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Occult powers — Four classes of devotees —Difference between intellectual understanding and actual vision — Advice to Brahmos — Need of firmness and conviction — Faith of the worldly-minded — Seek the Creator and not the world's beauty — Futility of mere study — Different degrees of divine manifestation — Advice to the worldly-minded — Prayer in solitude — Danger of "woman and gold" — Sin and God's name — Self-surrender to God — Duty to wife and children — Signs of God-vision — Force your demand on the Divine Mother — Futility of egotism — Sattva, rajas, and tamas — Four classes of men — The entangled soul — Thought of God at the hour of death — Master's humility — Brahman and Kali — Way to Brahmajnana — Master and the Marwari pundit — Different kinds of samadhi.
October 19, 1884
ON THIS DAY Sri Ramakrishna again visited the Sinthi Brahmo Samaj. It was the occasion of the autumn festival of the Samaj, which was being celebrated at Benimadhav Pal's garden house. The hall was decorated with flowers and greens, flags and festoons, of various colours. Outside, the blue autumn sky with its fleecy clouds was reflected in the water of the lake.
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at half past four in the afternoon. Entering the hall, he bowed down before the altar. The Brahmo devotees, among whom could be noticed Vijay and Trailokya, sat around him. A sub-judge, who was a member of the Brahmo Samaj, was with them.
Trailokya was entertaining the devotees with his melodious music.
MASTER (to Trailokya): "That song of yours, 'O Mother, make me mad with Thy love', I enjoy very much. Won't you sing it?"
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?
Make me drunk with Thy love's Wine;
O Thou who stealest Thy bhaktas' hearts,
Drown me deep in the Sea of Thy love!
Here in this world, this madhouse of Thine,
Some laugh, some weep, some dance for joy:
Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Gauranga,
All are drunk with the Wine of Thy love.
O Mother, when shall I be blessed
By joining their blissful company?
As he listened to the song, the Master's mind underwent a transformation, and presently he went into deep samadhi. Coming down a little to the plane of the sense world, he gave instruction to the devotees. His mind was still charged with the divine experience. His words were spoken as if in a state of intoxication. Gradually he became again fully conscious of the world. MASTER: "O Mother! I don't want the bliss of divine inebriation. I shall eat siddhi.
(To the devotees) "By 'siddhi' I mean the attainment of the spiritual goal and not one of the eight occult powers. About the occult powers, Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Friend, if you find anyone who has acquired even one of the eight powers, then know for certain he will not realize Me.' For powers surely beget pride, and God cannot be realized if there is the slightest trace of pride.
"According to a certain school of thought there are four classes of devotees: the pravartaka, the sadhaka, the siddha, and the siddha of the siddha. He who has just begun religious life is a pravartaka. Such a man puts his denominational marks on his body and forehead, wears a rosary around his neck, and scrupulously follows other outer conventions. The sadhaka has advanced farther. His desire for outer show has become less. He longs for the realization of God and prays to Him sincerely, He repeats the name of God and calls on Him with a guileless heart. Now, whom should we call the siddha? He who has the absolute conviction that God exists and is the sole Doer; he who has seen God. And who is the siddha of the siddha? He who has not merely seen God, but has intimately talked with Him as Father, Son, or Beloved.
"It is one thing to believe bevond a doubt that fire exists in wood, but it is quite another to get the fire from the wood, cook rice with its help, appease one's hunger, and so be satisfied. These are two entirely different things.
"No one can put a limit to spiritual experience. If you refer to one experience, there is another beyond that, and still another, and so on.
(In an ecstatic mood, referring to the Brahmos) "They are Brahmajnanis. They believe in the formless Deity. That is good.
(To the Brahmo devotees) "Be firm in one ideal — either in God with form or in the formless God. Then alone will you realize God; otherwise not. With firm and unwavering belief the followers of God with form will realize Him, as will those who speak of Him as formless. You may eat a cake with icing either straight or sidewise; it will taste sweet either way. (All laugh)
"But you must have firm conviction, you must pray to Him whole-heartedly. Do you know what the God of worldly people is like? It is like children's saying to one another while at play, 'I swear by God.' They have learnt the word from the quarrels of their aunts or grandmothers. Or it is like God to a dandy. The dandy, all spick and span, his lips red from chewing betel-leaf, walks in the garden, cane in hand, and, plucking a flower, exclaims to his friend, 'Ah! What a beautiful flower God has made!' But this feeling of a worldly person is momentary. It lasts as long as a drop of water on a red-hot frying-pan.
"You must be firm in one ideal. Dive deep. Otherwise you cannot get the gems at the bottom of the ocean. You cannot pick up the gems if you only float on the surface."
With these words the Master sang in the sweet voice that had bewitched the hearts of devotees like Keshab:
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love. . . .
The devotees felt as if they were in paradise itself.
MASTER (to the Brahmos): "Dive deep. Learn to love God. Plunge into divine love. You see, I have heard how you pray. Why do you Brahmos dwell so much on the glories of God? Is there such great need of your saying over and over again, 'O God, You have created the sky, the great oceans, the lunar world, the solar world, and the stellar world'?
"Everybody is wonder-struck at the mere sight of a rich man's garden house. People become speechless at the sight of the trees, the flowers, the ponds, the drawing-room, the pictures. But alas, how few are they who seek the owner of all these! Only one or two inquire after him. He who seeks God with a longing heart can see Him, talk to Him as I am talking to you. Believe my words when I say that God can be seen. But ah! To whom am I saying these words? Who will believe me?
"Can one find God in the sacred books? By reading the scriptures one may feel at the most that God exists. But God does not reveal Himself to a man unless he himself dives deep. Only after such a plunge, after the revelation of God through His grace, is one's doubt destroyed. You may read scriptures by the thousands and recite thousands of texts; but unless you plunge into God with yearning of heart, you will not comprehend Him. By mere scholarship you may fool man, but not God.
"Scriptures and books — what can one achieve with these alone? Nothing can be realized without His grace. Strive with a longing heart for His grace. Through His grace you will see Him and He will talk to you."
SUB-JUDGE: "Sir, does God show more grace to one than to another? If so, He can be accused of the fault of partiality."
