Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]

CAR FESTIVAL AT BALARAM'S HOUSE

Master on Purna - Purna's divine traits - Story of Ranjit Raya • Gopal Ma - God dwelling in the Master - Worries associated with human birth - Nitya and Lila - Essence of Vedanta - Absolute and Relative are correlatives - Brahman and Sakti - Synthesis of the formless Reality and God with form - Intimate Knowledge of God - Master's spiritual experiences - Spiritual fervour of Gopal Ma - Man and woman devotees - Free will - The Car Festival - Master's love for young disciples - Master's praise of Narendra - Knowledge of God is the same as love of Him - Divine love leads to union with God - Two kinds of samadhi - Master praises his young disciples - Respect for one's own mother - Master's spiritual experiences.

Monday, July 13, 1885

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in Balaram's drawing-room with the devotees. It was nine o'clock in the morning. Balaram was going to celebrate the Car Festival the following day. The Deity Jagannath was worshipped dailv at his house. He had a small car which would be drawn along the verandah to celebrate the festival. The Master had been specially invited for the occasion.

Sri Ramakrishna and M. were talking together. Narayan, Tejchandra, Balaram, and other devotees were in the room. The Master was talking about Purna, a lad of fifteen. He was very eager to see the boy.

MASTER (to M.): "Well, by which road will he come to see me? Please have Purna and Dwija meet each other.

"When two people are of the same age and have the same inner nature, I bring them together. There is a meaning in this. In this way both make progress. Have you noticed Purna's longing for God?"

M: "Yes, sir. One day I was riding on a tram. He saw me from the roof of his house and ran down to the street. With great fervour he saluted me from the street."

MASTER (with tears in his eyes): "Ah! Ah! It is because you have helped him make the contact through which he will find out the supreme ideal of his life. One doesn't act like that unless one longs for God.

"Narendra, the younger Naren, and Purna - these three have a manly nature. It is not so with Bhavanath. He has a womanly nature.

"Purna is in such an exalted state that either he will very soon give up his body - the body is useless after the realization of God - or his inner nature will within a few days burst forth.

"He has a divine nature - the traits of a god. It makes a person less fearful of men. If you put a garland of flowers round his neck or smear his body with sandal-paste or burn incense before him, he will go into samadhi; for then he will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that Narayana Himself dwells in his body, that it is Narayana who has assumed the body. I have come to know about it.

"A few days after my first experience of the God-intoxicated state at Dakshineswar, a lady of a brahmin family arrived there. She had many good traits. No sooner was a garland put round her neck and incense burnt before her than she went into samadhi. A few moments later she experienced great bliss; tears streamed from her eyes. I saluted her and said, 'Mother, shall I succeed?' 'Yes', she replied.

"I want to see Purna once more. But how will it be possible for me? It seems he is a part. (A part of the Divine Incarnation.) How amazing! Not a mere particle, but a part. Very intelligent, too. I understand that he is very clever in his studies. Therefore I have hit it right.

"By dint of austerity, a man may obtain God as his son. By the roadside on the way to Kamarpukur is Ranjit Raya's lake. Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, was born as his daughter. Even now people hold an annual festival there in the month of Chaitra, in honour of this divine daughter. I feel very much like going there.

"Ranjit Raya was the landlord of that part of the country. Through the power of his tapasya he obtained the Divine Mother as his daughter. He was very fond of her, and she too was much attached to him; she hardly left his presence. One day Ranjit Raya was engaged in the duties of his estate. He was very busy. The girl, with her childlike nature, was constantly interrupting him, saying: 'Father, what is this? What is that?' Ranjit Raya tried, with sweet words, to persuade her not to disturb him, and said: 'My child, please leave me alone. I have much work to do.' But the girl would not go away. At last, absent-mindedly, the father said, 'Get out of here!' On this pretext she left home. A pedlar of conch-shell articles was going along the road. From him she took a pair of bracelets for her wrists. When he asked tor the price, she said that he could get the money from a certain box in her home. Then she disappeared. Nobody saw her again. In the mean time the pedlar came to the house and asked for the price of his bracelets. When she was not to be found at home, her relatives began to run about looking for her. Ranjit Rava sent people in all directions to search for her. The money owed to the pedlar was found in the box, as she had indicated. Ranjit Raya was weeping bitterly, when people came running to him and said that they had noticed something in the lake. They all ran there and saw an arm, with conch-shell bracelets on the wrist, being waved above the water. A moment afterwards it disappeared. Even now people worship her as the Divine Mother at the time of the annual festival. (To M.) All this is true."

M: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Narendra now believes these things.

"Purna was born with an element of Vishnu. I worshipped him mentally with bel-leaves; but the offering was not accepted. Then I worshipped him with tulsi-leaves and sandal-paste. That proved to be all right. God reveals Himself in many ways: sometimes as man, sometimes in other divine forms made or Spirit. One must believe in divine forms. What do you say?"

M: "It is true, sir."

MASTER: "The brahmani of Kamarhati sees many visions. She lives all by herself in a lonely room in a garden on the bank of the Ganges. She spends her time in japa. Gopala (The Baby Krishna.) sleeps with her. (The Master gives a start.) It is not imagination, but fact. She saw that Gopala's palms were red. He walks with her. She suckles Him at her breast. They talk to each other. When Narendra heard the story he wept. Formerly I too used to see many visions, but now in my ecstatic state I don't see so many. I am gradually getting over my feminine nature; I feel nowadays more like a man. Therefore I control my emotion; I don't manifest it outwardly so much.

"The younger Naren has the nature of a man. Therefore in meditation his mind completely merges in the Ideal. He does not show emotion. Nityagopal has a feminine nature. Therefore while he is in a spiritual mood his body becomes distorted and twisted; it becomes flushed.

(To M.) "Well, people renounce grain by grain, but what a mood these youngsters are in!
"Binode said: 'I have to sleep with my wife. That makes me feel very bad.' It is bad for an aspirant to sleep with his wife, whether he has intercourse with her or not. There is the friction of the body and also the physical warmth.

"What a state Dwija is passing through! In my presence he only sways his body and fixes his glance on me. Is that a trifling thing? If a man gathers his whole mind and fixes it on me, then, indeed, he achieves everything.

"But what am I? It is all He. I am the machine and He is its Operator. It is God alone who exists in this [meaning his body]. That is why so many people are feeling more and more attracted to it. A mere touch is enough to awaken their spirituality. This attraction, this pull, is the attraction of God and of none else.

"Tarak of Belgharia was going home from Dakshineswar. I clearly noticed that a flame-like thing came out of this [meaning his body] and followed him. A few days later Tarak came back to Dakshineswar. In a state of samadhi He who dwells in this body placed His foot on Tarak's chest.

"Well, are there more youngsters like these?"

M: "Mohit is very nice. He came to you once or twice. He is studying enough books to pass two university examinations. He has great longing for God."

MASTER: "That may be. But he doesn't belong to a high plane. His physical traits are not so good; he has a puggish face. But these other youngsters belong to a high plane.

"Many troubles and worries follow in the wake of a birth in a physical body. Further, if a person is cursed, he may have to be born seven times. One must be very careful. One has to assume a human body it one cherishes the slightest desire."

A DEVOTEE: "What are the desires of those who are Incarnations of God?"

MASTER (smiling): "I find that I have not got rid of all my desires. Once I saw a holy man with a shawl, and I too wanted to put on one like it. Even now I have that desire. I don't know whether I shall have to be born again for it."

BALARAM (smiling): "Then will you be born again just for a shawl?" (All laugh.)

MASTER (smiling): "One has to keep a good desire so that one may give up the body meditating on it. There are four-holy places for the sadhus to visit. They visit three and leave out one. Many of them leave out Puri, the place of Jagannath, so that they can give up their bodies meditating on Jagannath."

A man dressed in an ochre robe entered the room and greeted the Master. Privately he was in the habit of criticizing Sri Ramakrishna; so at the sight of him Balaram laughed. Sri Ramakrishna could read a man's mind. He said to Balaram: "Never mind. Let him say I am a cheat."

Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Tejchandra.

MASTER: "I send for you so often. Why don't you come? If you practise meditation and prayer it will make me happy. I look on you as my own; that is why I send for you."

TEJCHANDRA: "Sir, I have to go to the office. I am very busy with my duties."
M. (smiling): "There was a marriage ceremony at his home and he got leave from his office for ten days,"

MASTER: "Well, well! You say you have no leisure. You told me just now that you were going to renounce the world."

NARAYAN: "M. said to us one day that this world is a wilderness."

MASTER (to M.): "Please tell them that story of the disciple who became unconscious after taking the medicine. His teacher arrived at the house and said he would revive if someone else swallowed a pill that he would prescribe. The disciple would get back his life, but the man who swallowed the pill would die.

"Please tell the other one, too, of the hathayogi who thought that his wife and children were his very own, and who feigned death with his limbs stretched out. It will do them good to hear those stories."

