Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]

Saturday, October 4, 1884

It was the day of the first full moon after the Durga Puja. Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the Calcutta house of Nabin Sen, the elder brother of Keshab Chandra Sen. On the previous Thursday Keshab's mother had begged the Master to pay her a visit in Calcutta.

The Master seated himself in a room on the upper floor of the house. With him were Baburam, Kishori, and a few other devotees. Nandalal and Keshab's other nephews, Keshab's mother, and other relatives of his, waited on the Master. It had been arranged to have devotional music performed in the room. M. was sitting in a room downstairs, listening to the kirtan.

Sri Ramakrishna said to the Brahmo devotees: "The world is impermanent. One should constantly remember death." Then he sang:

Remember this, O mind! Nobody is your own:
Vain is your wandering in this world.
Trapped in the subtle snare of maya as you are,
Do not forget the Mother's name. . . .

The Master said to the devotees: "Dive deep. What will you gain by merely floating on the surface? Renounce everything for a few days, retire into solitude, and call on God with all your soul."
The Master sang:

Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love. . . .

At Sri Ramakrishna's request the Brahmo devotees sang:

Thou art my All in All, O Lord! - the Life of my life, the Essence of essence;
In the three worlds I have none else but Thee to call my own.
Thou art my peace, my joy, my hope; Thou my support, my wealth, my glory;
Thou my wisdom and my strength. . . .

The Master sang again:

O Mother, for Yasoda Thou wouldst dance, when she called Thee her precious "Blue Jewel";
Where hast Thou hidden that lovely form, O terrible Syama? . . .

The Brahmo devotees also sang to the accompaniment of cymbals and drums:

O Mother, how deep is Thy love for men!
Mindful of it, I weep for joy.
Almost from the day of my birth
I have transgressed Thine every law,
And still Thou lookest on me with love,
Comforting me with sweetest words.
Mindful of it, I weep for joy.
O Mother, the burden of Thy love
Is far too great for me to bear;
My soul gives a heart-piercing cry
At Thy love's touch. To Thee I come,
Seeking a refuge at Thy feet.

They again sang of the Divine Mother:

O Mother, Thou my Inner Guide, ever awake within my heart!
Day and night Thou boldest me in Thy lap.
Why dost Thou show such tenderness to this unworthy child of Thine?

Ah! It seems Thou art mad with love: now caressing, now with strong grasp

Holding me firm. Thou givest me to drink
Thy nectar, pouring in my ears Thy words of loving tenderness.

Unceasing is Thy love for me, a love that cannot see my faults;
Whenever I am in danger. Thou dost save me.
Saviour of sinners! I know the truth: I am my Mother's and She is mine.

Now I shall listen to Her alone, and follow the path of righteousness;
Drinking the milk that flows from my Mother's breasts,
I shall be strong and sing with joy: "Hail, O Mother! Brahman Eternal!"
The Master and the Brahmo devotees sang several songs about Hari and Gauranga.

Sunday, October 5, 1884

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room after the midday meal, with M., Hazra, the elder Kali, Baburam, Ramlal, Hari, and others. Some of them sat on the floor and some stood about. On the previous day the Master had visited Keshab's mother at her Calcutta house and had made her happy with his devotional songs.

Hazra had been living with the Master at Dakshineswar a long time. He was a little conceited about his knowledge and even criticized the Master now and then before others. Again, he would sit on the verandah of the Master's room and tell his beads with apparent concentration. He spoke slightingly of Chaitanya as a "modern Incarnation". He would say: "God gives not only pure devotion but also wealth. He has no lack of it. By attaining God one obtains the eight occult powers as well." Hazra had a small debt to clear up, about one thousand rupees. He had incurred it for the building of his house and was worried about paying it.

The elder Kali had a position in an office, from which he received a small salary. He had a large family to maintain. He was devoted to the Master and visited him now and then, even absenting himself from the office.

KALI (to Hazra): "You go about criticizing people; you are like a touch-stone, testing what is pure gold and what is impure. Why do you speak so much ill of others?"

HAZRA: "Whatever I say, I say to him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] alone."

MASTER: "That is so."

Hazra began to explain Tattvajnana.

HAZRA: "The meaning of Tattvajnana is the knowledge of the existence of the twenty-four tattvas, or cosmic principles."

He was wrong about the meaning of the word.

A DEVOTEE: "What are they?"

HAZRA: "The five elements, the six passions, the five organs of perception, the five organs of action, and so forth."

M. (to the Master, smiling): "He says that the six passions are included in the twenty-four cosmic principles."

MASTER (smiling): "Listen to him! Notice how he explains Tattvajnana! The word really means 'knowledge of Self. The word 'Tat' means the Supreme Self, and the word 'tvam', the embodied soul. One attains Supreme Knowledge, Tattvajnana, by realizing the identity of the embodied soul and the Supreme Self."

After a few minutes Hazra left the room and sat on the porch.

MASTER (to M. and the others): "He [meaning Hazra] only argues. This moment perhaps he understands, but the next moment he is his old self again.

"When the angler hooks a big fish and finds it pulling hard, he releases the line; otherwise it will snap and the angler himself will be thrown into the water. Therefore I do not say much to him.

(To M.) "Hazra said that a man could not be liberated unless he was born in a brahmin body. 'How is that?' I said. 'One attains liberation through bhakti alone. Savari was the daughter of a hunter. She, Ruhidas, and others belonged to the sudra caste. They were liberated through bhakti alone.' 'But still -' Hazra insisted.

"He recognized Dhruva's spiritual greatness, but not as much as he recognized Prahlada's. When Latu said, 'Dhruva had great yearning for God from his boyhood', he kept still.

"I said that there was nothing greater than the bhakti that sought no end and had no selfish motive. Hazra contradicted me. I said to him, 'A wealthy man is annoyed when a petitioner comes to him. "There he comes", he says angrily. "Sit down", he says to him in an indifferent voice, and shows that he is much annoyed. He doesn't allow such a beggar to ride with him in his carriage.'

"But Hazra said that God was not like such wealthy people of the world; did He lack wealth, that He should feel pinched to give it away? Hazra said further: 'When rain falls from the sky, the Ganges and all the big rivers and lakes overflow with water. Small tanks, too, are filled. Likewise, God out of His grace grants wealth and riches as well as knowledge and devotion.'

(To the devotees) "But I call this impure devotion to God. Pure devotion has no desire behind it. You don't want anything from me, but you love to see me and hear my words. My mind also dwells on you. I wonder how you are and why you don't come.

"You don't want anything of God but still you love Him. That is pure bhakti, love of God with no motive behind it. Prahlada had it. He sought neither kingdom nor riches; he sought Hari alone."

M: "Hazra is a chatterbox. He won't achieve anything unless he becomes silent."

MASTER: "Now and then he comes to me and becomes mellowed. But he is a pest; again he argues. It is very hard to get rid of egotism. You may cut down an aswattha tree, but the next day a sprout will spring up. As long as the roots remain, the tree will grow again.

"I said to Hazra, 'Don't speak ill of anyone.' It is Narayana Himself who has assumed all these forms. One can worship even a wicked person. Haven't you observed the Kumari Puja? Why should you worship a girl who has all the physical limitations of a human being? It is because she is a form of the Divine Mother. But God dwells in a special way in His devotee. The devotee is His parlour. If the gourd has a large body then it makes a good tanpura. It gives a nice sound."

Two monks had arrived at the temple garden in the morning. They were devoted to the study of the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedanta, and other scriptures. They entered the Master's room, saluted him, and sat on the mat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch. The Master spoke to the sadhus in Hindusthani.

MASTER: "Have you had your meal?"

SADHU: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "What did you eat?"

SADHU: "Dal and bread. Will you take some?"

MASTER: "No, I take only a few morsels of rice. Well, your japa and meditation must be without any desire for results. Isn't that so?"

