Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]


Beginning of Master's illness - Advice to the worldly-minded -Instructing Dwija's father - Man's several debts - Mahima's estimate of the devotees - Different kinds of samadhi - Awakening of Kundalini - Master's intimate vision of God - Master's vision of maya - Master saw devotees before their arrival - About Narendra - Master about himself - Totapuri - Mathur Babu - Brahman and Sakti - Brahman is the innermost Reality - Futility of mere scholarship - Divine Incarnations act like men - Jesus and Lazarus - Similarities between Christ and Sri Ramaknshna - Purna's letter - About rebirth - Girish and Master - The guru and the Chosen Ideal - Two classes of devotees - Kitten and young monkey - Worldly man's obstacles - Futility of argument - Master's renunciation - Master could not ask God to cure him.

August 9, 1885

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar. Rakhal, M., Dwija and his father, and other devotees were present. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.

After returning from Vrindavan Rakhal had spent a few days at home. Now he was staying with the Master. Latu, Harish, and Ramlal were also staying at the temple garden.

Sri Ramakrishna was not well. It was the beginning of the illness subsequently diagnosed as the fatal cancer. But this did not disturb the serenity of his mind. Day and night he had only one thought, and that was the spiritual welfare of his disciples. He was guiding them toward the attainment of God. He encouraged them constantly to cultivate knowledge and devotion and warned them of the snares of "woman and gold". He was completely indifferent to his own illness and devoted himself whole-heartedly to the fulfilment of his earthly mission.

Dwija was about sixteen years old. After the death of his mother, his father had married a second time. Dwija often accompanied M. to Dakshineswar; but his father did not approve of it.

Dwija's father had for a long time been speaking of visiting Sri Ramakrishna. Today he had come to Dakshineswar. He was the manager of a business firm in Calcutta and had passed his examination in law.

MASTER (to Dwija's father): "Please don't mind your children's coming here.

"I ask people to live in the world after the awakening of their spiritual consciousness. After extracting gold through hard labour, a man may keep it under earth or in a box or under water. The gold is not affected.

"I ask people to live in the world in a spirit of detachment. If you break the jack-fruit after rubbing oil on your hands, its sticky juice will not smear them.

'If the 'unripe' mind dwells in the world, the mind gets soiled. One should first attain knowledge and then live in the world.

"If you put milk in water the milk is spoiled. But this will not happen if butter, churned from the milk, is put in water."

DWIJA'S FATHER: "That is true, sir."

MASTER (smiling): "I know why you scold your children. You only threaten them. The brahmachari said to the snake: 'You are a fool indeed! I forbade you to bite but not to hiss. Your enemies would not have beaten you, if only you had hissed at them.' Your scolding of the children is really a hissing. (Dwija's father smiles.)

"A good son is an indication of his father's spiritual nature. If good water comes out when a reservoir is dug, it only indicates the virtue of the owner.

"A son is called Atmaja, 'the self reborn'. There is no difference between you and your son. In one way you yourself are reborn as your son. In one sense you are a worldly person, working in a business office and enjoying worldly life; in another sense you are a devotee of God, in the form of your son. I heard that you were a very worldly person; but now I find it isn't so. (Smiling) You know all this. I understand that you are very circumspect. Perhaps that is why you are nodding your assent to what I am saying, (Dwija's father smiles.)

"If your children visit this place, they will be able to know what you really are. How precious one's father is! If a person deceives his father and mother in order to seek religion, he gets only worthless trash.

"A man is born with several debts: debts to his father, the devas and the rishis. Besides, there is his debt to his mother. He also has a debt to his wife. She must be supported. If the wife is chaste, the husband must provide for her after his death.

"I could not live at Vrindavan on account of my mother. When I remembered that my mother was living in the temple garden here at Dakshineswar, I could not feel peaceful at Vrindavan.

"I ask people to live in the world and at the same time fix their minds on God. I don't ask them to give up the world. I say, 'Fulfil your worldly duties and also think of God.'"

DWIJA'S FATHER: "I tell my children that they should attend to their studies. I don't forbid them to come to you, but I don't want them to waste time in frivolities with the youngsters."

MASTER (referring to Dwija): "This boy must have been bom with some good tendencies. Why are the two other brothers different from him? Why is he alone spiritually minded? Will you be able to compel him not to visit this place? Sooner or later everyone unfolds his inborn tendencies."

DWIJA'S FATHER: "Yes, that is true."

Sri Ramakrishna came down from the couch and sat on the floor beside Dwija's father. While talking with him he touched him now and then.

It was nearly evening. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. and the others to show Dwija's father the temples. He said to them, "I should have accompanied him myself if I were well." He asked someone to give sweets to the young men and said to Dwija's father: "Let the children have a little refreshment, It is customary." Dwija's father visited the temples and the images and took a stroll in the garden.

Sri Ramakrishna engaged happily in conversation with Bhupen, Dwija, M., and others on the southeast porch of his room. He playfully slapped Bhupen and M. on the back. He said to Dwija with a laugh, "How I talked to your father!"

Dwija's father returned to Sri Ramakrishna's room after dusk. He intended to leave shortly. He was feeling hot. Sri Ramakrishna fanned him himself. In a few minutes the father took leave of the Master. Sri Ramakrishna stood up to bid him farewell.

It was eight o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Mahimacharan. Rakhal, M., and one or two companions of Mahimacharan were in the room. Mahimacharan was going to spend the night at the temple garden.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Well, how do you find Kedar? Has he only seen milk, or has he drunk it too?"

MAHIMA: "Yes, he is enjoying bliss."

MASTER: "Nityagopal?"

MAHIMA: "Very good. He is in a lofty state of mind."

MASTER: "Yes. Well, what about Girish Ghosh?"

MAHIMA: "He too has developed nicely. But he belongs to another class."

MASTER: "And Narendra?"

MAHIMA: "He is now in the state I was in fifteen years ago."

MASTER: "The younger Naren? How guileless he is!"

MAHIMA: "Yes, quite guileless."

MASTER: "You are right. (Reflecting a little) Let me see who else. It will be sufficient for the youngsters who come here if they know only two things. If they know these, they will not have to practise much discipline and austerity. First, who I am, and second, who they are. Many of the youngsters belong to the inner circle.

"Those belonging to the inner circle will not attain liberation. I shall have to assume a human body again, in a northwesterly direction.

"I feel peace of mind when I see the youngsters. How can I feel joy at the sight of those who have begotten children and are engaged in lawsuits and are involved in 'woman and gold'? How could I live without seeing pure-souled persons?"

Mahimacharan recited some texts from the scriptures. He also described various mystic rites of the Tantra.

MASTER: "Well, some say that my soul, going into samadhi, flies about like a bird in the Mahakasa, the Infinite Space.

"Once, a sadhu of Hrishikesh came here. He said to me: There are five kinds of samadhi. I find you have experienced them all. In these samadhis one feels the sensation of the Spiritual Current to be like the movement of an ant, a fish, a monkey, a bird, or a serpent.'

"Sometimes the Spiritual Cunent rises through the spine, crawling like an ant.

"Sometimes, in samadhi, the soul swims joyfully in the ocean of divine ecstasy, like a fish.

"Sometimes, when I lie down on my side, I feel the Spiritual Current pushing me like a monkey and playing with me joyfully. I remain still. That Current, like a monkey, suddenly with one jump reaches the Sahasrara. That is why you see me jump up with a start.

"Sometimes, again, the Spiritual Current rises like a bird hopping from one branch to another. The place where it rests feels like fire. It may hop from Muladhara to Svadhisthana, from Svadhisthana to the heart, and thus gradually to the head.

"Sometimes the Spiritual Current moves up like a snake. Going in a zigzag way, at last it reaches the head and I go into samadhi.

"A man's spiritual consciousness is not awakened unless his Kundalini is aroused.

"The Kundalini dwells in the Muladhara. When it is aroused, it passes along the Sushumna nerve, goes through the centres of Svadhisthana, Manipura, and so on, and at last reaches the head. This is called the movement of the Mahavayu, the Spiritual Current. It culminates in samadhi.

"One's spiritual consciousness is not awakened by the mere reading of books. One should also pray to God. The Kundalini is aroused if the aspirant feels restless for God. To talk of Knowledge from mere study and hearsay! What will that accomplish?

"Just before my attaining this state of mind, it had been revealed to me how the Kundalini is aroused, how the lotuses of the different centres blossom forth, and how all this culminates in samadhi. This is a very secret experience. I saw a boy twenty-two or twenty-three years old, exactly resembling me, enter the Sushumna nerve and commune with the lotuses, touching them with his tongue. He began with the centre at the anus and passed through the centres at the sexual organ, navel, and so on. The different lotuses of those centres - four-petalled, six-petalled, ten-petalled, and so forth - had been drooping. At his touch they stood erect.