It was noon. Sri Ramakrishna partook of the food that had been offered to the Family Deity, Jagannath. The Master often used to say that the food at Balaram's house was very pure. Afterwards he rested awhile.

Late in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna sat with the devotees in the drawing-room of Balaram's house. Chandra Babu, of the Kartabhaja sect, and a witty brahmin were there. The brahmin was something of a buffoon; his words made everybody laugh.

About six o'clock Girish's brother Atul and Tejchandra's brother arrived. Sri Ramakrishna was in samadhi. A few minutes later he said, still in the ecstatic mood: "Can one become unconscious by meditating on Consciousness? Can one lose one's mind by thinking of God? God is of the very nature of Knowledge; He is of the very nature of Eternity, Purity, and Consciousness."

Sri Ramakrishna said to the witty brahmin: "Why do you waste your time with these frivolous jokes about insignificant worldly things? Direct your mind to God. If a man can calculate about salt, he can also calculate about sugar candy."

BRAHMIN (smiling): "Please attract me."

MASTER: "What can I do? Everything depends on your effort. Your mind is your own. Give up this trifling buffoonery and go forward toward God. You can go farther and farther along that way. The brahmachari asked the wood-cutter to go forward. At first the wood-cutter found a sandal-wood forest; next, a silver-mine; next, a gold-mine; and then gems and diamonds."

BRAHMIN: "There is no end to this path."

MASTER: "Where you find peace, there is the end."

About a new visitor Sri Ramakrishna said: "I didn't find any substance in him. He seemed worthless."

It was dusk. Lamps were lighted in the room. Sri Ramakrishna was meditating on the Divine Mother and chanting Her name in his melodious voice. The devotees sat around him. Since Balaram was going to celebrate the Car Festival at his house the following day, Sri Ramakrishna intended to spend the night there.
After taking some refreshments in the inner apartments, Sri Ramakrishna returned to the parlour. It was about ten o'clock. The Master said to M., "Please bring my towel from the other room."

A bed was made for Sri Ramakrishna in the adjoining room. About half past ten Sri Ramakrishna lay down to sleep. It was summertime. He said to M., "You had better bring a fan." He asked the disciple to fan him. At midnight Sri Ramakrishna woke up. He said to M., "Don't fan me any more; I feel chilly."


Tuesday, July 14, 1885

It was the day of the Car Festival. Sri Ramakrishna left his bed very early in the morning. He was alone in the room, dancing and chanting the name of God. M. entered and saluted the Master. Other devotees arrived one by one. They saluted the Master and took seats near him. Sri Ramakrishna was longing intensely for Purna. He was talking to M. about him.

MASTER: "Did you give Purna any instruction?"

M: "I asked him to read the life of Chaitanya. He is familiar with the incidents of his life. I told him further that you ask people to stick to the truth."

MASTER: "How did he take it when you said about me, 'He is an Incarnation of God'?'

M: "I said to him, 'Come with me if you want to see a person like Chaitanya.'"

MASTER: "Anything else?"

M: "Also that remark of yours that when an elephant enters a small pool there is a great splashing of water all around; likewise, in the case of a 'small receptacle', emotion overflows.

"About his giving up of fish, I said to him: 'Why have you done that? Your family will make a great fuss about it.'"

MASTER: "That's good. One should keep one's feelings and emotions to oneself."

It was about half past six in the morning. M. was going to bathe in the Ganges, when suddenly tremors of an earthquake were felt. At once he returned to Sri Ramakrishna's room. The Master stood in the drawing-room. The devotees stood around him. They were talking about the earthquake. The shaking had been rather violent, and many of the devotees were frightened.

M: "You should all have gone downstairs."

MASTER: "Such is the fate of the house under whose roof one lives; and still people are so egotistic. (To M.) Do you remember the great storm of the month of Aswin?"

M: "Yes, sir. I was very young at that time - nine or ten years old. I was alone in a room while the storm was raging, and I prayed to God."

M. was surprised and said to himself: "Why did the Master suddenly ask me about the great storm of Aswin? Does he know that I was alone at that time earnestly praying to God with tears in my eyes? Does he know all this? Has he been protecting me as my guru since my very birth?"

MASTER: "It was quite late in the day at Dakshineswar when the storm broke, but somehow they managed to cook the meals. The trees were uprooted. You see, this is the fate of the house one lives in.

"But when one attains Perfect Knowledge, then one finds that dying and killing are one and the same thing; that is to say, both are unreal. When one is dead, one has not really died; and when one has killed another, the man is not really dead. Both the Lila and the Nitya belong to the same Reality. In one form It is the Absolute, and in another, the Lila. Even though the Lila is destroyed, the Nitya always exists. Water is water, whether it is still or in waves; it is the same water when the waves quiet down."

Sri Ramakrishna sat in the drawing-room with the devotees. Mahendra Mukherji, Hari, the younger Naren, and many other devotees were there. Hari lived alone and studied Vedanta. He was about twenty-three years old, and unmarried. Sri Ramakrishna was very fond of him. He wanted Hari to visit him frequently. But since Hari loved solitude he did not often come to the Master.

MASTER (to Hari): "Well, I haven't seen you for a long time.

"You see, in one form He is the Absolute and in another He is the Relative. What does Vedanta teach? Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. Isn't that so? But as long as God keeps the 'ego of a devotee' in a man, the Relative is also real. When He completely effaces the ego, then what is remains. That cannot be described by the tongue. But as long as God keeps the ego, one must accept all. By removing the outer sheaths of the plantain-tree, you reach the inner pith. As long as the tree contains sheaths, it also contains pith. So too, as long as it contains pith, it also contains sheaths. The pith goes with the sheaths and the sheaths go with the pith. In the same way, when you speak of the Nitya, it is understood that the Lila also exists; and when you speak of the Lila, it is understood that the Nitya also exists.

"It is He alone who has become the universe, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. When He is actionless, I call Him Brahman; when He creates, preserves, and destroys, I call Him Sakti. Brahman and Sakti are not different from each other. Water is water, whether it is still or moving.

"It is not possible to rid oneself of 'I-consciousness'. And as long as one is aware of this 'I-consciousness', one cannot speak of the universe and its living beings as unreal. You cannot get the correct weight of the bel-fruit if you leave out its shell and pits.

"The brick, lime, and brick-dust of which the stairs are made are the same brick, lime, and brick-dust of which the roof is made. The universe and its living beings exist on account of the Reality of Him who is known as Brahman.

"The devotees - I mean the vijnanis - accept both God with form and the Formless, both the Personal God and the Impersonal. In a shoreless ocean - an infinite expanse of water - visible blocks of ice are formed here and there by intense cold. Similarly, under the cooling influence, so to say, of the deep love of Its worshipper, the Infinite reduces Itself to the finite and appears before the worshipper as God with form. Again, as, on the rising of the sun, the ice melts away, so, on the awakening of Knowledge, God with form melts away into the same Infinite and Formless.

"As long as a man analyses with the mind, he cannot reach the Absolute. As long as you reason with your mind, you have no way of getting rid of the universe and the objects of the senses - form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. When reasoning stops, you attain the Knowledge of Brahman. Atman cannot be realized through this mind; Atman is realized through Atman alone. Pure Mind, Pure Buddhi, Pure Atman - all these are one and the same.

"Just think how many things you need to perceive an object. You need eyes; you need light; you need mind. You cannot perceive the object if you leave out any one of these three. As long as the mind functions, how can you say that the universe and the 'I' do not exist?

"When the mind is annihilated, when it stops deliberating pro and con, then one goes into samadhi, one attains the Knowledge of Brahman. You know the seven notes of the scale: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni. One cannot keep one's voice on 'ni' very long."

Looking at the younger Naren, Sri Ramakrishna said: "What will you gain by merely being intuitively aware of God's existence? A mere vision of God is by no means everything. You have to bring Him into your room. You have to talk to Him.

"Some have heard of milk, some have seen milk, and some have drunk milk. Some have seen the king, but only one or two can bring the king home and entertain him."

M. went to the Ganges to take his bath. It was ten o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna was still talking with the devotees. After finishing his bath, M. returned to Balaram's house. He saluted the Master and sat down near him.

Sri Ramakrishna was filled with intense spiritual fervour. Words of wisdom flowed from him. Now and then he narrated his profound mystical experiences to the devotees.

MASTER: "I went to Benares with Mathur Babu. Our boat was passing the Manikarnika Ghat on the Ganges, when suddenly I had a vision of Siva. I stood near the edge of the boat and went into samadhi. The boatman, fearing that I might fall into the water, cried to Hriday: 'Catch hold of him! Catch hold of him!' I saw Siva standing on that ghat, embodying in Himself all the seriousness of the world. At first I saw Him standing at a distance; then I saw Him approaching me. At last He merged in me.

"Another time, in an ecstatic mood, I saw that a sannyasi was leading me by the hand. We entered a temple and I had a vision of Annapurna made of gold.

"God alone has become all this; but He manifests Himself more in certain things than in others.

