. He said to his wife: 'You are crazy! He won't be able to give up the world. Is it ever possible to renounce bit by bit? I can renounce. Look! Here I go.' He didn't stop even to settle his household affairs. He left home just as he was, the towel on his shoulder, and went away. That is intense renunciation.

"There is another kind of renunciation, called 'Markata Vairgya', 'monkey renunciation'.

A man, harrowed by distress at home, puts on an ochre robe and goes away to Benares. For many days he does not send home any news of himself. Then he writes to his people: 'Don't be worried about me. I have got a job here.'

"There is always trouble in family life. The wife may be disobedient. Perhaps the husband earns only twenty rupees a month. He hasn't the means to perform the 'rice-eating ceremony' for his baby. He cannot educate his son. The house is dilapidated.

The roof leaks and he hasn't the money to repair it.

Advantage of a householder's life

"Therefore when the youngsters come here I ask them whether they have anyone at home. (To Mahima) Why should householders renounce the world? What great troubles the wandering monks pass through! The wife of a certain man said to him: 'You want to renounce the world? Why? You will have to beg morsels from eight different homes. But here you get all your food at one place. Isn't that nice?'

"Wandering monks, while searching for a sadavrata, may have to go six miles out of their way. I have seen them travelling along the regular road after their pilgrimage to Puri and making a detour to find an eating-place.

"You are leading a householder's life. That is very good. It is like fighting from a fort.

There are many disadvantages in fighting in an open field. So many dangers, too.

Bullets may hit you.

"But one should spend some time in solitude and attain Knowledge. Then one can lead the life of a householder. Janaka lived in the world after attaining Knowledge. When you have gained it, you may live anywhere. Then nothing matters."

MAHlMA: "Sir, why does a man become deluded by worldly objects?"

MASTER: "It is because he lives in their midst without having realized God. Man never succumbs to delusion after he has realized God. The moth no longer enjoys darkness if it has once seen the light.

Practice of continence

"To be able to realize God, one must practise absolute continence. Sages like Sukadeva are examples of an urdhvareta. Their chastity was absolutely unbroken. There is another class, who previously have had discharges of semen but who later on have controlled them. A man controlling the seminal fluid for twelve years develops a special power. He grows a new inner nerve called the nerve of memory. Through that nerve he remembers all, he understands all.

"Loss of semen impairs the strength. But it does not injure one if one loses it in a dream. That semen one gets from food. What remains after nocturnal discharge is enough. But one must not know a woman.

"The semen that remains after nocturnal discharge is very 'refined'. The Lahas kept jars of molasses in their house. Every jar had a hole in it. After a year they found that the molasses had crystallized like sugar candy. The unnecessary watery part had leaked out through the hole.

Sannyasi's absolute self-control

"A sannyasi must absolutely renounce woman. You are already involved; but that doesn't matter.

"A sannyasi must not look even at the picture of a woman. But this is too difficult for an ordinary man. Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni are the seven notes of the scale. It is not possible to keep your voice on 'ni' a long time.

"To lose semen is extremely harmful for a sannyasi. Therefore he must live so carefully that he will not have to see the form of a woman. He must keep himself away from a woman even if she is a devotee of God. It is injurious for him to look even at the picture of a woman. He will lose semen in a dream, if not in the waking state.

"A sannyasi may have control over his senses, but to set an example to mankind he should not talk with women. He must not talk to one very long, even if she is a devotee of God. .

"Living as a sannyasi is like observing the ekadasi without drinking even a drop of water. There are two other ways of observing the day. You may eat fruit or take luchi and curry. With the luchi and curry you may also take slices of bread soaked in milk.

(All laugh.)

(Smiling) "Absolute fasting is not possible for you.

"Once I saw Krishnakishore eating luchi and curry on an ekadasi day. I said to Hriday, 'Hridu, I want to observe Krishnakishore's ekadasi!' (All laugh.) And so I did one day. I ate my fill. The next day I had to fast." (Laughter.) The devotees who had gone to the Panchavati to visit the hathayogi came back.

MASTER (addressing them): "Well, what do you think of him? I dare say you have measured him with your own tape."

Sri Ramakrishna saw that very few of the devotees were willing to give money to the hathayogi.

MASTER: "You don't like a Sdhu if you have to give him money. Rajendra Mitra draws a salary of eight hundred rupees a month. He had been to Allahabad to see the kumbhamela. I asked him, 'Well, what kind of Sdhus did you see at the fair?' Rajendra said: 'I didn't find any very great Sdhu there. I noticed one, it is true. But even he accepted money.'

"I say to myself, 'If no one gives money to a Sdhu, then how will he feed himself?'

There is no collection plate here; therefore all come. And I say to myself: 'Alas! They love their money. Let them have it.' "

The Master rested awhile. A devotee sat on the end of the small couch and gently stroked his feet. The Master said to him softly: "That which is formless again has form.

One should believe in the forms of God also. By meditating on Kli the aspirant realizes God as Kli. Next he finds that the form merges in the Indivisible Absolute. That which is the Indivisible Satchidananda is verily Kli."

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the semicircular porch west of his room, talking with Mahima and other devotees about the hathayogi. The talk drifted to Ramprasanna, the son of Krishnakishore. The Master was fond of the young man.

MASTER: "Ramprasanna roams about aimlessly. The other day he came here and sat in the room, but he did not speak a word. He pressed his nostrils with his fingers, practising pranayama. I offered him something to eat, but he wouldn't take it. On another occasion I had asked him to sit by me. He squatted on the floor placing one leg upon the other. He was rather discourteous to Captain. I weep at his mother's suffering.

(To Mahima) "Ramprasanna asked me to speak to you about the hathayogi. The yogi's daily expenses are six and a half nns. But he won't tell you about it himself."

MAHIMA: "Who will listen to him even if he does?"

Mani Sen of Panihati entered the room with several friends, one of whom was a physician. Mani asked the Master about his injured arm. The doctor did not approve of the medicine prescribed by Pratap Mazumdar. The Master said to him: "Why should you say that? Pratap is no fool. "

Suddenly Ltu cried out, "Oh! The medicine bottle has dropped and broken."

It was not yet dusk. The Master, seated on the couch, was talking to M. Mahimacharan was on the semicircular porch engaged in a loud discussion of the scriptures with the physician friend of Mani Sen. Sri Ramakrishna heard it and with a smile said to M.: "There! He is delivering himself. That is the characteristic of rajas. It stimulates the desire to 'lecture' and to show off one's scholarship. But sattva makes one introspective. It makes one hide one's virtues. But I must say that Mahima is a grand person. He takes such delight in spiritual talk."

Adhar entered the room, saluted the Master, and sat by M.'s side. He had not come for the past few days.

MASTER: "Hello! Why haven't you come all these days?"

ADHAR: "Sir, I have been busy with so many things. I had to attend a conference of the school committee and various other meetings."

MASTER: "So you completely lost yourself in schools and meetings and forgot everything else?"

ADHAR: "Everything else was hidden away in a corner of my mind. How is your arm?"

MASTER: "Just look. It is not yet healed. I have been taking medicine prescribed by Pratap."

After a time the Master suddenly said to Adhar: "Look here. All these are unreal-meetings, school, office, and everything else. God alone is the Substance, and all else is illusory. One should worship God with one's whole mind."

Adhar sat without speaking a word.

MASTER: "All else is illusory. This moment the body is and the next moment it is not.

One must make haste to worship God.

"But you don't have to renounce everything. Live in the world the way the tortoise does. The tortoise roams about in the water but keeps its eggs on land. Its whole mind is on the eggs.

"What a nice state of mind Captain has developed! He looks like a rishi when he is seated to perform worship. He performs the rati with lighted camphor and recites beautiful hymns. When he rises from his seat after finishing the worship, his eyes are swollen from emotion, as if bitten by ants. Besides, he always devotes himself to the study of the sacred books, such as the Git and the Bhagavata. Once I used one or two English words before him, and that made him angry. He said, 'English-educated people are profane.' "

After a while Adhar said humbly to the Master: "Sir, you haven't been to our place for a long time. The drawing-room smells worldly and everything else appears to be steeped in darkness."

The Master was deeply touched by these words of his devotee. He suddenly stood up and blessed M. and Adhar in an ecstatic mood, touching their heads and hearts. In a voice choked with love the Master said: "I look upon you as Narayana Himself. You are indeed my own."

Mahimacharan entered the room.

MASTER (to Mahima): "What I said about aspirants practising continence is true.

Without chastity one cannot assimilate these teachings.

"Once a man said to Chaitanya: 'You give the devotees so much instruction. Why don't they make much progress?' Chaitanya said: 'They dissipate their powers in the company of women. That is why they cannot assimilate spiritual instruction. If one keeps water in a leaky jar, the water escapes little by little through the leak.' "

Mahima and the other devotees remained silent. After a time Mahima said, "Please pray to God for us that we may acquire the necessary strength."

MASTER: "Be on your guard even now. It is difficult, no doubt, to check the torrent in the rainy season. But a great deal of water has gone out. If you build the embankment now it will stand.

--------------------

Chapter 21


A DAY AT DAKSHINESWAR


Saturday, April 5, 1884

IT WAS ABOUT EIGHT O'CLOCK in the morning when M. arrived at the temple garden and found Sri Ramakrishna seated on the small couch in his room. A few devotees were sitting on the floor. The Master was talking to them. Prankrishna Mukherji was there.


Prankrishna belonged to an aristocratic family and lived in the northern part of Calcutta.

He held a high post in an English business firm. He was very much devoted to Sri Ramakrishna and, though a householder, derived great pleasure from the study of Vednta philosophy. He was a frequent visitor at the temple garden. Once he invited the Master to his house in Calcutta and held a religious festival. Every day, early in the morning, he bathed in the holy water of the Ganges. Whenever it was convenient, he would come to Dakshineswar in a hired country boat.


That morning he had hired a boat and invited M. to accompany him to Dakshineswar.

The boat had hardly left shore when the river became choppy. M. had become frightened and begged Prankrishna to put him back on land. In spite of assurances, M.

had kept saying: "You must put me ashore. I shall walk to Dakshineswar." And so M.

came on foot and found Sri Ramakrishna talking to Prankrishna and the others.


How the Lord Himself is deluded by His own my

MASTER (to Prankrishna): "But there is a greater manifestation of God in man. You may ask, 'How is it possible for God to be incarnated as a man who suffers from hunger, thirst, and the other traits of an embodied being, and perhaps also from disease and grief?' The reply is, 'Even Brahman weeps, entrapped in the snare of the five elements.'


"Don't you know how Rma had to weep, stricken with grief for Sita? Further, it is said that the Lord incarnated Himself as a sow in order to kill the demon Hiranyaksha.

Hiranyaksha was eventually killed, but God would not go back to His abode in heaven.

He enjoyed His sow's life. He had given birth to several young ones and was rather happy with them. The gods said among themselves: 'What does this mean? The Lord doesn't care to return to heaven!' They all went to Shiva and laid the matter before him.

Shiva came down and urged the Lord to leave the sow body and return to heaven. But the sow only suckled her young ones. (Laughter.) Then Shiva destroyed the sow body with his trident, and the Lord came out laughing aloud and went back to His own abode."


The Anhata sound

PRANKRISHNA (to the Master): "Sir, what is the Anhata sound?"


MASTER: "It is a spontaneous sound constantly going on by itself. It is the sound of the Pranava, Om. It originates in the Supreme Brahman and is heard by yogis. People immersed in worldliness do not hear it. A yogi alone knows that this sound originates both from his navel and from the Supreme Brahman resting on the Ocean of Milk."


Reincarnation

PRANKRISHNA: "Sir, what is the nature of the life after death?"


MASTER: "Keshab Sen also asked that question. As long as a man remains ignorant, that is to say, as long as he has not realized God, so long will, he be born. But after attaining Knowledge he will not have to come back to this earth or to any other plane of existence.


"The potter puts his pots in the sun to dry. Haven't you noticed that among them there are both baked and unbaked ones? When a cow happens to walk over them, some of the pots get broken to pieces. The broken pots that are already baked, the potter throws away, since they are of no more use to him. But the soft ones, though broken, he gathers up. He makes them into a lump and out of this forms new pots. In the same way, so long as a man has not realized God, he will have to come back to the Potter's hand, that is, he will have to be born again and again.


"What is the use of sowing a boiled paddy grain? It will never bring forth a shoot.

Likewise, if a man is boiled in the fire of Knowledge, he will not be used for new creation. He is liberated.




The "ego of Devotion"

"According to the Puranas, the bhakta and the Bhagavan are two separate entities. 'I'

am one and 'You' are another. The body is a plate, as it were, containing the water of mind, intelligence, and ego. Brahman is like the sun. It is reflected in the water.

Therefore the devotee sees the divine form.


The "ego of Knowledge"

"According to the Vednta, Brahman alone is real and all else is my, dreamlike and unsubstantial. The ego, like a stick, lies across the Ocean of Satchidananda. (To M.) Listen to what I am saying. When this ego is taken away, there remains only one undivided Ocean of Satchidananda. But as long as the stick of ego remains, there is an appearance of two: here is one part of the water and there another part. Attaining the Knowledge of Brahman one is established in samdhi. Then the ego is effaced.


"But Sankaracharya retained the 'ego of Knowledge' in order to teach men.


The signs of a Jnni

(To Prankrishna) But there are signs that distinguish the man of Knowledge. Some people think they have Knowledge. What are the characteristics of Knowledge? A Jnni cannot injure anybody. He becomes like a child. If a steel sword touches the philosopher's stone, it is transformed into gold. Gold can never cut. It may seem from the outside that a Jnni also has anger or egotism, but in reality he has no such thing.


The ego of a Jnni

"From a distance a burnt string lying on the ground may look like a real one; but if you come near and blow at it, it disappears altogether. The anger and egotism of a Jnni are mere appearances; they are not real.


"A child has no attachment. He makes a play house, and if anyone touches it, he will jump about and cry. The next moment he himself will break it. This moment he may be very attached to his cloth. He says: 'My daddy has given it to me. I won't part with it.'

But the next moment you can cajole him away from it with a toy. He will go away with you, leaving the cloth behind.


"These are the characteristics of a Jnni.

Perhaps he has many luxuries at

homecouch, chairs, paintings, and equipage. But any day he may leave all these and go off to Benares.


Jnni looks on the world as illusory

"According to Vednta the waking state, too, is unreal. Once a wood-cutter lay dreaming, when someone woke him up. Greatly annoyed, he said: 'Why have you disturbed my sleep? I was dreaming that I was a king and the father of seven children.

The princes were becoming well versed in letters and military arts. I was secure on my throne and ruled over my subjects. Why have you demolished my world of joy?' 'But that was a mere dream', said the other man. 'Why should that bother you?' 'Fool!' said the wood-cutter. 'You don't understand. My becoming a king in the dream was just as real as is my being a wood-cutter. If being a wood-cutter is real, then being a king in a dream is real also.' "


The state of a vijnni

Prankrishna always talked about jnna. Was this why the Master described the state of the Jnni? Now he proceeded to describe the state of the vijnni.


MASTER: "Jnna is the realization of Self through the process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'. One goes into samdhi through this process of elimination and realizes the tman.


"But vijnna means Knowledge with a greater fullness. Some have heard of milk, some have seen milk, and some have drunk milk. He who has merely heard of it is 'ignorant'.

He who has seen it is a Jnni. But he who has drunk it has vijnna, that is to say, a fuller knowledge of it. After having the vision of God one talks to Him as if He were an intimate relative. That is vijnna.


"First of all you must discriminate, following the method of 'Neti, neti': 'He is not the five elements, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the intelligence, nor the ego. He is beyond all these cosmic principles.' You want to climb to the roof; then you must eliminate and leave behind all the steps one by one. The steps are by no means the roof. But after reaching the roof you find that the steps are made of the same materialsbrick, lime, and brick-dustas the roof. It is the Supreme Brahman that has become the universe and its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. That which is tman has become the five elements. You may ask why the earth is so hard, if it has come out of tman? All is possible through the will of God. Don't you see that bone and flesh are made from blood and semen? How hard 'sea-foam' becomes!


"After attaining vijnna one can live in the world as well. Then one clearly realizes that God Himself has become the universe and all living beings, that He is not outside the world.


(To Prankrishna) "The fact is that one must have the 'spiritual eye'. You will develop that eye as soon as your mind becomes pure. Take for instance the Kumari Puja. I worshipped a virgin. The girl, to be sure, had all her human imperfections; still I regarded her as the Divine Mother Herself.


"On one side is the wife and on the other the son. Love is bestowed on both, but in different ways. Therefore it comes to this, that everything depends upon the mind. The pure mind acquires a new attitude. Through that mind one sees God in this world.

Therefore one needs spiritual discipline.


"Yes, spiritual discipline is necessary. You should know that a man becomes easily attached to a woman. A woman naturally loves a man, and a man also naturally loves a woman. Therefore both fall speedily from their spiritual ideal. But it also must be said that there is a great advantage in leading the life of a householder. In case of urgent necessity a man may live with his wife.


(Smiling) "Well, M., why are you smiling?"


M. (to himself): "The Master makes this much allowance for householders since they cannot renounce everything. Is complete and absolute continence impossible for a householder?"


The hathayogi who had been living in the Panchavati entered the room. He was in the habit of taking milk and opium. He did not eat rice or other food and had no money to buy the milk and opium. The Master had talked with him in the Panchavati. The hathayogi had told Rkhl to ask the Master to make some provision for him, and Sri Ramakrishna had promised to speak about it to the visitors from Calcutta.


HATHAYOGI (to the Master): "What did you say to Rkhl about me?"


MASTER: "I said that I would ask some rich visitors to help you. But (to Prankrishna) you, perhaps, do not like these yogis?"


Prankrishna remained silent. The hathayogi left the room and the conversation went on.


Master's adherence to truth

MASTER (to Prankrishna and the others): "If a man leads a householder's life he must have unflagging devotion to truth. God can be realized through truth alone. Formerly I was very particular about telling the truth, though now my zeal has abated a little. If I said, 'I shall bathe', then I would get into the water of the Ganges, recite the mantra, and sprinkle a little water over my head. But still there would remain some doubt in me as to whether my bath was complete. Once I went to Ram's house in Calcutta. I happened to say, 'I shall not take any luchi.' When I sat down for the meal I felt hungry. But I had said I would not eat the luchi; so I had to fill my stomach with sweets. (All laugh.)


"But my zeal for truthfulness has abated a little now. Once I said I would go to the pine-grove, but then I felt I had no particular urge to go. What was to be done? I asked Ram about it. He said I didn't have to go. Then I reasoned to myself: 'Well, everyone is Narayana. So Ram, too, is Narayana. Why shouldn't I listen to him? The elephant is Narayana no doubt; but the mahut is Narayana too. Since the mahut asked me not to go near the elephant, then why shouldn't I obey him?' Through reasoning like this my zeal for truthfulness is slightly less strong now than before.


"I find a change, coming over me. Years ago Vaishnavcharan said to me, 'One attains Perfect Knowledge when one sees God in man.' Now I see that it is God alone who is moving about in various forms: as a holy man, as a cheat, as a villain. Therefore I say, 'Narayana in the guise of the Sdhu, Narayana in the guise of the cheat, Narayana in the guise of the villain, Narayana in the guise of the lecher.'


"Now my problem is how I can feed all of you. I want to feed everyone. So I keep one at a time with me and feed him."


Prankrishna (looking at M. and smiling): "A fine man, indeed! (To the Master) He would not let us go till we put him ashore."


MASTER (smiling): "Why? What happened?"


PRANKRISHNA: "He was in our boat. Seeing that the river was slightly rough, he insisted on being put ashore. (To M.) 'How did you come?"


M. (smiling): "On foot."


Sri Ramakrishna laughed.


PRANKRISHNA (to the Master): "Sir, I am thinking now of giving up my work. One who is involved in activity cannot accomplish anything. (Pointing to his companion) I am training him to do my work. After I resign, he will relieve me. Work has become intolerable."


MASTER: "Yes, work is very troublesome. It is now good for you to meditate on God for a few days in solitude. No doubt you say that you would like to give up your work.

Captain said the same thing. Worldly people talk that way; but they don't succeed in carrying out their intention.


"There are many pundits who speak words of wisdom. But they merely talk; they don't live up to them. They are like vultures, which soar very high but keep their gaze fixed on the charnel-pit. What I mean is that these pundits are attached to the world, to 'woman and gold'. If I hear that pundits are practising discrimination and dispassion, then I fear them. Otherwise I look upon them as mere goats and dogs."


Prankrishna saluted the Master and took his leave. He said to M., "Will you come with us?"


M: "No, sir! Catch me going with you again! Good-bye."


Prankrishna laughed and said, "I see you won't come in the boat."


M. took a little stroll near the Panchavati and bathed in the river. Then he went to the temples of Radhakanta and Kli and prostrated himself before the images. He said to himself: "I have heard that God has no form. Then why do I bow before these images?

Is it because Sri Ramakrishna believes in gods and goddesses with form? I don't know anything about God, nor do I understand Him. The Master believes in images; then why shouldn't I too, who am so insignificant a creature, accept them?"


M. looked at the image of Kli. He saw that the Divine Mother holds in Her two left hands a man's severed head and a sword. With Her two right hands She offers boons and reassurance to Her devotees. In one aspect She is terrible, and in another She is the ever affectionate Mother of Her devotees. The two ideals are harmonized in Her.

She is compassionate and affectionate to Her devotees: to those who are submissive and helpless. It is also true that She is terrible, the "Consort of Death". She alone knows why She assumes two aspects at the same time.


M. remembered this interpretation of Kli given by the Master. He said to himself, "I have heard that Keshab accepted Kli in Sri Ramakrishna's presence. Is this, as Keshab used to say, the Goddess, all Spirit and Consciousness; manifesting Herself through a clay image?"


M. returned to the Master's room and sat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna offered him some fruit and sweets to eat. On account of trouble in the family, M. had recently rented a house in another section of Calcutta near his school, his father and brothers continuing to live in the ancestral home. But Sri Ramakrishna wanted him to return to his own home, since a joint family affords many advantages to one leading a religious life. Once or twice the Master had spoken to M. to this effect, but unfortunately he had not yet returned to his family. Sri Ramakrishna referred to the matter again.


MASTER: "Tell me that you are going to your ancestral home."


M: "I can never persuade myself to enter that place."


MASTER: "Why? Your father is making over the whole house."


M: "I have suffered too much there. I can by no means make up my mind to go there."


MASTER: "Whom do you fear?"


M: "All of them."


MASTER (seriously): "Isn't that like your being afraid to get into the boat?"


The midday worship and the offering of food in the temples were over. The bells, gongs, and symbals of the rati were being played, and the temple garden was filled with joyful activity. Beggars, Sdhus, and guests hurried to the guesthouse for the noonday meal, carrying leaf or metal plates in their hands. M. also took some of the Prasad from the Kli temple.


Sri Ramakrishna had been resting awhile after his meal when several devotees, including Ram and Girindra, arrived. They sat down after saluting the Master. The conversation turned to the New Dispensation Church of Keshab Chandra Sen.


RAM (to the Master): "Sir, I don't think the Navavidhan has done people any good. If Keshab Babu himself was a genuine man, why are his disciples left in such a plight? I don't think there is anything at all in the New Dispensation. It is like rattling some potsherds in a room and then locking it up. People may take it to be the jingling of coins, but inside there is nothing but potsherds. Outsiders don't know what is inside."


MASTER: "There must be some substance in it. Otherwise, why should so many people respect Keshab? Why isn't Shivanath honoured as much as Keshab? Such a thing cannot happen without the will of God.


A teacher must renounce the world

"But a man cannot act as an chrya without renouncing the world. People won't respect him. They will say: 'Oh, he is a worldly man. He secretly enjoys "woman and gold" himself but tells us that God alone is real and the world unsubstantial, like a dream. 'Unless a man renounces everything his teachings cannot be accepted by all.

Some worldly people may follow him. Keshab led the life of a householder; hence his mind was directed to the world also. He had to safeguard his family interests. That is why he left his affairs in such good order though he delivered so many religious lectures. What an aristocratic man he married his daughter to! Inside Keshab's inner apartments I saw many big bedsteads. All these things gradually come to one who leads a householder's life. The world is indeed a place for enjoyment."


RAM: "Keshab Sen inherited those bedsteads when his ancestral property was divided.

And for Keshab to take part in the division of property! Whatever you may say, sir, Vijay Babu told me that Keshab had said to him, 'I am a partial manifestation of Christ and Gaurnga. I suggest that you declare yourself as Advaita.' Do you know what else he said? He said that you too were a follower of the New Dispensation." (All laugh.)

MASTER (laughing): "Who knows? But as for myself, I don't even know what the term 'New Dispensation' means." (Laughter.)


RAM: "Keshab's disciples say that he was the first to harmonize jnna and bhakti."



Synthesis of jnna and bhakti

MASTER (in surprise): "How is that? What then of the Adhytma Rmyana? It is written there that, while praying to Rma, Nrada said: 'O Rma, Thou art the Supreme Brahman described in the Vedas. Thou dwellest with us as a man; Thou appearest as a man. In reality Thou art not a man; Thou art that Supreme Brahman.' Rma said: 'Nrada, I am very much pleased with you. Accept a boon from Me.' Nrada replied: 'What boon shall I ask of Thee? Grant me pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, and may I never be deluded by Thy world-bewitching my!' The Adhytma Rmyana is full of such statements regarding jnna and bhakti."


The conversation turned to Amrita, a disciple of Keshab.


RAM: "Amrita Babu seems to be in very bad shape."


MASTER: "Yes, he looked very ill when I saw him the other day."


RAM: "Sir, let me tell you about the lectures of the New Dispensation. While the drum is being played, the members cry out, 'Victory unto Keshab!' You say that 'dal' grows only in a stagnant pool. So Amrita said one day in the course of his sermon: 'The holy man has no doubt said that 'dal' grows in a stagnant pool. But, brothers, we want 'dal', we want a sect. Really and truly, I tell you that we want a sect.' "


MASTER: "What nonsense! Shame on him! What kind of sermon is that?"


The conversation drifted to the desire of some people for praise.


MASTER: "They took me to Keshab's house to see a performance of the Nimai-sannys.

I heard, that day, someone speaking of Keshab and Pratap as Chaitanya and Nityananda. Prasanna asked me, 'Who are you then?' Keshab looked at me to see what I would say. I said to him, 'I am the servant of your servant, the dust of the dust of your feet.' Keshab said with a smile, 'You can't catch him!'"


RAM: "Sometimes Keshab used to say you were John the Baptist."


A DEVOTEE: "But Keshab also said you were the Chaitanya of the nineteenth century [said in English]."


MASTER: "What does that mean?"


DEVOTEE: "That Chaitanya has been incarnated again in the present century of the Christian era, and that you are he."


MASTER (absent-mindedly): "What of it? Can you tell me now how my arm can be cured? This arm is worrying me so much."


They talked about Trailokya's music. Trailokya sang devotional songs in Keshab's Brahmo Samaj.


MASTER: "Ah! How nice his songs are!"


RAM: "Do you think they are genuine?"


MASTER: "Yes, they are. Otherwise, why should I be so drawn to them?"


RAM: "He has composed his songs by borrowing your ideas. While conducting the worship, Keshab Sen described your feelings and realizations, and Trailokya Babu composed songs accordingly. Take this song, for instance:

There is an overflow of Joy in the marketplace of Love; See how the Lord sports with His own in the ecstasy of Bliss!


He saw you enjoying divine bliss in the company of devotees and wrote songs like this."


MASTER (with a smile): "Stop! Don't torment me any more. Why should I be involved in all this?" (All laugh.)


GIRINDRA: "The Brahmos say that the Paramahamsa Deva has no faculty for organization [said in English]. "


MASTER: "What does that mean?"


M: "That you don't know how to lead a sect; that your intellect is rather dull. They say things like that." (All laugh.)


MASTER (to Ram): "Now tell me why my arm was hurt. Stand up and deliver a lecture on that. (Laughter.)


"The Brahmos insist that God is formless. Suppose they do. It is enough to call on Him with sincerity of heart. If the devotee is sincere, then God, who is the Inner Guide of all, will certainly reveal to the devotee His true nature.


Friction between different religious sects

"But it is not good to say that what we ourselves think of God is the only truth and what others think is false; that because we think of God as formless, therefore He is formless and cannot have any form; that because we think of God as having form, therefore He has form and cannot be formless. Can a man really fathom God's nature?


"This kind of friction exists between the Vaishnavas and the Shaktas. The Vaishnava says, 'My Kesava is the only Saviour', whereas the Shakta insists, 'My Bhagavati is the only Saviour.'


"Once I took Vaishnavcharan to Mathur Babu. Now, Vaishnavcharan was a very learned Vaishnava and an orthodox devotee of his sect. Mathur, on the other hand, was a devotee of the Divine Mother. They were engaged in a friendly discussion when suddenly Vaishnavcharan said, 'Kesava is the only Saviour.' No sooner did Mathur hear this than his face became red with anger and he blurted out, 'You rascal!' (All laugh.) He was a Shakta. Wasn't it natural for him to say that? I gave Vaishnavcharan a nudge.


Harmony of religions

"I see people who talk about religion constantly quarrelling with one another. Hindus, Mussalmans, Brahmos, Shaktas, Vaishnavas, Saivas, all quarrel with one another. They haven't the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is also Shiva and the Primal akti, and that it is He, again, who is called Jesus and Allah. There is only one Rma and He has a thousand names.'


"Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats.

From one Ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it 'jal'. From another Ghat the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it 'pani'. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it 'water'. (All laugh.) Suppose someone says that the thing is not 'jal' but 'pani', or that it is not 'pani' but 'water', or that it is not 'water' but 'jal'. It would indeed be ridiculous. But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels. This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion. But this is not good. Everyone is going toward God. They will all realize Him if they have sincerity and longing of heart.


(To M.) "This is for you. All scriptures-the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras-seek Him alone and no one else, only that one Satchidananda. That which is called Satchidananda Brahman in the Vedas is called Satchidananda Shiva in the Tantra. Again it is He alone who is called Satchidananda Krishna in the Puranas."


The Master was told that now and then Ram cooked his own food at home.


MASTER (to M.): "Do you too cook your own meals?"


M: "No, sir."


MASTER: "You may try it. With your meals take a little clarified butter made from cow's milk. That will purify your body and mind."


A long conversation ensued about Ram's household affairs. Ram's father was a devout Vaishnava and worshipped Krishna daily at home. He had married a second time when Ram was quite young. Both the father and the stepmother lived with Ram at Ram's house. But Ram was never happy with his stepmother, and this sometimes created a misunderstanding between himself and his father.


They were talking about this when Ram said, "My father has gone to the dogs!"


MASTER (to the devotees): "Did you hear that? The father has gone to the dogs and the son is all right!"


RAM: "There is no peace when my stepmother comes home. There is always some trouble or other. Our family is about to break up. So I say, let her live with her father."


GIRINDRA (to Ram): "Why don't you too keep your wife at her father's home?" (Laughter.)


MASTER (smiling): "Are husband and wife like earthen pots or jars, that you may keep the pot in one place and the lid in another? Shiva in one place and akti in another?"


RAM: "Sir, we are quite happy. But when she comes the family is broken up. If such is the case-"




Our duties to father and mother

MASTER: "Then build them a separate home. That will be a different thing. You will defray their monthly expenses. How worthy of worship one's parents are! Rkhl asked me if he could take the food left on his father's plate. 'What do you mean?' I said.

'What have you become that you cannot?' But it is also true that good people won't give anyone, even a dog, the food from their plates."


GIRINDRA: "Sir, suppose one's parents are guilty of a terrible crime, a heinous sin?"


MASTER: "What if they are? You must not renounce your mother even if she commits adultery. The woman guru of a certain family became corrupt. The members of the family said that they would like to make the son of the guru their spiritual guide. But I said: 'How is that? Will you accept the shoot and give up the yam? Suppose she is corrupt; still you must regard her as your Ishta. 'Though my guru visits the tavern, still to me he is the holy Nitynanda.' "


"Are father and mother mere trifles? No spiritual practice will bear fruit unless they are pleased. Chaitanya was intoxicated with the love of God. Still, before taking to the monastic life, for how many days did he try to persuade his mother to give him her permission to become a monk! He said to her: 'Mother, don't worry. I shall visit you every now and then.'


(To M., reproachfully) "And let me say this to you. Your father and mother brought you up. You yourself are the father of several children. Yet you have left home with your wife. You have cheated your parents. You have come away with your wife and children, and you feel you have become a holy man. Your father doesn't need any money from you; otherwise I should have cried, 'Shame on you!'"


Everybody in the room became grave and remained silent.


MASTER: "A man has certain debts to pay: his debts to the gods and rishis, and his debts to mother, father, and wife. He cannot achieve anything without paying the debt he owes to his parents. A man is indebted to his wife as well. Harish has renounced his wife and is living here. If he had left her unprovided for, then I should have called him an abominable wretch.


"After attaining Knowledge you will regard that very wife as the manifestation of the Divine Mother Herself. It is written in the Chandi, 'The Goddess dwells in all beings as the Mother.' It is She who has become your mother.


"All the women you see are only She, the Divine Mother. That is why I cannot rebuke even Brinde, the maidservant. There are people who spout verses from the scriptures and talk big, but in their conduct they are quite different. Ramprasanna is constantly busy procuring opium and milk for the hathayogi. He says that Manu enjoins it upon man to serve the Sdhu. But his old mother hasn't enough to eat. She walks to the market to buy her own groceries. It makes me very angry.


Through divine love man transcends his worldly duties "But here you have to consider another thing. When a man is intoxicated with ecstatic love of God, then who is his father or mother or wife? His love of God is so intense that he becomes mad with it. Then he has no duty to perform. He is free from all debts.

What is this divine intoxication? In this state a man forgets the world. He also forgets his own body, which is so dear to all. Chaitanya had this intoxication. He plunged into the ocean not knowing that it was the ocean. He dashed himself again and again on the ground. He was not aware of hunger, of thirst, or of sleep. He was not at all conscious of any such thing as his body."


All at once Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, "Ah, Chaitanya!" and stood up.


MASTER (to the devotees): "Chaitanya means 'Undivided Consciousness'.

Vaishnavcharan used to say that Gaurnga was like a bubble in the Ocean of Undivided Consciousness.


(To the elder Gopal) "Do you intend to go on a pilgrimage now?"


GOPAL: "Yes, sir. I should like to wander about a little."


RAM (to Gopal): "He [meaning the Master] says that one becomes a kutichaka after being a vahudaka. The Sdhu that visits many holy places is called a vahudaka. He whose craving for travel has been satiated and who sits down in one place is called a kutichaka.


"He also tells us a parable. Once a bird sat on the mast of a ship. When the ship sailed through the mouth of the Ganges into the 'black waters' of the ocean, the bird failed to notice the fact. When it finally became aware of the ocean, it left the mast and flew north in search of land. But it found no limit to the water and so returned. After resting awhile it flew south. There too it found no limit to the water. Panting for breath the bird returned to the mast. Again, after resting awhile, it flew east and then west. Finding no limit to the Water in any direction, at last it settled down on the mast of the ship."


MASTER (to the elder Gopal and the other devotees): "As long as a man feels that God is 'there', he is ignorant. But he attains Knowledge when he feels that God is 'here'.


"A man wanted a smoke. He went to a neighbour's house to light his charcoal. It was the dead of night and the household was asleep. After he had knocked a great deal, someone came down to open the door. At sight of the man he asked, 'Hello! What's the matter?' The man replied: 'Can't you guess? You know how fond I am of smoking. I have come here to light my charcoal.' The neighbour said: 'Ha! Ha! You are a fine man indeed! You took the trouble to come and do all this knocking at the door! Why, you have a lighted lantern in your hand!' (All laugh.)

"What a man seeks is very near him. Still he wanders about from place to place."


RAM: "Sir, I now realize why a guru asks some of his disciples to visit the four principal holy places of the country. Once having wandered about, the disciple discovers that it is the same here as there. Then he returns to the guru. All this wandering is only to create faith in the guru's words."


After this conversation had come to an end, Sri Ramakrishna extolled Ram's virtues.


MASTER (to the devotees): "How many fine qualities Ram possesses! How many devotees he serves and looks after! (To Ram) Adhar told me that you showed him great kindness."


Adhar, a beloved householder devotee of the Master, had recently arranged some religious music at his house. The Master and many devotees had been present. But Adhar had forgotten to invite Ram, who was a very proud man and had complained about it to his friends. So Adhar had gone to Ram's house to express his regret for the mistake.


RAM: "It wasn't really Adhar's mistake. I have come to know that Rkhl is to blame.

Rkhl was given charge-"


MASTER: "You mustn't find fault with Rkhl. He's a mere child. Even now you can bring out his mother's milk by squeezing his throat."


RAM: "Sir, why should you speak that way? It was such an occasion!"


MASTER: (interrupting): "Adhar simply didn't remember to invite you. He is absent-minded. The other day he went with me to Jadu Mallick's house. As we took our leave, I said to him, 'You haven't offered anything to the Goddess in the chapel' 'Sir,' he said, 'I didn't know one should.'


(To Ram) "Suppose he didn't invite you to his house. Why such a fuss about going to a place where the name of the Lord was sung? One may go unasked to participate in religious music. One doesn't have to be invited."

--------------------

Chapter 22


ADVICE TO AN ACTOR


Saturday, May 24, 1884


SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting on the small couch in his room. Rkhl , M., and, several other devotees were present. A special worship of Kli had been performed in the temple the previous night. In connection with the worship a theatrical performance of the Vidyasundar had been staged in the Natmandir. The Master had watched a part of it that morning. The actors came to his room to pay him their respects. The Master, in a happy mood, became engaged in conversation with a fair complexioned young man who had taken the part of Vidy and played his part very well.

MASTER (to the actor): "Your acting was very good. If a person excels in singing, music, dancing, or any other art, he can also quickly realize God provided he strives sincerely.

"Just as you practise much in order to sing, dance, and play on instruments, so one should practise the art of fixing the mind on God. One should practise regularly such disciplines as worship, japa, and meditation.

"Are you married? Any children?"

ACTOR: "Yes, sir. I had a girl who died. Another child has been born."

MASTER: "Ah! A death and a birth, and all so quickly! You are so young! There is a saying: 'My husband died just after our marriage. There are so many nights for me to weep!' You are no doubt realizing the nature of worldly happiness. The world is like a hog plum. The hog plum has only pit and skin, and after eating it you suffer from colic.

"You are an actor in the theatre. That's fine. But it is a very painful profession. You are young now; so you have a full, round face. Afterwards there will be hollows in your cheeks. Almost all actors become like that; they get hollow cheeks and big bellies.

(Laughter.)

"Why did I stay to watch your performance? I found the rhythm, the music, and the melody all correct. Then the Divine Mother showed me that it was God alone who acted in the performance in the roles of the players."

ACTOR: "Sir, what is the difference between lust and desire?"

MASTER: "Lust is like the root of the tree, and desires are branches and twigs.

Passions should be directed to God

"One cannot completely get rid of the six passions: lust, anger, greed, and the like.

Therefore one should direct them to God. If you must have desire and greed, then you should desire love of God and be greedy to attain Him. If you must be conceited and egotistic, then feel conceited and egotistic thinking that you are the servant of God, the child of God.

"A man cannot see God unless he gives his whole mind to Him. The mind is wasted on 'woman and gold'. Take your own case. You have children and are occupied with the theatre. The mind cannot be united with God on account of these different activities.

"As long as there is bhoga, there will be less of yoga. Furthermore, bhoga begets suffering. It is said in the Bhagavata that the Avadhuta chose a kite as one of his twenty-four gurus. The kite had a fish in its beak; so it was surrounded by a thousand crows. Whichever way it flew with the fish, the crows pursued it crying, 'Caw! Caw!'

When all of a sudden the fish dropped from its beak, the crows flew after the fish, leaving the kite alone.

"The 'fish' is the object of enjoyment. The 'crows' are worries and anxiety. Worries and anxiety are inevitable with enjoyment. No sooner does one give up enjoyment than one finds peace.

Money is the source of trouble

"What is more, money itself becomes a source of trouble. Brothers may live happily, but they get into trouble when the property is divided. Dogs lick one another's bodies; they are perfectly friendly. But when the householder throws them a little food, they get into a scrap.

"Come here now and then. (Pointing to M. and the others) They come here on Sundays and other holidays."

ACTOR: "We have holidays for three months, during the rainy and harvest seasons. It is our good fortune to be able to visit you. On our way to Dakshineswar we heard of two persons-yourself and Jnanarnava."

MASTER: "Be on friendly terms with your brothers. It looks well. You must have noticed in your theatrical performance that if four singers sing each in a different way, the play is spoiled."

Actor: "Yes, sir. Many birds are trapped in a net; if they all fly together and drag the net in one direction, then many of them may be saved. But that doesn't happen if they try to fly in different directions.

"One also sees in a theatrical performance a person keeping a pitcher of water on his head and at the same time dancing about."

Do your duties and remember God

MASTER: "Live in the world but keep the pitcher steady on your head; that is to say, keep the mind firmly on God.

"I once said to the sephoys from the barracks: 'Do your duty in the world but remember that the "pestle of death" will some time smash your hand. Be alert about it.'

"In Kamarpukur I have seen the women of carpenter families making flattened rice with a husking-machine. One woman kicks the end of the wooden beam, and another woman, while nursing her baby, turns the paddy in the mortar dug in the earth. The second woman is always alert lest the pestle of the machine should fall on her hand. With the other hand she fries the soaked paddy in a pan. Besides, she is talking with customers; she says: 'You owe us so much money. Please pay it before you go.' Likewise, do your different duties in the world, fixing your mind on God. But practice is necessary, and one should also be alert. Only in this way can one safeguard bothGod and the world."

MASTER: "Proof? God can be seen. By practising spiritual discipline one sees God, through His grace. The rishis directly realized the Self. One cannot know the truth about God through science. Science gives us information only about things perceived by the senses, as for instance: this material mixed with that material gives such and such a result, and that material mixed with this material gives such and such a result.

"For this reason a man cannot comprehend spiritual things with his ordinary intelligence.

To understand them he must live in the company of holy persons. You learn to feel the pulse by living with a physician."

ACTOR: "Yes, sir. Now I understand."

MASTER: "You must practise tapasya. Only then can you attain the goal. It will avail you nothing even if you learn the texts of the scriptures by heart. You cannot become intoxicated by merely saying 'siddhi' over and over. You must swallow some.

"One cannot explain the vision of God to others. One cannot explain conjugal happiness to a child five years old."

ACTOR: "How does One realize the tman?"

Just then Rkhl was about to take his meal in the Master's room. He hesitated at the sight of so many people. During those days the Master looked on Rkhl as Gopala and on himself as Mother Yaoda.

MASTER (to Rkhl): "Why don't you eat? Let the people stand aside if you wish it. (To a devotee) Keep some ice for Rkhl. (To Rkhl) Do you intend to go to Vanhooghly?

Don't go in this sun."

Rkhl sat down to his meal. Sri Ramakrishna again spoke to the actor.

MASTER: "Why didn't all of you take your meal from the kitchen of the Kli temple? That would have been nice."

ACTOR: "All of us don't have the same opinion about food; so our food is cooked separately. All don't like to eat in the guesthouse."

While Rkhl was taking his meal, the Master and the devotees sat on the porch and continued their conversation.

Means of Self-realization

MASTER (to the actor): "You asked me about Self-realization. Longing is the means of realizing tman. A man must strive to attain God with all his body, with all his mind, and with all his speech. Because of an excess of bile one gets jaundice. Then one sees everything as yellow; one perceives no colour but yellow. Among you actors, those who take only the roles of women acquire the nature of a woman; by thinking of woman your ways and thoughts become womanly. Just so, by thinking day and night of God one acquires the nature of God.

"The mind is like white linen just returned from the laundry. It takes on the colour you dip it in."

ACTOR: "But it must first be sent to the laundry."

MASTER: "Yes. First is the purification of the mind. Afterwards, if you direct the mind to the contemplation of God, it will be coloured by God-Consciousness. Again, if you direct the mind to worldly duties, such as the acting of a play, it will be coloured by worldliness."

Sri Ramakrishna had rested on his bed only a few minutes when Hari, Narayan, Narendra Bannerji, and other devotees arrived from Calcutta and saluted him. Narendra Bannerji was the son of the professor of Sanskrit at the Presidency College of Calcutta.

Because of friction with other members of the family, he had rented a separate house where he lived with his wife and children. Narendra was a very simple and guileless man.

He practised spiritual discipline and, at the time of meditation, heard various sounds-the sound of a gong, and so on. He had travelled in different parts of India and he visited the Master now and then.

Narayan was a school boy sixteen or seventeen years old. He often visited the Master, who was very fond of him.

Hari lived with his brothers at their Baghbazar house. He had studied up to the matriculation class in the General Assembly Institution. Then he had given up his studies and devoted his time at home to the contemplation of God, the reading of the scriptures, and the practice of yoga. He also visited the Master now and then.

Sri Ramakrishna often sent for Hari when he went to Balarm's house in Baghbazar.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I have heard a great deal about Buddha. He is one of the ten Incarnations of God.2 Brahman is immovable, immutable, inactive, and of the nature of Consciousness. When a man merges his buddhi, his intelligence, in Bodha, Consciousness, then he attains the Knowledge of Brahman; he becomes buddha, enlightened.

"Nangta used to say that the mind merges in the buddhi, and the buddhi in Bodha, Consciousness.

"The aspirant does not attain the Knowledge of Brahman as long as he is conscious of his ego. The ego comes under one's control after one has obtained the Knowledge of Brahman and seen God. Otherwise the ego cannot be controlled. It is difficult to catch one's own shadow. But when the sun is overhead, the shadow is within a few inches of the body."

A DEVOTEE: "What is the vision of God like?"

MASTER: "Haven't you seen a theatrical performance? The people are engaged in conversation, when suddenly the curtain goes up. Then the entire mind of the audience is directed to the play. The people don't look at other things any longer. Samdhi is to go within oneself like that. When the curtain is rung down, people look around again.

Just so, when the, curtain of my falls, the mind becomes externalized.

(To Narendra Bannerji) "You have travelled a great deal. Tell us some thing about the sdhus."

Narendra told the story of two yogis in Bhutan who used to drink daily a pound of the bitter juice of neem-leaves. He had also visited the hermitage of a holy man on the bank of the Narmada. At the sight of the Bengali Babu dressed in European clothes, the sdhu had remarked, "He has a knife hidden under his clothes, next to his belly."

Keeping the pictures of holy persons

MASTER: "One should keep pictures of holy men in one's room. That constantly quickens divine ideas."


BANNERJI: "I have your picture in my room; also the picture of a sdhu living in the mountains, blowing on a piece of lighted charcoal, in a bowl of hemp."

MASTER: "It is true that one's spiritual feelings are awakened by looking at the picture of a sdhu. It is like being reminded of the custard-apple by looking at an imitation one, or like stimulating the desire for enjoyment by looking at a young woman. Therefore I tell you that you should constantly live in the company of holy men.

(To Bannerji) "You know very well the suffering of the world. You suffer whenever you accept enjoyment. As long as the kite kept the fish in its beak, it was tormented by the flock of crows.

"One finds peace of mind in the company of holy men. The alligator remains under water a long time. But every now and then it rises to the surface and breathes with a deep wheezing noise. Then it gives a sigh of relief."