MASTER: "What are you saying? Do you mean to say that the moon and a glow-worm are the same, though both give light? Iswar Vidyasagar asked me the same question. He said, 'Is it a fact, sir, that God gives more power to one and less to another?' 'God', I said, 'exists in every being as the All-pervading Spirit. He is in the ant as well as in me. But there are different manifestations of His Power in different beings. If all are the same, then why have we come here to see you, attracted by your renown? Have you grown a pair of horns? Oh, no! It is not that. You have compassion; you have scholarship; there is a greater degree of these virtues in you than in others. That is the reason you are so well known.' Don't you see that there are men who, single-handed, can defeat a hundred persons? Again, one man takes to his heels in fear of another; you see such a person, too. If there are not different manifestations of power in different beings, then why did people respect Keshab Sen so much?
"It is said in the Gita that if a man is respected and honoured by many, whether it be for his scholarship or his music or his oratory or anything else, then you may know for certain that he is endowed with a special divine power."
A BRAHMO (to the sub-judge): "Why don't you accept what he says?"
MASTER (sharply, to the Brahmo): "What sort of man are you? To accept words without conviction! Why, that is hypocrisy! I see you are only a counterfeit."
The Brahmo was much embarrassed.
SUB-JUDGE: "Sir, must we renounce the world?"
MASTER: "No. Why should you? A man can realize God even in the world. But at the beginning he must spend a few days in solitude. He must practise spiritual discipline in a solitary place. He should take a room near his house, so that he may come home only for his meals. Keshab, Pratap, and others said to me, 'Sir, we follow the ideal of King Janaka.' 'Mere words don't make a King Janaka', I replied. 'How many austerities King Janaka first had to perform in solitude — standing on his head,* and so on! Do something first; then you may become a King Janaka.' You see a man writing English fluently; but could he do that at the very start? Perhaps he was the son of poor parents; he was cook in a family and earned his meals by his service. Perhaps he had to struggle hard to go on with his studies. It is after all these efforts that he can now write such fluent English.
"I said to Keshab Sen further, 'How can the worldly man be cured of his serious disease unless he goes into solitude?' A worldly man is suffering from delirious fever, as it were. Suppose there are pickled tamarind and jars of water in the room of such a patient. Now, how can you expect him to get rid of the disease? Just see, the very mention of pickled tamarind is making my mouth water! (All laugh.) You can very well imagine what will happen if the tamarind is actually put in front of me. To a man, a woman is the pickled tamarind, and his desire for enjoyment, the jars of water. There is neither end nor limit to this desire for worldly enjoyment. And the things are in the patient's very room. Can you expect the patient to get rid of the delirious fever in this fashion? He must be removed for a few days to another place where there are neither pickled tamarind nor water-jars. Then he will be cured. After that if he returns to his old room he will have nothing to fear. 'Woman and gold' cannot do any harm to the man who lives in the world after attaining God. Only then can he lead a detached life in the world as King Janaka did. But he must be careful at the beginning. He must practise spiritual discipline in strict solitude. The peepal-tree, when young, is fenced around to protect it from cattle. But there is no need for the fence when the trunk grows thick and strong. Then no harm will be done to the tree even if an elephant is tied to it. 'Woman and gold' will not be able to harm you in the least, if you go home and lead a householder's life after increasing your spiritual strength and developing love for the Lotus Feet of God through the practice of spiritual discipline in solitude.
"A man sets milk in a quiet place to curdle, and then he extracts butter from the curd. After once extracting the butter of Devotion and Knowledge from the milk of the mind, if you keep that transformed mind in the water of the world, it will float in the world unattached. But if the mind in its 'unripe' state — that is to say, when it is just like liquid milk — is kept in the water of the world, then the milk and water will get mixed. In that case it will be impossible for the mind to float unattached in the world.
"Live in the world but, in order to realize God, hold fast to His Lotus Feet with one hand and with the other do your duties. When you get a respite from your duties, cling to God's Lotus Feet with both hands — live in solitude and meditate on Him and serve Him ceaselessly."
SUB-JUDGE (joyously): "Sir, these are very beautiful words indeed. Of course one must practise spiritual discipline in solitude. But we forget all about it. We think we have become King Janaka outright! (The Master and the devotees laugh.) I feel very happy and peaceful even to hear that there is no need to give up the world and that God can be realized from home as well."
MASTER: "Why should you give up the world? Since you must fight, it is wise for you to fight from a fort. You must fight against your sense-organs, against your hunger and thirst. Therefore you will be wise to face the battle from the world. Further, in the Kaliyuga the life of a man depends on his food. If one day you have nothing to eat, then you will forget all about God. A man once said to his wife, 'I am going to leave the world.' She was a sensible woman. She said: 'Why should you wander about? If you don't have to knock at ten doors for your stomach's sake, go. But if that is the case, then better live in this one place.'
"Again I say, why should you give up the world? You will find it more convenient at home. You won't have to worry about food. You may even live with your wife. It isn't harmful. You will find near at hand all that the body needs at different times. When you are ill, you will have someone near you to nurse you.
"Sages like Janaka, Vyasa, and Vasishtha lived in the world after attaining Knowledge. They fenced with two swords, the one of Knowledge and the other of action."
SUB-JUDGE: "How can we know that we have Knowledge?"
MASTER: "When one has Knowledge one does not see God any more at a distance. One does not think of Him any more as 'He'. He becomes 'This'. Then He is seen in one's own heart. God dwells in every man. He who seeks God realizes Him."
SUB-JUDGE: "Sir, I am a sinner. How can I say that God dwells in me?"
MASTER: "That's the one trouble with you Brahmos. With you it is always sin and sin! That's the Christian view, isn't it? Once a man gave me a Bible. A part of it was read to me, and it was full of that one thing — sin and sin! One must have such faith that one can say: 'I have uttered the name of God; I have repeated the name of Rama or Hari. How can I be a sinner?' One must have faith in the glory of God's name."
SUB-JUDGE: "Sir, how can one have such faith?"
MASTER: "Have passionate love for God. One of your Brahmo songs says:
O Lord, is it ever possible to know Thee without love,
However much one may perform worship and sacrifice?
Pray to God in secret and with yearning, that you may have that passionate attachment and devotion to Him. Shed tears for Him. A man sheds a jugful of tears because his wife is sick or because he is losing money or because he is worrying about getting a job. But tell me, who ever weeps for God?"