(To M.) "Perhaps you do not believe in the salagram. 'Englishmen' do not believe in it. It doesn't matter whether you believe in it or not. A salagram should contain the mark of a disc and other signs; only then can it be worshipped as an emblem of God."

M: "Yes, sir. It is like the fuller manifestation of God in a man with good physical traits."

MASTER: "At first Narendra used to say that these were figments of my imagination; but now he accepts everything."

Sri Ramakrishna was describing the vision of God, when he went into samadhi. The devotees looked at him with fixed gaze. After a long time, he regained consciousness of the world and talked to the devotees.

MASTER (to M.): "What do you think I saw? I saw the whole universe as a salagram, and in it I saw your two eyes."
In silent wonder M. and the devotees listened to these words about his inner experience. At this moment Sarada, another young disciple of the Master, entered the room and saluted him.

MASTER (to Sarada): "Why don't you come to Dakshineswar? Why don't you see me when I come to Calcutta?"

SARADA: "Nobody tells me about it."

MASTER: "Next time I shall let you know. (To M., smiling) Make a list of these youngsters." (M. and the devotees'laugh.)

SARADA: "My relatives at home want me to marry. (Pointing to M.) How many times he has scolded me about marriage!"

MASTER: "Why should you marry just now? (To M.) Sarada is now in a very good state of mind. Formerly he had a hesitant look; now his face beams with joy."

Sri Ramakrishna said to a devotee, "Will you kindly fetch Purna?"

Narendra arrived. Sri Ramakrishna asked a devotee to give him some refreshments. He was greatly pleased at the sight of Narendra. When he fed Narendra, he felt that he was feeding Narayana Himself. He stroked Narendra's body affectionately.

Gopal Ma entered the room. She was a great devotee of Gopala and was blessed with many lofty spiritual visions. Sri Ramakrishna had asked Balaram to send a man to bring her from Kamarhati. As soon as she entered the room she said, "I am shedding tears of joy." With these words she bowed before the Master, touching the ground with her forehead.

MASTER: "What is this? You address me as 'Gopala' and still you salute me! Now go into the inner apartments and cook some curry for me. Put some spicy seasoning in it so that I may get the smell from here." (All laugh.)

GOPAL MA: "What will they [meaning the members of the household] think of me?"

Before she left the room she said to Narendra in a very fervent voice, "My child, have I reached the goal, or have I farther to go?"

It was the day of the Car Festival; so there was some delay in the worship of the Family Deity. When the worship was finished Sri Ramakrishna was asked to have his meal. He went to the inner apartments. The woman devotees were anxious to see him.

Sri Ramakrishna had many woman devotees, but he did not talk much about them to his man devotees. He would warn the men against visiting woman devotees. He would say: "Don't overdo it. Otherwise you will slip." To some of his man devotees he would say, "Don't go near a woman even if she rolls on the ground with devotion." The Master wanted the men to live apart from woman devotees; only thus would the two groups make progress. He did not like the woman devotees to caress the men as "Gopala"; for too much of this motherly affection was not good; it degenerated in time into a harmful relationship.

After his midday meal Sri Ramakrishna sat in the drawing-room with the devotees. It was one o'clock. A devotee brought Purna from his home. With great joy the Master exclaimed to M.: "Here he is! Purna has come." Narendra, the younger Naren, Narayan, Haripada, and other devotees were talking with the Master.

THE YOUNGER NAREN: "Sir, have we any free will?"

MASTER: "Just try to find out who this 'I' is. While you are searching for 'I', 'He' comes out. 'I am the machine and He is the Operator.' You have heard of a mechanical toy that goes into a store with a letter in its hand. You are like that toy. God alone is the Doer. Do your duties in the world as if you were the doer, but knowing all ihe time that God alone is the Doer and you are the instrument.

"As long as the upadhi exists there is ignorance. 'I am a scholar', 'I am a jnani', 'I am wealthy', 'I am honourable, 'I am the master, father, and teacher' - all these ideas are begotten of ignorance. 'I am the machine and You are the Operator' - that is Knowledge. In the state of Knowledge all upadhis are destroyed. When the log is burnt in entirely, there is no more sound; no heat either. Everything cools down. Peace! Peace! Peace! (To Narendra) Sing a little."

NARENDRA: "I must go home. I have many things to do."

MASTER: "Yes, yes, my child! Why should you listen to us? The words of those who have gold in their ears are valuable; no one listens to him who hasn't even a rag round his waist.' (All laugh.) You frequent the garden house of the.Guhas. I always hear about it. Whenever I ask, 'Where is Narendra today?' I am told, 'Oh, he has gone to the Guhas.' I should not have said all these things, but you have wrung them out of me."

Narendra kept quiet a few moments. Then he said: "There are no instruments to accompany me. Shall I just sing?"

MASTER: "My child, this is all we have. Please sing if it suits you. You must know how Balaram arranges things.

"Balaram says to me, 'Please come to Calcutta by boat; take a carriage only if you must.' (All laugh). You see, he has given us a feast today; so this afternoon he will make us all dance! (All laugh.) One day he hired a carriage for me from here to Dakshineswar. He said that the carriage hire was twelve annas. I said to him, 'Will the coachman take me to Dakshineswar for twelve annas?' 'Oh, that will be plenty', he replied. One side of the carriage broke down before we reached Dakshineswar. (All laugh.) Besides, the horse stopped every now and then; it simply would not go. Once in a while the coachman whipped the horse, and then it ran a short distance. (All laugh.) The program for the evening is that Ram will play on the drum and we shall all dance. Ram has no sense of rhythm. (All laugh.) Anyhow, that is Balaram's attitude - sing yourselves, dance yourselves, and make yourselves happy!" (All laugh.)

Other devotees were arriving. Mahendra Mukherji saluted the Master from a distance. The Master returned the salute. Then he salaamed to Mahendra like a Mussalman. The Master said to a young devotee who sat next to him: "Why don't you tell him I have salaamed to him? He will appreciate it." (All laugh.)

Many of the householder devotees were accompanied by their wives and other woman relatives. They wanted to salute the Master and watch his dancing before the car. Ram, Girish, and other devotees gradually assembled. Many young devotees were present.

Narendra sang:

Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
When Love will waken in my heart?
When will my tears flow uncontrolled
As I repeat Lord Hari's name,
And all my longing be fulfilled?
When will my mind and soul be pure?
Oh, when shall I at last repair
Unto Vrindavan's sacred groves?
When will my worldly bonds fall off
And my imperfect sight be healed
By Wisdom's cool collyrium?

When shall I learn true alchemy
And, touching the Philosopher's Stone,
Transmute my body's worthless iron
Into the Spirit's purest gold?
When shall I see this very world
As God, and roll on Love's highway?
When shall I give up piety
And duty and the thought of caste?
When shall I leave behind all fear,
All shame, convention, worry, pride?

Oh, I shall smear my body then
With dust from the feet of devotees;
Across my shoulders I shall sling
Renunciation's pack, and drink
From my two hands a cooling draught
Of Jamuna's life-renewing stream.
Oh, then I shall be mad with love;
I shall both laugh and weep for joy!
Then I shall swim upon the Sea
Of blessed Satchidananda;
Drunk with His love, I shall make all
As drunk as I! Oh, I shall sport
At Hari's feet for evermore!
He sang again:

In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave. . . .

Balaram had arranged for kirtan with Vaishnavcharan, the musician. Vaishnavcharan sang:

O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga;
Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress? ...

When Sri Ramakrishna had heard a line or two of the song he went into samadhi. He stood up in that ecstatic mood. The younger Naren supported him. The Master's face was lighted with a smile. Gradually his body became motionless; his mind appeared to have gone to another realm. All the devotees in the room looked at him in amazement. The woman devotees watched the scene from behind the screen. After a long time he came down from samadhi, chanting the holy name of God.

As the Master sat down, Vaishnavcharan sang again:

O vina, sing Lord Hari's name!
Without the blessing of His feet
You cannot know the final Truth.
The name of Hari slays all grief:
Sing Hari's name! Sing Krishna's name! . . .

Then he sang:

O vina, forgetting to worship Hari,
I pass the days of my life in vain. . . .

It was afternoon. In the mean time the small car of Jagannath, decorated with flowers, flags, and bunting, had been brought to the inner verandah. The images of Jagannath Subhadra, and Balarama, were adorned with sandal-paste, flower garlands, robes, and jewelry. Sri Ramakrishna left the room where the professional musicians were singing and came to the verandah, accompanied by the devotees. He stood in front of the car and pulled it by the rope. He began to sing and dance with the devotees in front of the car.

The Master sang:

Behold, the two brothers (Gauranga and Nityananda.) have come, who weep
while chanting Hari's name. . . .

He sang again:

See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga's love! . . .

The music and dancing went on in the verandah as the car was pulled to and fro. A large crowd entered the house on hearing the loud music and the beating of the drums. Sri Ramakrishna was completely intoxicated with divine love. The devotees felt its contagion and danced with the Master in an ecstasy of love.
Afterwards Sri Ramakrishna returned to the drawing-room. M. and other devotees stroked his feet.

