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Nature of worldly people — Obstacles to samadhi — Path of the Impersonal God — God and His devotee — Divine Incarnations — The gopis' yearning for Krishna — God manifesting Himself as living beings — Master's childlike mood — Formless Brahman — Different manifestations of the Absolute — Master's vision of Gauranga — Parable of the grass-eating tiger — Nature of ecstatic love — God, incarnated as man, acts like man — Master's reminiscences of Mathura and Vrindavan — The six psychic centres — Proper time for spiritual unfoldment.
Tuesday, December 18, 1883
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was seated in his room with his devotees. He spoke highly of Devendranath Tagore's love of God and renunciation, and then said, pointing to Rakhal and the other young devotees, "Devendra is a good man; but blessed indeed are those young aspirants who, like Sukadeva, practise renunciation from their very boyhood and think of God day and night without being involved in worldly life.
"The worldly man always has some desire or other, though at times he shows much devotion to God. Once Mathur Babu was entangled in a lawsuit. He said to me in the shrine of Kali, 'Sir, please offer this flower to the Divine Mother.' I offered it unsuspectingly, but he firmly believed that he would attain his objective if I offered the flower.
"What devotion Rati's mother had! How often she used to come here and how much she served me! She was a Vaishnava. One day she noticed that I ate the food offered at the Kali temple, and that stopped her coming. Her devotion to God was one-sided. It isn't possible to understand a person right away."
It was a winter morning, and the Master was sitting near the east door of his room, wrapped in his moleskin shawl. He looked at the sun and suddenly went into samadhi. His eyes stopped blinking and he lost all consciousness of the outer world. After a long time he came down to the plane of the sense world. Rakhal, Hazra, M., and other devotees were seated near him.
MASTER (to Hazra): "The state of samadhi is certainly inspired by love. Once, at Syambazar, they arranged a kirtan at Natavar Goswami's house. There I had a vision of Krishna and the gopis of Vrindavan. I felt that my subtle body was walking at Krishna's heels.
"I went into samadhi when similar devotional songs were sung at the Hari Sabha in Jorashanko in Calcutta. That day they feared I might give up the body."
After the Master had finished his bath, he again spoke of the ecstatic love of the gopis. He said to M. and the other devotees: "One should accept, the fervent attachment of the gopis to their beloved Krishna. Sing songs like this:
Tell me, friend, how far is the grove
Where Krishna, my Beloved, dwells?
His fragrance reaches me even here;
But I am tired and can walk no farther."
Again he sang:
I am not going home, O friend,
For there it is hard for me to chant my Krishna's name. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna had vowed to offer green coconut and sugar to Siddhesvari, the Divine Mother, for Rakhal's welfare. He asked M. whether he would pay for the offerings.
That afternoon the Master, accompanied by M., Rakhal, and some other devotees, set out in a carriage, for the temple of Siddhesvari in Calcutta. On the way the offerings were purchased. On reaching the temple, the Master asked the devotees to offer the fruit and sugar to the Divine Mother. They saw the priests and their friends playing cards in the temple. Sri Ramakrishna said: "To play cards in a temple! One should think of God here."
From the temple the Master went to Jadu Mallick's house. Jadu was surrounded by his admirers, well-dressed dandies. He welcomed the Master.
MASTER (with a smile): "Why do you keep so many clowns and flatterers with you?"
JADU (smiling): "That you may liberate them." (Laughter.)
MASTER: "Flatterers think that the rich man will loosen his purse-strings for them. But it is very difficult to get anything from him. Once a jackal saw a bullock and would not give up his company. The bullock roamed about and the jackal followed him. The jackal thought: 'There hang the bullock's testicles. Some time or other they will drop to the ground and I shall eat them.' When the bullock slept on the ground, the jackal lay down too, and when the bullock moved about, the jackal followed him. Many days passed in this way, but the bullock's testicles still clung to his body. The jackal went away disappointed. (All laugh.) That also happens to flatterers."
Jadu and his mother served refreshments to Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees.
Wednesday, December 19, 1883
It was nine o'clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M. near the bel-tree at Dakshineswar. This tree, under which the Master had practised the most austere sadhana, stood in the northern end of the temple garden. Farther north ran a high wall, and just outside was the government Magazine. West of the bel-tree was a row of tall pines that rustled in the wind. Below the trees flowed the Ganges, and to the south could be seen the sacred grove of the Panchavati. The dense trees and underbrush hid the temples. No noise of the outside world reached the bel-tree.
MASTER (to M.): "But one cannot realize God without renouncing 'woman and gold'."
M: "Why? Did not Vasishtha say to Rama, 'O Rama, You may renounce the world if the world is outside God'?"
MASTER (smiling): "He said that to Rama so that Rama might destroy Ravana. Rama accepted the life of a householder and married to fulfil that mission."
M. stood there like a log, stunned and speechless.
Sri Ramakrishna went to the Panchavati on his way back to his room. M. accompanied him. It was then about ten o'clock.
M: "Sir, is there no spiritual discipline leading to realization of the Impersonal God?"