TRAILOKYA: "Sir, where is people's leisure? They must serve their English masters."
MASTER: "Well, then give God the power of attorney. If a man entrusts his affairs to a good person, will the latter do him any harm? With all the sincerity of your heart resign yourself to God and drive all your worries out of your mind. Do whatever duties He has assigned to you. The kitten does not have a calculating mind. It only cries, 'Mew, mew!' It lies in the kitchen contentedly if the mother cat leaves it there, and only calls the mother, crying, 'Mew, mew!' It has the same feeling of contentment when the mother cat puts it on the soft bed of the master of the house. It only cries for its mother."
SUB-JUDGE: "Sir, we are householders. How long should we perform our worldly duties?"
MASTER: "Surely you have duties to perform. You must bring up your children, support your wife, and provide for her in ease of your death. If you don't, then I shall call you unkind. Sages like Sukadeva had compassion. He who has no compassion is no man."
SUB-JUDGE: "How long should one support one's children?"
MASTER: "As long as they have not reached their majority. When the chick becomes a full-grown bird and can look after itself, then the mother bird pecks it and doesn't allow it to come near her." (All laugh.)
SUB-JUDGE: "What is a householder's duty to his wife?"
MASTER: "You should give her spiritual advice and support her during your lifetime and provide for her livelihood after your death, if she is a chaste wife.
"But if you are intoxicated with the Knowledge of God, then you have no more duties to perform. Then God Himself will think about your morrow if you yourself cannot do so. God Himself will think about your family if you are intoxicated with Him. If a landlord dies leaving behind a minor son, then a guardian appointed by the court takes charge of the son. These are all points of law; you know them."
SUB-JUDGE: "Yes, sir."
VIJAY: "Ah! Priceless words! God Himself carries on His shoulders all the responsibilities of a person who thinks of Him with single-minded devotion and is mad with divine love. A minor gets his guardian without seeking him. Alas, when shall I have that state of mind? How lucky they are who feel that way!"
TRAILOKYA: "Is it ever possible, sir, to have true knowledge of God while living in the world? Can one realize God here?"
MASTER (with a smile): "Why do you worry? You are enjoying both treacle and refined sugar. (All laugh.) You are living in the world with your mind in God. Isn't that true? Why shouldn't a man realize God in the world? Certainly he can."
TRAILOKYA: "What are the signs of a householder's having attained Knowledge?"
MASTER : "His tears will flow, and the hair on his body will stand on end. No sooner does he hear the sweet name of God than the hair on his body stands on end from sheer delight, and tears roll down his cheeks.
"A man cannot get rid of body-consciousness as long as he is attached to worldly things and loves 'woman and gold'. As he becomes less and less attached to worldly things, he approaches nearer and nearer to the Knowledge of Self. He also becomes less and less conscious of his body. He attains Self-Knowledge when his worldly attachment totally disappears. Then he realizes that body and soul are two separate things. It is very difficult to separate with a knife the kernel of a coconut from the shell before the milk inside has dried up. When the milk dries up, the kernel rattles inside the shell. At that time it loosens itself from the shell. Then the fruit is called a dry coconut.
"The sign of a man's having realized God is that he has become like a dry coconut. He has become utterly free from the consciousness that he is the body. He does not feel happy or unhappy with the happiness or unhappiness of the body. He does not seek the comforts of the body. He roams about in the world as a jivanmukta, one liberated in life. 'The devotee of Kali is a jivanmukta, full of Eternal Bliss.'
"When you find that the very mention of God's name brings tears to your eyes and makes your hair stand on end, then you will know that you have freed yourself from attachment to 'woman and gold' and attained God. If the matches are dry, you get a spark by striking only one of them. But if they are damp, you don't get a spark even if you strike fifty. You only waste matches. Similarly, if your mind is soaked in the pleasure of worldly things, in 'woman and gold', then God-Consciousness will not be kindled in you. You may try a thousand times, but all your efforts will be futile. But no sooner does attachment to worldly pleasure dry up than the spark of God flashes forth."
TRAILOKYA: "What is the way to dry up the craving for worldly pleasure?"
MASTER: "Pray to the Divine Mother with a longing heart. Her vision dries up all craving for the world and completely destroys all attachment to 'woman and gold'. It happens instantly if you think of Her as your own mother. She is by no means a godmother. She is your own mother. With a yearning heart persist in your demands on Her. The child holds to the skirt of its mother and begs a penny of her to buy a kite. Perhaps the mother is gossiping with her friends. At first she refuses to give the penny and says to the child: 'No, you can't have it. Your daddy has asked me not to give you money. When he comes home I'll ask him about it. You will get into trouble it you play with a kite now.' The child begins to cry and will not give up his demand. Then the mother says to her friends: 'Excuse me a moment. Let me pacify this child.' Immediately she unlocks the cash-box with a click and throws the child a penny.
"You too must force your demand on the Divine Mother. She will come to you without fail. I once said the same thing to some Sikhs when they visited the temple at Dakshineswar. We were conversing in front of the Kali temple. They said, 'God is compassionate.' 'Why compassionate?' I asked. They said, 'Why, revered sir, He constantly looks after us, gives us righteousness and wealth, and provides us with our food.' 'Suppose', I said, 'a man has children. Who will look after them and provide them with food — their own father, or a man from another village?'"
SUB-JUDGE: "Is not God, then, compassionate, sir?"
MASTER: "Why should you think that? I just made a remark. What I mean to say is that God is our very own. We can exert force on Him. With one's own people one can even go so far as to say, 'You rascal! Won't you give it to me?'
(To the sub-judge) "Let me ask you one thing. Are vanity and egotism the result of knowledge or of ignorance? Egotism is of the nature of tamas; it is begotten by ignorance. On account of the barrier of ego one does not see God. 'All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.' It is futile to be egotistic. Neither body nor wealth will last. Once a drunkard was looking at the image of Durga. At the sight of Her decorations, he said, 'Well, Mother! However You may fix Yourself up, after two or three days they will drag You out and throw You into the Ganges.'* (All laugh.)
"So I say to you all, you may be a judge or anybody else, but it is all for two days only. Therefore you should give up vanitv and pride.