Filled with divine fervour, Narendra sang to the accompaniment of the tanpura:

Come! Come, Mother! Doll of my soul! My heart's Delight!
In my heart's lotus come and sit, that I may see Thy face. . . .

Then he sang:

Mother, Thou art our sole Redeemer,
Thou the Support of the three gunas,
Higher than the most high.
Thou art compassionate, I know,
Who takest away our bitter grief.

Sandhya art Thou, and Gayatri;
Thou dost sustain this universe.
Mother, the Help art Thou
Of those, that have no help but Thee,
O Eternal Beloved of Siva!

Thou art in earth, in water Thou;
Thou liest at the root of all.
In me, in every creature,
Thou hast Thy home; though clothed with form,
Yet art Thou formless Reality.

He sang another song:

I have made Thee, O Lord, the Pole-star of my life;
No more shall I lose my way on the world's trackless sea.
Wherever I wander here. Thy brilliance shines undimmed;
With Thy serene and gracious light
Thou drivest all the tears out of my troubled soul.

In my heart's inmost shrine Thy face for ever beams;
If, for a moment even, I cannot find it there,
My soul is overwhelmed with woe;
And when my witless mind strays from the thought of Thee,
The vision of Thy face strikes me with deepest shame.

A devotee said to Narendra, "Will you sing that one - 'O Mother, Thou my Inner Guide, ever awake within my heart'?"

MASTER: "Oh, no! Why that song now? The proper thing now is to sing of divine bliss - a song like 'O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine'."

Narendra sang:

O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine!
Who knows how Thou dost sport in the world?
Thy fun and frolic and Thy glances put to shame the god of love.
O Wielder of the sword! O Thou of terrifying face!
The earth itself is shaken under Thy leaps and strides!

O Thou Abode of the three gunas! O Redeemer! Fearsome One!
Thou who art the Consort of Siva!
Many the forms Thou dost assume, fulfilling Thy bhaktas' prayers.
Thou dancest in the Lotus of the Heart,
O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!

Full of divine ecstasy, Narendra sang again and again the lines:

Thou dancest in the Lotus of the Heart,
O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!

Sri Ramakrishna was dancing, drunk with divine love, and he sang again and again, "O Mother, Eternal Consort of Brahman!"

After dancing a long time Sri Ramakrishna resumed his seat. He was very much pleased to see Narendra in a spiritual mood, singing with tears in his eyes.

It was about nine o'clock in the evening. The devotees still sat around the Master. Vaishnavcharan sang about Gauranga:

The beautiful Gauranga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold. ...

Next he sang about Sri Krishna. Krishna had left His pastoral life in Vrindavan and become the king of Mathura. A gopi met Him there and said:

O Hari, how shall we know You now?
In Mathura's royal splendour You have forgotten us.
Now, in Your kingly robes. You ride an elephant;
Have You utterly forgotten how in Vrindavan You tended cows?
O Hari, have You forgotten how You would steal the butter
From Braja's innocent gopi maids?

About eleven o'clock the devotees saluted the Master and were departing one by one.

MASTER: "You may all go. (Pointing to Narendra and the younger Naren) It will be enough if these two stay. (To Girish) Will you eat your supper at home? You may stay a few minutes if you want to. You want a smoke! But Balaram's servant is just like his master. Ask him for a smoke; he won't give it! (All laugh.) But don't go away without having your smoke."

Girish had brought with him a bespectacled friend. The latter observed all these things and left the place. Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish: "I say this to you and to everyone: Please do not force anybody to come here. Nothing happens except at the right time."

Before leaving, a devotee saluted the Master. He had a young boy with him. Sri Ramakrishna said to him affectionately, "It is getting late, and you have this boy with you." Narendra, the younger Naren, and a few other devotees stayed awhile and then took their leave.

Wednesday, July 15, 1885

It was four o'clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was in bed in the small room next to the drawing-room. M. was sitting on a bench on the outer verandah to the south of the room. A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna came out to the verandah. M. saluted him.

MASTER: "I have already been up once. Well, shall we go to Dakshineswar this morning?"

M: "The Ganges is less choppy in the morning."

Day was gradually breaking. The devotees had not yet arrived. Sri Ramakrishna had washed his mouth and was chanting the names of God in his sweet voice. He stood near the north door of the room. M. was by his side. A few minutes later Gopal Ma arrived and stood near him. One or two woman devotees were looking at the Master from behind the doors of the inner apartments. They were like the gopis of Vrindavan looking at Sri Krishna, or the woman devotees of Nadia looking at Gauranga from behind the screen.

After chanting the name of Rama, Sri Ramakrishna chanted the name of Krishna: "Krishna! Krishna! Krishna of the gopis! Gopi! Gopi! Krishna, the Life of the cowherd boys of Vrindavan! Krishna, the son of Nanda! Govinda! Govinda!"

Next he chanted the name of Gauranga. Then he repeated, "Alekh Niranjana", which is a name of God. Saying, "Niranjana", he wept. The devotees wept too. With tears in his eyes the Master said: "O Niranjan! O my child! Come! Eat this! Take this! When shall I make my life blessed by feeding you? You have assumed this human form for my sake."

He prayed to Jagannath in a very touching voice: "O Jagannath, Lord of the Universe! O Friend of the world! O Friend of the poor! I am not O Lord, outside Thy universe. Be gracious to me!"

While he sang in praise of Jagannath he was beside himself with divine love.

Now he chanted the name of Narayana. He danced and sang: "O Narayana! O Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!"

He danced and sang again:

Ah, friend! I have not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad. . . .

Afterwards the Master sat in the small room with the devotees. He was completely stripped of his clothes, like a five-year-old child. M., Balaram, and a few other devotees were in the room.

MASTER: "One can see God's form. One sees God when all upadhis disappear and reasoning stops. Then a man becomes speechless and goes into samadhi. Coming to the theatre, people indulge in all kinds of gossip. But the moment the curtain goes up, all conversation stops; the spectators become fully absorbed in what they see on the stage.

"I want to tell you something very secret. Why do I love boys like Purna and Narendra so much? Once, in a spiritual mood, I felt intense love for Jagannath, love such as a woman feels for her sweetheart. In that mood I was about to embrace Him, when I broke my arm. It was then revealed to me: "You have assumed this human body. Therefore establish with human beings the relationship of friend, father, mother, or son.'

"I now feel for Purna and the other young boys as I once felt for Ramlala. I used to bathe Ramlala, feed Him, put Him to bed, and take Him wherever I went. I used to weep for Ramlala. Now I have the same feeling for these young boys. Look at Niranjan. He is not attached to anything. He spends money from his own pocket to take poor patients to the hospital. At the proposal of marriage he says, 'Goodness! That is the whirlpool of the Visalakshi!' (A stream near Kamarpukur.) I see him seated on a light.

"Purna belongs to the realm of the Personal God. He was born with an element of Vishnu. Ah, what yearning he has!

(To M.) "Didn't you notice that he looked at you as if you were his spiritual brother, his very own? He said he would visit me again, at Captain's house.

"Narendra belongs to a very high plane - the realm of the Absolute. He has a manly nature. So many devotees come here, but there is not one like him.

"Every now and then I take stock of the devotees. I find that some are like lotuses with ten petals, some like lotuses with sixteen petals, some like lotuses with a hundred petals. But among lotuses Narendra is a thousand-petalled one.

"Other devotees may be like pots or pitchers; but Narendra is a huge water-barrel.

"Others may be like pools or tanks; but Narendra is a huge reservoir like the Haldarpukur.

"Among fish, Narendra is a huge red-eyed carp; others are like minnows or smelts or sardines. Tarak of Belgharia may be called a bass.

"Narendra is a 'very big receptacle', one that can hold many things. He is like a bamboo with a big hollow space inside.

"Narendra is not under the control of anything. He is not under the control of attachment or sense pleasures. He is like a male pigeon. If you hold a male pigeon by its beak, it breaks away from you; but the female pigeon keeps still. Narendra has the nature of a man; so he sits on the right side in a carriage. Bhavanath has a woman's nature; so I make him sit on the other side. I feel great strength when Narendra is with me in a gathering."

About eight o'clock in the morning Mahendra Mukherji arrived and saluted the Master. Haripada, Tulsiram, and other devotees arrived one by one and saluted him. Baburam was laid up with fever and could not come.

MASTER (to M. and the others): "Hasn't the younger Naren come? Perhaps he thought I had left. (To Mukherji) How amazing! Even during his boyhood, on returning from school, he cried for God. Is it a small thing to cry for God? He is very intelligent, too. He is like a bamboo with a big hollow space inside. All of his mind is fixed on me. Girish Ghosh said to me: The younger Naren went to Navagopal's house when a kirtan was going on. On entering the house he inquired about you and exclaimed, "Where is he?" He was totally unconscious of his surroundings and practically walked over the people.' He has no fear of his relatives' threats. Sometimes he spends three nights at a stretch at Dakshineswar."