"When he reached the heart - I distinctly remember it - and communed with the lotus there, touching it with his tongue, the twelve-petalled lotus, which was hanging head down, stood erect and opened its petals. Then he came to the sixteen-petalled lotus in the throat and the two-petalled lotus in the forehead. And last of all, the thousand-petalled lotus in the head blossomed. Since then I have been in this state."

Sri Ramakrishna came down to the floor and sat near Mahimacharan. M. and a few other devotees were near him. Rakhal also was in the room.

MASTER (to Mahima): "For a long time I have wanted to tell you my spiritual experiences, but I could not. I feel like telling you today.

"You say that by mere sadhana one can attain a state of mind like mine. But it is not so. There is something special here [referring to himself]."

Rakhal, M., and the others became eager to hear what the Master was going to say.

MASTER: "God talked to me. It was not merely His vision. Yes, He talked to me. Under the banyan-tree I saw Him coming from the Ganges. Then we laughed so much! By way of playing with me He cracked my fingers. Then He talked. Yes, He talked to me.

"For three days I wept continously. And He revealed to me what is in the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and the other scriptures.

"One day He showed me the maya of Mahamaya. A small light inside a room began to grow, and at last it enveloped the whole universe.

"Further, He revealed to me a huge reservoir of water covered with green scum. The wind moved a little of the scum and immediately the water became visible; but in the twinkling of an eye, scum from all sides came dancing in and again covered the water. He revealed to me that the water was like Satchidananda, and the scum like maya. On account of maya, Satchidananda is not seen. Though now and then one may get a glimpse of It, again maya covers It.

"God reveals the nature of the devotees to me before they arrive. I saw Chaitanya's party singing and dancing near the Panchavati, between the banyan-tree and the bakul-tree. I noticed Balaram there. If it weren't for him, who would there be to supply me with sugar candy and such things? (Pointing to M.) And I saw him too.

"I had seen Keshab before I actually met him - I had seen him and his party in my samadhi. In front of me sat a roomful of men. Keshab looked like a peacock sitting with its tail spread out. The tail meant his followers. I saw a red gem on Keshab's head. That indicated his rajas. He said to his disciples, 'Please listen to what he [meaning the Master] is saying.' I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, these people hold the views of "Englishmen". Why should I talk to them?' Then the Mother explained to me that it would be like this in the Kaliyuga.

"Keshab and his followers got from here [meaning himself] the names of Hari and the Divine Mother. That is why the Divine Mother took Vijay away from Keshab's party. But Vijay did not join the Adi Samaj. (A sect of the Brahmo Samaj.)

(Pointing to himself) "There must be something special here. Long ago a young man named Gopal Sen used to visit me. He who dwells in me placed His foot on Gopal's chest. Gopal said in an ecstatic mood: 'You will have to wait here a long time. I cannot live any more with worldly people.' He took leave of me. Afterwards I heard that he was dead. Perhaps he was born as Nityagopal.

"I have had many amazing visions. I had a vision of the Indivisible Satchidananda. Inside It I saw two groups with a fence between them. On one side were Kedar, Chuni, and other devotees who believe in the Personal God. On the other side was a luminous space like a heap of red brick-dust. Inside it was seated Narendra immersed in samadhi. Seeing him absorbed in meditation, I called aloud, 'Oh, Narendra!' He opened his eyes a little. I came to realize that he had been born, in another form, in Simla (The section of Calcutta in which Narendra was born.) in a kayastha family. At once I said to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, entangle him in maya; otherwise he will give up his body in samadhi.' Kedar, a believer in the Personal God, peeped in and ran away with a shudder.

"Therefore I feel that it is the Divine Mother Herself who dwells in this body and plays with the devotees. When I first had my exalted state of mind, my body would radiate light. My chest was always flushed. Then I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, do not reveal Thyself outwardly. Please go inside.' That is why my complexion is so dull now. If my body were still luminous, people would have tormented me; a crowd would always have thronged here. Now there is no outer manifestation. That keeps weeds away. Only genuine devotees will remain with me now. Do you know why I have this illness? It has the same significance. Those whose devotion to me has a selfish motive behind it will run away at the sight of my illness.

"I cherished a desire. I said to the Mother, 'O Mother, I shall be the king of the devotees.'

"Again, this thought arose in my mind: 'He who sincerely prays to God will certainly come here. He must.' You see, that is what is happening now. Only people of that kind come.

"My parents knew who dwells inside this body. Father had a dream at Gaya. In that dream Raghuvir said to him, 'I shall be born as your son.'

"God alone dwells inside this body. Such renunciation of 'woman and gold'! Could I have accomplished that myself? I have never enjoyed a woman, even in a dream.

"Nangta instructed me in Vedanta. In three days I went into samadhi. At the sight of my samadhi under the madhavi vine, he was quite taken aback and exclaimed, 'Ah! What is this?' Then he came to know who resides in this body. He said to me, 'Please let me go.' At these words of Totapuri, I went into an ecstatic mood and said, You cannot go till I realize the Truth of Vedanta.'

"Day and night I lived with him. We talked only Vedanta. The Brahmani used to say to me: 'Don't listen to Vedanta. It will injure your devotion to God.'

"I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, please get me a rich man. If You don't, how shall I be able to protect this body? How shall I be able to keep the sadhus and devotees, near me?' That is why Mathur Babu provided for my needs for fourteen years.

"He who dwells in me tells me beforehand what particular class of devotees will come to me. When I have a vision of Gauranga, I know that devotees of Gauranga are coming. When I have a vision of Kali, the Saktas come.

"At the time of the evening service I used to cry out from the roof of the kuthi, weeping: 'Oh, where are you all? Come to me!' You see, they are all gathering here, one by one.

"God Himself dwells in this body. It is He who, of His own accord, is working with these devotees.

"What a wonderful state of mind some of the devotees have! The younger Naren gets kumbhaka without any effort, and samadhi too. Sometimes he stays in an ecstatic mood for two and a half hours; sometimes even more. How wonderful!

"I have practised all kinds of sadhana: jnanayoga, karmayoga, and bhaktiyoga. I have even gone through the exercises of hathayoga to increase longevity. There is another Person dwelling in this body. Otherwise, after attaining samadhi, how could I live with the devotees and enjoy the love of God? Koar Singh used to say to me: 'I have never before seen a person who has returned from the plane of samadhi. You are none other than Nanak.'

"I live in the midst of worldly people; on all sides I see 'woman and gold'. Nevertheless, this is the state of my mind: unceasing samadhi and bhava. That is the reason Pratap said, at the sight of my ecstatic mood: 'Good heavens! It is as if he were possessed by a ghost!'"

Rakhal, M., and the others were speechless as they drank in this account of Sri Ramakrishna's unique experiences.

But did Mahimacharan understand the import of these words? Even after hearing them, he said to the Master, "These things have happened to you on account of your meritorious actions in your past births." Mahima still thought that Sri Ramakrishna was a sadhu or a devotee of God. The Master nodded assent to Mahima's words and said: "Yes, the result of past actions. God is like an aristocrat who has many mansions. Here [referring to himself] is one of His drawing-rooms. The bhakta is God's drawing-room."

It was nine o'clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. It was Mahimacharan's desire to form a brahmachakra (A mystic circle prescribed in Tantra.) in the presence of the Master. Mahima formed a circle, on the floor, with Rakhal, M., Kishori, and one or two other devotees. He asked them all to meditate. Rakhal went into an ecstatic state. The Master came down from the couch and placed his hand on Rakhal's chest, repeating the name of the Divine Mother. Rakhal regained consciousness of the outer world.

It was one o'clock in the morning, the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the moon. There was intense darkness everywhere. One or two devotees were pacing the concrete embankment of the Ganges. Sri Ramakrishna was up. He came out and said to the devotees, "Nangta told me that at this time, about midnight, one hears the Anahata sound."

In the early hours of the morning Mahimacharan and M. lay down on the floor of the Master's room. Rakhal slept on a camp cot. Now and then Sri Ramakrishna paced up and down the room with his clothes off, like a five-year-old child.

Monday, August 10

It was dawn. The Master was chanting the name of the Divine Mother. He went to the porch west of his room and looked at the Ganges; then he stopped in front of the pictures of different gods and goddesses in the room and bowed to them. The devotees left their beds, saluted Sri Ramakrishna, and went out.

The Master was talking to a devotee in the Panchavati. The latter had dreamt of Chaitanyadeva.

MASTER (in an ecstatic mood): "Ah me! Ah me!"

DEVOTEE: "But, sir, it was only a dream."

MASTER: "Is a dream a small thing?"

The Master's voice was choked. His eyes were filled with tears.

Sri Ramakrishna was told of a devotee who had divine visions even while he was awake. The Master said: "I am not surprised. Narendra, too, sees forms of God nowadays."

Mahimacharan went to one of the Siva temples to the west of the courtyard and chanted hymns from the Vedas. He was alone.