MASTER: "Yes, there is. But the path is extremely difficult. After intense austerities the rishis of olden times realized God as their innermost consciousness and experienced the real nature of Brahman. But how hard they had to work! They went out of their dwellings in the early morning and all day practised austerities and meditation. Returning home at nightfall, they took a light supper of fruit and roots.
"But an aspirant cannot succeed in this form of spiritual discipline if his mind is stained with worldliness even in the slightest degree. The mind must withdraw totally from all objects of form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. Only thus does it become pure. The Pure Mind is the same as the Pure Atman. But such a mind must be altogether free from 'woman and gold'. When it becomes pure, one has another experience. One realizes: 'God alone is the Doer, and I am His instrument.' One does not feel oneself to be absolutely necessary to others either in their misery or in their happiness.
"Once a wicked man beat into unconsciousness a monk who lived in a monastery. On regaining consciousness he was asked by his friends, 'Who is feeding you milk?' The monk said, 'He who beat me is now feeding me.'"
M: "Yes, sir. I know that story."
MASTER: "It is not enough to know it. One must assimilate its meaning. It is the thought of worldly objects that prevents the mind from going into samadhi. One becomes established in samadhi when one is completely rid of worldliness. It is possible for me to give up the body in samadhi; but I have a slight desire to enjoy the love of God and the company of His devotees. Therefore I pay a little attention to my body.
"There is another kind of samadhi, called unmana samadhi. One attains it by suddenly gathering the dispersed mind. You understand what that is, don't you?"
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "Yes. It is the sudden withdrawal of the dispersed mind to the Ideal. But that samadhi does not last long. Worldly thoughts intrude and destroy it. The yogi slips down from his yoga.
"At Kamarpukur I have seen the mongoose living in its hole up in the wall. It feels snug there. Sometimes people tie a brick to its tail; then the pull of the brick makes it come but of its hole. Every time the mongoose tries to be comfortable inside the hole, it has to come out because of the pull of the brick. Such is the effect of brooding on worldly objects that it makes the yogi stray from the path of yoga.
"Worldly people may now and then experience samadhi. The lotus blooms, no doubt, when the sun is up; but its petals close, again when the sun is covered by a cloud. Worldly thought is the cloud."
M: "Isn't it possible to develop both jnana and bhakti by the practice of spiritual discipline?"
MASTER: "Through the path of bhakti a man may attain them both. If it is necessary, God gives him the Knowledge of Brahman. But a highly qualified aspirant may develop both jnana and bhakti at the same time. Such is the case with the Isvarakotis — Chaitanya for example. But the case of ordinary devotees is different.
"There are five kinds of light: the light of a lamp, the light of various kinds of fire, the light of the moon, the light of the sun, and lastly the combined light of the sun and the moon. Bhakti is the light of the moon, and jnana the light of the sun.
"Sometimes it is seen that the sun has hardly set when the moon rises in the sky. In an Incarnation of God one sees, at the same time, the sun of Knowledge and the moon of Love.
"Can everyone, by the mere wish, develop Knowledge and Love at the same time? It depends on the person. One bamboo is more hollow than another. Is it possible for all to comprehend the nature of God? Can a one-seer pot hold five seers of milk?"
M: "But what about the grace of God? Through His grace a camel can pass through the eye of a needle."
MASTER: "But is it possible to obtain God's grace just like that? A beggar may get a penny, if he asks for it. But suppose he asks you right off for his train fare. How about that?"
M. stood silent. The Master, too, remained silent. Suddenly he said:
"Yes, it is true. Through the grace of God some may get both jnana and bhakti."
M. saluted the Master and went back to the bel-tree.
At midday, finding that M. had not yet returned, Sri Ramakrishna started toward the bel-tree; but on reaching the Panchavati he met M. carrying his prayer carpet and water-jug. M. saluted the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna said to M: "I was coming to look for you. Because of your delay I thought you might have scaled the wall and run away. I watched your eyes this morning and felt apprehensive lest you should go away like Narayan Shastri. Then I said to myself: 'No, he won't run away. He thinks a great deal before doing anything.'"
The same night the Master talked to M., Rakhal, Latu, Harish, and a few other devotees.
MASTER (to M.): "Some people give a metaphysical, interpretation of the Vrindavan episode of Sri Krishna's life. What do you say about it?"
M: "There are various opinions. What if there are? You have told us the story of Bhishmadeva's weeping, on his bed of arrows, because he could not understand anything of God's ways.
"Again, you have told us that Hanuman used to say: 'I don't know any thing about the day of the week, the position of the stars, and so forth. I only meditate on Rama.'
"Further, you have said to us that in the last analysis there are two things only: Brahman and Its Power. You have also said that, after the attainment of Brahmajnana, a man realizes these two to be One, the One that has no two."
MASTER: "Yes, that is true. Your ideal is to reach the goal. You may reach it by going either through a thorny forest or along a good road.
