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Master's catholicity — Different paths for different temperaments — Dogmatism condemned — Encouragement to Vijay — How to deal with wicked people — Advice to householders — Difference between ordinary men and Incarnations — Nature of the ever-perfect — Illustration of homa bird — Discrimination about food — Master's divine madness — Oneness of Sakti and Brahman — Knowledge and ignorance — Child like faith — Danger of Tantrik discipline — Master's inner experiences
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 foot-path 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 Samaj. You had better visit Shivanath's house.'
"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.'
"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.
"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."
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.
"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.
"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 any one art, has in him real substance and the power of God. This is the view of the Gita. 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 Kedar 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 Dacca 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 Mahashtami, 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, Kedar, Ram, and Surendra, were present. Balaram and Rakhal were still at Vrindavan.
MASTER (looking at Vijay and Kedar, 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 egg-plant. 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 annas' 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 samadhi. 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.
"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 samadhi; but he cannot climb down from that state or tell others what he has seen there.
"There is a class of devotees, the nityasiddhas, the ever-perfect. From their very birth they seek God. They do not enjoy anything of the world. 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. Narada was a devarshi, and Sukadeva a brahmarshi. Yes, Sukadeva was a brahmarshi. He was not a mere jnani; he was the very embodiment of Jnana, Divine Knowledge. Whom do I call a jnani? 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 Kedar to sing.
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. . . .
Kedar 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."
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 jnani. According to the Gita, the jnani 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.) Rakhal 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.
"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 Kali!
For I was bornm 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 Kali 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 Kali'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 samadhi. Coming down to the normal plane, he assumed the attitude of Girirani* and sang the agamani. 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."
KEDAR: "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. Kedar spoke to him humbly in a soft, sweet voice. Narendra, Chunilal, Ram, M., and Harish were sitting by the Master.
KEDAR (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."
KEDAR: "I shall, sir."
MASTER (to Chunilal): "Hello! How is everything?"
CHUNILAL: "Everything is all right with us now. Balaram Babu and Rakhal are well at Vrindavan."
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 doesn't 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 samadhi.
It was dusk. Regaining partial consciousness, the Master sang:
Behold my Mother playing with Siva, 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: "Rama! Rama Rama! Rama!"
Now the Master began to pray: "O Rama! O Rama! I am without devotion and austerity, without knowledge and love; I have not performed any religious rites. O Rama, 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 Rama, 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 Rama, that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet; that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching maya! O Rama, I have taken refuge in 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 than 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 vith 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 Kali temple was over and the orchestra had played the morning melodies in the nahabat. Brahmins 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. Latu was also living there to render the Master personal service. Rakhal was still at Vrindavan. 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'. (The first consonant of the Sanskrit alphabet.) It reminded him of Krishna. It is the nature of jivas to doubt. They say yes, no doubt, but —
"Hazra can never be persuaded to believe that Brahman and Sakti, that Sakti and the Being endowed with Sakti, are one and the same. When the Reality appears as Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, we call It Sakti; 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.("This place" refers to the Master himself.) Either give him right understanding or take him from here.' The next day he came 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.'
"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.
"When a man has true knowledge he feels that everything is filled with Consciousness. At Kamarpukur I used to talk to Shibu, (Shivaram, a nephew of the Master.) 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're 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, Kedar, and others were there. But why did I feel so deeply stirred at the sight of Narendra? I found that Kedar 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 samadhi. He sat on Narendra's back in an ecstatic mood.
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna came down from the plane of samadhi. 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 Rama Thou drawest the bow, as Krishna Thou playest the flute;
As Kali all-terrible, Thou hast silenced Siva, Thy Lord.
The ten Embodiments* of Divine Sakti art Thou,
And Thou the ten Avatars: this time save me Thou must!
With flowers and vilwa-leaves did Yasoda 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 Siva's side,
Then I shall cry from Thy feet, "Victory unto Siva!"
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, O 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!"
Siva 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 samadhi. 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 Kali temple."
He went across the cement courtyard toward the Kali temple. On the way he bowed with folded hands to the twelve Siva temples. On the left was the temple of Radhakanta. He went there first and bowed before the image. Then he entered the Kali 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 guest-house 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 guest-house. 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 guest-house.
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 Acharya at Kamapukur is also wonderful. Ah, how beautiful his singing and dancing are!
A sadhu 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 sadhu!"
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 sadhu."
The devotees were engaged in a game of golakdham.* 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. Latu, at the first throw of the dice, went to "heaven" from "earth". He began to cut capers of joy. "See Latu'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.
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. Tarak's father followed this discipline. It is very difficult. In this form of sadhaha one cannot always maintain the right attitude.
"There are various paths to reach God. Each view is a path. It is like reaching the Kali 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.
"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 others 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, Rakhal, 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 (Hazra.) to come home just once. Also ask your uncle (The Master.) to request him to come home.' I told him about it, but he didn't listen to me.
"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. Narada 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 Vrindavan I felt no desire to return to Calcutta. It was arranged that I should live with Gangama. (A great woman saint of vrindavan..) 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 Vrindavan. 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 flood-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 Siva, 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
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 Siva 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 Kedar, 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. Kedar and Vijay saluted him, and the Master asked Narayan and Baburam to salute Kedar and Vijay. He asked Kedar 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 Kedar and, the other devotees): "It is good that I have met you all here; otherwise perhaps you would have come to the Kali temple to see me. Through the will of God, however, we have met here."
KEDAR (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 Gauranga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold."
When the song was over, the Master asked Vijay, "How did you like it?"
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 I 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 Sakti of all, and Thou Thine own Sakti, too.
Kedar and several devotees stood up. They were about to return home. Kedar 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?"
KEDAR: "'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 Kedar 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 a'ound the Master. Kedar 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.
Kedar worked at Dacca. Many devotees brought offerings of sweets and other food for him. Referring to this, Kedar 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."
Kedar was about to take his leave.
KEDAR (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 (A branch of the Brahmo 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."
KEDAR: "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 Kali 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 Gita, the Bhagavata, or the Vedanta 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, 'Next time I go, I shall bring home the whole hill.'" (All laugh.)
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