It was eight o'clock in the morning. M. bathed in the Ganges and came to Sri Ramakrishna. The brahmani who was grief-stricken on account of her daughter's death also entered the room.

The Master asked the brahmani to give M. some prasad to eat.

BRAHMANI: "Please eat something yourself first; then he will eat."

MASTER (to M.): "Take some prasad of Jagannath first and then eat."

After eating the prasad, M. went to the Siva temples and saluted the Deity. Then he returned to the Master's room and saluted him. He was ready to go to Calcutta.

MASTER (tenderly): "Go home safely. You have to attend to your duties."

Tuesday, August 11

Sri Ramakrishna was in his room at the temple garden. He had been observing silence since eight o'clock in the morning. Did he know the fatal nature of his illness? At his silence the Holy Mother wept. Rakhal and Latu also wept. The brahmani widow from Baghbazar arrived. She too was weeping at this strange mood of the Master. Now and then the devotees asked him whether he would remain silent for good. The Master answered them in the negative, by a sign.

At three o'clock in the afternoon Narayan arrived. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, "The Divine Mother will bless you." Narayan told the other devotees that the Master had spoken to him. A heavy weight was lifted from their breasts. They all came into the Master's room and sat on the floor.

MASTER (to the devotees): "The Mother showed me that all this is verily maya. She alone is, real, and all else is the splendour of Her maya.

"Another thing was revealed to me. I found out how far the different devotees have progressed."

DEVOTEES: "Please tell us about it."

MASTER: "I came to know about all these devotees: Nityagopal, Rakhal, Narayan, Puma, Mahima Chakravarty, and the others."

Sunday, August 16, 1885

The news of Sri Ramakrishna's illness had been reported to the" devotees in Calcutta. They thought it was just a sore in his throat. Many devotees arrived at Dakshineswar to visit him. Among them were Girish, Ram, Nityagopal, Mahima, Kishori, and Pundit Shashadhar.

Sri Ramakrishna was in his usual happy mood. He was talking to the devotees.

MASTER: "I cannot tell the Mother about my illness. I feel ashamed to talk of it."

GIRISH: "God will cure you."

RAM: "Yes, you will be all right."

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, give me your blessing." (All laugh.)

Girish was a recent visitor to Dakshineswar. The Master said to him: "You have so many duties to perform. You have to face so many troubles. Come here only three times more.

(To Shashadhar) "Please tell us something about the Adyasakti."

SHASHADHAR: "What do I know, sir?"

MASTER (smiling): "A certain man had great respect for another man. The second man asked him to bring him a little fire for his tobacco. He answered humbly, 'Sir, am I fit to carry your fire?' He didn't bring the fire." (All laugh.)

SHASHADHAR: "The Primal Power alone is both the instrumental and the material cause of the universe. It is She who has created the universe and its living beings; further, She Herself has become all these. To give an example: the spider, as the instrumental cause, makes the web and, as the material cause, brings the web out of its own body."

MASTER: "It is also stated that He who is Purusha is also Prakriti; He who is Brahman is also Sakti. He is called Purusha or Brahman when He is inactive, that is to say, when He ceases to create, preserve, or destroy; and He is called Sakti or Prakriti when He engages in those activities. But He who is Brahman is none other than Sakti; He who is Purusha has verily become Prakriti. Water is water whether it moves or is still. A snake is a snake whether it wriggles along or stays still and coiled up.

"What Brahman is cannot be described. Speech stops there. In the kirtan the singers at first sing: 'My Nitai dances like a mata hati.' (Mad elephant.) As they become more and more ecstatic, they can hardly utter the whole sentence. They sing only: 'Hati! Hati!' As their mood deepens they sing only: 'Ha! Ha!' At last they cannot sing even that; they become completely unconscious."

As the Master spoke these words, he himself became transfixed in samadhi. He was standing.

Regaining consciousness of the world, he said, "That which is beyond both kshara and akshara cannot be described."

The devotees sat in silence.

MASTER: "You cannot go into samadhi as long as your worldly experiences are not finished, or as long as you have duties to perform.

(To Shashadhar) "God is now making you perform such duties as delivering lectures. You must do these things now. You will have peace when your duties are finished. After completing her household duties, the mistress of the family goes for her bath. She will not come back then even if you shout after her."

Thursday, August 27, 1885

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar. It was five o'clock in the afternoon. There were two or three devotees with him. While with the devotees he never gave a thought to his physical illness, often spending the whole day with them talking and singing.

Doctor Madhu was treating Sri Ramakrishna. He frequently visited the Master at Dakshineswar, coming by country boat from Calcutta. The devotees were very much worried about the Master; it was their secret desire that the physician should see him daily. M. said to the Master, "Doctor Madhu is an experienced physician. It will be nice if he sees you every day."

Pundit Shyamapada of Antpur arrived. It was dusk. The pundit went to the bank of the Ganges to perform his evening worship; he had some amazing visions during the worship. He returned to the Master's room and sat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna had just finished meditation and the chanting of the holy names. He was sitting on the small couch and M. on the foot-rug. Rakhal, Latu, and the others were in and out of the room.

MASTER (to M., pointing to the pundit): "He is very nice. (To the pundit) Where the mind attains peace by practising the discipline of 'Neti, neti', there Brahman is.

"The king dwells in the inmost room of the palace, which has seven gates. The visitor comes to the first gate. There he sees a lordly person with a large retinue, surrounded on all sides by pomp and grandeur. The visitor asks his companion, 'Is he the king?' 'No', says his friend with a smile.

"At the second and the other gates he repeats the same question to his friend. He finds that the nearer he comes to the inmost part of the palace, the greater is the glory, pomp, and grandeur. When he passes the seventh gate he does not ask his companion whether it is the king; he stands speech- less at the king's immeasurable glory. He realizes that he is face to face with the king. He hasn't the slightest doubt about it."

PUNDIT: "One sees God beyond the realm of maya."

MASTER: "But after realizing God one finds that He alone has become maya, the universe, and all living beings. This world is no doubt a 'frame-work of illusion', unreal as a dream. One feels that way when one discriminates following the process of 'Not this, not this'. But after the vision of God this very world becomes 'a mansion of mirth'.

"What will you gain by the mere study of scriptures? The pundits merely indulge in reasoning."

PUNDIT: "I hate the idea of being called a pundit."

MASTER: "That is due to the grace of God. The pundits merely indulge in reasoning. Some have heard of milk and some have drunk milk. After you have the vision of God you will find that everything is Narayana. It is Narayana Himself who has become everything."

The pundit recited a hymn to Narayana. Sri Ramakrishna was overwhelmed with joy.

PUNDIT (quoting from the Gita): "'With the heart concentrated by yoga, with the eye of evenness for all things, he beholds the Self in all beings and all beings in the Self.'"

MASTER: "Have you read the Adhyatma Ramayana?

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir, a little."

MASTER: "The book is filled with ideas of knowledge and devotion. The life of Savari and the hymn by Ahalya are filled with bhakti.

"But you must remember one thing: God is very far away from the mind tainted with worldliness."

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir. God is far, far away from worldly intelligence. And God is very near, where that does not exist. I visited a certain zemindar, one Mukherji of Uttarpara. He is now an elderly man; but he listens only to stories and novels."

MASTER: "It is further said in the Adhyatma Ramayana that God alone has become the universe and its living beings."

The pundit was delighted. He recited a hymn to that effect from the tenth chapter of the Bhagavata:

O Krishna! Krishna! Mighty Yogi! Thou art the Primal Supreme Purusha:
This universe, manifest and unmanifest, is Thy form, as the sages declare.
Thou alone art the soul, the sense-organs, the Lord dwelling in the bodies of all;
Thou art the subtle Great Prakriti, made of sattva, rajas, and tamas;
Thou alone art the Purusha, the Lord dwelling in the bodies of all.

As Sri Ramakrishna listened to the hymn he went into samadhi. He remained standing. The pundit was seated. The Master placed his foot on the pundit's lap and chest, and smiled.

The pundit clung to his feet and said, "O Guru! Please give me God-Consciousness."

After the pundit had left the room Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Don't you see that what I have said is coming to pass? Those who have sincerely practised meditation and japa must come here."

It was ten o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna ate a little farina pudding and lay down. He asked M. to stroke his feet. A few minutes later he asked the disciple to massage his body and chest gently. He enjoyed a short nap. Then he said to M.: "Now go to sleep. Let me see if I can sleep better when I am alone." He said to Ramlal, "He [meaning M.] and Rakhal may sleep in the room."

Friday, August 28

It was dawn. Sri Ramakrishna was awake and meditating on the Divine Mother. On account of his illness the devotees were deprived of his sweet chanting of the Mother's name.

Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch. He asked M., "Well, why have I this illness?"

M: "People will not have the courage to approach you unless you resemble them in all respects. But they are amazed to find that in spite of such illness you don't know anything but God."

