Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]

Saturday, May 7, 1887

It was the full-moon day of the month of Vaisakh. Narendra and M were seated on a couch in M.'s study in Calcutta. They were talking. Just before Narendra's arrival M. had been studying The Merchant of Venice, Comus, and Blackie's Self-culture, which he taught at school.

Narendra and the other brothers of the monastery were full of yearning for God-realization. A fire of intense renunciation raged in their hearts.

NARENDRA: "I don't care for anything. You see, I am now talking with you, but I feel like getting up this minute and running away."

Narendra sat in silence a few minutes. Then he said, "I shall fast to death for the realization of God."

M: "That is good. One can do anything for God."

NARENDRA: "But suppose I cannot control my hunger."

M: "Then eat something and begin over again."

Narendra remained silent a few minutes.

NARENDRA: "It seems there is no God. I pray so much, but there is no reply - none whatsoever.

"How many visions I have seen! How many mantras shining in letters of gold! How many visions of the Goddess Kali! How many other divine forms! But still I have no peace.

"Will you kindly give me six pice?"

Narendra asked for the money to pay his carriage hire to the Baranagore Math. Just then Satkari arrived in a carriage. Of the same age as Narendra, he dearly loved the members of the monastery. He lived near the math and worked in Calcutta. The carriage was his own. Narendra returned the money to M. and said that he would go with Satkari in his carriage. He asked M. to give them some refreshments.

M. accompanied the two friends to the Baranagore Math. He wanted to see how the brothers spent their time and practised sadhana. He wanted to see how Sri Ramakrishna, the Master, was reflected in the hearts of the disciples. Niranjan was not at the math. He had gone home to visit his mother, the only relative he had in the world. Baburam, Sarat, and Kali had gone to Puri. They intended to spend a few days there.

Narendra was in charge of the members of the monastery. Prasanna had been practising austere sadhana for the past few days. Once, Narendra had told him of his desire to fast to death for the realization of God. During Narendra's absence in Calcutta, Prasanna had left the monastery for an unknown destination. When Narendra heard about it, he said to the brothers, "Why did Raja allow him to go?" But Rakhal had not been in the monastery at the time, having gone to the Dakshineswar temple for a stroll.

NARENDRA: "Just let Raja come back to the monastery! I shall scold him. Why did he allow Prasanna to go away? (To Harish) I am sure you were lecturing him then, standing with your feet apart. Couldn't you prevent his going away?"

Harish replied in a very low voice, "Brother Tarak asked him not to go, but still he went away."

NARENDRA (to M.): "You see what a lot of trouble I am in! Here, too, I am involved in a world of maya. Who knows where this boy has gone?"

Rakhal returned from Dakshineswar. Bhavanath had accompanied him.

Narendra told Rakhal about Prasanna's going away from the monstery. Prasanna had left a letter for Narendra. This was the substance of the letter: "I am going to Vrindavan on foot. It is very risky for me to live here. Here my mind is undergoing a change. Formerly I used to dream about my parents and other relatives. Then I dreamt of woman, the embodiment of maya. I have suffered twice; I had to go back to my relatives at home. Therefore I am going far away from them. The Master once told me, "Your people at home are apt to do anything; never trust them.'"

Rakhal said: "These are the reasons for his going away. Once he remarked: 'Narendra often goes home to look after his mother, brothers, and sisters. And he supervises the family's lawsuit. I am afraid that I too may feel like going home, following his example.'"

Narendra remained silent.

Rakhal was talking to them about making pilgrimages. He said: "We have achieved nothing by staying here. The Master always exhorted us to realize God. Have we succeeded?"

Rakhal lay down. The other devotees were either lying down or sitting.

RAKHAL: "Let us go to the Narmada."

NARENDRA: "What will you achieve by wandering about? Can one ever attain jnana that you are talking about it so much?"

A DEVOTEE: "Then why have you renounced the world?"

NARENDRA: "Must we live with Shyam because we have not seen Ram? Must we go on begetting children because we have not realized God? What are you talking about?"

Narendra went out, returning after a few minutes. Rakhal was still lying down.

A member of the monastery who was also lying down said teasingly, feigning great suffering on account of his separation from God: "Ah! Please get me a knife. I have no more use for this life. I can't stand this pain any more!"

NARENDRA (feigning seriousness): "It is there. Stretch out your hand and take it."

Everybody laughed.

The conversation again turned to Prasanna.

NARENDRA: "Even here we are involved in maya. Why have we become sannyasis, I wonder?"

RAKHAL: "I have read in a book that sannyasis should not live together. The author has described a city of sannyasis."

SASHI: "I don't care about sannyas or any such thing. There is no place where I cannot live."

They were talking of Bhavanath, whose wife had been seriously ill. Narendra said to Rakhal: "I understand that his wife has been snatched from the jaws of death. Is that why he went to Dakshineswar to enjoy the fresh air?"

Ram Babu intended to build a temple in the garden at Kankurgachi, where some of Sri Ramakrishna's ashes were buried.

NARENDRA (to Rakhal): "Ram Babu has made M. one of the trustees of the garden."

M. (to Rakhal): "But I don't know anything about it."

It was dusk. Sashi burnt incense before the picture of Sri Ramakrishna in the worship room and then before the pictures of gods and goddesses in the other rooms.

The evening worship began. The members of the math and the other devotees stood with folded hands near the door of the shrine and witnessed the arati. Then they all sang in chorus the following hymn to Siva, to the accompaniment of bell and gong:

Jaya Siva Omkara, Bhaja Siva Omkara,
Brahma Vishnu Sadasiva.
Hara Hara Hara Mahadeva!

Narendra had introduced this song for the evening worship. It is sung in the temple of Siva in Benares.

It was eleven o'clock at night when their supper was over. The brothers prepared a bed for M., and all went to sleep.

It was midnight. M. was wide awake. He said to himself: "Everything is as it was before. The same Ayodhya - only Rama is not there." M. silently left his bed. It was the full-moon night of Vaisakh, the thrice-blessed day of the Buddhists, associated with Buddha's birth, realization, and passing away. M. was walking alone on the bank of the Ganges, contemplating the Master.

It was Sunday. M. had arrived the day before and was planning to stay till Wednesday. The householder devotees generally visited the monastery on Sundays.

The Yogavasishtha was being studied and explained. M. had heard a little about the teachings of this book from Sri Ramakrishna. It taught the absolute identity of Brahman and the soul, and the unreality of the world. The Master had forbidden him and the other householder devotees to practise spiritual discipline following the method of the Advaita Vedanta, since the attitude of the oneness of the soul and God is harmful for one still identified with the body. For such a devotee, the Master used to say, it was better to look on God as the Lord and oneself as His servant.
The conversation turned to the Yogavasishtha. M: "Well, how is Brahmajnana described in the Yogavasishtha?"

RAKHAL: "Hunger, thirst, pain, pleasure, and so on, are all maya. The annihilation of the mind is the only means to the realization of Brahman."