ACTOR: "Revered sir, what you have just said about enjoyment is very true. One ultimately courts disaster if one prays to God for enjoyment. Various desires come to the mind and by no means all of them are good. God is the Kalpataru, the Wish-fulfilling Tree. A man gets whatever he asks of God. Suppose it comes to his mind: 'God is the Kalpataru. Well, let me see if a tiger will appear before me.' Because he thinks of the tiger, it really appears and devours him."

MASTER: "Yes, you must remember that the tiger comes. What more shall I tell you?

Keep your mind on God. Don't forget Him. God will certainly reveal Himself to you if you pray to Him with sincerity. Another thing. Sing the name of God at the end of each performance. Then the actors, the singers, and the audience will go home with the thought of God in their minds."

The actors saluted the Master and took their leave.

Two ladies, devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, entered the room and saluted the Master. They had been fasting in preparation for this visit. They were sisters-in-law, the wives of two brothers, and were twenty-two or twenty-three years old. They were mothers of children. Both of them had their faces covered with veils.

MASTER (to the ladies): "Worship iva. This worship is described in a book called the Nityakarma. Learn the rituals from it. In order to perform the worship of God you will be preoccupied for a longtime with such religious duties as plucking flowers, making sandal-paste, polishing the utensils of worship, and arranging offerings. As you perform these duties your mind will naturally be directed to God. You will get rid of meanness, anger, jealousy, and so forth. When you two sisters talk to each other, always talk about spiritual matters.

"The thing is somehow to unite the mind with God. You must not forget Him, not even once. Your thought of Him should be like the flow of oil, without any interruption. If you worship with love even a brick or stone as God, then through His grace you can see Him.

"Remember what I have just said to you. One should perform such worship as the iva Puja. Once the mind has become mature, one doesn't have to continue formal worship for long. The mind then always remains united with God; meditation and contemplation become a constant habit of mind."

ELDER SISTER-IN-LAW: "Will you please give us some instruction?"

MASTER (affectionately): "I don't give initiation. If a guru gives initiation he must assume responsibility for the disciple's sin and suffering. The Divine Mother has placed me in the state of a child. Perform the iva Puja as I told you. Come here now and then.

We shall see what happens later on through the will of God. I asked you to chant the name of Hari at home. Are you doing that?"

ELDER SISTER-IN-LAW: "Yes."

MASTER: "Why have you fasted? You should take your meal before you come here.

Women are but so many forms of my Divine Mother. I cannot bear to see them suffer; You are all images of the Mother of the Universe. Come here after you have eaten, and you will feel happy."

Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna asked Ramlal to give the ladies some food. They were given fruit, sweets, drinks, and other offerings from the temple.

The Master said: "You have eaten something. Now my mind is at peace. I cannot bear to see women fast."

It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the steps of the iva temples. Adhar, Dr. Nitai, M., and several other devotees were with him.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I want to tell you something. A change has been coming over my nature."

The Master came down a step and sat near the devotees. It seemed that he intended to communicate some of his deeper experiences to them.

God in human forms

MASTER: "You are devotees. I have no hesitation in telling you this. Nowadays I don't see the Spirit-form of God. He is revealed to me in human form. It is my nature to see the form of God, to touch and embrace Him. God is saying to me, 'You have assumed a body; therefore enjoy God through His human forms.'

"God no doubt dwells in all, but He manifests Himself more through man than through other beings. Is man an insignificant thing? He can think of God, he can think of the Infinite, while other living beings cannot. God exists in other living beings-animals, plants, nay, in all beings-, but He manifests Himself more through man than through these others. Fire exists in all beings, in all things; but its presence is felt more in wood.

Rma said to Lakshmana: 'Look at the elephant, brother. He is such a big animal, but he cannot think of God.'

Divine Incarnation

"But in the Incarnation there is a greater manifestation of God than in other men. Rma said to Lakshmana, 'Brother, if you see in a man ecstatic love of God, if he laughs, weeps, and dances in divine ecstasy, then know for certain that I dwell in him."

The Master remained silent. After a few minutes he resumed the conversation.


Master and Keshab

MASTER: "Keshab Sen used to come here frequently. As a result he changed a great deal. Of late he became quite a remarkable man. Many a time he came here with his party; but he also wanted to come alone. In the earlier years of his life Keshab didn't have much opportunity to live in the company of holy men.

"I visited him at his house in Colootola Street. Hriday was with me. We were shown into the room where Keshab was working. He was writing something. After a long while he put aside his pen, got off his chair, and sat on the floor with us. But he didn't salute us or show us respect in any other way.

"He used to come here now and then. One day in a spiritual mood I said to him: 'One should not sit before a sdhu with one leg over the other. That increases one's rajas.' As soon as he and his friends would arrive, I would salute them before they bowed to me.

Thus they gradually learnt to salute a holy man, touching the ground with their foreheads.

"I said to Keshab: 'Chant the name of Hari. In the Kaliyuga one should sing the name and glories of God.' After that they began to sing the name of God with drums and cymbals.

"Do you know how my faith in the name of Hari was all the more strengthened? Holy men, as you know, frequently visit the temple garden. Once a sdhu from Multan arrived. He was waiting for a party going to Gangasagar. (Pointing to M.) The sdhu was of his age. It was he who said to me, 'The way to realize God in the Kaliyuga is the path of bhakti as prescribed by Nrada.'

"One day Keshab came here with his followers. They stayed till ten at night. We were all seated in the Panchavati. Pratap and several others said they would like to spend the night here. Keshab said: 'No, I must go. I have some work to do.' I laughed and said: 'Can't you sleep without the smell of your fish-basket?

Once a fishwife was a guest in the house of a gardener who raised flowers. She came there with her empty basket, after selling fish in the market, and was asked to sleep in a room where flowers were kept. But, because of the fragrance of the flowers, she couldn't get to sleep for a long time. Her hostess saw her condition and said, "Hello! Why are you tossing from side to side so restlessly?" The fishwife said: "I don't know, friend. Perhaps the smell of the flowers has been disturbing my sleep. Can you give me my fish-basket?

Perhaps that will put me to sleep."

The basket was brought to her. She sprinkled water on it and set it near her nose. Then she fell sound asleep and snored all night.'

"At this story the followers of Keshab burst into loud laughter.

God, the scripture, and the devotee are identical "Keshab conducted the prayer that evening at the bathing-ghat on the river. After the worship I said to him: 'It is God who manifests Himself, in one aspect, as the scriptures; therefore one should worship the sacred books, such as the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras. In another aspect He has become the devotee. The heart of the devotee is God's drawing-room. One can easily find one's master in the drawing-room. Therefore, by worshipping His devotee, one worships God Himself.'

"Keshab and his followers listened to my words with great attention. It was a full-moon night. The sky was flooded with light. We were seated in the open court at the top of the stairs leading to the river. I said, 'Now let us all chant, "Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan." '

All chanted in unison, 'Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan.' Next I said to them, 'Say, "Brahman is verily akti; akti is verily Brahman." ' Again they chanted in unison.

'Brahman is verily akti; akti is verily Brahman.' I said to them: 'He whom you address as Brahma is none other than She whom I call Mother. Mother is a very sweet name.'

"Then I said to them, 'Say, "Guru-Krishna-Vaishnava."' At this Keshab said: 'We must not go so far, sir. If we do that, then all will take us for orthodox Vaishnavas.'

Brahman and akti

"I used to tell Keshab now and then: 'He whom you address as Brahma is none other than She whom I call akti, the Primal Energy. It is called Brahman in the Vedas when it transcends speech and thought and is without attributes and action. I call it akti, dyakti, and so forth, when I find it creating, preserving, and destroying the universe.'


Difficulties of householder's life

"I said to Keshab: 'It is extremely difficult to realize God while leading a worldly life. How can a typhoid patient be cured if he is kept in a room where tamarind, pickle, and jars of water are kept? Therefore one should go into solitude now and then to practise spiritual discipline. When the trunk of a tree becomes thick and strong, an elephant can be tied to it; but a young sapling is eaten by cattle.' That is why Keshab would say in his lectures, 'Live in the world after being strengthened in spiritual life.'

(To the devotees) "You see, Keshab was a great scholar. He lectured in English. Many people honoured him. Queen Victoria herself talked to him. But when Keshab came here he would be bare-bodied and bring some fruit, as one should when visiting a holy man.

He was totally free from egotism.

(To Adhar) "You are a scholar and a deputy magistrate, but with all that you are hen-pecked. Go forward. Beyond the forest of sandalwood there are many more valuable things: silver-mines, gold-mines, diamonds, and other gems. The wood-cutter was chopping wood in the forest; the brahmachri said to him, 'Go forward.' "

Sri Ramakrishna came down from the steps of the iva temples and went to his own room through the courtyard. The devotees were with him. Just then Ram Chatterji came and said that the Holy Mother's attendant had had an attack of cholera.

RAM (to the Master): "I told you about it at ten o'clock this morning, but you didn't pay any attention to me."

MASTER: "What could I do?"

RAM: "Yes, what could you do! But there were Rkhl, Ramlal, and others. Even they didn't pay any attention."

M: "Kishori has gone to Alambazar to get medicine."

MASTER: "Alone? Where will he get medicine?"

M: "Yes, alone. He will get it at Alambazar."

MASTER (to M.): "Tell the nurse what to do if the illness takes a turn for the worse or if the patient feels better."

M: "Yes, sir."

The ladies mentioned before saluted the Master and were about to take their leave. Sri Ramakrishna again said to them: "Perform the iva Puja according to my instruction.

And have something to eat before you come here. Otherwise I shall feel unhappy. Come another day."

Sri Ramakrishna sat down on the porch west of his room. Narendra Bannerji, Hari, M., and others sat by his side. The Master knew about Narendra's family difficulties.

MASTER: "You see, all these sufferings are 'because of a piece of loin cloth'. A man takes a wife and begets children; therefore he must secure a job. The sdhu is worried about his loincloth, and the householder about his wife. Further, the householder may not live on good terms with his relatives; so he must live separately with his wife. (With a laugh) Chaitanya once said to Nityananda: 'Listen to me, brother. A man entangled in worldliness can never be free.' "

M. (to himself): "Perhaps the Master is referring to the world of avidy. It is the world of avidy that entangles a householder."

M. was still living in a separate house with his wife, on account of a misunderstanding with the other members of his family.

MASTER (to Bannerji, pointing to M.): "He also lives in a separate house. You two will get along very well. Once two men happened to meet. One said to the other, 'Who are you?' 'Oh, I am away from my country', was the other's reply. The second man then asked the first, 'And who are you, pray?' 'Oh, I am away from my beloved', was the answer. Both were in the same plight; so they got along very well. (All laugh.) "But one need not have any fear if one takes refuge in God. God protects His devotee."

HARI: "Well, why does it take many people such a long time to realize Him?"

MASTER: "The truth is that a man doesn't feel restless for God unless he is finished with his enjoyments and duties. The physician says, referring to the patient: 'Let a few days pass first. Then a little medicine will do him good.'

"Nrada said to Rma: 'Rma, You are passing Your time in Ayhodhya. How will Ravana be killed? You have taken this human body for that purpose alone.' Rma replied: 'Nrada, let the right time come. Let Ravana's past actions begin to bear fruit. Then everything will be made ready for his death.' "

HARI: "Why is there so much suffering in the world?"

MASTER: "This world is the ll of God. It is like a game. In this game there are joy and sorrow, virtue and vice, knowledge and ignorance, good and evil. The game cannot continue if sin and suffering are altogether eliminated from the creation.

"In the game of hide-and-seek one must touch the 'granny' in order to be free. But the 'granny' is never pleased if she is touched at the very outset. It is God's wish that the play should continue for some time. Then-

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;

And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!

In other words, after the practice of hard spiritual discipline, one or two have the vision of God, through His grace, and are liberated. Then the Divine Mother claps Her hands in joy and exclaims, 'Bravo! There they go!' "

HARI: "But this play of God is our death."

MASTER (smiling): "Please tell me who you are. God alone has become all this-my, the universe, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. 'As the snake I bite, and as the charmer I cure.' It is God Himself who has become both vidy and avidy. He remains deluded by the my of avidy, ignorance. Again, with the help of the guru, He is cured by the my of vidy, Knowledge.

"Ignorance, Knowledge, and Perfect Wisdom. The Jnni sees that God alone exists and is the Doer, that He creates, preserves, and destroys. The vijnni sees that it is God who has become all this.

"After attaining mahabhava and prema one realizes that nothing exists but God. Bhakti pales before bhava. Bhva ripens into mahabhava and prema.

(To Bannerji) "Do you still hear that gong-like sound at the time of meditation?"

BANNERJI: "Yes, sir. Every day. Besides, I have visions of God's form. Do such things stop after the mind has once experienced them?"

MASTER: "True. Once the wood catches fire, it cannot be put out. (To the devotees) He knows many things about faith."

BANNERJI: "I have too much faith."

MASTER: "Bring the women of your family with those of Balarm's."

BANNERJI: "Who is Balarm?"

MASTER: "Don't you know Balarm? He lives at Bosepara."

Sri Ramakrishna loved guileless people. Narendra Bannerji was absolutely guileless. The Master loved Niranjan because he, too, was without guile.

MASTER (to M.): "Why do I ask you to see Niranjan? It is to find out if he is truly guileless."

Sunday, May 25, 1884

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the cement platform that encircled the trunk of the old banyan-tree in the Panchavati. Vijay, Surendra, Bhavanath, Rkhl , and other devotees were present, a few of them sitting with the Master on the platform, the rest on the ground below. The devotees had thought of celebrating the Master's birthday, which had had to be put off because of his illness. Since Sri Ramakrishna now felt much better, the devotees wanted to have the celebration that day. A woman musician, a famous singer of kirtan, was going to entertain them with devotional songs.

It was one o'clock in the afternoon. M. had been looking for Sri Ramakrishna in the Master's room. When he did not find him there, he went to the Panchavati and eagerly asked the devotees, "Where is he?" He was standing right in front of the Master but in his excitement did not notice him. The devotees laughed loudly. A moment later M. saw Sri Ramakrishna and felt very much embarrassed. He prostrated himself before the Master, who sat there facing the south and smiling happily. Kedr and Vijay were sitting at his left. These two devotees had had a misunderstanding recently when Kedr had cut off his connexion with the Brahmo Samaj.

MASTER (to M., with a smile): "You see how I have united them?" The Master had brought a mdhavi creeper from Vrindvan in the year 1868 and had planted it in the Panchavati. The creeper had grown big and strong. Some children were jumping and swinging from it. The Master observed them and laughed. He said: "They are like young monkeys. They will not give up swinging even though they sometimes fall to the ground." Noticing that Surendra was standing before him, the Master said to him affectionately: "Come up and sit with us on the platform. Then you can dangle your feet comfortably." Surendra went up and took his seat. Bhavanath had his coat on. Surendra said to him, "Are you going to England?"

MASTER (smiling): "God is our England. Now and then I used to leave off my clothes and joyfully roam about naked. Once Sambhu said to me: 'It is very comfortable to walk about naked. That is why you do it. Once I did it myself.' "

SURENDRA: "On returning from the office, as I put away my coat and trousers, I say to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, how tightly You have bound me to the world!' "

MASTER: "There are eight fetters with which man is bound: shame; hatred, fear, pride of caste, hesitation, the desire to conceal, and so forth."

Sri Ramakrishna sang:

Mother, this is the grief that sorely grieves my heart, That even with Thee for Mother, and though I am wide awake, There should be robbery in my house. . . .

He continued:

In the world's busy marketplace, O Syama, Thou art flying kites;

High up they soar on the wind of hope, held fast by my's string.

Their frames are human skeletons, their sails of the three gunas made;

But all their curious workmanship is merely for ornament.

Upon the kite-strings Thou hast rubbed the manja-paste of worldliness,

So as to make each straining strand all the more sharp and strong.

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;

And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!

On favouring winds, says Ramprasad, the kites set loose will speedily

Be borne away to the Infinite, across the sea of the world.

MASTER: "'My's string' means wife and children.

Upon the kite-strings Thou hast rubbed the manja-paste of worldliness.

'Worldliness' means 'woman and gold'.

The three gunas

"The three gunassattva, rajas, and tamashave men under their control. They are like three brothers: As long as sattva exists, it calls on rajas for help; and rajas can get help from tamas. The three gunas are so many robbers. Tamas kills and rajas binds. Sattva no doubt releases man from his bondage, but it cannot take him to God."

VIJAY (smiling): "It is because sattva, too, is a robber."

MASTER (smiling): "True. Sattva cannot take man to God, but it shows him the way."

BHAVANATH: "These are wonderful words indeed."

MASTER: "Yes, This is a lofty thought."

Listening to these words of the Master, the devotees felt very happy.

The bondage of "woman and gold"

MASTER: "'Woman and gold' is the cause of bondage. 'Woman and gold' alone constitutes samsara, the world. It is 'woman and gold' that keeps one from seeing God.

(Holding the towel in front of his face) Do you see my face any more? Of course not. The towel hides it. No sooner is the covering of 'woman and gold' removed than one attains Chidananca, Consciousness and Bliss.


Corrupting influence of lust

"Let me tell you something. He who has renounced the pleasure of a wife has verily renounced the pleasure of the world. God is very near to such a person."

The devotees listened to these words in silence.

MASTER (to Kedr, Vijay, and the other devotees): "He who has renounced the pleasure of a wife has verily renounced the pleasure of the world. It is 'woman and gold' that hides God. You people have such imposing moustaches, and yet you too are involved in 'woman and gold'. Tell me if it isn't true. Search your heart and answer me."

VIJAY: "Yes, it is true."

Kedr remained silent.

MASTER: "I see that all are under the control of woman. One day I went to Captain's house. From there I was to go to Ram's house. So I said to Captain, 'Please give me my carriage hire.' He asked his wife about it. She too held back and said: 'What's the matter? What's the matter?' At last Captain said, 'Ram will take care of it.' You see, the Git, the Bhagavata, and the Vednta all bow before a woman! (All laugh.) "A man leaves his money, his property, and everything in the hands of his wife. But he says with affected simplicity, 'I have such a nature that I cannot keep even two rupees with me.'

"A man went to an office in search of a job. There were many vacancies, but the manager did not grant his request. A friend said to the applicant, 'Appeal to Golapi, and you will get the job.' Golapi was the manager's mistress.

"Men do not realize how far they are dragged down by women. Once I went to the Fort in a carriage, feeling all the while that I was going along a level road. At last I found that I had gone four storeys down. It was a sloping road.

"A man possessed by a ghost does not know he is under the ghost's control. He thinks he is quite normal."

VIJAY (smiling): "But he can be cured by an exorcist if he finds one."

In answer to Vijay Sri Ramakrishna only said, "That depends on the will of God." Then he went on with his talk about women.

MASTER: "Everyone I talk to says, 'Yes, sir, my wife is good.' Nobody says that his wife is bad. (All laugh.) Those who constantly live with 'woman and gold' are so infatuated with it that they don't see things properly. Chess-players oftentimes cannot see the right move for their pieces on the board. But those who watch the game from a distance can understand the moves more accurately.

"Woman is the embodiment of my. In the course of his hymn to Rma, Nrada said: 'O Rma, all men are parts of Thee. All women are parts of Sita, the personification of Thy my. Please deign to grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be deluded by Thy world bewitching my. I do not want any other favour than that.' "

Surendra's younger brother and his nephews were present. The brother worked in an office and one of the nephews was studying law.

MASTER (to Surendra's relatives): "My advice to you is not to become attached to the world. You see, Rkhl now understands what is knowledge and what is ignorance. He can discriminate between the Real and the unreal. So I say to him: 'Go home. You may come here once in a while and spend a day or two with me.'

"Have a friendly relationship with one another. That will be for your good and make you all happy. In a theatre the performance goes well only if the musicians sing with one voice. And that also gladdens the hearts of the audience.

"Do your worldly duties with a part of your mind and direct most of it to God. A sdhu should think of God with three quarters of his mind and with one quarter should do his other duties. He should be very alert about spiritual things. The snake is very sensitive in its tail. Its whole body reacts when it is hurt there. Similarly, the whole life of a sdhu is affected when his spirituality is touched."

Sri Ramakrishna was going to the pine-grove and asked Gopal of Sinthi to take his umbrella to his room. Arrangements had been made in the Panchavati for the kirtan.

When the Mister had returned and taken his seat again among the devotees, the musician began her song. Suddenly there came a rain-storm. The Master went back to his room with the devotees, the musician accompanying them to continue her songs there.

MASTER (to Gopal): "Have you brought the umbrella?"

GOPAL: "No, sir. I forgot all about it while listening to the music."

The umbrella had been left in the Panchavati and Gopal hurried to fetch it.

MASTER: "I am generally careless, but not to that extent. Rkhl also is very careless.

Referring to the date of an invitation, he says 'the eleventh' instead of 'the thirteenth'.

And Gopal-he belongs in a herd of cows!"

The musician sang a song about the monastic life of Chaitanya. Now and then she improvised lines: "He will not look upon a woman; for that is against the sannyasi's duty."

"Eager to take away men's sorrows, he will not look upon a woman." "For the Lord's birth as Sri Chaitanya otherwise would be in vain."

The Master stood up, as he heard about Chaitanya's renunciation, and went into samdhi. The devotees put garlands of flowers around his neck. Bhavanath and Rkhl supported his body lest he should fall on the ground. Vijay, Kedr, Ram, M., Ltu, and the other devotees stood around him in a circle, recalling one of the scenes of Chaitanya's kirtan.

The Master gradually came down to the sense plane. He was talking to Krishna, now and then uttering the word "Krishna". He could not say it very distinctly because of the intensity of his spiritual emotion. He said: "Krishna! Krishna! Krishna! Krishna Satchidananda! Nowadays I do not see Your form. Now I see You both inside me and outside. I see that it is You who have become the universe, all living beings, the twenty-four cosmic principles, and everything else. You alone have become mind, intelligence, everything. It is said in the 'Hymn of Salutation to the Guru': 'I bow down to the Guru by whose grace I have realized Him who pervades the indivisible universe of the animate and the inanimate.'

"You alone are the Indivisible. Again, it is You who pervade the universe of the animate and the inanimate. You are verily the manifold universe; again, You alone are its basis. O

Krishna! You are my life. O Krishna! You are my mind. O Krishna! You are my intelligence.

O Krishna! You are my soul. O Govinda! You are my life-breath. You are my life itself."

Vijay was also in an ecstatic mood. The Master asked him, "My dear sir, have you too become unconscious?" "No, sir", said Vijay humbly.

The music went on. The musician was singing about the blinding love of God. As she improvised the lines:

O Beloved of my soul! Within the chamber of my heart I would have kept You day and night!

The Master again went into samdhi. His injured arm rested on Bhavanath's shoulder.

Sri Ramakrishna partly regained outer consciousness. The musician improvised: Why should one who, for Thy sake, has given up everything Endure so much of suffering?

The Master bowed to the musician and sat down to listen to the music. Now and then he became abstracted. When the musician stopped singing, Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to the devotees.

Prema

MASTER (to Vijay and the others): "What is prema? He who feels it, this intense and ecstatic love of God, not only forgets the world but forgets even the body, which is so dear to all. Chaitanya experienced it."

The Master explained this to the devotees by singing a song describing the ecstatic state of prema:

Oh, when will dawn the blessed day

When tears of joy will flow from my eyes

As I repeat Lord Hari's name? . . .

The Master began to dance, and the devotees joined him. He caught M. by the arm and dragged him into the circle. Thus dancing, Sri Ramakrishna again went into samdhi.

Standing transfixed, he looked like a picture on canvas.

Kedr repeated the following hymn to bring his mind down from the plane of samdhi: We worship the Brahman-Consciousness in the Lotus of the Heart,

The Undifferentiated, who is adored by Hari, Hara, and Brahma;

Who is attained by yogis in the depths of their meditation; The Scatterer of the fear of birth and death,

The Essence of Knowledge and Truth, the Primal Seed of the world.

Sri Ramakrishna gradually came back to the plane of normal consciousness. He took his seat and chanted the names of God: "Om Satchidananda! Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!

Yogamaya! Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan!"

The Master took dust from the place where the kirtan had been sung and touched it to his forehead.

A little later Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the semicircular porch facing the Ganges, the devotees sitting by his side. Now and then the Master would exclaim, "Ah, Krishnachaitanya!"

MASTER (to Vijay and the others): "There has been much chanting of the Lord's name in the room. That is why the atmosphere has become so intense."

BHAVANATH: "Words of renunciation, too."

The Master said, "Ah, how thrilling!" Then he sang about Gaurnga and Nityananda : Gora bestows the Nectar of prema;

Jar after jar he pours it out,

And still there is no end!

Sweetest Nitai is summoning all;

Beloved Gora bids them come;

Shntipur is almost drowned,

And Nadia is flooded with prema!

Strict rules for sannyasi's life

MASTER (to Vijay and the others): "The musician sang rightly: 'A sannyasi must not look at a woman.' This is the sannyasi's dharma. What a lofty ideal!"

VIJAY: "Yes indeed, sir."

MASTER: "Others learn from the sannyasi's example. That is why such strict rules are prescribed for him. A sannyasi must not look even at the portrait of a woman. What a strict rule! The slaughtering of a black goat is prescribed for the worship of the Divine Mother; but a goat with even a slight wound cannot be offered. A sannyasi must not only not have intercourse with woman; he must not even talk to her"

VIJAY: "Young Haridas talked with a pious woman. For that reason Chaitanya banished him from his presence."

MASTER: "A sannyasi associated with 'woman and gold' is like a beautiful damsel with a bad odour. The odour makes her beauty useless.

"Once a Mrwri devotee wanted to give me some money. Mathur wanted to deed me some land. But I couldn't accept either.

"The rules for the life of a sannyasi are very strict indeed. If a man takes the garb of a sannyasi, he must act exactly like one. Haven't you noticed in the theatre that the man who takes the part of the king acts like a king, and the man who takes the part of a minister acts like a minister?

"But on attaining the state of the paramahamsa one becomes like a child. A child five years old doesn't know the difference between a man and a woman. But even a paramahamsa must be careful, so as not to set a bad example to others."

Referring to Keshab's association with "woman and gold", which had hindered his work as a spiritual teacher, Sri Ramakrishna said to Vijay, "He-do you understand?"

VIJAY: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "He couldn't achieve very much because he wanted to satisfy both God and the world."

VIJAY: "Chaitanya said to Nityananda: 'Nitai, I shall not be able to do the people any good unless I renounce the world. All will imitate me and want to lead the life of a householder. No one will try to direct his whole mind to the Lotus Feet of God, renouncing "woman and gold."

MASTER: "Yes. Chaitanyadeva renounced the world to set an example to mankind.


The sannyasi is a world teacher

"The sannyasi must renounce 'woman and gold' for his own welfare. Even if he is unattached, and consequently not in danger, still, in order to set an example to others, he must not keep 'woman and gold' near him. The sannyasi, the man of renunciation, is a world teacher. It is his example that awakens the spiritual consciousness of men."

It was nearly dusk. The devotees saluted the Master and took their leave.

--------------------

Chapter 23



FESTIVAL AT SURENDRA'S HOUSE


Sunday, June 15, 1884

SRI RAMAKRISHNA arrived in the morning at the garden house of Surendra, one of his beloved householder disciples, in the village of Kankurgachi near Calcutta. Surendra had invited him and a large number of the devotees to a religious festival.

Occasions like this were a source of great happiness and rejoicing to the Master's devotees. He was then seen at his best. He joined with the others in devotional music and in chanting the names of God, frequently going into ecstasy. He poured out his entire soul in inspired talk, explaining the various phases of God-Consciousness. The impressions of such a festival lingered in the minds of all for many days.

The devotees stood in rows inside the big hall of the garden house to hear the music sung by the professional singers. The floor of the room was covered with a carpet over which was spread a white sheet; a few bolsters, pillows, and cushions lay here and there.

Krishna and Gopis at Vrindvan

The musicians were singing of the episodes in the life of Sri Krishna especially associated with His divine love for the gopis of Vrindvan. This was a theme which always appealed to the Master and would throw him into ecstatic moods.

Krishna, God Incarnate, lived the years of His boyhood in Vrindvan as a cowherd. He tended His cows on the green meadows along the bank of the Jamuna and played His flute. The milkmaids could not resist the force of His divine attraction. At the sound of His flute they would leave their household duties and go to the bank of the sacred river.

Their love for Krishna destroyed their attachment to worldly things. Neither the threats of their relatives nor the criticism of others could make them desist from seeking the company of Krishna. In the love of the gopis for Krishna there was not the slightest trace of worldliness. It was the innate attraction of God for pure souls, as of the magnet for iron. The author of the Bhagavata has compared this love to the all-consuming love of a woman for her beloved. Before the on rush of that love all barriers between man and God are swept away. The devotee surrenders himself completely to his Divine Beloved and in the end becomes one with Him.

Radha was the foremost of the gopis, and Krishna's chief playmate. She felt an indescribable longing for union with Him. A moment's separation from Krishna would rend her heart and soul.

During many a moonlit night Krishna would dance with Radha and the gopis in the sacred groves of Vrindvan, and on such occasions the gopis would experience the highest religious ecstasy. At the age of eleven Krishna was called to be the king of Mathura. He left the gopis, promising them, however, His divine vision whenever they concentrated on Him in their hearts.

For centuries and centuries the lovers of God in 1ndia have been worshipping the Divine by recreating in themselves the yearning of the gopis for Krishna. Many of the folk-songs of India have as their theme this sweet episode of Krishna's life. Sri Chaitanya revived this phase of Hindu religious life by his spiritual practice and his divine visions. In his ecstatic music Chaitanya assumed the role of Radha and manifested the longing to be united with Krishna. For a long period Sri Ramakrishna also worshipped God as his beloved Krishna, looking on himself as one of the gopis or as God's handmaid.

At Surendra's garden house the kirtan had begun early in the morning. The musicians were singing about the love of Krishna and Radha for each other. The Master was frequently in samdhi. The room was crowded with devotees, among them Bhavanath, Niranjan, Rkhl , Surendra, Ram, and M., and many members of the Brahmo Samaj.

In accordance with the custom, the kirtan had begun with, an introductory song about Gaurnga.

Gaurnga embraces monastic life. He is being consumed with longing for a vision of Krishna. He leaves Navadvip and goes away as a wandering monk to seek out his Beloved. His devotees, unable to bear the pangs of separation, weep bitterly and beg Gaurnga to return.

The musician sang:

O Gaur, come back to Nadia!

Master's ecstasy

Next the musician sang about the anguish of Radha at her separation from Krishna.

When Sri Ramakrishna heard the song he suddenly stood up. Assuming the mood of Radha, he sang in a voice laden with sorrow, improvising the words: "O friend, either bring my beloved Krishna here or take me to Him." Thus singing, he completely lost himself in Radha and could not continue the song. He became speechless, his body motionless, his eyes half closed, his mind totally unconscious of the outer world. He was in deep samdhi.


Radha's anguish at separation from Krishna

After a long time he regained normal consciousness and said in the same heart-rending voice: "O friend, take me to my beloved Krishna and make me your bondslave. I shall be your handmaid for ever. O friend, it was you who taught me how to love Krishna. O

Krishna! O Beloved of my soul!"

The professional musicians continued their song. They took the part of Radha and sang as if she were talking to her friend: "O friend, I shall not go again to the Jamuna to draw water. Once I beheld my beloved Friend under the kadamba tree. Whenever I pass it I am overwhelmed."

The Master again became abstracted. Heaving a deep sigh he said, "Ah me! Ah me!"

The song went on. Radha says:

Even the desire for Krishna's presence

Has cooled and refreshed my feverish body.

Now and then, the musicians improvised lines to the music, continuing in the attitude of Radha:

"O friends, you can wait. Show me Krishna, my Beloved."

Again: "Do not bother about my ornaments. I have lost my most precious Ornament."

And again: "Alas! I have fallen on evil days. My happy days are over." And finally: "This unhappy time lingers so long!"

Sri Ramakrishna improvised a line himself: "Are not better times yet in sight for me?" The musicians then improvised: "Such a long time has passed! Are not better times yet in sight for me?"

The musicians sang Radha's words to a friend:

O friend, I am dying! Surely I die.

The anguish of being kept apart

From Krishna is more than I can bear.

Alas! to whom then shall I leave.

My priceless Treasure? When I am dead,

I beg you, do not burn my body;

Do not cast it into the river.

See that it is not given to the flames;

Do not cast it into the water.

In this body I played with Krishna.

Bind my lifeless form, I beg you,

To the black tamala's branches;

Tie it to the tamala tree.

Touching tamala it touches black.

Krishna is black, and black is tamala;

Black is the colour that I love.

From earliest childhood I have loved it.

To the black Krishna my body belongs;

Let it not lie apart from black!

Radha reaches her last extremity. She faints away.

Radha has fallen to the ground;

She lies there lost to outward sense,

Repeating her precious Krishna's name,

And straightway doses both her eyes.

Ah, has the drama reached its end?

What ails you, O delight of Krishna?

Only a moment ago you spoke.

Her friends, anointing Radha's form

With cool and soothing sandal-paste,

Attempt to bring her back to earth.

Some of them weep in bitter grief;

They cannot bear to see her die.

Some sprinkle water on her face;

Perhaps she will revive again!

But, oh, can water give back life

To one who dies of Krishna's love?

Radha's friends chant Krishna's sweet name in her ears. This brings her back to partial consciousness. She looks at the black tamala tree and thinks that Krishna stands before her.

Krishna's name restores her life;

Once more her two eyes gaze around,

But Krishna's face she cannot see.

Alas, how bitterly she weeps!

"Where is my Krishna? Where is He

Whose name you chanted in my ears?

Bring Him but once before me here!"

Seeing the black tamala tree,

She stares at it and cries aloud:

"There is His crest! I see it clearly!

There is my "Krishna's lovely crest!"

But only a peacock did she see,

Whose glistening feathers she mistook

For the gay feather on Krishna's crest.

Krishna has gone to Mathura to assume His royal duties. He has discarded His cowherd's dress and flute and put on the royal regalia. Radha's friends, after a hurried consultation, send a gopi to Mathura as messenger. She meets a woman of that city, of her own age, who asks her where she comes from.

Radha's friend says: "I don't have to call Krishna. He Himself will come to me." But none the less, she follows the woman of Mathura and goes to Krishna's palace. In the street she weeps overcome with grief, and prays to Krishna: "O Hari, where are You? O Life of the gopis! O Enchanter of our hearts! O Beloved of Radha! O Hari, Remover of Your devotees' shame! Come to us once more! With great pride I said to the people of Mathura that You Yourself would come to me. Please do not humiliate me."

In scorn says the woman of Mathura:

"Oh, you are only a simple milkmaid!

How can you go to see our King,

Our Krishna, in your beggar's rags?

Behind seven doors His chamber stands.

You cannot enter. How can you go?

I die of shame to see your boldness.

Tell me, how will you manage to enter?"

Says the gopi:

"Krishna! Beloved!

Soul of the gopis! Oh, where are You?

Come to me here and save my life.

Where are You, adorable Soul of the gopis?

Come to me, Lord of Mathura!

And save the life of Your sorrowing handmaid.

Ah, where are You, Beloved of Radha?

Lord of our hearts and Friend of our souls!

O Hari, Destroyer of our shame!

O priceless Treasure of the gopis!

Come to Your handmaid and save her honour."

Thus the messenger weeps and cries out for Krishna.

When the musicians sang, "Where are You, adorable Soul of the gopis?" the Master went into samdhi. As the music neared its end the musicians sang louder. Sri Ramakrishna was on his feet, again in deep samdhi. Regaining partial consciousness, he said in a half articulate voice, "Kitna! Kitna!" He was too much overwhelmed to utter Krishna's name distinctly.

The kirtan was coming to a close. At the reunion of Radha and Krishna the Master sang with the musicians, composing the lines himself:

Behold, there Radha stands by Krishna;

On His bosom she reclines.

Behold her standing at His left,

Like a golden creeper twining

Round a black tamala tree!

As the music came to a close the Master led the chorus. All chanted together, to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals: "Victory to Radha and Krishna! Hallowed be the names of Radha and Krishna!" The devotees felt a surge of divine emotion and danced around the Master. He too danced in an ecstasy of joy. The names of God echoed and reechoed in the house and garden.




Master's praise of Niranjan

After the music the Master sat with the devotees. Just then Niranjan arrived and prostrated himself before him. At the very sight of this beloved disciple the Master stood up; with beaming eyes and smiling face, and said: "You have come too! (To M.) You see, this boy is absolutely guileless. One cannot be guileless without a great deal of spiritual discipline in previous births. A hypocritical and calculating mind can never attain God.

"Don't you see that God incarnates Himself only in a family where innocence exists? How guileless Dasaratha was! So was Nanda, Krishna's father. There is a saying: 'Ah, how innocent a man he is!

He is just like Nanda.'

(To Niranjan) "I feel as if a dark veil has covered your face. It is because you have accepted a job in an office. One must keep accounts there. Besides, one must attend to many other things, and that always keeps the mind in a state of worry. You are serving in an office like other worldly people; but there is a slight difference, in that you are earning money for the sake of your mother. One must show the highest respect to one's mother, for she is the very embodiment of the Blissful Mother of the Universe. If you had accepted the job for the sake of wife and children, I should have said: 'Fie upon you!

Shame! A thousand shames!'

(To Mani Mallick, pointing to Niranjan) "Look at this boy. He is absolutely guileless. But he has one fault: he is slightly untruthful nowadays. The other day he said that he would visit me again very soon, but he didn't come. (To Niranjan) That is why Rkhl asked you why you didn't come to see me while you were at Ariadaha, so near Dakshineswar."

NIRANJAN: "I was there only a couple of days."

MASTER (to Niranjan, pointing to M.) "He is the headmaster of a school. At my bidding he went to see you. (To M.) Did you send Baburam to me the other day?"

The Master went to an adjoining room and began to talk with some devotees there.

Be mad for God alone

MASTER (to M.): "Ah! How wonderful was the yearning of the gopis for Krishna! They were seized with divine madness at the very sight of the black tamala tree. Separation from Krishna created such a fire of anguish in Radha's heart that it dried up even the tears in her eyes! Her tears would disappear in steam. There were other times when nobody could notice the depth of her feeling. People do not notice the plunge of an elephant in a big lake."

M: "Yes, sir, that is true. Chaitanya, too, experienced a similar feeling. He mistook a forest for the sacred grove of Vrindvan, and the dark water of the ocean for the blue Jamuna"

MASTER: "Ah! If anyone has but a particle of such prema! What yearning! What love!

Radha possessed not only one hundred per cent of divine love, but one hundred and twenty-five per cent.

This is what it means to be intoxicated with ecstatic love of God. The sum and substance of the whole matter is that a man must love God, must be restless for Him. It doesn't matter whether you believe in God with form or in God without form. You may or may not believe that God incarnates Himself as man. But you will realize Him if you have that yearning. Then He Himself will let you know what He is like. If you must be mad, why should you be mad for the things of the world? If you must be mad, be mad for God alone."

Presently Sri Ramakrishna returned to the main hall of the house. A big pillow was placed near him for his use. Before touching it he said, "Om Tat Sat" Perhaps the pillow had been used by many worldly people, and that was why he purified it in this way.

Bhavanath, M., and other devotees sat near him. It was getting late, but there was no indication that the meal was going to be served. The Master became impatient, like a child, and said: "I don't see any sign of food.

What's the matter? Where is Narendra?"

A DEVOTEE (with a smile): "Sir, Ram Babu is the manager of the feast. He is superintending everything."

MASTER (laughing): "Oh, Ram is the manager! Then we know what to expect."

A DEVOTEE: "Things like this always happen when he is the supervisor." (All laugh.) MASTER (to the devotees): "Where is Surendra? What a nice disposition he has now! He is very outspoken; he isn't afraid to speak the truth. He is unstinting in his liberality. No one that goes to him for help comes away empty-handed. (To M.) You went to Bhagavan Das. What sort of man is he?"

M: "He is very old now. I saw him at Kalna. It was night. He lay on a carpet and a devotee fed him with food that had been offered to God. He can hear only if one speaks loudly into his ear.

Hearing me mention your name he said, 'You have nothing to worry about.'"

BHAVANATH (to M.): "You haven't been to Dakshineswar for a long time. The Master asked me about you and said one day, 'Has M. lost all taste for this place?' "

Bhavanath laughed as he said these words. The Master heard their conversation and said to M. in a loving voice: "Yes, that is true. Why haven't you been to Dakshineswar for such a long time?"

M. could only stammer some lame excuses.

Just then Mahimacharan arrived. He lived at Cossipore near Calcutta. Mahimacharan held the Master in great respect and was a frequent visitor at the temple garden. He was a man of independent means, having inherited some ancestral property. He devoted his time to religious thought and to the study of the scriptures. He was a man of some scholarship, having studied many books, both Sanskrit and English.

MASTER (to Mahima): "What is this? I see a steamship here. (All laugh.) We expect here a small boat at the most, but a real steamship has arrived. But then I know. It's the rainy season!" (Laughter.)

The Master was conversing with Mahimacharan. He asked him: "Isn't feeding people a kind of service to God? God exists in all beings as fire. To feed people is to offer oblations to that Indwelling Spirit. But then one shouldn't feed the wicked, I mean people who are entangled in gross worldliness or who have committed heinous crimes like adultery. Even the ground where such people sit becomes impure to a depth of seven cubits. Once Hriday fed a number of people at his native place. A good many of them were wicked. I said to Hriday: 'Look here. If you feed such people I shall leave your house at once.' (To Mahima) I hear that you used to feed people; but now you don't give any such feasts. Is it because your expenses have gone up?" (Laughter.) The meal was to be served on the south verandah of the house. Leaf-plates were being placed on the floor. The Master said to Mahimacharan: "Please go there and see what they are doing. You may help them a little in serving the food. But I shouldn't ask you."

Mahimacharan said: "Let them bring in the food. I shall see." Hemming and hawing, he went toward the kitchen, but presently he came back.

Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees enjoyed the meal greatly. Afterwards he rested awhile. About two o'clock in the afternoon Pratap Chandra Mazumdar of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. He was a co-worker of Keshab Chandra Sen and had been to Europe and America in connection with the Brahmo missionary work. He greeted Sri Ramakrishna, and the Master, too, bowed before him with his usual modesty.

They were soon engaged in conversation.

PRATAP: "I have been to Darjeeling recently for a change of air."

MASTER: "But your health hasn't much improved. What are you suffering from?"

PRATAP: "The same-illness that Keshab died of."

They began to talk about Keshab. Pratap said: "Even in boyhood he showed non-attachment to worldly things, seldom making merry with other boys. He was a student in the Hindu College. At that time he became friendly with Satyendra and through him made the acquaintance of his father, Devendranath Tagore. Keshab cultivated bhakti and at the same time practised meditation. At times he would be so much overcome with divine love that he would become unconscious. The main purpose of his life was to introduce religion among householders.

The conversation next turned to a certain Marhatta lady.

PRATAP: "Some women of our country have been to England. This Marhatta lady, who is very scholarly, also visited England. Later she embraced Christianity. Have you heard her name, sir?"

Egotism brings calamity

MASTER: "No. But from what you say it seems to me that she has a desire for name and fame. That kind of egotism is not good. The feeling 'I am the doer' is the outcome of ignorance. But the feeling that God does everything is due to knowledge. God alone is the Doer; all others are mere instruments in His hands.

Parable of the calf

"The misfortune that befalls a man on account of his egotism can be realized if you only think of the condition of the calf. The calf says, 'Hamma! Hamma!' that is, 'I! I!' And just look at its misfortune! At times it is yoked to the plough and made to work in the field from sunup to sundown, rain or shine. Again, it may be slaughtered by the butcher. In that case the flesh is eaten and the skin tanned into hide. From the hide shoes are made. People put on these shoes and walk on the rough ground. Still that is not the end of its misfortunes. Drums are made from its skin and mercilessly beaten with sticks. At last its entrails are made into strings for the bow used in carding cotton. When used by the carder the string gives the sound 'Tuhu! Tuhu!','Thou! Thou!'-that is, 'It is Thou, O

Lord! It is Thou!' It no longer says, 'Hamma! Hamma!', 'I! I!' Only then does the calf's trouble come to an end, and it is liberated. It doesn't return to the world of action.

"Likewise, when the embodied soul says: 'O God, I am not the doer; Thou art the Doer. I am the machine and Thou art its Operator', only then does its suffering of worldly life come to an end; only then does it obtain liberation. It no longer has to be reborn in this world of action."

A DEVOTEE: "How can a man get rid of his ego?"

MASTER: "You cannot get rid of it until you have realized God. If you find a person free from ego, then know for certain that he has seen God."

Signs of God-vision

DEVOTEE: "What, sir, are the signs of God-vision?"


MASTER: "Yes, there are such signs. It is said in the Bhagavata that a man who has seen God behaves sometimes like a child, sometimes like a ghoul, sometimes like an inert thing, and sometimes like a madman.

"The man who has seen God becomes like a child. He is beyond the three gunas; he is unattached to any of them. He behaves like a ghoul, for he maintains the same attitude toward things holy and unholy. Again, like a madman, he sometimes laughs and sometimes weeps. Now he dresses himself like a dandy and the next moment he goes entirely naked and roams about with his cloth under his arm. Therefore he seems to be a lunatic. Again, at times he sits motionless like an inert thing."

Harmless ego

DEVOTEE: "Does the ego disappear altogether after the realization of God?"


MASTER: "Yes, sometimes God totally effaces the ego of His devotee, as in the state of samdhi.

But in many cases He keeps a trace of ego. But that doesn't injure anybody. It is like the ego of a child. A five-year-old child no doubt says 'I', but that ego doesn't harm anybody. At the touch of the philosopher's stone, steel is turned into gold; the steel sword becomes a sword of gold.

The gold sword has the form of a sword, no doubt, but it cannot injure anybody. One cannot cut anything with a gold sword.

(To Pratap) "You have been to England. Tell us what you saw there."

PRATAP: "The English people worship what you call 'gold'. Of course, there are also some good people in England, those who live an unattached life. But generally one finds there a great display of rajas in everything. I saw the same thing in America."

Secret of work

MASTER (to Pratap): "It is not in England alone that one sees attachment to worldly things. You see it everywhere. But remember that work is only the first step in spiritual life. God cannot be realized without sattva-love, discrimination, kindness, and so on. It is the very nature of rajas to involve a man in many worldly activities. That is why rajas degenerates into tamas. If a man is entangled in too many activities he surely forgets God. He becomes more and more attached to 'woman and gold'.

"But it is not possible for you to give up work altogether. Your very nature will lead you to it whether you like it or not. Therefore the scriptures ask you to work in a detached spirit, that is to say, not to crave the work's results. For example, you may perform devotions and worship, and practise austerities, but your aim is not to earn people's recognition or to increase your merit.

"To work in such a spirit of detachment is known as karmayoga. But it is very difficult.

We are living in the Kaliyuga, when one easily becomes attached to one's actions. You may think you are working in a detached spirit, but attachment creeps into the mind from nobody knows where. You may worship in the temple or arrange a grand religious festival or feed many poor and starving people. You may think you have done all this without hankering after the results. But unknown to yourself the desire for name and fame has somehow crept into your mind. Complete detachment from the results of action is possible only for one who has seen God."