SADHU: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "That is good. One must surrender the result to God. What do you say? That is the view of the Gita."

One sadhu said to the other, quoting from the Gita: 'O Arjuna, whatever action you perform, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, and whatever austerities you practise, offer everything to Me."

MASTER: "If you give God something, you receive it back a thousand times over. That is why after doing meritorious deeds one offers a handful of water to God. It is the symbol of offering the fruit to God. When Yudhisthira was about to offer all his sins to Krishna, Bhima warned him: 'Never do such a thing. Whatever you offer to Krishna you will receive back a thousandfold.'

(To one of the sddhus) "Well, sir, one should be desireless; one should renounce all desires. Isn't that so?"

SADHU: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "But I have the desire for bhakti. That is not bad. Rather, it is good. Sweets are bad, for they produce acidity. But sugar candy is an exception. Isn't that so?"

SADHU: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Well, sir, what do you think of the Vedanta?"

SADHU: "It includes all the six systems of philosophy."

MASTER: "But the essence of Vedanta is: 'Brahman alone is real, and the world illusory; I have no separate existence; I am that Brahman alone.' Isn't that so?"

SADHU: "That is true, sir."

MASTER: "But for those who lead a householder's life, and those who identify themselves with the body, this attitude of 'I am He' is not good. It is not good for householders to read Vedanta or the Yogavasishtha. It is very harmful for them to read these books. Householders should look on God as their Master and on themselves as His servants. They should think, 'O God, You are the Master and the Lord, and I am Your servant.' People who identify themselves with the body should not have the attitude of 'I am He."

The devotees in the room remained silent. Sri Ramakrishna was smiling a little, a picture of self-contentment. He appeared happy in his own Self.

One of the sadhus whispered in the other's ear: "Look! This is the state of the paramahamsa."

MASTER (to M.): "I feel like laughing."

Sri Ramakrishna smiled like a child. The monks left the room. The devotees were moving about in the room and on the porch.

MASTER (to M.): "Did you go to Nabin Sen's house?"

M: "Yes, sir. I listened to the songs from downstairs."

MASTER: "That was well done. Your wife was there. She is a cousin of Keshab Sen, isn't she?"

M: "A distant cousin."

Sri Ramakrishna strolled up and down with M. No one else was with them.

MASTER: "A man visits his father-in-law's house. I, too, often used to think that I should marry, go to my father-in-law's house, and have great fun. But see what has come of it!"

M: "Sir, you say, 'If the boy holds his father's hand, he may slip; but he doesn't if the father holds his hand.' That is exactly your condition. The Mother has taken hold of your hand."

MASTER: "I met Bamandas at the Viswases' house. I said to him, 'I have come to see you.' As I was leaving the place I heard him say: 'Goodness gracious! The Divine Mother has caught hold of him, like a tiger seizing a man.' At that time I was a young man, very stout, and always in ecstasy.

"I am very much afraid of women. When I look at one I feel as if a tigress were coming to devour me. Besides, I find that their bodies, their limbs, and even their pores are very large. This makes me look upon them as she-monsters. I used to be much more afraid of women than I am at present. I wouldn't allow one to come near me. Now I persuade my mind in various ways to look upon women as forms of the Blissful Mother.

"A woman is, no doubt, a part of the Divine Mother. But as far as a man is concerned, especially a sannyasi or a devotee of God, she is to be shunned. I don't allow a woman to sit near me very long, no matter how great her devotion may be. After a little while I say to her, 'Go and see the temples.' If that doesn't make her move, I myself leave the room on the pretext of smoking.

"I find that some men are not at all interested in women. Niranjan says, 'A woman never enters my thought.' I asked Hari (Later Swami Turiyananda.) about it. He too says that his mind does not dwell on woman.

"Woman monopolizes three quarters of the mind, which should be given to God. And then, after the birth of a child, almost the whole mind is frittered away on the family. Then what is left to give to God?

"Again, there are some men who shed their last drop of blood, as it were, to keep their wives out of mischief. There is the gate-keeper, an old man, whose wife is only fourteen years old. She had to live with him. They lived in a thatched hut with walls made of dry leaves. People made holes in the wall to peep in. Now she has left him and run away.

"I know another man. He doesn't know where to keep his wife. There was some trouble at home, and now he is greatly worried. Let's not talk about these things any more.

"If a man lives with a woman, he cannot help coming under her control. Worldly men get up and sit down at the bidding of women. They all speak highly of their wives.

"Once I wanted to go to a certain place. I asked Ramlal's aunt (His own wife) about it. She forbade me to go; so I could not. A little while later I said to myself: 'I am not a householder. I have renounced "woman and gold". If, in spite of that, this is my plight, one can well imagine how much worldly people are controlled by their wives.'"

M: "One who lives in the midst of 'woman and gold' can't help being stained by it, even if only slightly. You told us about Jaynarayan. He was such a great scholar. When you visited him he was an old man. You found him warming pillows and blankets in the sun."

MASTER: "But he had no vanity of scholarship. Further, what he said about the last days of his life came to pass. He spent them in Benares, following the injunctions of the scriptures. I saw his children. They were wearing high boots and had been educated in English schools."

By means of questions and answers Sri Ramakrishna now explained to M. his own exalted state.

MASTER: "At first I went stark mad. Why am I less so now? But I get into that state now and then."

M: "You don't have just one mood. As you said, you experience various moods. Sometimes you are like a child, sometimes like a madman, sometimes like an inert thing, and sometimes like a ghoul. And now and then you are a natural person."

MASTER: "Yes, like a child. But I also experience the moods of a boy and a young man. When I give instruction I feel like a young man. Then there is my boyishness: like a boy twelve or thirteen years old, I want to be frivolous. That is why I joke and make merry with the youngsters.

"What do you think of Naran?"

M: "He has good traits, sir."

MASTER: "Yes, the shell of the gourd is good. The tanpura made out of it will give good music. He says to me, 'You are everything.' Everyone speaks of me according to his comprehension. Some say that I am simply a sadhu, a devotee of God.

"If I forbid Naran to do something, he understands it very well. The other day I asked him to pull up the curtain, but he didn't do it. I had forbidden him to tie a knot, to sew his clothes, to lock a box, to pull up a curtain, and similar things. He understood it all. He who would renounce the world must practise all these disciplines. They are meant for sannyasis.

"While practising sadhana a man should regard a woman as a raging forest fire or a black cobra. But in the state of perfection, after the realization of God, she appears as the Blissful Mother. Then you will look on her as a form of the Divine Mother."

A few days earlier Sri Ramakrishna had spoken many words of warning to Narayan about women. He had said: "Don't let yourself touch the air near a woman's body. Cover yourself with a heavy sheet lest the air should touch your body. And keep yourself eight cubits, two cubits, or at least one cubit away from all women except your mother."

MASTER (to M.): "Naran's mother said to him about me, 'Even we are enchanted by the sight of him, not to speak of you, a mere child.' None but the guileless can realize God. How guileless Niranjan is!"

M: "True, sir."

MASTER: "Didn't you notice him that day in the carriage on the way to Calcutta? He is always the same - without guile. A man shows one side of his nature inside his house and another to the outside world. Since his father's death Narendra has been worried about his worldly affairs. He has a slightly calculating mind. How I wish that other, youngsters were like Niranjan and Narendra!

"Today I went to the village to see Nilkantha's theatrical performance. It was given at Nabin Niyogi's house. The children there are very bad; they have nothing to do but find fault. In such a place a person's spiritual feeling is restrained. During a performance the other day I saw Doctor Madhu shedding tears. I looked at him alone.

(To M.) "Can you tell me why people feel so much attracted to this place [meaning himself]? What does it mean?"
M: "It reminds me of an episode in Krishna's life at Vrindavan. Krishna transformed Himself into the cowherd boys and the calves, whereupon the cows began to feel more strongly attracted to the cowherd boys, the gopis, and the calves."