"Diverse opinions, certainly exist. Nangta used to say that the monks could not be feasted because of the diversity of their views. Once a feast was arranged for the sannyasis. Monks belonging to many sects were invited. Everyone claimed that his sect should be fed Hrst, but no conclusion could be arrived at. At last they all went away and the food had to be given to the prostitutes."
M: "Totapuri was indeed a great soul."
MASTER: "But Hazra says he was an ordinary man. There's no use in discussing these things. Everyone says that his watch alone gives the correct time.
"You see, Naravan Shastri developed a spirit of intense renunciation. He was a great scholar. He gave up his wife and went away. A man attains yoga when he completely effaces 'woman and gold' from his mind. With some, the characteristics of the yogi are well marked.
"I shall have to tell you something of the six centres. The mind of the yogi passes through these, and he realizes God through His grace. Have you heard of the six centres?"
M: "These are the 'seven planes' of the Vedanta."
MASTER: "Not the Vedanta, but the Vedas. Do you know what the six centres are like? They are the 'lotuses' in the subtle body. The yogis see them. They are like the fruits and leaves of a wax tree."
M: "Yes, sir. The yogis can perceive them. I have read that there is a kind of glass through which a tiny object looks very big. Likewise, through yoga one can see those subtle lotuses.'
Following Sri Ramakrishna's direction, M. spent the night in the hut at the Panchavati. In the early hours of the morning he was singing alone:
I am without the least benefit of prayer and austerity, O Lord!
I am the lowliest of the lowly; make me pure with Hiy hallowed touch.
One by one I pass my days in hope of reaching rhy Lotus Feet,
But Thee, alas, I have not found. . . .
Suddenly M. glanced toward the window and saw the Master standing there. Sri Ramakrishna's eyes became heavy with tears as M. sang the line:
I am the lowliest of the lowly; make me pure with Thy hallowed touch.
M. sang again:
I shall put on the ochre robe and ear-rings made of conch-shell;
Thus, in the garb of a yogini, from place to place I shall wander,
Till I have found my cruel Hari. . . .
M. saw that the Master was walking with Rakhal.
Friday, December 21, 1883
In the morning the Master and M. were conversing alone under the bel-tree. The Master told him many secrets of spiritual discipline, exhorting him to renounce "woman and gold". He further said that the mind at times becomes one's guru.
After his midday meal the Master went to the Panchavati wearing a beautiful yellow robe. Two or three Vaishnava monks were there, clad in the dress of their sect.
In the afternoon a monk belonging to the sect of Nanak arrived. He was a worshipper of the formless God. Sri Ramakrishna asked him to meditate as well on God with form. The Master said to him: "Dive deep; one does not get the precious gems by merely floating on the surface. God is without form, no doubt; but He also has form. By meditating on God with form one speedily acquires devotion; then one can meditate on the formless God. It is like throwing a letter away, after learning its contents, and then setting out to follow its instructions."
Saturday, December 22, 1883
Rakhal, Harish, M., and Latu had been staying with Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. About nine o'clock in the morning the Master was sitting with them on the southeast verandah of his room, when Balaram's father and Devendra Ghosh of Syampukur arrived.
A DEVOTEE: "Sir, how does one obtain love for God?"
MASTER: "Go forward. The king dwells beyond the seven gates. You can see him only after passing through all the gates.
"At the time of the installation of Annapurna at Chanak, I said to Dwarika Babu: "Large fish live in the deep water of a big lake. Throw some spiced bait into the water; then the fish will come, attracted by its smell; now and then they will make the water splash. Devotion and ecstatic love are like the spiced bait.
God sports in the world as man. He incarnates Himself as man — as in the case of Krishna, Rama, and Chaitanya. Once I said to Keshab: The greatest manifestation of God is in man. There are small holes in the balk or a field, where crabs and fish accumulate in the rainy season. If you want to find them you must seek them in the holes. If you seek God, you must seek Him in the Incarnations.'
The Divine Mother of the Universe manifests Herself through this three-and-a-half cubit man. There is a song that says:
O Mother, what a machine is this that Thou hast made!
What pranks Thou playest with this toy
Three and a half cubits high! . . .
"One needs spiritual practice in order to know God and recognize Divine Incarnations. Big fish live in the large lake, but to see them one must throw spiced bait in the water. There is butter in milk, but one must churn the milk to get it. There is oil in mustard-seed, but one must press the seed to extract the oil."
DEVOTEE: "Has God form, or is He formless?"
MASTER: "Wait, wait! First of all you must go to Calcutta; then only will you know where the Maidan, the Asiatic Society, and the Bengal Bank are located. If vou want to go to the brahmin quarter of Khardaha, you must first of all go to Khardaha.
"Why should it not be possible to practise the discipline of the formless God? But it is very difficult to follow that path. One cannot follow it without renouncing 'woman and gold'. There must be complete renunciation, both inner and outer. You cannot succeed in this path if you have the slightest trace of worldliness.
"It is easy to worship God with form. But it is not as easy as all that.
"One should not discuss the discipline of the Impersonal God or the path of knowledge with a bhakta. Through great effort perhaps he is just cultivating a little devotion. You will injure it if you explain away everything as a mere dream.