The path of bhakti for this age

A DEVOTEE: "Then what is the way for those who have not seen God? Must they give up all the duties of the world?"

MASTER: "The best path for this age is bhaktiyoga, the path of bhakti prescribed by Nrada: to sing the name and glories of God and pray to Him with a longing heart, 'O

God, give me knowledge, give me devotion, and reveal Thyself to me!' The path of karma is extremely difficult. Therefore one should pray: 'O God, make my duties fewer and fewer; and may I, through Thy grace, do the few duties that Thou givest me without any attachment to their results! May I have no desire to be involved in many activities!'

"It is not possible to give up work altogether. Even to think or to meditate is a kind of work.

As you develop love for God, your worldly activities become fewer and fewer of themselves. And you lose all interest in them. Can one who has tasted a drink made of sugar candy enjoy a drink made of ordinary molasses?"

First God and then worldly duties

A DEVOTEE: "The English people always exhort us to be active. Isn't action the aim of life then?"


MASTER: "The aim of life is the attainment of God. Work is only a preliminary step; it can never be the end. Even unselfish work is only a means; it is not the end.

"Sambhu Mallick once said to me, 'Please bless me, sir, that I may spend all my money for good purposes, such as building hospitals and dispensaries; making roads, and digging wells.' I said to him: 'It will be good if you can do these things in a spirit of detachment. But that is very difficult. Whatever you may do, you must always remember that the aim of this life of yours is the attainment of God and not the building of hospitals and dispensaries. Suppose God appeared before you and said to you, "Accept a boon from Me." Would you then ask Him, "O God, build me some hospitals and dispensaries"? Or would you not rather pray to Him: "O God, may I have pure love at Your Lotus Feet! May I have Your uninterrupted vision!"? Hospitals, dispensaries, and all such things are unreal. God alone is real and all else unreal. Furthermore, after realizing God one feels that He alone is the Doer and we are but His instruments. Then why should we forget Him and destroy ourselves by being involved in too many activities?

After realizing Him, one may, through His grace, become His instrument in building many hospitals and dispensaries.'

"Therefore I say again that work is only the first step. It can never be the goal of life.

Devote yourself to spiritual practice and go forward. Through practice you will advance more and more in the path of God. At last you will come to know that God alone is real and all else is illusory, and that the goal of life is the attainment of God.

The story of the wood-cutter

"Once upon a time a wood-cutter went into a forest to chop wood. There suddenly he met a brahmachari. The holy man said to him, 'My good man, go forward.' On returning home the wood-cutter asked himself, 'Why did the brahmachari tell me to go forward?'

Some time passed. One day he remembered the brahmachari's words. He said to himself, 'Today I shall go deeper into the forest.' Going deep into the forest, he discovered innumerable sandalwood trees. He was very happy and returned with cart-loads of sandalwood. He sold them in the market and became very rich.

"A few days later he again remembered the words of the holy man to go forward. He went deeper into the forest and discovered a silver-mine near a river. This was even beyond his dreams. He dug out silver from the mine and sold it in the market. He got so much money that he didn't even know how much he had.

"A few more days passed. One day he thought: 'The brahmachari didn't ask me to stop at the silver-mine; he told me to go forward.' This time he went to the other side of the river and found a gold-mine. Then he exclaimed: 'Ah, just see! This is why he asked me to go forward.'

"Again, a few days afterwards, he went still deeper into the forest and found heaps of diamonds and other precious gems. He took these also and became as rich as the god of wealth himself.

Go forward

"Therefore I say that, whatever you may do, you will find better and better things if only you go forward. You may feel a little ecstasy as the result of japa, but don't conclude from this that you have achieved everything in spiritual life. Work is by no means the goal of life. Go forward, and then you will be able to perform unselfish work. But again I say that it is most difficult to perform unselfish work. Therefore with love and longing in your heart pray to God: 'O God, grant me devotion at Thy Lotus Feet and reduce my worldly duties. Please grant me the boon that the few duties I must do may be done in a detached spirit.' If you go still farther you will realize God.

You will see Him. In time you will converse with Him."

Next the conversation turned to the quarrels among the members of the Brahmo Samaj.

They had had a misunderstanding about the right to preach in the temple after Keshab's death.

MASTER (to Pratap): "I hear that some members of the Samaj have quarrelled with you about the altar. But they are most insignificant persons-mere nobodies.

(To the devotees): "People like Pratap and Amrita are like good conchshells, which give out a loud sound. And the rest, about whom you hear so much, don't give out any sound at all." (All laugh.)

PRATAP: "Speaking of sounds, even such a worthless thing as a mangostone makes a sound!"

MASTER (to Pratap): "One can very well understand the inner feeling of a teacher of your Brahmo Samaj by hearing his preaching. Once I went to a meeting of a Hari Sabha.

The preacher of the day was a pundit named Samadhyayi. And can you imagine what he said? He said in the course of his sermon: 'God is dry. We must make Him sweet and fresh with our love and devotion.' I was stunned to hear these words. Then I was reminded of a story. A boy once said: 'At my uncle's house there are many horses. Oh, yes! His whole cowshed is full of them.' Now if it was really a cowshed, then horses could not be kept there. Possibly he had only cows. What did people think on hearing such an incoherent statement? They believed that there were surely no such animals as horses in the shed." (Laughter.)

A DEVOTEE: "True, sir, there were not only no horses, but possibly there were also no cows!"

(Laughter.)

MASTER: "Just fancy, to describe God, who is of the very nature of Love and Bliss, as dry! It only proves that the man has never experienced what God is like.

Master's advice to Pratap

(To Pratap) "Let me tell you something. You are a learned and intelligent and serious-minded soul. Keshab and you were like the two brothers, Gaur and Nitai. You have had enough of lectures, arguments, quarrels,discussions, and dissensions. Can such things interest you any more? Now gather your whole mind and direct it to God. Plunge deep into God."

PRATAP: "Yes, sir, you are right. That is surely my only duty now. But I am doing all these things only to perpetuate Keshab's name."

MASTER (with a smile): "No doubt you say now that you are doing all this to keep his name alive; but in a few days you won't feel that way. Listen to a story. A man had built a house on a hill.

It was only a mud hut, but he had built it with great labour. A few days after, there came a violent storm and the hut began to rock. The man became very anxious to save it and prayed to the god of the winds,'O god of the winds, please don't wreck the house!'

But the god of the winds paid no heed to his prayer. The house was about to crash. Then he thought of a trick. He remembered that Hanuman was the son of the god of the winds. At once he cried out with great earnestness: 'O revered sir, please don't pull down the house. It belongs to Hanuman. I beseech you to protect it.' But still the house continued to shake violently. Nobody seemed to listen to his prayer. He repeated many times, 'Oh, this house belongs to Hanuman!' But the fury of the wind did not abate. Then he remembered that Hanuman was the devoted servant of Rma, whose younger brother was Lakshmana. Desperately the man prayed, crying aloud, 'Oh, this house belongs to Lakshmana!' But that also failed to help matters. So the man cried out as a last resort: 'This is Rma's house. Don't break it down, O god of the winds! I beseech you most humbly.' But this too proved futile, and the house began to crash down.

Whereupon the man, who now had to save his own life, rushed out of it with the curse: 'Let it go! This is the devil's own hut!'

(To Pratap): "You don't have to perpetuate Keshab's name. Remember that he achieved all his success through the will of God. Through the divine will his work was established, and through the divine will it is disintegrating. What can you do about it? Now it is your bounden duty to give your entire mind to God, to plunge deep into the Ocean of His Love."

Saying these words the Master sang in his sweet voice: Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty; If you descend to the uttermost depths,

There you will find the gem of Love.

Go seek, O mind, go seek Vrindvan in your heart, Where with His loving devotees

Sri Krishna sports eternally.

Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom's shining lamp, And let it burn with steady flame

Unceasingly within your heart.

Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth?

It is your guru, says Kubir;

Meditate on his holy feet.

The Master continued, addressing Pratap: "Did you listen to the song? You have had enough of lectures and quarrels. Now dive deep into the Ocean of God. There is no fear of death from plunging into this Ocean, for this is the Ocean of Immortality. Don't think that this will make you lose your head. Never for a moment harbour the idea that by thinking too much of God one becomes insane. Once I said to Narendra"

PRATAP: "Who is Narendra, sir?"

MASTER: "Oh, never mind. There is a young man of that name. I said to Narendra: 'Look here, my boy. God is the Ocean of Bliss; Don't you want to plunge into this Ocean?

Suppose there is a cup of syrup and you are a fly. Where will you sit to sip the syrup?'

Narendra said, 'I will sit on the edge of the cup and stick my head out to drink it.' 'Why?'

said I. 'Why should you sit on the edge?' He replied, 'If I go far into the syrup, I shall be drowned and lose my life.' Then I said to him: 'But, my child, there is no such fear in the Ocean of Satchidananda. It is the Ocean of Immortality. By plunging into it a man does not die; he becomes immortal. Man does not lose his consciousness by being mad about God.

Knowledge and ignorance

(To the devotees) "The feeling of 'I ' and 'mine' is ignorance. People say that Rani Rasmani built the Kli temple; but nobody says it was the work of God. They say that such and such a person established the Brahmo Samaj; but nobody says it was founded through the will of God. This feeling, 'I am the doer', is ignorance. On the contrary, the idea, 'O God, Thou art the Doer and I am only an instrument; Thou art the Operator and I am the machine', is Knowledge. After attaining Knowledge a man says: 'O God, nothing belongs to me-neither this house of worship nor this Kli temple nor this Brahmo Samaj.

These are all Thine. Wife, son, and family do not belong to me. They are all Thine.'

"To love these objects, regarding them as one's own, is my. But to love all things is daya, compassion. To love only the members of the Brahmo Samaj or of one's own family is my; to love one's own countrymen is my. But to love the people of all countries, to love the members of all religions, is daya. Such love comes from love of God, from daya.

"My entangles a man and turns him away from God. But through daya one realizes God. Sages like Sukadeva and Nrada always cherished daya in their hearts."

PRATAP: "Revered sir, are those who live with you making progress in spiritual life?"

MASTER: "I tell people that there is nothing wrong in the life of the world. But they must live in the world as a maidservant lives in her master's house.'

Referring to her master's house, she says, 'That is our house.' But her real home is perhaps in a faraway village. Pointing out her master's house to others, she says, no doubt, 'This is our house', but in her heart she knows very well that it doesn't belong to her and that her own house is in a faraway village. She brings up her master's son and says, 'My Hari has grown very naughty', or 'My Hari doesn't like sweets.' Though she repeats, 'My Hari' with her lips, yet she knows in her heart that Hari doesn't belong to her, that he is her master's son.

"Thus I say to those who visit me: 'Why don't you live in the world? There is no harm in that.

But always keep your mind, on God. Know for certain that house, family and property are not yours. They are God's. Your real home is in God.' Also I ask them to pray always with a longing heart for love of God's Lotus Feet."

Again the conversation turned to the English people. A devotee said, "Sir, I understand that nowadays the pundits of England do not believe in the existence of God."

PRATAP: "However they may talk, I don't believe that any of them is a real atheist. Many of them have had to admit that there is a great power behind the activities of the universe."

MASTER: "Well, that is enough. They believe in akti, don't they? Then why should they be atheists?"

PRATAP: "They also believe in the moral government of the universe."

Pratap was now about to take leave of the Master.

MASTER (to Pratap): "What more shall I say to you? My only request is that you do not involve yourself in quarrels and dissensions any more. Another thing. It is 'woman and gold' that keeps men away from God. That is the barrier. Don't you find that everyone has nothing but praise for his own wife? (All laugh.) A wife may be good or bad; but if you ask her husband about her he will always say, 'Oh, she is very good-'"

At this point Pratap bade the Master good-bye. He did not wait to hear the end of Sri Ramakrishna's words about the renunciation of "woman and gold". Those burning words touched the hearts of the devotees and were carried away on the wind through the gently rustling leaves in the garden.

A few minutes later Mani Mallick said to Sri Ramakrishna: "Sir, it is time for you to leave for Dakshineswar. Today Keshab's mother and the other ladies of his family are going to the temple garden to visit you. They will be hurt if they do not find you there."

Keshab had passed away only a few months before. His old mother and his other relatives wanted to visit the Master.

MASTER (to Mani Mallick): "Don't hurry me, please. I didn't sleep well. I can't rush. They are going to Dakshineswar. What am I to do about it? They will stroll in the garden and enjoy it thoroughly."

After resting a little the Master was ready to leave for Dakshineswar. He was thinking of Surendra's welfare. He visited the different rooms, softly chanting the holy name of God.

Suddenly he stood still and said: "I didn't eat any luchi at meal time. Bring me a little now."

He ate only a crumb and said: "There is much meaning in my asking for the luchi. If I should remember that I hadn't eaten any at Surendra's house, then I should want to come back for it."

(All laugh.)

MANI MALLICK: "That would have been nice. Then we too should have come with you."

The devotees laughed.

Friday, June 20, 1884

It was dusk. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room, absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother. Now and then he was chanting Her name. Rkhl , Adhar, M., and several other devotees were with him.

After a while the evening worship began in the temples. Adhar left the room to see the worship.

Sri Ramakrishna and M. conversed.

MASTER: "Tell me, does Baburam intend to continue his studies? I said to him, 'Continue your studies to set an example to others.' After Sita had been set free, Bibhishana refused to become king of Ceylon. Rma said to him: 'You should become king to open the eyes of the ignorant.

Otherwise they will ask you what you have gained as a result of serving Me. They will be pleased to see you acquire the kingdom.'

Baburam's spiritual nature

"I noticed the other day that Baburam, Bhavanath, and Harish have a feminine nature.

In a vision I saw Baburam as a goddess with a necklace around her neck and with woman companions about her.

He has received something in a dream. His body is pure. Only a very little effort will awaken his spiritual consciousness.

Concerning Rkhl

"You see, I am having some difficulty about my physical needs. It will be nice if Baburam lives with me. The nature of these attendants of mine is undergoing a change. Ltu is always tense with spiritual emotion. He is about to merge himself in God. Rkhl is getting into such a spiritual mood that he can't do anything even for himself. I have to get water for him. He isn't of much service to me.

"Among the youngsters Baburam and Niranjan are rather exceptional. If other boys come in the future, they will, it seems to me, receive instruction and then go away.

"But I don't want Baburam to tear himself away from his family. It may make trouble at home.

(Smiling) When I ask him, 'Why don't you come?' he says, 'Why not make me come?' He looks at Rkhl and weeps. He says, 'Rkhl is very happy here.'

"Rkhl now lives here as one of the family. I know that he will never again be attached to the world. He says that worldly enjoyments have become tasteless to him. His wife came here on her way to Konnagar. She is fourteen. He too was asked to go to Konnagar, but he didn't go. He said, 'I don't like merriment and gaiety.'

"What do you think of Niranjan?" M: "He is very handsome."

Niranjan's guilelessness

MASTER: "No, I am not asking about his looks. He is guileless. One can easily realize God if one is free from guile. Spiritual instruction produces quick results in a guileless heart. Such a heart is like well cultivated land from which all the stones have been removed. No sooner is the seed sown than it germinates. The fruit also appears quickly.

"Niranjan will not marry. It is 'woman and gold' that causes entanglement. Isn't that so?"

M: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "What will one gain by renouncing betel-leaf and tobacco? The real renunciation is the renunciation of 'woman and gold.'

"I came to know in an ecstatic mood that, though Niranjan had accepted a job in an office, he would not be stained by it. He is earning money for his mother. There is no harm in that.

"The work you are doing won't injure you either. What you are doing is good. Suppose a clerk is sent to jail; he is shut up there and chained, and at last he is released. Does he cut capers after his release? Of course not. He works again as a clerk.

It is not your intention to accumulate money. You only want to support your family.

Otherwise, where will they go?"

M: "I shall be relieved if someone takes charge of them."

MASTER: "That is true. But now do 'this' as well as 'that' "

M: "It is great luck to be able to renounce everything."

MASTER: "That is true. But people act according to their inherent tendencies. You have a few more duties to perform. After these are over you will have peace. Then you will be released. A man cannot easily get out of the hospital once his name is registered there.

He is discharged only when he is completely cured.

Two classes of Master's devotees

"The devotees who come here may be divided into two groups. One group says, 'O God, give me liberation.' Another group, belonging to the inner circle, doesn't talk that way.

They are satisfied if they can know two things: first, who I6 am; second, who they are and what their relationship to me is. You belong to this second group; otherwise. . .

"Bhavanath, Baburam, and a few others have a feminine nature. Harish sleeps in a woman's cloth.

Baburam says that he too likes the womanly attitude. So I am right. Bhavanath also is like that.

But Narendra, Rkhl, and Niranjan have a masculine nature.

Significance of the Master's injuring his arm

"Please tell me one thing. What is the significance of my having hurt my arm? Once my teeth were broken while I was in a state of ecstasy. It is the arm this time."

Seeing M. silent, the Master himself continued the conversation.

MASTER: "My arm was broken in order to destroy my ego to its very root. Now I cannot find my ego within myself any more. When I search for it I see God alone. One can never attain God without completely getting rid of the ego. You must have noticed that the chatak bird has its nest on the ground but soars up very high.

"Captain says I haven't acquired any occult powers because I eat fish. I tremble with fear lest I should acquire those powers. If I should have them, then this place would be turned into a hospital or a dispensary. People would flock here and ask me to cure their illness. Is it good to have occult powers?"

M: "No, sir. You have said to us that a man cannot realize God if he possesses even one of the eight occult powers."

MASTER: "Right you are. Only the small-minded seek them. If one asks something of a rich man, one no longer receives any favour from him. The rich man doesn't allow such a person to ride in the same carriage with him. Even if he does, he doesn't allow the man to sit near him. Therefore love without any selfish motive is best.

"God with form and the formless God are both equally true. What do you say? One cannot keep one's mind on the formless God a long time. That is why God assumes form for His devotees.

"Captain makes a nice remark in this connexion. He says that when a bird gets tired of soaring very high it perches on a tree and rests. First is the formless God, and then comes God with form.

"I shall have to go to your house once. I saw in a vision that the houses of Adhar, Balarm, and Surendra were so many places for our forgathering. But it makes no difference to me whether they come here or not."

M: "That's right. Why shouldn't it be so? One must feel misery if one feels happiness. But you are beyond both."

MASTER: "Yes. Further, I think of the magician and his magic. The magician alone is real. His magic is illusory, like a dream. I realized this when I heard the Chandi recited.

Sumbha and Nisumbha were scarcely born when I learnt that they both were dead."

M: "Yes, sir. Once I was going to Kalna with Gangadhar in a steamer. A country boat struck our ship and sank with twenty or twenty-five passengers. They all disappeared in the water, like foam churned up by the steamer.

"May I ask you one thing? Does a man watching magic really feel compassion when he sees suffering in the performance? Does he feel, at that time, any sense of responsibility? One thinks of compassion only when one feels responsibility. Isn't that so?"

How a Jnni looks on the illusory world

MASTER: "A Jnni sees everything at once-God, my, the universe, and living beings.

He sees that Vidy-my, Avidy-my, the universe, and all living beings exist and at the same time do not exist. As long as he is conscious of 'I', he is conscious of 'others'

too. Nothing whatsoever exists after he cuts through the whole thing with the sword of jnna. Then even his 'I' becomes as unreal as the magic of the magician."

M. was reflecting on these words, when the Master said: "Do you know what it is like? It is as if there were a flower with twenty-five layers of petals, and you cut them all with one stroke.

"The idea of responsibility! Goodness gracious! Men like Sankaracharya and Sukadeva kept the 'ego of Knowledge'. It is not for man to show compassion, but for God. One feels compassion as long as one has the 'ego of Knowledge'. And it is God Himself who has become the 'ego of Knowledge'.

Supreme power of dyakti in the relative world "You may feel a thousand times that it is all magic; but you are still under the control of the Divine Mother. You cannot escape Her. You are not free. You must do what She makes you do. A man attains Brahmajnana only when it is given to him by the dyakti, the Divine Mother. Then alone does he see the whole thing as magic; otherwise not.

"As long as the slightest trace of ego remains, one lives within the jurisdiction of the dyakti. One is under Her sway. One cannot go beyond Her.

"With the help of the dyakti, God sports as an Incarnation. God, through His akti, incarnates Himself as man. Then alone does it become possible for the Incarnation to carry on His work.

Everything is due to the akti of the Divine Mother.

"When anyone asked the former manager of the temple garden a great favour, the manager would say, 'Come after two or three days.' He must ask the proprietor's permission.

"God will incarnate Himself as Kalki at the end of the Kaliyuga. He will be born as the son of a brahmin. Suddenly and unexpectedly a sword and horse will come to him. . . ."

Adhar returned to the Master's room after watching the evening worship in the temples.

MASTER (to Adhar and the others): "Bhuvan was here and brought me twenty-five Bombay mangoes and some sweets. She said to me, 'Will you eat a mango?' I said, 'My stomach is heavy today.' And to tell you the truth, I am feeling uncomfortable after eating a few of the sweets."

Bhuvanmohini was a nurse who used to visit Sri Ramakrishna now and then.

The Master could not eat the food offerings of everyone, especially of physicians and nurses. It was because they accepted money from the sick in spite of the suffering of these people.

MASTER: "Keshab Sen's mother, sisters, and other relatives came here; so I had to dance a little.

I had to entertain them. What else could I do? They were so grief-stricken!"

--------------------

Chapter 24


PUNDIT SHASHADHAR


Wednesday, June 25, 1884


IT WAS THE DAY of the Rathyatra the Car Festival of the Hindus. At Ishan's invitation Sri Ramakrishna went to his house in Calcutta. For some time the Master had had a desire to meet Pundit Shashadhar. Tarkachudamani, who had been staying with one of Ishan's neighbours. So it was decided that he would visit the pundit in the afternoon.

A few devotees, including Hazra, accompanied the Master to Ishan's house. Ishan had invited one or two brahmin scholars and a devotee who followed the Tantrik method of worship. Shrish and Ishan's other sons were also present.

The Master noticed that the Tantrik worshipper had a vermilion mark on his forehead, and smilingly said, "I see he is branded."

After a while M. and Narendra arrived and bowed before Sri Ramakrishna. The Master had previously informed M. that he would be at Ishan's house.

The Master joked about the delay in serving their meal. One of the scholars quoted a Sanskrit verse about the anxiety created in people's minds by the pangs of hunger.

Proceeding to explain the verse he said: "The study of philosophy is indeed edifying, but poetry is more fascinating than philosophy. People listening to good poems think of the study of philosophy-Vednta, Nyaya, Samkhya, and so forth as dry and insipid. Again, music is more attractive than poetry. Music melts even a heart of stone. But a beautiful woman has an even greater attraction for a man's heart than music. Such a woman, passing by, diverts a man's attention from both poetry and music. But when a man feels the pangs of hunger, everything else poetry, music and woman appears as of no consequence. Thus, hunger is the most arresting thing."

The Master remarked with a smile, "The pundit is witty."

Soon Narendra began to sing. A few moments later the Master went upstairs for a little rest. M. and Shrish accompanied him. M. introduced Shrish to the Master, saying: "He is a scholar and a man of peaceful nature. We were fellow students in our boyhood. Now he is a lawyer."

MASTER: "It is a pity that such a man should practise law."

M: "Yes, sir. It was a mistake on his part."

MASTER: "I know a few lawyers. One of them shows me great respect. He is a straightforward man. (To Shrish) What is your idea about the most essential thing in life?"

SHRISH: "God exists and He alone does everything. But the attributes we ascribe to Him are not the right ones. How can a man canceive of Him? His nature is infinite."

MASTER: "What need is there of your counting the number of trees and branches in an orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Do that and be happy. The aim of human birth is to love God. Realize that love and be at peace.

"Suppose you have entered a tavern for a drink. Is it necessary for you to know how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? One glass is enough for you. What need is there of your knowing the infinite qualities of God? You may discriminate for millions of years about God's attributes and still you will not know them."

The Master remained silent a few minutes. A brahmin pundit came into the room.

Sufferings in the worldly life

MASTER (to M.): "There is no substance whatsoever in the worldly life. The members of Ishan's family are good; so he has some peace here. Suppose his sons had been lewd, disobedient, and addicted to drink and other vices. Then there would have been no end to his troubles. One very seldom comes across such a religious family, in which all the members are devoted to God. I have seen only two or three such families. Generally one finds quarrels, misunderstanding, jealousy, and friction. Besides, there are disease, grief, and poverty in the world. Seeing this condition, I prayed to the Divine Mother, 'O

Mother, turn my mind at once from the world to God.'

"Look at Narendra's troubles. His father is dead and the members of his family are starving. He has been trying his utmost to secure a position, but he has not yet found one. Just see how unsettled his mind is!

(To M.) "You used to come to Dakshineswar very frequently. But why have you become such a rare visitor? Perhaps you have become particularly friendly with your wife. Is it true? Why should I blame you? The influence of 'woman and gold' is everywhere.

Therefore I pray, 'O Divine Mother, please don't make me a worldly man if I am to be born again in a human body.' "

BRHMIN SCHOLAR: "Why should you say that, sir? The scriptures extol the life of a householder."

MASTER: "Yes, that is true. But it is very difficult to lead the true life of a householder.

(To M.) How wrong of us! They are singing, especially Narendra, and we have left the room."

About four o'clock in the afternoon the Master left in a carriage for the house where Pundit Shashadhar was staying. As soon as Sri Ramakrishna got into the carriage he went into samdhi. His physical frame was very tender as a result of the austerities he had undergone during the long years of his spiritual discipline and his constant absorption in God-Consciousness.

The Master would suffer from the slightest physical discomfort and even from the vibration of worldly thoughts around him. Once Keshab Chandra Sen had said that Sri Ramakrishna, Christ, and Sri Chaitanya belonged to a delicate species of humanity that should be kept in a glass case and protected from the vulgar contact of the world.

It was the rainy season, and a fine drizzle of rain had made the road muddy. The sky was overcast. The devotees followed the carriage on foot. As the carriage stopped in front of the house, the host and his relatives welcomed the Master and took him upstairs to the drawing-room. There the Master met the pundit.

Pundit Shashadhar

Pundit Shashadhar, a man of fair complexion and no longer young, had a string of rudraksha beads around his neck. He was one of the renowned Sanskrit scholars of his time-a pillar of orthodox Hinduism, which had reasserted itself after the first wave of Christianity and Western culture had passed over Hindu society. His clear exposition of the Hindu scriptures, his ringing sincerity, and, his stirring eloquence had brought back a large number of the educated young Hindus of Bengal to the religion of their forefathers.

The pundit saluted the Master with reverence. Narendra, Rkhl , Ram, Hazra, and M., who had come with the Master, seated themselves in the room as near the Master as they could, anxious not to miss one of his words.

At the sight of the pundit the Master again went into samdhi. After a while, still remaining in that state, he looked at the pundit and said with a smile, "Very well, very well." Then, addressing the pundit, the Master said, "Tell me how you give lectures."

PUNDIT: "Sir, I try to explain the teachings of the Hindu scriptures."

Efficacy of bhakti for modern times

MASTER: "For the Kaliyuga the path of devotion described by Nrada is best. Where can people find time now to perform their duties according to the scriptural injunctions?

Nowadays the decoctions of roots and herbs of the orthodox Hindu physicians cannot be given to a fever patient. By the time that kind of medicine begins its slow process of curing, the patient is done for. Therefore only a drastic medicine like the allopathic 'fever mixture' is effective now. You may ask people to practise scriptural rites and rituals; but, when prescribing the rituals, remove the 'head and tail'. I tell people not to bother about the elaborate rituals of the sandhya as enjoined in the scriptures. I say that it will be enough for them to repeat the Gayatri alone. If you must give instruction about scriptural ceremonies, do so only to a very few, like Ishan.


Futility of lecturing

"You may deliver thousands of lectures, but they won't make the slightest impression on worldly people. Can one drive a nail into a stone wall? The point of the nail will sooner break than make a dent in the stone. What will you gain by striking the tough skin of the crocodile with a sword? The sdhu's water-bowl, made from the shell of a bitter gourd, may visit the four principal holy places of India with its owner, but it will still remain as bitter as ever. Your lectures are not helping worldly people very much; and you will realize this by and by. The calf cannot stand on its legs all at once. Now it drops to the ground and now it stands up. So it learns to stand finally on its legs and walk.

"You cannot distinguish a lover of God from a worldly person. It isn't your fault, of course. When the first onrush of the gale shakes the trees, it is impossible to distinguish one tree from another-the mango from the tamarind, for instance.

Rituals prepare the way for divine love

"Without having realized God one cannot give up rituals altogether. How long should one practise the sandhya and other forms of ritualistic worship? As long as one does not shed tears of joy at the name of God and feel a thrill in one's body. You will know that your ritualistic worship has come to an end when your eyes become filled with tears as you repeat 'Om Rma'. Then you do not have to continue your sandhya or other rituals.

"When the fruit appears the blossom drops off. Love of God is the fruit, and rituals are the blossom. When the daughter-in-law of the house becomes pregnant, she cannot do much work. Her mother-in-law gradually lessens her duties in the house. When her time arrives she does practically nothing. And after the child is born her only work is to play with it. She doesn't do any household duties at all. The sandhya merges in the Gayatri, the Gayatri in Om, and, Om in samdhi. It is like the sound of a bell: t-a-m. The yogi, by following in the trail of the sound Om, gradually merges himself in the Supreme Brahman. His sandhya and other ritualistic duties disappear in samdhi. Thus the duties of the Jnni come to an end."

As the Master talked of samdhi, he himself went into that state. His face radiated a heavenly light. Bereft of outer consciousness, he could not utter another word. His gaze was indrawn and transfixed in communion with the Self. After a long time the Master began to recognize the world around him and said, like a child, "I shall have a drink of water." Whenever after samdhi the Master asked for a drink of water, his devotees knew that he was gradually becoming conscious of the outer world.

Still lingering in the state of ecstasy, he said to the Divine Mother: "O Mother, the other day You showed me Pundit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar. Then I told You that I should like to see another pundit, and so You have brought me here."

Looking at the pundit, he said: "My child, add a little more to your strength. Practise spiritual discipline a few days more. You have hardly set your foot on the tree, yet you expect to lay hold of a big cluster of fruit. But, of course, you are doing all this for the welfare of others." With these words he bowed his head before the pundit.

The Master continued: "When I first heard about you, I inquired whether you were merely erudite or whether you had discrimination and renunciation. A pundit who doesn't know how to discriminate between the Real and the unreal is no pundit at all.


Preacher with God's commission "There is no harm in teaching others if the preacher has a commission from the Lord.

Nobody can confound a preacher who teaches people after having received the command of God. Getting a ray of light from the goddess of learning, a man becomes so powerful that before him big scholars seem mere earthworms.

"When the lamp is lighted the moths come in swarms. They don't have to be invited. In the same way, the preacher who has a commission from God need not invite people to hear him. He doesn't have to announce the time of his lectures. He possesses such irresistible attraction that people come to him of their own accord. People of all classes, even kings and aristocrats, gather around him. They say to him: 'Revered sir, what can we offer you? Here are mangoes, sweets, money, shawls, and other things. What will you be pleased to accept?' In that case I say to them: 'Go away. I don't care, for these. I don't want anything.'

"Does the magnet say to the iron, 'Come near me?' That is not necessary. Because of the attraction of the magnet, the iron rushes to it.

Divine wisdom is inexhaustible

"Such a preacher may not be a scholarly person, but don't conclude from that that he has any lack of wisdom. Does book-learning make one wise? He who has a commission from God never runs short of wisdom. That wisdom comes from God; it is inexhaustible.

At Kamarpukur I have seen people measuring grain. It lies in a heap. One man keeps pushing grain from the heap toward another man, who weighs it on a scales. So the man who weighs doesn't run short of grain. It is the same with the preacher who has received a commission from God. As he teaches people, the Divine Mother Herself supplies him with fresh knowledge from behind. That knowledge never comes to an end.

"Can a preacher ever lack knowledge if but once he is favoured with a benign glance from the Divine Mother? Therefore I ask you whether you have received any commission from God."

HAZRA: "Oh yes, he must have it. (To the pundit) Isn't it true, sir?"

PUNDIT: "Commission? No, sir, I am afraid I haven't received any such thing."

HOST: "He may not have received the commission, but he preaches from a sense of duty."

MASTER: "What will a man accomplish by mere lectures without the commission from God? Once a Brahmo preacher said in the course of his sermon, 'Friends, how much I used to drink!' and so on. Hearing this the people began to whisper among themselves: 'What is this fool saying? He used to drink!' Now these words produced a very unfavourable effect. This shows that preaching cannot bring a good result unless it comes from a good man.

"A high government official from Barisal once said to me, 'Sir, if you begin the work of preaching, I too shall gird my loins.' I told him the story of people's dirtying the bank of the Haldrpukur and of its being stopped only when a constable, armed with authority from the government, put up a notice prohibiting it.

"So I say, a worthless man may talk his head off preaching, and yet he will produce no effect. But people will listen to him if he is armed with a badge of authority from God.

One cannot teach others without the commission from God. A teacher of men must have great power. There's many a Hanumanpuri in Calcutta. It is with them that you will have to wrestle. (Pointing to the people assembled there) These are mere sheep!

"Chaitanyadeva was an Incarnation of God. How little is left of what he accomplished-not to speak of a lecturer who preaches without authority from God! What good will a lecturer do?

Master exhorts the pundit to cultivate divine love "Therefore I say to you, dive deep in God-Consciousness."

Saying this, the Master began to sing in an ecstasy of love for God: Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty; If you descend to the uttermost depths,

There you will find the gem of Love. . . .

The Master continued: "One does not die if one sinks in this Ocean. This is the Ocean of Immortality. Once I said to Narendra: 'God is the Ocean of Bliss. Tell me if you want to plunge into It. Just imagine there is some syrup in a cup and that you have become a fly. Now tell me where you will sit to sip the syrup.' Narendra answered: 'I will, sit on the edge of the cup and stretch out my neck to drink, because I am sure to die if I go far into the cup.' Then I said to him: 'But my child, this is the Ocean of Satchidananda.

There is no fear of death in it. This is the Ocean of Immortality. Only ignorant people say that one should not have an excess of devotion and divine love. How foolish! Can there be any excess of divine love?'

(To the pundit) "Therefore I say to you, dive into the Ocean of Satchidananda. Nothing will ever worry you if you but realize God. Then you will get His commission to teach people.

Many paths to realize God

"There are innumerable pathways leading to the Ocean of Immortality. The essential thing is to reach the Ocean. It doesn't matter which path you follow. Imagine that there is a reservoir containing the Elixir of Immortality. You will be immortal if a few drops of the Elixir somehow get into your mouth. You may get into the reservoir either by jumping into it, or by being pushed into it from behind, or by slowly walking down the steps. The effect is one and the same. You will become immortal by tasting a drop of that Elixir.


Three yogas explained by Master "Innumerable are the ways that lead to God. There are the paths of jnna, of karma, and of bhakti. If you are sincere, you will attain God in the end, whichever path you follow. Roughly speaking, there are three kinds of yoga: jnanayoga, karma yoga, and bhaktiyoga.

"What is jnanayoga? The Jnni seeks to realize Brahman. He discriminates, saying, 'Not this, not this'. He discriminates, saying, 'Brahman is real and the universe illusory.' He discriminates between the Real and the unreal. As he comes to the end of discrimination, he goes into samdhi and attains the Knowledge of Brahman.

"What is karmayoga? Its aim is to fix one's mind on God by means of work. That is what you are teaching. It consists of breath-control, concentration, meditation, and so on, done in a spirit of detachment. If a householder performs his duties in the world in a spirit of detachment, surrendering the results to God and with devotion to God in his heart, he too may be said to practise karmayoga. Further, if a person performs worship, japa, and other forms of devotion, surrendering the results to God, he may be said to practise karmayoga. Attainment of God alone is the aim of karmayoga.

"What is bhaktiyoga? It is to keep the mind on God by chanting His name and glories.

For the Kaliyuga the path of devotion is easiest. This is indeed the path for this age.

Difficulties of the paths of jnna and karma

"The path of karma is very difficult. First of all, as I have just said, where will one find the time for it nowadays? Where is the time for a man to perform his duties as enjoined in the scriptures? Man's life is short in this age. Further, it is extremely difficult to perform one's duties in a spirit of detachment, without craving the result. One cannot work in such a spirit without first having realized God. Attachment to the result somehow enters the mind, though you may not be aware of it.

"To follow jnanayoga in this age is also very difficult. First, a man's life depends entirely on food. Second, he has a short span of life. Third, he can by no means get rid of body-consciousness; and the Knowledge of Brahman is impossible without the destruction of body-consciousness. The Jnni says: 'I am Brahman; I am not the body. I am beyond hunger and thirst, disease and grief, birth and death, pleasure and pain.' How can you be a Jnni if you are conscious of disease, grief, pain, pleasure, and the like? A thorn enters your flesh, blood flow from the wound, and you suffer very badly from the pain; but nevertheless, if you are a Jnni you must be able to say: 'Why, there is no thorn in my flesh at all. Nothing is the matter with me'

"Therefore bhaktiyoga is prescribed for this age. By following this path one comes to God more easily than by following the others. One can undoubtedly, reach God by following the paths of jnna and karma, but they are very difficult paths.

God fulfils all desires of His devotees

"Bhaktiyoga is the religion for this age. But that does not mean that the lover of God will reach one goal and the philosopher and worker another. It means that if a person seeks the Knowledge of Brahman he can attain It by following the path of bhakti, too. God, who loves His devotee, can give him the Knowledge of Brahman if He so desires.

"But the bhakta wants to realize the Personal God endowed with form and talk to Him.

He seldom seeks the Knowledge of Brahman. But God, who does everything at His pleasure, can make His devotee the heir to His infinite glories if it pleases Him. He gives His devotee both the Love of God and the Knowledge of Brahman. If one is able somehow to reach Calcutta, one can see the Maidan and the museum and other places too. The thing is how to reach Calcutta.

"By realizing the Divine Mother of the Universe, you will get Knowledge as well as Devotion. You will get both. In bhava samdhi you will see the form of God, and in nirvikalpa samdhi you will realize Brahman, the Absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. In nirvikalpa samdhi ego, name, and form do not exist.

Devotee's prayer to God

"A lover of God prays to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I am very much afraid of selfish actions. Such actions have desires behind them, and if I perform them I shall have to reap their fruit. But it is very difficult to work in a detached spirit. I shall certainly forget Thee, O Mother, if I involve myself in selfish actions. Therefore I have no use for them.

May my actions, O Divine Mother, be fewer every day till I attain Thee. May I perform, without attachment to the results, only what action is absolutely necessary for me. May I have great love for Thee as I go on with my few duties. May I not entangle myself in new work so long as I do not realize Thee. But I shall perform it if I receive Thy command. Otherwise not.' "


About pilgrimage

PUNDIT: "How far did you go in visiting the sacred places?"


MASTER: "Oh, I visited a few places. (With a smile) But Hazra went farther and also climbed higher. He visited Hrishikesh, but I didn't go so far or so high.

"You must pave noticed kites and vultures soaring very high in the sky; but their eyes are always fixed on the charnel-pits. Do you know the meaning of 'charnel-pits'? It is 'woman and gold'.

"What is the use of making pilgrimages if you can attain love of God remaining where you are? I have been to Benares and noticed the same trees there as here. The same green tamarind-leaves!

"Pilgrimage becomes futile if it does not enable you to attain love of God. Love of God is the one essential and necessary thing. Do you know the meaning of 'kites and vultures'?

There are many people who talk big and who say that they have performed most of the duties enjoined in the scriptures. But with all that their minds are engrossed in worldliness and deeply preoccupied with money, riches, name, fame, creature comforts, and such things."

PUNDIT: "It is true, sir. Going on a pilgrimage is like seeking diamonds and gems, while discarding the precious stone that is worn by Narayana Himself on His breast."

MASTER: "I want you to remember this. You may impart thousands of instructions to people, but they will not bear fruit except in proper time. On going to bed, a child said to his mother, 'Mother, please wake me up when I feel the call of nature.' The mother said: 'Don't worry about it, my child. That call will wake you up itself.' (All laugh.) One feels yearning for God at the proper time.

Three kinds of teachers

"There are three classes of physicians. The physicians of one class feel the patient's pulse and go away, merely prescribing medicine. As they leave the room they simply ask the patient to take the medicine. They are the poorest class of physicians. Likewise, there are teachers who only give instruction, but do not stop to see whether their teachings have produced a good or bad effect. They do not think at all about the disciple.

"There are physicians of another class, who prescribe medicine and ask the patient to take it. If the patient is unwilling to follow their directions, they reason with him. They are the mediocre physicians. Likewise, there are mediocre teachers. They give instruction to the student and, further, try to persuade him in various ways to follow the instruction.

"Lastly, there are the physicians of the highest class. If the patient does not respond to their gentle persuasion, they even exert force upon him. If necessary, they press their knees on the patient's chest and force the medicine down his throat.

Likewise, there are teachers of the highest class, who even exert force to direct the mind of the pupil toward God."

PUNDIT: Sir, if there are such superior teachers as you have described, then why should you say that one does not get the Knowledge of God until the right time comes?"

MASTER: "You are right. But what will the physician do if the medicine runs out of the patient's mouth and doesn't reach his stomach? In such a case even the best physician can't do anything.

"The teacher should judge the fitness of the student before giving him instruction. But you don't discriminate in your instruction. When a young man comes to me for instruction, first of all I ask him about his relatives at home. Suppose he has lost his father; suppose his father has left some debts for him. How can such a person direct his mind to God? Are you listening to me?"

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir. I am paying attention to every word."

MASTER: "One day some Sikh soldiers came to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. I met them in front of the Kli temple. One of them referred to God as very compassionate. 'Indeed!' I said. 'Is that true? But how do you know?' He answered, 'Because, sir, God gives us food and takes every care of us.' I said: 'Why should that surprise you? God is the Father of us all. Who will look after the child if the father doesn't? Do you mean to say that the people of the neighbouring village should look after the child?"

NARENDRA: "Then shouldn't we call God kind?"

MASTER: "Have I forbidden you to? What I mean is that God is our very own. He is not a stranger to us."

PUNDIT: "Priceless words!"

MASTER (to Narendra): "I listened to your singing, but I didn't enjoy it. So I left the room. Your mind is now set on seeking a job, and therefore your song sounded dull."

Narendra flushed. He felt ashamed of himself and remained silent.

The Master asked for a drink of water. A glass of water had been placed near him, but he could not take it. He asked for some fresh water. Later it was found that a man of immoral character had touched the first glass.

PUNDIT (to Hazra): "You live in his company day and night. You must be very happy."

MASTER (with a smile): "This is indeed a great occasion for me. Today I have seen the crescent moon of the second day of the bright fortnight. (All laugh.) Do you know why I referred to the moon of the second day? Sita once said to Ravana, 'You are the full moon and Rma is the crescent moon of the second day of the bright fortnight.' Ravana did not understand the meaning of these words. He thought Sita was flattering him and became exceedingly happy. But Sita meant that Ravana had reached the fullest limit of his power and prosperity, and that thenceforth he would wane like the full moon. Rma, on the other hand, was like the moon of the second day. He would wax day by day."

The Master was about to take his leave. The pundit and his friends bowed low before him.

It was not yet dusk, and Sri Ramakrishna returned to Ishan's house with the devotees.

The Master took his seat in the drawing-room with Ishan and his sons, a pundit, and a few devotees.

MASTER (smiling to Ishan): "I said to Pundit Shashadhar: 'You have hardly set your foot on the tree, and yet you aspire to lay hold of a big bunch of fruit. First of all practise some spiritual discipline. Then you may teach others.' "

ISHAN: "Every preacher thinks that he enlightens others. The glowworm also may think that it illumines the world. Imagining this to be the glow-worm's feeling, someone said to it: 'O glow-worm, how can you bring light to the world? You only reveal the intensity of the darkness.' "


MASTER (with a smile): "But Shashadhar is not just a scholar. He also has a little discrimination and dispassion."

A pundit who was present said to Sri Ramakrishna, "You are indeed a great soul."

MASTER: "You may say that about sages like Nrada, Prahlada, or Sukadeva. I am like your son.

"Of course, in one sense your words are true. It is said that in one respect the devotee of God is greater than God Himself, because he carries God in his heart. (All rejoice.) It is said in the Vaishnava books: 'A devotee regards himself as a higher, and God as a lower, being.' Yaoda, the mother of Krishna, was about to fetter Krishna, who was God Incarnate, with chains. She believed that no one but herself could take care of Krishna.

"Sometimes God acts as the magnet and the devotee as the needle. God attracts the devotee to Himself. Again, sometimes the devotee acts as the magnet and God as the needle. Such is the attraction of the devotee that God comes to him, unable to resist his love."

The Master was about to leave for Dakshineswar. Ishan and the other devotees stood around him while he gave Ishan various words of advice.

Advice to householders

MASTER: "A devotee who can call on God while living a householder's life is a hero indeed. God thinks: 'He who has renounced the world for My sake will surely pray to Me.

He must serve Me. Is there anything very remarkable about it? People will cry shame on him if he fails to do so. But he is blessed indeed who prays to Me in the midst of his worldly duties. He is trying to find Me, overcoming a great obstacle-pushing away, as it were, a huge block of stone weighing a ton. Such a man is a real hero.' "

PUNDIT: "You are right, sir. The scripture says the same thing. There is in the Mahabharata the story of the 'pious hunter' and the 'chaste woman'. Once a hermit was disturbed in his meditation by a crow. When he cast an angry glance at the bird, it was reduced to ashes. The hermit said to himself: 'I have destroyed the crow by a mere glance. I must have made great progress in spiritual life.' One day he went to a woman's house to beg his food. She was devoted to her husband and served him day and night; she provided him with water to wash his feet and even dried them with her hair. When the hermit knocked at her door for alms, she was serving her husband and could not open the door at once. The hermit, in a fit of anger, began to curse her. The chaste woman answered from the inner apartments: 'I am not your crow. Wait a few minutes, sir. After finishing my service to my husband I shall give you my attention.' The hermit was very much surprised to find that this simple woman was aware of his having burnt the crow to ashes. He wanted her to give him spiritual instruction. At her bidding he went to the 'pious hunter' at Benares. This hunter sold meat, but he also served his parents day and night as embodiments of God. The hermit said to himself in utter amazement: 'Why, he is a butcher and a worldly man! How can he give me the Knowledge of Brahman?' But the hunter was a knower of Brahman and had acquired divine knowledge through the performance of his worldly duties. The hermit was illumined by the instruction of the 'pious hunter'."

The Master was about to take his leave. He was standing at the door of the next house, where Ishan's father-in-law lived. Ishan and the other devotees stood by the Master.

They were waiting to bid him good-bye. Sri Ramakrishna said to Ishan: "Live in the world like an ant. The world contains a mixture of truth and untruth, sugar and sand. Be an ant and take the sugar.

"Again, the world is a mixture of milk and water, the bliss of God-Consciousness and the pleasure of sense-enjoyment. Be a swan and drink the milk, leaving the water aside.

"Live in the world like a waterfowl. The water clings to the bird, but the bird shakes it off. Live in the world like a mudfish. The fish lives in the mud, but its skin is always bright and shiny.