MASTER: "That is the attraction of God. The truth is, the Divine Mother creates the spell and it is that which attracts people.

"Well, not as many people come here as used to go to Keshab Sen. And how many people respect and honour Keshab! He is known even in England. Queen Victoria spoke with him. It is said in the Gita that God's power is manifest in him who is honoured and respected by many. But so many people do not come here."

M: "It was the householders who went to Keshab Sen."

MASTER: "Yes, that is true. The worldly-minded."

M: "Will what Keshab has founded remain a long time?"

MASTER: "Why, he has written a samhita, a book of rules for the guidance of the members of his Brahmo Samaj."

M: "But it is quite different with the work done by a Divine Incarnation Himself - Chaitanya's work, for instance."

MASTER: "Yes, yes. That is true."

M: "You yourself tell us that Chaitanyadeva said, 'The seeds I have sown will certainly bear fruit some time or other.' A man left some seeds on the cornice of a house. Later on the house fell down and trees grew from those seeds."

MASTER: "Many people go to the Samaj founded by Shivanath and his friends. Isn't that so?"

M: "Yes, sir. People of that sort."

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, yes. The worldly-minded go there, but not many of those who long for God and are trying to renounce 'woman and gold'."

M: "It will be fine if a current flows from this place. Everything will be carried away by its force. Nothing that comes out of this place will be monotonous."

MASTER (smiling): "I keep men's own ideals intact. I ask a Vaishnava to hold to his Vaishnava attitude and a Sakta to his. But this also I say to them: "Never feel that your path alone is right and that the paths of others are wrong and full of errors.' Hindus, Mussalmans, and Christians are going to the same destination by different paths. A man can realize God by following his own path if his prayer is sincere.

"Vijay's mother-in-law said to me, 'Why don't you tell Balaram that it is unnecessary to worship God with form; that it will be enough if he prays to the formless Satchidananda?' I replied, 'Why should I say such a thing, and why should he listen to me even if I should say it?'"

M: "That is true, sir. There are different paths to suit time, place, and the fitness of the candidate. Whatever path a man may follow, he will ultimately reach God if he is pure of heart and has sincere longing. That is what you say."

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room. Hari, the relative of the Mukherjis, M., and other devotees were on the floor. An unknown person saluted the Master and took a seat. The Master remarked later that his eyes were not good. They were yellow, like a cat's.

Hari prepared a smoke for Sri Ramakrishna.

MASTER (to Hari): "Let me see the palm of your hand. This mark is a good sign. Relax your hand."

He took Hari's hand into his as if to feel its weight.

MASTER: "He is still childlike. As yet there is no blemish in him. (To the devotees) From the hand I can tell whether a person is deceitful or guileless. (To Hari) Why, you should go to your father-in-law's house. You should talk to your wife and have a little fun with her if you like. (To M.) What do you say?" (M. and the others laugh.)

M: "If a new pot becomes bad, one can no longer keep milk in it."

MASTER (smiling): "How do you know that it is not already bad?"

The two Mukherjis, Mahendra and Priyanath, were brothers. They did not work in an office, but had their own flour-mill. Priyanath had been an engineer. Sri Ramakrishna talked to Hari about the Mukherji brothers.

MASTER: "The elder brother is nice, isn't he? He is artless."

HARI: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Isn't the younger brother very miserly? I understand that since coming here he has improved a great deal. He once said to me, 'I didn't know anything before.' (To Hari) Do they give anything in charity?"
HARI: "Not much, as far as I can see. Their elder brother, now dead, was a very good man. He was very charitable."

MASTER (to M. and the others): "Whether a person will make spiritual progress or not can be known to a great extent by his physical marks. The hand of a deceitful person is heavy. A snub nose is not a good sign. Sambhu had that kind of nose; hence he was not quite sincere in spite of all his wisdom. Pigeon-breast is not a good sign either. Hard bones and heavy elbow-joints are bad signs too; and yellow eyes, like a cat's.

"A man becomes very mean if he has lips that are thick, like a dome's. (One of the lowest castes among the Hindus.) A brahmin was here for a few months acting as priest of the Vishnu temple. I couldn't eat the food he touched. One day I suddenly exclaimed, 'He is a dome!' Afterwards he said to me: 'Yes, sir. We live in the dome quarters. I know how to make wicker baskets and such things, just like a dome.'

"There are other bad physical signs: one eye and squint eyes. It is rather better to have one eye, but never squint eyes. Squint-eyed people are wicked and deceitful.

"A student of Mahesh Nyayaratna's came here. He described himself as an atheist. He said to Hriday: 'I am an atheist. You may take up the position of a believer in God and argue with me.' Thereupon I watched him closely and noticed that his eyes were yellow, like a cat's.

"Whether a person is good or bad can also be known from the way he walks."

Sri Ramakrishna paced the verandah. M. and Baburam walked with him.

MASTER (to Hazra): "A man came here. I saw that his eyes were like a cat's. He asked me: 'Do you know astrology? I am in some difficulty.' I said: 'No, I don't. Go to Baranagore. There you will find astrologers.'"

Baburam and M. talked about Nilkantha's theatrical performance. Baburam had spent the previous night at the temple garden after his return from Nabin Sen's house. In the morning he had attended Nilkantha's performance with the Master.

MASTER (to M. and Baburam): "What are you talking about?"

M. AND BABURAM: "About Nilkantha's performance."

While pacing the verandah Sri Ramakrishna suddenly took M. aside and said, "The less people know about your thoughts of God, the better for you." Saying these words the Master abruptly went away. A short time afterwards he began to talk with Hazra.

HAZRA: "Nilkantha told you he would pay you a visit. It would be good to send for him."

MASTER: "No, he didn't sleep at all last night. It will be different if he comes here through the will of God."

Sri Ramakrishna asked Baburam to visit Narayan at his house. He looked on Narayan as God Himself, and so he longed to see him. The Master said to Baburam, "You may go to him with one of your English text-books."
About three o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room. Nilkantha arrived with five or six of his companions. The Master went toward the east door as if to welcome him. The musicians bowed before the Master, touching the ground with their foreheads.

Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. Baburam stood behind him. M., Nilkantha, and the musicians were in front of him, watching him in great amazement. Dinanath, an officer of the temple, looked on from the north side of the bed. Soon the room was filled with officers of the temple garden. Sri Ramakrishna's ecstasy abated a little. He seated himself on a mat on the floor, surrounded by Nilkantha and other devotees.

MASTER (still in an ecstatic mood): "I am all right."

NILKANTHA (with folded hands): "Make me all right too."

MASTER (smiling): "Why, you are already all right. Adding the letter 'a' to 'ka', one gets 'ka'. By adding another 'a' to 'ka', one still gets the same • ka'." (All laugh.)

NILKANTHA: "Revered sir, I am entangled in worldliness."

MASTER (smiling): "God has kept you in the world for the sake of others. There are eight fetters. One cannot get rid of them all. God keeps one or two so that a man may live in the world and teach others. You have organized this theatrical company. How many people are being benefited by seeing your bhakti! If you give up everything, then where will these musicians go?

"God is now doing all these works through you. When they are finished, you will not return to them. The housewife finishes her household duties, feeds everyone, including the menservants and maidservants, and then goes to take her bath. She doesn't come back then even if people shout for her."

NILKANTHA: "Please bless me."

MASTER: "Yasoda went mad with grief because she was separated from Krishna. She went to Radhika, who was meditating. Radhika said to her in an ecstatic state: 'I am the Ultimate Prakriti, the Primal Power. Ask a boon of Me.' Yasoda said to her: 'What shall I ask of You? Please bless me, that with all my body, mind, and speech I may think of God and serve Him; that with my ears I may hear the singing of God's name and glories; that with my hands I may serve Hari and His devotees; that with my eyes I may behold His form and His devotees.'