"The characteristics of sattva, rajas, and tamas are very different. Egotism, sleep, gluttony, lust, anger, and the like, are the traits of people with tamas. Men with rajas entangle themselves in many activities. Such a man has clothes all spick and span. His house is immaculately clean. A portrait of the Queen (Queen Victoria.) hangs on a wall in his drawing-room. When he worships God he wears a silk cloth. He has a string of rudraksha beads around his neck, and in between the beads he puts a few gold ones. When someone comes to visit the worship hall in his house, he himself acts as guide. After showing the hall, he says to the visitor: 'Please come this way, sir. There are other things too — the floor of white marble and the natmandir with its exquisite carvings.' When he gives in charity he makes a show of it. But a man endowed with sattva is quiet and peaceful. So far as dress is concerned, anything will do. He earns only enough money to give his stomach the simplest of food; he never flatters men to get money. His house is out of repair. He never worries about his children's clothing. He does not hanker for name and fame. His worship, charity, and meditation are all done in secret; people do not know about them at all. He meditates inside his mosquito curtain. People think he doesn't sleep well at night and for that reason sleeps late in the morning. Sattva is the last step of the stairs; next is the roof. As soon as sattva is acquired there is no further delay in attaining God. One step forward and God is realized. (To the sub-judge) Didn't you say that all men were equal? Now you see that there are so many varieties of human nature.
"There are still other classes and kinds of people. For instance, there are those who are eternally free, those who have attained liberation, those struggling for liberation, and those entangled in the world. So many varieties of men! Sages like Narada and Sukadeva are eternally free. They are like a steamship, which not only crosses the ocean but can carry big animals, even an elephant. Further, the soul that is eternally free is like the superintendent of an estate. After bringing one part of the estate under control, he goes to another. Those struggling for liberation strive heart and soul to free themselves from the net of the world. One or two of them may get out of the net. They are called the liberated. The souls that are eternally free are like clever fish; they are never caught in the net.
"But the souls that are entangled, involved in worldliness, never come to their senses. They lie in the net but are not even conscious that they are entangled. If you speak of God before them, they at once leave the place. They say: 'Why God now? We shall think of Him in the hour of death.' But when they lie on their death-beds, they say to their wives or children; 'Why have you put so many wicks in the lamp? Use only one wick. Otherwise too much oil will be burnt.' While dying they think of their wives and children, and weep, 'Alas! What will happen to them after my death?'
'The entangled souls repeat those very actions that make them suffer so much. They are like the camel, which eats thorny bushes till the blood streams from its mouth, but still will not give them up. Such a man may have lost his son and be stricken with grief, but still he will have children year after year. He may ruin himself by his daughter's marriage, but still he will go on having daughters every year. And he says: 'What can I do? It's just my luck!' When he goes to a holy place he doesn't have any time to think of God. He almost kills himself carrying bundles for his wife. Entering the temple, he is very eager to give his child the holy water to drink or make him roll on the floor; but he has no time for his own devotions. These bound creatures slave for their masters to earn food for themselves and their families; and they earn money by lying, cheating, flattery. They laugh at those who think of God and meditate on Him, and call them lunatics.
"So you see how many different kinds of men there are. You said that all men were equal. But how many varieties of men there are! Some have more power and some less.
"The entangled creatures, attached to worldliness, talk only of worldly things in the hour of death. What will it avail such men if they outwardly repeat the name of God, take a bath in the Ganges, or visit sacred places? If they cherish within themselves attachment to the world, it must show up at the hour of death. While dying they rave nonsense. Perhaps they cry out in a delirium, 'Turmeric powder! Seasoning! Bay-leaf!' The singing parrot, when at ease, repeats the holy names of Radha and Krishna, but when it is seized by a cat it utters its own natural sound; it squawks, 'Kaa! Kaa!' It is said in the Gita that whatever one thinks in the hour of death, one becomes in the after-life. King Bharata gave up his body exclaiming, 'Deer! Deer!' and was born as a deer in his next life. But if a man dies thinking of God, then he attains God, and he does not have to come back to the life of this world."
A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, suppose a man has thought of God at other times during his life, but at the time of his death forgets Him. Would he, on that account, come back to this world of sorrow and suffering? Why should it be so? He certainly thought of God some time during his life."
MASTER: "A man thinks of God, no doubt, but he has no faith in Him. Again and again he forgets God and becomes attached to the world. It is like giving the elephant a bath; afterwards he covers his body with mud and dirt again. 'The mind is a mad elephant.' But if you can make the elephant go into the stable immediately after bathing him, then he stays clean. Just so, if a man thinks of God in the hour of death, then his mind becomes pure and it gets no more opportunity to become attached to 'woman and gold'.
"Man has no faith in God. That is the reason he suffers so much. They say that when you plunge into the holy waters of the Ganges your sins perch on a tree on the bank. No sooner do you come out of the water after the bath than the sins jump back on your shoulders. (All laugh.) A man must prepare the way beforehand, so that he may think of God in the hour of death. The way lies through constant practice. If a man practises meditation on God, he will remember God even on the last day of his life."
BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "You have spoken very beautifully, sir. Beautiful words, indeed."
MASTER: "Oh, this is just idle talk. But do you know my inner feeling? I am the machine and God is the Operator. I am the house and He is the Indweller. I am the engine and He is the Engineer. I am the chariot and He is the Charioteer. I move as He moves me; I do as He makes me do."
Presently Trailokya began to sing to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. Sri Ramakrishna danced, intoxicated with divine love. Many times he went into samadhi. He stood still, his eyes fixed, his face beaming, with one hand on the shoulder of a beloved disciple. Coming down a little from the state of ecstasy, he danced again like a mad elephant. Regaining consciousness of the outer world, he improvised lines to the music:
O Mother, dance about Thy devotees!
Dance Thyself and make them dance as well.
O Mother, dance in the lotus of my heart;
Dance, O Thou the ever blessed Brahman!
Dance in all Thy world-bewitching beauty.
An indescribable scene. The exquisite and celestial dance of a child completely filled with ecstatic love of God and identified heart and soul with the Divine Mother! The Brahmo devotees danced around the Master again and again, attracted like iron to a magnet. In ecstatic voices they chanted the name of Brahman. Again, they chanted the name of the Divine Mother. Many of them wept like children, crying, "Mother! Mother!"