MASTER (smiling): "Balaram also said, 'If even you can be ill, then why should we wonder about our illnesses?' Lakshmana was amazed to see that Rama could not lift His bow on account of His grief for Sita. 'Even Brahman weeps, entangled in the snare of the five elements.'"

M: "Jesus Christ, too, wept like an ordinary man at the suffering of His devotees."

MASTER: "How was that?"

M: "There were two sisters, Mary and Martha. Lazarus was their brother. All three were devoted to Jesus. Lazarus died. Jesus was on His way to their house. One of the sisters, Mary, ran out to meet Him. She fell at His feet and said weeping, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died!' Jesus wept to see her cry.

"Then Jesus went to the tomb of Lazarus and called him by name. Immediately Lazarus came back to life and walked out of the tomb."

MASTER: "But I cannot do those things."

M: "That is because you don't want to. These are miracles; therefore you aren't interested in them. These things draw people's attention to their bodies. Then they do not think of genuine devotion. That is why you don't perform miracles. But there are many similarities between you and Jesus Christ."

MASTER (smiling): "What else?"

M: "You don't ask your devotees to fast or practise other austerities. You don't prescribe hard and fast rules about food. Christ's disciples did not observe the sabbath; so the Pharisees took them to task. Thereupon Jesus said: 'They have done well to eat. As long as they are with the bridegroom, they must make merry.'"

MASTER: "What does that mean?"

M: "Christ meant that as long as the disciples live with the Incarnation of God, they should only make merry. Why should they be sorrowful? But when He returns to His own abode in heaven, then will come the days of their sorrow and suffering."

MASTER (smiling): "Do you find anything else in me that is similar to Christ?"

M: "Yes, sir. You say: 'The youngsters are not yet touched by "woman and gold"; they will be able to assimilate instruction. It is like keeping milk in a new pot: the milk may turn sour if it is kept in a pot in which curd has been made.' Christ also spoke like that."

MASTER: "What did He say?"

M: "'If new wine is kept in an old bottle, the bottle may crack. If an old cloth is patched with new cloth, the old cloth tears away.'

"Further, you tell us that you and the Mother are one. Likewise, Christ said, 'I and My Father are one.'"

MASTER (smiling): "Anything else?"

M: "You say to us, 'God will surely listen to you if you call on Him earnestly.' So also Christ said, 'Knock and it shall be opened unto you.'"

MASTER: "Well, if God has incarnated Himself again, is it a fractional or a partial or a complete manifestation of God? Some say it is a complete manifestation."

M: "Sir, I don't quite understand the meaning of complete or partial of fractional Incarnation. But I have understood, as you explained it, the idea of a round hole in a wall."

MASTER: "Tell me about it."

M: "There is a round hole in the wall. Through it one is able to see part of the meadow on the other side of the wall. Likewise, through you one sees part of the Infinite God."

MASTER: "True. You can see five or six miles of the meadow at a stretch."

M. finished his bath in the Ganges and went to the Master's room. It was eight o'clock in the morning. He asked Latu to give him the rice prassad of Jagannath. The Master stood near him and said: "Take this prasad regularly. Those who are devotees of God do not eat anything before taking the prasad."

M: "Yesterday I got some prasad of Jagannath from Balaram Babu's house. I take one or two grains daily."

M. saluted the Master and took his leave, Sri Ramakrishna said to him tenderly: "Come early in the morning tomorrow. The hot sun of the rainy season is bad for the health."

Monday, August 31, 1885

Sri Ramakrishna was resting in his room. It was about eight o'clock in the evening. Though ill and suffering, he constantly devoted himself to the welfare of the devotees. Sometimes he felt restless, like a child; but the next moment he forgot all about his illness and became filled with ecstatic love of God. His love for the devotees was like that of a mother for her children.

Two days earlier, on Saturday night, he had received a letter from Purna. Puma had written: "I am feeling extremely happy. Now and then I cannot sleep at night for joy." After hearing the letter the Master had remarked: "I feel thrilled to hear this. Even later on he will be able to keep this bliss. Let me see the letter." He had pressed the letter in the palm of his hand and said: "Generally I cannot touch letters. But this is a good letter." That same night, while the Master was in bed, he had suddenly become covered with perspiration. He had sat up in bed, saying, "It seems to me that I shall not recover from this illness." It had worried the devotees very much to hear this. The Holy Mother had come to the temple garden to wait on Sri Ramakrishna and was living in a room in the nahabat. The devotees, with the exception of one or two, were not aware of her presence. A woman devotee staying with the Holy Mother had begun to pay frequent visits to Sri Ramakrishna in his room. After a few days Sri Ramakrishna had said to her: "You have been here some time. What will people think about it? You had better go home for a week or so."

Sri Ramakrishna lay in bed, on his side, with his back to the room. After dusk Gangadhar and M. arrived from Calcutta. Gangadhar sat at the feet of the Master, who was talking to M.

MASTER: "Two boys came here the other day. One of them was Subodh. He is Sankar Ghosh's great-grandson. The other, Kshirode, is his neighbour. They are nice boys. I told them I was ill and asked them to go to you for instruction. Please look after them a little."

M: "Yes, sir. They are our neighbours."

MASTER: "The other day, again, I woke up covered with perspiration. I don't understand this illness."

M: "We have decided to ask Bhagavan Rudra to see you once. He is an M.D. and an expert physician."

MASTER: "How much will he charge?"

M: "His regular fee is twenty or twenty-five rupees."

MASTER: "Then don't bother about him."

M: "But we shall pay him four or five rupees at the most."

MASTER: "Listen. Suppose you say this to him, 'Sir, please be kind enough to come and see him.' Hasn't he heard anything about this place?" (Referring to himself.)

M: "Perhaps he has. He has almost agreed not to charge any fee. But we shall pay him a little. If we do that, he will come again."

MASTER: "Ask Dr. Nitai to come. He is a good physician. But what will the doctors do, I wonder? They press my throat and make my illness worse."

It was nine o'clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna ate a little farina pudding and had no difficulty in swallowing it. He said to M. cheerfully: "I was able to eat a little. I feel very happy."

Tuesday, September 1

Sri Ramakrishna was about to take his bath. A devotee was rubbing his body with oil on the verandah south of his room. M. came there after finishing his bath in the Ganges and saluted the Master.

After bathing, Sri Ramakrishna wrapped himself in a towel and with folded hands saluted the deities in the temples from afar. He could not go to the temples because of his illness.

It was the sacred Janmasthami day, the birthday of Krishna. Ram and other devotees had brought new clothes for Sri Ramakrishna. He put them on and looked charming. Again he saluted the deities.

Gopal Ma brought her Gopala some food that she had prepared at her home at Kamarhati. She said to the Master sorrowfully, "But you won't eat any of it."

MASTER: "You see, I am ill."

GOPAL MA: "That is my bad luck. Please take a little in your hand."

MASTER: "Please give me your blessing."

A devotee brought some sugar candy. Gopal Ma said, "Let me take it to the Holy Mother in the nahabat." The Master said: "No, keep it here. I give sweets to the devotees. Who wants to send a messenger a hundred times to the nahabat for sugar candy? Let it be kept here."

It was eleven o'clock in the morning. The devotees were gradually arriving from Calcutta. Balaram, Narendra, the younger Naren, Navagopal, and a Vaishnava from Katoa arrived. Rakhal and Latu were staying with Sri Ramakrishna. A Punjabi sadhu had been staying in the Panchavati for some days.

The younger Naren had a tumour on his forehead. Sri Ramakrishna was strolling in the Panchavati with the devotees. He said to the younger Naren: "Why don't you have your tumour operated on? It is not in the throat but only on the forehead. That is a simple thing. People have their orchitis operated on."

The Punjabi sadhu was going along the foot-path in the garden. The Master said: "I don't attract him. He has the attitude of a jnani. I find him to be dry as wood."

Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees returned to the Master's room. The conversation turned to Shyamapada Bhattacharya.

BALARAM: "Shyamapada said, 'When he, the Master, placed his foot on Narendra's chest, Narendra went into bhava; but I didn't have that experience.'"

MASTER: "Shall I tell you the truth about it? It is very difficult to gather the dispersed mind when it is attached to 'woman and gold'. The pundit told me he was called upon to act as arbiter to settle people's quarrels. Besides, he has to worry about his children. But the minds of Narendra and other youngsters are not scattered like that; they are not yet touched by 'woman and gold'.

"But Shyamapada is a grand person."

The Vaishnava from Katoa began to ask Sri Ramakrishna questions. He was squint-eyed.

VAISHNAVA: "Sir, is a man born again?"

MASTER: "It is said in the Gita that a man is reborn with those tendencies that are in his mind at the time of his death. King Bharata thought of his deer at the time of death and was reborn as a deer."

VAISHNAVA: "I could believe in rebirth only if an eye-witness told me about it."