M: "What remains after the annihilation of the mind is Brahman. Is that not true?"

RAKHAL: "Yes."

M: "Sri Ramakrishna used to say that. Nangta taught him that way. Have you found in the book that Vasishtha asked Rama to lead a householder's life?"

RAKHAL: "I haven't yet found anything like that in the book. Rama is not even admitted by the author to be an Incarnation of God."

Presently Narendra, Tarak, and another devotee returned from the bank of the Ganges. They had intended to go to Konnagar, on the other side of the river, but had been unable to find a ferry-boat. They sat down. The conversation about the Yogavasishtha went on.

NARENDRA (to M.): "There are many nice stories in the book. Do you know the incident of Lila?"

M: "Yes, I have read the book here and there. Lila had attained Brahmajnana."

NARENDRA: "Yes. Do you remember the story of Indra and Ahalya, and the story of how King Viduratha became a chandala?"

M: "Yes, I remember."

NARENDRA: "What a wonderful description of the forest!"

Narendra and the other devotees were going to the Ganges to bathe. M. accompanied them. The sun was very hot; so M. took his umbrella. Sarat, a devotee from Baranagore, was going with them to take his bath. He often visited the monastery.

M. (to Sarat): "It is very hot."

NARENDRA: "Is that your excuse for taking the umbrella?"

M. laughed.

The members of the monastery were clad in gerrua.

M. (to Narendra): "It is really very hot. One is liable to get a sunstroke."

NARENDRA: "I see that your body is the obstacle in your path of renunciation. Isn't that so? I mean you, Devendra Babu-"

M. laughed and said to himself, "Is it merely the body?"

After bathing, the devotees returned to the monastery. They washed their feet and entered the worship room. Saluting the Deity, they offered flowers.

Narendra was a little late in coming to the worship room. He found that there was no flower on the tray. There were only a few bel-leaves. He sprinkled the leaves with sandal-paste and offered them to Sri Ramakrishna. He rang the bell, saluted the Deity again, and joined the other brothers in the big hall, which was known as the room of the "danas".

The members of the math called themselves the "danas" and the "daityas", which mean the "ghosts" and the "demons", the companions of Siva. They took these names because of their utter indifference to worldly pleasures and relationships.

The southernmost room of the second floor was used for meditation, contemplation, and study, and was known as Kali Tapasvi's room, since Kali used to shut himself in there most of the day. North of this room was the worship room, and north of that, again, was the room where the offerings for the worship were prepared. From this room the devotees used to watch the evening worship. North of the "offering room" was the room of the "danas", a very long hall where the members of the math used to assemble. Here the householder devotees and visitors were received. North of this hall was a small room where the devotees took their meals. East of the worship room and of Kali Tapasvi's room ran a long verandah, at the south-west corner of which was the library of a society of Baranagore. Between Kali Tapasvi's room and this library was a staircase; and north of the dining-room was another staircase, leading to the roof.

Narendra and the other members of the math often spent their evenings on this roof. There they devoted a great deal of lime to discussion of the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sankaracharva, Ramanuja, and Jesus Christ, and of Hindu philosophy, European philosophy, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras.

Narendra, who had a beautiful voice, used to sing in the room of the "danas" and teach music to Sarat and a few others. Kali used to take lessons on the instruments. Many, many happy hours they spent together in that hall, dancing and singing.

Narendra was sitting with the devotees in the room of the "danas". The conversation turned to religious preaching.

M. (to Narendra): "Vidyasagar says that he does not speak about God to anyone for fear of being caned."
NARENDRA: "For fear of being caned? What does he mean?"

M: "This is what Vidyasagar says: 'Suppose that after death we all go to God. The emissaries of Death will have sent Keshab Sen there too. Keshab Sen, no doubt, committed sins while he lived on earth. When that is proved, perhaps God will say, "Give him twenty-five stripes." Then suppose I am taken to God. I used to go to Keshab Sen's Brahmo Samaj in my earthly life. I too have committed many sins; so I too am ordered to be caned. Then suppose I say to God that I acted in that sinful way because I listened to Keshab's preaching. Thereupon God will ask His emissaries to bring Keshab back. When he is brought, the Almighty Lord will say to him: "Did you really preach that way? You yourself knew nothing about spiritual matters and yet you had the hardihood to teach others about God! Emissaries! Give him twenty five stripes more."'"

Everybody laughed.

M: "Therefore Vidyasagar says: 'I cannot take care of my own self; should I be foolish enough to get an additional caning for misleading others? I myself do not understand God. How shall I lecture to others about Him?'"

NARENDRA: "How has he - who could not understand God - understood other things?"

M: "What other things?"

NARENDRA: "He says that he has not understood God. But how, then, can he understand charity and doing good to others? How can he understand about the school? How can he understand about educating boys by establishing schools? How can he understand that it is right to enter the world, marry, and beget children?

"He who rightly understands one thing understands everything else."

M. (to himself). "Yes, Sri Ramakrishna, too, said that he who knows God knows everything else. Further, he said to Vidyasagar that leading a worldly life, establishing schools, and so on are the outcome of rajas. The Master also said that Vidyasagar's philanthropy was due to the influence of sattva on rajas. Such rajas is not harmful."

After their meal the brothers of the monastery rested. M. and Chunilal were conversing. Chunilal told M. of his first visit to Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. He also told him how at one time he had felt disgusted with the world, had renounced it, and had wandered about in holy places. A few minutes later Narendra came and sat by them. He asked the younger Gopal to prepare a smoke for him. The latter had been meditating. Narendra said to him: "I say! Prepare a smoke. What do you mean by this meditation? First of all prepare yourself for spiritual life by serving God and holy men; then you will be able to meditate. First of all karma and then meditation." Everybody laughed.

There was a big plot of wooded land to the west of the monastery compound. M. was seated alone under a tree, when suddenly Prasanna appeared. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon.

M: "Where have you been all these days? Everyone has been so worried about you. Have you seen the brothers? When did you arrive?"

PRASANNA: "Just now. Yes, I have seen them."

M: "You left a note saying that you were going to Vrindavan. We were terribly worried about you. How far did you go?"

PRASANNA: "Only as far as Konnagar."

Both of them laughed.

M: "Sit down. Tell me all about it. Where did you stop first?"

PRASANNA: "At the Dakshineswar temple garden. I spent one night there."

M. (smiling): "What is Hazra's present mood?"

PRASANNA: "Hazra asked me, 'What do you think of me?'"

Both laughed.

M. (smiling): "What did you say?"

PRASANNA: "I said nothing."

M: "Then?"

PRASANNA: "Then he asked me whether I had brought tobacco for him."

Both laughed.

PRASANNA: "He wanted me to wait on him." (Laughter.)

M: "Where did you go next?"

PRASANNA: "By degrees I got to Konnagar. I spent the night in the open. I intended to proceed farther and asked some gentlemen whether I could procure enough money there for a railway ticket to the up-country."