"The world is indeed a mixture of truth and make-believe. Discard the make-believe and take the truth."

Sri Ramakrishna got into the carriage and left for Dakshineswar.

--------------------

Chapter 25


ADVICE TO PUNDIT SHASHADHAR


Monday, June 30, 1884


SRI RAMAKRISHNA was in his room, sitting on a mat spread on the floor. Pundit Shashadhar and a few devotees were with him on the mat, and the rest sat on the bare floor. Surendra, Baburam, M., Harish, Ltu, Hazra, and others were present. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.

Sri Ramakrishna had met Pundit Shashadhar six days before in Calcutta, and now the pundit had come to Dakshineswar to visit the Master. Bhudar Chattopadhyaya and his elder brother, the pundit's hosts, were with him.

Nature of Brahman

The pundit was a follower of the path of jnna. The Master was explaining this path to him. He said: "Nity and Lila are the two aspects of one and the same Reality. He who is the Indivisible Satchidananda has assumed different forms for the sake of His Lila." As he described the nature of the Ultimate Reality the Master every now and then became unconscious in samdhi. While he talked he was intoxicated with spiritual fervour. He said to the pundit: "My dear sir, Brahman is immutalble and immovable, like Mount Sumeru. But He who is 'immovable' can also 'move'."


Glories of Kli

The Master was in ecstasy. He began to sing in his melodious voice: Who is there that can understand what Mother Kli is?

Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her. . . .

He went on:

Is Mother merely a simple woman, born as others are born?

Only by chanting Her holy name

Does iva survive the deadly poison.

She it is who creates the worlds, She who preserves and destroys,

With a mere wink of Her wondrous eyes;

She holds the universe in Her womb.

Seeking a shelter at Her feet, the gods themselves feel safe; And Mahadeva, God of Gods,

Lies prostrate underneath Her feet.

Again he sang:

Is Mother only iva's wife? To Her must needs bow down The all-destroying King of Death!

Naked She roams about the world, slaying Her demon foes, Or stands erect on iva's breast.

Her feet upon Her Husband's form! What a strange wife She makes!

My Mother's play, declares Prasad, shatters all rules and laws: Strive hard for purity, O mind,

And understand my Mother's ways.

And again:

I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss, As I repeat my Mother Kli's name;

It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk! . . .

And again:

Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kli's treasure for everyone?

Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true!

Even with all His penances, rarely does iva Himself behold The mind-bewitching sight of Mother Syama's crimson feet.

To him who meditates on Her the riches of heaven are poor indeed;

If Syama casts Her glance on him, he swims in Eternal Bliss.

The prince of yogis, the king of the gods, meditate on Her feet in vain

Yet worthless kamalakanta yearns for the Mother's blessed feet!

The Master's ecstatic mood gradually relaxed. He stopped singing and sat in silence.

After a while he got up and sat on the small couch.

Pundit Shashadhar was charmed with his singing. Very humbly he said to Sri Ramakrishna, "Are you going to sing anymore?"

A little later the Master sang again:

High in the heaven of the Mother's feet, my mind was soaring like a kite,

When came a blast of sin's rough wind that drove it swiftly toward the earth. . . .

Then he sang:

Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood; From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava.

A man has come to me from a country where there is no night, And now I cannot distinguish day from night any longer; Rituals and devotions have all grown profitless for me.

My sleep is broken; how can I slumber any more?

For now I am wide awake in the sleeplessness of yoga.

O Divine Mother, made one with Thee in yoga-sleep at last, My slumber I have lulled asleep for evermore.

I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation; Knowing the secret that Kli is one with the highest Brahman, I have discarded, once for all, both righteousness and sin.


Sri Ramakrishna continued:

I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother; Am I afraid of Death any more?

Unto the tuft of hair on my head.

Is tied the almighty mantra, Mother Kli's name.

My body I have sold in the marketplace of the world And with it have bought Sri Durga's name.

As Sri Ramakrishna sang the line, "And with it have bought Sri Durga's name", the tears flowed from Pundit Shashadhar's eyes. The Master went on with the song: Deep within my heart I have planted the name of Kli, The Wish-fulfilling Tree of heaven;

When Yama, King of Death, appears,

To him I shall open my heart and show it growing there.

I have cast out from me my six unflagging foes;4

Ready am I to sail life's sea,

Crying, "To Durga, victory!"

Again he sang:

Dwell, O mind, within yourself;

Enter no other's home.

If you but seek there, you will find

All you are searching for. . . .

And again:

Though I am never loath to grant salvation,

I hesitate indeed to grant pure love.

Whoever wins pure love surpasses all;

He is adored by men;

He triumphs over the three worlds. . . .


Mere study of scriptures is futile

The pundit had studied the Vedas and the other scriptures. He loved to discuss philosophy. The Master, seated on the couch, cast his benign look on the pundit and gave him counsel through parables.

MASTER (to the pundit): "There are many scriptures like the Vedas. But one cannot realize God without austerity and spiritual discipline. 'God cannot be found in the six systems, the Vedas, or the Tantra.'

"But one should learn the contents of the scriptures and then act according to their injunctions. A man lost a letter. He couldn't remember where he had left it. He began to search for it with a lamp. After two or three people had searched, the letter was at last found. The message in the letter was: 'Please send us five seers of sandesh and a piece of wearing-cloth.' The man read it and then threw the letter away. There was no further need of it; now all he had to do was to buy the five seers of sandesh and the piece of cloth.

Reading, hearing, and seeing

"Better than reading is hearing, and better than hearing is seeing. One understands the scriptures better by hearing them from the lips of the guru or of a holy man. Then one doesn't have to think about their non-essential part.

Hanuman said: 'Brother, I don't know much about the phase of the moon or the position of the stars. I just contemplate Rma.'

"But seeing is far better than hearing. Then all doubts disappear. It is true that many things are recorded in the scriptures; but all these are useless without the direct realization of God, without devotion to His Lotus Feet, without purity of heart. The almanac forecasts the rainfall of the year. But not a drop of water will you get by squeezing the almanac. No, not even one drop.

"How long should one reason about the texts of the scriptures? So long as one does not have direct realization of God. How long does the bee buzz about? As long as it is not sitting on a flower. No sooner does it light on a flower and begin to sip honey than it keeps quiet.

"But you must remember another thing. One may talk even after the realization of God.

But then one talks only of God and of Divine Bliss. It is like a drunkard's crying, 'Victory to the Divine Mother!' He can hardly say anything else on account of his drunkenness.

You can notice, too, that a bee makes an indistinct humming sound after having sipped the honey from a flower.

The nature of jnanis and vijnanis

"The Jnni reasons about the world through the process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'.

Reasoning in this way, he at last comes to a state of Bliss, and that is Brahman. What is the nature of a Jnni? He behaves according to scriptural injunctions.

"Once I was taken to Chanak and saw some sdhus there. Several of them were sewing.

(All laugh.) At the sight of us they threw aside their sewing. They sat straight, crossing their legs, and conversed with us. (All laugh.)

"But jnanis will not talk about spiritual things without being asked. They will inquire, at first, about such things as your health and your family.

"But the nature of the vijnni is different. He is unconcerned about anything. Perhaps he carries his wearing-cloth loose under his arm, like a child; or perhaps the cloth has dropped from his body altogether.

"The man who knows that God exists is called a Jnni. A Jnni is like one who knows beyond a doubt that a log of wood contains fire. But a vijnni is he who lights the log, cooks over the fire, and is nourished by the food. The eight fetters have fallen from the vijnni. He may keep merely the appearance of lust, anger, and the rest."

PUNDIT: "The knots of his heart are cut asunder; all his doubts are destroyed."

MASTER: "Yes. Once a ship sailed into the ocean. Suddenly its iron joints, nails, and screws fell out. The ship was passing a magnetic hill, and so all its iron was loosened.

"I used to go to Krishnakishore's house. Once, when I was there, he said to me, 'Why do you chew betel-leaf?' I said: 'It is my sweet pleasure. I shall chew betel-leaf, look at my face in the mirror, and dance naked among a thousand girls.' Krishnakishore's wife scolded him and said: 'What have you said to Ramakrishna? You don't know how to talk to people.'

"In this state, passions like lust and anger are burnt up, though nothing happens to the physical body. It looks just like any other body; but the inside is all hollow and pure."

A DEVOTEE: "Does the body remain even after the realization of God?"

MASTER: "The body survives with some so that they may work out their prarabdha karma or work for the welfare of others. By bathing in the Ganges a man gets rid of his sin and attains liberation. But if he happens to be blind, he doesn't get rid of his blindness. Of course, he escapes future births, which would otherwise be necessary for reaping the results of his past sinful karma. His present body remains alive as long as its momentum7 is not exhausted; but future births are no longer possible. The wheel moves as long as the impulse that has set it in motion lasts. Then it comes to a stop. In the case of such a person, passions like lust and anger are burnt up. Only the body remains alive to perform a few actions."

PUNDIT: "That is called samskara."

The nature of jnanis and vijnanis

MASTER: "The vijnni always sees God. That is why he is so indifferent about the world.

He sees God even with his eyes open. Sometimes he comes down to the Lila from the Nitya, and sometimes he goes up to the Nitya from the Lila."

PUNDIT: "I don't understand that."

MASTER: "The Jnni reasons about the world through the process of 'Neti, neti', and at last reaches the Eternal and Indivisible Satchidananda. He reasons in this manner: 'Brahman is not the living beings; It is neither the universe nor the twenty-four cosmic principles.' As a result of such reasoning he attains the Absolute. Then he realizes that it is the Absolute that has become all this-the universe, its living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.

"Milk sets into curd, and the curd is churned into butter. After extracting the butter one realizes that butter is not essentially different from buttermilk and buttermilk not essentially different from butter. The bark of a tree goes with the pith and the pith goes with the bark."

PUNDIT (smiling, to Bhudar): "Did you understand that? It is very difficult."

All-embracing realization of the vijnni

MASTER: "If there is butter, there must be buttermilk also. If you think of butter, you must also think of buttermilk along with it; for there cannot be any butter without buttermilk. Just so, if you accept the Nitya, you must also accept the Lila. It is the process of negation and affirmation. You realize the Nitya by negating the Lila. Then you affirm the Lila, seeing in it the manifestation of the Nitya. One attains this state after realizing Reality in both aspects: Personal and Impersonal. The Personal is the embodiment of Chit, Consciousness; and the Impersonal is the Indivisible Satchidananda.

"Brahman alone has become everything. Therefore to be vijnni this world is a 'mansion of myrth'. But to the Jnni it is a 'framework of illusion'. Ramprasad described the world as a 'framework of illusion'. Another man said to him by way of retort: This very world is a mansion of myrth;

Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.

O physician, you are a fool!

You see only the surface of things.

Janaka's might was unsurpassed;

What did he lack of the world or the Spirit?

Holding to one as well as the other,

He drank his milk from a brimming cup!

"The vijnni enjoys the bliss of God in a richer way. Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and some have drunk it. The vijnni has drunk milk, enjoyed it, and been nourished by it."

The Master remained silent a few moments and then asked Pundit Shashadhar to have a smoke. The Pundit went to the south east verandah to smoke. Soon he came back to the room and sat on the floor with the devotees. Seated on the small couch, the Master continued the conversation.

MASTER (to the Pundit): "Let me tell you something. There are three kinds of nanda, joy: the joy of worldly enjoyment, the joy of worship, and the Joy of Brahman. The joy of worldly enjoyment is the joy of 'woman and gold', which people always enjoy. The joy of worship one enjoys while chanting the name and glories of God. And the Joy of Brahman is the joy of God-vision. After experiencing the joy of God-vision the rishis of olden times went beyond all rules and conventions.


Three states of God-Consciousness "Chaitanyadeva used to experience three spiritual states: the inmost, the semi-conscious, and the conscious. In the inmost state he would see God and go into samdhi. He would be in the state of jada samdhi. In the semi-conscious state he would be partially conscious of the outer world. In the conscious state he could sing the name and glories of God."

HAZRA (to the Pundit): "So your doubts are now solved."

Samdhi described

MASTER (to the Pundit): "What is samdhi? It is the complete merging of the mind in God-Consciousness. The Jnni experiences jada samdhi, in which no trace of 'I' is left.

The samdhi attained through the path of bhakti is called 'chetana samdhi'. In this samdhi there remains the conciousness of 'I' the 'I' of the servant-and-Master relationship, of the lover-and-Beloved relationship, of the enjoyer-and-Food relationship.

God is the Master; the devotee is the servant. God is the beloved; the devotee is the lover. God is the Food, and the devotee is the enjoyer. 'I don't want to be sugar. I want to eat it.' "

PUNDIT: "What will happen if God dissolves all of the 'I', if He changes the enjoyer himself into sugar?"

MASTER (smiling): "Come, come! Tell me what is in your mind. But don't the scriptures mention Nrada, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sananda, and Sanatkumara?"

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir. They do."

MASTER: "Though they were jnanis, yet they kept the 'I' of the bhakta. Haven't you read the Bhagavata?"

PUNDIT: "I have read only part of it, not the whole."

MASTER: "Pray to God. He is full of compassion. Will He not listen to the words of His devotee? He is the Kalpataru. You will get whatever you desire from Him."

PUNDIT: "I haven't thought deeply about these things before. But now I understand."

MASTER: "God keeps a little of 'I' in His devotee even after giving him the Knowledge of Brahman. That 'I' is the 'I of the devotee', the 'I of the Jnni'. Through that 'I' the devotee enjoys the infinite play of God.

"The pestle was almost worn out with rubbing. Only a little was left. That fell into the underbrush and brought about the destruction of the lunar race, the race of the Yadus.

The vijnni retains the 'I of the devotee', the 'I of the Jnni', in order to taste the Bliss of God and teach people.

"The rishis of old had timid natures. They were easily frightened. Do you know their attitude? It was this: 'Let me somehow get my own salvation; who cares for others?' A hollow piece of drift-wood somehow manages to float; but it sinks if even a bird sits on it. But Nrada and sages of his kind are like a huge log that not only can float across to the other shore but can carry many animals and other creatures as well. A steamship itself crosses the ocean and also carries people across.

The vijnni is fearless and joyous

"Teachers like Nrada belong to the class of the vijnni. They were much more courageous than the other rishis. They are like an expert satrancha-player. You must have noticed how he shouts, as he throws the dice: 'What do I want? Six? No, five! Here is five!' And every time he throws the dice he gets the number he wants. He is such a clever player! And while playing he even twirls his moustaches.

"A mere Jnni trembles with fear. He is like an amateur satrancha-player. He is anxious to move his pieces somehow to the safety zone, where they won't be overtaken by his opponent. But a vijnni isn't afraid of anything. He has realized both aspects of God: Personal and Impersonal. He has talked with God. He has enjoyed the Bliss of God.

"It is a joy to merge the mind in the Indivisible Brahman through contemplation. And it is also a joy to keep the mind on the Lila, the Relative, without dissolving it in the Absolute.

"A mere Jnni is a monotonous person. He always analyses, saying: 'It is not this, not this. The world is like a dream.' But I have 'raised both my hands'. Therefore I accept everything.

Parable of the weaver woman

"Listen to a story. Once a woman went to see her weaver friend. The weaver, who had been spinning different kinds of silk thread, was very happy to see her friend and said to her: 'Friend, I can't tell you how happy I am to see you. Let me get you some refreshments.' She left the room. The woman looked at the threads of different colours and was tempted. She hid a bundle of thread under one arm. The weaver returned presently with the refreshments and began to feed her guest with great enthusiasm. But, looking at the thread, she realized that her friend had taken a bundle. Hitting upon a plan to get it back, she said: 'Friend, it is so long since I have seen you. This is a day of great joy for me. I feel very much like asking you to dance with me.' The friend said, 'Sister, I am feeling very happy too.' So the two friends began to dance together. When the weaver saw that her friend danced without raising her hands, she said: 'Friend, let us dance with both hands raised. This is a day of great joy.' But the guest pressed one arm to her side and danced raising only the other. The weaver said: 'How is this, friend?

Why should you dance with only one hand raised? Dance with me raising both hands.

Look at me. See how I dance with both hands raised.' But the guest still pressed one arm to her side. She danced with the other hand raised and said with a smile, 'This is all I know of dancing.' "

The Master continued: "I don't press my arm to my side. Both my hands are free. I am not afraid of anything. I accept both the Nitya and the Lila, both the Absolute and the Relative.

The two kinds of ego

"I said to Keshab Sen that he would not be able to realize God without renouncing the ego. He said, 'Sir, in that case I should not be able to keep my organization together.'

Thereupon I said to him: 'I am asking you to give up the "unripe ego", the "wicked ego".

But there is no harm in the "ripe ego", the "child ego", the "servant ego", the "ego of Knowledge".'

"The worldly man's ego, the 'ignorant ego', the 'unripe ego', is like a thick stick. It divides, as it were, the water of the Ocean of Satchidananda. But the 'servant ego', the 'child ego', the 'ego of Knowledge', is like a line on the water. One clearly sees that there is only one expanse of water. The dividing line makes it appear that the water has two parts, but one clearly sees that in reality there is only one expanse of water.

"Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge' in order to teach people. God keeps in many people the 'ego of a Jnni' or the 'ego of a bhakta' even after they have attained Brahmajnana. Hanuman, after realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspect, cherished toward God the attitude of a servant, a devotee. He said to Rma: 'O

Rma, sometimes I think that You are the whole and I am a part of You. Sometimes I think that You are the Master and I am Your servant. And sometimes, Rma, when I contemplate the Absolute, I see that I am You and You are I.'

"Yaoda became grief-stricken at being separated from Krishna, and called on Radha.

Radha saw Yaoda's suffering and revealed herself to her as the divine akti, which was her real nature. She said to Yaoda: 'Krishna is Chidatma, Absolute Consciousness, and I am Chitakti, the Primal Power. Ask a boon of Me: Yaoda said: 'I don't want Brahmajnana. Please grant me only this: that I may see the form of Gopala in my meditation; that I may always have the company of Krishna's devotees; that I may always serve the devotees of God; that I may always chant God's name and glories.'

"Once the gopis felt a great desire to see the forms of the Lord. So Krishna asked them to dive into the water of the Jamuna. No sooner did they dive into the water than they all arrived at Vaikuntha. There they saw the form of the Lord endowed with His six celestial splendours. But they did not like it. They said to Krishna: 'We want to see Gopala and serve Him. Please grant us that boon alone. We don't want anything else.'

"Before His departure for Mathura, Krishna wanted to give the Knowledge of Brahman to the gopis. He said to them: 'I dwell both inside and outside all beings. Why should you see only one form of Mine?' The gopis cried in chorus: 'O Krishna, do You want to go away from us? Is that why You are instructing us in Brahmajnana?'

"Do you know the attitude of the gopis? It is this: 'We are Radha's and Radha is ours.' "

A DEVOTEE: "Does this 'I' of the devotee never disappear altogether?"

MASTER: "Yes, it disappears at times. Then one attains the Knowledge of Brahman and goes into samdhi. I too lose it, but not for all the time. In the musical scale there are seven notes: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni. But one cannot keep one's voice on 'ni' a long time. One must bring it down again to the lower notes. I pray to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, do not give me Brahmajnana.' Formerly believers in God with form used to visit me a great deal. Then the modern Brahmajnanis began to arrive. During that period I used to remain unconscious in samdhi most of the time. Whenever I regained consciousness, I would say to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, please don't give me Brahmajnana.'"

God listens to our prayer

PUNDIT: "Does God listen to our prayers?"


MASTER: "God is the Kalpataru, the Wish-fulfilling Tree. You will certainly get whatever you ask of Him. But you must pray standing near the Kalpataru. Only then will your prayer be fulfilled. But you must remember another thing. God knows our inner feeling.

A man gets the fulfillment of the desire he cherishes while practising sadhana. As one thinks, so one receives. A magician was showing his tricks before a king. Now and then he exclaimed: 'Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!' Suddenly his tongue turned upward and clove to the roof of his mouth. He experienced kumbhaka. He could utter neither word nor sound, and became motionless.

People thought he was dead. They built a vault of bricks and buried him there in that posture. After a thousand years someone dug into the vault. Inside it people found a man seated in samdhi. They took him for a holy man and worshipped him. When they shook him his tongue was loosened and regained its normal position. The magician became conscious of the outer world and cried, as he had a thousand years before: 'Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!'

"I used to weep, praying to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, destroy with Thy thunderbolt my inclination to reason.' "

PUNDIT: "Then you too had an inclination to reason?"

MASTER :"Yes, once."

PUNDIT: "Then please assure us that we shall get rid of that inclination too. How did you get rid of yours?"

MASTER: "Oh, somehow or other."

Sri Ramakrishna was silent awhile. Then he went on with his conversation.

MASTER: "God is the Kalpataru. One should pray standing near It. Then one will get whatever one desires.

"How many things God has created! Infinite is His universe. But what need have I to know about His infinite splendours? If I must know these, let me first realize Him. Then God Himself will tell me all about them. What need have I to know how many houses and how many government securities Jadu Mallick possesses? All that I need is somehow to converse with Jadu Mallick. I may succeed in seeing him by jumping over a ditch or through a petition or after being pushed about by his gate-keeper. Once I get a chance to talk to him, then he himself will tell me all about his possessions if I ask him. If one becomes acquainted with the master, then one is respected by his officers too. (All laugh.)

"There are some who do not care to know the splendours of God. What do I care about knowing how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? One bottle is enough for me.

Why should I desire the knowledge of God's splendours? I am intoxicated with the little wine I have swallowed.

"Both bhaktiyoga and jnanayoga are paths by which you can realize God. Whatever path you may follow, you will certainly realize Him. The path of bhakti is an easy one. The path of knowledge and discrimination is very difficult. Why should one reason so much to know which path is the best? I talked about this with Vijay for many days. Once I told him about a man who used to pray, 'O God, reveal to me who and what You are.'

"The path of knowledge and discrimination is difficult indeed. Parvati, the Divine Mother, revealed Her various forms to Her father and said, 'Father, if you want Brahmajnana, then live in the company of holy men.'

"Brahman cannot be described in words. It is said in the Rma Git that Brahman has only been indirectly hinted at by the scriptures. When one speaks about the 'cowherd village on the Ganges', one indirectly states that the village is situated on the bank of the Ganges.

"Why shouldn't a man be able to realize the formless Brahman? But it is extremely difficult. He cannot if he has even the slightest trace of worldliness. He can be directly aware of Brahman in his inmost consciousness only when he renounces all sense-objectsform, taste, smell, touch, and sound and only when his mind completely stops functioning. And then too, he knows only this much of Brahmanthat It exists."

Quoting from an Upanishad, the pundit said, "It is to be experienced only as Existence."

MASTER: "In order to realize God a devotee should make use of a particular attitude-the attitude of a 'hero' or a friend or a handmaid or a child."

MANI MALLICK: "Only then can one feel attached to God."

MASTER: "For many days I cherished the feeling that I was a companion of the Divine Mother. I used to say: 'I am the handmaid of Brahmamayi, the Blissful Mother. O

companions of the Divine Mother, make me the Mother's handmaid! I shall go about proudly, saying, "I am Brahmamayi's handmaid!"


Different classes of perfect souls "Some souls realize God without practising any spiritual discipline. They are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. Those who have realized God through austerity, japa, and the like, are called sadhanasiddha, perfect through spiritual discipline. Again, there are those called kripasiddha, perfect through divine grace. These last may be compared to a room kept dark a thousand years, which becomes light the moment a lamp is brought in.

"There is also a class of devotees, the hathatsiddha, that is to say, those who have suddenly attained God-vision. Their case is like that of a poor boy who has suddenly found favour with a rich man. The rich man marries his daughter to the boy and along with her gives him land, house, carriage, servants, and so forth.

"There is still another class of devotees, the svapnasiddha, who have had the vision of God in a dream."

SURENDRA (smiling): "Let us go to sleep then. We shall wake and find ourselves babus, aristocrats."

MASTER (tenderly): "You are already a babu. When the letter 'a' is joined to the letter 'ka', 'ka' becomes 'kaa'. It is futile to add another 'a'. If you add it, you will still have the same 'kaa'. (All laugh.)

Description of the nityasiddha

"The nityasiddha is in a class apart. He is like arani wood. A little rubbing produces fire.

You can get fire from it even without rubbing. The nityasiddha realizes God by practising slight spiritual discipline and sometimes without practising any at all. But he does practise spiritual discipline after realizing God. He is like the gourd or pumpkin vinefirst fruit, then flower."

The pundit smiled at this illustration.

MASTER: "There is the instance of Prahlada. He was a nityasiddha. While writing the letter 'ka' he shed a stream of tears."

The Master was pleased with the pundit's humility. He praised him to the devotees.

MASTER: "He has such a nice nature. You find no difficulty in driving a nail into a mud wall. But its point breaks if you try to drive it against a stone; and still it will not pierce it. There are people whose spiritual consciousness is not at all awakened even though they hear about God a thousand times. They are like a crocodile, on whose hide you cannot make any impression with a sword "

PUNDIT: "But one can hurt a crocodile by throwing a spear into its belly." (All laugh.) MASTER (smiling): "What good is there in reading a whole lot of scriptures? What good is there in the study of philosophy? What is the use of talking big? In order to learn archery one should first aim at a banana tree, then at a reed, then at a wick, and last at a flying bird. At the beginning one should concentrate on God with form.

"Then there are devotees who are beyond the three gunas. They are eternally devoted to God, like Nrada. These devotees behold Krishna as Chinmaya, all Spirit, His Abode as Chinmaya, His devotee as Chinmaya. To them God is eternal, His Abode is eternal, His devotee is eternal.

"Those who reason and speculate following the process of 'Neti, neti' do not accept the Incarnation of God. Hazra says well that Divine Incarnation is only for the bhakta, and not for the Jnni, because the Jnni is quite contented with his ideal, 'I am He'."

Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees remained silent awhile. The pundit resumed the conversation.

PUNDIT: "Sir, how does one get rid of callousness? Laughter makes me think of muscles and nerves. Grief makes me think of the nervous system."

MASTER (smiling): "That is why Narayan Shastri used to say, The harmful effect of the study of the scriptures is that it encourages reasoning and arguing.'"

PUNDIT: "Is there no way for us then?"

MASTER: "Yes, there is the path of discrimination. In a song occurs the line: 'Ask her son Discrimination about the Truth.'

"The way lies through discrimination, renunciation, and passionate yearning for God.

Unless a man practises discrimination, he cannot utter the right words. One time, after expounding religion at great length, Pundit Samadhyayi said, 'God is dry.' He reminded me of the man who once said, 'My uncle's cowshed is full of horses.' Now, does anyone keep horses in a cowshed? (With a smile) You have become like a chnbar fried in butter. Now it will be good for you and for others as well, if you are soaked in syrup a few days. Just a few days."

PUNDIT (smiling): "The sweetmeat is over-fried. It has become charred."

MASTER (with a laugh): "No! No! It is brown as a cockroach. Just the right colour."

HAZRA: "The sweetmeat is well cooked. It has become spongy. Now it will soak up the syrup nicely."

MASTER: "You see, there is no need to read too much of the scriptures. If you read too much you will be inclined to reason and argue. Nangta used to teach me thus: What you get by repeating the word 'Git' tell times is the essence of the book. In other words, if you repeat 'Git' ten times it is reversed into 'tagi', which indicates renunciation.

"Yes, the way to realize God is through discrimination, renunciation, and yearning for Him. What kind of yearning? One should yearn for God as the cow, with yearning heart, runs after its calf."

PUNDIT: "The same thing is said in the Vedas: 'O God, we call on Thee as the cow lows for the calf.'"

MASTER: "Add your tears to your yearning. And if you can renounce everything through discrimination and dispassion, then you will be able to see God. That yearning brings about God-intoxication, whether you follow the path of knowledge or the path of devotion. The sage Durvasa was mad with the Knowledge of God.

"There is a great deal of difference between the knowledge of a householder and that of an all-renouncing sannyasi. The householder's knowledge is like the light of a lamp, which illumines only the inside of a room. He cannot see anything, with the help of such knowledge, except his own body and his immediate family. But the knowledge of the all-renouncing monk is like the light of the sun. Through that light he can see both, inside and outside the room. Chaitanyadeva's knowledge had the brilliance of the sun-the sun of Knowledge. Further, he radiated the soothing light of the moon of Devotion. He was endowed with both-the Knowledge of Brahman and ecstatic love of God.

(To the pundit) "One can attain spiritual consciousness through both affirmation and negation. There is the positive path of love and devotion, and there is the negative path of knowledge and discrimination. You are preaching the path of knowledge. But that creates a very difficult situation: there the guru and the disciple do not see each other.

Sukadeva went to Janaka for instruction about the Knowledge of Brahman. Janaka said to him: 'You must pay me the guru's fee beforehand. When you attain the knowledge of Brahman you won't pay me the fee, because the knower of Brahman sees no difference between the guru and the disciple.'

Different stages of divine love

"Both negation and affirmation are ways to realize one and the same goal. Infinite are the opinions and infinite are the ways. But you must remember one thing. The injunction is that the path of devotion described by Nrada is best suited to the Kaliyuga. According to this path, first comes bhakti; then bhava, when bhakti is mature. Higher than bhava are mahabhava and prema. An ordinary mortal does not attain mahabhava and prema.

He who has achieved these has realized the goal, that is to say, has attained God."

PUNDIT: "In expounding religion one has to use a great many words."

MASTER: "While preaching, eliminate the 'head and tail', that is to say, emphasize only the essentials."

The pundit and Mani Mallick became engaged in conversation. Mani was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. The pundit argued vehemently about the good and bad sides of the Samaj. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch and looked on, smiling. Presently he remarked: "This is the tamasic aspect of sattva, the attitude of a hero. This is necessary. One should not hold one's tongue at the sight of injustice and untruth.

Suppose a bad woman wants to drag you from the path of righteousness. You must then assume the heroic attitude and say: 'What? You witch! You dare injure my spiritual life? I shall cut your body in two right now.' "

With a smile Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: "Mani Mallick has been following the tenets of the Brahmo Samaj a long time. You can't convert him to your views. Is it an easy thing to destroy old tendencies? Once there lived a very pious Hindu who always worshipped the Divine Mother and chanted Her name. When the Mussalmans conquered the country, they forced him embrace Islam. They said to him: 'You are now a Mussalman. Say "Allah". From now on you must repeat only the name of Allah.' With great difficulty he repeated the word 'Allah', but every now and then blurted out 'Jagadamba'. At that the Mussalmans were about to beat him. Thereupon he said to them: 'I beseech you! Please do not kill me. I have been trying my utmost to repeat the name of Allah, but our Jagadamba has filled me up to the throat. She pushes out your Allah.' (All laugh.)

Different paths to suit different tastes

(To the pundit) "Please don't say anything to Mani Mallick. You must know that there are different tastes. There are also different powers of digestion. God has made different religions and creeds to suit different aspirants. By no means all are fit for the Knowledge of Brahman. Therefore the worship of God with form has been provided.

"The mother brings home a fish for her children. She curries part of the fish, part she fries, and with another part she makes pilau. By no means all can digest the pilau. So she makes fish soup for those who have weak stomachs. Further, some want pickled or fried fish. There are different temperaments. There are differences in the capacity to comprehend."

All sat in silence. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit, "Go and visit the temples and take a stroll in the garden." It was about half past five in the afternoon. The pundit left the room with his friends and several of the devotees.

After a while the Master went with M. toward the bathing-ghat on the Ganges. He said to M., "Baburam now says, 'What shall I gain by study?' "On the bank of the river he met the pundit and said to him, "Aren't you going to the Kli temple?" The pundit said: "Yes, sir. Let us go together." With a smiling face Sri Ramakrishna proceeded to the temple through the courtyard. He said to the pundit, "Listen to a song."

He sang:

Is Kli, my Mother, really black?

The Naked One, of blackest hue,

Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .

As he was going through the courtyard, he quoted to the pundit from a song: Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart, Behold the face of the Mother, Brahman's Embodiment.

They came to the temple. Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother, touching the ground with his forehead.

Red hibiscus flowers and vilwa-leaves adorned the Mother's feet. Her three eyes radiated love for Her devotees. Two of Her hands were raised as if to give them boons and reassurance; the other two hands held symbols of death. She was clothed in a sari of Benares silk and was decked with ornaments.

Image of Kli

Referring to the image, one of the party remarked, "I heard it was made by the sculptor Nabin." The Master answered: "Yes, I know. But to me She is the Embodiment of Spirit."

As Sri Ramakrishna was coming back to his room with the devotees, he said to Baburam, "Come with us." M. also joined them.

It was dusk. The Master was sitting on the semicircular porch west of his room. Baburam and M. sat near him. He was in a mood of partial ecstasy.

Rkhl was not then living with Sri Ramakrishna, and therefore the Master was having difficulties about his personal service. Several devotees lived with him, but he could not bear the touch of everyone during his spiritual moods. He hinted to Baburam: "Do stay with me. It will be very nice. In this mood I cannot allow others to touch me."

The pundit entered the Master's room after visiting the temples. The Master said to him from the porch, "Take some refreshments." The pundit said that he had not yet performed his evening devotions. At once Sri Ramakrishna stood up and sang in an exalted mood:

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,

So long as I can breathe my last with Kli's name upon my lips?

What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,

If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours? . . .

Intoxicated With ecstatic love, the Master said: "How long should one perform devotions? So long as one's mind does not merge in God while repeating Om."

PUNDIT: "Then let me eat the refreshments. I shall perform the devotions later on."

MASTER: "No, I don't want to obstruct the current of your life. It is not good to renounce anything before the proper time arrives. When the fruit ripens, the flower drops off of itself. One shouldn't forcibly tear off the green branch of a coconut tree. That injures the tree."

Surendra was about to leave. He invited his friends into his carriage. The Master, still in an ecstatic mood, said, "Don't take more people than your horse can draw." Suredra took leave of Sri Ramakrishna. The pundit left the room to perform his worship. M. and Baburam saluted the Master. They were about to leave for Calcutta. Sri Ramakrishna was still in an ecstatic mood.

MASTER (to M.): "I cannot utter a word now. Stay a few minutes."

M. again took his seat and waited for the Master's command. Sri Ramakrishna motioned to Baburam to take a seat and asked him to fan him a little. M. also took part in rendering this personal service to the Master.

MASTER (to M., tenderly): "Why don't you come here so frequently now?"

M: "Not for any special reason. I have been rather busy at home."

MASTER: "Yesterday I came to know Baburam's inner nature. That is why I have been trying so hard to persuade him to live with me. The mother bird hatches the egg in proper time. Boys like Baburam are pure in heart. They have not yet fallen into the clutches of 'woman and gold'. Isn't that so?"

M: "It is true, sir. They are still stainless."

MASTER: "They are like a new pot. Milk kept in it will not turn sour."

M: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "I need Baburam here. I pass through certain spiritual states when I need someone like him. He says he must not, all at once, live with me permanently, for it will create difficulties. His relatives will make trouble. I am asking him to come here Saturdays and Sundays."

Master's advice to householders

The pundit entered the room with his friends. He had finished his devotions and was ready to eat the refreshments. One of his companions asked the Master: "Shall we succeed in spiritual life? Please tell us what our way is."

MASTER: "You all have the yearning for liberation. If an aspirant has yearning, that is enough for him to realize God. Don't eat any food of the sraaddha ceremony. Live in the world like an unchaste woman. She performs her household duties with great attention, but her mind dwells day and night on her paramour. Perform your duties in the world but keep your mind always fixed on God.

The pundit finished eating his refreshments.

MASTER (to the pundit): "You have read the Git, no doubt. It says that there is a special power of God in the man who is honoured and respected by all."

The pundit quoted the verse from the Git.

MASTER: "You surely possess divine power."

PUNDIT: "Shall I labour with perseverance to finish the task that I have accepted?"

Sri Ramakrishna forced himself, as it were, to say, "Yes." He soon changed the conversation.

MASTER: "One cannot but admit the manifestation of power. Vidyasagar once asked me, 'Has God given more power to some than to others?' I said to him: 'Certainly. Otherwise, how can one man kill a hundred? If there is no special manifestation of power, then why is Queen Victoria so much honoured and respected? Don't you admit it?' He agreed with me."

The pundit and his friends saluted the Master and were about to take their leave. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: "Come again. One hemp-smoker rejoices in the company of another hemp-smoker. They even embrace each other. But they hide at the sight of people not of their own kind. A cow licks the body of her calf; but she threatens a strange cow with her horns." (All laugh.)

The pundit left the room. With a smile the Master said: "He has become 'diluted' even in one day. Did you notice how modest he was? And he accepted everything I said."

Moonlight flooded the semicircular porch. Sri Ramakrishna was still seated there. M. was about to leave.

MASTER (tenderly): "Must you go now?"

M.: "Yes, sir. Let me say good-bye."

MASTER: "I have been thinking of visiting the houses of the devotees. I want to visit yours also. What do you say?"

M.: "That will be very fine."

Thursday, July 3, 1884

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in Balarm Bose's house in Calcutta. It was the day of the "Return Car Festival". The Lord of the Universe was worshipped in Balarm's house as Jagannath. There was a small car in the house for use during the Car Festival.


Balarm's father

Balarm's father was a pious Vaishnava who devoted most of his time to prayer and meditation in his garden house at Vrindvan. He also studied devotional books and enjoyed the company of devotees. Balarm had brought his father to Calcutta to meet the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna was in a very happy mood. Seated near him were Ram, Balarm, Balarm's father, M., Manomohan, and several young devotees. He was conversing with them.


Dogmatism in religion

MASTER (to Balarm's father and the others): "The Bhaktamala is one of the Vaishnava books. It is a fine book. It describes the lives of the various Vaishnava devotees. But it is one-sided. At one place the author found peace of mind only after compelling Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, to take Her initiation according to the Vaishnava discipline.

"Once I spoke highly of Vaishnavcharan to Mathur and persuaded him to invite Vaishnavcharan to his house. Mathur welcomed him with great courtesy. He fed his guest from silver plates. Then do you know what happened? Vaishnav said in front of Mathur, 'You will achieve nothing whatsoever in spiritual life unless you accept Krishna as your Ideal.' Mathur was a follower of the Sakta cult and a worshipper of the Divine Mother. At once his face became crimson. I nudged Vaishnavcharan.

"I understand that the Bhagavata also contains some statements like that. I hear that it is said there that trying to cross the ocean of the world without accepting Krishna as the Ideal Deity is like trying to cross a great sea by holding the tail of a dog. Each sect magnifies its own view.

"The Saktas, too, try to belittle the Vaishnavas. The Vaishnavas say that Krishna alone is the Helmsman to take one across the ocean of the world. The Saktas retort: 'Oh, yes!

We agree to that. Our Divine Mother is the Empress of the Universe. Why should She bother about a ferryboat? Therefore She has engaged that fellow Krishna for the purpose.' (All laugh.)

"Besides, how vain people are about their own sects! There are weavers in the villages near Kamarpukur. Many of them are Vaishnavas and like to talk big. They say: 'Which Vishnu does he worship? The Preserver? Oh, we wouldn't touch him!' Or: 'Which iva are you talking about? We accept the Atmaramasiva.' Or again, 'Please explain to us which Hari you worship'. They spin their yarn and indulge in talk like that.

"Rati's mother, Rani Katyayani's favourite confidante, is a follower of Vaishnavcharan.

She is a bigoted Vaishnava. She used to visit me very frequently, and none could outdo her in devotion. One day she noticed me eating the prasad from the Kli temple. Since then I haven't seen even her shadow.

Master's harmony of religions

"He is indeed a real man who has harmonized everything. Most people are one-sided.

But I find that all opinions point to the One. All views-the Sakta, the Vaishnava, the Vednta-have that One for their centre. He who is formless is, again, endowed with form. It is He who appears in different forms: The attributeless Brahman is my Father.

God with attributes is my Mother. Whom shall I blame? Whom shall I praise? The two pans of the scales are equally heavy.'

"He who is described in the Vedas is also described in the Tantras and the Puranas. All of them speak about the one Satchidananda. The Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of the one Reality. It is described in the Vedas as 'Om Satchidananda Brahman', in the Tantras as 'Om Satchidananda iva', the ever-pure iva, and in the Puranas as 'Om Satchidananda Krishna'. All the scriptures, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras, speak only of one Satchidananda. It is stated in the Vaishnava scripture that it is Krishna Himself who has become Kli."

Sri Ramakrishna went to the porch for a few minutes and then returned. As he was going out, Vishvamvhar's daughter, six or seven years old, saluted him. On returning to the room, the Master began talking to the little girl and her companions, who were of the same age.

THE CHILD (to the Master): "I saluted you and you didn't even notice it."

MASTER (smiling): "Did you? I really didn't notice."

CHILD: "Then wait. I want to salute you again-the other foot too."

Sri Ramakrishna laughed and sat down. He returned the salute and bowed to the child, touching the ground with his forehead. He asked her to sing. The child said, "I swear I don't sing." When the Master pressed her again, she said, "Should you press me when I said 'I swear'?" The Master was very happy with the children and sang light and frivolous songs to entertain them. He sang:

Come, let me braid your hair,

Lest your husband should scold you

When he beholds you!

The children and the devotees laughed.

Childlike nature of a Paramahamsa

MASTER (to the devotees): "The paramahamsa is like a five-year-old child. He sees everything filled with Consciousness. At one time I was staying at Kamarpukur when Shivaram was four or five years old. One day he was trying to catch grasshoppers near the pond. The leaves were moving. To stop their rustling he said to the leaves: 'Hush!

Hush! I want to catch a grasshopper.' Another day it was stormy. It rained hard.

Shivaram was with me inside the house. There were flashes of lightning. He wanted to open the door and go out. I scolded him and stopped him, but still he peeped out now and then. When he saw the lightning he exclaimed, 'There, uncle! They are striking matches again!'

"The paramahamsa is like a child. He cannot distinguish between a stranger and a relative. He isn't particular about worldly relationships. One day Shivaram said to me, 'Uncle, are you my father's brother or his brother-in-law?'

"The paramahamsa is like a child. He doesn't keep any track of his whereabouts. He sees everything as Brahman. He is indifferent to his own movements. Shivaram went to Hriday's house to see the Durga Puja. He slipped out of the house and wandered away. A passer-by saw the child, who was then only four years old, and asked, 'Where do you come from?' He couldn't say much. He only said the word 'hut'. He was speaking of the big hut in which the image of the Divine Mother was being worshipped. The stranger asked him further, 'Whom are you living with?' He only said the word 'brother'.

Other traits of a Paramahamsa

"Sometimes the paramahamsa behaves like a madman. When I experienced that divine madness I used to worship my own sexual organ as the iva-phallus. But I can't do that now. A few days after the dedication of the temple at Dakshineswar, a madman came there who was really a sage endowed with the Knowledge of Brahman. He had a bamboo twig in one hand and a potted mango-plant in the other, and was wearing torn shoes. He didn't follow any social conventions. After bathing in the Ganges he didn't perform any religious rites. He ate something that he carried in a corner of his wearing-cloth. Then he entered the Kli temple and chanted hymns to the Deity. The temple trembled. Haladhri was then in the shrine. The madman wasn't allowed to eat at the guesthouse, but he paid no attention to this slight. He searched for food in the rubbish heap where the dogs were eating crumbs from the discarded leaf-plates. Now and then he pushed the dogs aside to get his crumbs. The dogs didn't mind either. Haladhri followed him and asked: 'Who are you? Are you a purnajnani?' The madman whispered, 'Sh! Yes, I am a purnajnani.' My heart began to palpitate as Haladhri told me about it. I clung to Hriday.

I said to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, shall I too have to pass through such a state?' We all went to see the man. He spoke words of great wisdom to us but behaved like a madman before others. Haladhri followed him a great way when he left the garden.

After passing the gate he said to Haladhri: 'What else shall I say to you? When you no longer make any distinction between the water of this pool and the water of the Ganges, then you will know that you have Perfect Knowledge.' Saying this he walked rapidly away."

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk with M. Other devotees, too, were present.

MASTER (to M.): "How do you feel about Shashadhar?"

M: "He is very nice."

MASTER: "He is very intelligent, isn't he?"

M: "Yes, sir. He is very erudite."

MASTER: "According to the Git there is a power of God in one who is respected and honoured by many. But Shashadhar has still a few things to do.

What will he accomplish with mere scholarship? He needs to practise some austerity. It is necessary to practise some spiritual discipline.

"Gauri Pundit practised austerity. When he chanted a hymn to the Divine Mother, the other pundits would seem no more than earthworms.

"Narayan Shastri was not merely a scholar, either. He practised sadhana as well. He studied for twenty-five years without a break. Nyaya alone, he studied for seven years.

Still he would go into ecstasy while repeating the name of iva. The King of Jaipur wanted to make him his court pundit, but Narayan refused. He used to spend much time here. He had a great desire to go to the Vasishtha rama to practise tapasya. He often spoke to me about it, but I forbade him to go there. At that he said: 'Who knows when I shall die? When shall I practise sadhana? Any day I may crack.' After much insistence on his part I let him go. Some say that he is dead, that he died while practising austerity.

Others say that he is still alive and that they saw him off on a railway train.

Master and Keshab

"Before meeting Keshab, I asked Narayan Shastri to visit him and tell me what he thought of him. Narayan reported that Keshab was an adept in japa. He knew astrology and remarked that Keshab had been born under a good star. Then I went to visit Keshab in the garden house at Belgharia. Hriday was with me. The moment I saw Keshab, I said: 'Of all the people I see here, he alone has dropped his tail. He can now live on land as well as in water, like a frog.'

"Keshab sent three members of the Brahmo Samaj to the temple garden at Dakshineswar to test me. Prasanna was one of them. They were commissioned to watch me day and night, and to report to Keshab. They were in my room and intended to spend the night there. They constantly uttered the word 'Dayamaya' and said to me: 'Follow Keshab Babu. That will do you good.' I said, 'I believe in God with form.' Still they went on with their exclamations of 'Dayamaya!' Then a strange mood came over me. I said to them, 'Get out of here!' I didn't allow them to spend the night in my room.

So they slept on the verandah. Captain also spent the night in the temple garden the first time he visited me.

"Michael visited the temple garden when Narayan Shastri was living with me. Dwarika Babu, Mathur's eldest son, brought him here. The owners of the temple garden were about to get into a lawsuit with the English proprietors of the neighbouring powder magazine; so they wanted Michael's advice. I met him in the big room next to the manager's office. Narayan Shastri was with me. I asked Narayan to talk to him. Michael couldn't talk very well in Sanskrit. He made mistakes. Then they talked in the popular dialect. Narayan Shastri asked him his reason for giving up the Hindu religion. Pointing to his stomach, Michael said, 'It was for this.' Narayan said, 'What shall I say to a man who gives up his religion for his belly's sake?' Thereupon Michael asked me to say something. I said: 'I don't know why, but I don't feel like saying anything. Someone seems to be pressing my tongue.' "

MANOMOHAN: "Mr. Choudhury will not come. He said: 'That fellow Shashadhar from Faridpur will be there. I shall not go.' "

Mr. Choudhury had obtained his Master's degree from Calcutta University. He drew a salary of three or four hundred rupees. After the death of his first wife he had felt intense dispassion for the world, but after some time he had married again. He frequently visited the Master at the temple garden.

MASTER: "How mean of him! He is vain of his scholarship. Besides, he has married a second time. He looks on the world as a mere mud-puddle.