MASTER: "I don't know about that, my dear sir. I cannot cure my own illness, and you ask me to tell you what happens after death!

"What you are talking about only shows your petty mind. Try to cultivate love of God. You are born as a human being only to attain divine love. You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes: what need is there of knowing how many thousands of branches and millions of leaves there are in the orchard? To bother about what happens after death! How silly!"

Girish Ghosh arrived in a carriage with one or two friends. He was drunk. Ha was weeping as he entered the room. He wept as he placed his head on Sri Ramakrishna's feet.

Sri Ramakrishna affectionately patted him on the back. He said to a devotee, "Prepare a smoke for him."

Girish raised his head and said with folded hands: "You alone are the Perfect Brahman! If that is not so then everything is false.

"It is such a pity that I could not be of any service to you." He uttered these words with a tenderness that made several devotees weep.

Girish continued: "O Lord! please grant me the boon that I may serve you for a year. Who cares for salvation? One finds it everywhere. I spit on it. Please tell me that you will accept my service for one year."

MASTER: "People around here are not good. Some may criticize you."

GIRISH: "I don't care. Please tell -"

MASTER: "All right. You may serve me when I go to your house -"

GIRISH: "No, it is not that. I want to serve you here."

Girish was insistent. The Master said, "Well, that depends on God's will."

Referring to the Master's throat trouble, Girish said: "Please say, 'Let it be cured.' All right, I shall thrash it out. Kali! Kali!"

MASTER: "You will hurt me."

GIRISH: "O throat, be cured! (He blows at the throat like an exorciser) Are you not all right? If you aren't cured by this time, you certainly will be if I have any devotion to your feet. Say that you are cured."

MASTER (sharply): "Leave me alone. I can't say those things. I can't ask the Divine Mother to cure my illness.

"All right. I shall be cured if it is the will of God."

GIRISH: "You are trying to fool me. All depends on your will."

MASTER: "Shame! Never say that again. I look on myself as a devotee of Krishna, not as Krishna Himself. You may think as you like. You may look on your guru as God. Nevertheless, it is wrong to talk as you are talking. You must not talk that way again."

GIRISH: "Please say you will be cured."

MASTER: "Very well, if that pleases you."

Girish was still under the influence of drink. Now and then he said to Sri Ramakrishna, "Well, sir, how is it that you were not born this time with your celestial beauty?"

A few moments later he said, "I see, this time it will be the salvation of Bengal."

A devotee said to himself: "Why Bengal alone? It will be the salvation of the whole world."

Girish said, addressing the devotees: "Does any of you understand why he is here? It is for the liberation of men. Their suffering has moved him to assume a human body."

The coachman was calling Girish. He got up and was going toward the man. The Master said to M.: "Watch him. Where is he going? I hope he won't beat the coachman!" M. accompanied Girish.

Presently Girish returned. He prayed to Sri Ramakrishna and said, "O God, give me purity that I may not have even a trace of sinful thought."

MASTER: "You are already pure. You have such faith and devotion! You are in a state of joy, aren't you?"

GIRISH: "No, sir. I feel bad. I have worries. That is why I have drunk so much liquor."

A few minutes afterwards Girish said: "Lord, I am amazed to find that I, even I, have been given the privilege of serving the Perfect Brahman. What austerities have I practised to deserve this privilege?"

Sri Ramakrishna took his midday meal. On account of his illness he ate very little.

The Master's natural tendency of mind was to soar into the plane of God- Consciousness. He would force his mind to be conscious of the body. But, like a child, he was incapable of looking after his body. Like a child he said to the devotees: "I have eaten a little. I shall rest now. You may go out for a little while." Sri Ramakrishna rested a few minutes. The devotees returned to the room.

GIRISH: "The guru and the Ishta. I like very much the form of the guru. I am not afraid of him. Why should it be so? I am afraid of ecstasy. At the sight of ecstasy I run away."

MASTER: "He who is the Ishta appears in the form of the guru. The aspirant practises meditation on a corpse. When he obtains the vision of his Chosen Ideal, it is really the guru who appears to him and says. This is that', that is to say, he points out to the disciple his Ishta. Uttering these words, the guru disappears into the form or the Ishta. The disciple no longer sees the guru. In the state of perfect jnana, who is the guru and who is the sishya? That creates a very difficult situation; there the teacher and the disciple do not see each other.'"

A DEVOTEE: "Guru's head and disciple's feet."

GIRISH (joyously): "Yes! Yes! It is true."

NAVAGOPAL: "But listen to its meaning. The disciple's head belongs to the guru; and the guru's feet belong to the disciple. Do you understand?"

GIRISH: "No, that is not the meaning. Haven't you seen the child climbing on the head of the father? That is why the disciple's feet are mentioned."

NAVAGOPAL: "But then the disciple must feel like a young baby."

MASTER: "There are two classes of devotees. One class has the nature of the kitten. The kitten depends completely on its mother. It accepts whatever its mother does for it. The kitten only cries, 'Mew, mew!' It doesn't know what to do or where to go. Sometimes the mother puts the kitten near the hearth, sometimes on the bed. Devotees of this class give God the power of attorney and thus become free of all worry. The Sikhs said to me that God was kind. I said to them: 'How is that? He is our Father and our Mother. Shouldn't parents bring up their children after begetting them? Do you mean to say that the neighbours will look after them?' Devotees of this class have an unwavering conviction that God is our Mother and our Father.

"There is another class of devotees. They have the nature of the young monkey. The young monkey clings to its mother with might and main. The devotees who behave like the young monkey have a slight idea of being the doer. They feel: 'We must go to the sacred places; we must practise japa and austerity; we must perform worship with sixteen articles as prescribed by the sastras. Only then shall we be able to realize God.' Such is their attitude.

"The aspirants of both classes are devotees of God. The farther you advance, the more you will realize that God alone has become everything. He alone does everything. He alone is the Guru and He alone is the Ishta. He alone gives us knowledge and devotion.

"The farther you advance, the more you will see that there are other things even beyond the sandal-wood forest - mines of silver and gold and precious gems. Therefore go forward.

"But how can I ask people to go forward? If worldly people go too far, then the bottom will drop out of their world. One day Keshab was conducting a religious service. He said, 'O God, may we all sink and disappear in the river of bhakti!' When the worship was over I said to him: 'Look here. How can you disappear altogether in the river of bhakti? If you do, what will' happen to those seated behind the screen? (The Master referred to the ladies.) But do one thing: sink now and then, and come back again to dry land.'" (All laugh.)

The Vaishnava from Katoa was arguing.

MASTER (to the Vaishnava): "Stop that sizzling noise! When butter containing water is heated over a fire, it makes that sound.

If a man but once tastes the joy of God, his desire to argue takes wing. The bee, realizing the joy of sipping honey, doesn't buzz about any more. What will you achieve by quoting from books? The pundits recite verses and do nothing else.

"What will you gain by merely repeating 'siddhi'? You will not be intoxicated even by gargling with a solution of siddhi. It must go into your stomach; not until then will you be intoxicated. One cannot comprehend what I am saying unless one prays to God in solitude, all by oneself, with a longing heart."

Dr. Rakhal arrived to examine Sri Ramakrishna. The Master said to him eagerly, "Come in and sit down."

The conversation with the Vaishnava continued.

MASTER: "Man should possess dignity and alertness. Only he whose spiritual consciousness is awakened possesses this dignity and alertness and can be called a man. Futile is the human birth without the awakening of spiritual consciousness.

"There are many men at Kamarpukur with big bellies and imposing moustaches. Yet the villagers go with palanquins and bring righteous and truthful persons from twenty miles away to arbitrate their quarrels. They do not bring mere pundits.

"Truthfulness is the tapasya of the Kaliyuga. 'Truthfulness, submission to God, and looking on the wives of other men as one's own mother' - these are the means to realize God."

Like a child Sri Ramakrishna said to the physician, "Sir, please cure my throat."

DOCTOR: "Do you ask me to cure you?"

MASTER: "The physician is Narayana Himself. I honour everybody. You may say that if I look on all as Narayana then I should keep quiet. But I also accept the words of the 'mahut Narayana'.

"The Pure Mind and the Pure Atman are one and the same thing. Whatever comes up in the Pure Mind is the voice of God. God alone is the 'mahut Narayana'.

"Why should I not listen to God? He alone is the Master. As long as He keeps 'I-consciousness' in me, I shall obey His orders."

The doctor was going to examine Sri Ramakrishna's throat. The Master said, "Dr. Mahendra Sarkar pressed my tongue the way they press a cow's."

Like a child Sri Ramakrishna said to the physician, pulling at his shirt-sleeves again and again, "Sir! My dear sir! Please cure my throat." Looking at the laryngoscope, he said with a smile: "I know it. You will see the reflection in it."

Narendra sang. But on account of the Master's illness there was not much music.