M: "What did they say?"

PRASANNA: "They said, 'You may get a rupee or so; but who will give you the whole fare?'"

Both laughed.

M: "What did you take with you?"

PRASANNA: "Oh, one or two pieces of cloth and a picture of the Master. I didn't show the picture to anybody."

Sashi's father came to the math. He wanted to take his son home. During Sri Ramakrishna's illness Sashi had nursed the Master for nine months with unswerving zeal. He had won a scholarship in the Entrance Examination for his academic ability and had studied up to the B.A., but he had not appeared at the examination. His father, a poor brahmin, was a devout Hindu and spent much of his time in spiritual practice. Sashi was his eldest son. His parents had hoped that, after completing his education, he would earn money and remove the family's financial difficulties. But Sashi had renounced the world for the realization of God. Whenever he thought of his father and mother he felt great anguish of heart. Many a time he said to his friends, with tears in his eyes: "I am at a loss as to my duty. Alas, I could not serve my parents; I could not be of any use to them. What great hope they placed in me! On account of our poverty my mother did not have any jewelry. I cherished the desire to buy some for her. But now all my hopes are frustrated; it is impossible for me to return home. My Master asked me to renounce 'woman and gold'. I simply cannot return home."

After Sri Ramakrishna's passing away Sashi's father had hoped that his son would come back to his family. The boy had spent a few days at home, but immediately after the establishment of the new monastery he had begun to frequent it and, after a few days, had decided to remain there as one of the members. Every now and then his father came to the monastery to persuade him to come home; but he had not succeeded.

This day, on learning that his father had come, Sashi fled the monastery by another door. He did not want to meet him.
Sashi's father knew M. They paced the upper verandah together and talked.

SASHI'S FATHER: "Who is in charge of this place? Narendra alone is the cause of all the mischief. For a while all these young men returned home and devoted themselves to their studies."

M: "There is no master here. They are all equals.. What can Narendra do? Can a man renounce home against his own will? Have we householders, for instance, been able to give up our homes altogether?"

SASHI'S FATHER: "You are doing the right thing. You are serving both the world and God. Can't one practise religion after your method? That is exactly what we want Sashi to do. Let him live at home and come here too. You have no idea how much his mother weeps for him."

M. became sad and said nothing.

SASHI'S FATHER: "And if you speak of searching for holy men, I know where to find a good one. Let Sashi go to him."

Rakhal and M. were walking on the verandah to the east of Kali Tapasvi's room.

RAKHAL (earnestly): "M., let us practise sadhana! We have renounced home for good. When someone says, 'You have not realized God by renouncing home; then why all this fuss?', Narendra gives a good retort. He says, 'Because we could not attain Ram, must we live with Shyam and beget children?' Ah! Every now and then Narendra says nice things. You had better ask him."

M: "What you say is right. I see that you too have become restless for God."

RAKHAL: "M., how can I describe the state of my mind? Today at noon-time I felt great yearning for the Narmada. M., please practise sadhana; otherwise you will not succeed. Even Sukadeva was afraid of this world. That is why immediately after his birth he fled the world. His father asked him to wait, but he ran straight away."

M: "Yes, the Yogopanishad describes how Sukadeva fled this world of maya. It also describes Vyasa's conversation with Suka. Vyasa asked his son to practise religion in the world. But Suka said that the one essential thing is the Lotus Feet of God. He also expressed his disgust with worldly men for getting married and living with women."

RAKHAL: "Many people think that it is enough not to look at the face of a woman. But what will you gain merely by turning your eyes to the ground at the sight of a woman? Narendra put it very well last night, when he said: 'Woman exists for a man as long as he has lust. Free from lust, one sees no difference between man and woman.'"

M: "How true it is! Children do not see the difference between man and woman."

RAKHAL: "Therefore I say that we must practise spiritual discipline. How can one attain Knowledge without going beyond maya?

"Let's go to the big hall. Some gentlemen have come from Baranagore. Narendra is talking with them. Let's go and listen to him."

M. did not enter the room. As he was pacing outside he overheard some of the conversation.

NARENDRA: "There is no fixed time or place for the sandhya and other devotions."

GENTLEMAN: "Sir, can one realize God through spiritual practice alone?"

NARENDRA: "Realization depends on God's grace. Sri Krishna says in the Gita:

The Lord, O Arjuna, dwells in the hearts of all beings, causing them, by His maya, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. Take refuge in Him with all thy heart, O Bharata. By His grace wilt thou attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode.

"Without the grace of God mere worship and prayer do not help at all. Therefore one should take refuge in Him."

GENTLEMAN: "May we come now and then and disturb you?"

NARENDRA: "Please come whenever you like. We take our baths in the Ganges at your ghat."

GENTLEMAN: "I don't mind that. But please see that others don't use it."

NARENDRA: "We shall not use your ghat, if that is what you mean."

GENTLEMAN: "No, I don't mean exactly that. But if you see other people using it, then you had better not go."

It was dusk. The evening worship was over. The devotees, as usual, sang in chorus, "Jaya Siva Omkara". Afterwards they assembled in the room of the "danas". M., too, was seated there. Prasanna was reading from the Guru Gita.

Narendra sang:

I salute the Eternal Teacher, who is the Embodiment of the Bliss of Brahman,
The Essence of knowledge and liberation, the Giver of Supreme Joy;
Who is all-pervading, like the akasa, and is the goal of the Vedanta's teachings;
Who is One, eternal, stainless, pure, and is the constant Witness of all things;
Who dwells beyond all moods, transcending the three gunas.

Narendra sang again:

There is none higher than the Guru, none better than the Guru;
This is what Siva has declared.
I shall sing of the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall worship the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall meditate on the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall bow down to the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman.

As Narendra sang these verses from the Guru Gita in his melodious voice, the minds of the devotees became steady, like a candle in a windless place.

Rakhal was seated in Kali Tapasvi's room. Prasanna sat near him. M., too, was there.

Rakhal had renounced the world, leaving behind his wife and child. A fire of intense renunciation burnt day and night in his heart. He was thinking seriously of going away, by himself, to the bank of the Narmada or some other holy place. Still, he was trying to persuade Prasanna not to run away from the monastery.

RAKHAL (to Prasanna): "Where do you want to go, running away from here? Here you are in the company of holy men. Wouldn't it be foolish to run away from this? Where will you find another like Narendra?"

PRASANNA: "My parents live in Calcutta. I am afraid of being drawn by their love. That is why I want to flee to a distant place."

RAKHAL: "Can our parents love us as intensely as Gurumaharaj [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] did? What have we done for him, to deserve all this love? Why was he so eager for our welfare in body, mind, and soul? What have we done for him, to deserve all this?"

M. (to himself): "Ah! Rakhal is right. Therefore a person like Sri Ramakrishna is described as the 'Ocean of Mercy without any reason'."

PRASANNA(to Rakhal): "Don't you yourself feel like running away from here?"