"Your eyes fill with tears when you utter the name of God. Why then should you worry about anything? Divine love has grown in you.

"To know many things is ajnana, ignorance. To know only one thing is jnana, Knowledge - the realization that God alone is real and that He dwells in all. And to talk to Him is vijnana, a fuller Knowledge. To love God in different ways, after realizing Him, is vijnana.

"It is also said that God is beyond one and two. He is beyond speech and mind. To go up from the Lila to the Nitya and come down again from the Nitya to the Lila is mature bhakti.

"I love that song of yours about aspiring to reach the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother. It is enough to know that everything depends on the grace of God. But one must pray to God; it will not do to remain inactive. The lawyer gives all the arguments and finishes his pleading by saying to the judge: 'I have said all I have to say. Now the decision rests with Your Honour.'"

After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna said to Nilkantha: "You sang so much in the morning, and now you have taken the trouble to come here. But here everything is 'honorary'."

NILKANTHA: "Why so?"

MASTER (smiling): "I know what you will say."

NILKANTHA: "I shall get a precious gem from here."

MASTER: "You already have that precious gem. What will you gain by adding again the letter 'a' to 'ka'? If you didn't have the gem, should I like your songs so much? Ramprasad had attained divine realization; that is why his songs appeal so much.
"I had already planned to hear your music. Later on Niyogi, too, came here to invite me."

The Master was sitting on the small couch. He told Nilkantha that he would like to hear a song or two about the Divine Mother.

Nilkantha sang two songs with his companions. When the Master heard the second song he stood up and went into samadhi. Presently he began to dance in an ecstasy of divine love. Nilkantha and the devotees sang and danced around him. Then Nilkantha sang a song about Siva, and the Master danced with the devotees.

When the singing was over, Sri Ramakrishna said to Nilkantha, "I should like to hear that song of yours I heard in Calcutta."

M: "About Sri Gauranga?"

MASTER: "Yes, yes!"

Nilkantha sang the song, "The beautiful Gauranga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold".

Sri Ramakrishna sang again and again the line, "Everything is swept away by the onrush of love", and danced with Nilkantha and the other devotees. Those who saw that indescribable dancing were never to forget it. The room was filled with people, all intoxicated with divine joy. It seemed as if Chaitanya himself were dancing with his companions.

Manomohan was in an ecstatic mood. He was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna and a brother-jn-law of Rakhal. Several ladies of his family had come with him. They were witnessing this divine music and dancing from the north verandah.

Sri Ramakrishna sang again, this time about Gauranga and Nityananda:

Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name. . . .

He danced with Nilkantha and the other devotees, improvising the-line:

Behold, the two brothers have come, they who are mad with love of Radha.
Hearing the loud music, many people gathered about the room. The verandahs to the south and north, and the semicircular porch to the west of the room, were crowded with people. Even passengers in the boats going along the Ganges were attracted by the kirtan.

The music was over. Sri Ramakrishna bowed to the Divine Mother and said, "Bhagavata - Bhakta - Bhagavan. My salutations to the jnanis, my salutations to the yogis, my salutations to the bhaktas."

The Master was seated on the semicircular porch with Nilkantha and the other devotees. The autumn moon flooded all the quarters with light. Sri Ramakrishna and Nilkantha talked.

NILKANTHA: "You are none other than Gauranga."

MASTER: "Why should you say such a thing? I am the servant of the servant of all. The waves belong to the Ganges; but does the Ganges belong to the waves?"

NILKANTHA: "You may say whatever you like, but we regard you as Gauranga himself."

MASTER (tenderly, in an ecstatic mood): "My dear sir, I try to seek my 'I', but I do not find it. Hanuman said: 'O Rama, sometimes I think that You are the whole and I am a part, and sometimes that You are the Master and I am Your servant. But when I have the Knowledge of Reality, I see that You are I and I am You.'"

NILKANTHA: "What shall I say, sir? Please be gracious to us."

MASTER (smiling): "You are ferrying many people across the ocean of the world. How many hearts are illumined by hearing your music!"

NILKANTHA: "You talk of ferrying. But bless me that I may not be drowned in the ocean myself."

MASTER (smiling): "If you get drowned, it will be in the Sea of Immortality."

Sri Ramakrishna was delighted with Nilkantha's company. He said to the musician: "For you to have come here! You whom people see as a result of many austerities and prayers! Listen to a song."

The Master sang a song, two lines of which ran:

When the Blissful Mother comes to my house, how much of the Chandi I shall hear!
How many monks will come here, and how many yogis with matted locks!

He said, continuing, "As long as the Divine Mother has come here, many yogis with matted locks will come too."

Sri Ramakrishna laughed. To M, Baburam, and the other devotees he said: "I feel very much like laughing. Just fancy, I am singing for these musicians!"

NILKANTHA: "We go about singing; but today we have had our true reward."

MASTER (smiling): "When a shopkeeper sells an article, he sometimes gives a little extra something to the buyer. You sang at Nabin's house and have given the extra something here."

All laughed.


The worldly Jadu Mallick - Warning devotees about women - How to conquer passion - Disciplines during the sadhana period - Planes of mind - On meditation - Tendencies from previous births - Dayananda - Theosophy - Preparation for God-vision - Purusha and Prakriti - Knowledge and ignorance - Hollowness of worldly love - Reason and love - Different attitudes toward God - Master and Ishan - Characteristics of Knowledge - Path of devotion - Path of karma - Rituals are only steps - Master exhorts Ishan - Master sings of the Divine Mother - The worship in the temple.

Saturday, October 11, 1884

SRI RAMAKRISHNA lay on the small couch in his room at the Dakshineswar temple garden. It was about two in the afternoon. M. and Priya Mukherji were sitting on the floor. M. had left his school at one o'clock and had just arrived at Dakshineswar. The Master was telling anecdotes about the calculating nature of the wealthy Jadu Mallick.

MASTER: "Once I went to Jadu Mallick's house. He asked right away, 'How much is the carriage hire?' Someone told him it was three rupees and two annas. Then he questioned me about it. Next one of his people secretly asked the coachman, who said it was three rupees and four annas. (All laugh.) At that he ran to us and said, 'How much did you say the carriage hire was?'

"A broker was present. He said to Jadu: 'There is a plot of land at Burrabazar for sale. Will you buy it?' Jadu asked the price and the broker told him. Jadu said, 'Won't he give it for less?' I said to Jadu: 'Come, come. You aren't going to buy the land. You're only bargaining. Isn't that so?' He turned to me and laughed.

"That is the nature of the worldly man. He wants people to come to him. That spreads his name in the market.

"Jadu went to Adhar's house. I told him it had made Adhar very happy. He said: 'What? What? Was he really happy?' A certain Mallick came to Jadu's house. He was very clever and deceitful. I saw it in his eyes. I looked at him and said: 'It isn't good to be clever. The crow is very clever, but it eats others' filth.' I could tell he was badly off. Jadu's mother was amazed and said to me, 'How did you know he hadn't a penny?' I saw it from his appearance."

Narayan entered the room and sat on the floor.

MASTER (to Priyanath): "Well, your Hari is a fine young man."

PRIYANATH: "What is so fine about him? Of course, he has a childlike nature."

NARAYAN: "He addressed his wife as mother."

MASTER: "What! Even I can't do that. And he calls her mother! (To Priyanath) You see, the boy is very quiet. His mind is directed to God."

Sri Ramakrishna changed the subject of conversation.

MASTER: "Do you know what Hem said? He said to Baburam, 'God alone is real; all else is illusory.' (All laugh.) Oh, no! He said it sincerely. Again, he told me he would take me to his house and sing kirtan. But he didn't do it. I understand that he said later on, 'What will people say if I sing with drums and cymbals?' He was afraid that people might think he was crazy.