(To the devotees) "This attachment to 'woman and gold' makes a man small-minded.

When I first saw Haramohan he had many good traits. I longed to see him. He was then seventeen or eighteen years old. I used to send for him every now and then, but he wouldn't come. He is now living away from the family with his wife. He had been living with his uncle before. That was very good. He had no worldly troubles. Now he has a separate home and does the marketing for his wife daily. The other day he came to Dakshineswar. I said to him: 'Go away. Leave this place. I don't even feel like touching you.' "

Sri Ramakrishna went to the inner apartments to see the Deity. He offered some flowers.

The ladies of Balarm's family were pleased to see him.

The Master came back to the drawing-room and said: "The worldly minded practise devotions, japa, and austerity only by fits and starts. But those who know nothing else but God repeat His name with every breath. Some always repeat mentally, 'Om Rma'.

Even the followers of the path of knowledge repeat, 'Soham', 'I am He'. There are others whose tongues are always moving, repeating the name of God. One should remember and think of God constantly."

Pundit Shashadhar entered the room with one or two friends and saluted the Master.

MASTER (smiling): "We are like the bridesmaids waiting near the bed for the arrival of the groom."

The pundit laughed. The room was filled with devotees, among them Dr.Pratap and Balarm's father. The Master continued his talk.

MASTER (to Shashadhar): "The first sign of knowledge is a peaceful nature, and the second is absence of egotism. You have both. There are other indications of a Jnni. He shows intense dispassion in the presence of a sdhu, is a lion when at work, for instance, when he lectures, and is full of wit before his wife. (All laugh.) "But the nature of the vijnni is quite different, as was the case with Chaitanyadeva. He acts like a child or a madman or an inert thing or a ghoul. While in the mood of a child, he sometimes shows childlike guilelessness, sometimes the frivolity of adolescence, and sometimes, while instructing others, the strength of a young man."

Three kinds of bhakti

PUNDIT: "By what kind of bhakti does one realize God?"


MASTER: "Three kinds of bhakti are found, according to the nature of the man: sattvic bhakti, rajasic bhakti, and tamasic bhakti.

"Sattvic bhakti is known to God alone. It makes no outward display. A man with such devotion loves privacy. Perhaps he meditates inside the mosquito net, where nobody sees him. When this kind of devotion is awakened, one hasn't long to wait for the vision of God. The appearance of the dawn in the east shows that the sun will rise before long.

"A man with rajasic bhakti feels like making a display of his devotion before others. He worships the Deity with 'sixteen ingredients', enters the temple wearing a silk cloth, and puts around his neck a string of rudrksha beads interspersed here and there with beads of gold and ruby.

"A man with tamasic bhakti shows the courage and boisterousness of a highway robber.

A highway robber goes on his expedition openly, shouting, 'Kill! Plunder!' He isn't afraid even of eight police inspectors. The devotee with tamasic bhakti also shouts like a madman:'Hara! Hara! Vyom! Vyom! Victory to Kli!' He has great strength of mind and burning faith.

"A Sakta has such faith. He says: 'What? I have uttered once the name of Kli and of Durga! I have uttered once the name of Rma! Can there be any sin in me?'

"The Vaishnavas have a very humble and lowly attitude. (Looking at Balarm's father) They tell their rosary and whine and whimper: 'O Krishna, be gracious to us! We are wretched! We are sinners!'

Faith in God's name

"A man should have such fiery faith as to be able to say, 'I have uttered the name of God; how can I be a sinner?' Imagine a man repeating the name of Hari day and night and at the same time saying that he is a sinner!"

So saying, Sri Ramakrishna became overwhelmed with divine ecstasy and sang: If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name, How canst Thou then, O Blessed One,

Withhold from me deliverance,

Wretched though I may be?

I may have stolen a drink of wine, or killed a child unborn, Or slain a woman or a cow,

Or even caused a brahmin's death;

But, though it all be true,

Nothing of this can make me feel the least uneasiness; For through the power of Thy sweet name

My wretched soul may still aspire Even to Brahmanhood.

He sang again:

Behold my Mother playing with iva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!

Drunk with a draught of celestial wine, She reels, and yet She does not fall.

Erect She stands on iva's bosom, and the earth trembles under Her tread;

She and Her Lord are mad with frenzy, casting aside all fear and shame!

Pundit Shashadhar was weeping. Vaishnavcharan, the musician, sang: O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga!

Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress?

Thou art the heavens and the earth, and Thou the nether world; From Thee have the twelve Gopalas and Hari and iva sprung.

The ten Embodiments of Divine akti art Thou,

And Thou the ten Avatars: this time, save me Thou must!

The moving and the unmoving, the gross and the subtle, art Thou;

Creation and preservation art Thou, and the last dissolution.

Thou art the Primal Root of this manifold universe; The Mother of the three worlds, their only Saviour, art Thou; Thou art the akti of all, and Thou Thine own akti, too.

As the Master listened to the last few lines, he went into an ecstatic mood. The Master himself sang:

O Mother, for Yaoda Thou wouldst dance, when she called Thee her precious "Blue Jewel";

Where hast Thou hidden that lovely form, O terrible Syama?

Dance that way once for me, O Mother! Throw down Thy sword and take the flute;

Cast off Thy garland of heads, and wear Thy wild-flower garland.

If without iva Thou canst not dance, then let Balarama be Thy iva.

Dance, O Syama, as Thou didst dance when Thou wert Krishna!

Mother, play on Thy flute again, once so full of delight for the gopis;

Play again on Thy magic flute, which called the cattle in from the pasture,

Stopping the Jamuna's murmuring flow and turning it backward.

Hot in the sky the sun would burn, when Yaoda, restless for her Krishna,

Fondly would call: "Here, my Gopala! Cream and butter-eat them, my Darling!"

And she would comb His long black hair and carefully braid it.

Bending Thy supple body, Mother, both at the neck, the waist, and the knee,

Thou didst dance with Thy friend Sridm, while Thy two anklets played the music:

Ta-thaia! Ta-thaia! Ta-ta! Thaia-thaia!

Hearing their captivating sound, the gopis would rush there.

Again Pundit Shashadhar shed tears of love.

Sri Ramakrishna came down to consciousness of the world. Pointing to Shashadhar, he said to M., "Why don't you prod him?" He wanted M. or some other devotee to ask Shashadhar a question.

RAMDAYAL (to Shashadhar): "The scriptures speak of Brahman's form as a projection of mind. Who is it that projects?"

SHASHADHAR: "It is Brahman Itself that does so. It is no projection of a man's mind."

PRATAP: "Why does Brahman project the form?"

MASTER: "You ask why? Brahman doesn't act in consultation with others. It is Brahman's pleasure. Brahman is self-willed. Why should we try to know the reason for Brahman's acting this way or that? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat the mangoes. What is the good of calculating how many trees there are in the orchard, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves? One cannot realize Truth by futile arguments and reasoning."

PRATAP: "Shouldn't we reason any more then?"

MASTER: "I am asking you not to indulge in futile reasoning. But reason, by all means, about the Real and the unreal, about what is permanent and what is transitory. You must reason when you are overcome by lust, anger, or grief."

SHASHADHAR: "That is different. It is called reasoning based on discrimination."

MASTER: "Yes, discrimination between the Real and the unreal."

All sat in silence. Again the Master spoke, addressing the pundit.

MASTER: "Formerly many great men used to come here."

SHASHADHAR: "You mean rich people?"

MASTER: "No. Great scholars."

In the mean time the small car of Jagannath had been brought to the verandah. Inside the car were the images of Krishna, Balarama, and Subhadra. They were adorned with flowers, garlands, jewelry, and yellow apparel. Balarm was a sattvic worshipper: there was no outward grandeur in his worship. Outsiders did not even know of this Car Festival at his house. The Master and the devotees went to the verandah. Sri Ramakrishna pulled the car by the rope. Then he began to sing:

See how all Nadia is shaking

Under the waves of Gaurnga's love. . . .

He sang again:

Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name,

The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari's love. . . .

Sri Ramakrishna danced with the devotees. The musician and his party joined the Master in the music and dancing. Soon the whole verandah was filled with people. The ladies witnessed this scene of joy from an adjoining room. It appeared as if Chaitanya himself were dancing with his devotees, intoxicated with divine love.

It was not yet dusk. Sri Ramakrishna returned to the drawing-room with the devotees.

MASTER (to Shashadhar): "This is called bhajanananda, the bliss of devotees in the worship of God. Worldly people keep themselves engrossed in the joy of sensuous objects, of 'woman and gold'. Through worship devotees receive the grace of God, and then His vision. Then they enjoy Brahmananda, the Bliss of Brahman."

Shashadhar and the devotees listened to these words with rapt attention.

SHASHADHAR (humbly): "Sir, please tell us what kind of yearning gives one this blissful state of mind."

MASTER: "One feels restless for God when one's soul longs for His vision. The guru said to the disciple: 'Come with me. I shall show you what kind of longing will enable you to see God.' Saying this, he took the disciple to a pond and pressed his head under the water. After a few moments he released the disciple and asked, 'How did you feel?' The disciple answered: 'Oh, I felt as if I were dying! I was longing for a breath of air.' "

SHASHADHAR: "Yes! Yes! That's it. I understand it now."

MASTER: "To love God is the essence of the whole thing. Bhakti alone is the essence.

Nrada said to Rma, 'May I always have pure love for Your Lotus Feet; and may I not be deluded by Your world-bewitching my!' Rma said to him, 'Ask for some other boon.' 'No,' said Nrada, 'I don't want anything else. May I have love for Your Lotus Feet. This is my only prayer.' "

Pundit Shashadhar was ready to leave. Sri Ramakrishna asked a devotee to bring a carriage for the pundit.

SHASHADHAR: "Don't trouble yourself. I shall walk."

MASTER (smiling): "Oh, how can that be? 'You are beyond the reach of even Brahma's meditation.' "

SHASHADHAR: "There is no particular need of my going just now. The only thing is that I shall have to perform my sandhya."

MASTER: "The Divine Mother has taken away my sandhya and other devotions. The purpose of the sandhya is to purify body and mind. I am no longer in that state."

The Master sang the following lines of a song:

When will you learn to lie, O mind, in the abode of Blessedness, With Cleanliness and Defilement on either side of you?

Only when you have found the way

To keep these wives contentedly under a single roof, Will you behold the matchless form of Mother Syama.

Pundit Shashadhar saluted the Master and went away.

RAM: "I visited Shashadhar yesterday. You asked me to."

MASTER: "Did I? I don't remember. But it is nice that you went."

RAM: "The editor of a newspaper was abusing you."

MASTER: "Suppose he was. What does it matter?"

RAM: "Please listen. Then I began to talk to the editor about you. He wanted to hear more and wouldn't let me go."

It was dusk. Sri Ramakrishna began to chant the names of the Divine Mother, Krishna, Rma, and Hari. The devotees sat in silence. The Master chanted the names in such sweet tones that the hearts of the devotees were deeply touched. That day Balarm's house was like Navadvip when Chaitanya lived there. On the verandah it was like Navadvip, and in the parlour it was like Vrindvan.

That same night Sri Ramakrishna was to go to Dakshineswar. Balarm took him into the inner apartments and served him with refreshments. The ladies of the family saluted the Master.

The devotees were singing kirtan in the drawing-room, awaiting the Master's coming.

Presently Sri Ramakrishna came and joined the singers.

The kirtan went on:

Behold, my Gora is dancing! With the devotees

He dances in Srivas's courtyard, singing the kirtan.

Gora says to all, "Repeat the name of Hari!"

He looks at Gadadhar, and from his red eyes

Are flowing tears of love over his golden body.

The Master improvised the lines:

Gora is dancing in the kirtan:

There he dances, Sachi's darling!

There he dances, my Gaurnga!

There he dances, my soul's beloved!

--------------------

Chapter 26


FESTIVAL AT ADHAR'S HOUSE



Sunday, August 3, 1884


SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room in the temple garden at Dakshineswar after his midday meal. A party of Bauls from Shibpur, several devotees from Bhawanipur, Balarm, and M. were in the room. Rkhl, Ltu, and Harish were then living with the Master. They too were present.

The Master began the conversation by addressing the Baul musicians from Shibpur.

Yoga and the six centres

MASTER: "Yoga is not possible if the mind dwells on 'woman and gold'. The mind of a worldly man generally moves among the three lower centres: those at the navel, at the sexual organ, and at the organ of evacuation. After great effort and spiritual practice the Kundalini is awakened. According to the yogis there are three nerves in the spinal column: Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. Along the Sushumna are six lotuses, or centres, the lowest being known as the Muladhara. Then come successively Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anhata, Visuddha, and jn. These are the six centres. The Kundalini, when awakened, passes through the lower centres and comes to the Anhata, which is at the heart. It stays there. At that time the mind of the aspirant is withdrawn from the three lower centres. He feels the awakening of Divine Consciousness and sees Light. In mute wonder he sees that radiance and cries out: 'What is this? What is this?'

"After passing through the six centres, the Kundalini reaches the thousand petalled lotus known as the Sahasrara, and the aspirant goes into samdhi.

"According to the Vedas these centres are called 'bhumi', 'planes'. There are seven such planes. The centre at the heart corresponds to the fourth plane of the Vedas. According to the Tantra there is in this centre a lotus called Anhata, with twelve petals.

"The centre known as Visuddha is the fifth plane. This centre is at the throat and has a lotus with sixteen petals. When the Kundalini reaches this plane, the devotee longs to talk and hear only about God. Conversation on worldly subjects, on 'woman and gold', causes him great pain. He leaves a place where people talk of these matters.

"Then comes the sixth plane, corresponding to the centre known as jn. This centre is located between the eyebrows and it has a lotus with two petals. When the Kundalini reaches it, the aspirant sees the form of God. But still there remains a slight barrier between the devotee and God. It is like a light inside a lantern. You may think you have touched the light, but in reality you cannot because of the barrier of glass.

"And last of all is the seventh plane, which, according to Tantra, is the centre of the thousand-petalled lotus. When the Kundalini arrives there, the aspirant goes into samdhi. In that lotus dwells Satchidananda Shiva, the Absolute. There Kundalini, the awakened Power, unites with Shiva. This is known as the union of Shiva and akti.

The state of samdhi

"When the Kundalini rises to the Sahasrara and the mind goes into samdhi, the aspirant loses all consciousness of the outer world. He can no longer retain his physical body. If milk is poured into his mouth, it runs out again. In that state the life-breath lingers for twenty-one days and then passes out. Entering the 'black waters' of the ocean, the ship never comes back. But the Isvarakotis, such as the Incarnations of God, can come down from this state of samdhi. They can descend from this exalted state because they like to live in the company of devotees and enjoy the love of God. God retains in them the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion' so that they may teach men. Their minds move between the sixth and the seventh planes. They run a boat-race back and forth, as it were, between these two planes.


Keeping individuality after samdhi

"After attaining samdhi some souls of their own accord keep the 'ego of Knowledge'.

But that ego does not create any attachment. It is like a line drawn on the water.

"Hanuman kept the 'servant ego' after realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspects. He thought of himself as the servant of God. The great sages, such as Nrada, Sanaka, Sananda, Sanatana, and Sanatkumra, after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman, kept the 'servant ego' and the 'ego of Devotion'. They are like big steamships, which not only cross the ocean themselves but carry many passengers to the other shore.

Two classes of Paramahamsas

"There are two classes of paramahamsas, one affirming the formless Reality and the other affirming God with form. Trailanga Swami believed in the formless Reality.

Paramahamsas like him care for their own good alone; they feel satisfied if they themselves attain the goal.


Paramahamsas as teachers of men

"But those paramahamsas who believe in God with form keep the love of God even after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman, so that they may teach spiritual truth to others.

They are like a pitcher brimful of water. Part of the water may be poured into another pitcher. These perfected souls describe to others the various spiritual disciplines by which they have realized God. They do this only to teach others and to help them in spiritual life. With great effort men dig a well for drinking water, using spades and baskets for the purpose. After the digging is over, some throw the spades and other implements into the well, not needing them any more. But some put them away near the well, so that others may use them.

"Some eat mangoes secretly and remove all trace of them by wiping their mouths with a towel. But some share the fruit with others. There are sages who, even after attaining Knowledge, work to help others and also to enjoy the Bliss of God in the company of devotees. 'I want to eat sugar. I don't want to be sugar.'

"The Gopis of Vrindvan, too, attained the Knowledge of Brahman; but they were not seeking It. They wanted to enjoy God, looking on themselves as His mother, His friend, His handmaid, or His lover."

The Bauls from Shibpur began to sing to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. A line in the first song was:

We are sinners: redeem us, O merciful Lord!

MASTER (to the devotees): "It is the attitude of a beginner to worship God out of fear.

Please sing about God-realization-songs expressing divine joy.

(To Rkhl ) "How well they sang that song the other day at Nabin Niyogi's house: 'Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss'! While singing religious songs one should not constantly refer to one's worries. One should rather feel joyous and ecstatic as one chants God's name.

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, won't you sing?"

MASTER: "What shall I sing? Well, I may sing when the spirit moves me."

Master sings of divine joy

After a few minutes the Master began to sing. His eyes were turned upward.

He sang:

Behold the waves of Gora's ecstatic love;

Under them all the universe lies submerged!

And in his love I, too, long to be drowned.

O friend, Gaurnga's love has swallowed me;

Who else feels for our misery like Gaurnga,

Dragging us from the mire of worldliness?

He sang again:

Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty; If you descend to the uttermost depths,

There you will find the gem of Love. . . .

Then he sang about the Divine Mother:

Can everyone have the vision of Syama?

Is Kli's treasure for everyone?

Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true! . . .


He continued:

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight To the blue lotus flower of Mother Syama's feet. . . .

And again:

O Mother, what a machine is this that Thou hast made!

What pranks Thou playest with this toy

Three and a half cubits high! . . .

As Sri Ramakrishna sang the last song he went into samdhi. The devotees sat speechless, gazing at his radiant figure. After some time he regained partial consciousness of the world and began to talk to the Divine Mother.

The Master said, "Mother, please come down from up there." Did he feel his mind still lingering in the seventh plane of consciousness, the thousand petalled lotus of the Sahasrara? "Please do come down", he said. "Don't torment me that way. Be still, Mother, and sit down.

"O Mother, everybody's future is determined by the tendencies of his previous births.

What shall I say to these people? Nothing can be achieved without discrimination and renunciation."

Renunciation, true and false

Sri Ramakrishna had now regained full consciousness of the world, and he continued: "There are many kinds of renunciation. One of them may be called 'Markata Vairgya', 'Monkey Renunciation'. It is a false renunciation stimulated by the afflictions of the world. That renunciation doesn't last long. Then there is real renunciation. A man with everything in the world, lacking nothing, feels all to be unreal.

"It is not possible to acquire renunciation all at once. The time factor must be taken into account. But it is also true that a man should hear about it. When the right time comes, he will say to himself, 'Oh yes, I heard about this.'

"You must also remember another thing. By constantly hearing about renunciation one's desire for worldly objects gradually wears away. One should take rice-water in small doses to get rid of the intoxication of liquor. Then one gradually becomes normal.

"An aspirant entitled to the Knowledge of God is very rare. It is said in the Git that one in thousands desires to know God, and again, that among thousands who have such a desire, only one is able to know Him."

A devotee quoted the text from the Git.

MASTER: "As your attachment to the world diminishes, your spiritual knowledge will increase. Attachment to the world means attachment to 'woman and gold'.


Prema, the rarest love of God

"It is not given to everybody to feel prema, ecstatic love of God. Chaitanya experienced it. An ordinary man can at the most experience bhava. Only the Isvarakotis, such as Divine Incarnations, experience prema. When prema is awakened the devotee not only feels the world to be unreal, but forgets even the body, which everyone loves so intensely.

"In a Persian book it is said that inside the skin is the flesh, inside the flesh the bone, inside the bone the marrow, and so on, but that prema is the innermost of all. One becomes soft and tender through prema. On account of this prema, Krishna became tribhanga.

"Prema is the rope by which you can tether God, as it were. Whenever you want to see Him you have merely to pull the rope. Whenever you call Him, He will appear before you.

"The mature stage of bhakti is bhava. When one attains it one remains speechless, thinking of Satchidananda. The feeling of an ordinary man can go only that far. When bhava ripens it becomes mahabhava. Prema is the last. You know the difference between a green mango and a ripe one. Unalloyed love of God is the essential thing. All else is unreal.

"Once Rma was pleased with the prayer of Nrada and told him to ask for a boon.

Nrada prayed for pure love and said further, 'O Rma, please grant that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching my.' Rma said: 'That is all right. But ask for something else.' Nrada replied: 'I don't want anything else. I pray only for pure love.'


How to attain pure love of God

"How can a devotee attain such love? First, the company of holy men. That awakens raddh, faith in God. Then comes nishtha, single-minded devotion to the Ideal. In that stage the devotee does not like to hear anything but talk about God. He performs only those acts that please God. After nishtha comes bhakti, devotion to God; then comes bhava. Next mahabhava, then prema, and last of all the attainment of God Himself.

Only for Isvarakotis, such as the Incarnations, is it possible to have mahabhava or prema.


How to attain pure love of God

"The knowledge of a worldly person, the knowledge of a devotee, and the Knowledge of an Incarnation are by no means of the same degree. The knowledge of a worldly person is like the light of an oil lamp, which shows only the inside of a room. Through such knowledge he eats and drinks, attends to household duties, protects his body, brings up his children, and so on.

"The knowledge of a devotee is like the light of the moon, which illumines objects both inside and outside a room. But such light does not enable him to see a distant or a very minute object.

"The Knowledge of an Incarnation of God is like the light of the sun. Through that light the Incarnation sees everything, inside and outside, big and small.

"The mind of a worldly person is, no doubt, like muddy water; but it can be made clear by a purifying agent. Discrimination and renunciation are the purifying agent."

The Master spoke to the devotees from Shibpur.

MASTER: "Have you any questions to ask?"

A DEVOTEE: "We have listened to your words."


The time factor in spiritual progress

MASTER: "Yes, it is good to listen to these things. But nothing will happen except at the right time. What can quinine do for a fever patient when he runs a high temperature?

Only when his temperature comes down through the use of 'fever mixture' or a purgative should quinine be prescribed. There are patients who get rid of their fever even without quinine. A child said to his mother, when he was put to bed, 'Mother, please wake me up when I feel the call of nature.' The mother said: 'My child, I shall not have to wake you. The urge itself will wake you.'

"Different kinds of people come here. 'Some come by boat with the devotees. But they do not enjoy spiritual talk. They keep nudging their friends and whispering: 'When shall we leave here? When are we going?' If the friends show no sign of getting up, they say, 'We would rather wait for you in the boat.'

"Those who have a human body for the first time need the experience of sense enjoyments. Spiritual consciousness is not awakened unless certain duties have been performed."

The Master was going to the pine-grove. With a smile he said to M., on the semicircular porch, "Well, what do you think of my state of mind?"

M. (smiling): "On the surface you are very simple, but inwardly very deep. It is extremely difficult to understand you."

MASTER (smiling): "True. It is like the cement floor of a house. People see only the outer surface and do not know how many materials there are under it."

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. Balarm and several other devotees got into a country boat to return to Calcutta. It was ebb-tide in the Ganges. A gentle breeze was blowing from the south, covering the bosom of the sacred river with ripples.

M. looked at the scene a long time. As the boat disappeared in the direction of Calcutta, he came back to the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna was going to the pine-grove. A beautiful, dark rain-cloud was to be seen in the northwest. The Master asked M.: "Do you think it will rain? Please bring my umbrella." M. brought the umbrella. Reaching the Panchavati, the Master said to Ltu, who also accompanied him, "Why do you look so sickly?"

LTU: "I can hardly eat anything."

MASTER: "Is that the only reason? It is also a bad time of the year. Are you meditating too much? (To M.) I have a request to make of you. Please tell Baburam to stay with me a day or two during Rkhl 's absence. Otherwise I shall feel very unhappy."

M: "Yes, sir. I shall tell him."

Sri Ramakrishna asked M. whether he thought that Baburam was guileless.

Presently the Master left them, going in the direction of the pine-trees. After a few minutes M. and Ltu, standing in the Panchavati, saw the Master coming back toward them. Behind him the sky was black with the rain-cloud. Its reflection in the Ganges made the water darker. The disciples felt that the Master was God Incarnate, a Divine Child five years old, radiant with the smile of innocence and purity. Around him were the sacred trees of the Panchavati under which he had practised spiritual discipline and had beheld visions of God. At his feet flowed the sacred river Ganges, the destroyer of man's sins. The presence of this God-man charged the trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, and temples with spiritual fervour and divine joy.

Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room and sat on the small couch. He began to praise a medicine that a certain brahmachari had prepared for him. Referring to this man, Hazra said: "He is now entangled in many worldly anxieties. What a shame! Look at Nabai Chaitanya of Konnagar. Though a householder, he has put on a red cloth."

MASTER: "What shall I say? I clearly see that it is God Himself who has assumed all these human forms. Therefore I cannot take anybody to task."

HAZRA: "Narendra is again involved in a lawsuit."

MASTER: "He doesn't believe in akti, the Divine Mother. If one assumes a human body, one must recognize Her."

HAZRA: "Narendra says: 'If I believed in akti, all would follow me. Therefore I cannot.'"

MASTER: "But it is not good for him to go to the extreme of denying the Divine Mother.

He is now under akti's jurisdiction. Even a judge, while giving evidence in a case, comes down and stands in the witness-box.

(To M.) "Have you seen Narendra lately?"

M: "Not during the last few days."

MASTER: "See him and bring him here in a carriage.

(To Hazra) "Well, what is his relation to this [meaning himself]?"

HAZRA: "He expects help from you."

MASTER: "And what about Bhavanath? Would he come here so frequently if he didn't have good tendencies? What about Harish and Ltu? They always meditate. Why is that?"

HAZRA: "That's right. Why should they devote all their time to meditation? It is quite a different thing for them to stay here to attend to your personal needs."

MASTER: "Possibly you are right. Perhaps others may take their place now."

Hazra left the room, leaving the Master alone with M.

MASTER: "Does what I say in the state of ecstasy attract people?"

M: "Oh, yes. Very much."

MASTER: "What do people think of me? Do they think anything in particular about me when they see me in that condition?"

M: "We feel in you a wonderful synthesis of knowledge, love, and renunciation, and on the surface a natural spontaneity. Many divine experiences have passed, like huge steamboats, through the deep of your inner consciousness; still you maintain outwardly this utter simplicity. Many cannot understand it, but a few are attracted by this state alone."

MASTER: "There is a sect of Vaishriavas known as the Ghoshpara, who describe God as the 'Sahaja', the 'Simple One'. They say further that a man cannot recognize this 'Simple One' unless he too is simple. (To M.) Have I any ego?"

M: "Yes, sir. A little. You have kept it to preserve your body, and to enjoy divine love in the company of the devotees and impart spiritual knowledge to them. Further, you have kept this trace of ego by praying to the Divine Mother for it."

MASTER: "No. I have not kept it. It is God Himself who has left it in me. Can you tell me how I appear in the state of samdhi?"

M: "As you said a little while ago, you see the form of God when your mind rises to the 'sixth plane'. When you speak after that, your mind comes down to the 'fifth plane'."

MASTER: "It is God who does all these things. I do not know anything."

M: "That is why you attract people so much. Sir, I have a question to ask. There are two opinions in the scriptures. According to one, Purana, Krishna is Chidatma, the Absolute, and Radha is Chitakti, Its Divine Power; but according to another, Krishna Himself is Kli; the Primordial Energy."

MASTER: "This second view is held in the Devi Purana. According to it, Kli Herself has become Krishna; But what difference does it make? God is infinite, and infinite are the ways to reach Him."

M. remained speechless with wonder for a few moments and then said: "Oh, now I understand. As you say, the important thing is to climb to the roof. Our goal will be achieved if we can accomplish it by following any of the means-a rope or a pole."

MASTER: "It is through the grace of God that you have understood that. Without His grace doubt is never cleared up.


Master teaches M

"T he important thing is somehow to cultivate devotion to God and love for Him. What is the use of knowing many things? It is enough to cultivate love of God by following any of the paths. When you have this love, you are sure to attain God. Afterwards, if it is necessary, God will explain everything to you and tell you about the other paths as well.

It is enough for you to develop love of God. You have no need of many opinions and discussions. You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Enjoy them to your heart's content. You don't need to count the branches and leaves on the trees. It is wise to follow the attitude of Hanuman: 'I do not know the day of the week, the phase of the moon, or the position of the stars; I only contemplate Rma.' "

M: "I now desire that my activities may be much reduced and that I may devote myself greatly to God."

MASTER: "Ah! Certainly your desire will be fulfilled. But a Jnni can live unattached in the world."

M: "True, sir. But one needs special power to lead an unattached life."

MASTER: "That is also true. But perhaps you wanted the worldly life. Krishna had been enshrined in Radha's heart; but Radha wanted to sport with Him in human form. Hence all the episodes of Vrindvan. Now you should pray to God that your worldly duties may be reduced. And you will achieve the goal if you renounce mentally."

M: "But mental renunciation is prescribed for those who cannot give up the world outwardly. For superior devotees total renunciation is enjoined-both outer and inner."

Sri Ramakrishna was silent a few minutes and then resumed the conversation.

MASTER: "How did you like what I said about renunciation a little while ago?"

M: "Very much, sir."

MASTER: "Tell me, what is the meaning of renunciation?"

M: "Renunciation does not mean simply dispassion for the world. It means dispassion for the world and also longing for God."

MASTER: "You are right. You no doubt need money for your worldly life; but don't worry too much about it. The wise course is to accept what comes of its own accord. Don't take too much trouble to save money. Those who surrender their hearts and souls to God, those who are devoted to Him and have taken refuge in Him, do not worry much about money. As they earn, so they spend. The money comes in one way and goes out the other. This is what the Git describes as 'accepting what comes of its own accord'."

The Master referred to Haripada and said, "He came here the other day."

M: "He knows how to sing the stories of the Purana. He sings melodiously about the life of Prahlada and the nativity of Sri Krishna."

MASTER: "Is that so? That day I looked into his eyes. They had an inward look. I asked him whether he meditated a great deal, but he sat with his eyes cast down and didn't answer. Then I said to him, 'Look here, don't strain yourself too much.' "

It was now dusk. Sri Ramakrishna, as was usual with him during this part of the day, chanted the names of God and turned his mind to contemplation. Soon the moon rose in the sky. The temples, courtyards, and trees were bathed in its silvery light, and millions of broken moons played on the rippling surface of the Ganges. Rkhl and M.

were with the Master in his room.

MASTER (to M.): "Baburam says, 'Oh, the worldly life! God forbid!' "

M: "His opinion is based on mere hearsay. What does he know of the world? He is a mere child."

MASTER: "Yes, that is true. Have you noticed Niranjan? He is utterly artless."

M: "Yes, sir. His very appearance attracts people. How expressive his eyes are!"

MASTER: "Not only his eyes, but his entire person. His relatives proposed that he marry. At this he said, 'Why are you going to drown me?' (With a smile) Tell me this.

People say that a man finds great pleasure in the company of his wife after the hard work of the day."

M: "That is no doubt true of those who think that way. (To Rkhl, with a smile) We are now being examined. This is a leading question."

Both Rkhl and M. were married.

MASTER (with a smile): "A mother says, 'I shall heave a sigh of relief if I can procure a "shade-tree" for my son. He will rest in its shade when scorched by the heat of the world.' "

M: "True, sir. But there are parents and parents. A father who is spiritually illumined doesn't give his children in marriage. If he does, his is a fine spirituality!"

Adhar Sen arrived from Calcutta and saluted the Master. After a few minutes, he went to the temple of Kli, where M. followed him.

A little later M. was sitting at the Bathing-Ghat on the Ganges. The flood tide had just set in. As he listened to the waters lapping against the bank, many pictures of Sri Ramakrishna's divine life flitted before his mind: the Master's deep samdhi, his constant ecstasy, his joy in the love of God, his untiring discourse on spiritual life, his genuine love for the devotees, and, above all, his childlike simplicity. Who was this man? Was it God who had embodied Himself on earth for the sake of His devotees?

Adhar and M. returned to the Master's room. Adhar had been to Chittagong, in East Bengal, on official duty. He was telling the Master about his visit to the Chandranath Hills and Sitakunda, sacred places of Chittagong.

ADHAR: "Near Sitakunda I visited a well where I saw fire in the water. It is always burning on the water with leaping tongues."

MASTER: "How is that possible?"

ADHAR: "The water contains phosphorus."

Presently Ram Chatterji entered the room. The Master said some kind words about him to Adhar.

MASTER: "Ram's presence in the temple garden has relieved us of many anxieties. He searches out Harish, Ltu, and the others at meal-time. Very often they are absorbed in meditation in some corner of the temple garden. It is Ram who sees that they eat at the proper time."


Saturday, September 6, 1884

Master at Adhar's house

About three o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was seated in Adhar's parlour on the second floor. Narendra, the Mukherji brothers, Bhavanath, M., Hazra, and other devotees were with the Master.

Arrangements were being made for Narendra to sing: While he was tuning the Tnpura, one of the strings snapped, and the Master exclaimed, "Oh! What have you done?"

Narendra then tuned the drums. The Master said to him, "You are beating that drum, and I feel as if someone were slapping my cheek."

Referring to the Kirtan, Narendra said: 'There is not much rhythm in the Kirtan. That's why it is so popular and people love it so much."

MASTER: "How silly! People like it because it is so tender and full of pathos."

Narendra's music

Narendra sang:

Sweet is Thy name, a Refuge of the humble!

It falls like sweetest nectar on our ears

And comforts us, Beloved of our souls! . . .

He sang again:

O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?

Down the path of hope I gaze with longing, day and night.

Thou art the Lord of all the worlds, and I but a beggar here; How can I ask of Thee to come and dwell within my heart?

My poor heart's humble cottage door is standing open wide; Be gracious, Lord, and enter there but once, and quench its thirst!


MASTER (to Hazra, smiling): "That was the first song he sang for me."

Narendra sang one or two more songs. Then Vaishnavcharan sang, describing the grief of the gopis at the sight of Krishna as king of Mathura: O Hari, how shall we know You now?

In Mathura's royal splendour You have forgotten us. . . .

MASTER: "Won't you sing that one- 'O Vina, sing Lord Hari's name?"


Vaishnavcharan sang:

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!

If only Hari shows His grace,

Then I shall never be distressed.

O Vina, sing His name but once;

No earthly gem is half so rare.

Govinda says: In vain my days

Have passed. No longer may I float

Here in life's trackless ocean waste!

While listening to the song, the Master became abstracted. Saying "Ah me! Ah me!" he went into samdhi. The devotees were sitting around him, their eyes riveted on him.

The room was filled with people.


Master in ecstasy

The musician sang again. As he improvised new lines describing ecstatic love of God, the Master stood up and danced. He himself improvised lines and sang them with outstretched arms. Soon he went into samdhi and sat down, with his head resting on the bolster in front of him. The musician was also carried away with emotion and sang new songs. Sri Ramakrishna again stood up and began to dance. The devotees could not control themselves. They too danced with the Master. While dancing, Sri Ramakrishna every now and then went into deep samdhi. When he was in the deepest samdhi he could not utter a word and his whole body remained transfixed. The devotees danced encircling him. After a while, regaining partial consciousness, he danced with the strength of a lion, intoxicated with ecstatic love. But even then he could not utter a word. Finally, regaining more of the consciousness of the world, he sang again, improvising the lines. An intense spiritual atmosphere was created in Adhar's parlour. At the sound of the loud music a large crowd had gathered in the street.

Sri Ramakrishna danced a long time in the company of the devotees. When he resumed his seat, still tinged with the lingering glow of divine fervour, he asked Narendra to sing "O Mother, make me mad with Thy love".

Narendra sang:

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!

What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .

MASTER: "And that one 'Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness'."

Narendra sang:

Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness waves of ecstatic love arise:

Rapture divine! Play of God's Bliss!

Oh, how enthralling! . . .

MASTER: "And that one too 'In Wisdom's firmament'. Perhaps it is too long. Do you think so? All right, sing it slowly."

Narendra sang:

In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's flood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.

O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! . . .

MASTER: "And won't you sing that one The Wine of Heavenly Bliss' ?"

Narendra sang:

Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!

Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari's sweet name!

Fill the arching heavens with your deep lion roar, Singing Hari's sweet name! With both your arms upraised, Dance in the name of Hari and give His name to all.

Swim by day and by night in the b1iss of Hari's love; Slay desire with His name, and blessed be your life!

The Master improvised, "Be drunk with prema and weep, chanting Hari's sweet name." And, "Be mad with divine fervour and weep, chanting His name."

Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees rested awhile. Narendra said to the Master in a low voice, "Will you kindly sing that one?"

MASTER: "My voice has become a little hoarse."

After a few minutes he asked Narendra, "Which one?"

NARENDRA: "Gaur, whose beauty delights the world."

Sri Ramakrishna sang, describing the beauty of Sri Chaitanya: Who has brought Gaur to Nadia

Gaur, whose beauty delights the world?

His face, covered with ringlets of hair,

Shines like lightning against a dark cloud. . . .

Again he sang, this time about the grief of a Gopi at her separation from Sri Krishna: I have not found my Krishna, O friend! How cheerless my home without Him!

Ah, if Krishna could only be the hair upon my head, Carefully I should braid it then, and deck it with bakul-flowers; Carefully I should fashion the braids out of my Krishna-hair.

Krishna is black, and black is my hair; black would be one with black.

Ah, if Krishna could only be the ring I wear in my nose, Always from my nose He would hang, and my two lips could touch Him.

But it can never be, alas! Why should I idly dream?

Why should Krishna care at all to be the ring in my nose?

Ah, if Krishna could only be the bracelets on my arms, Always He would cling to my wrists, and proudly I should walk, Shaking my bracelets to make them sound, shaking my arms to show them;

Down the king's highway I should walk, wearing my Krishna bracelets.

The music was over. The Master began to talk with the devotees.

MASTER (smiling): "Hazra danced."

NARENDRA: "Yes, a little."

MASTER: "A little?"

NARENDRA: "Yes. His belly danced too." (All laugh.) Pundit Shashadhar's host had been thinking of inviting the Master for dinner.

MASTER: "I have heard that his host is not an honest man. He is immoral."

NARENDRA: "That is why you didn't drink the water he touched. It happened the first day you met Shashadhar at his house. How did you come to know he was immoral?"

MASTER (smiling): "Hazra knows of another instance. It happened at Sihore in Hriday's house."

HAZRA: "The man was a Vaishnava. He came with me to see you [meaning Sri Ramakrishna]. As soon as he sat in front of you, you turned your back on him."

MASTER: "We learnt later that he led an immoral life. (To Narendra) You used to say, at first, that these were all hallucinations."

NARENDRA: "How was I to know? Now I see that you are always right."

Adhar had prepared a feast for the Master and the devotees, and now he invited them to the meal. The Master said to the Mukherji brothers: "What? Won't you eat?" They said humbly, "Please excuse us."

MASTER: "But why? You are doing everything else. Why this hesitation only about eating the meal?"

Adhar was a low-caste Hindu. Therefore some of the Master's brahmin devotees hesitated to eat at his house. They came to their senses at last when they saw Sri Ramakrishna himself eating.

It was about nine o'clock. The Master was resting in the drawing-room with the devotees. He would soon leave for Dakshineswar.

The Mukherji brothers had arranged with a singer of Kirtan to entertain the Master the following day. Ram was taking singing lessons from this musician. Sri Ramakrishna asked Narendra to come to Dakshineswar to hear the Kirtan.

MASTER (to Narendra): "Come tomorrow, won't you?"

NARENDRA: "I shall try, sir."

MASTER: "You can bathe there and also take your meal. (Pointing to M.) He may dine there too. (To M.) Are you quite well now? I hope you are not on a diet."

M: "No, sir. I shall come."

Nityagopal was living at Vrindvan. Chunilal had returned from Vrindvan only a few days before, and the Master inquired about Nityagopal.

As Sri Ramakrishna was about to leave, M. saluted him, touching the Master's feet with his forehead. The Master said to him tenderly: "Then I shall see you tomorrow.

Narendra! Bhavanath! Please come tomorrow." Then with several devotees he set out for Dakshineswar.

The other devotees returned home in the moonlit night, cherishing in their hearts the Master's ecstatic music and dancing.

--------------------

Chapter 27


AT DAKSHINESWAR


Sunday, September 7, 1884

IT WAS ABOUT ELEVEN O'CLOCK. The Master was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar.

He had not yet taken his midday meal.

Arrangements had been made with the musician Shyamdas to entertain the Master and the devotees with his kirtan. Baburam, M., Manomohan, Bhavanath, Kishori, Chunilal, Haripada, the Mukherji brothers, Ram, Surendra, Trak, Niranjan, and others arrived at the temple garden. Ltu, Harish, and Hazra were staying with the Master.

When M. saluted Sri Ramakrishna, the Master asked: "Where is Narendra? Isn't he coming?" M. told him that Narendra could not come.

A brahmin devotee was reading to the Master from a book of devotional songs by Ramprasad. Sri Ramakrishna asked him to continue. The brahmin read a song, the first line of which was: "O Mother, put on Thy clothes."

MASTER: "Stop, please! These ideas are outlandish and bizarre. Read something that will awaken bhakti."

The brahmin read:

Who is there that can understand what Mother Kli is?

Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her. . . .

MASTER (to M.): "I got a pain because I lay too long on one side while in samdhi yesterday at Adhar's house; so now I'll take Baburam with me when I visit the houses of the devotees. He is a sympathetic soul"

With these words the Master sang:

How shall I open my heart,O friend?

It is forbidden me to speak.

I am about to die, for lack of a kindred soul

To understand my misery.

Simply by looking in his eyes,

I find the beloved of my heart;

But rare is such a soul, who swims in ecstatic bliss On the high tide of heavenly love.

MASTER: "The Bauls sing songs like that. They also sing another kind of song: Stay your steps, O wandering monk!

Stand there with begging-bowl in hand,

And let me behold your radiant face.


Signs of a perfect soul

"According to the akti cult the siddha is called a koul, and according to the Vednta, a paramahamsa. The Bauls call him a sai. They say, 'No one is greater than a sai.' The sai is a man of supreme perfection. He doesn't see any differentiation in the world. He wears a necklace, one half made of cow bones and the other of the sacred tulsi-plant. He calls the Ultimate Truth 'lekh', the 'Incomprehensible One'. The Vedas call It 'Brahman'.

About the jivas the Bauls say, 'They come from lekh and they go unto lekh.'

That is to say, the individual soul has come from the Unmanifest and goes back to the Unmanifest. The Bauls will ask you, 'Do you know about the wind?' The 'wind' means the great currrent that one feels in the subtle nerves, Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna, when the Kundalini is awakened. They will ask you further, 'In which station are you dwelling?'

According to them there are six 'stations', corresponding to the six psychic centres of Yoga. If they say that a man dwells in the 'fifth station', it means that his mind has climbed to the fifth centre, known as the Viuddha chakra. (To M.) At that time he sees the Formless."

Saying this the Master sang:

Within the petals of this flower there lies concealed a subtle space,

Transcending which, one sees at length the universe in Space dissolve.

Description of the Bauls

"Once a Baul came here. I asked him, 'Have you finished the task of "refining the syrup"? Have you taken the pot off the stove?' The more you boil the juice of sugar-cane, the more it is refined. In the first stage of boiling it is simply the juice of the sugar-cane. Next it is molasses, then sugar, then sugar candy, and so on. As it goes on boiling, the substances you get are more and more refined.

"When does a man take the pot off the stove? That is, when does a man come to the end of his sadhana? He comes to the end when he has acquired complete mastery over his sense-organs. His sense-organs become loosened and powerless, as the leech is loosened from the body when you put lime on its mouth. In that state a man may live with a woman, but he does not feel any lust for her.

"Many of the Bauls follow a 'dirty' method of spiritual discipline. It is like entering a house through the back door by which the scavengers come.

"One day I was taking my meal when a Bul devotee arrived. He asked me, 'Are you yourself eating, or are you feeding someone else?' The meaning of his words was that the siddha sees God dwelling within a man. The siddhas among the Bauls will not talk to persons of another sect; they call them 'strangers'.

"The Bauls designate the state of perfection as the 'sahaja', the 'natural' state. There are two signs of this state. First, a perfect man will not 'smell of Krishna'. Second, he is like the bee that lights on the lotus but does not sip the honey. The first means, that he keeps all his spiritual feelings within himself. He doesn't show outwardly any sign of spirituality. He doesn't even utter the name of Hari. The second means that he is not attached to woman. He has completely mastered his senses.

"The Bauls do not like the worship of an image. They want a living man. That is why one of their sects is called the Kartabhaja. They worship the karta, that is to say, the guru, as God.


Different paths leading to God

"You see how many opinions there are about God. Each opinion is a path. There are innumerable opinions and innumerable paths leading to God."

BHAVANATH: "Then what should we do?"

Devotion to one's own path and respect for others'

MASTER: "You must stick to one path with all your strength. A man can reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or a rope-ladder or a rope or even by a bamboo pole.

But he cannot reach the roof if he sets foot now on one and now on another. He should firmly follow one path. Likewise, in order to realize God a man must follow one path with all his strength.

"But you must regard other views as so many paths leading to God. You should not feel that your path is the only right path and that other paths are wrong. You mustn't bear malice toward others.

"Well, to what path do I belong? Keshab Sen used to say to me: 'You belong to our path.

You are gradually accepting the ideal of the formless God.' Shashadhar says that I belong to his path. Vijay, too, says that I belong to hisVijay's path."


The tides in the Ganges

Sri Ramakrishna walked toward the Panchavati with M. and a few other devotees. It was midday and time for the flood-tide in the Ganges.

They waited in the Panchavati to see the bore of the tide.

MASTER (to the devotees): "The ebb-tide and flood-tide are indeed amazing. But notice one thing. Near the sea you see ebb-tide and flood-tide in a river, but far away from the sea the river flows in one direction only. What does this mean? Try to apply its significance to your spiritual life. Those who live very near God feel within them the currents of bhakti, bhava, and the like. In the case of a fewthe Isvarakotis, for instanceone sees even mahabhava and prema.

(To M.) "What is the explanation of the ebb-tide and flood-tide?"

M: "According to Western astronomy, they are due to the attraction of the sun and the moon."

In order to explain it, M. drew figures on the earth and began to show the Master the movement of the earth, the sun, and the moon.

The Master looked at the figures for a minute and said: "Stop, please! It gives me a headache."

Presently the tide came up the Ganges. They heard the sound of the rushing water. The tide struck the bank of the river and flowed toward the north. Sri Ramakrishna looked at it intently and exclaimed like a child: "Look at that boat! I wonder what is going to happen to it."

The Master and M. sat down for a while in the Panchavati, Sri Ramakrishna placing his umbrella on the cement platform. The conversation turned to Narayan. The boy was a student. Sri Ramakrishna looked upon him as Narayana, God Himself, and was very fond of him.

MASTER: "Have you noticed Naran's nature? He can mix with all, old and young. One cannot do this without a special power.

Besides, all love him. Is he really artless?"

M: "I think so."

MASTER: "I understand that he goes to your place. Is that so?"

M: "Yes, sir. He has visited me once or twice."