MUKHERJI: "Hari became simply speechless at what you said yesterday. He said to me: 'Such wisdom can be found only in the philosophical systems of Samkhya, Yoga, and Vedanta. He is no ordinary person.'"

MASTER: "But I have never studied Samkhya or Vedanta.

"Perfect jnana and perfect bhakti are one and the same thing. A man reasons, saying, 'Not this, not this'; he rejects the unreal. When his reasoning comes to an end, he attains the Knowledge of Brahman. Then he accepts what he rejected before. A man carefully climbs to the roof, rejecting the steps one by one. After reaching the roof he realizes that the steps are made of the same materials as the roof, namely, brick, lime, and brick-dust.

"He who is aware of the high is also aware of the low. After the attainment of Knowledge one looks alike on high and low.

"While Prahlada dwelt on the plane of the Supreme Reality, he maintained the attitude of 'I am He'; but when he climbed down to the physical plane, he would look on himself as the servant of God.

"Hanuman also sometimes said, 'I am He', sometimes, 'I am the servant of God', sometimes, 'I am a part of God.'

"Why should a man cherish love of God in his heart? How else will he live? How else will he spend his days?

"To be sure, the ego does not disappear altogether. As long as the pot of 'I' (Body-consciousness.) persists, one cannot realize 'I am He.' In samadhi the ego totally disappears; then what is remains. Ramprasad says: 'O Mother, when I shall attain Knowledge, then You alone will know whether I am good or You are good.'

"As long as 'I-consciousness' exists, one should have the attitude of a bhakta; one should rot say, 'I am God.' A man aware of his body should feel that he is not Krishna Himself, but His devotee. But if God draws the devotee to Himself, then it is different. It is like the master saying to his beloved servant: 'Come, take your seat near me. You are the same as I.'

"The waves are part of the Ganges, but the Ganges is not part of the waves.

"Siva experiences two states of mind. When He is completely absorbed in His own Self, He feels, 'I am He.' In that union neither body nor mind functions. But when He is conscious of His separate ego, He dances, exclaiming, 'Rama! Rama!'

"That which is unmoving also moves. Just now you are still, but a few moments later the same you will be engaged in action.

"Jnana and bhakti are one and the same thing. The difference is like this: one man says 'water', and another, 'a block of ice'.
"Generally speaking there are two kinds of samadhi. First, sthira or jada samadhi: one attains it by following the path of knowledge - as a result of the destruction of the ego through reasoning. Second, bhava samadhi: one attains this by following the path of bhakti. In this second samadhi a trace of ego remains, like a line, in order to enable the devotee to enjoy God, to taste His lila. But one cannot understand all this if one is attached to 'woman and gold'.

"I said to Kedar, 'You will never succeed if your mind dwells on "woman and gold".' I wanted to pass my hand over his chest, but I could not. He has knots and twists inside. It was like a room smelling of filth, which I could not enter. His attachment to the world is very deep; it is like a natural emblem of Siva, whose root spreads as far as Benares. One will never succeed if one is attached to the world - to 'woman and gold'.

"The youngsters are yet untouched by 'woman and gold'. That is why I love them so dearly. Hazra says to me, 'You love a boy if he comes from a wealthy family or if he is handsome.' If that is so, then why do I love Harish, Latu, and Narendra? Narendra hasn't a penny to buy salt to season his rice.

"The youngsters' minds are not yet coloured by worldliness. That is why they are so pure in heart. Besides, many of them are eternally perfect; they have been drawn to God from their very birth. It is like a garden in which, while cleaning it, you suddenly discover water-pipes. The water gushes forth without any effort on your part."

BALARAM: "Sir, how was it possible for Purna to know all of a sudden that the world is illusory?"

MASTER: "He has inherited that knowledge from his previous births. In his past lives he practised many disciplines. It is the body alone that is small or grows big, and not the Atman.

"Do you know what these youngsters are like?'They are like certain plants that grow fruit first and then flowers. These devotees first of all have the vision of God; next they hear about His glories and attributes; and at last they are united with Him. Look at Niranjan. He always keeps his accounts clear. He will be able to go whenever he hears the call. But one should look after one's mother as long as she is alive. I used to worship my mother with flowers and sandal-paste. It is the Mother of the Universe who is embodied as our earthly mother.

"As long as you look after your own body, you must look after your mother too. Therefore I said to Hazra: 'When you have a cold, you procure black pepper, sugar candy, and salt. As long as you feel you must look after your body, you must look after your mother too.'

"But it is quite different when you completely forget your body. Then God Himself assumes your responsibilities. A minor cannot look after himself; therefore a guardian is appointed for him. Chaitanyadeva, like a minor, could not look after himself."

M. went to the Ganges to bathe.

Sri Ramakrishna was talking with the devotees in the small room in Balaram's house. Mahendra, Balaram, Tulasi, Haripada, Girish, and other devotees were sitting on the floor. M. returned from the Ganges. After saluting the Master he took a seat near him. Sri Ramakrishna was recounting to the devotees some of his spiritual experiences.

MASTER: "One day in the Kali temple Haladhari and Nangta were reading the Adhyatma Ramayana. Suddenly I had a vision of a river with woods on both sides. The trees and plants were green. Rama and Lakshmana were walking along wearing their shorts. One day, in front of the kuthi, I saw Arjuna's chariot. Sri Krishna was seated in it as the charioteer. I still remember it. Another day, while listening to kirtan at Kamarpukur, I saw Gauranga in front of me.

"At that time a naked person, emerging from my body, used to go about with me. I used to joke with him. He looked like a boy and was a paramahamsa. I can't describe to you all the divine forms I saw at that time. I was suffering then from indigestion, which would become worse when I saw visions; so I would try to shun these divine forms and would spit on the ground when I saw them. But they would follow me and obsess me like ghosts. I was always overwhelmed with divine ecstasy and couldn't tell the passing of day and night. On the day after such a vision I would have a severe attack of diarrhoea, and all these ecstasies would pass out through my bowels."

GIRISH (smiling): "I am examining your horoscope."

MASTER (smiling): "I was born on the second day of the bright fortnight of the moon. My horoscope shows the positions of the sun, the moon, and Mercury at the time of my birth. There are not many more details."

GIRISH: "You were born under Kumbha. Rama and Krishna were born under Karkat and Brisha, and Chaitanya under Simha."

MASTER: "I had two desires: first, that I should be the king of the devotees, and second, that I should not be a dry sadhu."

GIRISH (smiling): "Why did you have to practise spiritual discipline?"

MASTER (smiling): "Even the Divine Mother had to practise austere sadhana to obtain Siva as Her husband. She practised the panchatapa. She would also immerse Her body in water in wintertime, and look fixedly at the sun. Krishna Himself had to practise much sadhana. I had many mystic experiences, but I cannot reveal their contents. Under the bel-tree I had many flaming visions. There I practised the various sadhanas prescribed in the Tantra. I needed many articles - human skulls, and so forth and so on. The Brahmani used to collect these things for me. I practised a number of mystic postures.

"I had another strange experience: if I felt egotistic on a particular day, I would be sick the following day."

M. sat motionless as a picture on canvas, hearing about these unique visions of the Master. The other devotees also were spellbound. There was a dead silence in the room.

TULASI (pointing to M.): "He never laughs."

MASTER: "But he laughs inside. The surface of the river Phalgu is covered with sand; but if you dig into the sand, water comes up.

(To M.) "Don't you scrape your tongue? Scrape it every day."

BALARAM: "Well, Purna has heard much about you from M."

MASTER: "Perhaps the account of my early spiritual experiences."

BALARAM: "If Purna is perfect by nature, then what is M.'s function?"

MASTER: "A mere instrument."

It was nine o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna was about to leave for Dakshineswar. Arrangements were being made for his departure. A boat bad been hired at Baghbazar. The devotees saluted the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna went to the boat with one or two devotees. Gopal Ma accompanied them. She intended to spend the morning at Dakshineswar and go to Kamarhati in the afternoon. The camp cot generally used by Rakhal at Dakshineswar had been sent to Calcutta for repair. It was put in the boat, and the boat left for Dakshineswar.

According to the Hindu almanac the day was not auspicious. So Sri Ramakrishna decided to return to Balaram's house the next Saturday and start again for Dakshineswar on an auspicious day.
 

VISIT TO NANDA BOSE'S HOUSE

Pictures at Nanda's house - Master praises his host - Master's prayer - Nature of worldly enjoyment - Is God partial? - Liberation for all - Nature of "I" - God, the Wish-fulfilling Tree - About the afterlife - Narada and Hanuman - Different degrees of divine manifestation - Visit to the brahmani's house - Brahmani's indescribable joy - Master's visit to Ganu's mother - He praises the music - Martha and Mary - Master about himself - Master and Jesus - About Dwija.

Tuesday, July 28, 1885

IT WAS ABOUT THREE O'CLOCK in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in Balaram's drawing-room with the devotees. Among others, Binode, Rakhal, the younger Naren, and M. were present. The Master had come to Balaram's house in the morning and had taken his midday meal there. At Balaram's house the Deity was worshipped as Jagannath, and the members of the family partook of the food offered to the Deity. Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the food at Balaram's house was very pure.