"Kabir was a worshipper of the Impersonal God. He did not believe in Siva, Kali, or Krishna. He used to make fun of them and say that Kali lived on the offerings of rice and banana, and that Krishna danced like a monkey when the gopis clapped their hands. (All laugh.)
"One who worships God without form perhaps sees at first the deity with ten arms, then the deity with four arms, then the Baby Krishna with two arms. At last he sees the Indivisible Light and merges in It.
"It is said that sages like Dattatreya and Jadabharata did not return to the relative plane after having the vision of Brahman. According to some people, Sukadeva tasted only a drop of that Ocean of Brahman-Consciousness. He saw and heard the rumbling of the waves of that Ocean, but he did not dive into It.
"A brahmachari once said to me, 'One who goes beyond Kedar cannot keep his body alive.' Likewise, a man cannot preserve his body after attaining Brahmajnana.* The body drops off in twenty-one days.
"There was an infinite field beyond a high wall. Four friends tried to find out what was beyond the wall. Three of them, one after the other, climbed the wall, saw the field, burst into loud laughter, and dropped to the other side. These three could not give any information about the field. Only the fourth man came back and told people about it. He is like those who retain their bodies, even after attaining Brahmajnana, in order to teach others. Divine Incarnations belong to this class.
"Parvati was born as the daughter of King Himalaya. After Her birth She revealed to the king Her various divine forms. The father said: 'Well, Daughter, You have shown me all these forms. That is nice. But You have another aspect, which is Brahman. Please show me that.' 'Father,' replied Parvati, 'if you seek the Knowledge of Brahman, then renounce the world and live in the company of holy men.' But King Himalaya insisted. Thereupon Parvati revealed Her Brahman-form, and immediately the king fell down unconscious.
"All that I have just said belongs to the realm of reasoning. Brahman alone is real and the world illusory — that is reasoning. And everything but Brahman is like a dream. But this is an extremely difficult path. To one who follows it even the divine play in the world becomes like a dream and appears unreal; his 'I' also vanishes. The followers of this path do not accept the Divine Incarnation. It is a very difficult path. The lovers of God should not hear much of such reasoning.
"That is why God incarnates Himself as man and teaches people the path of devotion. He exhorts people to cultivate self-surrender to God. Following the path of devotion, one realizes everything through His grace — both Knowledge and Supreme Wisdom.
"God sports in this world. He is under the control of His devotee. 'Syama, the Divine Mother, is Herself tied by the cord of the love of Her devotee.'
"Sometimes God becomes the magnet and the devotee the needle, and sometimes the devotee becomes the magnet and God the needle. The devotee attracts God to him. God is the Beloved of His devotee and is under his control.
"According to one school, the gopis of Vrindavan, like Yasoda, had believed in the formless God in their previous births; but they did not derive any satisfaction from this belief. That is why later on they enjoyed so much bliss in the company of Sri Krishna in the Vrindavan episode of His life. One day Krishna said to the gopis: 'Come along. I shall show you the Abode of the Eternal. Let us go to the Jamuna for a bath.' As they dived into the water of the river, they at once saw Goloka. Next they saw the Indivisible Light. Thereupon Yasoda exclaimed: 'O Krishna, we don't care for these things any more. We would like to see You in Your human form. I want to take You in my arms and feed You.'
"So the greatest manifestation of God is through His Incarnations. The devotee should worship and serve an Incarnation of God as long as He lives in a human body. 'At the break of day He disappears into the secret chamber of His House.'
Not all, by any means, can recognize an Incarnation of God. Assuming a human body, the Incarnation falls a victim to disease, grief, hunger, thirst, and all such things, like ordinary mortals. Rama wept for Sita. 'Brahman weeps, entrapped in the snare of the five elements.'
"It is said in the Purana that God, in His Incarnation as the Sow, lived happily with His young ones even after the destruction of Hiranyaksha.* As the Sow, He nursed them and forgot all about His abode in heaven. At last Siva killed the sow body with his trident, and God, laughing aloud, went to His own abode."
In the afternoon Bhavanath arrived. Rakhal, M., Harish, and other devotees were in the room.
MASTER (to Bhavanath): "To love an Incarnation of God — that is enough. Ah, what ecstatic love the gopis had for Krishna!"
Sri Ramakrishna began to sing, assuming the attitude of the gopis:
O Krishna! You are the Soul of my soul. . . .
Then he sang:
I am not going home, O friend,
For there it is hard for me to chant my Krishna's name. . . .
O Friend, that day I stood at my door as You were going to the woods. . . .
Continuing, the Master said: "When Krishna suddenly disappeared in the act of dancing and playing with the gopis, they were beside themselves with grief. Looking at a tree, they said: "O tree, you must be a great hermit. You must have seen Krishna. Otherwise, why do you stand there motionless, as if absorbed in samadhi?' Looking at the earth covered with green grass, they said: 'O earth, you must have seen Krishna. Otherwise, why does your hair stand on end? You must have enjoyed the thrill of His touch.' Looking at the madhavi creeper, they said, 'O madhavi, give us back our Madhava!' The gopis were intoxicated with ecstatic love for Krishna. Akrura came to Vrindavan to take Krishna and Balarama to Mathura. When they mounted the chariot, the gopis clung to the wheels. They would not let the chariot move."