September 2

After finishing his midday meal Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch and talked to Dr. Bhagavan Rudra and M. Rakhal, Latu, and other devotees were in the room. The physician heard all about the Master's illness. Sri Ramakrishna came down to the floor and sat near the doctor.

MASTER: "You see, medicine does not agree with me. My system is different.

"Well, what do you think of this? When I touch a coin my hand gets twisted; my breathing stops. Further, if I tie a knot in the corner of my cloth, I cannot breathe. My breathing stops until the knot is untied."

The Master asked a devotee to bring a rupee. When Sri Ramakrishna held it in his hand, the hand began to writhe with pain. The Master's breathing also stopped. After the coin had been taken away, he breathed deeply three times and his hand relaxed. The doctor became speechless with wonder to see this strange phenomenon.

The doctor said to M., "Action on the nerves."

MASTER (to the doctor): "I get into another state of mind. It is impossible for me to lay up anything. One day I visited Sambhu Mallick's garden house. At that time I had been suffering badly from stomach trouble. Sambhu said to me: 'Take a grain of opium now and then. It will help you.' He tied a little opium in a corner of my cloth. As I was returning to the Kali temple, I began to wander about near the gate as if unable to find the way. Then I threw the opium away and at once regained my normal state. I returned to the temple garden.

"One day at Kamarpukur I picked some mangoes. I was carrying them home. But I could not walk; I had to stay standing in one place. Then I left the mangoes in a hollow. Only after that could I return home. Well, how do you explain that?"

DOCTOR: "There is a force behind it. Will-force."

M: "He [meaning the Master] says that it is God-force. You say that it is will-force."

MASTER (to the doctor): "Again, I get into such a state of mind that if someone says I am better, I at once feel much better. The other day the brahmani said. 'You are fifty per cent better. At once I began to dance."

Sri Ramakrishna was much pleased with the physician. He said to him: "You have a very fine nature. There are two characteristics of knowledge: a peaceful nature and absence of pride."

M: "The doctor has lost his wife."

MASTER (to the doctor): "I say that God can be realized if one feels drawn to Him by the intensity of these three attractions: the child's attraction for the mother, the husband's attraction for the chaste wife, and the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man.

"Please cure me of my illness."

The doctor was going to examine the Master's throat. Sri Ramakrishna was seated in a chair on the semicircular porch. Referring to Dr. Sarkar, the Master said: "He is a villain. He pressed my tongue as if I were a cow."

DOCTOR: "He didn't hurt you purposely."

MASTER: "No, he pressed the tongue to make a thorough examination."

Sunday, September 20, 1885

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room, surrounded by devotees. Navagopal, Haralal, Rakhal, Latu, and others were present. A goswami who was a musician was also there.

M. arrived with Dr. Rakhal of Bowbazar. The physician began to examine the Master. He was a stout person and had rather thick fingers.

MASTER (smiling, to the physician): "Your fingers are like a wrestler's. Mahendra Sarkar also examined me. He pressed my tongue so hard that it hurt me. He pressed my tongue the way they press a cow's."

DOCTOR: "I shall not hurt you, sir."

The physician made out his prescription. Sri Ramakrishna was talking.

MASTER (to the devotees): "Well, people ask why, if I am such a holy person, I should be ill."

TARAK: "Bhagavan Das Babaji, too, was ill and bed-ridden a long time."

MASTER: "But look at Dr. Madhu. At the age of sixty he carries food to the house of his mistress; and he has no illness."

GOSWAMI: "Sir, your illness is for the sake of others. You take upon yourself the sins of those who come to you. You fall ill because you accept their sins."

A DEVOTEE: "You will soon be cured if only you say to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, please make me well.'"

MASTER: "I cannot ask God to cure my disease. The attitude of the servant-master relationship is nowadays less strong in me. Once in a while I say, 'O Mother, please mend the sheath (The Master referred to his body.) of the sword a little.' But such prayers are also becoming less frequent. Nowadays I do not find my 'I'; I see that it is God alone who resides in this sheath."

The goswami had been invited to sing kirtan. A devotee asked, "Will there be any kirtan?" Sri Ramakrishna was ill, and all were afraid that the kirtan might throw his mind into ecstasy and thus aggravate the illness.

Sri Ramakrishna said: "Let there be a little singing. All are afraid of my going into ecstasy. Spiritual emotion hurts the throat."

The goswami began the kirtan. Sri Ramakrishna could not control himself. He stood up and began to dance with the devotees. The physician watched the whole scene.

A hired carriage was waiting for Dr. Rakhal. He and M. were ready to leave for Calcutta. They saluted the Master. Sri Ramakrishna said to M. affectionately, "Have you had your meal?"

Thursday, September 24, 1885

It was the night of the full moon. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. He was very ill. M. and some other devotees were sitting on the floor.

MASTER (to M.): "Every now and then I think that the body is a mere pillow-case. The only real substance is the Indivisible Satchidananda.

"When I go into divine ecstasy this illness of the throat remains away from me. I am now somewhat in that mood and so I feel like laughing."

Some ladies of Dwija's family arrived. They saluted the Master and sat on one side. Pointing to one of the ladies, Sri Ramakrishna asked: "Who is this lady? Is it she who brought up Dwija? Why has Dwija bought an ektara?"

M: "It has two strings, sir."

MASTER: "Dwija's father is opposed to his views. Won't other people criticize him? It is wise for him to pray to God secretly."

A picture of Gauranga and Nitai hung on the wall of the Master's room. It was a picture of the two brothers singing devotional songs with their companions at Navadvip.

RAMLAL (to the Master): "Then may I give him [meaning M.] the picture?"

MASTER: "Yes."

Sri Ramakrishna was then under Dr. Pratap's treatment. He awoke at midnight and felt extremely restless. Harish, his attendant, was in the room. Rakhal also was there. Ramlal was asleep on the verandah. The Master remarked later on: "I was feeling extremely restless. I felt like embracing Harish. They rubbed a little medicinal oil on my head. Then I began to dance."


Master consoles Surendra - Praising the Gita - Secret ot karmayoga - M. and Dr. Sarkar - Master praises doctor's son - On Divine Incarnation - Absolute and Relative - Dr. Sarkar on incarnation - Futility of discussion - Go beyond knowledge and ignorance - The story of the "mahut Narayana" - Master reasons with Dr. Sarkar - Illusion persists - Master praises the true householder - Advice to householders - Necessity of solitude - Example of Janaka - The householder jnani - The monk jnani - Teaching others after realizing God - Knowledge and love of God - Personal God and Impersonal Truth - Illustration of the chameleon - Illustration of ice and water - 'I-consciousness'- Parable of the cow - Harmless and injurious ego - "Ripe ego" and "unripe ego" - Childlike nature of perfect souls - "Ego of old age" - Characteristics of tamas - Turn your passions to God - Paths of knowledge and devotion - Difficulty of path of knowledge - Discussion about Divine Incarnation - Childlike faith - Three classes of teachers - Advice to householders - Faith and self-surrender.

October 18, 1885

THE DOCTORS HAD DEFINITELY diagnosed Sri Ramakrishna's illness as cancer. No proper arrangement for his treatment and nursing could be made at Dakshineswar. He needed the constant attention of a physician, which could not be given at the temple garden. Furthermore, the devotees who lived in Calcutta found it very inconvenient to attend on him daily at Dakshineswar. Therefore the older devotees had rented a small two-storey house in Baghbazar, Calcutta, and had brought the Master there. Sri Ramakrishna, however, had not liked the place and had gone to Balaram's house. In a few days a new house had been engaged in Syampukur, in the northern section of Calcutta, and the Master had been taken there. He had been placed under the treatment of Dr. Mahendra Lal Sarkar. The new building had two large rooms and two smaller ones on the second floor. One of the larger rooms was used as the parlour, and in the other the Master lived. Of the two smaller rooms, one was used as a sleeping-room by the devotees, and the other by the Holy Mother when she came there. Near the exit to the roof was a small, covered, square space, where the Holy Mother stayed during the day and prepared the Master's food.

It was Vijaya day, the fourth day of the worship of Durga, when the image is immersed in water. On that day the Divine Mother returns to Her heavenly abode at Mount Kailas, leaving gloom in the hearts of Her devotees.

It was eight o'clock in the morning. The air was chilly. Though ill, Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on Hs bed. He was like a five-year-old child who knows nothing but its mother. Navagopal, M., and a few other devotees were present. Surendra arrived and sat down. The Divine Mother had been worshipped at his house for the past three days. Sri Ramakrishna had not been able to go there on account of his illness, but he had sent some of his disciples. Surendra was in a very unhappy mood because on this day the image of the Mother was to be immersed in the water.

SURENDRA: "I had to run away from home."

MASTER (to M.): "What if the image is thrown into the water? May Mother dwell in the heart!"