Narayan and certain other devotees had remarked to the Master that Nanda Bose, an aristocrat of Baghbazar, had many pictures of gods and goddesses in his house. Hence Sri Ramakrishna intended to pay a visit to Nanda's house in the afternoon. A brahmin woman devoted to the Master lived near by. She often came to see him at Dakshineswar. She was extremely sorrowful over the death of her only daughter, and the Master had agreed to go to her house. She had invited him with great earnestness. From her house the Master was to go to the house of Ganu's mother, another devotee.

The younger Naren had said to Sri Ramakrishna that he would not be able to visit him often on account of his having to prepare for his examinations.

MASTER (to the younger Naren): "I didn't send for you today."

THE YOUNGER NAREN (smiling): "What can be done about it now?"

MASTER: "Well, my child, I don't want to interfere with your studies. You may visit me when you have leisure."

The Master said these words as if he were piqued.

He was ready to go to Nanda Bose's house. A palanquin was brought tor him, and he got into it repeating the name of God. He had put on a pair of black varnished slippers and a red-bordered cloth. As Sri Ramakrishna sat down in the palanquin, M. put the slippers by his side. He accompanied the palanquin on foot. Paresh joined them.

They entered the gate of Nanda's house, crossed the spacious square, and stopped in front of the building. The members of the family greeted the Master. He asked M. to hand him the slippers and then got out of the palanquin and entered the large hall. It was a very spacious room. Pictures of gods and goddesses were hanging on all sides.

Nanda Bose and his brother Pasupati saluted Sri Ramakrishna. The devotees of the Master also arrived. Girish's brother Atul came, and Prasanna's father, who was a frequent visitor at Nanda's house, was there. Prasanna was a devotee of the Master.

The Master looked at the pictures. M. and a few other devotees stood around him. Pasupati was explaining the pictures to them.

The first picture was of Vishnu with four arms. At the very sight of it Sri Ramakrishna was overwhelmed with ecstasy; he sat down on the floor and remained a few minutes in that spiritual mood.

In the second picture Rama was blessing Hanuman, with His hand on the devotee's head. Hanuman's gaze was fixed on Rama's Lotus Feet. The Master looked at the picture a long time and exclaimed with great fervour, "Ah me! Ah me!"

The third picture was of Krishna standing with flute to His lips under the kadamba tree.

The fourth was of Vamana, the Dwarf, who was an Incarnation of Vishnu. The Master looked intently at this picture.

Next the Master looked at a picture of Nrisimha, and then at one of Krishna with a herd of cows. Krishna was tending the cows with His cowherd friends on the bank of the Jamuna at Vrindavan. M. said, "A lovely picture!"

Sri Ramakrishna then saw pictures of Dhumavati, Shorasi, Bhuvanesvari, Tara, and Kali. He said: "All these portray the terrible aspects of the Divine Mother. If one keeps these pictures, one should worship them. But you must be lucky, to be able to hang them like that on the wall."

At the sight of Annapurna's picture, Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed with great fervour, "Grand! Grand!"

The next picture was one of Radhika as monarch. She was seated on a throne in the nikunja grove, surrounded by her woman attendants. Sri Krishna guarded the entrance of the grove as her officer.

Next was Sri Krishna's picture. Then came a picture of Sarasvati, the goddess of learning and music. It was in a glass case. She was in an ecstatic mood, playing melodies on the vina.

After seeing the pictures, Sri Ramakrishna went to the master of the house and said: "I am very happy today. It is grand! You are a real Hindu. You have these pictures instead of English ones. I am surprised!"

Nanda Bose was seated. He said to the Master: "Please take a seat. Why are you standing?"

Sri Ramakrishna sat down. He said: "These are very large pictures. You are a real Hindu."

NANDA: "I have European pictures also."

MASTER (smiling): "They are not like these. I am sure you don't pay much attention to them."

A picture of Keshab's Navavidhan hung on the wall. Suresh Mitra, a beloved householder disciple of the Master, had it painted. In this picture Sri Ramakrishna was pointing out to Keshab that people of different religions proceed to the same goal by different paths.

MASTER: "That was painted for Surendra."

PRASANNA'S FATHER (smiling): "You too are in that picture."

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, it contains everything. This is the ideal of modern times."

As he spoke Sri Ramakrishna manifested great spiritual fervour. He was in an ecstatic mood, talking to the Divine Mother. A few minutes later he said, like a drunkard, "I am not unconscious." Looking at the house, he said: "It is a huge mansion. But what does it consist of? Bricks, timber and clay."

A little later he said, "I am very happy to see these pictures of gods and goddesses." He added: "It is not good to keep pictures of the terrible aspects of the Divine Mother. If one does, one should worship them."

PASUPATI (smiling): "Well, things will go on as long as She keeps them going."

MASTER: "That is true. But one should think of God. It is not good to forget Him."

NANDA: "But how little we think of God!"

MASTER: "One thinks of God through His grace."

NANDA: "But how can we obtain God's grace? Has He really the power to bestow grace?"

MASTER (smiling): "I see. You think as the intellectuals do: one reaps the results of one's actions. Give up these ideas. The effect of karma wears away if one takes refuge in God. I prayed to the Divine Mother with flowers in my hand: 'Here, Mother, take Thy sin; here, take Thy virtue. I don't want either of these; give me only real bhakti. Here, Mother, take Thy good; here, take Thy bad. I don't want any of Thy good or bad; give me only real bhakti. Here, Mother, take Thy dharma; here, take Thy adharma. I don't want any of Thy dharma or adharma; give me only real bhakti. Here, Mother, take Thy knowledge; here, take Thy ignorance. I don't want any of Thy knowledge or ignorance; give me only real bhakti. Here, Mother, take Thy purity; here, take Thy impurity. Give me only real bhakti.'"

NANDA: "Can God violate law?'

MASTER: "What do you mean? He is the Lord of all. He can do everything. He who has made the law can also change it.

"But you may very well talk that way. Perhaps you want to enjoy the world, and that is why you talk that way. There is a view that a man's inner spirit is not awakened unless he is through with enjoyment. But what is there to enjoy? The pleasures of 'woman and gold'? This moment they exist and the next moment thev disappear. It is all momentary. And what is there in 'woman and gold'? It is like the hog plum - all stone and skin. If one eats it, one suffers from colic. Or like a sweetmeat. Once you swallow it, it is gone."

Nanda remained silent a few minutes. Then he said: "Oh, yes. People no doubt talk that way. But is God partial? If things happen through God's grace, then I must say God is partial."

MASTER: "But God Himself has become everything - the universe and its living beings. You will realize it when you have Perfect Knowledge. God Himself has become the twenty-four cosmic principles: the mind, intellect, body, and so forth. Is there anyone but Himself to whom He can show partiality?"

NANDA: "Why has He assumed all these different forms? Why are some wise and some ignorant?"

MASTER: "It is His sweet will."

ATUL: "Kedar Babu puts it nicely. Once a man asked him, 'Why has God created the world?' He replied, 'I was not present at the conference where God made the plans of His creation.'"

MASTER: "Oh! It is His sweet will."

So saying, the Master sang:

O Mother, all is done after Thine own sweet will;
Thou art in truth self-willed, Redeemer of mankind!
Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs.
Thou it is that boldest the elephant in the mire;
Thou, that helpest the lame man scale the loftiest hill.
On some Thou dost bestow the bliss of Brahmanhood;
Yet others Thou dost hurl into this world below.
Thou art the Moving Force, and I the mere machine;
The house am I, and Thou the Spirit dwelling there;
I am the chariot, and Thou the Charioteer:
I move alone as Thou, O Mother, movest me.

He continued: "The Divine Mother is full of bliss. Creation, preservation, and destruction are the waves of Her sportive pleasure. Innumerable are the living beings. Only one or two among them obtain liberation. And that makes Her happy.

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;
And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!

Some are being entangled in the world and some are being liberated from it.

How many are the boats, O mind,
That float on the ocean of this world!
How many are those that sink!"

NANDA: "It may be Her sweet will; but it is death to us."

MASTER: "But who are you? It is the Divine Mother who has become all this. It is only as long as you do not know Her that you say, 'I', 'I'.

"All will surely realize God. All will be liberated. It may be that some get their meal in the morning, some at noon, and some in the evening; but none will go without food. All, without any exception, will certainly know their real Self."

PASUPATI: "True, sir. It seems that it is God alone who has become everything."

MASTER: "Try to find out what this 'I' is. Is this 'I' the bones or flesh or blood or intestines? Seeking the 'I', you discover 'Thou'. In other words, nothing exists inside you but the power of God. There is no 'I', but only 'He'. (To Pasupati) You have so much wealth, but you have no egotism. It is not possible to rid oneself altogether of the ego; so, as long as it is there, let the rascal remain as the servant of God. (All laugh.) The ego that makes a man feel he is a devotee of God or a son of God or a servant of God is good. But the ego that makes a man attached to 'woman and gold' is the 'unripe ego'. That ego is to be renounced."