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna sang, assuming the attitude of Akrura:
Hold not, hold not the chariot's wheels!
Is it the wheels that make it move?
The Mover of its wheels is Krishna,
By whose will the worlds are moved. . . .
MASTER: "'Is it the wheels that make it move?' 'By whose will the worlds are moved.' The driver moves the chariot at his Master's bidding.' I feel deeply touched by these lines."
Sunday, December 23, 1883
At nine o'clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the southwest porch of his room, with Rakhal, Latu, M., Harish, and. some other devotees. M. had now been nine days with the Master at Dakshineswar. Earlier in the morning Manomohan had arrived from Konnagar on his way to Calcutta. Hazra, too, was present.
A Vaishnava was singing. Referring to one of the songs, Sri Ramakrishna said: "I didn't enjoy that song very much. The songs of the earlier writers seem to me to have more of the right spirit. Once I sang for Nangta at the Panchavati: To arms! To arms, O man! Death storms your house in battle array.' I sang another: 'O Mother, I have no one else to blame: Alas! I sink in the well these very hands have dug.'
"Nangta, the Vedantist, was a man of profound knowledge. The song moved him to tears though he didn't understand its meaning. Padmalochan also wept when I sang the songs of Ramprasad about the Divine Mother. And he was truly a great pundit."
After the midday meal Sri Ramakrishna rested a few minutes in his room. M. was sitting on the door. The Master was delighted to hear the music that was being played in the nahabat. He then explained to M. that Brahman alone has become the universe and all living beings.
MASTER: "Referring to a certain place, someone once said to me: 'Nobody sings the name of God there. It has no holy atmosphere.' No sooner did he say this than I perceived that it was God alone who had become all living beings. They appeared as countless bubbles or reflections in the Ocean of Satchidananda.
"Again, I find sometimes that living beings are likte so many pills made of Indivisible Consciousness. Once I was on my way to Burdwan from Kamarpukur. At one place I ran to the meadow to see how living beings are sustained. I saw ants crawling there. It appeared to me that every place was filled with Consciousness."
Hazra entered the room and sat on the floor.
MASTER: "Again, I perceive that living beings are like different flowers with various layers of petals. They are also revealed to me as bubbles, some big, some small."
While describing in this way the vision of different divine forms, the Master went into an ecstatic state and said, "I have become! I am here!" Uttering these words he went into samadhi. His body was motionless. He remained in that state a long time and then gradually regained partial consciousness of the world. He began to laugh like a boy and pace the room. His eyes radiated bliss as if he had seen a wondrous vision. His gaze was not fixed on any particular object, and his face beamed with joy. Still pacing the room, the Master said: "I saw the paramahamsa who stayed under the banyan tree walking thus with just such a smile. Am I too in that state of mind?"
He sat on the small couch and engaged in conversation with the Divine Mother.
MASTER: "I don't even care to know. Mother, may I have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet!
(To M.) "One attains this state immediately after freeing oneself of all grief and desire.
(To the Divine Mother) "Mother, Thou hast done away with my worship. Please see, Mother, that I don't give up all desire. Mother, the paramahamsa is but a child. Doesn't a child need a mother? Therefore Thou art the Mother and I am the child. How can the child live without the Mother?"
Sri Ramakrishna was talking to the Divine Mother in a voice that would have melted even a stone. Again he addressed Her, saying: "Mere knowledge of Advaita! I spit on it! Thou dost exist as long as Thou dost keep the ego in me. The paramahamsa is but a child. Doesn't a child need a mother?"
M. sat there speechless and looked at the divine manifestation in the Master. He said to himself: "The Master is an ocean of mercy that knows no motive. He has kept himself in the state of a paramahamsa that he might, as teacher, awaken the spiritual consciousness of myself and other earnest souls."
M. further thought: "The Master says, 'Advaita — Chaitanya — Nityananda'; that is to say, through the knowledge of the Non-dual Brahman one attains Consciousness and enjoys Eternal Bliss. The Master has not only attained the knowledge of non-duality but is in a state of Eternal Bliss. He is always drunk with ecstatic love for the Mother of the Universe."
With folded hands Hazra looked at the Master and said every now and then: "How blessed you are! How blessed you are!"
MASTER (to Hazra): "But you have hardly any faith; you simply live here to add to the play, like Jatila and Kutila."
In the afternoon M. paced the temple garden alone. He was deeply absorbed in the thought of the Master and was pondering the Master's words concerning the attainment of the exalted state of the paramahamsa, after the elimination of grief and desire. M. said to himself: "Who is this Sri Ramakrishna, acting as my teacher? Has God embodied Himself for our welfare? The Master himself says that no one but an Incarnation can come down to the phenomenal plane from the state of nirvikalpa samadhi."