MASTER: "Will you give him a rupee? Or shall I ask Kli about it?"

M: "Very well, sir. I shall give him the money."

MASTER: "That's fine. It is good to help those who yearn for God. Thus one makes good use of one's money. What will you gain by spending everything on your family?"

Kishori had several children. His salary was too small to support his family. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Naran said he would get a job for Kishori. Please remind him of it."

The Master walked away in the direction of the pine-grove. Returning to the Panchavati, he said to M.: "Please ask someone to spread a mat outside my room. I shall lie down a few minutes. I am coming presently."

When the Master returned to his room, he could not find his umbrella and exclaimed: "You have all forgotten the umbrella! The busybody doesn't see a thing even when it is very near him. A man went to a friend's house to light the charcoal for his smoke, though all the time he had a lighted lantern in his hand. Another man looked everywhere for his towel. Finally he discovered that it had been on his shoulder all the time."

It was about one o'clock in the afternoon. The Master ate the prasad from the Kli temple. Then he wanted to rest awhile, but the devotees were still sitting in his room.

They were asked to go out, and then the Master lay down. He said to Baburam, "Come here; sit near me." Baburam answered, "I am preparing betel-leaf." The Master said,"Put your betel-leaf aside"

The devotees sat under the bakul-tree in the Panchavati. Trak, who had just returned from Vrindvan, told them stories of his visit.

A little later Sri Ramakrishna was seated again on his couch, the devotees sitting on the floor. Shyamdas was singing with his party.

He sang of the gopis' grief at their separation from Sri Krishna: Dry as a desert seemed the happy lake to them: The chatak died of thirst, gazing toward the clouds.

The Master became somewhat abstracted, but the musician could not create a spiritual atmosphere. Sri Ramakrishna asked Nabai of Konnagar to sing a kirtan. Nabai was Manomohan's uncle. He lived on the bank of the Ganges, devoting his time to prayer and meditation, and was a frequent visitor of Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar.


Master in ecstasy

Nabai began the kirtan in a loud voice. The Master left the couch and began to dance.

Immediately Nabai and other devotees began to dance around him. The atmosphere became intense with spiritual fervour.

After the kirtan, Sri Ramakrishna resumed his seat. With great feeling he began to sing of the Divine Mother, his eyes turned upward:

O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,

Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss!

My mind knows nothing but Thy Lotus Feet.

The King of Death scowls at me terribly;

Tell me, Mother, what shall I say to him? . . .


He sang again:

As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love; As is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain; And faith is the root of all. . . .

He continued:

This world, O Mother, is Thy madhouse!

What can I say of all Thy virtues?

Setting aside Thine elephant, Thou roamest about on foot; Putting off Thy gems and pearls, O Self-willed Mother, Thou dost adorn Thy comely neck with a garland of human heads.

Now Thou must rescue Ramprasad out of the forest of this world.

Again he sang:

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,

So long as I can breathe my last with Kli's name upon my lips? . ..

And again:

Dwell, O mind, within yourself; Enter no other's home.

If you but seek there, you will find All you are searching for. . .

.

And then:

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight To the blue lotus flower of Mother Syama's feet. . . .

And then:

Cherish my precious Mother Syama

Tenderly within, O mind;

May you and I alone behold Her,

Letting no one else intrude. . . .

As the Master sang this last song he stood up. He was almost intoxicated with divine love. Again and again he said to the devotees,

" Cherish my precious Mother Syama tenderly within."

Then he danced and sang:

Is Kli, my Mother, really black?

The Naked One, of blackest hue,

Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .

The Master reeled as he sang. Niranjan came forward to hold him. The Master said to him softly, "Don't touch me, you rascal!"

Seeing the Master dance, the devotees stood up. He caught hold of M.'s hand and said: "Don't be foolish! Dance!"

Sri Ramakrishna resumed his seat, still charged with divine ecstasy. Coming down a little to the normal state, he said: "Om! Om! Om!

Om! Om! Om Kli!" Again he said, "Let me have a smoke." Many of the devotees stood around. Mahimacharan was fanning him. The Master asked him to sit down and recite from the scriptures. Mahimacharan recited from the Mahanirvana Tantra: Om; I bow to Thee, the Everlasting Cause of the world; I bow to Thee, Pure Consciousness, the Soul that sustains the whole universe.

I bow to Thee, who art One without duality, who dost bestow liberation; I bow to Thee, Brahman, the all-pervading Attributeless Reality.

Thou alone art the Refuge, the only Object of adoration; Thou art the only Cause of the universe, the Soul of everything that is; Thou alone art the world's Creator, Thou its Preserver and Destroyer; Thou art the immutable Supreme Lord, the Absolute; Thou art unchanging Consciousness.

Dread of the dreadful! Terror of the terrible!

Refuge of all beings! Purity of purifiers!

Thou alone dost rule over those in the high places, Supreme over the supreme, the Protector of protectors.

Almighty Lord, who art made manifest as the Form of all, yet art Thyself unmanifest and indestructible;

Thou who art imperceptible to the senses, yet art the very Truth; Incomprehensible, imperishable, all-pervading, hidden, and without form; O Lord! O Light of the Universe! Protect us from harm.

On that One alone we meditate; that One is the sole object of our worship; To That alone, the non-dual Witness of the Universe, we bow.

In that One who alone exists and who is our sole eternal Support, we seek, refuge, The self-dependent Lord, the Vessel of Safety in the ocean of existence.

Sri Ramakrishna listened to the hymn with folded hands. After it was sung he saluted Brahman; the devotees did likewise.

Adhar arrived from Calcutta and bowed down before the Master.

MASTER (to M.): "We have had such joy today! How much joy Hari's name creates! Is it not so?"

M: "Yes, sir."

Mahimacharan was a student of philosophy. That day he too had chanted the name of Hari and danced during the kirtan. This made the Master very happy.

It was about dusk. Many of the devotees took their leave. A lamp was lighted in Sri Ramakrishna's room and incense was burnt.

After some time the moon came out, flooding the sky with its light.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on his couch. He was in a spiritual mood, absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother. Now and then he chanted Her hallowed name. Adhar was sitting on the floor. M. and Niranjan, too, were there. Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Adhar.

MASTER: "What! You have come just now! We have had so much kirtan and dancing.

Shyamdas began the kirtan. He is Ram's music teacher. But I didn't enjoy his singing very much; I didn't feel like dancing. Later I heard about his character. I was told that he had as many mistresses as there are hairs on a man's head.

"Didn't you get the job?"

Adhar held the post of deputy magistrate, a government post that carried with it great prestige. He earned three hundred rupees a month. He had applied for the office of vice-chairman of the Calcutta Municipality. The salary attached to this office was one thousand rupees. In order to secure it, Adhar had interviewed many influential people in Calcutta.

MASTER (to M. and Niranjan): "Hazra said to me, 'Please pray to the Divine Mother for Adhar, that he may secure the job.' Adhar made the same request to me. I said to the Mother: 'O Mother, Adhar has been visiting You. May he get the job if it pleases You.' But at the same time I said to Her: 'How small-minded he is! He is praying to You for things like that and not for Knowledge and Devotion.'

(To Adhar) "Why did you dance attendance on all those small-minded people? You have seen so much; you have heard so much!

After reading the entire Ramayana, to ask whose wife Sita is!' "

ADHAR: "A man cannot but do these things if he wants to lead a householder's life. You haven't forbidden us to, have you?"


Advice to Adhar about renunciation

MASTER: "Nivritti alone is good, and not pravritti. Once, when I was in a God-intoxicated state, I was asked to go to the manager of the Kli temple to sign the receipt for my salary. They all do it here. But I said to the manager: 'I cannot do that. I am not asking for any salary. You may give it to someone else if you want.' I am the servant of God alone. Whom else shall I serve? Mallick noticed the late hours of my meals and arranged for a cook. He gave me one rupee for a month's expenses. That embarrassed me. I had to run to him whenever he sent for me. It would have been quite a different thing if I had gone to him of my own accord.

"In leading the worldly life one has to humour mean-minded people and do many such things. After the attainment of my exalted state, I noticed how things were around me and said to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother! Please change the direction of my mind right now, so that I may not have to flatter rich people.'

(To Adhar) "Be satisfied with the job you have. People hanker after a post paying fifty or a hundred rupees, and you are earning three hundred rupees! You are a deputy magistrate. I saw a deputy magistrate at Kamarpukur. His name was Ishwar Ghosha! He had a turban on his head. Men's very bones trembled before him. I remember having seen him during my boyhood. Is a deputy magistrate a person to be trifled with?

"Serve him whom you are already serving. The mind becomes soiled by serving but one master. And to serve five masters!

"Once a woman became attached to a Mussalman and invited him to her room. But he was a righteous person; he said to her that he wanted to use the toilet and must go home to get his water-jar for water. The woman offered him her own, but he said: 'No, that will not do. I shall use the jar to which I have already exposed myself. I cannot expose myself before a new one.' With these words he went away. That brought the woman to her senses. She understood that a new water-jar, in her case, signified a paramour."

Narendra was in straitened circumstances on account of his father's unexpected death.

He had been seeking a job to maintain his mother, brothers, and sisters. He had served a few days as headmaster of the Vidyasagar School at Bowbazar.

ADHAR: "May I ask if Narendra would accept a job?"

MASTER: "Yes, he would. He has his mother, brothers, and sisters to support."

ADHAR: "Well, Narendra can support his family with fifty or with a hundred rupees. Will he try for a hundred?"

MASTER: "Worldly people think highly of their wealth. They feel that there is nothing like it. Sambhu said, 'It is my desire to leave all my property at the Lotus Feet of God.' But does God care for money? He wants from His devotees knowledge, devotion, discrimination, and renunciation.

"After the theft of the jewelry from the temple of Radhakanta, Mathur Babu said: 'O God, You could not protect Your own jewelry! What a shame!' Once he wanted to give me an estate and consulted Hriday about it. I overheard the whole thing from the Kli temple and said to him: 'Please don't harbour any such thought. It will injure me greatly.' "

ADHAR: "I can tell you truthfully, sir, that not more than six or seven persons like you have been born since the creation of the world."

MASTER: "How so? There certainly are people who have given up everything for God. As soon as a man gives up his wealth, people come to know about him. But it is also true that there are others unknown to people. Are there not such holy men in upper India?"

ADHAR: "I know of at least one such person in Calcutta. He is Devendranath Tagore."

MASTER: "What did you say? Who has enjoyed the world as much as he? Once I visited him at his house with Mathur Babu. I saw that he had many young children. The family physician was there writing out prescriptions.

If, after having eight children, a man doesn't think of God, then who will? If, after, enjoying so much wealth, Devendranath hadn't thought of God, then people would have cried shame upon him."

NIRANJAN: "But he paid off all his father's debts."

MASTER: "Keep quiet! Don't torment me any more. Do you call anyone a man who doesn't payoff his father's debts if he is able to?

But I admit that Devendranath is infinitely greater than other worldly men, who are sunk in their worldliness. They can learn much from him.


Signs of a real devotee

There is an ocean of difference between a real all-renouncing devotee of God and a householder devotee. A real sannysi, a real devotee who has renounced the world, is like a bee. The bee will not light on anything but a flower. It will not drink anything but honey.

But a devotee leading the worldly life is like a fly. The fly sits on a festering sore as well as on a sweetmeat. One moment he enjoys a spiritual mood, and the next moment he is beside himself with the pleasure of 'woman and gold'.

"A devotee who has really and truly renounced all for God is like the chatak bird. It will drink only the rain-water that falls when the star Svati is in the ascendant. It will rather die of thirst than touch any other water, though all around there may lie seven oceans and rivers full to the brim with water. An all-renouncing devotee will not touch 'woman and gold'. He will not keep 'woman and gold' near him lest he should feel attached."

ADHAR: "But Chaitanya, too, enjoyed the world."

MASTER (amazed): "What? What did he enjoy in the world?"

ADHAR: "Scholarship! Honour!"

MASTER: "It was honour in the sight of others, but nothing to him. Whether youa deputy magistrateor this youngster Niranjan honours me, it is all the same to me. And I tell you this truthfully: the idea of controlling a wealthy man never enters my mind.

Surendra once said, rather condescendingly, that Rkhl's father could sue me for letting Rkhl stay with me. When I heard this from Manomohan, I said: 'Who is this Surendra?

How does he dare make a remark like that? He keeps a carpet and pillow here and gives me some money. Is that his excuse for daring to make such an impudent remark?' "

ADHAR: "I understand that he gives ten rupees a month. Isn't that so?"

MASTER: "That covers two months expenses. The devotees stay here and he gives the money for their service. It is he who earns the merit. What is that to me? Is it for my personal gain that I love Narendra, Rkhl, and the others?"

M: "Your love for them is like a mother's for her children."


Master's genuine love for his disciples

MASTER: "But even behind the mother's love lies her hope that the children will support her later on. But I love these youngsters because I see in them Narayana Himself. These are not mere words.


God takes charge of His devotees

(To Adhar) "Listen. There is no scarcity of moths when the lamp is lighted. When God is realized, He Himself provides everything for His devotees. He sees that they do not lack anything. When God is enshrined in the heart, many people come forward to offer their services.

"Once a young sannyasi went to a householder to beg his food. He had lived as a monk from his very birth; he knew nothing of worldly matters. A young daughter of the householder came out to give him alms; He turned to her mother and said, 'Mother, has this girl abscesses on her chest?' The mother said: 'No, my child. God has given her breasts to nurse her child when she becomes a mother.' Thereupon the sannyasi said: 'Then why should I worry about myself? Why should I beg my food? He who has created me will certainly feed me.'

"Listen. If a woman renounces everything for her paramour, she can say to him, if need be, 'You wretch! I shall sit on your chest and devour you.'

"Nangta told me of a certain king who gave a feast to the sdhus, using plates and tumblers of gold. I noticed in the monasteries at Benares with what great respect the abbots were treated. Many wealthy up-country people stood before them with folded hands, ready to obey their commands. But a true sdhu, a man who has really renounced everything, seeks neither a gold plate nor honour.

God sees that he lacks nothing. God gives the devotee everything that is needed for realizing Him.

(To Adhar) "You are an executive officer. What shall I say to you? Do whatever you think best. I am an illiterate person."

ADHAR (smiling, to the devotees): "Now he is examining me."

MASTER (smiling) : "Dispassion alone is good. Don't you see, I didn't sign the receipt for my salary? God alone is real and all else is illusory."

Hazra entered the room and sat with the devotees on the floor. Hazra repeated now and then, "Soham! Soham!" "I am He! I am He!"

To Ltu and other devotees he often said: "What does one gain by worshipping God with offerings? That is merely giving Him things that are His already." He had said this once to Narendra.

The Master spoke to him.

MASTER: "I explained to Ltu who the object of the devotee's worship is."

HAZRA: "The devotee really prays to his own Self."

MASTER: "What you say is a very lofty thought. The aim of spiritual discipline, of chanting God's name and glories, is to realize just that. A man attains everything when he discovers his true Self in himself. The object of sdhan is to realize that. That also is the purpose of assuming a human body. One needs the clay mould as long as the gold image has not been cast; but when the image is made, the mould is thrown away. The body may be given up after the realization of God.

"God is not only inside us; He is both inside and outside. The Divine Mother showed me in the Kli temple that everything is Chinmaya, the Embodiment of Spirit; that it is She who has become all thisthe image, myself, the utensils of worship, the door-sill, the marble floor. Everything is indeed Chinmaya.

"The aim of prayer, of spiritual discipline, of chanting the name and glories of God, is to realize just that. For that alone a devotee loves God. These youngsters are on a lower level; they haven't yet reached a high spiritual state. They are following the path of bhakti. Please don't tell them such things as 'I am He'."

Like the mother bird brooding over her chicks, Sri Ramakrishna was alert to protect his devotees.

Adhar and Niranjan went out on the porch to take refreshments. Presently they returned to the room.

ADHAR (smiling): "We talked about so many things. (Pointing to M.) But he didn't utter a word."

MASTER: "In Keshab's organization there was a young man with four university degrees.

He laughed when he saw people arguing with me. He said: 'To argue with him! How silly!' I saw him again, later on, at one of Keshab's meetings. But then he did not have the same bright complexion."

Sri Ramakrishna sat on the floor for his supper. It was a light meal of a little farina pudding and one or two luchis that had been offered in the Kli temple. M. and Ltu were in the room. The devotees had brought various sweets for the Master. He touched a sandesh and asked Ltu, "Who is the rascal that brought this?" He took it out of the cup and left it on the ground. He said to Ltu and M.: "I know all about him. He is immoral"

LTU: "Shall I give you this sweet?"

MASTER: "Kishori brought it."

LTU: "Will it suit you?"

MASTER (smiling): "Yes."

M. had received an English education. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "It is not possible for me to eat things offered by anyone and everyone. Do you believe this?"

M: "Gradually I shall have to believe all these things."

MASTER: "Yes, that is so."

After finishing the meal Sri Ramakrishna washed his mouth. He said to M., "Then will you give the rupee to Naran?" "Yes," said M., "certainly I will."

The moon rose in the clear autumn sky and was reflected in the river. It was ebb-tide in the Ganges and the river flowed south toward the sea.


Sunday, September 14, 1884

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room with Narendra, Bhavanath, the Mukherji brothers, and other devotees. Rkhl was staying with Balarm at Vrindvan and was laid up with an attack of fever. Narendra was preparing himself for his coming law examination.

About eleven o'clock Jnan Babu arrived. He was a government official and had received four university degrees.

MASTER (at the sight of Jnan Babu): "Well! Well! This sudden awakening of 'knowledge'!"

JNAN (smiling): "You must admit, sir, that one sees the awakening of knowledge as a result of very good fortune."

MASTER (smiling): "You are Jnan. Then why should you have ajnan, ignorance? Oh, I understand. Where there is knowledge there is also ignorance. The sage Vasishtha was endowed with great knowledge and still he wept at the death of his sons. Therefore I ask you to go beyond both knowledge and ignorance. The thorn of ignorance has pierced the sole of a man's foot. He needs the thorn of knowledge to take it out. Afterwards he throws away both thorns. The Jnni says, 'This world is a "framework of illusion".' But he who is beyond both knowledge and ignorance describes it as a 'mansion of mirth'. He sees that it is God Himself who has become the universe, all living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.


Living in the world after realization of God

"A man can live in the world after attaining God. Then he can lead the life of detachment. In the country I have seen the women of the carpenter families making flattened rice with a husking-machine. With one hand one of them turns the paddy in the hole and with the other she holds a nursing child. At the same time she talks with the buyer. She says to him: 'You owe me two nns. Pay it before you go.' But seventy-five per cent of the woman's mind is on her hand lest it should be crushed by the pestle of the husking machine.

"A man should do his worldly duties with only twenty-five percent of his mind, devoting the rest to God."

Referring to Pundit Shashadhar, the Master said to the devotees, "I found him monotonousengaged in the dry discussion of philosophy.

"He alone who, after reaching the Nitya, the Absolute, can dwell in the Lila, the Relative, and again climb from the Lila to the Nitya, has ripe knowledge and devotion. Sages like Nrada cherished love of God after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman. This is called vijnna.

"Mere dry knowledge is like an ordinary rocket: it bursts into a few sparks and then dies out. But the Knowledge of sages like Nrada and Sukadeva is like a good rocket: for a while it showers balls of different colours, and then it stops; again it throws out new balls, and again it stops; and thus it goes on. Those sages had prema for God. Prema is the rope by which one can reach Satchidananda."

The Master finished his midday meal and rested a few minutes. Bhavanath, M., the Mukherji brothers, Hazra, and several other devotees sat down under the bakul-tree and began to converse. The Master stopped there awhile on his way to the pine-grove.

HAZRA (to the younger Gopal): "Please prepare a smoke for him [meaning the Master]."

MASTER (smiling): "Why don't you admit that you want it?" (All laugh.) MUKHERJI (to Hazra): "You must have learnt much wisdom from him [meaning the Master]."

MASTER (smiling): "No, he has been wise like this from his boyhood." (All laugh.) Presently Sri Ramakrishna returned from the pine-grove. The devotees noticed that he was in an ecstatic mood and was reeling like a drunkard. After reaching his room he regained the normal state.

Many devotees gathered in the room. Among them was a newcomer, a sadhaka from Konnagar, who looked over fifty years of age and seemed to have great vanity of scholarship.

The Master stood in the middle of the room and suddenly said to M., "He came hereNaran."

Narendra was engaged in a discussion with Hazra and a few others on the verandah.

They could be heard from the room.

MASTER (referring to Narendra): "The chatterbox! But he is now much worried about his family."

M.: "Yes, sir, it is true."

MASTER: "Once he said that he would look upon adversity as his good fortune. Isn't that so?"

M: "He has great strength of mind."

A DEVOTEE: "Does he lack strength in anything?"

Pointing to the sadhaka from Konnagar, a devotee said to the Master: "Sir, he has come to visit you. He has some questions to ask."

The sadhaka was seated erect, his chin up.

SADHAKA: "Sir, what is the way?"

MASTER: "Faith in the guru's words. One attains God by following the guru's instructions step by step. It is like reaching an object by following the trail of a thread."

SADHAKA: "Is it possible to see God?"

MASTER: "He is unknowable by the mind engrossed in worldliness. One cannot attain God if one has even a trace of attachment to 'woman and gold'. But He is knowable by the pure mind and the pure intelligencethe mind and intelligence that have not the slightest trace of attachment. Pure Mind, Pure Intelligence, Pure tman are one and the same thing."

SADHAKA: "But the scriptures say, 'From Him words and mind return baffled.' He is unknowable by mind and words."

MASTER: "Oh, stop! One cannot understand the meaning of the scriptures without practising spiritual discipline. What will you gain by merely uttering the word 'siddhi'?

The pundits glibly quote the scriptures; but what will that accomplish? A man does not become intoxicated even by rubbing siddhi on his body; he must swallow it. What is the use of merely repeating, 'There is butter in the milk'?

Turn the milk into curd and churn it. Only then will you get butter."

SADHAKA: "You talk about churning butter. But you too are quoting the scriptures."

MASTER: "What will one gain by merely quoting or hearing the scriptures? One must assimilate them. The almanac makes a forecast of the rainfall for the year, but you won't get a drop by squeezing its pages."

SADHAKA: "You talk about churning butter. Have you done it yourself?"

MASTER: "You don't have to bother about what I have or haven't done. Besides, it is very difficult to explain these things to others.

Suppose someone asks you, 'What does ghee taste like?' Your answer will be, 'Ghee tastes like ghee.'

"To understand these things one needs to live with holy men, just as to understand the pulse of bile, of phlegm, and so on, one needs to live with a physician."

SADHAKA: "There are some people who are irritated by others' company."

MASTER: "That happens only after the attainment of Knowledge, after the realization of God. Shouldn't a beginner live in the company of holy men?"

The sadhaka sat in silence a few moments. Then he said with some irritation: "Please tell me whether you have realized God either directly or intuitively. You may answer me if you are able, or you may keep silent if you wish." The Master said with a smile: "What shall I say? One can only give a hint."

SADHAKA: "Then tell us that much."

Narendra was going to sing. He said, "No one has brought a pakhoaj."

THE YOUNGER GOPAL: "Mahimacharan has one."

MASTER (interrupting): "No, we don't want anything of his here."

A devotee from Konnagar sang a song. Every now and then Sri Ramakrishna glanced at the sadhaka. The singer and Narendra became engaged in a furious discussion about musical technique. The sadhaka said to the singer, "What is the use of such discussions?" Referring to another man who had joined in the discussion, Sri Ramakrishna said to the sadhaka, "Why didn't you scold him, too?" It could be seen that the sadhaka was not on friendly terms with his companions from Konnagar.

Narendra sang:

O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?

Down the path of hope I gaze with longing, day and night. . . .


The sadhaka closed his eyes in meditation as he listened to the song. It was four o'clock in the afternoon. The rays of the setting sun fell on his body. Sri Ramakrishna quickly opened an umbrella and placed it near the door so that the sun might not disturb the sadhaka.

Narendra sang again:

How shall I call on Thee, O Lord, with such a stained and worldly mind?

Can a straw remain unharmed, cast in a pit of Raming coals?

Thou, all goodness, art the fire, and I, all sin, am but a straw: How shall I ever worship Thee?

The glory of Thy name, they say, redeems those even past redeeming;

Yet, when I chant Thy sacred name, alas! my poor heart quakes with fright.

I spend my life a slave to sin; how can I find a refuge, then, O Lord, within Thy holy way?

In Thine abounding kindliness, rescue Thou this sinful wretch; Drag me off by the hair of my head and give me shelter at Thy feet.


Again he sang:

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!

As Narendra sang the line, "And he who chants Thy name becomes immortal", the Master went into samdhi. At first his fingers, especially the thumbs, began to tremble.

The devotees from Kannagar had never seen the Master in samdhi. Seeing him silent, they were about to leave the room. Bhavanath said to them: "Why are you going away?

This is his samdhi." The devotees resumed their places.

Narendra sang:

I have laboured day and night

To make Thy seat within my heart;

Wilt Thou not be kind to me,

O Lord of the World, and enter there?

Sri Ramakrishna, still in the ecstatic mood, came dawn from his couch to the floor and sat by Narendra. The beloved disciple sang again: In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's flood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.

O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! . . .

As Narendra sang the last line, Sri Ramakrishna stood up, still absorbed in samdhi.


Futility of mere study of scriptures

After a long time the Master regained partial consciousness of the world and sat down on the mat. Narendra finished his singing, and the Tnpura was put back in its place. The Master was still in a spiritual mood and said: "Mother, tell me what this is. They want someone to extract the butter for them and hold it to their mouths. They won't throw the spiced bait into the lake. They won't even hold the fishing-rod. Someone must catch the fish and put it into their hands! How troublesome! Mother, I won't listen to any more argument.

The rogues force it on me. What a bother! I shall shake it off. God is beyond the Vedas and their injunctions. Can one realize Him by studying the scriptures, the Vedas, and the Vednta? (To Narendra) Do you understand this? The Vedas give only a hint"

Narendra wanted the Tnpura again. The Master said, "I want to sing." He was still in an ecstatic mood and sang:


Mother, this is the grief that sorely grieves my heart, That even with Thee for Mother, and though I am wide awake, There should be robbery in my house. . .

The Master said, "Mother, why do You make me argue?" He sang again: Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood; From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava...

The Master said, "I am quite conscious." But he was still groggy with divine fervour. He sang once more:

I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss, As I repeat my Mother Kli's name;

It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk!...


Futility of reasoning

Sri Ramakrishna had said, "Mother, I won't listen to any more argument."

Narendra sang:

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!

What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .

Sri Ramakrishna said with a smile: "O Mother, make me mad! God cannot be realized through knowledge and reasoning, through the arguments in the scriptures." He had been pleased with the singing of the musician from Konnagar and said to him humbly: "Please sing about the Divine Mother. Please - one song."

MUSICIAN: "You must excuse me, sir."

MASTER (bowing with folded hands): "No, sir. I can enforce this demand."

Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna sang a few lines from a kirtan, assuming the attitude of a gopi:

Radha has every right to say it;

She has kept awake for Krishna.

She has stayed awake all night,

And she has every right to be piqued.

Then he said to the musician: "My dear sir, you are a child of the Divine Mother. She dwells in all beings. Therefore I have every right to enforce my demand. A farmer said to his guru, 'I shall get my mantra from you by beating you, if I have to.' "

MUSICIAN (smiling): "By a shoe-beating?"

MASTER (smiling): "No! I won't go that far."

Again in an abstracted mood Sri Ramakrishna said: "The beginner, the struggling, the perfect, and the supremely perfect. Which are youperfect or supremely perfect? Come along! Sing for us."

The musician complied. He sang just a melody.

MASTER: "My dear sir, that too makes me happy."

The musician then sang a song. When the music was over, the devotees from Konnagar saluted the Master and took their leave.

The sadhaka bowed before him with folded hands and said, "Holy man, let me say good-bye."

Sri Ramakrishna, still in an ecstatic mood, was talking to the Divine Mother.

MASTER: "Mother, is it You or I? Do I do anything? No. no! It is You.

Was it You who heard the arguments all this time, or was it I? No, not I. It was You.".

Sri Ramakrishna became conscious of the outer world and began to converse with Narendra, Bhavanath, and the other devotees.

They were talking about the sadhaka.

BHAVANATH (smiling): "What kind of man is he?"

MASTER: "He is a tamasic devotee."

BHAVANATH: "He can certainly recite Sanskrit verses."

MASTER: "Once I said to a man about a sdhu: 'He is a rajasic sdhu. Why should one give him food and other presents?' At this another sdhu taught me a lesson by saying to me: 'Don't say that. There are three classes of holy men: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.' Since that day I have respected holy men of all classes."

NARENDRA (smiling): "What? Is it like the 'elephant God'? All, indeed, are God."

MASTER (smiling): "It is God Himself who sports in the world as both vidy and avidy.

Therefore I salute both. It is written in the Chandi: 'The Divine Mother is the good fortune of the blessed and the ill fortune of the unlucky.' (To Bhavanath) Is that mentioned in the Vishnu Purana?"

BHAVANATH (smiling): "I don't know, sir. The devotees from Konnagar did not understand your samdhi and were about to leave the room."

MASTER: "Who was it that asked them to remain?"

BHAVANATH (smiling): "It was I."

MASTER: "My child, you are equally good in bringing people here and in driving them away."

The conversation turned to the argument that Narendra had had with the musician from Konnagar.

MUKHERJI: "Narendra didn't spare him."

MASTER: "That's right. One needs such grit. This is called the influence of tamas on sattva. Must a man listen to everything another man says? Should one say to a prostitute, 'All right, you may do whatever you like'? Must one listen to her? At one time Radha was piqued. A friend said, 'Her ego has been roused.' Brinde, another friend, said: 'Whose is this' ego? Her ego belongs to Krishna alone. She is proud in the pride of Krishna.' "


Glory of God's name

The conversation turned to the glory of God's name.

BHAVANATH: "I feel such relief while chanting the name of Hari."

MASTER: "He who relieves us of sin is Hari. He relieves us of our three afflictions in the world. Chaitanya preached the glory of Hari's name; so it must be good. You see, he was such a great scholar, and an Incarnation too. Since he preached that name, it must be good. (Smiling) Once some peasants were invited to a feast. They were asked if they would eat a preparation of hog plum. They answered: 'You may give it to us if the gentlemen have eaten it. If they enjoyed it, then it must be good.' (All laugh.) (To the Mukherji brothers) "I should like to visit Shivanath; I won't have to hire a carriage if you take me in yours."

MUKHERJI: "All right, sir, we shall set a day."

MASTER (to the devotees): "Do you think the Brahmos will like me? They criticize those who believe in God with form."

Mahendra Mukherji wanted to go on a pilgrimage. He told Sri Ramakrishna so.

MASTER (smiling): "How is that? Do you want to go when the sprout of divine love has hardly corne up? First comes the sprout, then the tree, then the fruit. We are so happy to have you here to talk to."

MAHENDRA: "I feel like visiting the holy places a little. I shall return soon."

It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna left his room. The devotees were walking in the garden. Many of them were about to leave.

The Master was conversing with Hazra on the north verandah. They were talking of Narendra's frequent visits to Annada, the eldest son of the Guhas.

HAZRA: "I hear that Annada is now practising austerity. He lives on very little food and eats rice once every four days."

MASTER: "Is that so? 'Who knows? One may realize God even by means of a religious garb.'"

HAZRA: "Narendra sang the gamani."

MASTER (eagerly): "How did he sing it?"

Kishori stood close by. The Master said to him, "Are you well?"

A little later the Master was standing on the west porch. Since it was autumn, he had put on a flannel shirt dyed with ochre. He asked Narendra, "Is it true that you sang the gamani?"

Accompanied by Narendra and M., Sri Ramakrishna walked to the embankment of the Ganges.

Narendra sang the gamani: Tell me, my Uma, how have you fared, alone in the Stranger's house?

People speak so much ill of us! Alas, I die of shame!

My Son-in-law smears His body with ashes from the funeral pyre

And roams about in great delight;

You too, along with Him, cover with ash your golden skin.

He begs the food that He eats! How can I bear it, being your mother?

This time, when He returns to claim you, I shall say to Him, "My daughter Um is not at home."

Sri Ramakrishna stood listening to the song and went into samdhi. The sun was still above the horizon as the Master stood on the embankment in the ecstatic mood. On one side of him was the Ganges, flowing north with the flood-tide. Behind him was the flower garden. To his right one could see the nahabat and the Panchavati. Narendra stood by his side and sang. Gradually the darkness of evening fell upon the earth.

After Narendra and several other devotees had saluted the Master and left for Calcutta, Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room. He was absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother and was chanting Her holy name.


Master at Jadu's garden

Jadu Mallick had arrived at his garden house next to the Kli temple. He sent for the Master. Adhar, too, had arrived from Calcutta, and he saluted Sri Ramakrishna. The Master asked Ltu to light the lantern and accompany him to Jadu's garden.

MASTER (to M.): "Why didn't you bring Naran with you?"

M: "Shall I come with you?"

MASTER: "Do you want to come? Adhar and the others are here. All right, you may come. Will the Mukherjis also come with us? (To the Mukherjis) Come along. Then we can leave Jadu-Mallick quickly."

The Master went to Jadu's drawing-room. It was a well furnished room, with everything spick and span. The lamps were lighted. Jadu was sitting with his friends and was playing with the children. Servants were in attendance. Smiling, Jadu welcomed Sri Ramakrishna, but he did not get up. He treated the Master as a friend of long acquaintance.

Jadu was a devotee of Gaurnga. He had just seen a performance of Gaurnga's life at the Star Theatre and told the Master about it. The Master listened to his account joyfully and played with the children. M. and the Mukherji brothers sat near him. In the course of the conversation Sri Ramakrishna told Jadu that Adhar had not been able to secure the post of vice-chairman of the Calcutta Municipality. Jadu said that Adhar was still young and could try for it again. At his request the Master sang a few songs about Gaurnga.

After the music was over, the Mukherjis were about to take their leave. The Master, too, was ready to go, but he was in an ecstatic mood. On coming to the porch he went into samdhi. The gate-keeper of the garden house was a pious man. Now and then he invited the Master to his house and fed him. Sri Ramakrishna stood there in samdhi and the gate-keeper fanned him with a large fan. Ratan, the manager of the garden house, saluted the Master, and Sri Ramakrishna, returning to the consciousness of the relative world, greeted the manager and the gate-keeper, saying, "Narayana". Then, accompanied by the devotees, he went back to the temple-garden through the main gate.

MASTER (to the Mukherjis, pointing to M.): "Please visit him often."

MUKHERJI (smiling): "Yes, henceforth he will be our teacher."

MASTER: "It is the nature of the hemp-smoker to make merry in the company of another hemp-smoker. He will not talk even to an amir, but he will embrace a wretched hemp-smoker if he happens to meet one." (All laugh.) It was about nine o'clock. The Mukherji brothers saluted the Master and went away.

Adhar and M. sat on the floor in the Master's room while he talked to Adhar about Rkhl .


His worry over Rkhl 's illness

Rkhl was staying in Vrindvan with Balarm. The Master had learnt from a letter about Rkhl 's illness. He was so worried about him that two or three days earlier he had wept before Hazra like a child. Adhar had sent a registered letter to Rkhl but had received no reply.

MASTER (to Adhar): "Naran has received a letter from Vrindvan. Why haven't you received a reply to yours?"

ADHAR: "I haven't yet heard from Vrindvan."

MASTER: "M. has also received a letter from Vrindvan."

They began to talk of Sri Ramakrishna's seeing a play, at the Star Theatre, about the life of Cauranga.

MASTER (smiling): "Jadu told me that one could see the play very well from a one-rupee seat. Very cheap! Once we were talking about going to Panihati. Jadu wanted me to go in a country boat with a whole crowd of passengers. (All laugh.) "Formerly he liked to hear a little about God. But I don't see Jadu much nowadays. He is always surrounded by flatterers. They have spoiled him. He is a man of a very calculating nature. I would no sooner set foot in his house than he would ask me,. 'How much is the carriage hire?' I would say: 'You don't have to bother about it. You may give two and a half rupees.' That would keep him quiet." (All laugh.) It was late. Adhar was about to depart. The Master asked M. to bring Naran with him.

--------------------

Chapter 28


AT THE STAR THEATRE


Friday, September 19, 1884

IT WAS MAHALAYA, a sacred day of the Hindus, and the day of the new moon. At two o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room with Mahendra Mukherji, Priya Mukherji, M., Baburam, Harish, Kishori, and Ltu. Some were sitting on the floor, some standing, and others moving about. Hazra was sitting on the porch. Rkhl was still at Vrindvan with Balarm.


Master praises Captain's devotion

MASTER (to the devotees): "I was at Captain's house in Calcutta. It was very late when I returned. What a sweet nature Captain has! What devotion! He performs the rati before the image. First he waves a lamp with three lights, then a lamp with one light, and last of all he waves burning camphor. When performing the worship he does not speak. Once he motioned to me to take my seat. During the worship his eyes become swollen from spiritual emotion. They look as if they have been stung by wasps. He cannot sing, but he chants hymns beautifully. In his mother's presence he sits on a lower level; she sits on a high stool.

"His father was a havildar in the English army. He would hold a gun with one hand and with the other worship iva. His servant made a clay image of iva for him. He wouldn't even touch water before performing the worship. He earned six thousand rupees a year.

"Captain sends his mother to Benares now and then. Twelve or thirteen servants attend her there; it is very expensive. Captain knows the Vednta, the Git, and the Bhagavata by heart. He says that the educated gentlemen of Calcutta follow the ways of the mlechchhas.

"In his earlier years he practised hathayoga. That is why he strokes my head gently when I am in samdhi. His wife worships the Deity in another form-that of Gopala. This time I didn't find her so miserly. She too knows the Git and other scriptures. What devotion they have!

"They cooked a goat curry. Captain said they could eat it for fifteen days, but she said, 'No, no! Only seven days.' But I liked the taste of it. They serve a very small quantity of each dish, but nowadays they give me good portions since I eat more than they do. After the meal either Captain or his wife fans me.

"They are very pious souls and show great respect to holy men. The people of upper India are greatly devoted to sdhus. The sons and nephews of the Jung Bahadur of Nepal once visited the temple garden; before me they showed great respect and humility. Once a young girl of Nepal came to see me with Captain. She was a great devotee, and unmarried; she knew the whole of the Gitagovinda by heart. Dwarika Babu and the others wanted to hear her music. When she sang the Gitagovinda, Dwarika Babu was profoundly moved and wiped the tears from his eyes with his handkerchief. She was asked why she was not married. She said: 'I am the handmaid of God. Whom else shall I serve?' Her people respect her as a goddess, as the scriptures enjoin.

(To Mahendra Mukherji and the others) "I shall feel very happy to know that you are being benefited by your visits here. (To M.) Why do people come here? I don't know much of reading and writing."

M.: "God's power is in you. That is why there is such power of attraction. It is the Divine Spirit that attracts."

MASTER: "Yes, this is the attraction of Yogamaya, the Divine akti. She casts the spell.

God performs all His lila through the help of Yogamaya.


Nature of gopis' love for Krishna

"The love of the gopis was like the attachment of a woman to her paramour. They were intoxicated with ecstatic love for Sri Krishna. A woman cherishing illicit love is not very keen about her own husband. If she is told that her husband has come, she will say: 'What if he has? There is food in the kitchen. He can help himself.' But if she is told of the arrival of a stranger-jovial, handsome, and witty-she will run to see him and peep at him from behind a screen.

"You may raise an objection and say: 'We have not seen God. How can we feel attracted to Him as the gopis felt attracted to Krishna?' But it is possible. 'I do not know Him. I have only heard His name, and that has fixed my mind upon Him.' "

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the significance of Sri Krishna's stealing the gopis' clothes?"

MASTER: "There are eight fetters that bind a person to the world. The gopis were free from all but one: shame. Therefore Krishna freed them from that one, too, by taking away their clothes. On attaining God one gets rid of all fetters. (To Mahendra Mukherji and the others) By no means all people feel attracted to God. There are special souls who feel so. To love God one must be born with good tendencies. Otherwise, why should you alone of all the people of Baghbazar come here? You can't expect anything good in a dunghill. The touch of the Malaya breeze turns all trees into sandalwood, no doubt. But there are a few exceptions-the banyan, the cotton-tree, and the Awattha, for example.

(To the Mukherji brothers) "You are well off. If a man slips from the path of yoga, then he is reborn in a prosperous family and starts again his spiritual practice for the realization of God."


Unfulfilled desires make one deviate from yoga MAHENDRA: "Why does one slip from the path of yoga?"

MASTER: "While thinking of God the aspirant may feel a craving for material enjoyment.

It is this craving that makes him slip from the path. In his next life he will be born with the spiritual tendencies that he failed to translate into action in his present life."

MAHENDRA: "Then what is the way?"

MASTER: "No salvation is possible for a man as long as he has desire, as long as he hankers for worldly things. Therefore fulfil all your desires regarding food, clothes, and sex. (Smiling) What do you say about the last one? Legitimate or illegitimate? (M. and Mahendra laugh.)

"It is not good to cherish desires and hankerings. For that reason I used to fulfil whatever desires came to my mind. Once I saw some coloured sweetmeats at Burrabazar and wanted to eat them. They brought me the sweets and I ate a great many. The result was that I fell ill.

"In my boyhood days, while bathing in the Ganges, I saw a boy with a gold ornament around his waist. During my state of divine intoxication I felt a desire to have a similar ornament myself. I was given one, but I couldn't keep it on very long. When I put it on, I felt within my body the painful uprush of a current of air. It was because I had touched gold to my skin. I wore the ornament a few moments and then had to put it aside.

Otherwise I should have had to tear it off.

"I once felt a desire to eat the famous sweetmeats of different cities. (All laugh.) I had a desire to hear Sambhu's musical recital of the Chandi. After fulfilling that desire I wanted to hear the same thing by Rajnarayan. That desire also was satisfied.

"At that time many holy men used to visit the temple garden. A desire arose in my mind that there should be a separate store-room to supply them with their provisions. Mathur Babu arranged for one. The sdhus were given foodstuffs, fuel, and the like from that store-room.

"Once the idea came to me to put on a very expensive robe embroidered with gold and to smoke a silver hubble-bubble. Mathur Babu sent me the new robe and the hubble-bubble. I put on the robe. I also smoked the hubble-bubble in various fashions.

Sometimes I smoked it reclining this way, and sometimes that way, sometimes with head up, and sometimes with head down. Then I said to myself, 'O mind, this is what they call smoking a silver hubble-bubble.' Immediately I renounced it. I kept the robe on my body a few minutes longer and then took it off. I began to trample it underfoot and spit on it, saying: 'So this is an expensive robe! But it only increases man's rajas.'"


About Rkhl

Rkhl had been staying at Vrindvan with Balarm. At first he had written excited letters praising the holy place. He had written to M.: "It is the best of all places. Please come here. The peacocks dance around, and one always hears and sees religious music and dancing. There is an unending flow of divine bliss." But then Rkhl had been laid up with an attack of fever. Sri Ramakrishna was very much worried about him and vowed to worship the Divine Mother for his recovery. So he began to talk about Rkhl.

MASTER: "Rkhl had his first religious ecstasy while sitting here massaging my feet. A Bhagavata scholar had been expounding the sacred book in the room. As Rkhl listened to his words, he shuddered every now and then. Then he became altogether still.

"His second ecstasy was at Balarm Bose's house. In that state he could not keep himself sitting upright; he lay flat on the floor. Rkhl belongs to the realm of the Personal God. He leaves the place if one talks about the Impersonal.

"I have taken a vow to worship the Divine Mother when he recovers. You see, he has renounced his home and relatives and completely surrendered himself to me. It was I who sent him to his wife now and then. He still had a little desire for enjoyment.

(Pointing to M,) "Rkhl has written him from Vrindvan that it is a grand place-the peacocks dance around. Now let the peacock's take care of him. He has really put me in a fix.


Balarm's devotion

"Rkhl has been staying with Balarm at Vrindvan. Ah, what a nice nature Balarm has! It is only for my sake that he doesn't go to Orissa, where his family owns an estate.

His brother stopped his monthly allowance and wrote to him: 'Come and stay with us here. Why should you waste so much money in Calcutta?' But he didn't listen. He has been living in Calcutta because he wants to see me.

What devotion to God! He is busy day and night with his worship. His gardener is always making garlands of flowers for the Deity, He has decided to spend four months a year at Vrindvan to reduce his expenses. He gets a monthly allowance of two hundred rupees.

"Why am I so fond of the youngsters? They are still untouched by 'woman arid gold'. I find that they belong to the class of the nityasiddhas, the everperfect."


Narendra's first visit

"When Narendra first came here he was dressed in dirty clothes; but his eyes and face betokened some inner stuff. At that time he did not know many songs. He sang one or two: 'Let us go back once more, O mind, to our own abode!' and 'O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?'

"Whenever he came here, I would talk only with him, though the room was filled with people. He would say to me, 'Please talk to them', and then I would talk with the others.

"I became mad for the sight of him and wept for him in Jadu Mallick's garden house: 'I wept here, too, holding Bholanath's hand.' Bholanath said, 'Sir, you shouldn't behave that way for a mere kayastha boy.' One day the 'fat brahmin' said to me about Narendra, with folded hands, 'Sir, he has very little education; why should you be so restless for him?'

"Bhavanath and Narendra are a pair. They are like man and woman. So I asked Bhavanath to rent a house near Narendra's. Both of them belong to the realm of the formless Reality.


Master warns the devotees about women

"I forbid the youngsters to spend a long time with women or visit them too frequently.

Haripada has fallen into the clutches of a woman of the Ghoshpara sect. She shows maternal feeling for him; but Haripada is a child and doesn't understand its real meaning. The women of that sect act that way when they see young boys. I understand that Haripada lies on her lap and that she feeds him with her own hands. I shall tell him that this is not good. This very maternal feeling leads to a downfall. The women of that sect practise spiritual discipline in the company of men; they regard men as Krishna. A teacher of that sect asks a woman devotee, 'Have you found your Krishna?' and she says, 'Yes, I have found my Krishna.'

"The other day that woman came here. I watched the way she looked around and I didn't approve of it. I said to her, 'You may treat Haripada any way you like, but don't have any wrong feeling for him.'

"The youngsters are now in the stage of sadhana. They are aspirants. For them the only thing now is renunciation. A sannyasi must not look even at the portrait of a woman. I say to them: 'Don't sit beside a woman and talk to her, even if she is a devotee. You may say a word or two to her, standing.' Even a perfect soul must follow this precept for his own protection and also to set an example to others. When women, come to me, I too say to them after a few minutes, 'Go and visit the temples.' If they don't get up, I myself leave the room. Others will learn from my example.


Master's attraction for people

"Can you tell me why all these youngsters, and you people, too, visit me? There must be something in me; or why should you all feel such a pull, such attraction?


His own reminiscences

"Once I visited Hriday's house at Sihore. From there I was taken to Syambazar. I had a vision of Cauranga before I entered the village, and I realized that I should meet Cauranga's devotees there. For seven days and nights I was surrounded by a huge crowd of people. Such attraction! Nothing but kirtan and dancing day and night. People stood in rows on the walls and even were in the trees.