The head of the household and the others were very much pleased to hear this interpretation of the ego.

MASTER (to Pasupati): "There are two signs of knowledge: first, absence of pride, and second, a peaceful nature. You have both. Therefore you must have received the grace of God.

"Too much wealth makes one forget God. That is the very nature of wealth. Jadu Mallick has become very rich. Nowadays he doesn't talk of God. Formerly he used to enjoy spiritual talk a great deal.

"'Woman and gold' is a kind of wine. If a man drinks too much wine, he does not show his father and uncle the respect that is due to them. Very often he abuses them. A drunkard cannot distinguish between his superior and his inferior."

NANDA: "That is true, sir."

PASUPATI: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy and Spiritualism? Are these true? What do you think of the solar plane, the lunar plane, the stellar plane?"

MASTER: "My dear sir, I don't know about these things. Why bother about them so much? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Enjoy them. What is the use of your calculating how many mango-trees there are, how many millions of branches, how many billions of leaves? I have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Let me enjoy them.

"Once a man's inner spirit is awakened, once he succeeds in knowing God, he doesn't feel the desire even to know about all this rubbish. How incoherently a delirious patient talks: 'I shall eat five seers of rice! I shall drink a whole tank of water!' 'Will you?' says the physician. 'All right! You will have them.' Saying this, the physician goes on with his smoke. But he pays attention to what the patient says when the patient is no longer delirious."

PASUPATI: "Will our delirium last for ever?"

MASTER: "Why should you think so? Fix your mind on God, and spiritual consciousness will be awakened in you."

PASUPATI (smiling): "Our union with God is only momentary. It doesn't last any longer than a pipeful of tobacco." (All laugh.)

MASTER: "What if that is so? Union with God even for one moment surely gives a man liberation.

'Ahalya said to Rama, 'O Rama, it doesn't matter if I am born as a pig or any other being; only bless me that my mind may dwell on Thy Lotus Feet and be filled with real devotion to Thee.'

"Narada said to Rama: 'O Rama, I want from Thee no other favour. Please give me real love for Thee; and please bless me, that I may not come under the spell of Thy world-bewitching maya.'

"When a man sincerely prays to God, he is able to fix his mind on God and develop real love for His Lotus Feet.

"Give up all such notions as: 'Shall we be cured of our delirium?', 'What will happen to us?', 'We are sinners!' (To Nanda) One must have this kind of faith: 'What? Once I have uttered the name of Rama, can I be a sinner any more?'"

NANDA: "Is there no after-life? What about punishment for our sins?"

MASTER: "Why not enjoy your mangoes? What need have you to calculate about the after-life and what happens then, and things like that? Eat your mangoes. You need mangoes. You need devotion to God -"

NANDA: "But where is the mango-tree? Where do I get mangoes?"

MASTER: "Tree? God is the eternal and infinite Brahman. He does exist; there is no doubt about it. He is eternal. But you must remember this, that He is the Kalpataru.

Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kali, the Wish-fulfilling Tree,
And there beneath It gather the four fruits of life.

"You must go to the Kalpataru and pray. Only then will you obtain the fruits. Only then will the fruits fall from the tree. Only then will you be able to gather them. There are four fruits: dharma, artha, kama, and moksha. The jnanis seek the fruit of liberation; and the bhaktas, love of God, love without any motive behind it. They seek neither dharma nor artha nor kama.

"You ask about the after-life. According to the Gita you will become in the next life what you think of in the hour of death. King Bharata was very much grieved over his pet deer; he died repeating the word 'deer'; therefore he was reborn as a deer. That is why day and night a man should practise worship, japa, meditation, and other spiritual exercises. Only then, by virtue of practice, will he be able to think of God in the hour of death. If one dies thus, thinking of God, one will acquire God's nature.

"Keshab Sen, too, asked me about the after-life. I said to him also, 'What need have you of all these calculations?' Then I said: 'As long as a man does not realize God, he will return to the world. The potter puts his clay jars and lids out in the sun to bake. If cattle trample them underfoot, he throws away the baked ones. But he collects the soft ones, mixes them with more clay, puts them on the wheel, and makes new vessels from them.'"

The master of the house had not yet shown any sign of serving Sri Ramakrishna with refreshments. Sri Ramakrishna himself said to Nanda: "You see, you should offer me something to eat. That is why the other day I said to Jadu's mother: 'Look here. Give me something to eat.' Otherwise it brings harm to the householder."

Nanda Bose ordered some sweets. Sri Ramakrishna began to eat them. Nanda and the others were watching the Master and his actions. After eating the sweets, Sri Ramakrishna wanted to wash his hands. The plate on which the sweets were served had been placed on the sheet covering the carpet; so the Master could not wash his hands in the plate. A servant brought a brass bowl for him to use. But Sri Ramakrishna would not use it, since only rajasic people used such things. He asked the servant to take it away. The master of the house said to him, "Please wash your hands." Absent-mindedly Sri Ramakrishna said: "What? Shall I wash my hands?"

The Master walked to the south verandah. He asked M. to pour water into his hands. M. poured water from a jug. The Master dried his hands with his cloth and returned to the room. Then he was offered betel-leaf on a tray. But the other guests had already taken some from the same tray; the Master did not accept any.

NANDA (to the Master): "May I say something?"

MASTER (smiling): "What?"

NANDA: "Why didn't you eat any betel-leaf? Everything else you did was proper; this alone seems to be otherwise."

MASTER: "Before I eat anything I offer it to God. It is a notion of mine."

NANDA: "But the betel-leaf would have gone to God all the same."

MASTER: "There is the path of jnana, and there is also the path of bhakti. According to the jnani everything can be eaten by applying the Knowledge of Brahman; but the follower of bhakti keeps a little distinction." (Between holy and unholy.)

NANDA: "But I still maintain that you did not act rightly."

MASTER (smiling): "It is just a notion of mine. What you say is also right. That too is supported by the scriptures."

Sri Ramakrishna was warning Nanda of flatterers.

MASTER: "Beware of flatterers. They are after their own selfish purpose. (To Prasanna's father) Do you live in this house?"

PRASANNA'S FATHER: "No, sir, I am a neighbour. Won't you have a smoke?"

MASTER (very humbly): "No, please enjoy yourself. I don't feel like smoking now."

Nanda's house was like a palace. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "Jadu hasn't such a big house. I told him so the other day."

NANDA: "He has built a new house at Jorashanko."

Sri Ramakrishna was encouraging Nanda.

MASTER (to Nanda): "Though you are a householder, still you have kept your mind on God. Is that a small thing? The man who has renounced the world will pray to Him as a matter of course. Is there any credit in that? But blessed indeed is he who, while leading a householder's life, prays to God. He is like a man who finds an object after removing a stone weighing twenty maunds.

"One should pray to God, establishing with Him an appropriate relationship. Hanuman's love for God was mixed with knowledge; but Narada's love for God was pure and unadulterated.

"Rama asked Hanuman, 'Hanuman, what attitude do you cherish toward Me when you worship Me?' Hanuman answered: 'Sometimes I see that You are the whole and I am a part; sometimes I see that You are the Master and I am Your servant. But Rama, when I have the Knowledge of Reality, then I find that You are I and I am You.'

"Rama said to Narada, 'Ask a favour of Me.' Narada said, 'O Rama, grant me the boon that I may have genuine love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not come under the spell of Thy world-bewitching maya!'"

Sri Ramakrishna was about to take his leave.

MASTER (to Nanda): "According to the Gita a man who is honoured and respected by many people possesses a special power of God. You have divine power."

NANDA: "All men have the same power."

MASTER (sharply): "You all say the same thing. Can all men ever possess power to the same degree? God no doubt dwells in all beings as the all-pervading Spirit, but the manifestations of His Power are different in different beings.

"Vidayasagar, too, said the same thing. He said, 'Has God given some more power and some less?' Thereupon I said to him: 'If there are not different manifestations of His Power, then why have we come to see you? Have you grown two horns on your head?'"

Sri Ramakrishna rose. The devotees followed him. Pasupati accompanied them to the door.

The Master arrived at the house of the brahmin lady who was grief-stricken on account of her daughter's death. It was an old brick house. Entering the house, the Master passed the cow-shed on his left. He and the devotees went to the roof, where they took seats. People were standing there in rows. Others were seated. They were all eager to get a glimpse of Sri Ramakrishna.

The brahmani had a sister; both of them were widows. Their brothers also lived in the house with their families. The brahmani had been busy all day making arrangements to receive Sri Ramakrishna. While the Master was at Nanda Bose's house she had been extremely restless, going out of the house every few minutes to see if he was coming. He had promised to come to her place from Nanda's. Because of his delay she had thought perhaps he would not come at all.