When the music was over, the devotees and the Master sat down. Although it was about eight o'clock, the evening worship of the Brahmo Samaj had not yet begun. In the joy of this divine music they had forgotten all about their formal worship. Vijay, who was to conduct the evening service, sat facing the Master. His mother-in-law and the other Brahmo ladies wanted to see Sri Ramakrishna; so the Master went to meet them in another room.
After a time the Master came back and said to Vijay: "What devotion to God your mother-in-law has! About the worldly life she said to me: 'Oh, you needn't tell me about the world. No sooner does one wave disappear than another rises up.' 'But', I said, 'what is that to you? You have knowledge.' She replied: 'Where is my knowledge? I haven't yet been able to go beyond vidyamava and avidyamaya. It won't help me much to go beyond just the illusion of ignorance; I shall have to transcend the illusion of knowledge as well. Only then shall I have true knowledge of God. I am quoting your own words.'"
While they were talking, Beni Pal, their host, entered the room.
BENI (to Vijay): "Sir, please get up. It is already late. Please begin the worship."
VIJAY: "What further need is there of worship? I find that according to your arrangement the rice pudding is served first, and then the soup and other dishes."
MASTER (with a smile): "The devotees provide offerings according to their temperaments. The sattvic devotee offers the Deity simple rice pudding, and the rajasic devotee, fifty different dishes. The tamasic devotee slaughters goats, and other animals."
Vijay began to hesitate about going to the platform to conduct the worship. He said to the Master, "I shall conduct the worship from the platform only if you give me your blessing."
MASTER: "It will be all right if you don't feel any egotism, if you don't have the vain feeling: 'I am giving a lecture. Listen to me.' What begets egotism? Knowledge or ignorance? It is only the humble man who attains Knowledge. In a low place rain-water collects. It runs down from a mound.
"A man achieves neither Knowledge nor liberation as long as he has egotism. He comes back again and again to the world. The calf bellows, 'Hamba! Hamba!', that is, 'I! I!' That is why it suffers such agony. The butcher slaughters it and the shoe-maker makes shoes from its hide. Besides, its hide is used for the drum, which is beaten mercilessly. Still no end to its misery! At long last a carding-machine is made from its entrails. While carding the cotton the machine makes the sound 'Tuhu! Tuhu!', that is, Thou! Thou!' Then the poor calf is released from all suffering. It no longer says, 'Hamba! Hamba!' but repeats, 'Tuhu! Tuhu!' The calf says, as it were, O God, Thou art the Doer and I am nothing. Thou art the Operator and I am the machine. Thou art everything.'
"Three words — 'master', 'teacher', and 'father' — prick me like thorns. I am we son of God, His eternal child. How can I be a 'father'? God alone is the Master and I am His instrument. He is the Operator and I am the machine. "If somebody addresses me as guru, I say to him: 'Go away, you fool! How can I be a teacher?' There is no teacher except Satchidananda. There is no refuge except Him. He alone is the Ferryman to take one across the ocean of he world. (To Vijay) It is very difficult to act as an acharya. It harms the acharya himself. Finding a number of men doing him reverence, he sits erect, crossing his legs, and says proudly: 'I am preaching. Hear ye all!' This is a very bad attitude. He gets a little prestige and it ends there. People will say at most: 'Ah! Vijay Babu has spoken very well. He knows a great deal.' Never cherish the attitude, "I am preaching.' I always say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother! Thou art the Operator and I am the machine. I do as Thou makest me do, I speak as Thou makest me speak.'"
VIJAY (humbly): "Please give me your permission. Only then will I sit on the platform."
MASTER (with a smile): "What shall I say? Pray to God yourself. He belongs to all, even as 'Uncle Moon'* is the uncle of all children. You have nothing to tear if you are sincere."
On being further requested by Vijay, the Master said': "Yes, go. Follow the rules. Everything is all right if one has sincere love for God."
Vijay sat on the platform and conducted the worship according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj. At the time for prayer he repeatedly called on the Mother, touching the hearts of all. After the worship their host entertained the Master and the devotees with a sumptuous feast.
Soon they were ready to return home. Sri Ramakrishna became engaged in conversation with Vijay, no one else but M. being present.
MASTER: "You prayed to God, addressing Him as Mother. That is very good. People say that the mother's attachment to the child is stronger than the father's. A son can force his demand on his mother but not on his father. Once cartloads of money were coming from the estate of Trailokya's mother. They were guarded by many red-turbaned stalwarts armed with big sticks. Trailokya, who had been waiting on the road with his men, pounced upon the money and took it away by force. A son has a very strong claim on his mother's wealth. People say that a mother cannot very well sue her son in a court of law."
VIJAY: "If Brahman is our Mother, then has It any form or is It formless?"
MASTER: "That which is Brahman is also Kali, the Mother, the Primal Energy. When inactive It is called Brahman. Again, when creating, preserving, and destroying, It is called Sakti. Still water is an illustration of Brahman. The same water, moving in waves, may be compared to Sakti, Kali. What is the meaning of Kali? She who communes with Maha-Kala, the Absolute, is Kali. She is formless and, again. She has forms. If you believe in the form-less aspect, then meditate on Kali as that. If you meditate on any aspect of Her with firm conviction, She will let you know Her true nature. Then you will realize that not merely does God exist, but He will come near you and talk to you as I am talking to you. Have faith and you will achieve everything. Remember this, too. If you believe that God is formless, then stick to that belief with firm conviction. But don't be dogmatic: never say emphatically about God that He can be only this and not that. You may say: 'I believe that God is formless. But He can be many things more. He alone knows what else He can be. I do not know; I do not understand.' How can man with his one ounce of intelligence know the real nature of God? Can you put four seers of milk in a one-seer jar? If God, through His grace, ever reveals Himself to His devotee and makes him understand, then he will know; but not otherwise.
"That which is Brahman is Sakti, and That, again, is the Mother.
He it is, says Ramprasad, that I approach as Mother;
But must I give away the secret, here in the market-place?
From the hints I have given, O mind, guess what that Being is!
Ramprasad implies that he has known the truth of Brahman. He addresses Brahman as Mother.
"In another song Ramprasad expresses the same idea thus:
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both dharma and adharma.