RAKHAL: "Yes, now and then I have a fancy to spend a few days on the bank of the Narmada. I say to myself, 'Let me go to a place like that and practise sadhana in a garden.' Again, I feel a strong desire to practise the panchatapa for three days. But I hesitate to live in a garden that belongs to worldly people."

Tarak and Prasanna were talking in the room of the "danas". Tarak had lost his mother. His father, like Rakhal's father, had married a second time. Tarak himself had married but had lost his wife. Now the monastery was his home. He too was trying to persuade Prasanna to live there.

PRASANNA: "I have neither jnana nor prema. What have I in the world for a support?"

TARAK: "It is no doubt difficult to attain jnana; but how can you say you have no prema?"

PRASANNA: "I have not yet wept for God. How can I say I have prema? What have I realized in all these days?"

TARAK: "But you have seen the Master. And why do you say that you have no jnana?"

PRASANNA: "What sort of jnana are you talking about? Jnana means Knowledge. Knowledge of what? Certainly of God. But I am not even sure of the existence of God."

TARAK: "Yes, that's true. According to the jnani, there is no God."

M. (to himself): "Ah! The Master used to say that those who seek God pass through the state that Prasanna is now experiencing. In that state sometimes one doubts the very existence of God. I understand that Tarak is now reading Buddhistic philosophy. That is why he says that according to the jnani God does not exist. But Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the jnani and the bhakta will ultimately arrive at the same destination."

Narendra and Prasanna were talking in the meditation room. Rakhal, Harish, and the younger Gopal were seated in another part of the room. After a while the elder Gopal came in.

Narendra was reading from the Gita and explaining the verses to Prasanna:

The Lord, O Arjuna, dwells in the hearts of all beings, causing them, by His maya, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. Take refuge in Him with all thy heart, O Bharata. By His grace wilt thou attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode. Relinquishing all dharmas, take refuge in Me alone. I shall liberate thee from all sins. Grieve not.

NARENDRA: "Did you notice what Krishna said? 'Mounted on a machine.' The Lord, by His maya, causes all beings to revolve as if mounted on a machine. To seek to know God? You are but a worm among worms - and you to know God? Just reflect a moment: what is a man? It is said that each one of the myriads of stars that shine overhead represents a solar system. This earth of ours is a part of only one solar system, and even that is too big for us. Like an insect man walks about on this earth, which, compared to the sun, is only a tiny ball."

Narendra sang:

We are born, O Lord, in the dust of earth,
And our eyes are blinded by the dust;
With dust we toy like children at play:
O give us assurance. Thou Help of the weak!

Wilt Thou cast us out of Thy lap, O Lord,
For a single mistake? Wilt Thou turn away
And abandon us to our helplessness?
Oh, then we shall never be able to rise,
But shall lie for ever dazed and undone.

Mere babes are we, Father, with baby minds;
At every step we stumble and fall.
Why, then, must Thou show us Thy terrible face?
Why, Lord, must we ever behold Thy frown?

Small are we - oh, do not be angry with us,
But tenderly speak to us when we do wrong;
For though Thou dost raise us a hundred times,
A hundred times we shall fall again!
What else can one do with a helpless mind?

Then he said to Prasanna: "Surrender yourself at His feet. Resign yourself completely to His will."

Narendra sang again in an ecstatic mood:

O Lord, I am Thy servant, I am Thy servant! Thy servant am I!
O Lord, Thou art my Master, Thou art my Master! My Master art Thou!
From Thee I have received two pieces of bread and a kaupin;
When I sing Thy name, devotion wells up in my heart and shields me from harm.
Thou art the Master, the All-compassionate; this I repeat, O Lord!
Thy servant Kabir has taken refuge at Thy feet.

Narendra said to Prasanna: "Don't you remember Sri Ramakrishna's words? God is the hill of sugar and you are but an ant. One grain is enough to fill your stomach, and you think of bringing home the entire hill! Don't you remember what the Master said about Sukadeva? Even Sukadeva was a big ant at the most. That is why I scolded Kali, saying: 'You fool! Do you want to measure God with your tape and foot-rule?'

"God is the Ocean of Mercy. Be His slave and take refuge in Him. He will show compassion. Pray to Him: 'Protect me always with Thy compassionate face. Lead me from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality. Reveal Thyself to me and protect me always with Thy compassionate face.'"

PRASANNA: "What kind of spiritual discipline should one practise?"

NARENDRA: "Repeat His name. That's enough. Don't you remember Sri Ramakrishna's song?"
Narendra sang:

O Syama, my only hope is in Thy hallowed name!
What need have I of kosa and kusi? What need of smiles and conventions?
Thy name dissolves death's bonds, as Siva has proclaimed,
And I myself am Siva's servant; whom else should I obey?
O Mother, come what may, I shall repeat Thy name;
Why should I fret myself to death? To Siva's words I cling.

He sang again:

Mere babes are we. Father, with baby minds;
At every step we stumble and fall.
Why, then, must Thou show us Thy terrible face?
Why, Lord, must we ever behold Thy frown?

PRASANNA: "Now you are saying that there is a God. Again, it is you who say that according to Charvaka and many other thinkers the world was self-created."

NARENDRA: "Haven't you studied chemistry? Who combines the different elements? It is a human hand that combines hydrogen, oxygen, and electricity to prepare water. Everybody admits the existence of an Intelligent Force - a Force that is the essence of Knowledge and that guides all these phenomena."

PRASANNA: "How are we to know that God is kind?"

NARENDRA: "The Vedas say, 'That which is Thy compassionate face.' John Stuart Mill said the same thing. He said, 'How much kindness must He have, who has implanted kindness in the hearts of men.' The Master used to say: 'Faith is the one essential thing. God exists. He is very near us. Through faith alone one sees Him.'"

Narendra sang:

Where are you seeking Me, My servant? I am very close to you.
Far away you still are seeking, though I am so very near.
I am not in skin or hair, I am not in bones or flesh,
Not in mosque and not in temple, not in Kasi or Kailas.
Never will you come on Me in Ayodhya or Dwaraka;
But you will be sure to find Me if you search where faith abides.
Not in pleasant tasks or yoga, not in vairagya or sannyas,
Yet I come without delaying if you only search for Me.

PRASANNA: "Sometimes you say that God does not exist, and now you are saying all these things! You are not consistent. You keep changing your opinions."

All laughed.