Sri Ramakrishna was seated on a carpet. M., Narayan, Jogin, Devendra, and others were seated on a mat. A few minutes later the younger Naren and some other devotees arrived. The brahmani's sister came to the Master and saluted him. She said, "Sister has just gone to Nanda Bose's house to inquire the reason for your delay in coming here. She will return presently.

A sound was heard downstairs and she exclaimed, "There she comes!" She went down. But it was not the brahmani.

Sri Ramakrishna sat there smiling, surrounded by devotees.

M. (to Devendra): "What a grand sight! All these people - young and old, men and women - standing in lines, eager to have a glimpse of him and hear his words."

DEVENDRA (to the Master): "M. says that this place is better than Nanda's. The devotion of these people is amazing."

Sri Ramakrishna laughed.

The brahmani's sister exclaimed, "Here comes sister!"

The brahmani came and saluted the Master. She was beside herself with joy. She did not know what to say. In a half-choked voice she said: "This joy is too much for me. Perhaps I shall die of it. Tell me, friends, how shall I be able to live? I did not feel such a thrill even when Chandi, my daughter, used to visit the house accompanied by liveried footmen, with armed guards lining both sides of the street. Oh! Now I have no trace of my grief at her death. I was afraid he (Meaning Sri Ramakrishna.) would not come. Then I thought that, if that happened, I should throw into the Ganges all the things I had arranged for his reception and entertainment. I should not speak to him any more. If he visited a place, I should go there, look at him from a distance, and then come away.

"Let me go and tell everybody how happy I am. Let me go and tell Yogin of my good luck."

Still overwhelmed with joy she said: "A labourer won a hundred thousand rupees in a lottery. The moment he heard the news he died of joy. Yes, he really and truly died. I am afraid the same thing is going to happen to me. Please bless me, friends, or else I shall certainly die."

M. was amazed to see the brahmani's sincere joy and her ecstatic mood. He was about to take the dust of her feet. "What are you doing?" she exclaimed and saluted M.

The brahmani was extremely happy at the sight of the devotees. She said: "I am so happy to see you all here. I have brought the younger Naren; without him, who would there be to make us laugh?"

She was talking like this when her sister came up and said: "Come down, sister! How can I manage things if you stay here? Can I do it all by myself?"

But the brahmani was overwhelmed with joy. She could not take her eyes from the Master and the devotees.

After a while she very respectfully took Sri Ramakrishna to another room and offered him sweets and other refreshments. The devotees were entertained on the roof.

It was about eight o'clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna was ready to leave. When he came to the door, the brahmani asked her sister-in-law to salute the Master. Next, one of her brothers took the dust of the Master's feet. Referring to him, she said: "He is one of my brothers. He is a fool." No, no!" said the Master. "They are all good."

A man showed the way with a light. At places it was dark. Sri Ramakrishna stood in front of the cow-shed. The devotees gathered around him. M. saluted the Master, who was about to go to the house of Ganu's mother.

Sri Ramakrishna was seated in the drawing-room of Ganu's mother's house. It was on the street floor. The room was used by a concert party. Several young men played on their instruments now and then for the pleasure of the Master.

It was eight-thirty In the evening. Moonlight flooded the streets, the houses, and the sky. It was the first day after the full moon.

The brahmani, who had also come, was visiting the drawing-room and the inner apartments alternately. Every few minutes she would come to the door of the drawing-room and look at the Master. Some youngsters from the neighbourhood also looked at him through the windows. The people of the locality, young and old, came thronging to see the saint.

The younger Naren saw the boys in the street climbing the windows. He said to them: "Why are you here? Get away! Go home!" The Master said tenderly, "Let them stay." Every now and then he chanted: "Hari Om! Hari Om!"

The floor of the drawing-room was covered with a carpet. The young musicians sat on it and sang:

O Kesava, bestow Thy grace
Upon Thy luckless servants here!
O Kesava, who dost delight
To roam Vrindavan's glades and groves! . . .

MASTER: "Ah, how sweet the music is! How melodious the violin is! How good the accompaniments are! (Pointing to a boy) He and the flutist seem to be a nice pair."

The orchestra went on playing. After it was over, Sri Ramakrishna said joyfully, '"It is very fine indeed." Pointing to a young man, he said, "He seems to know how to play every instrument." He said to M., "They are all good people."

After the concert the young musician said to the devotees, "We should like to hear some of you sing." The brahmani stood near the door. She said; "None of them knows how to sing. Perhaps Mohin Babu can sing. But he will not sing before the Master."

A YOUNG MAN: "Why? I can sing even before my father."

THE YOUNGER NAREN (laughing): "But he has not yet advanced that far."

All laughed. A few minutes later the brahmani said to Sri Ramakrishna, "Please come inside."

MASTER: "Why?"

BRAHMANI: "The refreshments are served there. Please come."

MASTER: "Why not bring them here?"

BRAHMANI: "Ganu's mother requests you to bless the room with the dust of your feet. Then the room will be turned into Benares, and anyone dying in it will have no trouble hereafter."

Sri Ramakrishna went inside accompanied by the brahmani and the young men of the family. The devotees were strolling outside in the moonlight. M. and Binode were pacing the street south of the house and recalling the various incidents in the life of their beloved Master.

Sri Ramakrishna had returned to Balaram's house. He was resting in the small room to the west of the drawing-room. It was quite late, almost a quarter to eleven.

Sri Ramakrishna said to Jogin, "Please rub my feet gently." M. was sitting near by. While Jogin was rubbing his feet the Master said suddenly: "I feel hungry. I shall eat some farina pudding."

The brahmani had accompanied the Master and the devotees to Balaram's house. Her brother knew how to play the drums. Sri Ramakrishna said, "It will serve our purpose to send for her brother when Narendra or some other singer wants to sing."

Sri Ramakrishna ate a little pudding, Jogin and the other devotees left the room. M. was stroking the Master's feet. They talked together.

MASTER (referring to the brahmani and her relatives): "Ah! How happy they were!"

M: "How amazing! A similar thing happened with two women at the time of Jesus. They too were sisters, and devoted to Christ. Martha and Mary."

MASTER (eagerly): "Tell me the story."

M: "Jesus Christ, like you, went to their house with His devotees. At the sight of Him one of the sisters was filled with ecstatic happiness. It reminds me of a song about Gauranga:

My two eyes sank in the sea of Gora's heavenly beauty
And did not come back to me again;
Down went my mind, as well, forgetting how to swim.

"The other sister, all by herself, was arranging the food to entertain Jesus. She complained to the Master, saying: 'Lord, please judge for Yourself - how wrong my sister is! She is sitting in Your room and I am doing all these things by myself.' Jesus said: 'Your sister indeed is blessed. She has developed the only thing needful in human life: love of God.'"

MASTER: "Well, after seeing all this, what do you feel?"

M: "I feel that Christ, Chaitanyadeva, and yourself - all three are one and the same. It is the same Person that has become all these three."

MASTER: "Yes, yes! One! One! It is indeed one. Don't you see that it is He alone who dwells here in this way."
As he said this, Sri Ramakrishna pointed with his finger to his own body.

M: "You explained clearly, the other day, how God incarnates Himself on earth."

MASTER: "Tell me what I said."

M: "You told us to imagine a field extending to the horizon and beyond. It extends without any obstruction; but we cannot see it on account of a wall in front of us. In that wall there is a round hole. Through the hole we see a part of that infinite field."

MASTER: "Tell me what that hole is."

M: "You are that hole. Through you can be seen everything - that Infinite Meadow without any end."

Sri Ramakrishna was very much pleased. Patting M.'s back, he said: "I see you have understood that. That's fine!"
M: "It is indeed difficult to understand that. One cannot quite grasp how God, Perfect Brahman that He is, can dwell in that small body."

The Master quoted from a song:

Oh, no one at all has found out who He is;
Like a madman from door to door He roams,
Like a poor beggar He roams from door to door.

M: "You also told us about Jesus."

MASTER: "What did I say?"

M: "You went into samadhi at the sight of Jesus Christ's picture in Jadu Mallick's garden house. You saw Jesus come down from the picture and merge in your body."

Sri Ramakrishna was silent a few moments. Then he said to M.: "Perhaps there is a meaning in what has happened to my throat [referring to the sore in his throat]. This has happened lest I should make myself light before all; lest I should go to all sorts of places and sing and dance."

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk about Dwija.

MASTER: "He didn't come today. Why?"

M: "I asked him to come. He said he would. I don't know why he didn't."

MASTER: "He has great yearning. Well, he must be someone belonging to this. (Meaning the circle of the Master's devotees.) Isn't that so?"

M: "Yes, sir, it must be so. Otherwise, how could he have such yearning?"

Sri Ramakrishna lay down inside the mosquito curtain. M. fanned him. The Master turned on his side. He told M. how God incarnates Himself in a human body. He told him, further, about his, M.'s, spiritual ideal.
MASTER: "At the beginning I too passed through such states that I did not see divine forms. Even now I don't see them often."

M: "Among all the forms God chooses for His lila, I like best His play as a human being."

MASTER: "That is enough. And you are seeing me."
 

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