Adharma means unrighteous actions, actions forbidden by religion. Dharma means the pious actions prescribed by religion, as, for instance, charity to the poor, feeding the brahmins, and so on."
VIJAY : "What remains if one renounces both dharma and adharma?"
MASTER: "Pure love of God. I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, here, take Thy dharma; here, take Thy adharma; and give me pure love for Thee. Here, take Thy virtue; here, take Thy vice; and give me pure love for Thee. Here, take Thy knowledge; here, take Thy ignorance; and give me pure love for Thee.' You see, I didn't ask even for knowledge or public recognition. When one renounces both dharma and adharma, there remains only pure love of God — love that is stainless, motiveless, and that one feels only for the sake of love."
A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Is God different from His Sakti?"
MASTER: "After attaining Perfect Knowledge one realizes that they are not different. They are the same, like the gem and its brilliance. Thinking of the gem, one cannot but think of its brilliance. Again, they are like milk and its whiteness. Thinking of the one, you must also think of the other. But you cannot realize this non-duality before the attainment of Perfect Knowledge. Attaining Perfect Knowledge, one goes into samadhi, beyond the twenty-four cosmic principles. Therefore the principle of 'I' does not exist in that stage. A man cannot describe in words what he feels in samadhi. Coming down, he can give just a hint about it. I come down a hundred cubits, as it were, when I say 'Om' after samadhi. Brahman is beyond the injunctions of the Vedas and cannot be described. There neither 'I' nor 'you' exists.
"As long as a man is conscious of 'I' and 'you', and as long as he feels that it is he who prays or meditates, so long will he feel that God is listening to his prayer and that God is a Person. Then he must say: 'O God, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant. Thou art the whole and I am a part of Thee. Thou art the Mother and I am Thy child.' At that time there exists a feeling of difference: 'I am one and Thou art another.' It is God Himself who makes us feel this difference; and on account of this difference one sees man and woman, light and darkness, and so on. As long as one is aware of this difference, one must accept Sakti, the Personal God. It is God who has put 'I-consciousness' in us. You may reason a thousand times; still this 'I' does not disappear. As long as 'I-consciousness' exists, God reveals Himself to us as a Person.
"Therefore, as long as a man is conscious of 'I' and of differentiation, he cannot speak of the attributeless Brahman and must accept Brahman with attributes. This Brahman with attributes has been declared in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantra, to be Kali, the Primal Energy."
VIJAY: "How, sir, can one have the vision of the Primal Energy and attain Brahmajnana, the Knowledge of the attributeless Brahman?"
MASTER: "Pray to Him with a yearning heart, and weep. That will purify your heart. You see the. reflection of the sun in clear water. In the mirror of his 'I-consciousness' the devotee sees the form of the Primal Energy, Brahman with attributes. But the mirror must be wiped clean. One does not see the right reflection if there is any dirt on the mirror.
"As long as a man must see the Sun in the water of his 'I-consciousness' and has no other means of seeing It, as long as he has no means of seeing the real Sun except through Its reflection, so long is the reflected sun alone one hundred per cent real to him. As long as the 'I' is real, so long is the reflected sun real — one hundred per cent real. That reflected sun is nothing but the Primal Energy.
"But if you seek Brahmajnana, the Knowledge of the attributeless Brahman, then proceed to the real Sun through Its reflection. Pray to Brahman with attributes, who listens to your prayers, and He Himself will give you lull Knowledge of Brahman; for that which is Brahman with attributes is verily Brahman without attributes, that which is Brahman is verily Sakti. One realizes this non-duality after the attainment of Perfect Knowledge.
"The Divine Mother gives Her devotee Brahmajnana too. But a true lover of God generally does not seek the Knowledge of Brahman.
"There is another path, the path of knowledge, which is very difficult. You members of the Brahmo Samaj are not jnanis. You are bhaktas. The jnani believes that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory as a dream. To him, 'I' and 'you' are illusory as a dream.
"God is our Inner Controller. Pray to Him with a pure and guileless heart. He will explain everything to you. Give up egotism and take refuge in Him. You will realize everything."
The Master sang:
Dwell, O mind, within yourself;
Enter no other's home.
If you but seek there, you will find
All you are searching for.
God, the true Philosopher's Stone,
Who answers every prayer,
Lies hidden deep within your heart,
The richest gem of all.
How many pearls and precious stones
Are scattered all about
The outer court that lies before
The chamber of your heart!
He continued: "When you mix with people outside your Samaj, love them all. When in their company be one of them. Don't harbour malice toward them. Dont turn up your nose in hatred and say: 'Oh, this man believes in God with form and not in the formless God. That man believes in the formless God and not in God with form. This man is a Christian. This man is a Hindu. And this man is a Mussalman.' It is God alone who makes people see things in different ways. Know that people have different natures. Realize this and mix with them as much as you can. And love all. But enter your own inner chamber to enjoy peace and bliss.
Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart,
Behold the face of the Mother, Brahman's Embodiment.
You can see your true Self only within your own chamber. The cowherds take the cows to graze in the pasture. There the cattle mix. They all form one herd. But on returning to their sheds in the evening they are separated. Then each stays by itself in its own stall. Therefore I say, dwell by yourself in your own chamber."
It was ten o'clock in the evening. The Master got into a carriage to return to Dakshineswar. One or two attending devotees got in with him. The carrige stood under a tree, in deep darkness. Beni Pal wanted to send some sweets and other food with Sri Ramakrishna for Ramlal, the Master's nephew.
BENI PAL: "Sir, Ramlal was not here this evening. With your permission I should like to send some sweets for him by your attendants."
MASTER (with great anxiety): "Oh, Beni Pal! Oh, sir! Please don't send these things with me. That will do me harm. It is never possible for me to lay up anything. I hope you won't mind."
BENI PAL: "As you please, sir. Please give me your blessing."
MASTER: "Oh, we have been very happy today! You see, he alone is a true man who has made money his servant. But those who do not know the use of money are not men even though they have human forms. They may have human bodies, but they behave like animals. You are blessed indeed. You have made so many devotees happy today."