NARENDRA: "All right! I shall never change what I have just said. As long as one has desires and cravings, so long one doubts the existence of God. A man cherishes some desire or other. Perhaps he has the desire to study or pass the university examination or become a scholar, and so forth and so on.'
Narendra sang again, in a voice choked with emotion:

Hail to Thee, our God and Lord! Hail, Giver of every blessing!
Hail, Thou Giver of good!
O Redeemer from fear, from danger and suffering!
Upholder of the worlds!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

Unfathomable and infinite, immeasurable, beyond compare,
O God, none equals Thee!
Lord of the Universe! O All-pervading Truth!
Thou the Atman Supreme!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

O Thou, the All-compassionate One, adored by the whole universe,
I bow before Thy feet!
Thou art the only Refuge in life and death, O Lord;
Before Thy feet I bow!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

This is our only prayer, O Lord! What other boon can we implore?
Thus do we pray to Thee:
Grant us true wisdom here, and in the life hereafter
Reveal Thyself to us.
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

Again Narendra sang, describing how very near God is to us - as near as the musk to the deer - and exhorting his brother disciples to drink deep from the cup of Divine Bliss:

Drinking the Bliss of Hari from the cup of prema,
Sadhu, be intoxicated!
Childhood you spent in crying, and youth in women's control;
Now, in your old age, full of phlegm and wind,
You wait for the funeral couch to bear you to the cremation ground.
Within the musk-deer's navel the fragrant musk is found;
But how can you make it understand?
Without the proper teacher to guide him on his way,
Man, too, is blindly roaming through the world,
Deluded as the foolish deer that wanders round and round the woods.

M. heard all this from the verandah.

Narendra got up. As he left the room he remarked, "My brain is heated by talking to these youngsters."

He met M. on the verandah and said, "Please, let us have a drink of water."

One of the members of the math said to Narendra, "Why, then, do you say that God does not exist?"

Narendra laughed.

Monday, May 9, 1887

The next morning M. was sitting alone under a tree in the garden. He said to himself: "Sri Ramakrishna has made the brothers of the monastery renounce 'woman and gold'. Ah, how eager they are to realize God! This place has become a veritable Vaikuntha, and the brothers living here are embodiments of Narayana. It is not many days since the Master passed away; that is why all the ideas and ideals he stood for are there, almost intact. The same Ayodhya - only Rama is not there.' The Master has made these brothers renounce their homes. Why has he kept a few in the world? Is there no way of liberation for them?"

From a room upstairs Narendra saw M. sitting alone under the tree. He came down and said with a smile, "Hello, M.! What are you doing?"

After a little conversation M. said to him: "Ah, you have such a sweet voice. Please sing a hymn."

Narendra sang the following hymn to Siva, in which the devotee prays for forgiveness for his sins:

Even before I saw the light of this world, my sins from previous births,
Through which I passed because of desire for the fruit of my deeds,
Punished me as I lay in my mother's womb.
There I was boiled in the midst of filthy things:
Who can describe the pain that afflicts the child in its mother's womb?
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

In childhood my suffering never came to an end;
My body was covered with filth and I craved for my mother's breasts.
Over my body and limbs I had no control;
I was pursued by troublesome flies and mosquitoes;
Day and night I cried with the pain of many an ailment, forgetting Thee, O Sankara!
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

In youth the venomous snakes of sound, sight, taste, touch, and smell,
Bit into my vitals and slew my discrimination;
I was engrossed in the pleasures of wealth, sons, and a youthful wife.
Alas! my heart, bereft of the thought of Siva,
Was filled with arrogance and pride.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

Now in old age my senses have lost the power of proper judging and acting;
My body, though still not wholly bereft of life,
Is weak and senile from many afflictions, from sins and illnesses and bereavements;
But even now my mind, instead of meditating on Siva,
Runs after vain desires and hollow delusions.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

The duties laid down in the smriti - perilous and abstruse - are now beyond me;
How can I speak of the Vedic injunctions for brahmins, as means for attaining Brahman?
Never yet have I rightly grasped, through discrimination,
The meaning of hearing the scriptures from the guru and reasoning on his instruction;
How then can I speak of reflecting on Truth without interruption? Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.
Not even once have I finished my bath before sunrise and brought from the Ganges
Water to bathe Thy holy image;
Never, from the deep woods, have I brought the sacred vilwa-leaves for Thy worship;
Nor have I gathered full-blown lotuses from the lakes,
Nor ever arranged the lights and the incense for worshipping Thee.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not bathed Thine image with milk and honey, with butter and other oblations;
I have not decked it with fragrant sandal-paste;
I have not worshipped Thee with golden flowers, with incense, with camphor-flame and savoury offerings.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not made rich gifts to the brahmins, cherishing in my heart,
O Mahadeva, Thy sacred form;
I have not made in the sacred fire the million oblations of butter,
Repeating the holy 'mantra given to me by my guru;
Never have I done penance along the Ganges with japa and study of the Vedas.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not sat in the lotus posture, nor have I ever controlled
The prana along the Sushumna, repeating the syllable Om;
Never have I suppressed the turbulent waves of my mind, nor merged the self-effulgent Om;
In the ever shining Witness-Consciousness, whose nature is that of the highest Brahman;
Nor have I, in samadhi, meditated on Sankara, who dwells in every form as the Inner Guide.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

Never, O Siva! have I seen Thee, the Pure, the Unattached, the Naked One,
Beyond the three gunas, free from delusion and darkness, absorbed in meditation,
And ever aware of the true nature of the world;
Nor, with a longing heart, have I meditated on Thine auspicious and sin-destroying form.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

O mind, to gain liberation, concentrate wholly on Siva,
The sole Reality underlying the worlds, the Giver of good;
Whose head is illumined by the crescent moon and in whose hair the Ganges is hidden;
Whose fire-darting eyes consumed the god of earthly love; whose throat and ears are decked with snakes;
Whose upper garment is a comely elephant-skin.
Of what avail are all the other rituals?

O mind, of what avail are wealth or horses, elephants or a kingdom?
Of what avail the body or a house?
Know all these to be but momentary and quickly shun them;
Worship Siva, as your guru instructs you, for the attaining of Self-Knowledge.

Day by day does man come nearer to death;
His youth wears away; the day that is gone never returns.
Almighty Time devours everything;
Fickle as lightning is the goddess of fortune.
O Siva! O Giver of shelter to those that come to Thee for refuge!
Protect me, who have taken refuge at Thy feet.

I salute the ever auspicious Siva, the Home of Peace,
Who sits in the lotus posture; who has five mouths and three eyes;
Who holds in both His hands weapons and gong and drum;
Who is bedecked with many an ornament;
Whose skin is clear as crystal; who is Parvati's Lord.

I salute the self-effulgent Guru of the gods, the Lord of Uma;
I salute the Cause of the Universe;
I salute the Lord of beasts, adorned with snakes;
I salute Siva, whose three eyes shine like the sun, the moon, and fire;
I salute the Beloved of Krishna; I salute Sankara, who bestows boons on His devotees and gives them shelter;
I salute the auspicious Siva.

O Siva! White is Thy body, covered with ashes; white shine Thy teeth when Thou smilest!
White is the skull Thou boldest in Thy hand; white is Thy club, which threatens the wicked!
White is the bull on which Thou ridest; white are the rings that hang from Thine ears!
White appear Thy matted locks, covered with the foam of the Ganges;
White shines the moon on Thy forehead!
May He who is all white, all pure, bestow on me the treasure of forgiveness for my transgressions!
O Siva, forgive all the sins that I have committed
With hands or feet, with words or body, with ears or eyes, with mind or heart;
Forgive my sins, those past and those that are yet to come!
Victory unto Siva, the Ocean of Compassion, the Great God, the Abode of Blessedness!