"Haripada has fallen into the clutches of a woman of the Ghoshpara sect. He can't get rid of her. He says that she takes him on her lap and feeds him. She claims that she looks on him as the Baby Krishna. I have warned him a great many times. She says that she thinks of him as a child. But this maternal affection soon degenerates into something dangerous.
"You see, you should keep far away from woman; then you may realize God. It is extremely harmful to have much to do with women who have bad motives, or to eat food from their hands. They rob a man of his spirituality. Only by being extremely careful about woman can one preserve one's love of God. One day Bhavanath, Rakhal, and some other youngsters had cooked their own meal in the temple garden. They were sitting at their meal when a Baul arrived, sat down with them, and said he wanted to eat with them. I said that there was not enough food; if anything was left it would be kept for him. He became angry and left. On the Vijaya day a man allows anyone and everyone to feed him with his own hand. It is not good. But one can eat food from the hand of a devotee who is pure in heart.

"You must be extremely careful about women. Women speak of the attitude of Gopala! Pay no attention to such things. The proverb says: 'A woman devours the three worlds.' Many women, when they see handsome and healthy young men, lay snares for them. That is what they call the 'attitude of Gopala'.

"Those who develop dispassion from early youth, those who roam about yearning for God from boyhood, those who refuse all worldly life, belong to a different class. They belong to an unsullied aristocracy. If they develop true renunciation, they keep themselves at least fifty cubits away from women lest their spiritual mood should be destroyed. Once falling into the clutches of women, they no longer remain on the level of unsullied aristocracy. They fall from it and come to a lower level. People who practise renunciation from early youth belong to a very high level. Their ideal is very pure. They are stainless.

"How can a man conquer passion? He should assume the attitude of a woman. I spent many days as the handmaid of God. I dressed myself in women's clothes, put on ornaments, and covered the upper part of my body with a scarf, just like a woman. With the scarf on I used to perform the evening worship before the image. Otherwise, how could I have kept my wife with me for eight months? Both of us behaved as if we were the hand-maids of the Divine Mother, I cannot speak of myself as a man. One day I was in an ecstatic mood. My wife asked me, 'How do you regard me?' 'As the Blissful Mother', I said.

"Do you know the significance of the Siva emblem? It is the worship of the symbols of fatherhood and motherhood. The devotee worshipping the image prays, 'O Lord, please grant that I may not be born into this world again; that I may not have to pass again through a mother's womb.'"

A tutor of the Tagores entered the room with some boys of the family. Sri Ramakrishna continued talking.

MASTER (to the devotees): "Sri Krishna has a peacock feather on His crest. The feather bears the sign of the female sex. The significance of this is that Krishna carries Prakriti, the female principle, on His head. When Krishna joined the circle of the gopis to dance with them, He appeared there as a woman. That is why you see Him wearing women's apparel in the company of the gopis. Unless a man assumes the nature of a woman, he is not entitled to her company. Assuming the attitude of a woman, he can sport with her and enjoy her company. But a man must be extremely careful during the early stages of spiritual discipline. Then he must live far away from any woman. He must not go too close to one even if she is a great devotee of God. You see, a man must not sway his body while climbing to the roof; he may fall. Weak people should hold on to a support while going up the stairs.

"But it is quite different when one reaches perfection. After the realization of God there is not much for a man to fear; he has become to a great extent secure. The important thing is for a man somehow to climb to the roof. After that he can even dance there. But he cannot dance on the steps. Again, after climbing to the roof, you need no longer discard what you discarded before. You find that the stairs are made of the same materials - bricks, lime, and brick-dust - as the roof. The woman you have to be so careful about at the beginning will appear to you, after the realization of God, as the Divine Mother Herself. Then you will worship her as the Divine Mother. You won't fear her so much.

"The thing is to touch the 'granny', as children do in the game of hide-and-seek. Then you can do whatever you like.

"Man, looking outward, sees the gross; at that time his mind dwells in the annamayakosha, the gross body. Next is the subtle body. Functioning through the subtle body, the mind dwells in the manomayakosha and the vijnanamayakosha. Next is the causal body. Functioning through the causal body the mind enjoys bliss; it dwells in the anandamayakosha. This corresponds to the semi-conscious state experienced by Chaitanya. Last of all, the mind loses itself in the Great Cause. It disappears. It merges in the Great Cause. What one experiences after that cannot be described in words. In his inmost state of consciousness, Chaitanya enjoyed this experience. Do you know what this state is like? Dayananda described it by saying, 'Come into the inner apartments and shut the door.' Anyone and everyone cannot enter that part of the house.

"I used to meditate on the flame of a light. I thought of the red part as gross, the white part inside the red as subtle, and the stick-like black part, which is the innermost of all, as the causal.

"By certain signs you can tell when meditation is being rightly practised. One of them is that a bird will sit on your head, thinking you are an inert thing.

"I first met Keshab at a meeting of the Adi Samaj. Several members of the Samaj were sitting on the platform. Keshab was in the middle. I saw him motionless as a log. Pointing to Keshab, I said to Mathur Babu: 'Look there! That bait has been swallowed by a fish.' Because of that power of meditation he achieved what he wanted - name, fame, and so forth -, through the grace of God.

"One can meditate even with eyes open. One can meditate even while talking. Take the case of a man with toothache -"

TUTOR OF THE TAGORES: "Yes, sir. I know that very well." (All laugh.)

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, even when his teeth ache he does all his duties, but his mind is on the pain. Likewise one can meditate with eyes open and while talking to others as well."

TUTOR: "One of the epithets of God is the Redeemer of the sinner'. That is our hope. God is compassionate."

MASTER: "The Sikhs, too, said that God was compassionate. I asked, 'How is He compassionate?' 'Why,' they answered, 'He has begotten us; He has created so many things for us; He has brought us up to be men; and He protects us from danger at every step.' Thereupon I said: 'After begetting us, God looks after us and feeds us. Is there much credit in that? Suppose a son is born to you. Do you expect a man from another part of the city to bring him up?'"

TUTOR: "Revered sir, one man quickly succeeds in spiritual life, and another doesn't succeed at all. How do you explain that?"

MASTER: "The truth is that a man succeeds to a great extent because of tendencies inherited from his previous births. People think he has attained the goal all of a sudden. A man drank a glass of wine in the morning. It made him completely drunk. He began to behave improperly. People were amazed to see that he could be so drunk after one glass. But another man said, 'Why, he has been drinking all night.'

"Hanuman burnt down the golden city of Lanka. People were amazed that a mere monkey could burn the whole, city. But then they said, 'The truth is that the city was burnt by the sighs of Sita and the wrath of Rama.'

"Look at Lala Babu. He had so much wealth. Could he have renounced it all so suddenly without the good tendencies of his previous births? And Rani Bhavani. So much knowledge and devotion in a woman!

"In his last birth a man is endowed with sattva. His mind is directed to God. He longs for God. He withdraws his mind from worldly things.

"Krishnadas Pal came here. I found him full of rajas. But it must be said that he observed the Hindu customs. He left his shoes outside before entering the room. After a little conversation I discovered that he had no stuff inside. I asked him about man's duty. He said, To do good to the world.' I said: 'My dear sir, who are you? What good will you do to the world? Is the world such a small thing that you think you can help it?'"

Narayan arrived. Sri Ramakrishna was very happy to see him. He seated Narayan by his side on the small couch. He showed him his love by stroking his body and giving him sweets to eat. Then he asked Narayan tenderly, "Will you have some water?" Narayan was a student at M.'s school. At home his people beat him for visiting Sri Ramakrishna. The Master said to Narayan with an affectionate smile, "You had better get a leather jacket; then the beating won't hurt." Turning to Harish, the Master said that he would like to have a smoke.