Surendra was disconsolate. He was crying to the Divine Mother and talking to Her. At this yearning of his beloved disciple Sri Ramakrishna could not control his tears. He looked at M. and said-in a choked voice: "What bhakti! Ah, what great love he feels for God!"

MASTER (to Surendra): "Yesterday evening at seven or seven-thirty I saw your worship hall in a vision. I saw the divine image full of effulgence. This place and your hall were joined by a stream of light flowing between them."

SURENDRA: "At that time I was crying to the Mother in the worship hall. My elder brothers had gone upstairs. I thought the Mother said, 'I will come again.'"

It was about eleven o'clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna finished his meal. M. poured water into his hand for him to rinse his mouth.

MASTER (to M.): "Rakhal has indigestion. It is best to take only sattvic food. Haven't you read about it in the Gita? Don't you read the Gita?"

M: "Yes, sir. The Gita speaks of temperance in eating. Sattvic food, rajasic food, tamasic food; sattvic kindness, sattvic ego, and so on - all these are described in the Gita."

MASTER: "Have you a copy of the book?"

M: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "It contains the essence of all the scriptures."

M: "The Gita describes various ways of realizing God. You too say that God can be reached by various paths: knowledge, devotion, work, and meditation."

MASTER: "Do you know the meaning of karmayoga? It is to surrender to God the fruit of all action."

M: "Yes, sir, I have read that in the Gita. It also says that there are three ways of performing action."

MASTER: "What are they?"

M: "First, one may perform karma to attain jnana; second, to teach others; third, under the impulse of one's nature."

After rinsing his mouth the Master chewed betel-leaf.

Sri Ramakrishna was talking with M. about Dr. Sarkar. M. had been at the doctor's house the previous day to report the Master's condition.

MASTER: "What did you talk about?"

M: "There are many books in the doctor's room. I took out one to read, and now and then read a passage aloud to Dr. Sarkar. It was a book by Sir Humphry Davy. He wrote about the necessity of Divine Incarnation."

MASTER: "Indeed! What did you say to the doctor?"

M: "There was one passage that stated that Divine Truth must be made human truth to be appreciated by us; therefore Divine Incarnation is necessary."

MASTER: "Splendid! That's very good."

M: "The author gave the illustration of the sun: one cannot look at the sun, but one can look at its reflected rays."

MASTER: "Very fine. Anything else?"

M: "Another passage stated that real knowledge is faith."

MASTER: "That too is very good. If one has faith one has everything."

M: "The author dreamt of the Roman gods and goddesses."

MASTER: "Do such books really exist? Surely the author was inspired by God. Did you talk of anything else?"

M: "People like Dr. Sarkar speak of doing good to the world. So I told him what you had said about it."

MASTER (smiling): "What did I say?"

M: "About Sambhu Mallick. He had said to you: 'It is my desire to devote my money to the building of schools, hospitals, dispensaries, and the like. That will do good to many.' Thereupon you had said to him, 'Suppose God appears before you; will you then ask Him to build schools, hospitals, and dispensaries?' I told the doctor another thing."

MASTER: "Those who are born to do work belong to a different class. What else did you say?"

M: "I said to the doctor: 'If your aim is to visit the image of Mother Kali, what will you gain by spending all your time in giving alms to the poor by the roadside? First you had better somehow visit the image. Afterwards you may give alms to your heart's content."

MASTER: "Did you talk about anything else?"

M: "Yes. I told him that many of those who come to you have conquered lust. Thereupon the doctor replied, 'I too have conquered lust.' I said: 'You are a great man. It is no wonder that you have conquered lust. But the amazing thing is that under his influence even insignificant creatures have conquered it.' Afterwards I told him what you had said to Girish."

MASTER (smiling): "What did I say?"

M: "You said to Girish, 'The doctor has not been able to surpass you.' You said that with reference to his calling you a Divine Incarnation."

MASTER: "Discuss the doctrine of Divine Incarnation with Dr. Sarkar. He who liberates others is an Incarnation of God. The scriptures speak of ten, of twenty-four, and also of innumerable Incarnations."

M: "Dr. Sarkar is keenly interested in Girish Ghosh. He always asks me whether Girish has given up drinking. He keeps a sharp eye on him."

MASTER: "Did you tell Girish about that?"

M: "Yes, sir, I did. And I also told him about giving up drinking."

MASTER: "What did he say?"

M: "He said: 'Since you all say so, I take your words as the words of the Master himself. But I won't promise anything.'"

MASTER (joyously). "Kalipada told me that he had altogether given up drinking."

It was afternoon. Dr. Sarkar arrived accompanied by his son Amrita and Hem. Narendra and other devotees were present.

Sri Ramakrishna was talking aside to Amrita. He asked him, "Do you meditate?" He further said to him: "Do you know what one feels in meditation? The mind becomes like a continuous flow of oil - it thinks of one object only, and that is God. It does not think of anything else."

Sri Ramakrishna was talking to the devotees.

MASTER (to the doctor): "Your son does not believe in the Incarnation of God. That's all right. It doesn't matter if he doe's not believe in it.

"Your son is a nice boy. Why shouldn't he be? Does a mango-tree of the fine 'Bombay' variety ever bear sour mangoes? How firm his faith in God is! That man is a true man whose mind dwells on God. He alone is a man whose spiritual consciousness has been awakened and who is firmly convinced that God alone is real and all else illusory. He does not believe in Divine Incarnation; but what does that matter? It is enough if he believes that God exists, and that all this universe and its living beings are the manifestations of His Power - like a rich man and his garden.

"Some say that there are ten Divine Incarnations, some twenty-four, while others say that there are innumerable Incarnations. If you see anywhere a special manifestation of God's Power, you may know that God has incarnated Himself there. That is my opinion.

"There is another view, according to which God has become all that you see. It is like a bel-fruit, which consists of three parts: seeds, shell, and flesh. That which is the Absolute has also its relative aspect, and that which is the Relative has also its absolute aspect. You cannot set aside the Absolute and understand just the Relative. And it is only because there is the Relative that you can transcend it step by step and reach the Absolute.

"So long as 'I-consciousness' exists, a man cannot go beyond the Relative. Through meditation he can negate the phenomena, following the process of 'Neti, neti', and reach the Absolute; but nothing can really be denied, as in the instance of the bel-fruit."

DOCTOR: "Quite true."

MASTER: "Kacha had been immersed in nirvikalpa samadhi. When his mind was coming down to the relative plane, someone asked him, 'What do you see now?' Kacha replied: 'I see that the universe is soaked, as it were, in God. Everything is filled with God. It is God alone who has become all that I see. I do not know what to accept and what to reject.'

"In my opinion one should realize both the Nitya and the Lila and then live in the world as the servant of God. Hanuman saw both the Personal God and the formless Reality. He then lived as a devotee of God, as His servant."

M. (to himself): "So we must accept both - the Absolute and the Relative. Since the introduction of the Vedanta philosophy in Germany, some of the European philosophers, too, have been thinking along that line. But the Master says that one cannot realize both the Nitya and the Lila without complete renunciation, that is to say, without totally giving up 'woman and gold'. Such a person must be a true renouncer; he must be totally detached from the world. Here lies the real difference between him and such European philosophers as Hegel."

In Dr. Sarkar's opinion. God created men and ordained that every soul should make infinite progress. He would not believe that one man was greater than another. That was why he did not believe in the doctrine of Divine Incarnation.

DOCTOR: "I believe in infinite progress. If that is not so, then what is the use of leading a mere five or six years' existence in the world? I would rather hang myself with a rope round my neck.

"Incarnation! What is that? To cower before a man who excretes filth! It is absurd. But if you speak of a man as the reflection of God's Light - yes, that I admit."'

GIRISH (smiling): "But you have not seen God's Light."

Dr. Sarkar was hesitating before giving a reply. A friend who sat near him whispered something into his ear.

DOCTOR (to Girish): "You too have not seen anything but a reflection."

GIRISH: "I see It! I see the Light! I shall prove that Sri Krishna is an Incarnation of God or I shall cut out my tongue!"

MASTER: "All this is useless talk. It is like the ravings of a delirious patient. A delirious patient says, 'I shall drink a whole tank of water; I shall eat a whole pot of rice.' The physician says: 'Yes, yes. You will have all these. We shall give you whatever you want when you are convalescent.'

"When butter is heated it sizzles and crackles. But all sound comes to a stop when it is thoroughly boiled. As a man's mind is, so is his conception of God. I have seen in rich men's houses portraits of the Queen (Queen Victoria.) and other aristocrats. But the devotees keep in their houses pictures of gods and goddesses.

"Lakshmana said, 'O Rama, even a sage like Vasishthadeva was overcome with grief on account of the death of his sons!' 'Brother,' replied Rama, 'whoever has knowledge has ignorance also. Whoever is conscious of light is also conscious of darkness. Therefore go beyond knowledge and ignorance.' One attains that state through an intimate knowledge of God. This knowledge is called vijnana.