"I stayed at Natavar Goswami's house. It was crowded day and night. In the morning I would run away to the house of a weaver for a little rest. There too I found that people would gather after a few minutes. They carried drums and cymbals with them, and the drum constantly played:'Takuti! Takuti!' We would have our meal at three in the afternoon.

"The rumour spread everywhere that a man had arrived who died seven times and came back to life again. Hriday would drag me away from the crowd to a paddy-field for fear I might have an attack of heat apoplexy. The crowd would follow us there like a line of ants. Again the cymbals and the never-ending Takuti! Takuti!' of the drums. Hriday scolded them and said: 'Why do you bother us like this? Have we never heard kirtan?'

"The Vaishnava priests of the village came and almost started a quarrel. They thought I would take their share of the fees from the devotees. But soon they discovered that I didn't touch a piece of cloth or even a thread. Someone remarked that I was a Brahmajnani. So the Vaishnava pundits wanted to test me. One said, 'Why hasn't he beads, and a mark on his forehead?' Another of them replied, They have dropped from him, as the dry branch from a coconut tree. It was there that I learnt this illustration of the dry branch of a coconut tree. The upadhis, limitations, drop when one attains Knowledge.

"People came thronging from distant villages. They even spent the night there. At Syambazar I learnt the meaning of divine attraction. When God incarnates Himself on earth He attracts people through the help of Yogamaya, His Divine Power. People become spellbound."

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon. The Master had been conversing with the Mukherji brothers and the other devotees, when Radhika Goswami, a Vaishnava scholar, arrived and bowed before him. This was his first visit to the Master. Radhika Goswami took a seat.

MASTER: "Are you a descendant of Advaita?"

GOSWAMI: "Yes, sir."

At this the Master saluted him with folded hands.

MASTER: "You are descended from Advaita Goswami. You must have inherited some of his traits. A sweet-mango tree produces only sweet mangoes arid not sour ones. Of course, it happens that some trees produce large mangoes and some small; that depends on the soil. Isn't that true?"

GOSWAMI (humbly): "Sir, what do I know?"

MASTER: "Whatever you may say, others will not let you off so easily. Brahmans, however imperfect they-may be, are worshipped by all on account of their having been born in the lines of great sages. (To M.) Tell us the story of the samkhachila."

M. sat in silence.

MASTER: "If one of your ancestors was a great soul, he will certainly pull you up, however unworthy you may be. When King Duryodhana and his brothers were taken captive by the gandharvas, Yudhisthira released them in spite of the fact that King Duryodhana was his enemy and had banished him to the forest.

"Besides, one must show respect to the religious garb. Even the mere garb recalls to mind the real object. Chaitanya once dressed an ass in a religious garb and then prostrated himself before it.

"Why do people bow before a samkhachila? When Kamsa was about to kill the Divine Mother, She Hew away taking the form of a samkhachila. So even now people salute the bird.

"An Englishman arrived at the cantonment of Chanak. The sepoys saluted him. Koar Singh explained to me: 'India is under the rule of the English. Therefore one should salute an Englishman.

"The Saktas follow the Tantra, and the Vaishnavas the Purana. There is no harm for the Vaishnavas in speaking publicly of their spiritual practices. But the Saktas maintain secrecy about theirs. For this reason it is difficult to understand a Sakta.

(To Goswami) "You are all good people. How much japa you practise! How much you chant the name of Hari!"

GOSWAMI (humbly): "Oh, no! We do very little. I am a great sinner."

MASTER (smiling): "You have humility. That is good. But there is also another way: 'I chant the name of Hari. How can I be a sinner?' He who constantly repeats: 'I am a sinner! I am a wretch!' verily becomes a sinner. What lack of faith! A man chants the name of God so much, and still he talks of sin!"

Radhika Goswami listened to these words in amazement.


Master's following of different paths

MASTER: "At Vrindvan I myself put on the garb of the Vaishnavas and wore it for fifteen days. (To the devotees) I have practised the disciplines of all the paths, each for a few days. Otherwise I should have found no peace of mind. (Smiling) I have practised all the disciplines; I accept all paths. I respect the Saktas, the Vaishnavas, and also the Vedantists. Therefore people of all sects come here. And everyone of them thinks that I belong to his school. I also respect the modern Brahmajnanis.

"A man had a tub of dye. Such was its wonderful property that people could dye their clothes any colour they wanted by merely dipping them in it. A clever man said to the owner of the tub, 'Dye my cloth the colour of your dye-stuff.' (All laugh.) "Why should I be one-sided? The idea that the people of a particular sect will not come to me does not frighten me. I don't care a bit whether people come to me or not. The thought of keeping anyone under my control never crosses my mind. Adhar Sen asked me to ask the Divine Mother for a big position for him, but he didn't get it. If that makes him think differently about me, what do I care?

"Once at Keshab's house I found myself in a new mood. The Brahmos always speak of the Impersonal; therefore I said to the Divine Mother in an ecstatic mood: 'Mother, please don't come here. They don't believe in Your forms.'"

Radhika Goswami listened to these words of the Master against sectarianism and remained silent.


Master's praise of Vijay Goswami

ASTER (smiling): "Vijay is in a wonderful state of mind nowadays. He falls to the ground while chanting the name of Hari. He devotes himself to kirtan, meditation, and other spiritual practices till four in the morning. He now puts on an ochre robe and prostrates himself before the images of God. Once he accompanied me to Gadadhar's schoolhouse.

I pointed out the place where Gadadhar

used to meditate. At once Vijay prostrated himself there. Again he fell prostrate before the picture of Chaitanyadeva."

GOSWAMI: "What about the image of Radha-Krishna?"

MASTER: "He prostrated himself there too. Vijay also follows all the conventions of religious life."

GOSWAMI: "He can now be accepted in Vaishnava society."

MASTER: "People's opinions don't count for much with him."

GOSWAMI: "I don't mean that. By accepting him Vaishnava society will honour itself."

MASTER: "He respects me very much. But it is difficult to reach him. One day he is called to Dcc, the next day to some other place. He is always busy. His presence has created great trouble in the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj."

GOSWAMI: "Why so, sir?"

MASTER: The Brahmos tell him: 'You mix with people who worship God with form. You are an idolater.' Vijay is liberal and straightforward. Unless a man is guileless, he doesn't receive the grace of God. Sri Ramakrishna talked to the Mukherji brothers.

Mahendra, the elder, had his own business. Priyanath, the younger, had been an engineer. After making some provision for himself, he had given up his job. Mahendra was thirty-five or thirty-six years old. The brothers had homes both in the country and in Calcutta.

MASTER (smiling): "Don't sit idle simply because your spiritual consciousness has been awakened a little. Go forward. Beyond the forest of sandalwood there are other and more valuable things-silver-mines, gold-mines, and so on."


Bondage and freedom are of the mind

PRIYA (smiling): "Sir, our legs are in chains. We cannot go forward."

MASTER: "What if the legs are chained? The important thing is the mind. Bondage is of the mind, and freedom also is of the mind.

"Listen to a story. There were two friends. One went into a house of prostitution and the other to hear a recital of the Bhagavata. 'What a shame!' thought the first. 'My friend is hearing spiritual discourse, but just see what I have slipped down to!' The second friend said to himself: 'Shame on me! My friend is having a good time, but how stupid I am!'

After death the soul of the first was taken to Vaikuntha by the messenger of Vishnu, while that of the second was taken to the nether world of Yama."

PRIYA: "But the mind is not under my control."

MASTER: "How is that? There is such a thing as abhyiisayoga, yoga through practice.

Keep up the practice and you will find that your mind will follow in whatever direction you lead it. The mind is like a white cloth just returned from the laundry. It will be red if you dip it in red dye and blue if you dip it in blue. It will have whatever colour you dip it in.

(To Goswami) "Have you anything to ask?"

GOSWAMI: "No, sir. I am satisfied that I have seen you and have been I listening to your words."

MASTER: "Go and visit the temples."

GOSWAMI (very humbly): "Won't you please sing something about Sri Chaitanya?"

The Master complied. He sang:

Why has My body turned so golden?It is not time for this to be:

Many the ages that must pass, before as Gaurnga I appear! . .

Again:

Gora gazes at Vrindvan and tears stream from his eyes; In an exuberance of joy, he laughs and weeps and dances and sings.

He takes a wood for Vrindvan, the ocean for the blue Jamuna;

He rolls on the ground for love of Hari.

After singing, the Master went on with the conversation.

MASTER (to Goswami): "I have sung these songs to suit your Vaishnava temperament.

But I must sing differently when the Saktas or others come.

"Herepeople of all sects come-Vaishnavas, Saktas, Kartabhajas,Vedantists, and also members of the modern Brahmo Samaj. Therefore one finds here all ideals and attitudes. It is by the will of God that different religions and opinions have come into existence. God gives to different people what they can digest. The mother does not give fish pilau to all her children. All cannot digest it; so she prepares simple fish soup for some. Everyone cherishes his own special ideal and follows his own nature.

"They provide various images for the Baroari because people of different sects assemble at it. You see there images of Radha-Krishna, iva-Durga, and Sita-Rma-different images in different places. A crowd gathers before each image. The Vaishnavas spend most of their time before the image of Radha-Krishna, the Saktas before iva-Durga, and the devotees of Rma before Sita-Rma.

"But it is quite different with those who are not spiritually minded at all. In the Baroari one sees another image also-a prostitute beating her paramour with a broomstick. Those people stand there with gaping mouths and cry to their friends: 'What are you looking at over there? Come here! Look at this!' " (All laugh.) Radhika Goswami saluted the Master and took his leave.

It was about five o'clock. The Master was on the semicircular west porch. Baburam, Ltu, the Mukherji brothers, M., and some other devotees were with him.

MASTER (to M. and the others): "Why should I be one-sided? The goswamis belong to the Vaishnava school and are very bigoted. They think that their opinion alone is right and all other opinions are wrong. My words have hit him hard. (Smiling) One must strike the elephant on the head with the goad; that is the elephant's most sensitive spot."

Then Sri Ramakrishna told a few naughty jokes for the young men.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I don't give the youngsters a pure vegetarian diet: now and then I give them a little water smelling of fish. Otherwise, why should they come?"

The Mukherji brothers left the porch. They went to the garden for a stroll.

MASTER (to M.): "I wonder whether the Mukherjis have taken offence at my jokes?"

M: "Why should they? Captain said that you are like a child. After realizing God a man becomes childlike."

MASTER: "Yes, and sometimes he behaves like a boy, and sometimes like a young man.

As a boy he is very light-hearted. He may use frivolous language. As a young man he is like a roaring lion while teaching others. You had better explain my state of mind to the Mukherjis."

M: "I don't have to do that. Haven't they the sense to see it?"

Again the Master became light-hearted with the boys. Then he said to one of the devotees: "Today is the new moon. Go to the Kli temple in the evening."

It was dusk. They heard the sound of gongs, cymbals, and other instruments used in the evening service in. the temples. The Master said to Baburam, "Come with me to the Kli temple." He and Baburam went toward the temple, accompanied by M. At the sight of Harish sitting on the porch, the Master said: "What is this? Is he in ecstasy?"

Going through the courtyard, the Master and the devotees stopped a minute in front of the Radhakanta temple to watch the worship. Then they proceeded to the shrine of Kli.

With folded hands the Master prayed to the Divine Mother: "O Mother! O Divine Mother!

O Brahmamayi!"

Reaching the raised platform in front of the shrine, he bowed low before the image. The rati was going on. He entered the shrine and fanned the image.

The evening worship was over. The devotees bowed before the Deity. It was the night of the new moon. The Master was in a spiritual mood. Gradually his mood deepened into intense ecstasy. He returned to his room, reeling like a drunkard and holding to Baburam's hand.


Master's prayer to Divine Mother

A lamp was lighted on the west porch. The Master sat there a few minutes, chanting: "Hari Om! Hari Om! Hari Om!" and other mystic syllables of the Tantra. Presently he returned to his room and sat on the small couch, facing the east. He was still completely.

absorbed in divine fervour. He said to the Divine Mother: "Mother, that I should first speak and You then act-oh, that's nonsense! What is the meaning of talk? It is nothing but a sign. One man says, 'I shall eat.' Again, another says, 'No! I won't hear of it.' Well, Mother, suppose I had said I would not eat; wouldn't I still feel hungry? Is it ever possible that You should listen only when one prays aloud and not when one feels an inner longing? You are what You are. Then why do I speak? Why do I pray? I do as You make me do. Oh, what confusion! Why do You make me reason?"

As Sri Ramakrishna was thus talking to God, the devotees listened wonder-struck to his words. The Master's eyes fell upon them.

MASTER (to the devotees): "One must inherit good tendencies to realize God, One must have done something, some form of tapasya, either in this life or in another.

"When Draupadi's clothes were being taken off, she cried earnestly, praying to God. God revealed Himself to her and said: 'Try to remember whether you have ever made a gift of a cloth to anyone. Then your modesty will be preserved.' Draupadi replied: 'Yes, I remember now. Once a rishi was taking his bath when his loincloth was carried away by the current. I tore off half my cloth and gave it to him.' Thereupon the Lord said, 'Then you have nothing to fear.' "

M. was sitting on the small foot-rug.

MASTER (to M.): "You have understood what I said."

M: "Yes, sir. You spoke about inherent tendencies."

MASTER: "Repeat what I said."

M. repeated the story of Draupadi.

Hazra entered the room. He had been living with Sri Ramakrishna in the temple garden for the past two years and had first met the Master in 1880 at Sihore in the house of Hriday, the Master's nephew. Hazra's native village was near Sihore, and he owned some property there. He had a wife and children and also some debts. From youth he had felt a spirit of renunciation and sought the company of holy men and devotees. The Master had asked him to live with him at Dakshineswar and looked after his necessities. Hazra's mind was a jumble of undigested religious moods. He professed the path of knowledge and disapproved of Sri Ramakrishna's attitude of bhakti and his longing for the young devotees. Now and then he thought of the Master as a great soul, but again he slighted him as an ordinary human being. He spent much of his time in telling his beads, and he criticized Rkhl and the other young men for their indifference to the practice. He was a strong advocate of religious conventions and rules of conduct, and made a fad of them.

He was about thirty-eight years old.

As Hazra came in, the Master became a little abstracted and in that mood began to talk.

MASTER (to Hazra): "What you are doing is right in principle, but the application is not quite correct. Don't find fault with anyone, not even with an insect. As you pray to God for devotion, so also pray that you may not find fault with anyone."

HAZRA: "Does God listen to our prayer for bhakti?"

MASTER: "Surely. I can assure you of that a hundred times. But the prayer must be genuine and earnest. Do worldly-minded people weep for God as they do for wife and children? At Kamarpukur the wife of a certain man fell ill. The man thought she would not recover; he began to tremble and was about to faint. Who feels that way for God?"

Hazra was about to take the dust of the Master's feet.

MASTER (shrinking): "What is this?"

HAZRA: "Why should I not take the dust of his feet who has so kindly kept me with him?"

MASTER: "Satisfy God and everyone will be satisfied.'If He is pleased the world is pleased.' Once the Lord ate a few greens from Draupadi's cooking-pot and said, 'Ah, I am satisfied.' Immediately the whole world and all its living beings were satisfied; they felt as if they had eaten their fill. But was the world satisfied or did it feel that way when the rishis ate their food?

(To Hazra) "A perfect soul, even after attaining Knowledge, practises devotions or observes religious ceremonies to set an example to others. I go to the Kli temple and I bow before the holy pictures in my room; therefore others do the same. Further, if a man has become habituated to such ceremonies, he feels restless if he does not observe them.

"One day I saw a sannyasi under the banyan-tree. He had put the salagram on the same carpet with his guru's sandals. He was worshipping them. I said to him, 'If you have attained Knowledge to that extent, then why such formal worship at all?' He replied: 'What difference does it make? Since I do everything else, why not this too? Sometimes I offer the flowers at the guru's feet and sometimes to God.'

"One cannot renounce work as long as one has a body. As long as there is mud at the bottom of the lake, bubbles will be produced.


Advice to Hazra - Scriptures and sadhana

(To Hazra) "If there is knowledge of one, there is also knowledge of many. What will you achieve by mere study of the scriptures? The scriptures contain a mixture of sand and sugar, as it were. It is extremely difficult to separate the sugar from the sand. Therefore one should learn the essence of the scriptures from the teacher or from a sdhu.

Afterwards what does one care for books?

(To the devotees) "Gather all the information and then plunge in. Suppose a pot has dropped in a certain part of a lake. Locate the spot and dive there.

"One should learn the essence of the scriptures from the guru and then practise sadhana. If one rightly follows spiritual discipline, then one directly sees God. The discipline is said to be rightly followed only when one plunges in. What will a man gain by merely reasoning about the words of the scriptures? Ah, the fools! They reason themselves to death over information about the path. They never take the plunge. What a pity!

"You may say, even though you dive deep you are still in danger of sharks and crocodiles, of lust and anger. But dive after rubbing your body with turmeric powder; then sharks and crocodiles will not come near you. The turmeric is discrimination and renunciation.


Master's spiritual practice

(To the devotees) "God made me pass through the disciplines of various paths. First according to the Purana, then according to the Tantra. I also followed the disciplines of the Vedas. At first I practised sadhana in the Panchavati. I made a grove of tulsi-plants and used to sit inside it and meditate. Sometimes I cried with a longing Heart, 'Mother!

Mother!' Or I again, 'Rma! Rma!'

"While repeating the name of Rma, I sometimes assumed the attitude of Hanuman and fixed a tail to the lower end of my backbone. I was in a God-intoxicated state. At that time I used to put on a silk robe and worship the Deity. What joy I experienced in that worship!

"I practised the discipline of the Tantra under the bel-tree. At that time I could see no distinction between the sacred tulsi and any other plant. In that state I sometimes ate the leavings from a jackal's meal, food that had been exposed the whole night, part of which might have been eaten by snakes or other creatures. Yes, I ate that stuff.

"Sometimes I rode on a dog and fed him with luchi, also eating part of the bread myself.

I realized that the whole world was filled with God alone. One cannot have spiritual realization without destroying ignorance; so I would assume the attitude of a tiger and devour ignorance.

"While practising the disciplines of the Vedas, I became a sannyasi. I used to lie down in the chandni and say to Hriday: 'I am a sannyasi. I shall take my meals here.'

"I vowed to the Divine Mother that I would kill myself if I did not see God. I said to Her: 'O Mother, I am a fool. Please teach me what is contained in the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and the other scriptures.' The Mother said to me, 'The essence of the Vednta is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory.'The Satchidananda Brahman described in the Vedas is the Satchidananda iva of the Tantra and the Satchidananda Krishna of the Purana. The essence of the Git is what you get by repeating the word ten times. It is reversed into 'tagi', which indicates renunciation.

"After the realization of God, how far below lie the Vedas, the Vednta, the Purana, the Tantra! (To Hazra) I cannot utter the word 'Om' in samdhi. Why is that? I cannot say 'Om' unless I come down very far from the state of samdhi.

"I had all the experiences that one should have, according to the scriptures, after one's direct perception of God. I behaved like a child, like a madman, like a ghoul, and like an inert thing.

"I saw the visions described in the scriptures. Sometimes I saw the universe filled with sparks of fire. Sometimes I saw all the quarters glittering with light, as if the world were a lake of mercury. Sometimes I saw the world as if made of liquid silver. Sometimes, again, I saw all the quarters illumined as if with the light of Raman candles. So you see my experiences tally with those described in the scriptures.

"It was revealed to me further that God Himself has become the universe and all its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. It is like the process of evolution and involution.

"Oh, what a state God kept me in at that time! One experience would hardly be over before another overcame me. It was like the movement of the husking-machine: no sooner is one end down than the other goes up.

"I would see God in meditation, in the state of samdhi, and I would see the same God when my mind came back to the outer world. When looking at this side of the mirror I would see Him alone, and when looking on the reverse side I saw the same God."

The devotees listened to these words with rapt attention.

(To the Mukherji brothers) "Captain is now really in the state of the sadhaka. That the mere possession of wealth should create, attachment is by no means true. Sambhu Mallick used to say to Hriday, 'Hridu, I have packed my things and am ready for the journey.' I said to him: 'God forbid! Why do you say such ominous words?' 'No', replied Sambhu. 'Please bless me that I may cast aside all these possessions and go to God.'

"God's devotees have nothing to fear. They are His own He always stands by them. Once Duryodhana and his brothers were imprisoned by the gandharvas. It was Yudhisthira who freed them. Yudhisthira said, 'If our relatives are placed in such a plight, then it is our disgrace.' "

It was about nine o'clock in the evening. The Mukherji brothers were ready to return to Calcutta. The Master left his seat and began to pace the room and the porch. He could hear the kirtan sung in the Vishnu temple. A devotee said that Harish and Ltu were in the singing party.

Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees went to the Vishnu temple and saluted the Deity. The brahmins belonging to the staff of the temple garden, and also the priests, the cooks, and the servants, were singing the kirtan. He stood there a few minutes and encouraged the singers. On the way back to his room he remarked to the devotees, "You see, some of them polish the metal utensils and some go to houses of prostitution."

The Master returned to his room and took his seat. Presently the singers came and bowed low before him. The Master said to them: "One should perspire, dancing and singing the name of God, as people do earning money. I had thought of joining you in the dancing; but I found that you did everything very well. You had flavoured the curry with all the seasoning. What could I add? It will be nice if you sing devotional songs that way now and then."

The Mukherji brothers saluted the Master. Their carriage was ready near the verandah north of the room. The Master stood facing the north. On his left was the Ganges; in front of him were the nahabat, the garden, and the kuthi; and to his right was the road leading to the gate. The night was dark, and a devotee had brought a lantern to show the visitors their way. One by one the devotees bowed and took the dust of the Master's feet. The carriage seemed too heavily loaded for the horses. The Master said, "Aren't there too many people in the carriage?"

Sri Ramakrishna remained standing. As the carriage rolled away, the devotees looked back at the Master's face beaming with compassion and love.



Sunday, September 21, 1884

A large number of devotees were in Sri Ramakrishna's room, among them Ram, Mahendra Mukherji, M., and Chunilal. Chunilal had just returned from Vrindvan, where he had gone with Rkhl and Balarm. The two latter were still there. Nityagopal also was staying there. The Master began to talk with Chunilal about Vrindvan.

MASTER: "How is Rkhl?"

CHUNI: "He is quite well now, sir."

MASTER: "Isn't Nityagopal coming back?"

CHUNI: "He was still there when I left."

MASTER: "Who will bring your family back?"

CHUNI: "Balarm Babu told me he would arrange it with some reliable person. He didn't mention any name."

Master praises Narayan

Sri Ramakrishna then spoke to Mahendra Mukherji about Narayan, a school-boy sixteen or seventeen years old, who often visited the Master and was very dear to him.

MASTER: "He is quite guileless, isn't he?"

The very uttering of the word "guileless" filled the Master with great joy.

MAHENDRA: "Yes, sir. Completely guileless."

MASTER: "His mother came here the other day. I was a little frightened to see that she was a proud woman. That day she found that Captain, you, and many others, too, visited me. Then she must have realized that she and her son were not the only people to come here. (All laugh.) There was some sugar candy in the room and she remarked that it was good. That made her feel there was no scarcity of food here. I happened to tell Baburam, in front of her, to keep some sweets for himself and Naran. Ganu's mother said that Naran always bothered his mother for the boat hire to come here. His mother said to me, 'Please ask Naran to consent to marry.' I replied, 'All that depends on one's fate.' Why should I interfere? (All laugh.) Naran is indifferent to his studies. His mother said, 'Please ask him to pay a little more attention.' So I said to Naran, 'Attend to your studies.' Then his mother said, 'Please tell him seriously.' (All laugh.) (To Chunilal) "Why doesn't Gopal come here?"

CHUNILAL: "He has been suffering from dysentery."

MASTER: "Is he taking any medicine?"

Sri Ramakrishna was planning to go to a performance of the Chaitanyalila at the Star Theatre. Mahendra Mukherji was to take him to Calcutta in his carriage. They were talking about choosing good seats. Some suggested that one could see the performance well from the one-rupee gallery. Ram said, "Oh, no! I shall engage a box for him." The Master laughed. Some of the devotees said that public women took part in the play.

They took the parts of Nimai, Nitai, and others.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I shall look upon them as the Blissful Mother Herself. What if one of them acts the part of Chaitanya? An imitation custard-apple reminds one of the real fruit. Once, while going along a road, a devotee of Krishna noticed some babla-trees. Instantly his mind was thrown into ecstasy. He remembered that the wood of babla-trees was used for the handles of the spades that the garden of the temple of Syamasundar was dug with. The trees instantly reminded him of Krishna. I was once taken to the Maidan in Calcutta to see a balloon go up. There I noticed a young English boy leaning against a tree, with his body bent in three places. It at once brought before me the vision of Krishna and I went into samdhi.

"Once Chaitanyadeva was passing through a village. Someone told him that the body of the drum used in the kirtan was made from the earth of that village, and at once he went into ecstasy.

"Radha could not control herself at the sight of a cloud or the blue throat of a peacock. It would at once awaken in her mind the thought of Krishna, and she would go into ecstasy."

The Master was silent a few moments and then resumed the conversation.

MASTER: "Radha had attained mahabhava. There was no desire behind the ecstatic love of the gopis. A true lover does not seek anything from God. He prays only for pure love.

He doesn't want any powers or miracles.


Occult powers

"It is very troublesome to possess occult powers. Nangta taught me this by a story. A man who had acquired occult powers was sitting on the seashore when a storm arose. It caused him great discomfort; so he said, 'Let the storm stop.' His words could not remain unfulfilled. At that moment a ship was going full sail before the wind. When the storm ceased abruptly the ship capsized and sank. The passengers perished and the sin of causing their death fell to the man. And because of that sin he lost his occult powers and went to hell.

"Once upon a time a sdhu acquired great occult powers. He was vain about them. But he was a good man and had some austerities to his credit. One day the Lord, disguised as a holy man, came to him and said, 'Revered sir, I have heard that you have great occult powers.' The sdhu received the Lord cordially and offered him a seat. Just then an elephant passed by. The Lord, in the disguise of the holy man, said to the sdhu, 'Revered sir, can you kill this elephant if you like?' The sdhu said, 'Yes, it is possible.'

So saying, he took a pinch of dust, muttered some mantras over it, and threw it at the elephant. The beast struggled awhile in pain and then dropped dead. The Lord said: 'What power you have! You have killed the elephant!' The sdhu laughed. Again the Lord spoke: 'Now can you revive the elephant?' 'That too is possible', replied the sdhu. He threw another pinch of charmed dust at the beast. The elephant writhed about a litle and came back to life. Then the Lord said: 'Wonderful is your power. But may I ask you one thing? You have killed the elephant and you have revived it. But what has that done for you? Do you feel uplifted by it? Has it enabled you to realize God?' Saying this the Lord vanished.

"Subtle are the ways of dharma. One cannot realize God if one has even the least trace of desire. A thread cannot pass through the eye of a needle if it has the smallest fibre sticking out.

"Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Friend, if you want to realize Me, you will not succeed if you have even one of the eight occult powers.' This is the truth. Occult power is sure to beget pride, and pride makes one forget God.

"Once a cross-eyed rich man came here. He said to me: 'You are a paramahamsa. That is good. You must perform a swastyayana ceremony for me.' What a small-minded person he was! He called me a paramahamsa and yet wanted me to perform that ceremony. To secure welfare by means of the swastyayana is to exercise occult power.

"An egotistic person cannot realize God. Do you know what egotism is like? It is like a high mound, where rain-water cannot collect: the water runs off. Water collects in low land. There seeds sprout and grow into trees. Then the trees bear fruit.

"Therefore I say to Hazra, 'Never think that you alone have true understanding and that others are fools.' One must love all. No one is a stranger. It is Hari alone who dwells in all beings. Nothing exists without Him.

"The Lord said to Prahlada, 'Ask a boon of Me.' 'I have seen You', replied Prahlada. 'That is enough. I don't need anything else.' But the Lord insisted. Thereupon Prahlada said, 'If You must give me a boon, let it be that those who have tortured me may not have to suffer punishment.' The meaning of those words is that it was God who tortured Prahlada in the form of his persecutors, and, if they suffered punishment, it would really be God who suffered.


Divine madness

"Radha was mad with prema, ecstatic love of God. But there is also the madness of bhakti. Hanuman's was such. When he saw Sita entering the fire he was going to kill Rma. Then, too, there is the madness of Knowledge. I once saw a Jnni behaving like a madman. He came here very soon after the temple garden was dedicated. People said he belonged to the Brahmo Sabha of Rammohan Roy. He had a torn shoe on one foot, a stick in one hand, and a potted mango-plant in the other. After a dip in the Ganges he went to the Kli temple where Haladhri was seated. With great fervour he began to chant a hymn to the Divine Mother. Then he went up to a dog, held it by the ear, and ate some of its food. The dog didn't mind. Just at that time I too was about to experience the state of divine madness. I threw my arm around Hriday's neck and said, 'Oh, Hride! Shall I too fall into that plight?'


Master's God-intoxicated condition

"I became mad. Narayan Shastri came here and saw me roaming about with a bamboo pole on my shoulder. He said to the people, 'Ah, he is mad!' In that state I could not observe any caste restrictions. The wife of a low caste man used to send me cooked greens, and I ate them.

"I touched my head and lips with the leaf-plates from which the beggars ate their food in the guesthouse of the Kli temple. Thereupon Haladhri said to me: 'What have you done? You have taken the food left by beggars. How will you marry off your children?'

These words aroused my anger. Haladhri was my cousin, older than myself. But could that restrain me? I said to him: 'You wretch! Isn't it you who take pride in the study of the Git and the Vednta? Isn't it you who teach people that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory? And yet you imagine that I shall beget children! May your mouth that recites from the Git be blighted!'

(To M.) "You see, mere study of books avails nothing. One may recite the written part for the drum glibly from memory, but to play the drum is exceedingly difficult."

The Master continued with the description of his divine madness: "Once, for a few days, I was out on an excursion with Mathur Babu in his house-boat.

We took the trip for a change of air. During that trip we visited Navadvip. One day I saw the boatmen cooking their meal and stood and watched them. Mathur said to me, 'What are you doing there?' I replied with a smile, 'The boatmen are cooking, and their food looks very good.' Mathur felt that I might ask the boatmen to give me a portion of their food; so he said: 'Come away! Come away!'

"But I cannot do such a thing now. I am no longer in that mood. Now the food must be cooked by a brahmin observing ceremonial purity, and be offered to the Deity; then only can I eat it.

"Oh, what moods I passed through! At Kamarpukur I said to Chine Sankhari and the other chums of my boyhood days, 'Oh, I fall at your feet and beg of you to utter the name of Hari.' I was about to prostrate myself before them all. Thereupon Chine said, 'This is the first outburst of your divine love; so you don't see any distinction between one man and another.' When the storm breaks and raises the dust, then mango and tamarind trees look the same. One cannot distinguish the one from the other."

A DEVOTEE: "How can a householder keep on with his worldly duties if he is overwhelmed by such bhakti-madness or Love-madness or Knowledge madness?"



Two kinds of yogis

MASTER (looking at him): "There are two kinds of yogis, the 'revealed' and the 'hidden'.

The householder may be a 'hidden' yogi. None recognizes him. The householder should renounce mentally, not outwardly."

RAM: "You talk as if you were consoling children. A householder may be a Jnni but never a vijnni."

MASTER: "He may become a vijnni in the end. But it is not good to force oneself into renunciation."

RAM: "Keshab Sen used to say: 'Why do people go to him so much? One day he will sting them and they will flee from him.' "

MASTER: "Why should I sting people? I say to people: 'Do this as well as that. Do your worldly duties and call on God as well.' I don't ask them to renounce everything. (With a smile) One day Keshab was delivering a lecture. He said, 'O Lord, grant us that we may dive into the river of divine love and go straight to the Ocean of Satchidananda.' The ladies were seated behind the screen. I said to Keshab, 'How can you all dive once for all?' Pointing to the ladies, I said: 'Then what would happen to them? Every now and then you must return to dry land. You must dive and rise alternately.' Keshab and the others laughed.

"Hazra says to me, 'You love most those endowed with rajas, those who have great wealth and name and fame.' If that is so, then why do I love people like Harish and Loto? Why do I love Narendra? He can't even afford salt to season his roast banana!"

Sri Ramakrishna left his from and went toward the pine-grove talking with M. A devotee followed them with water and towel. The Master was talking about his intended visit to the Star Theatre. He said to M.: "What Ram says applies to rajasic people. What is the use of reserving an expensive seat?"

About five o'clock that afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was on his way to Calcutta. M., Mahendra Mukherji, and a few other devotees accompanied him in Mahendra's carriage.

Thinking of God, the Master soon went into an ecstatic mood. After a long time he regained consciousness of the world. He observed: "That fellow Hazra dares teach me!

The rascal!" After a short pause he said, "shall drink some water." He often made such remarks in order to bring his mind down to the sense plane.

MAHENDRA (to M.): "May I get some refreshments for him?"

M: "No, he won't eat anything now."

MASTER (still in ecstatic mood): "I shall eat."

Mahendra took the Master to his flour-mill located at Hathibagan. After a little rest Sri Ramakrishna was to go to the theatre. Mahendra did not care to take him to his own house, for the Master was not well acquainted with his father. Priyanath, Mahendra's second brother, was also a devotee of the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on a cot over which a carpet had been spread, and was engaged in spiritual talk.

MASTER (to M. and the others): "Once, while listening to the various incidents of the life of Chaitanya, Hazra said that these were manifestations of akti, and that Brahman, the All-pervasive Spirit, had nothing to do with them. But can there be akti without Brahman? Hazra wants to nullify the teachings of this place.


Identity of Brahman and akti

"I have realized that Brahman and akti are identical, like water and its wetness, like fire and its power to burn. Brahman dwells in all beings as the Bibhu, the All-pervasive Consciousness, though Its manifestation is greater in some places than in others. Hazra says, further, that anyone who realizes God must also acquire God's supernatural powers; that he possesses these powers, though he may or may not use them."

M: "Yes, one must have control over these supernatural powers!" (All laugh) MASTER (smiling): "Yes, one must have them in one's grasp! How mean! He who has never enjoyed power and riches becomes impatient for them. But a true devotee never prays to God for them."

Sri Ramakrishna washed his face. A smoke was prepared for him. He said to M.: "Is. it dusk now? If it is, I won't smoke. During the twilight hour of the dusk you should give up all other activities and remember God." Saying this he looked at the hairs on his arm. He wanted to see whether he could count them. If he could not, it would be dusk.


Master at Star Theatre

About half past eight in the evening the carriage with the Master and the devotees drew up in front of the Star Theatre on Beadon Street. He was accompanied by M., Baburam, Mahendra and two or three others. They were talking about engaging seats, when Girish Chandra Ghosh, the manager of the theatre, accompanied by several officials, came out to the carriage, greeted the Master, and took him and the party upstairs. Girish had heard of the Master and was very glad to see him at the theatre. The Master was conducted to one of the boxes. M. sat next to him; Baburam and one or two devotees sat behind.

The hall was brilliantly lighted. The Master looked down at the pit and saw that it was crowded. The boxes also were full. For every box there was a man to fan those who occupied it. Sri Ramakrishna was filled with joy and said to M., with his childlike smile: "Ah, it is very nice here! I am glad to have come. I feel inspired when I see so many people together. Then I clearly perceive that God Himself has become everything."

M: "It is true, sir."

MASTER: "How much will they charge us here?"

M: "They won't take anything. They are very happy that you have come to the theatre."

MASTER: "It is all due to the grace of the Divine Mother."

The Chaitanyalila was about to be performed. It was a play about the early life of Sri Chaitanya, who was also known as Nimai, Gaur, Gora, and Gaurnga. The curtain rose; the attention of the audience was fixed on the stage.

The first scene depicts a council of Sin and the Six Passions. On a forest path behind them walk Viveka, Vairgya, and Bhakti, engaged in conversation.

Bhakti says to her companions: "Gaurnga is born in Nadia. Therefore the vidyadharis, the munis, and the rishis have come down to earth in disguise to pay their respects to him."

She sings:

Blest indeed is the earth! Gora is born in Nadia!

Behold the vidyadharis, coming in chariots toadore him; Behold the munis and rishis, who come, allured by the spell of Love.

The vidyadharis, munis, and rishis sing a hymn to Gaurnga and adore him as an Incarnation of God.

Sri Ramakrishna watched the scene and was overpowered with divine ecstasy. He said to M.: "Look at it! Ah! Ah!"

Sages: O Kesava, bestow Thy grace

Upon Thy luckless servants here!

O Kesava, who dost delight

To roam Vrindvan's glades and groves!

Goddesses: O Madhava, our mind's Bewitcher!

Sweet One, who dost steal our hearts,

Sweetly playing On Thy flute!

Chorus: Chant, O mind, the name of Hari, Sing aloud the name of Hari,

Praise Lord Hari's name!

Sages: O Thou Eternal Youth of Braja,

Tamer of fierce Kaliya,

Slayer of the afflicted's fear!

Goddesses: Beloved with the arching eyes And crest with arching peacock feather,

Charmer of Sri Radha's heart!

Sages: Govardhan's mighty Lifter, Thou, All garlanded with sylvan flowers!

O Damodara, Kamsa's Scourge!

Goddesses: O Dark One, who dost sport in bliss With sweet Vrindvan's gopi maids.

Chorus: Chant, O mind, the name of Hari, Sing aloud the name of Hari,

Praise Lord Hari's name!

As the vidyadharis sang the lines, Beloved with the arching eyes; And crest with arching peacock feather!, the Master went into deep samdhi. The orchestra played on, but he was not aware of the outer world.

Another scene: A guest has arrived at the house of Jagannath Misra, Nimai's father. The boy Nimai plays about, singing with his friends, in a happy mood: Tell Me, where is My blessed Vrindvan?

Where is Mother Yaoda?

Where Father Nanda and Brother Balai?

Where My twin cows, black and white?

Tell Me, where is My magic flute?

My friends Sudm and Sridm?

Where My Jamuna's bank, My banyan?

Where My beloved gopi maids?

Where is Radha, queen of My heart?

The guest closes his eyes while offering food to the Lord. Nimai runs to him. and eats the food from the plate. The guest recognizes Nimai as an Incarnation of God and seeks to please him with the Hymn of the Ten Incarnations. Before taking leave of Gaurnga's parents he sings:

Glory to Gora, the Source of Bliss!

Hail Gaurnga, Redeemer of earth!

Help of the helpless, Life of the living,

Slayer of fear in the hearts of the fearful!

Age after age we see Thy play

New sports unfolding, moods ever new;

New waves rolling, new tales to be told.

Thou who bearest the whole world's burden,

Shower on us the nectar of Love!

Take away our grief and affliction:

Thou in Love's pleasure-cave dost dwell.

Hope of the suffering! Chastiser of sin!

Scourge of the wicked! Victory to Thee!

Listening to the hymn, the Master was thrilled with ecstasy.

The next scene is at Navadvip on the bank of the Ganges. After bathing in the holy water, the brahmin men and women engage in worship by the riverside. As they close their eyes, Nimai steals their food offerings and begins to eat them. A brahmin loses his temper and says: "You scapegrace! You rascal! You are taking away my offering for Vishnu. Ruin will seize you." Nimai holds on to the offering and is about to run away.

Many of the women love him dearly and cannot bear to have him go away. They call to him: "Return, O Nimai! Come back, O Nimai!" Nimai turns a deaf ear to them.

One of the women, however, knows the irresistible charm that will bring him back. She loudly chants the name of Hari. Immediately he repeats the name of Hari and comes back.

M. was seated beside the Master. Sri Ramakrishna could not control himself. He cried out, "Ah!" and shed tears of love. He said to Baburam and M.: "Don't make a fuss if I fall into an ecstatic mood or go into samdhi. Then the worldly people will take me for a cheat."

Another scene: Nimai is invested with the sacred thread of the brahmins. He puts on the traditional ochre robe of the sannyasi. Mother Sachi and the women of the neighbourhood stand about while he begs for alms, singing: Drop a morsel of food, I pray, into my begging bowl; Alone I roam, a new-made yogi, on the highways of the world.

People of Braja, you I love, and so, time and again, I come to you; at hunger's call I beg my food from door to door.

The sun is low, and I must seek my home on the Jamuna's bank; Into its waters fall my tears, as onward murmuring it flows.

The onlookers leave the stage. Nimai stands alone. The gods, in the guise of brahmin men and women, sing his praises.

Men: Thy body gleams like liquid moonlight; Thou hast put on man's dwarfish form.

O Lord, Thee we salute!

Women: Bewitcher of the gopis' hearts, Thou roamest in the shady groves

About Vrindvan's vale.

Nimai: Hail Sri Radha! Glory to Radha!

The youths of Braja are Thy friends;

Thou curbest haughty Madan's pride.

Women: Thy love has made the gopis mad; In ecstasy the Jamuna thrills.

Men: Narayana, Deluder of demons!

Refuge of the fear-stricken gods!

Women: O Lover of Braja, Thou dost beg The love of Braja's comely maidens!

Nimai: Hail Sri Radha! Glory to Radha!

Listening to the music, the Master went into samdhi. The curtain fell and the orchestra played on.

A new scene: Srivas and other devotees are engaged in conversation in front of Advaita's house. Mukunda sings:

Sleep no more! How long will you lie

In my's slumber locked, O mind?

Who are you? Why have you been born?

Forgotten is your own true Self.

O mind, unclose your eyes at last

And wake yourself from evil dreams;

A fool you are to bind yourself

So to the passing shows of life,

When in you lives Eternal Bliss.

Come out of the gloom, O foolish mind!

Come out and hail the rising Sun!

Sri Ramakrishna praised the voice of the singer highly.

Another scene: Nimai is staying at home. Srivas comes to visit him. First he meets Sachi. The mother weeps and says: "My son doesn't attend to his household duties. My eldest son, Viswarupa, has renounced the world, and my heart has ached ever since.

Now I fear that Nimai will follow in his steps."

Nimai arrives. Sachi says to Srivas: "Look at him. Tears run down his cheeks and breast.

Tell, tell me how I can free him from these notions."

At the sight of Srivas, Nimai clings to his feet and says, with eyes full of tears: "Ah me!

Revered sir, I have not yet attained devotion to Krishna. Futile is this wretched life! Tell me, sir, where is Krishna? Where shall I find Krishna? Give me the dust of your feet with your blessing, that I may realize the Blue One with the garland of wild-flowers hanging about His neck."

Sri Ramakrishna looked at M. He was eager to say something but he could not. His voice was choked with emotion; the tears ran down his cheeks; with unmoving eyes he watched Nimai clinging to Srivas's feet and saying, "Sir, I have not yet attained devotion to Krishna."

Nimai has opened a school, but he cannot teach the students any longer. Gangadas, his former teacher, comes to persuade him to direct his attention to his worldly duties. He says to Srivas: "Listen, Srivas! We are brahmins, too, and devoted to the worship of Vishnu. But you people are ruining Nimai's worldly prospects."

MASTER (to M.): "That is the advice of the worldly-wise: Do 'this' as well as 'that'. When the worldly man teaches spirituality he always advises a compromise between the world and God."

M: "Yes, sir. That is true."

Gangadas continues his argument with Nimai. He says: "Nimai, undoubtedly you are versed in the scriptures. Reason with me. Explain to me if any other duty is superior to worldly duties. You are a householder. Why disregard the duties of a householder and follow others' duties?"

MASTER (to M.): "Did you notice? He's trying to persuade Nimai to make a compromise."

M: "Yes, sir."

Nimai says to Gangadas: "I am not wilfully indifferent to a householder's duties. On the contrary, it is my desire to hold to all sides. But, revered sir, I don't know what it is that draws me on. I don't know what to do. I want to cling to the shore but I cannot. My soul wanders away. I am helpless. My soul constantly wants to plunge headlong into the boundless Ocean."

MASTER: "Ah me!"

The scene changes: Nityananda has arrived at Navadvip. After a search he meets Nimai, who, in turn, has been seeking him. When they meet, Nimai says to him: "Blessed is my life! Fulfilled is my dream! You visited me in a dream and then disappeared."

The Master said in a voice choked with emotion, "Nimai said he had seen him in a dream."

Nimai is in an ecstatic mood and becomes engaged in conversation with Advaita, Srivas, Haridas, and other devotees. Nitai sings a song suited to Nimai's mood: Where is Krishna? Where is my Krishna?

He is not in the grove, dear friends.

Give me Krishna! Bring me my Krishna!

Radha's heart knows naught but Him.

At this song Sri Ramakrishna went into samdhi. He remained in that state a long time.

The orchestra played on. Gradually his mind came down to the relative plane. In the mean time a young man of Khardaha, born in the holy family of Nityananda, had entered the box. He was standing behind the Master's chair. Sri Ramakrishna was filled with delight at the sight of him. He held his hand and talked to him affectionately. Every now and then he said: "Please sit down here. Your very presence awakens my spiritual feeling." He played tenderly with the young man's hands and lovingly stroked his face.

After he had left, Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "He is a great scholar. His father is a great devotee of God. When I go to Khardaha to visit Syamasundar, the father entertains me with sacred offerings such as one cannot buy even for a hundred rupees. This young man has good traits. A little shaking will awaken his inner spirit. At the sight of him my spiritual mood is aroused. I should have been overwhelmed with ecstasy if he had stayed here a little longer."

The curtain rises: Nityananda is walking in a procession on the public road with his companions, chanting the name of Hari. He meets two ruffians, Jagai and Madhai, who are sworn enemies of all religious people. Madhai strikes Nitai with a piece of broken pottery. Nitai is hurt and bleeds profusely, but he pays no heed, inebriated as he is with the love of God.

Sri Ramakrishna was in an ecstatic mood.

Nitai embraces both Jagai and Madhai, and sings a song to the two ruffians: Jagai! Madhai! Oh, come and dance,

Chanting Hari's name with fervour!

What does it matter that you struck me?

Dance, dear friends, in Hari's name!

Sing the name of our Beloved:

He will embrace you in love's rapture!

Let the heavens resound with His name!

You have not tasted true emotion:

Weep as you chant the name of Hari,

And you will see the Moon of your soul.

Hari's name would I lovingly give you;

Nitai calls you to share His love.

Nimai speaks to Sachi of his desire to enter the monastic life. His mother faints and falls to the ground.

At this point many in the audience burst into tears. Sri Ramakrishna remained still and looked intently at the stage. A single tear appeared in the corner of each eye. The performance was over.

Sri Ramakrishna was about to enter a carriage. A devotee asked him how he had enjoyed the play. The Master said with a smile, "I found the representation the same as the real."

The carriage proceeded toward Mahendra's mill. Suddenly, Sri Ramakrishna went into an ecstatic mood and murmured to himself in loving tones: "O Krishna! O Krishna! Krishna is knowledge! Krishna is soul! Krishna is mind! Krishna is life! Krishna is body!" He continued: "O Govinda, Thou art my life! Thou art my soul!"

The carriage reached the mill. Mahendra fed the Master tenderly with various dishes. M.

sat by his side. Affectionately he said to M., "Here, eat a little." He put some sweets in his hands.

With Mahendra and a few other devotees, Sri Ramakrishna left in the carriage for the Dakshineswar temple garden. The Master was in a happy mood. He sang a song about Gaurnga and Nitai. M. sang with him:

Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!

I have heard how kind you are,

And therefore I have come to you. . .