Again addressing Narayan, Sri Ramakrishna said: "That woman who has established an artificial relationship of mother and son with Haripada came here the other day. I have warned Haripada very often. She belongs to the Ghoshpara sect. I asked her if she had found her 'man'. She said yes, and mentioned a man's name.

(To M.) "Ah! Nilkantha came here the other day. What spiritual fervour he has! He said he would come here another day and sing for us. They are dancing over there. Why don't you go and see it? (To Ramlal) There is no oil in the room. (Looking at the oil-jar) The servant hasn't filled it."

Sri Ramakrishna was walking up and down, now in his room, now on the south verandah. Occasionally pausing on the semicircular porch west of his room, he would look at the Ganges.

After a little while he returned to his room and sat on the small couch. It was past three in the afternoon. The devotees took their seats on the floor. The Master sat in silence before them, now and then casting a glance at the walls, where many pictures were hanging. To Sri Ramakrishna's left was a picture of Sarasvati, and beyond it, a picture of Gaur and Nitai singing kirtan with their devotees. In front of the Master hung pictures of Dhruva, Prahlada and Mother Kali. On the wall to his right was another picture of the Divine Mother, Rajarajesvari. Behind him was a picture of Jesus Christ raising the drowning Peter. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna turned to M. and said: "You see, it is good to keep pictures of sannyasis and holy men in one's room. When you get up in the morning you should see the faces of holy persons rather than the faces of other men. People with rajasic qualities keep 'English' pictures on their walls - pictures of rich men, the King, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and white men and women walking together. That shows their rajasic temperament.

"You acquire the nature of the people whose company you keep. Therefore even pictures may prove harmful. Again, a man seeks the company that agrees with his own nature. The paramahamsas keep near them a few young boys five or six years old. They allow such boys to be near them. Attaining the state of a paramahamsa, a man loves the company of boys. Like the paramahamsas, the boys are not under the control of the gunas - sattva, rajas, or tamas.

"By looking at trees a man awakens in his heart the picture of a hermitage in which a rishi is practising austerity."

A brahmin from Sinthi entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. He had studied Vedanta in Benares. He was stout and had a smiling face.

MASTER: "Hello! How are you? You haven't been here in a long time."

PUNDIT (smiling): "Worldly duties, sir. You know I have very little leisure."

The pundit sat down, and the Master began to talk with him.

MASTER: "You spent a long time in Benares. Tell us what you saw there. Tell us something about Dayananda."

PUNDIT: "Yes, I met him. You also met him, didn't you?"

MASTER: "Yes, I visited him. He was living then in a garden house on the other side of the Ganges. Keshab was expected there that day. He longed for Keshab as the chatak bird longs for rain. He was a great scholar and made fun of the Bengali language. He admitted the existence of the deities, but Keshab did not. Dayananda used to say: 'God has created so many things. Couldn't He have created the deities?' Dayananda believed the Ultimate Reality to be without form. Captain was repeating the name of Rama. Dayananda said to him sarcastically, 'Better repeat "sandesh"!'"

PUNDIT: "In Benares the pundits had great discussions with Dayananda. Finally he was left alone with all the others against him. They made it so hot for him that he thought the only way to save himself was by running away. All the pundits shouted with one voice, 'Whatever Dayananda has said is to be despised!'

"I saw Colonel Olcott too. The Theosophists believe in the existence of mahatmas, They also speak of the 'lunar', 'solar', 'stellar', and other planes. A Theosophist can go in his 'astral body' to all these planes. Oh, Olcott said many such things. Well, sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"

MASTER: "The one essential thing is bhakti, loving devotion to God. Do the Theosophists seek bhakti? They are good if they do. If Theosophy makes the realization of God the goal of life, then it is good. One cannot seek God if one constantly busies oneself with the mahatmas and the lunar, solar, and stellar planes. A man should practise sadhana and pray to God with a longing heart for love of His Lotus Feet. He should direct his mind to God alone, withdrawing it from the various objects of the world."

The Master sang:

How are you trying, O my mind, to know the nature of God?
You are groping like a madman locked in a dark room.
He is grasped through ecstatic love; how can you fathom Him without it? . . .

And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age;
When love awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul.

Continuing, the Master said: "You may speak of the scriptures, of philosophy, of Vedanta; but you will not find God in any of these. You will never succeed in realizing God unless your soul becomes restless for Him.

Only through affirmation, never negation, can you know Him,
Neither through Veda nor through Tantra nor the six darsanas.
It is in love's elixir only that He delights, O mind;
He dwells in the body's inmost depths, in Everlasting Joy.

"One must be very earnest about God. Listen to another song:

Can everyone have the vision of Radha? Can everyone taste her love?
This, the rarest treasure of all, no earthly wealth can buy;
Without devotions and sadhana none can ever obtain it.

The raindrop falling upon the deep when Svati shines on high
Is formed within the oyster's shell into a priceless pearl.
Can such a pearl be formed from rain that falls at other times?

Mothers with their babes in arms may beckon to the moon
To leave the sky and come to them; but only the babes are fooled.
Does the moon ever leave the sky and dwell upon the earth?

"One must practise intense spiritual discipline. Can one obtain the vision of God all of a sudden, without any preparation?

"A man asked me, 'Why don't I see God?' I said to him, as the idea came to my mind: "You want to catch a big fish. First make arrangements for it. Throw spiced bait into the water. Get a line and a rod. At the smell of the bait the fish will come from the deep water. By the movement of the water you will know that a big fish has come.'

"You want to eat butter. But what will you achieve by simply repeating that there is butter in milk? You have to work hard for it. Only thus can you separate butter from milk. Can one see God by merely repeating, 'God exists'? One needs sadhana.

"The Divine Mother Herself practised austere sadhana to set an example for mankind. Sri Krishna, who is none other than the Ultimate Brahman, also practised sadhana to set an example to others.

"Sri Krishna is the Purusha and Radha the Prakriti, the Chitsakti, the Adyasakti. Radha is the Prakriti, the embodiment of the three gunas. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are in her. As you remove the layers of an onion, you will first see tints of both black and red, then only red, and last of all only white. The Vaishnava scriptures speak of 'Kam-Radha', 'Prem-Radha', and 'Nitya-Radha'. Chandravali is Kam-Radha, and Srimati is Prem-Radha; Nanda saw Nitya-Radha holding Gopala in Her arms.

"The Brahman of Vedanta and the Chitsakti are identical, like water and its wetness. The moment you think of water you must also think of its wetness, and the moment you think of water's wetness you must also think of water. Or it is like the snake and its wriggling motion. The moment you think of the snake you must also think of its wriggling motion, and the moment you think of the snake's wriggling motion you must also think of the snake. When do I call the Ultimate Reality by the name of Brahman? When It is actionless or unattached to action. When a man puts on a cloth he remains the same man as when he was naked. He was naked; now he is clothed. He may be naked again. There is poison in the snake, but it doesn't harm the snake. It is poison to him who is bitten by the snake. Brahman Itself is unattached.

"Names and forms are nothing but the manifestations of the power of Prakriti. Sita said to Hanuman: 'My child, in one form I am Sita, in another form I am Rama. In one form I am Indra, in another I am Indrani. In one form I am Brahma, in another, Brahmani. In one form I am Rudra, in another, Rudrani.' Whatever names and forms you see are nothing but the manifestations of the power of Chitsakti. Everything is the power of Chitsakti - even meditation and he who meditates. As long as I feel that I am meditating, I am within the jurisdiction of Prakriti. (To M.) Try to assimilate what I have said. One should hear what the Vedas and the Puranas say, and carry it out in life.

(To the pundit) "It is good to live in the company of holy men now and then. The disease of worldliness has become chronic in man. It is mitigated, to a great extent, in holy company.