Monday, October 20, 1884
Two days after the worship of Kali, the Marwaris of the Burrabazar section of Calcutta were celebrating the Annakuta* festival. Sri Ramakrishna had been invited by the Marwari devotees to the ceremony at 12 Mallick Street. It was the second day of the bright fortnight of the moon. The festival connected with the worship of Kali, known as the "Festival of Light", still going on at Burrabazar.
About three o'clock in the afternoon M. and the younger Gopal came to Burrabazar. M. had in his hand a bundle of cloths he had purchased for Sri Ramakrishna. Mallick Street was jammed with people, bullock-carts, and carriages. As M. and Gopal approached 12 Mallick Street they noticed Sri Ramakrishna in a carriage, which could hardly move because of the jam. Baburam and Ram Chakravarty were with the Master. He smiled at M. and Gopal.
Sri Ramakrishna alighted from the carriage. With Baburam he proceeded on foot to the house of his host, M. leading the way. They saw the courtyard of the house filled with big bales of clothes which were being loaded into bullock-carts for shipment. The Marwari host greeted the Master and led him to the third floor of the house. A painting of Kali hung on the wall. Sri Ramakrishna bowed before it. He sat down and became engaged in conversation with the devotees. One of the Marwaris began to stroke his feet. The Master asked him to stop. After reflecting a minute he said, "All right, you can stroke them a little." His words were full of compassion.
MASTER (to M.): "What about your school?"
M: "Today is a holiday, sir."
MASTER (smiling): "Tomorrow there will be a musical recital of the Chandi at Adhar's house."
The host sent a pundit to Sri Ramakrishna. He saluted the Master and took a seat. Soon they were engaged in conversation. They talked about spiritual things.
MASTER: "God incarnates Himself for the bhakta and not for the jnani."
PUNDIT: "'I incarnate Myself in every age for the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of dharma.' (Bhagavad Gita, IV, 8.) God becomes man, first, for the joy of the bhakta, and secondly, for the destruction of the wicked. The jnani has no desire."
MASTER (smiling): "But I have not got rid of all desires. I have the desire for love of God."
The pundit's son entered the room. He saluted the Master and took a seat.
MASTER (to the pundit): "Well, what is bhava and what is bhakti?"
PUNDIT: "Meditation on God mellows the mind. This mellowness is called bhava. It is like the thawing of ice when the sun rises."
MASTER: "Well, what is prema?"
The pundit and Sri Ramaknshna were talking in Hindusthani. The former gave some sort of explanation of prema.
MASTER (to the pundit): "No! No! That is not the meaning. Prema means such love for God that it makes a man forget the world and also his body, which is so dear to him. Chaitanyadeva had prema."
PUNDIT: "Yes, sir. One behaves like a drunkard."
MASTER: "Some people develop bhakti and others do not; how do you explain that, sir?"
PUNDIT: "There is no partiality in God. He is the Wish-fulfilling Tree. Whatever a man asks of God he gets. But he must go near the Tree to ask the boon."
The pundit said all this in Hindusthani. The Master explained it to M. in Bengali.
MASTER: "Sir, please describe samadhi to us."
PUNDIT: "There are two kinds of samadhi: savikalpa and nirvikalpa. In nirvikalpa samadhi the functioning of the mind stops altogether."
MASTER: "Yes. 'The mind completely takes the form of Reality.' The distinction between the meditator and the object of meditation does not exist. There are two other kinds of samadhi: chetana and jada. Narada and Sukadeva attained chetana samadhi. Isn't that true, sir?"
PUNDIT: "Yes, sir, that is so."
MASTER: "Further, there are the unmana samadhi and the sthita samadhi. Isn't that true, sir?"
The pundit remained silent. He did not venture an opinion.
MASTER: "Well, sir, through the practice of japa and austerity one can get occult powers, such as walking on the water of the Ganges. Isn't that true?"
PUNDIT: "Yes, one can. But a devotee doesn't want them."
The conversation continued for some time. The pundit said he would visit the Master at Dakshineswar the next ekadasi day.
MASTER: "Ah! Your boy is very nice."
PUNDIT: "Well, revered sir, all this is transitory. It is like the waves in a river — one goes down and another comes up."
MASTER: "You have substance in you."
After a few minutes the pundit saluted Sri Ramakrishna. He said: "I shall have to perform my daily devotions. Please let me go."
MASTER: "Oh, sit down! Sit down!"
The pundit sat down again. The conversation turned to hathayoga. The pundit discussed the subject with the Master in Hindusthani. Sri Ramakrishna said: "Yes, that is also a form of austerity. But the hathayogi identifies himself with his body. His mind dwells on his body alone." The pundit took leave of the Master. Sri Ramakrishna conversed with the pundit's son.
MASTER: "One can understand the Bhagavata well if one has already studied the Nyaya, the Vedanta, and the other systems of philosophy. Isn't that so?"
PUNDIT'S SON: "Yes, sir. It is very necessary to study the Samkhya philosophy."
The conversation went on. Sri Ramakrishna was leaning against a big pillow; the devotees were sitting on the floor. Lying in that position, the Master began to sing:
Brother, joyfully cling to God;
Thus striving, some day you may attain Him.
Their host entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. He was a pious man and devoted to the Master. The pundit's son was still there. The Master asked if the Panini, the Sanskrit grammar, was taught in the schools. He further asked about the Nyaya and the Vedanta philosophies. The host did not show much interest in the discussion and changed the subject.
HOST: "Revered sir, what is the way for us?"
MASTER: "Chanting the name and glories of God, living in the company of holy men, and earnestly praying to God."
HOST: "Please bless me, sir, that I may pay less and less attention to worldly things."
MASTER (smiling): "How much attention do you give to the world? Fifty per cent?" (Laughter.)
HOST: "You know that, sir. We cannot achieve anything without the grace of a holy person like yourself."
MASTER: "If you please God, everyone will be pleased. It is God alone that exists in the heart of the holy man."
HOST: "Nothing, of course, remains unrealized when one attains God. If a man attains God, he can give up everything else. If a man gets a rupee, he gives up the joy of a penny."
MASTER: "A little spiritual discipline is necessary. Through the practice of discipline one gradually obtains divine joy. Suppose a jar with money inside is hidden deep under the earth and someone wants to possess it. In that case he must take the trouble of digging for it. As he digs, he perspires. After much digging the spade strikes the metal jar. He feels a thrill at the sound. The more sound the spade makes, striking against the jar, the more joy he feels.