After the hymn Narendra and M. talked again.

NARENDRA: "You may speak of leading a detached life in the world, and all that, but you will not attain anything unless you renounce 'woman and gold'. Don't you feel disgusted with your wife's body?

Fools enjoy the contact of the body, filled with filth, peopled with worms, foul of smell by nature, made of flesh, blood, bone, and marrow; but the wise shun it.

"Vain is the life of a person who does not take delight in the teachings of Vedanta and drink the Nectar of Divine Bliss. Listen to a song."

Narendra sang:

O man, abandon your delusion! Cast aside your wicked counsels!
Know the Lord and free yourself from earthly suffering!
For a few days' pleasure only, you have quite forgotten Him
Who is the Comrade of your soul. Alas, what mockery!

"No liberation is possible for a man unless he puts on the loin-cloth of a sannyasi. The world must be renounced."
Narendra sang from the Five Stanzas on the glory of the monk's loin-cloth:
Roaming ever in the grove of Vedanta,
Ever pleased with his beggar's morsel
Ever walking with heart free from sorrow,
Blest indeed is the wearer of the loin-cloth. . . .

Continuing, Narendra said: "Why should a man be entangled in worldliness? Why should he be ensnared by maya? What is man's real nature? He is the blessed Siva, the Embodiment of Bliss and Spirit."

He sang Sankaracharya's Six Stanzas on Nirvana:

Om. I am neither mind, intelligence, ego, nor chitta,
Neither ears nor tongue nor the senses of smell and sight.
Nor am I ether, earth, fire, water, or air:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva! . . .

Narendra recited another hymn, the Eight Stanzas on the glory of Krishna:

I am consumed with false desires and wrapped in the sleep of lust:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Thou art my only Refuge, Lord! I have no other salvation.
I am entrapped in the mire of sin:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

I am ensnared in the net of love for children, wife, and home:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
I am without devotion, helpless, smitten by wrong desire,
Afflicted with grief and misery:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!
Lord, I have neither master nor place of shelter to call my own:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Utterly wearied out am I by all this going and coming
Along the endless road of life:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

From this hard and unavailing journey through life and death,
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Many the births that I have seen in many a bodily form,
And painful it is in the mother's womb:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

To Thee I come for salvation out of the cycle of existence:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
For I am terrified alike of old age and of death:
I come to Thee for shelter, Lord!
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

Never a good deed have I done, but many have been my sins:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Headlong have I fallen into the mire of worldliness;
Countless the births I have endured:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

I have lorded it over men, but happiness is not there:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
What my words have promised, my deeds have never carried out;
Lord, I am full of wretchedness:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

If as a man or a woman I must be born again and again -
Save me, O Madhusudana! -
May my devotion be unswerving to Thy feet, O Lord!
From the delusion of this world,
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

M. remained spellbound as he listened to these hymns sung by Narendra. He said to himself: "How intense Narendra's dispassion is! This is how he has infused the spirit of dispassion into the hearts of the other brothers of the monastery. The very contact with them awakens in the hearts of the Master's householder devotees the desire for renunciation of 'woman and gold'. Ah, how blessed are these all-renouncing brothers! Why has the Master kept us few in the world? Will he show us a way? Will he give us the spirit of renunciation, or will he delude us with worldliness?"

After the meal all were resting. The elder Gopal was copying some songs. Niranjan was on a visit to his mother. Sarat, Baburam, and Kali were in Puri.

Narendra, with one or two brothers, left for Calcutta. He had to see to his lawsuit. He was going to return in the evening; the brothers could not bear his absence.

In the afternoon Rabindra arrived, looking like a mad person. He was barefoot and had only half of his black-bordered cloth round his waist. His eyeballs were rolling like a madman's. All asked him anxiously what was the matter.
"Let me recover my breath!" he said. "I shall tell you everything presently. I am certainly not going back home; I shall stay at this very place with you all. She is certainly a traitor! Let me tell you something, friends. For her sake I gave up my habit of drinking, which I had indulged for five years. I have not taken a drop for the last eight months. And she is a traitor!"

The brothers of the math said: "Be calm, please! How did you come?"

RABINDRA: "I have come barefoot all the way from Calcutta."

The brothers asked him where he had lost the other half of his cloth.

RABINDRA: "When I was leaving her place she began to pull at my cloth. That is how half of it was torn off."

The brothers told him to bathe in the Ganges and cool off; then they would hear his story.

Rabindra belonged to a respectable kayastha family of Calcutta. He was twenty or twenty-two years old. He had first met Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar temple and had received his special blessing. On one occasion he had spent three nights with the Master. His disposition was very sweet and tender, and the Master had loved him dearly. Once he had said to Rabindra: "You will have to wait some time; you have to go through a few more experiences. Nothing can be done now. You see, the police can't do much just when the robbers attack a house. When the plundering is almost over, the police make their arrests."

Rabindra had many virtues. He was devoted to God and to service of the poor. He had many spiritual qualities. But he had walked into the snare of a prostitute. Now, suddenly, he had discovered that the woman was being unfaithful to him. Therefore he had come to the math in this dishevelled state, resolved not to go back to the world.

A devotee accompanied Rabindra to the Ganges. It was his inmost desire that Rabindra's spiritual consciousness should be awakened in the company of these holy men. When Rabindra finished his bath, the devotee took him to the adjacent cremation ground, showed him the corpses lying about, and said: "The brothers of the math come here every now and then to meditate on God. It is a good place for meditation. Here one sees clearly that the world is impermanent."
Rabindra sat down in the cremation ground to meditate. But he could not meditate long; his mind was restless.

Rabindra and the devotee returned to the math. They went to the worship room to salute the Deity. The devotee said to him, "The brothers of the math meditate in this room."

Rabindra sat there to meditate, but could not meditate long there either.

DEVOTEE: "How do you feel? Is your mind very restless? Is that why you have got up from your seat? Perhaps you could not concentrate well."

RABINDRA: "I am sure I shall not go back to the world. But the mind is restless."

M. and Rabindra were talking. No one else was present. M. was telling him stories from the life of Buddha. At that time the members of the math regularly read the lives of Buddha and Chaitanya. M. said to Rabindra that Buddha's spiritual consciousness was first awakened by hearing a song of some heavenly maidens.
M. sang the song:

We moan for rest, alas! but rest can never find;
We know not whence we come, nor where we float away.
Time and again we tread this round of smiles and tears;
In vain we pine to know whither our pathway leads,
And why we play this empty play. . . .

That night Narendra, Tarak, and Harish returned from Calcutta. They said, "Oh, what a big meal we had!" They had been entertained by a devotee in Calcutta.