"'I' and 'mine' - that is ignorance. True knowledge makes one feel: 'O God, You alone do everything. You alone are my own. And to You alone belong houses, buildings, family, relatives, friends, the whole world. All is Yours.' But ignorance makes one feel: 'I am doing everything. I am the doer. House, buildings, family, children, friends, and property are all mine.'

"Once, a teacher was explaining all this to a disciple. He said, 'God alone, and no one else, is your own.' The disciple said: 'But, revered sir, my mother, my wife, and my other relatives take very good care of me. They see nothing but darkness when I am not present. How much they love me!' The teacher said: 'There you are mistaken. I shall show you presently that nobody is your own. Take these few pills with you. When you go home, swallow them and lie down in bed. People will think you are dead, but you will remain conscious of the outside world and will see and hear everything. Then I shall visit your home.

"The disciple followed the instructions. He swallowed the pills and lay as if unconscious in his bed. His mother, wife, and other relatives began to cry. Just then the teacher came in, in the guise of a physician, and asked the cause of their grief. When they had told him everything, he said to them: 'Here is a medicine for him. It will bring him back to life. But I must tell you one thing. This medicine must first be taken by one of his relatives and then given to him. But the relative who takes it first will die. I see his mother, his wife, and others here. Certainly one of you will volunteer to take the medicine. Then the young man will come back to life.'

"The disciple heard all this. First the physician called his mother, who was weeping and rolling on the ground in grief. He said to her: 'Mother, you don't need to weep any more. Take this medicine and your son will come to life. But you will die.' The mother took the medicine in her hand and began to think. After much reflection she said to the physician, with tears in her eyes: 'My child, I have a few more children. I have to think about them too. I am wondering what will happen to them if I die. Who will feed them and look after them?' The physician next called the wife and handed the medicine to her. She had been weeping bitterly too. With the medicine in her hand she also began to reflect. She had heard that she would die from the effect of the medicine. At last, with tears in her eyes, she said: 'He has met his fate. It I die, what will happen to my young children? Who will keep them alive? How can I take the medicine?' In the mean time the disciple had got over the effect of the pills. He was now convinced that nobody was really his own. He jumped out of bed and left the place with his teacher. The guru said to him, 'There is only one whom you may call your own, and that is God.'

"Therefore a man should act in such a way that he may have bhakti for the Lotus Feet of God and love God as his very own. You see this world around you. It exists for you only for a couple of days. There is nothing to it."

PUNDIT (smiling): "Revered sir, I feel a spirit of total renunciation when I am here. I feel like going away, giving up the world."

MASTER: "No, no! Why should you give up? Give up mentally. Live unattached in the world.

"Surendra wanted to spend the night here occasionally. He brought a bed and even spent a day or two here. Then his wife said to him, 'You may go anywhere you like during the day-time, but at night you must not leave home.' What could poor Surendra do? Now he has no way of spending the night away from home.

"What will you achieve by mere reasoning? Be restless for God and learn to love Him. Reason, mere intellectual knowledge, is like a man who can go only as far as the outer court of the house. But bhakti is like a woman who goes into the inner court.

"One must take up a definite attitude toward God. Then alone can one realize Him. Rishis like Sanaka cherished the attitude of santa; Hanuman the attitude of a servant; the cowherd boys of Vrindavan, like Sridama and Sudama, the attitude of a friend; Yasoda the attitude of a mother; and Radha the attitude of a sweetheart.

"'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy servant' - that is the servant's attitude, a very good one for aspirants."

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir."

The pundit from Sinthi left. If was dusk. Twilight hung over the Panchavati, the temples, and the river. Evening worship began in the different temples, accompanied by the sound of bells, gongs, and conch-shells. Sri Ramakrishna bowed before the pictures of the deities in his room. He was sitting on the small couch in an abstracted mood. A few devotees were on the floor. There was silence in the room.

An hour passed. Ishan and Kishori entered and sat down on the floor after saluting Sri Ramakrishna. Ishan was a great ritualist. He was devoted to the performance of the various rites and ceremonies prescribed by the scriptures. The Master opened the conversation.

MASTER: "Can one attain knowledge of God by merely repeating the word 'God'? There are two indications of such knowledge. First, longing, that is to say, love for God. You may indulge in reasoning or discussion, but if you feel no longing or love, it is all futile. Second, the awakening of the Kundalini. As long as the Kundalini remains asleep, you have not attained knowledge of God. You may be spending hours poring over books or discussing philosophy, but if you have no inner restlessness for God, you have no knowledge of Him.

"When the Kundalini is awakened, one attains bhava, bhakti, prema, and so on. This is the path of devotion.

"The path of karma (Here signifying religious rites and rituals.) is very difficult. Through it one obtains some powers - I mean occult powers."

ISHAN: "Let me go and see Hazra."

Sri Ramakrishna sat in silence. After a while Ishan returned to the room accompanied by Hazra. The Master was still silent. A few moments later Hazra whispered to Ishan: "Let's leave him alone. Perhaps he will meditate now." Both lert the room.

Sri Ramakrishna was still silent. In a few moments the devotees noticed that he was really meditating. Then he performed japa. He placed his right hand on his head, then on his forehead, then on his throat, then on his heart, and last of all on his navel. Was it meditation on the Primordial Energy in the six centres of the body?

Ishan and Hazra had gone to the Kali temple. Sri Ramakrishna was absorbed in meditation. Meanwhile Adhar had arrived. It was about half past seven.

A little later the Master went to the Kali temple. He looked at the image, took some sacred flowers from the feet of the Mother, and placed them on his head. He prostrated himself before the Mother and went round the image. He waved the chamara. He appeared ecstatic with divine fervour. Coming out, he found Ishan performing the sandhya with the kosakusi.

MASTER (to Ishan): "What? You are still here? Are you still performing the sandhya? Listen to a song:

Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
So long as I can breathe my last with Kali's name upon my lips?
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours?
Rituals may pursue him close, but never can they overtake him.
Charity, vows, and giving of gifts do not appeal to Madan's mind;
The Blissful Mother's Lotus Feet are his whole prayer and sacrifice. . . .

"How long must a man continue the sandhya? As long as he has not developed love for the Lotus Feet of God, as long as he does not shed tears and his hair does not stand on end when he repeats God's name.
I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both dharma and adharma.

"When the fruit grows, the flower drops off. When One has developed love of God and has beheld Him, then one gives up the sandhya and other rites. When the young daughter-in-law is with child, the mother-in-law reduces her activities. When she has been pregnant for nine months, she is not allowed to perform any household duty. After the birth of the child, she only carries the child on her arm and nurses it. She has no other duty. After the attainment of God, the sandhya and other rites are given up.

"You cannot achieve anything by moving at such a slow pace. You need stem renunciation. Can you achieve anything by counting fifteen months as a year? You seem to have no strength, no grit. You are as mushy as flattened rice soaked in milk. Be up and doing! Gird your loins!

"I don't like that song:

Brother, joyfully cling to God;
Thus striving, some day you may attain Him.

I don't care for the line, Thus striving, some day you may attain Him.' You need stern renunciation. I say the same thing to Hazra.

"You ask me why you don't feel stern renunciation. There is a reason for it. You have desires and tendencies within you. The same is true of Hazra. In our part of the country I have seen peasants bringing water into their paddy-fields. The fields have low ridges on all sides to prevent the water from leaking out; but these are made of mud and often have holes here and there. The peasants work themselves to death to bring the water, which, however, leaks out through the holes. Desires are the holes. You practise japa and austerities, no doubt, but they all leak out through the holes of your desires.

"They catch fish with a bamboo trap. The bamboo is naturally straight. But why is it bent in the trap? In order to catch the fish. Desires are the fish. Therefore the mind is bent down toward the world. If there are no desires, the mind naturally looks up toward God.