Monday, December 24, 1883
At eight o'clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna and M. were talking together in the pine-grove at the northern end of the temple garden. This was the eleventh day of M.'s stay with the Master.
It was winter. The sun had just risen. The river was flowing north with the tide. Not far off could be seen the bel-tree where the Master had practised great spiritual austerities. Sri Ramakrishna faced the east as he talked to his disciple and told him about the Knowledge of Brahman.
MASTER: "The formless God is real, and equally real is God with form. Nangta used to instruct me about the nature of Satchidananda Brahman. He would say that It is like an infinite ocean — water everywhere, to the right, left, above, and below. Water enveloped in water. It is the Water of the Great Cause, motionless. Waves spring up when It becomes active. Its activities are creation, preservation, and destruction.
"Again, he used to say that Brahman is where reason comes to a stop. There is the instance of camphor. Nothing remains after it is burnt — not even a trace of ash.
"Brahman is beyond mind and speech. A salt doll entered the ocean to measure its depth; but it did not return to tell others how deep the ocean was. It melted in the ocean itself.
"The rishis once said to Rama: 'O Rama, sages like Bharadvaja may very well call you an Incarnation of God, but we cannot do that. We adore the Word-Brahman. (Om, the symbol of Brahman.) We do not want the human form of God.' Rama smiled and went away, pleased with their adoration.
"But the Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of the same Reality. As I have said before, it is like the roof and the steps leading to it. The Absolute plays in many ways: as Isvara, as the gods, as man, and as the universe. The Incarnation is the play of the Absolute as man. Do you know how the Absolute plays as man? It is like the rushing down of water from a big roof through a pipe; the power of Satchidananda — nay, Satchidananda Itself — descends through the conduit of a human form as water descends through the pipe. Only twelve sages, Bharadvaja and the others, recognized Rama as an Incarnation of God. Not everyone can recognize an Incarnation.
"It is God alone who incarnated Himself as man to teach people the ways of love and knowledge. Well, what do you think of me?
"Once my; father went to Gaya. There Raghuvir said to him in a dream, 'I shall be born as your son.' Thereupon my father said to Him: 'O Lord, I am a poor brahmin. How shall I be able to serve You?' 'Don't worry about it', Raghuvir replied. 'It will be taken care of.'
"My sister, Hriday's mother, used to worship my feet with flowers and sandal-paste. One day I placed my foot on her head and said to her, 'You will die in Benares.'
"Once Mathur Babu said to me: 'Father, there is nothing inside you but God. Your body is like an empty shell. It may look from outside like a pumpkin, but inside there is nothing — neither flesh nor seed. Once I saw you as someone moving with a veil on.'
(To M.) "I am shown everything beforehand. Once I saw Gauranga and his devotees singing kirtan in the Panchavati. I think I saw Balaram there and you too.
"I wanted to know the experiences of Gauranga and was shown them at Syambazar in our native district. A crowd gathered; they even climbed the trees and the walls; they stayed with me day and night. For seven days I had no privacy whatever. Thereupon I said to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, I have had enough of it.'
"I am at peace now. I shall have to be born once more. Therefore I am not giving all knowledge to my companions. (With a smile) Suppose I give you all knowledge; will you then come to me again so willingly?
"I recognized you on hearing you read the Chaitanva Bhagavat. (A life of Chaitanya.) You are my own. The same substance, like father and son. All of you are coming here again. When you pull one part of the kalmi creeper, all the branches come toward you. You are all relatives — like brothers. Suppose Rakhal, Harish, and the others had gone to Puri, and you were there too. Would you live separately?
"Before you came here, you didn't know who you were. Now you will know. It is God who, as the guru, makes one know.
"Nangta told the story of the tigress and the herd of goats. Once a tigress attacked a herd of goats. A hunter saw her from a distance and killed her. The tigress was pregnant and gave birth to a cub as she expired. The cub began to grow in the company of the goats. At first it was nursed by the she-goats, and later on, as it grew bigger, it began to eat grass and bleat like the goats. Gradually the cub became a big tiger; but still it ate grass and bleated. When attacked by other animals, it would run away, like the goats. One day a fierce-looking tiger attacked the herd. It was amazed to see a tiger in the herd eating grass and running away with the goats at its approach. It left the goats and caught hold of the grass-eating tiger, which began to bleat and tried to run away. But the fierce tiger dragged it to the water and said: 'Now look at your face in the water. You see, you have the pot-face of a tiger; it is exactly like mine.' Next it pressed a piece of meat into its mouth. At first the grass-eating tiger refused to eat the meat. Then it got the taste of the meat and relished it. At last the fierce tiger said to the grass-eater: 'What a disgrace! You lived with the goats and ate grass like them!' And the other was really ashamed of itself.
"Eating grass is like enjoying 'woman and gold'. To bleat and run away like a goat is to behave like an ordinary man. Going away with the new tiger is like taking shelter with the guru, who awakens one's spiritual consciousness, and recognizing him alone as one's relative. To see one's face rightly is to know one's real Self."