The members of the monastery assembled in the room of the "danas". Narendra heard Rabindra's story. He sang by way of giving instruction to him:

O man, abandon your delusion! Cast aside your wicked counsels!
Know the Lord and free yourself from earthly suffering!
For a few days' pleasure only, you have quite forgotten Him
Who is the Comrade of your soul. Alas, what mockery!
Narendra sang again:

Drinking the Bliss of Hari from the cup of prema,
Sadhu, be intoxicated! . . .

A few minutes later the brothers went to Kali Tapasvi's room. Girish Ghosh had just sent two of his new books to the monastery: the Life of Buddha and the Life of Chaitanya.

Since the founding of the new math Sashi had devoted himself heart and soul to the worship and service of the Master. All were amazed at his devotion. Just as he had tended Sri Ramakrishna's physical body during his illness, so now, with the same unswerving zeal, he worshipped the Master in the shrine room.

A member of the monastery was reading aloud from the lives of Buddha and Chaitanya. He was a little sarcastic while reading Chaitanya's life. Narendra snatched the book from his hand and said, "That is how you spoil a good thing!"
Narendra read the chapter describing how Chaitanya gave his love to all, from the brahmin to the pariah.

A BROTHER: "I say that one person cannot give love to another person."

NARENDRA: "But the Master gave it to me."

BROTHER: "Well, are you sure you have it?"

NARENDRA: "What can you understand about love? You belong to the servant class. All of you must serve me and massage my feet. Don't flatter yourselves by thinking you have understood everything. Now go and prepare a smoke for me."

All laughed.

THE BROTHER: "I surely will not."

M. (to himself): "Sri Ramakrishna has transmitted mettle to all the brothers of the math. It is no monopoly of Narendra's. Is it possible to renounce "woman and gold' without this inner fire?"

May 10, 1887

It was Tuesday, a very auspicious day for the worship of the Divine Mother. Arrangements were being made for Her special worship at the monastery.

M. was going to the Ganges to take his bath. Rabindra was walking alone on the roof. He heard Narendra singing the Six Stanzas on Nirvana:

Death or fear I have none, nor any distinction of caste;
Neither father nor mother nor even a birth have I;
Neither friend nor comrade, neither disciple nor guru:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva!

I have no form or fancy; the All-pervading am I;
Everywhere I exist, yet I am beyond the senses;
Neither salvation am I, nor anything that may be known:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva!

Rabindra went to the Ganges to take his bath. Presently he returned to the monastery clad in his wet cloth.

Narendra said to M. in a whisper: "He has bathed in the Ganges. It would be good to initiate him now into sannyas."

Both Narendra and M. smiled.

Prasanna asked Rabindra to change his wet cloth and gave him a dry gerrua cloth. Narendra said to M., "Now he is going to put on the cloth of renunciation."

M. (with a smile): "What kind of renunciation?"

NARENDRA: "Why, the renunciation of 'woman and gold'."

Rabindra put on the ochre cloth and entered Kali Tapasvi's room to meditate.

Appendix - A


Keshab's reverence for the Master - Tasting divine bliss in different ways - Master's abhorrence of public preaching - Master instructs about humility - Renunciation of "woman and gold" - Yearning for God - Story of the fishwife and her basket - Personal God and Impersonal Reality - The pure mind sees God - Surendra's vanity curbed - Maya obstructs vision of God - Renunciation, true and false - God and worldly duties - Faith in the guru - Parable of pearl oyster - Company of holy men extolled - Concerning the ego.

Saturday, January 1, 1881

KESHAB CHANDRA SEN, the leader of the Brahmo Samaj, was expected to visit Sri Ramakrishna at the temple garden at Dakshineswar. With the Master were many Brahmo celebrities - Pratap, Trailokya, Jaygppal, and others. It was only a few days before the annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj, and the Brahmos were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their leader, who was to come by steamer. They were restless and talking rather noisily. Ram, Manomohan, and several other devotees of the Master were also there.

At last Keshab entered the Master's room with two fruits and a bouquet of flowers in his hands. Touching the Master's feet, he laid the offering at his side. Then he saluted Sri Ramakrishna with great reverence, bowing very low before him. Sri Ramakrishna returned in like manner his distinguished visitor's salutation. Then he laughingly began the conversation.

MASTER: "You, Keshab, want me; but your disciples don't. I was saying to them: 'Let us be restless. Then Govinda will come.' (To Keshab's disciples) See, here is your Govinda!

"We have been showing signs of restlessness all this while to set the stage for your arrival. It isn't easy to have the vision of Govinda. You must have noticed in the Krishnayatra. that Narada enters Vrindavan and prays with great yearning: 'O Govinda! O my soul! O Life of my life!', and then Krishna comes on the stage with the cowherd boys, followed by the gopis. No one can see God without that yearning.

"Well, Keshab, say something! They are eager to hear your words."

KESHAB (humbly, with a smile): "To open my lips here would be like trying to 'sell needles to a blacksmith'."

MASTER (smiling): "But don't you know that the nature of devotees is like that of hemp-smokers? One hemp-smoker says to another, 'Please take a puff for yourself and give me one.'" (All laugh.)

It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. They heard the music from the nahabat in the temple garden.

MASTER (to Keshab and the others): "Do you hear how melodious that music is? One player is producing only a monotone on his flute, while another is creating waves of melodies in different ragas and raginis. (Modes in Indian music.) That is my attitude. Why should I produce only a monotone when I have an instrument with seven holes? Why should I say nothing but, 'I am He, I am He'? I want to play various melodies on my instrument with seven holes. Why should I say only, 'Brahma! Brahma!'? I want to call on God through all the moods - through santa, dasya, sakhya, vatsalya, and madhur. I want to make merry with God. I want to sport with God."

Keshab listened to these words with wonder in his eyes and said to the Brahmo devotees, "I have never before heard such a wonderful and beautiful interpretation of jnana and bhakti."

KESHAB (to the Master): "How long will you hide yourself in this way? I dare say people will be thronging here by and by in great crowds."

MASTER: "What are you talking of? I only eat and drink and sing God's name. I know nothing about gathering crowds. Hanuman once declared: 'I know nothing about the day of the week or the position of the moon and stars in the sky. I simply meditate on Rama.'"

KESHAB: "All right, sir, I shall gather the crowd. But they all must come to your place."

MASTER: "I am the dust of the dust of everybody's feet. If anyone is gracious enough to come here, he is welcome."

KESHAB: "Whatever you may say, sir, your advent cannot be in vain."

In the mean time the devotees had arranged a kirtan. Many of them had joined it. The party started at the Panchavati and moved toward the Master's room. Hriday blew the horn, Gopidas played the drum, and two devotees played the cymbals.

Sri Ramakrishna sang:

O man, if you would live in bliss, repeat Lord Hari's name;
Then you will lead a life of joy and go to paradise,
And feed upon the fruit of moksha evermore:
Such is the glory of His name!
I give you the name of Hari, which Siva, God of Gods,
Repeats aloud with His five mouths.