The Master and Mahendra talked about the latter's intended pilgrimage.

MASTER (smiling): "The divine love in you is barely a sprout now. Why should you let it wither? But come back very soon. Many a time I have thought of visiting your place. At last I have done it. I am so happy."

MAHENDRA: "My life is indeed blessed, sir."

MASTER: "You were already blessed. Your father is also a good man. I saw him the other day. He has faith in the Adhytma Rmyana."

MAHENDRA: "Please bless me that I may have love for God."

MASTER: "You are generous and artless. One cannot realize God without sincerity and simplicity. God is far, far away from the crooked heart."

Near Syambazar, Mahendra bade the Master good-bye, and the carriage continued on its way.

--------------------

Chapter 29


THE DURGA PUJA FESTIVAL


Friday, September 26, 1884

SRI RAMAKRISHNA had come to Calcutta. It was the first day of the Durga Puja, the great religious festival, and the Hindus of the metropolis were celebrating it. The Master intended to visit the image of the Divine Mother at Adhar's house. He also wanted to see Shivanath, the Brahmo devotee.

It was about midday. Umbrella in hand, M. was pacing the footpath in front of the Brahmo Samaj temple. Two hours had passed but the Master had not yet appeared. Now and then M. sat down on the steps of Dr. Mahalnavish's dispensary and watched the joy and mirth of the people, young and old, who were celebrating the Puja.

A little after three the Master's carriage drove up. As soon as Sri Ramakrishna stepped out he saluted the temple of the Brahmo Samaj with folded hands. Hazra and a few other devotees were with him. M. bowed before the Master and took the dust of his feet.

The Master told him that he was going to Shivanath's house. A few minutes later several members of the Brahmo Samaj came and took him to Shivanath's. But Shivanath was not at home. Shortly afterwards Vijay Goswami, Mahalnavish, and several other Brahmo leaders greeted the Master and took him inside the Brahmo temple.

Sri Ramakrishna was in a happy mood. He was given a seat below the altar. There the Brahmo devotees sang their devotional music. Vijay and the Brahmo devotees sat in front of the Master.

MASTER (to Vijay, with a smile): "I was told that you had put up a 'signboard' here that people belonging to other faiths are not allowed to come in. Narendra, too, said to me: 'You shouldn't go to the Brahmo Samiij. You had better visit Shivanath's house.'


Master's catholicity

"But I say that we are all calling on the same God. Jealousy and malice need not be.

Some say that God is formless,and some that God has form. I say, let one man meditate on God with form if he believes in form, and let another meditate on the formless Deity if he does not believe in form. What I mean is that dogmatism is not good. It is not good to feel that my religion alone is true and other religions are false. The correct attitude is this: My religion is right, but I do not know whether other religions are right or wrong, true or false. I say this because one cannot know the true nature of God unless one realizes Him. Kabir used to say: 'God with form is my Mother, the Formless is my Father.

Which shall I blame? Which shall I praise? The two pans of the scales are equally heavy.'


Different paths for different temperaments

"Hindus, Mussalmans, Christians, Saktas, Saivas, Vaishnavas, the Brahmajnanis of the time of the rishis, and you, the Brahmajnanis of modern times, all seek the same object.

A mother prepares dishes to suit the stomachs of her children. Suppose a mother has five children and a fish is bought for the family. She doesn't cook pilau or kalia for all of them. All have not the same power of digestion; so she prepares a simple stew for some. But she loves all her children equally.

"Do you know my attitude? I love all the preparations of fish. I have a womanly nature (all laugh). I feel myself at home with every dish-fried fish, fish cooked with turmeric powder, pickled fish. And further, I equally relish rich preparations like fish-head, kalia, and pilau. (all laugh)

"Do you know what the truth is? God has made different religions to suit different aspirants, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths; but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion. Suppose there are errors in the religion that one has accepted; if one is sincere and earnest, then God Himself will correct those errors. Suppose a man has set out with a sincere desire to visit Jagannath at Puri and by mistake has gone north instead of south; then certainly someone meeting him on the way will tell him: 'My good fellow, don't go that way. Go to the south.' And the man will reach Jagannath sooner or later.

"If there are errors in other religions, that is none of our business. God, to whom the world belongs, takes care of that. Our duty is somehow to visit Jagannath. (To the Brahmos) The view you hold is good indeed. You describe God as formless. That is fine.

One may eat a cake with icing, either straight or sidewise. It will taste sweet either way.


Dogmatism condemned

"But dogmatism is not good. You have no doubt heard the story of the chameleon. A man entered a wood and saw a chameleon on a tree. He reported to his friends, 'I have seen a red lizard.' He was firmly convinced that it was nothing but red. Another person, after visiting the tree, said, 'I have seen a green lizard.' He was firmly convinced that it was nothing but green. But the man who lived under the tree said: 'What both of you have said is true. But the fact is that the creature is sometimes red, sometimes green, sometimes yellow, and sometimes has no colour at all.'

"God has been described in the Vedas as both with attributes and without. You describe Him as without form only. That is one-sided. But never mind. If you know one of His aspects truly, you will be able to know His other aspects too. God Himself will tell you all about them. (Pointing to two or three Brahmo devotees) Those who come to your Samaj know both this gentleman and that."


Encouragement to Vijay

Vijay still belonged to the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. He was a salaried preacher of that organization but could not obey all its rules and regulations. He mixed with those who believed in God with form. This was creating a misunderstanding between him and the Brahmo authorities. Many Brahmos disapproved of his conduct. The Master suddenly looked at Vijay and began to talk to him.

MASTER (to Vijay, smiling): "I understand that they have been finding fault with you for mixing with those who believe in God with form. Is that true? He who is a devotee of God must have an understanding that cannot be shaken under any conditions. He must be like the anvil in a blacksmith's shop. It is constantly being struck by the hammer; still it is unshaken. Bad people may abuse you very much and speak ill of you; but you must bear with them all if you sincerely seek God. Isn't it possible to think of God in the midst of the wicked? Just think of the rishis of ancient times. They used to meditate on God in the forest, surrounded on all sides by tigers, bears, and other ferocious beasts. Wicked men have the nature of tigers and bears. They will pursue you to do you an injury.


How to deal with wicked people

"One must be careful about these few things. First, an influential man who has much money and many men under his control. He can injure you if he wants; you must be careful while talking to him; perhaps you may have to approve what he says. Second, a dog. When it chases you or barks at you, you must stand still, talk to it gently, and pacify it. Third, a bull. If it runs after you with lowered horns, you must calm it with a gentle voice. Fourth, a drunkard. If you arouse his anger, he will abuse you, naming fourteen generations of your family. You should say to him: 'Hello uncle! How are you?'

Then he will be mightily pleased and sit by you and smoke.

"In the presence of a wicked person I become alert. If such a man asks me whether I have a pipe for smoking, I say, 'Yes, I have.' Some people have the nature of a snake: they will bite you without warning. You have to discriminate a great deal in order to avoid the bite; otherwise your passion will be stirred up to such an extent that you will feel like doing injury in return. The companionship of a holy man is greatly needed now and then. It enables one to discriminate between the Real and the unreal."

VIJAY: "I have no time, sir. I am entangled in my duties here."

MASTER: "You are a religious teacher. Others have holidays, but not so a religious teacher. When the manager of an estate brings order to one part of it, the landlord sends him to another part. So you have no leisure." (all laugh) VIJAY (with folded hands): "Sir, please give me your blessing."

MASTER: "Now you are talking like an ignorant person. It is God alone who blesses."

VIJAY: "Revered sir, please give us some instruction."

The Master glanced around the Brahmo temple and said with a smile, "This is nice too-a mixture of crystals and syrup. There are crystals, and there is syrup too.

"I have scored too many points and am therefore out of the game (all laugh). Do you know the game called 'nax'? It is a game of cards, and anyone scoring above seventeen is out of the game. Those who score fewer points-say five, seven, or ten-are clever. I have scored too many and am out of the game.

"Once Keshab Sen gave a lecture at his house. I was present. Many people were there.

The ladies were seated behind the screen. Keshab, in the course of his talk, said, 'O God, please bless us that we may dive and disappear altogether in the river of bhakti.' I said to Keshab with a smile: 'If you disappear altogether in the river of bhakti, then what will be the fate of those behind the screen? By all means dive into the river, but you had better come back to dry land now and then: Don't disappear in the river altogether.' At these words Keshab and the others burst out laughing.

"Never mind. One can realize God in the world, too, if only one is sincere. 'I' and 'mine'-

that is ignorance. But, 'O God! Thou and Thine'-that is knowledge.


Advice to householders

"Live in the world like a maidservant in a rich man's house. She performs all the household duties, brings up her master's child, and speaks of him as 'my Hari'. But in her heart she knows quite well that neither the house nor the child belongs to her. She performs all her duties, but just the same her mind dwells on her native place. Likewise, do your worldly duties but fix your mind on God. And know that house, family, and son do not belong to you; they are God's. You are only His servant.

"I ask people to renounce mentally. I do not ask them to give up the world. If one lives in the world unattached and seeks God with sincerity, then one is able to attain Him.

(To Vijay) "There was a time when I too would meditate on God with my eyes closed.

Then I said to myself: 'Does God exist only when I think of Him with my eyes closed?

Doesn't He exist when I look around with my eyes open?' Now, when I look around with my eyes open, I see that God dwells in all beings. He is the Indwelling Spirit of all-men, animals and other living beings, trees and plants, sun and moon, land and water.

"Why do I seek Shivanath? He who meditates on God for many days has substance in him, has divine power in him. Further, he who sings well, plays well on a musical instrument, or has mastered anyone art, has in him real substance and the power of God. This is the view of the Git. It is said in the Chandi that he who is endowed with physical beauty has in him substance and the power of God. (To Vijay) Ah, what a beautiful nature Kedr has! No sooner does he come to me than he bursts into tears. His eyes are always red and swim in tears, like a chanabara in syrup."

VIJAY: "At Dcc he is constantly talking about you. He is always eager to see you."

Sri Ramakrishna was about to depart. The Brahmo devotees bowed low before him and he returned their salute. Then, getting into the carriage, he set out for Adhar's house to see the image of the Divine Mother.


Sunday, September 28, 1884

It was the day of the Mahshtami, the most auspicious day of the worship of Durga, the Divine Mother. At Adhar's invitation Sri Ramakrishna had come to Calcutta to see the holy image at his house. Before going there he went to Ram's. Many devotees, including Narendra, Baburam, M., Niranjan, Vijay, Kedr, Ram, and Surendra, were present.

Balarm and Rkhl were still at Vrindvan.

MASTER (looking at Vijay and Kedr, with a smile): "This is a nice reunion today. You two have the same spiritual mood. (To Vijay) Well, what about Shivanath? Did you-?"

VIJAY: "Yes, sir, he heard that you had been to his house. I haven't seen him, but I sent him word. He knows about it."

MASTER (to Vijay and the others); "Four desires have come into my mind. I shall eat fish curry cooked with eggplant. I shall visit Shivanath. The devotees will repeat the name of Hari over their beads, and I shall watch them. And the Tantrik devotees will drink consecrated wine, eight nns worth, on the ashtami day, and I shall watch them and salute them."

Narendra was seated in front of the Master. He was about twenty-two years old. While Sri Ramakrishna was talking thus his eyes fell upon his beloved disciple. At once the Master stood up and went into samdhi. He placed one foot on Narendra's knee. He was in a deep spiritual mood, his eyes unblinking, his mind completely unconscious of the outer world. After a long time he came down to the relative plane of consciousness; but he still appeared dazed, for the intoxication of divine bliss had not altogether left him.

Speaking to himself in that ecstatic state, he repeated the name of God. He said: "Satchidananda! Satchidananda! Satchidananda! Shall I repeat that? No, it is the day of the Divine Mother, the Giver of the bliss of divine inebriation. O Mother, full of the bliss of divine inebriation! Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni. It is not good to keep the voice on 'ni'.

It is not possible to keep it there very long. I shall keep it on the next lower note.


Difference between ordinary men and Incarnations "There are different planes of consciousness: the gross, the subtle, the causal, and the Great Cause. Entering the Mahakarana, the Great Cause, one becomes silent; one cannot utter a word.

"But an Isvarakoti, after attaining the Great Cause, can come down again to the lower planes. Incarnations of God, and others like them, belong to the class of the Isvarakotis.

They climb up, and they can also come down. They climb to the roof, and they can come down again by the stairs and move about on a lower floor. It is a case of negation and affirmation. There is, for instance, the seven-storey palace of a king. Strangers have access only to the lower apartments; but the prince, who knows the palace to be his own, can move up and down from floor to floor. There is a kind of rocket that throws out sparks in one pattern and then seems to go out. After a moment it makes another pattern, and then still another. There is no end to the patterns it can make. But there is another kind of rocket that, when it is lighted, makes only a dull sound, throws out a few sparks, and then goes out altogether. Like this second kind, an ordinary jiva, after much spiritual effort, can go to a higher plane; but he cannot come down to tell others his experiences. After much effort he may go into samdhi; but he cannot climb down from that state or tell others what he has seen there.


Nature of the everperfect

"There is a class of devotees, the nityasiddhas, the everperfect. From their very birth they seek God. They do not enjoy anything of the world.


Illustration of homa bird

The Vedas speak of the homa bird. It lives very high in the sky. There the mother bird lays her egg. She lives so high that the egg falls for many days. While falling it is hatched. The chick continues to fall. That also goes on for many days. In the mean time the chick develops eyes. Coming near the earth, it becomes conscious of the world. It realizes it will meet certain death if it hits the ground. Then it gives a shrill cry and shoots up toward its mother. The earth means death, and it frightens the young bird; it then seeks its mother. She dwells high up in the sky, and the young bird shoots straight up in that direction. It doesn't look anywhere else.

"Those who are born as the companions of an Incarnation of God are eternally perfect.

For some of them that birth is the last.

(To Vijay) "You have both-yoga and bhoga. King Janaka also had yoga and bhoga.

Therefore he is called a rajarshi, both king and seer. Nrada was a devarshi, and Sukadeva a brahmarshi. Yes, Sukadeva was a brahmarshi. He was not a mere Jnni; he was the very embodiment of Jnna, Divine Knowledge. Whom do I call a Jnni? A man who has attained Knowledge and has done so after much effort. Sukadeva was the very image of Knowledge, in other words, a form of concentrated Knowledge. He attained Knowledge spontaneously, without any labour."

Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna came down to the normal mood. Then he talked freely with the devotees. The Master asked Kedr to sing.

Kedr sang:

How shall I open my heart, O friend?

It is forbidden me to speak.

I am about to die, for lack of a kindred soul

To understand my misery. . . .

Kedr sang several other songs. After the music the Master again talked to the devotees.

Nandalal, Keshab's nephew, was also present with a few brahmo friends. They were sitting near the Master.

MASTER (to Vijay and the other devotees): "A man brought a bottle of consecrated wine for me; but I couldn't even touch it."

VIJAY: "Ah!"

MASTER: "I become intoxicated at the mere thought of God. I don't have to take any wine. I feel drunk at the very sight of the charanamrita. I feel as if I had drunk five bottles of liquor. When a person attains such a state he cannot help discriminating about food."

NARENDRA: "As regards food, one should take whatever comes."

MASTER: "What you say applies only to a particular state of the aspirant's mind. No food can harm a Jnni.

According to the Git, the Jnni himself does not eat; his eating is an offering to the Kundalini. But that does not apply to a bhakta. The present state of my mind is such that I cannot eat any food unless it is first offered to God by a brahmin priest. Formerly my state of mind was such that I would enjoy inhaling the smell of burning corpses, carried by the wind from the other side of the Ganges. It tasted very sweet to me. But nowadays I cannot eat food touched by anybody and everybody. No, I cannot. But once in a while I do. One day I was taken to see a performance of a play at Keshab's house.

They gave me luchi and curries to eat. I didn't know whether the food was handed to me by a washerman or a barber; but I ate quite a little (all laugh). Rkhl had asked me to eat.

(To Narendra) "With you it is all right. You are in 'this' as well as in 'that'. You can eat everything now. (To the devotees) Blessed is he who feels longing for God, though he eats pork. But shame on him whose mind dwells on 'woman and gold', though he eats the purest food-boiled vegetables, rice, and ghee.

"Once I had a desire to eat dal cooked in a blacksmith's house. From my childhood I had heard the blacksmiths say, 'Do the brahmins know how to cook?' I ate the dal, but it smelt of the blacksmith. (all laugh)

"I received the Allah mantra from Govinda Rai. Rice was cooked for me with onions in the kuthi. I ate some. I ate curry in Mani Mallick's garden house, but I felt a kind of repulsion to it.

"When I went to Kamarpukur, Ramlal's father was frightened. He thought I might eat at any and every house. He was frightened to think I might be expelled from the caste; so I couldn't stay long. I came away.

"Both the Vedas and the Puranas describe pure food and conduct. But what the Vedas and the Puranas ask people to shun as impure is extolled by the Tantra as good.


Master's divine madness

"Oh, what a state of mind I passed through! I would open my mouth, touching, as it were, heaven and the nether world with my jaws, and utter the word 'Ma'. I felt that I had seized the Mother, like a fisherman dragging fish in his net. Let me recite a song:

This time I shall devour Thee utterly, Mother Kli!

For I was born under an evil star,

And one so born becomes, they say, the eater of his mother.

Thou must devour me first, or I myself shall eat Thee up; One or the other it must be.


I shall besmear my hands with black, and with black my face; With black I shall besmear the whole of my body And when Death seizes me, with black I shall besmear his face.

O Mother, I shall eat Thee up but not digest Thee; I shall install Thee in my heart

And make Thee offerings with my mind.


You may say that by eating Kli I shall embroil myself With Kala, Her Husband, but I am not afraid;

Braving His anger, I shall chant my Mother's name.

To show the world that Ramprasad is Kli's rightful son, Come what may, I shall eat Thee up-Thee and Thy retinue-Or lose my life attempting it.


"I almost became mad-such was my longing for God."


Narendra began to sing:

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!

What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .

Listening to the song, the Master again went into samdhi. Coming down to the normal plane, he assumed the attitude of Girirani and sang the gamani. He sang, intoxicated with divine love:

Tell me, my Uma, how have you fared, alone in the Stranger's house? . . .

He said to the devotees, "Today is the Mahashtami. The Mother has come; that is why I feel such an awakening of spiritual emotion."

KEDR: "Lord, you are here. Are you different from the Divine Mother?"

Sri Ramakrishna looked in another direction and sang in an absent-minded mood: Ah, friend! I have not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad....

Again he became ecstatic and sang of the Divine Mother. As he sang, Vijay suddenly stood up crying the name of Hari. Sri Ramakrishna, full of divine love, began to dance with Vijay and the other devotees.

The music was over. The Master, Vijay, Narendra, and the other devotees sat down. All eyes were fixed on Sri Ramakrishna, who began conversing with the devotees. He asked about their health. Kedr spoke to him humbly in a soft, sweet voice. Narendra, Chunilal, Ram, M., and Harish were sitting by the Master.

KEDR (humbly): "How can I get rid of my dizziness?"

MASTER (tenderly): "One gets that. I have had it myself.

Use a little almond oil. I have heard that it cures dizziness."

KEDR: "I shall, sir."

MASTER (to Chunilal): "Hello! How is everything?"

CHUNILAL: "Everything is all right with us now. Balarm Babu and Rkhl are well at Vrindvan."

MASTER: "Why have you sent so many sweetmeats? (To Harish) Wait a day or two before coming to Dakshineswar. You are not well. You may fall ill again there. (To Narayan, tenderly) Sit here. Sit by me. Come to Dakshineswar tomorrow and have your meal there. (Pointing to M.) Come with him. (To M.) What do you say?"

M. wanted to accompany Sri Ramakrishna to Dakshineswar that very day. He became thoughtful.

Surendra stood near Sri Ramakrishna. He was in the habit of drinking and often went to excess. This had worried the Master greatly, but he had not asked Surendra to give up drinking altogether. He had said to him: "Look here, Surendra! Whenever you drink wine, offer it beforehand to the Divine Mother. See that your brain doesnt become clouded and that you don't reel The more you think of the Divine Mother, the less you will like to drink The Mother is the Giver of the bliss of divine inebriation. Realizing Her, one feels a natural bliss."

The Master looked at Surendra and said, "You have had a drink." With these words he went into samdhi. It was dusk. Regaining partial consciousness, the Master sang: Behold my Mother playing with iva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!

Drunk with a draught of celestial wine, She reels, and yet She does not fall. . .

Then he chanted the name of Hari, clapping his hands occasionally. In a sweet voice he said: "Hari! Hari! O mind, chant the name of Hari! Sing the name of Hari!" Then he chanted: "Rma! Rma Rma! Rma!"

Now the Master began to pray: "O Rma! O Rma! I am without devotion and austerity, without knowledge and love; I have not performed any religious rites. O Rma, I have taken refuge in Thee; I have taken shelter at Thy feet. I do not want creature comforts; I do not seek name and fame. O Rma, I do not crave the eight occult powers; I do not care for a hundred occult powers! I am Thy servant. I have taken refuge in Thee. Grant, O Rma, that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet; that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching my! O Rma, I have taken refuge it Thee."

As the Master prayed all eyes were turned toward him. Hearing his piteous voice, few could restrain their tears.

Ramchandra Dutta came in and stood near him.

MASTER: "Where have you been, Ram?"

RAM: "I was upstairs, sir."

Ram had been making arrangements for feeding the devotees on the roof of the house.

MASTER (to Ram, with a smile): "Isn't it better to stay down below that to be high up?

Water accumulates in low land but flows down from a high mound."

RAM (with a smile): "That is true, sir."

Supper was ready on the roof. Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees were taken there and sumptuously fed. Later the Master went to Adhar's house with M., Niranjan, and others.

The Divine Mother was being worshipped there, It had been Adhar's earnest prayer that on this sacred day Sri Ramakrishna might bless his house with his presence.


Monday, September 29, 1884

It was the third day of the Durga Puja. The Master had been awake in his room at Dakshineswar since early morning. The morning worship in the Kli temple was over and the orchestra had played the morning melodies in the nahabat. Brahmans and gardeners, basket in hand, were plucking flowers for the worship of the Divine Mother.

Bhavanath, Baburam, Niranjan, and M. had spent the night at Dakshineswar, sleeping on the porch of the Master's room. As soon as they awoke they saw Sri Ramakrishna dancing in an ecstatic mood. He was chanting: "Victory to Mother Durga! Hallowed be the name of Durga!" He was naked and looked like a child as he chanted the name of the Blissful Mother. After a few moments he said: "Oh, the bliss of divine ecstasy! Oh, the bliss of divine drunkenness!" Then he repeatedly chanted the name of Govinda: "O

Govinda! My life! My soul!"

The devotees sat on their beds and with unwinking eyes watched Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual mood. Hazra was living at the temple garden. Ltu was also living there to render the Master personal service. Rkhl was still at Vrindvan. Narendra visited Sri Ramakrishna now and then. He was expected that day.

The devotees washed their faces. The Master took his seat on a mat on the north verandah. Bhavanath and M. sat beside him. Other devotees were coming in and out of the room.

MASTER (to Bhavanath): "The truth is that ordinary men cannot easily have faith. But an Isvarakoti's faith is spontaneous. Prahlada burst into tears while writing the letter 'ka'. It reminded him of Krishna. It is the nature of jivas to doubt. They say yes, no doubt, but-Oneness of akti and Brahman "Hazra can never be persuaded to believe that Brahman and akti, that akti and the Being endowed with akti, are one and the same. When the Reality appears as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, we call It akti; when It is inactive, we call It Brahman. But really It is one and the same thing-indivisible. Fire naturally brings to mind its power to burn; and the idea of burning naturally brings to mind the idea of fire. It is impossible to think of the one without the other.

"So I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother! Hazra is trying to upset the views of this place. Either give him right understanding or take him from here.' The next day he carne to me and said, 'Yes, I agree with you.' He said that God exists everywhere as All-pervading Consciousness."

BHAVANATH (smiling): "Did what Hazra said really make you suffer so much?"

MASTER: "You see, I am now in a different mood. I can't shout and carry on heated discussions with people. I am not in a mood now to argue and quarrel with Hazra. Hriday said to me at Jadu Mallick's garden house, 'Uncle, don't you want to keep me with you?'

'No,' I said, 'I am no longer in a mood to get into heated arguments with you.'


Knowledge and ignorance

"What is knowledge and what is ignorance? A man is ignorant so long as he feels that God is far away. He has knowledge when he knows that God is here and everywhere.


Childlike faith

"When a man has true knowledge he feels that everything is filled with Consciousness.

At Kamarpukur I used to talk to Shibu, who was then a lad four or five years old. When the clouds rumbled and lightning flashed, Shibu would say to me: 'There, uncle! They are striking matches again!' (all laugh) One day I noticed him chasing grasshoppers by himself. The leaves rustled in the near-by trees. 'Hush! Hush!' he said to the leaves. 'I want to catch the grasshoppers.' He was a child and saw everything throbbing with consciousness. One cannot realize God without the faith that knows no guile, the simple faith of a child.

"Ah, what a state of mind I passed through! One day something bit me while I was sitting in the grass. I was afraid it might have been a snake, and I didn't know what to do. I had heard that if a snake bites you again immediately after its first bite, it takes back. its own venom. At once I set out to discover the hole so that I might let the snake bite me again. While I was searching, a man said to me, 'What are you doing?' After listening to my story, he said, 'But the snake must bite in the very same place it has bitten before.' Thereupon I went away. Perhaps I had been bitten by a scorpion or some other insect.

"I had heard from Ramlal that the autumn chill was good for one's health. Ramlal had quoted a verse to support it. One day, as I was returning from Calcutta in a carriage, I stuck my head out of the window so that I might get all the chill. Then I fell ill." (all laugh)

Sri Ramakrishna entered his room and sat down. His legs were a little swollen. He asked the devotees to feel his legs and see whether or not the pressure of their fingers made dimples. Dimples did appear with the pressure, but the devotees said that it was nothing.

MASTER (to Bhavanath): "Please ask Mahendra of Sinthi to see me. I shall feel better if he reassures me."

BHAVANATH (with a smile): "You have great faith in medicine. But we haven't so much."

MASTER: "It is God who, as the doctor, prescribes the medicine. It is He who, in one form, has become the physician. Dr. Gangaprasad asked me not to drink water at night.

I regarded his statement as the words of the Vedas. I look upon him as the physician of heaven."

Hazra entered the room and sat down. The Master talked awhile about different things and then said to Hazra: "You see, many people were at Ram's house yesterday. Vijay, Kedr, and others were there. But why did I feel so deeply stirred at the sight of Narendra? I found that Kedr belonged to the realm of Divine Inebriation."

Presently Narendra arrived, and Sri Ramakrishna was exceedingly happy. Narendra saluted the Master and began to talk with Bhavanath and others in the room. M. was seated near by. A long mat was spread on the floor. While talking, Narendra lay on it flat on his stomach. The Master looked at him and suddenly went into samdhi. He sat on Narendra's back in an ecstatic mood.

Bhavanath sang:

O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,

Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss! . . .

Sri Ramakrishna came down from the plane of samdhi. He sang: Repeat, O mind, my Mother Durga's hallowed name!

O Gauri! O Narayani! to Thee I bow.

Thou art the day, O Mother! Thou art the dusk and the night.

As Rma Thou drawest the bow, as Krishna Thou playest the flute;

As Kli all-terrible, Thou hast silenced iva, Thy Lord.

The ten Embodiments of Divine akti art Thou,

And Thou the ten Avatars; this time save me Thou must!

With flowers and vilwa-leaves did Yaoda worship Thee, And Thou didst bless her by placing Krishna, the Child, in her arms.

Wherever I chance to live, O Mother, in forest or grove, May my mind, day and night, dwell at Thy Lotus Feet; Whether at last I die a natural or sudden death, Oh, may my tongue repeat Durga's name at the end!

Thou mayest send me away, O Mother, but where shall I go?

Tell me, Mother, where else shall I hear so sweet a name?

Thou mayest even say to me: "Step aside! Go away!"

Yet I shall cling to Thee, O Durga! Unto Thy feet As Thine anklets I shall cling, making their tinkling sound.

When, O Mother, Thou sittest at mighty iva's side, Then I shall cry from Thy feet, "Victory unto iva!"

Mother, when as the Kite, Thou soarest in the sky, There, in the water beneath, as a minnow I shall be swimming; Upon me Thou wilt pounce, and pierce me through with Thy claws.

Thus, when the breath of life forsakes me in Thy grip, Do not deny me the shelter of Thy Lotus Feet!

From the world's bondage free me, 0 Spouse of the Absolute!

Thy two feet are my boat to cross this world's dark sea.

Thou art the heavens and the earth, and Thou the nether world; From Thee have the twelve Gopalas and Hari and Brahma sprung.

Whoever treads the path, repeating "Durga! Durga!"

iva Himself protects with His almighty trident.

Hazra was sitting on the northeast verandah counting the beads of his rosary. The Master went and sat in front of him, taking the rosary in his own hands.

MASTER (to Hazra): "You see, I cannot use the rosary. No, perhaps I can. Yes, I can with my left hand. But I cannot repeat the name of God with it."

With these words Sri Ramakrishna tried to perform a little japa. But hardly had he begun when he went into samdhi. He sat in that state a long time, still holding the rosary in his hand. The devotees looked at him with wonder in their eyes. Hazra also watched the Master without uttering a word. After a long time Sri Ramakrishna regained consciousness of the outer world and said that he was hungry. He often said such things to bring his mind down to the normal plane. M. was going to bring something for him to eat. The Master said, "No, I shall first go to the Kli temple."

He went across the cement courtyard toward the Kli temple. On the way he bowed with folded hands to the twelve iva temples. On the left was the temple of Radhakanta. He went there first and bowed before the image. Then he entered the Kli temple and saluted the Mother. Sitting on a carpet, he offered flowers at the Mother's holy feet. He also placed a flower on his own head. While returning from the temple he asked Bhavanath to carry the green coconut offered at the temple, and the charanamrita.

Coming back to his room, accompanied by M. and Bhavanath, he saluted Hazra, who cried out in dismay: "What are you doing, sir? What is this?" The Master said, "Why should you say it is wrong?" Hazra often argued with the Master, declaring that God dwelt in all beings and that everybody could attain Brahmajnana through sadhana. He had an exaggerated idea of his own spiritual progress.

It was about noon. The gong and the bells announced the worship and offering in the various temples. The brahmins, the Vaishnavas, and the beggars went to the guesthouse to have their midday meal. The devotees of the Master were also to partake of the sacred offerings. He asked them to go to the guesthouse. To Narendra he said: "Won't you take your meal in my room? All right. Narendra and I will eat here." Bhavanath, Baburam, M., and the other devotees went to the guesthouse.

After his meal Sri Ramakrishna rested a few minutes. The devotees were on the verandah engaged in light conversation. He soon joined them and was happy in their company. It was about two o'clock. All were, still sitting on the verandah, when suddenly Bhavanath appeared in the garb of a brahmachari, dressed in an ochre cloth, kamandalu in hand, his face beaming with smiles.

MASTER (with a smile): "That is his inner feeling. Therefore he has dressed himself as a brahmachari"

NARENDRA: "He has put on the garb of a brahmachari; let me put on the garb of' a Tantrik worshipper."

HAZRA: "Then you will have to follow the Tantrik rituals, with women, wine, and so on."

Sri Ramakrishna did not encourage the conversation. Indeed, he made fun of it.

Suddenly the Master began to dance in an ecstatic mood. He sang: Mother, Thou canst not trick me any more,

For I have seen Thy crimson Lotus Feet. . . .

The Master said: "Ah, how wonderfully Rajnarayan sings about the Divine Mother! He sings and dances that way. The music of Nakur chrya at Kamarpukur is also wonderful. Ah, how beautiful his singing and dancing are!"

A sdhu was staying at the Panchavati. But he was a hot-tempered man; he scolded and cursed everyone. He came to the Master's room wearing wooden sandals and asked the Master, "Can I get fire here?" Sri Ramakrishna saluted him and stood with folded hands as long as he remained in the room.

When he had left, Bhavanath said to the Master with a laugh, "What great respect you showed the sdhu!"

MASTER (smiling): "You see, he too is Narayana, though full of tamas. This is the way one should please people who have an excess of tamas. Besides, he is a sdhu."

The devotees were engaged in a game of golokdham. Hazra joined them. The Master stood by, watching them play. M. and Kishori reached "heaven". Sri Ramakrishna bowed before them and said, "Blessed are you two brothers." He said to M., aside, "Don't play any more." Hazra fell into "hell". The Master said: "What's the matter with Hazra?

Again!" No sooner had Hazra got out of "hell" than he fell into it again. All burst into laughter. Ltu, at the first throw of the dice, went to "heaven" from "earth". He began to cut capers of joy. "See Ltu's joy!" said the Master. "He would have been terribly sad if he hadn't achieved this. (Aside to the devotees) This too has a meaning. Hazra is so vain that he thinks he will triumph over all even in this game. This is the law of God, that He never humiliates a righteous person. Such a man is victorious everywhere."

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch in his room. Narendra, Baburam, Bhavanath, and M. were sitting on the floor. Narendra referred to various religious sects-the Ghoshpara, Panchanami, and others. Sri Ramakrishna described their views and condemned their immoral practices. He said that they could not follow the right course of spiritual discipline, but enjoyed sensuous pleasures in the name of religion.


Danger of Tantrik discipline

MASTER (to Narendra): "You need not listen to these things. The bhairavas and the bhairavis of the Tantrik sect also follow this kind of discipline. While in Benares I was taken to one of their mystic circles. Each bhairava had a bhairavi with him. I was asked to drink the consecrated wine, but I said I couldn't touch wine. They drank it. I thought perhaps they would then practise meditation and japa. But nothing of the sort. They began to dance. I was afraid they might fall into the Ganges: the circle had been made on its bank. It is very honourable for husband and wife to assume the roles of bhairava and bhairavi.

(To Narendra and the others) "Let me tell you this. I regard woman as my mother; I regard myself as her son. This is a very pure attitude. There is no danger in it. To look on woman as a sister is also not bad. But to assume the attitude of a 'hero', to look on woman as one's mistress, is the most difficult discipline. Trak's father followed this discipline. It is very difficult. In this form of sadhana one cannot always maintain the right attitude.

"There are various paths to reach God. Each view is a path. It is like reaching the Kli temple by different roads. But it must be said that some paths are clean and some dirty.

It is good to travel on a clean path.

"Many views, many paths-and I have seen them all. But I don't enjoy them any more; they all quarrel.


Master's inner experiences

"No one else is here, and you are my own people. Let me tell you something. I have come to the final realization that God is the Whole and I am a part of Him, that God is the Master and I am His servant. Furthermore, I think every now and then that He is I and I am He."

The devotees listened to these words in deep silence.

BHAVANATH (humbly): "I feel disturbed if I have a misunderstanding with someone. I feel that in that case I am not able to love all"

MASTER: "Try at the outset to talk to him and establish a friendly relationship with him.

If you fail in spite of your efforts, then don't give it another thought. Take refuge in God.

Meditate on Him. There is no use in giving up God and feeling depressed from thinking about others."

BHAVANATH: "Great souls, such as Christ and Chaitanya, have admonished us to love all beings."

MASTER: "Love you must, because God dwells in all beings. But salute a wicked person from a distance. You speak of Chaitanya? He also used to restrain his spiritual feeling in the presence of unsympathetic people. At Srivas's house he put Srivas's mother-in-law out of the room, dragging her out by the hair."

BHAVANATH: "It was not he but others who did it."

MASTER: "Could the other have done it without his approval? What can be done?

Suppose a man cannot make another love him; must he worry about it day and night?

Must I waste my mind, which should be given to God, on useless things? I say: 'O

Mother, I don't want Narendra, Bhavanath, Rkhl, or anybody. I seek Thee alone. What shall I do with man?'

When the Blissful Mother comes to my house, how much of the Chandi I shall hear!

How many monks will come here, and how many yogis with matted locks!

"When I attain God I shall attain everything. I renounced gold and silver, saying, 'Rupee is clay and clay is rupee; gold is clay and clay is gold.' With these words I threw gold, silver, and clay into the Ganges. Then I was afraid at the thought that Mother Lakshmi might be angry with me because I had treated Her wealth with contempt; that She might even stop my meals. So I prayed to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, I want Thee and nothing else.' I knew that by realizing Her I should get everything."

BHAVANATH (smiling): "This is the shrewd calculation of a business man."

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, that is so. Once the Lord was pleased with a certain devotee.

He appeared before him and said: 'I am very much pleased with your austerities. Ask a boon of Me.' The devotee said, 'O Lord, if You are gracious enough to give me a boon, then please grant that I may eat from gold plates with my grandchildren.' One boon covered many things-wealth, children, and grandchildren." (all laugh) Hazra was sitting on the verandah.

MASTER: "Do you know what Hazra wants? He wants money. His family is in distress; he has debts. He thinks that God will give him money because he devotes himself to japa and meditation."

A DEVOTEE: "Can't God fulfil a devotee's desire?"

MASTER: "If it is His sweet will. But God doesn't take entire responsibility for a devotee unless the devotee is completely intoxicated with ecstatic love for Him. At a feast it is only a child whom one takes by the hand and seats at his place. Who does that with older people? Not until a man thinks so much of God that he cannot look after himself does God take on his responsibilities. Hazra doesn't inquire about his family. His son said to Ramlal: 'Please ask father to come home. We shall not ask anything of him.' These words almost brought tears to my eyes. Hazra's mother said to Ramlal: 'Please ask Pratap to come home just once. Also ask your uncle to request him to come home.' I told him about it, but he didn't listen to me.


Duty toward mother

"Is a mother to be trifled .with? Before becoming a sannyasi Chaitanyadeva worked hard to persuade his mother to let him renounce home. Mother Sachi said that she would kill Keshab Bharati. Chaitanyadeva did his utmost to persuade her. He said: 'Mother, I shall not renounce home if you won't let me. But if you compel me to lead a householder's life, I shall die. And, mother, even if I go away as a sannyasi, you will be able to see me whenever you desire. I shall stay near you. I shall see you every now and then.' Only when Chaitanya explained it to her thus did she give her permission. Nrada could not go to the forest to practise austerity as long as his mother was alive. He had to take care of her. After her death he went away to realize God.

"When I went to Vrindvan I felt no desire to return to Calcutta. It was arranged that I should live with Gangama. Everything was settled. My bed was to be on one side and Gangama's on the other. I resolved not to go back to Calcutta. I said to myself, 'How long must I eat a kaivarta's food?' 'No,' said Hriday to me, 'let us go to Calcutta.' He pulled me by one hand and Gangama pulled me by the other. I felt an intense desire to live at Vrindvan. But just then I remembered my mother. That completely changed everything. She was old. I said to myself: 'My devotion to God will take to its wings if I have to worry about my mother. I would rather live with her. Then I shall have peace of mind and be able to meditate on God.'

(To Narendra) "Why don't you say a few words to Hazra about going home? The other day he said to me, 'Yes, I shall go home and stay there three days.' But now he has forgotten all about it.

(To the devotees) "We have talked about filthy things-Ghoshpara and things like that.

Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Now chant the name of Hari. Let there be a dish of rice pudding and sweets after the ordinary lentils."

Narendra began to sing:

Fasten your mind, O man, on the Primal Purusha, Who is the Cause of all causes,

The Stainless One, the Beginningless Truth.

As Prana He pervades the infinite universe;

The man of faith beholds Him,

Living, resplendent, the Root of all.

Beyond the senses, eternal, the Essence of Consciousness, He shines in the cave of the heart,

Adorned with Holiness, Wisdom, and Love;

By meditating on Him, man is delivered from grief.

Of countenance ever serene,

An inexhaustible Ocean of Virtue,

None can fathom His depths; yet freely, of His own grace, Does He reveal Himself

To those who come to His feet for shelter,

Merciful since they are helpless and He is the Ever-forgiving, The Giver of happiness,

The Ready Help in the sea of our woe.

Unswervingly just, bestowing the fruits of our deeds, good and ill,

Yet is He the Fount of Compassion,

The Ocean of Mercy brimming with Love;

Even to hear of His glory suffuses the eyes with tears.

Gaze on His face and be blest:

Your heart is hungry for Him, O man!

Bright with unspeakable beauty, peerless and without stain, No words can ever describe Him;

Be as a beggar before His gate

And worship Him day and night, beseeching Him for His grace.


He sang again:

In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's Hood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.

O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee!

On every side shine devotees, like stars around the moon; Their Friend, the Lord All-merciful, joyously plays with them.

Behold! the gates of paradise today are open wide. . . .

Sri Ramakrishna was dancing in a circle. The devotees joined him. They all sang and danced. Their bliss was indescribable. The Master sang about the Divine Mother: Behold my Mother playing with iva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!...

Sri Ramakrishna was highly pleased because M. had joined in the music. He said to M., with a smile, "The atmosphere would have been more intense with divine fervour if a drum had accompanied the music and played: 'Tak tak ta dhina! Dak dak da dhina!' "

It was dusk when the kirtan was finished.


Wednesday, October 1, 1884


Master at Adhar's house

Sri Ramakrishna had set out from Dakshineswar for Adhar's house in Calcutta. Narayan and Gangadhar were with him. In the carriage, in an ecstatic mood, he said: "Shall I count the beads? How shameful that would be! This emblem of iva has sprung from the bowels of the earth; it is self created and not set up by man's hands."

They arrived at Adhar's house, where many devotees, including Kedr, Baburam, and Vijay, had assembled. Vaishnavcharan, the musician, was present. At the Master's behest, Adhar heard Vaishnavcharan's music daily after his return from the office.

When the Master entered Adhar's drawing-room the devotees stood up to receive him.

Kedr and Vijay saluted him, and the Master asked Narayan and Baburam to salute Kedr and Vijay. He asked Kedr and Vijay to bless Narayan and Baburam that they might have devotion to God. Pointing to Narayan he said, "He is utterly guileless." The eyes of the devotees were fixed on the two boys.

MASTER (to Kedr and the other devotees): "It is good that I have met you all here; otherwise perhaps you would have come to the Kli temple to see me. Through the will of God, however, we have met here."

KEDR (with folded hands): "The will of God! It is all your will."

Sri Ramakrishna smiled. Vaishnavcharan began a kirtan about Radha and Krishna. When the music was nearing its end, with the union of Radha and Krishna, the Master began to dance with ecstatic fervour. The devotees danced and sang around him. After the music they all sat down. The Master said to Vijay, referring to Vaishnavcharan, "He sings very well." He asked the musician to sing the song about Sri Chaitanya, beginning with the line, "The beautiful Gaurnga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold."

When the song was over, the Master asked Vijay, "How did you like it?"

VIJAY: "Wonderful."

Sri Ramakrishna also sang a song about Sri Chaitanya, M. joining him. Then Vaishnavcharan sang another song:

O my flute, sing Hari's name!

You cannot know the highest Truth

Without Lord Hari's grace.

His name removes our bitter grief: Repeat the name of Hari, then,

Repeat Sri Krishna's holy name!

If He bestows His grace on me,

No longer shall be afraid

Of this unfriendly world;

Sing then Lord Hari's name, my flute!

Our only treasure is His name.

Govinda says: Behold, my days

Are passing by in vain:

In the world's deep and shoreless sea,

Oh, let me not be drowned!

Vaishnavcharan sang again, this time about Mother Durga: O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga; Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress? . . .

The Master and the musician sang again and again the following lines from the song:

The moving and the unmoving, the gross and the subtle, art Thou:

Creation and preservation art Thou, and the last dissolution.

Thou art the Primal Root of this manifold universe: The Mother of the three worlds, their only Saviour, art Thou; Thou art the akti of all, and Thou Thine own akti, too.

Kedr and several devotees stood up. They were about to return home. Kedr saluted the Master and bade him good-bye.

MASTER: "Should you go away without bidding Adhar good-bye? Wouldn't that be an act of discourtesy?"

KEDR: "'When God is pleased, the world is pleased.' You are staying; so in a sense we are all staying. I am not feeling well. Besides, I am a little nervous about my social conventions. Once before I had trouble with our community."

VIJAY: (pointing to the Master): "Should we go away and leave him here?"

Just then Adhar came in to take the Master to the dining-room, for the meal was ready.

Sri Ramakrishna stood up and said, addressing Kedr and Vijay: "Come. Come with me."

They followed him and partook of the dinner together with the other devotees.

After dinner they all returned to the drawing-room, where the devotees sat around the Master. Kedr said to him with folded hands, 'Please forgive me for hesitating to eat here.' Perhaps the thought had come to his mind that he should not have hesitated, since the Master himself had no scruples about eating at Adhar's house.

Kedr worked at Dcc. Many devotees brought offerings of sweets and other food for him. Referring to this, Kedr said to the Master: "People want to give me food. What should I do? Lord, what is your command in this matter?"

MASTER: "One can eat food even from an untouchable if the untouchable is a devotee of God. After spending seven years in a God-intoxicated state at Dakshineswar, I visited Kamarpukur. Oh, what a state of mind I was in at that time! Even a prostitute fed me with her own hands. But I cannot allow that now."

Kedr was about to take his leave.

KEDR (in a low voice): "Lord, please transmit power to me. Many people come to me.

What do I know?"

MASTER: "Everything will be all right. One gets along well if one is sincerely devoted to God."

Yogendra, the editor of a Bengali paper, the Bangavasi, entered the room. The conversation turned to the Personal God and God without form.

MASTER: "God has form; again, He is formless. How many aspects He has! We cannot comprehend Him. Why should we say that God is formless only?"

YOGENDRA: "That is the one amazing thing about the Brahmo Samaj. There even a boy twelve years old sees God as formless. The members of the Adi Samaj do not object very much to God with form. They are allowed to attend ritualistic worship if it takes place in respectable families."

MASTER (smiling): "How nicely he has put it! Even a boy sees the formless God!"

ADHAR: "Shivanath Babu does not believe in God's forms."

VIJAY: "That is his mistake. (Pointing to the Master) As he says, the chameleon assumes different colours-now this colour, now that. Only the man who lives under the tree knows the animal's true colour.

"While meditating I saw images of gods painted on a canvas. How many gods! How many different things they said! I said to myself: 'I shall go to the Master. He will explain it all to me.' "

MASTER: "You saw correctly."

KEDR: "God assumes forms for the sake of His devotees. Through ecstatic love a devotee sees God with form. Dhruva had a vision of the Lord. He said: 'Why don't your ear-rings move?' The Lord said, 'They will move if you move them.' "

MASTER: "One must accept everything: God with form and God without form. While meditating in the Kli temple I noticed Ramani, a prostitute. I said, 'Mother, I see that Thou art in that form too.' Therefore I say one must accept everything. One does not know when or how God will reveal Himself."

The Master sang:

A mendicant has come to us, ever absorbed in divine moods. . .

VIJAY: "God has infinite power. Can He not reveal Himself in any form He chooses? Man is a speck of dust, and he dares come to a conclusion about God. How amazing!"

MASTER: "A man reads a little of the Git, the Bhagavata, or the Vednta and thinks he has understood everything. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar. One grain of sugar filled its stomach, and it was returning home with another grain in its mouth. On the way it said to itself, 'The next time I go, I shall bring home the whole hill.' "(All laugh) --------------------




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