"Pray to Rama. Meditate on Him. He will certainly provide you with everything."
HOST: "Revered sir, you are Rama Himself."
MASTER: "How is that? The waves belong to the river; does the river belong to the waves?"
HOST: "Rama dwells only in the hearts of holy men. He cannot be seen in any other way. There is no Incarnation of God at the present time."
MASTER (smiling): "How do you know there is no Divine Incarnation?"
The host remained silent.
MASTER: "All cannot recognize an Incarnation. When Narada visited Rama, Rama prostrated Himself before Narada and said: 'We are worldly creatures. How can we be sanctified unless holy men like you visit us?' Further, Rama went into exile in the forest to redeem His father's pledges. He saw that, since hearing of His exile, the rishis of the forest had been fasting. Many of them did not know that Rama was none other than the Supreme Brahman."
HOST: "You too are that same Rama."
MASTER: "For heaven's sake! Never say that."
As Sri Ramakrishna spoke these words, he bowed down to the host and said, with folded hands: "'That Rama dwells in all beings; He exists everywhere in the universe.' I am your servant. It is Rama Himself who has become all men, animals, and other living beings."
HOST: "But sir, we do not know that."
MASTER: "Whether you know it or not, you are Rama."
HOST: "You are free from love and hatred."
MASTER: "How so? I engaged a carriage to bring me to Calcutta and advanced the coachman three annas. But he didn't turn up. I became verv angry with him. He is a very wicked man. He made me suffer a lot."
Sri Ramakrishna was resting. The Marwari devotees had been singing bhajan on the roof. They were celebrating the Krishna festival. Arrangements had been made for worship and food offering. At the host's request the Master went to see the image. He bowed down before the Deity.
Sri Ramakrishna was profoundly moved as he stood before the image. With folded hands he said: "O Govinda, Thou art my soul! Thou art mv life! Victory to Govinda! Hallowed be the name of Govinda! Thou art the Embodiment of Satchidananda! Oh, Krishna! Ah, Krishna! Krishna is knowledge. Krishna is mind. Krishna is life. Krishna is soul. Krishna is body. Krishna is caste. Krishna is family. O Govinda, my life and soul!" Uttering these words, Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. He remained standing. Ram Chatterji supported him.
After a long time the Master regained consciousness of the world. The Marwari devotees were about to take out the image. The offering of food was to take place outside the room. The Master joined the procession of devotees. The food was offered with arati and music. Sri Ramakrishna fanned the image.
Then began the ceremony of feeding the brahmins. They were seated on the roof. The Master and his devotees also partook of the prasad.
Sri Ramakrishna took leave of the host. It was evening and the street was jammed as before with people and vehicles. He said: "Let us get out of the carriage. It can go by a back street." Proceeding on foot, he found that a betel-leaf seller had opened his stall in front of a small room that looked like a hole. One could not possibly enter it without bending one's head. The Master said: "How painful it is to be shut in such a small space! That is the way of worldly people. And they are happy in such a life."
The carriage came up after making the detour. The Master entered it with Baburam, M., and Ram Chatterji. The younger Copal sat on the roof of the carriage.
A beggar woman with a baby on her arm stood in front of the carriage waiting for alms. The Master said to M., "Have you any money?" Gopal gave her something.
The carriage rolled along Burrabazar. Everywhere there were signs of great festivity. The night was dark but illuminated with myriads of lights. The carriage came to the Chitpur road, which was also brightly lighted. The people moved in lines like ants. The crowd looked at the gaily decorated stores and stalls on both sides of the road. There were sweetmeat stores and perfume stalls. Pictures, beautiful and gaudy, hung from the walls. Well-dressed shopkeepers sprayed the visitors with rose-water. The carriage stopped in front of a perfume stall. The Master looked at the pictures and lights and felt happy as a child. People were talking loudly. He cried out: "Go forward! Move on!" He laughed. He said to Baburam with a loud laugh: "Move on! What are you doing?" The devotees laughed too. They understood that the Master wanted them to move forward to God and not to be satisfied with their present state.
The carriage drove on. The Master noticed that M. had brought some cloths for him. M. had with him two pieces of unbleached and two pieces of washed cloth. But the Master had asked him only for the unbleached ones. He said to M.: "Give me the unbleached ones. You may keep the others. All right. You may give me one of them."
M: "Then shall I take back one piece?"
MASTER: "Then take both."
M; "As you please, sir."
MASTER: "You can give me those when I need them. You see, yesterday Beni Pal wanted me to carry away some food for Ramlal. I told him I couldn't. It is impossible for me to lay up for the future."
M: "That's all right, sir. I shall take back the two pieces of washed cloth."
MASTER (tenderly): "Don't you see, if any desire arises in my mind, it is for the good of you all? You are my own. I shall tell you if I need anything."
M. (humbly): "Yes, sir."
Referring to a devotee, Sri Ramakrishna said: "I said to him yesterday, 'Tomorrow I shall go to Burrabazar; please meet me there.' Do you know what he said? He said: 'The tram fare will be one anna. Where shall I get it?' He had been to Beni Pal's garden yesterday and had officiated there as priest. No one had asked him to do it. He had put on the show himself. He wanted people to know that he was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. (To M.) Can you tell me what he meant when he said that the tram would cost him one anna?"
The conversation turned to the Annakuta festival of the Marwaris.
MASTER (to the devotees): "What you have seen here one sees at Vrindavan too. Rakhal has been seeing the same thing there. But the mound of food at Vrindavan is higher, and more people gather there. There you also see the Govardhan hill. That's the only difference.
"Did you notice the Marwaris' devotion? That is the real Hindu ideal. That is the Sanatana Dharma. Did you notice their joy when they carried the image in procession? They were happy to think that they bore the throne of God on their shoulders.
"The Hindu religion alone is the Sanatana Dharma. The various creeds you hear of nowadays have come into existence through the will of God and will disappear again through His will. They will not last forever. Therefore I say, 'I bow down at the feet of even the modern devotees.' The Hindu religion has always existed and will always exist,"
M. was going home. He saluted the Master and got out of the carriage near Sobhabazar. Sri Ramakrishna proceeded to Dakshineswar in a happy mood.
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