The Master danced with the strength of a lion and went into samadhi. Regaining consciousness of the outer world, he sat down in his room and began to talk with Keshab and the other devotees.

MASTER: "God can be realized through all paths, it is like your coming to Dakshineswar by carriage, by boat, by steamer, or on foot. You have chosen the way according to your convenience and taste; but the destination is the same. Some of you have arrived earlier than others; but all have arrived.

"The more you rid yourself of upadhis, the nearer you will feel the presence of God. Rain-water never collects on a high mound; it collects only in low land. Similarly, the water of God's grace cannot remain on the high mound of egotism. Before God one should feel lowly and poor.

"One should be extremely watchful. Even clothes create vanity. I notice that even a man suffering from an enlarged spleen sings Nidhu Babu's light songs when he is dressed up in a black-bordered cloth. There are men who spout English whenever they put on high boots. And when an unfit person puts on an ochre cloth he becomes vain; the slightest sign of indifference to him arouses his anger and pique.

"God cannot be seen without yearning of heart, and this yearning is impossible unless one has finished with the experiences of life. Those who live surrounded by 'woman and gold', and have not yet come to the end of their experiences, do not yearn for God.

"When I lived at Kamarpukur, Hriday's son, a child four or five years old, used to spend the whole day with me. He played with his toys and almost forgot everything else. But no sooner did evening come than he would say, 'I want to go to my mother.' I would try to cajole him in various ways and would say, 'Here, I'll give you a pigeon.' But he wouldn't be consoled with such things; he would weep and cry, 'I want to go to my mother.' He didn't enjoy playing any more. I myself wept to see his state.

"One should cry for God that way, like a child. That is what it means to be restless for God. One doesn't enjoy play or food any longer. After one's experiences of the world are over, one feels this restlessness and weeps for God."

The devotees sat in silence, listening to the Master's words. When evening came, a lamp was lighted in the room. Preparations were being made for feeding Keshab and the devotees.

KESHAB (with a smile): "What? Puffed rice again today?"

MASTER (smiling): "Hriday knows."

The devotees were served first with puffed rice, and then with luchi and curries on leaf-plates. All enjoyed the meal very much. It was about ten o'clock when supper was over.

The Master went to the Panchavati with Keshab and the devotees.

MASTER (to Keshab and the others): "One can very well live in the world after realizing God. Why don't you first touch the 'granny' and then play hide-and-seek?

"After attaining God, a devotee becomes unattached to the world. He lives like a mudfish. The mudfish keeps its body unstained though it lives in mud."

About eleven o'clock the Brahmos became eager to go home. Pratap said, "It would be nice if we could spend the night here."

MASTER (to Keshab): "Why not stay here tonight?"

KESHAB (smiling): "No, I have business to attend to. I must go."

MASTER: "Why must you, my dear sir? Can't you sleep without your fish-basket? Once, a fishwife was a guest in a gardener's house. She was asked to sleep in a room full of flowers. But she couldn't get any sleep there. (All laugh.) She was restless and began to fidget about. The gardener called to her: 'Hello there! Why aren't you asleep?' 'Oh, I don't know', said the fishwife. 'There are flowers here. The smell keeps me awake. Can't you bring me my fish-basket?' She sprinkled a little water in the basket, and when she smelled the fish she fell fast asleep." (All laugh heartily.)

Keshab took a few of the flowers that he had offered at Sri Ramakrishna's feet on his arrival. He and his Brahmo devotees cried out as they saluted the Master, "Hail, Navavidhan!" Thus they bade him adieu.

One day during the rainy season of 1881 Sri Ramakrishna and a number of devotees visited Surendra's house. It was about dusk.

The Master entered the drawing-room on the second floor, where several of Surendra's neighbours had already, gathered. Keshab had also been invited but could not come. Trailokya and a few Brahmo devotees were present. A mat covered with a white sheet was spread on the floor, and on it had been placed a beautiful carpet with a cushion. Surendra requested the Master to sit on the carpet; but Sri Ramakrishna would not listen to him and sat on the mat next to Mahendra Goswami, one of Surendra's neighbours.

MAHENDRA (to the devotees): "For several months I spent most of my time with him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna]. I have never before seen such a great man. His spiritual moods are not of the ordinary kind."

MASTER (to Mahendra): "How dare you say that? I am the most insignificant of the insignificant, the lowliest of the lowly. I am the servant of the servants of God. Krishna alone is great.

"Krishna is none other than Satchidananda, the Indivisible Brahman. The water of the ocean looks blue from a distance. Go near it and you will find it colourless. He who is endowed with attributes is also without attributes. The Absolute and the Relative belong to the same Reality.

"Why is Krishna tribhanga, bent in three places? Because of His love for Radha.

"That which is Brahman is also Kali, the Adyasakti, who creates, preserves, and destroys the universe. He who is Krishna is the same as Kali. The root is one - all these are His sport and play.

"God can be seen. He can be seen through the pure mind and the pure intelligence. Through attachment to 'woman and gold' the mind becomes impure.

"The mind is everything. It is like a white cloth just returned from the laundry. It will take any colour you dye it with. Knowledge is of the mind, and ignorance is also of the mind. When you say that a certain person has become impure, you mean that impurity has coloured his mind."

Surendra approached the Master with a garland and wanted to put it around his neck. But the Master took it in his hand and threw it aside. Surendra's pride was wounded and his eyes filled with tears. He went to the west porch and sat with Ram, Manomohan, and the others. In a voice choked with sadness he said: "I am really angry. How can a poor brahmin know the value of a thing like that? I spent a lot of money for that garland, and he refused to accept it. I was unable to control my anger and said that the other garlands were to be given away to the devotees. Now I realize it was all my fault. God cannot be bought with money; He cannot be possessed by a vain person. I have really been vain. Why should he accept my worship? I don't feel like living any more." Tears streamed down his cheeks and over his chest.

In the mean time Trailokya was singing inside the room. The Master began to dance in an ecstasy of joy. He put around his neck the garland that he had thrown aside; holding it with one hand, he swung it with the other as he danced and sang. Now Surendra's joy was unbounded. The Master had accepted his offering. Surendra said to himself, "God crushes one's pride, no doubt, but He is also the cherished treasure of the humble and lowly."

The Master now sang:

Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name,
The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari's love!
Behold them, drunk with Hari's love, who make the world drunk as well,
Embracing everyone as brother, even the outcaste shunned by men.
Behold, the two brothers have come, who once were Kanai and Balai of Braja. . . .

Many of the devotees danced while Sri Ramakrishna sang this song. When the kirtan was over, everyone sat around the Master and became engaged in pleasant conversation. Sri Ramakrishna said to Surendra, "Won't you give me something to eat?" Then he went into the inner apartments, where the ladies saluted him. After the meal Sri Ramakrishna left for Dakshineswar.