"When a thorn enters the sole of your foot you have to get another thorn. You then remove the first thorn with the help of the second. Afterwards you throw away both. Likewise, after removing the thorn of ignorance with the help of the thorn of knowledge, you should throw away the thorns of both knowledge and ignorance.

"There are signs of Perfect Knowledge. One is that reasoning comes to an end. As I have just said, the butter sizzles and crackles as long as it is not thoroughly boiled."

DOCTOR: "But can one retain Perfect Knowledge permanently? You say that all is God. Then why have you taken up this profession of a paramahamsa? And why do these people attend on you? Why don't you keep silent?'

MASTER (smiling): "Water is water whether it is still or moves or breaks into waves.

"I must tell you something else. Why should I not listen to the 'mahut Narayana'? The guru had taught his disciple that everything was Narayana. A mad elephant was coming toward the disciple, but he did not move away since he believed the guru's words. He thought that the elephant was Narayana. The mahut shouted to him: 'Get away! Get away!' But the disciple did not move. The elephant picked him up and threw him to the ground. The disciple was not quite dead; when his face was sprinkled with water he regained consciousness. Being asked why he had not moved away, he said 'Why should I? The guru said, "Everything is Narayana."' 'But, my child,' said the guru, 'why didn't you listen to the words of the mahut Narayana?'

"It is God who dwells within as the Pure Mind and Pure Intelligence. I am the machine and He is its Operator. I am the house and He is the Indweller. It is God who is the mahut Narayana."

DOCTOR: "Let me ask you something. Why do you ask me to cure your illness?"

MASTER: "I talk that way as long as I am conscious of the 'jar' of the 'ego'. Think of a vast ocean filled with water on all sides. A jar is immersed in it. There is water both inside and outside the jar; but the water does not become one unless the jar is broken. It is God who has kept this 'jar' of the 'ego' in me."

DOCTOR: "What is the meaning of 'ego' and all that you are talking about? You must explain it to me. Do you mean to say that God is playing tricks on us?"

GIRISH: "Sir, how do you know that He is not playing tricks?"

MASTER (smiling): "It is God who has kept this 'ego' in us. All this is His play, His lila. A king has four sons. They are all princes; but when they play, one becomes a minister, another a police officer, and so on. Though a prince, he plays as a police officer.

(To the doctor) "Listen. If you realize Atman you will see the truth of all I have said. All doubts disappear after the vision of God."

DOCTOR: "But is it ever possible to get rid of all doubts?"

MASTER: "Learn from me as much as I have told you. But if you want to know more, you must pray to God in solitude. Ask Him why He has so ordained.

"The son of the house can give a beggar only a small measure of rice. But if the beggar asks for his train fare, then the master of the house must be called."

The doctor remained silent.

MASTER: "Well, you love reasoning. All right. Let us reason a little. Listen. According to the jnani there is no Incarnation of God. Krishna said to Arjuna: 'You speak of Me as an Incarnation of God. Let Me show you something. Come with Me.' Arjuna had followed Sri Krishna a short distance, when Sri Krishna asked him, 'What do you see there?' Arjuna replied, 'A big tree with black berries hanging in bunches.' Krishna said, 'Those are not black berries. Go nearer and look at them.' Arjuna went nearer and saw that they were Krishnas hanging in bunches. 'Do you see now', said Krishna, 'how many Krishnas like Me have grown there?'

"Kavirdas said of Krishna, 'He danced like a monkey to the clapping of the gopis!'

"As you go nearer to God you see less and less of His upadhis, His attributes. A devotee at first may see the Deity as the ten-armed Divine Mother; when he goes nearer he sees Her possessed of six arms; still nearer, he sees the Deity as the two-armed Gopala. The nearer he comes to the Deity, the fewer attributes he sees. At last, when he comes into the presence of the Deity, he sees only Light without any attributes.

"Listen a little to the Vedantic reasoning. A magician came to a king to show his magic. When the magician moved away a little, the king saw a rider on horseback approaching him. He was brilliantly arrayed and had various weapons in his hands. The king and the audience began to reason out what was real in the phenomenon before them. Evidently the horse was not real, nor the robes, nor the armour. At last they found out beyond the shadow of a doubt that the rider alone was there. The significance of this is that Brahman alone is real and the world unreal. Nothing whatsoever remains if you analyse."

DOCTOR: "I don't object to this."

MASTER: "But it is not easy to get rid of illusion. It lingers even after the attainment of Knowledge. A man dreamt of a tiger. Then he woke up and his dream vanished. But his heart continued to palpitate.

"Some thieves came to a field. A straw figure resembling a man had been put there to frighten intruders. The thieves were scared by the figure and could not persuade themselves to enter the field. One of them, however, approached and found that it was only a figure made of straw. He came back to his companions and said, 'There is nothing to be afraid of.' But still they refused to go; they said that their hearts were beating fast. Then the daring thief laid the figure on the ground and said, 'It is nothing, it is nothing.' This is the process of 'Neti, neti'."

DOCTOR: "These are fine words."

MASTER (smiling): "What kind of words?"

DOCTOR: "Fine."

MASTER: "Then give me a 'Thank you'." [The Master said the words "thank you" in English.]

DOCTOR: "Don't you know what is in my mind? I go to so much trouble to come and visit you!"

MASTER (smilling): "No, it is not that. Say something for the good of the ignorant. After the death of Ravana, his brother Bibhishana refused to be king of Ceylon. He said: 'O Rama, I have obtained You. What shall I do with kingship?' Rama said: 'Bibhishana, be king for the sake of the ignorant, for those who might ask what riches you have gained by serving Me so much. Be king to give them a lesson.'"

DOCTOR: "Are there such ignorant people here?"

MASTER (smiling): "Oh, yes! Here you will find oysters and snails as well as conchs." (All laugh.)

Doctor Sarkar, who was a homeopath, gave Sri Ramakrishna two globules of medicine. He said, "I am giving you these two globules: one is Purusha and the other is Prakriti." (All laugh.)

MASTER (smiling): "Oh yes, Purusha and Prakriti are always together. Haven't you observed pigeons? The male and female cannot live separately. Wherever Purusha is, there is Prakriti, and wherever Prakriti is, there is Purusha."

It was Vijaya day. Sri Ramakrishna asked Dr. Sarkar to have some refreshments. The devotees served him with sweets.

DOCTOR (while eating): "Now I say 'Thank you' for the sweets; but it is not for your teachings. Why should I give that 'Thank you' in words?"

MASTER (smiling): "The essential thing is to fix the mind on God and to practise meditation a little. What more shall I say? (Pointing to the younger Naren) Look at him. His mind totally merges in God. Those things I was telling you -"

DOCTOR: "Tell the others also."

MASTER: "No, a man should be given food according to his power of digestion. Can all understand what I told you? I cannot talk to everyone as I talked to you. Suppose a mother has bought a fish for the family. All her children have not the same power of digestion. For some she makes pilau and for others she makes stew. These latter have weak stomachs." (All laugh.)

Dr. Sarkar took his leave. It was Vijaya day, when people show their love and respect to their friends and elders with appropriate greetings. The devotees all prostrated themselves before Sri Ramakrishna and took the dust of his feet. Then they embraced one another. Their joy knew no bounds. The Master was seriously ill, but he made them all forget about his illness. The embracing and exchange of greetings continued a long time. The devotees also took light refreshments. The younger Naren, M., and a few other devotees sat near Sri Ramakrishna. The Master talked to them joyfully. He spoke of Dr. Sarkar.

MASTER: "I shall not have to tell him very much. When the trunk of a tree is cut almost to the other side, the cutter steps aside. A little later the tree falls down of itself."

THE YOUNGER NAREN (smiling): "Here everything is principle!"

MASTER (to M.): "The doctor has already changed a great deal, hasn't he?"

M: "Yes, sir. When he comes here he loses his wits. He never talks about medicine. When we remind him of it, he says: 'Oh, yes, yes! I shall have to give the medicine.'"

Some of the devotees were singing in the parlour. They returned to the Master's room. Sri Ramakrishna said: "I heard your music; but why did you make mistakes in the rhythm? I once heard of a man who was an adept in discord. You sang like him." (All laugh.)

A young man, a relative of the younger Naren, arrived. He was bespectacled and foppishly dressed. Sri Ramakrishna spoke to the younger Naren.

MASTER: "You see, a young man was going along the road. He had put on a pleated shirt. And how he strutted! Now and again he would display the shirt by removing his scarf, and then look around to see if anyone was admiring him. But when he walked you could see that he was knock-kneed. (All laugh.) The peacock displays its feathers; but its feet are very dirty. (All laugh.) The camel is very ugly. Everything about it is ugly."

YOUNG MAN: "But it acts well."

MASTER: "Yes. But it browses on briars. It will continue to eat thorns though its mouth bleeds. The worldly man loses his children and still clamours for more."