Sri. Ramakrishna stood up. There was silence all around, disturbed only by the gentle rustling of the pine-needles and the murmuring of the Ganges. The Master went to the Panchavati and then to his room, talking all the while with M. The disciple followed him, fascinated. At the Panchavati Sri Ramakrishna touched with his forehead the raised platform around the banyan-tree. This was the place of his intense spiritual discipline, where he had wept bitterly for the vision of the Divine Mother, where he had held intimate communion with Her, and where he had seen many divine forms.
The Master and M. passed the cluster of bakul-trees and came to the nahabat. Hazra was there. The Master said to him: "Don't eat too much, and give up this craze for outer cleanliness. People with a craze do not attain Knowledge. Follow conventions only as much as necessary. Don't go to excess." The Master entered his room and sat on the couch.
Sri Ramakrishna was resting after his middav meal when Surendra, Ram, and other devotees arrived from Calcutta. It was about one o'clock. While M. was strolling alone under the pine-trees, Harish came there and told him that the Master wanted him in his room. Someone was going to read from tlie Siva Samhita, a book containing instructions about yoga and the six centres.
M. entered the room and saluted the Master. The devotees were seated on the floor, but no one was reading the book. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to the devotees.
MASTER: "The gopis cherished ecstatic love for Krishna. There are two elements in such love: 'I-ness' and 'my-ness'. 'I-ness' is the feeling that Krishna will be ill if 'I' do not serve Him. In this attitude the devotee does not look upon his Ideal as God.
"'My-ness' is to feel that the Beloved is 'my' own. The gopis had such a feeling of 'my-ness' toward Krishna that they would place their subtle bodies under His feet lest His soles should get hurt.
"Yasoda remarked: 'I don't understand your Chintamani Krishna. To me He is simply Gopala.' The gopis also said: 'Oh, where is Krishna, our Beloved? Where is Krishna, our Sweetheart?' They were not conscious of His being God.
"It is like a small child saying 'my daddv'. If someone says to the child, 'No, he is not your daddy', the child says, 'Yes, he is my daddy.'
"God, incarnating Himself as man, behaves exactly like a man. That is why it is difficult to recognize an Incarnation. When God becomes man, He is exactly like man. He has the same hunger, thirst, disease, grief, and sometimes even fear. Rama was stricken with grief for Sita. Krishna carried on His head the shoes and wooden stool of His father Nanda.
"In the theatre, when an actor comes on the stage in the role of a holy man, he behaves like one, and not like the actor who is taking the part of the king. He plays his own role.
"Once an impersonator dressed himself as a world-renouncing monk. Pleased with the correctness of his disguise, some rich people offered him a rupee. He did not accept the money but went away shaking his head. Afterwards he removed his disguise and appeared in his usual dress. Then he said to the rich people, 'Please give me the rupee.' They replied: 'Why, you went away refusing our present. Why do you ask for it now?' The man said: 'But then I was in the role of a holy man. I could not accept money.' Likewise, when God becomes man He behaves exactly like a man.
"At Vrindavan one sees many places associated with Krishna's life."
SURENDRA: "We were there during the holidays. Visitors were continually pestered for money. The priests and others asked for it continually. We told them that we were going to leave for Calcutta the next day, but we fled from Vrindavan that very night."
MASTER: "What is that? Shame! You said you would leave the place the next day and ran away that very day. What a shame!"
SURENDRA (embarrassed): "Here and there we saw the babajis in the woods practising spiritual discipline in solitude."
MASTER: "Did you give them anything?"
SURENDRA: "No, sir."
MASTER: "That was not proper of you. One should give something to monks and devotees. Those who have the means should help such persons when they meet them.
"I went to Vrindavan with Mathur Babu. The moment I came to the Dhruva Ghat* at Mathura, in a flash I saw Vasudeva crossing the Jamuna with Krishna in his arms.
"One evening I was taking a stroll on the beach of the river. There were small thatched huts on the beach and big plum-trees. It was the 'cow-dust' hour. The cows were returning from the pasture, raising dust with their hoofs. I saw them fording the river. Then came some cowherd boys crossing the river with their cows. No sooner did I behold this scene than I cried out, 'O Krishna, where are You?' and became unconscious.
"I wanted to visit Syamakunda and Radhakunda; so Mathur Babu sent me there in a palanquin. We had a long way to go. Food was put in the palanquin. While going over the meadow I was overpowered with emotion and wept: 'O Krishna, I find everything the same; only You are not here. This is the very meadow where You tended the cows.' Hriday followed me on foot. I was bathed in tears. I couldn't ask the bearers to stop the palanquin.
"At Syamakunda and Radhakunda I saw the holy men living in small mud huts. Facing away from the road lest their eyes should fall on men, they were engaged in spiritual discipline. One should visit the 'Twelve Grove'.
"I went into samadhi at the sight of the image of Bankuvihari. In that state I wanted to touch it. I did not want to visit Govindaji twice. At Mathura I dreamt of Krishna as the cowherd boy. Hriday and Mathur Babu had the same dream.
(To Surendra) "You have both — yoga and bhoga. There are different classes of sages: the brahmarshi, the devarshi, and the rajarshi. Sukadeva is an example of the brahmarshi. He didn't keep even one book with him. An example of the devarshi is Narada. Janaka was a rajarshi, devoted to selfless work.
"The devotee of the Divine Mother attains dharma and moksha. He enjoys artha and kama as well. Once I saw you in a vision as the child of the Divine Mother. You have both — yoga and bhoga; otherwise your countenance would look dry.
"The man who renounces all looks dry. Once I saw a devotee of the Divine Mother at the bathing-ghat on the Ganges. He was eating his meal and at the same time worshipping the Mother. He looked on himself as the Mother's child.
"But it isn't good to have much money. I find that Jadu Mallick is drowned in worldliness. It is because he has too much money. Nabin Niyogi, too, has both yoga and bhoga. I saw him and his son waving the fan before the image of the Divine Mother at the time of the Durga Puja."
SURENDRA: "Sir, why can't I meditate?"
MASTER: "You remember God and think of Him, don't you?"
SURENDRA: "Yes, sir. I go to sleep repeating the word 'Mother'."
MASTER: "That is very good. It will be enough if you remember God and think of Him."
Sri Ramakrishna had taken Surendra's responsibilities on himself. Why should Surendra worry about anything?
It was evening. The Master was sitting on the floor of his room with the devotees. He was talking to them about yoga and the six centres. These are described in the Siva Samhita.
MASTER: "Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna are the three principal nerves. All the lotuses are located in the Sushumna. They are formed of Consciousness, like a tree made of wax — the branches, twigs, fruits, and so forth all of wax. The Kundalini lies in the lotus of the Muladhara. That lotus has fourteen petals. The Primordial Energy resides in all bodies as the Kundalini. She is like a sleeping snake coiled up — 'of the form of a sleeping snake, having the Muladhara for Her abode'. (To M.) The Kundalini is speedily awakened if one follows the path of bhakti. God cannot be seen unless She is awakened. Sing earnestly and secretly in solitude:
Waken, O Mother! O Kundalini, whose nature is Bliss Eternal!
Thou art the serpent coiled in sleep, in the lotus of the Muladhara.
"Ramprasad achieved perfection through singing. One obtains the vision of God if one sings with yearning heart."
M: "Grief and distress of mind disappear if one has these experiences but once."
MASTER: "That is true. Distress of mind disappears for ever. I shall tell you a few things about yoga. But you see, the mother bird doesn't break the shell until the chick inside the egg is matured. The egg is hatched in the fullness of time. It is necessary to practise some spiritual discipline. The guru no doubt does everything for the disciple; but at the end he makes the disciple work a little himself. When cutting down a big tree, a man cuts almost through the trunk; then he stands aside for a moment, and the tree falls down with a crash.
"The farmer brings water to his field through a canal from the river. He stands aside when only a little digging remains to be done to connect the field with the water. Then the earth becomes soaked and falls of itself, and the water of the river pours into the canal in torrents.
"A man is able to see God as soon as he gets rid of ego and other limitations. He sees God as soon as he is free from such feelings as 'I am a scholar', 'I am the son of such and such a person', 'I am wealthy', 'I am honourable', and so forth.
"'God alone is real and all else unreal; the world is illusory' — that is discrimination. One cannot assimilate spiritual instruction without discrimination.
"Through the practice of spiritual discipline one attains perfection, by the grace of God. But one must also labour a little. Then one sees God and enjoys bliss. If a man hears that a jar filled with gold is buried at a certain place, he rushes there and begins to dig. He sweats as he goes on digging. After much digging he feels the spade strike something. Then he throws away the spade and looks for the jar. At the sight of the jar he dances for joy. Then he takes up the jar and pours out the gold coins. He takes them into his hand, counts them, and feels the ecstasy of joy. Vision — touch — enjoyment. Isn't it so?"
M: "Yes, sir."
The Master was silent a moment and then went on.
MASTER: "Those who are my own will come here even if I scold them. Look at Narendra's nature! At first he used to abuse my Mother Kali very much. One day I said to him sharply, 'Rascal! Don't come here any more.' He slowly left the room and prepared a smoke. He who is one's own will not be angry even if scolded. What do vou say?"
M: "That is true, sir."
MASTER: "Narendra is perfect from his very birth. He is devoted to the ideal of the formless God."
M. (smiling): "Whenever he comes here he brings along great excitement."
Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said, "Yes, excitement indeed."
The following day was Tuesday; the ekadasi day of the lunar fortnight. It was eleven o'clock in the morning and the Master had not yet taken his meal. M., Rakhal, and other devotees were sitting in the Master's room.
MASTER (to M.): "One should fast on the eleventh day of the lunar fortnight. That purifies the mind and helps one to develop love of God. Isn't that so?"
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "But you may take milk and puffed rice. Don't you think so?"
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