"Do you know what it is like? It is like the needles of a balance. On account of the weight of 'woman and gold' the two needles are not in line. It is 'woman and gold' that makes a man stray from the path of yoga. Haven't you noticed the flame of a candle? The slightest wind makes it waver. The state of yoga is like the candle-flame in a windless place.

"The mind is dispersed. Part of it has gone to Dacca, part to Delhi, and another part to Coochbehar. That mind is to be gathered in; it must be concentrated on one object. If you want sixteen annas' worth of cloth, then you have to pay the merchant the full sixteen annas. Yoga is not possible if there is the slightest obstacle. If there is a tiny break in the telegraph-wire, then the news cannot be transmitted.

"You are no doubt in the world. What if you are? You must surrender the fruit of your action to God. You must not seek any result for yourself. But mark one thing. The desire for bhakti cannot be called a desire. You may desire bhakti and pray for it. Practise the tamas of bhakti and force your demand upon the Divine Mother.
This bitterly contested suit between the Mother and Her son -
What sport it is! says Ramprasad. I shall not cease tormenting Thee
Till Thou Thyself shalt yield the fight and take me in Thine arms at last.

"Trailokya once remarked, 'As I was born into the family, I have a share in the estate.'

"God is your own Mother. Is She a stepmother? Is it an artificial relationship? If you cannot force your demand on Her, then on whom can you force it? Say to Her:

Mother, am I Thine eight-months child.? Thy red eyes cannot frighten me!
A deed of gift I hold in my heart, attested by Thy Husband Siva;
I shall sue Thee, if I must, and with a single point shall win.

"God is your own Mother. Enforce your demand. If you are part of a thing, you feel its attraction. Because of the element of the Divine Mother in me I feel attracted to Her. A true Saiva has some of the characteristics of Siva; he has in him some of the elements of Siva. He who is a true Vaishnava is endowed with some of the elements of Narayana.

"Nowadays you don't have to attend to worldly duties. Spend a few days thinking of God. You have seen that there is nothing to the world."

The Master sang:

Remember this, O mind! Nobody is your own:
Vain is your wandering in this world.
Trapped in the subtle snare of maya as you are,
Do not forget the Mother's name.

Only a day or two men honour you on earth
As lord and master; all too soon
That form, so honoured now, must needs be cast away,
When Death, the Master, seizes you.

Even your beloved wife, for whom, while yet you live,
You fret yourself almost to death,
Will not go with you then; she too will say farewell,
And shun your corpse as an evil thing.

Continuing, the Master said: "What are these things you busy yourself with - this arbitration and leadership? I hear that you settle people's quarrels and that they make you the arbiter. You have been doing this kind of work a long time. Let those who care for such things do them. Now devote your mind more and more to the 'Lotus Feet of God. The saying goes: 'Ravana died in Lanka and Behula wept bitterly for him!'

"Sambhu, too, said, 'I shall build hospitals and dispensaries.' He was a devotee of God; so I said to him, 'Will you ask God for hospitals and dispensaries when you see Him?'

"Keshab Sen asked me, 'Why do I not see God?' I said, 'You do not see God because you busy yourself with such things as name and fame and scholarship.' The mother does not come to the child as long as it sucks its toy -a red toy. But when, after a few minutes, it throws the toy away and cries, then the mother takes down the rice-pot from the hearth and comes running to the child.

"You are engaged in arbitration. The Divine Mother says to Herself: 'My child over there is now busy arbitrating and is very happy. Let him be.'"

In the mean time Ishan had been holding Sri Ramakrishna's feet. He said humbly, "It is not my will that I should do those things."

MASTER: "I know it. This is the Divine Mother's play - Her lila. It is the will of the Great Enchantress that many should remain entangled in the world. Do you know what it is like?

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


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

Only one or two in a hundred thousand get liberation. The rest are entangled through the will of the Divine Mother.

"Haven't you seen the game of hide-and-seek? It is the 'granny's' will that the game should continue. If all touch her and are released, then the playing comes to a stop. Therefore it is not her will that all should touch her.

"You see, in big grain stores the merchants keep rice in great heaps that touch the ceiling. Beside them there are heaps of lentils. To protect the grain from the mice, the merchants leave trays of puffed rice and sweetened rice near it. The mice like the smell and the sweet taste of these and so stay around the trays. They don't find the big heaps of grain. Similarly, men are deluded by 'woman and gold'; they do not know where God is.

"Rama said to Narada, 'Ask a boon of Me.' Narada said: 'O Rama, is there anything I lack? What shall I ask of Thee? But if Thou must give me a boon, grant that I may have selfless love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching maya.' Rama said, 'Narada, ask something else.' Narada again replied: 'O Rama, I don't want anything else. Be gracious to me and see that I have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet.'

"I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I don't want name and fame. I don't want the eight occult powers. I don't want a hundred occult powers. O Mother, I have no desire for creature comforts. Please, Mother, grant me the boon that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet.'

"It is written in the Adhyatma Ramayana that Lakshmana asked Rama: 'Rama, in how many forms and moods do You exist? How shall I be able to recognize You?' Rama said: 'Brother, remember this. You may be certain that I exist wherever you find the manifestation of ecstatic love.' That love makes one laugh and weep and dance and sing. If anyone has developed such love, you may know for certain that God Himself is manifest there. Chaitanyadeva reached that state."

The devotees listened spellbound to Sri Ramakrishna. His burning words entered their souls, spurring them along the path of renunciation.

Now he spoke to Ishan in a serious voice.

MASTER: "Don't forget yourself because of what you hear from your flatterers. Flatterers gather around a worldly man. Vultures gather around the carcass of a cow.

"Worldly people have no stuff in them. They are like a heap of cow-dung. Flatterers come to them and say: 'You are so charitable and wise! You are so pious!' These are not mere words but pointed bamboos thrust at them. How foolish it is! To be surrounded day and night by a bunch of worldly brahmin pundits and hear their flattery!

"Worldly men are slaves of three things: they are slaves of their wives, slaves of their money, slaves of their masters. Can they have any inner stuff? There is a certain person whom I shall not name; he earns eight hundred rupees a month but is the slave of his wife. He stands up or sits down at her bidding.

"Arbitration and leadership? How trifling these are! Charity and doing good to others? You have had enough of these. Those who are to devote themselves to such things belong to a different class. Now the time is ripe for you to devote your mind to the Lotus Feet of God. If you realize God, you will get everything else. First God, then charity, doing good to others, doing good to the world, and redeeming people. Why need you worry about these things. 'Ravana died in Lanka and Behula wept for him bitterly!'

"That's the trouble with you. It will be very good if a world-renouncing sannyasi gives you some spiritual instruction. The advice of the worldly man will not be right, be he a brahmin pundit or anyone else.

"Be mad! Be mad with love of God! Let people know that Ishan has gone mad and cannot perform worldly duties any more. Then people will no longer come to you for leadership and arbitration. Throw aside the kosakusi and justify your name of Ishan." (An epithet of the all-renouncing Siva.)

Ishan quoted:

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?

MASTER: "Mad! That's the thing! Shivanath once said that one 'loses one's head' by thinking too much of God. 'What?' said I. 'Can anyone ever become unconscious by thinking of Consciousness? God is of the nature of Eternity, Purity, and Consciousness. Through His Consciousness one becomes conscious of everything; through His Intelligence the whole world appears intelligent.' Shivanath said that some Europeans had gone insane, that they had lost their heads', by thinking too much about God. In their case it may be true; for they think of worldly things. There is a line in a song: 'Divine fervour fills my body and robs me of consciousness.' The consciousness referred to here is the consciousness of the outer world."

Ishan was seated touching Sri Ramakrishna's feet and listening to his words. Now and then he cast a glance at the basalt image of Kali in the shrine. In the light of the lamp She appeared to be smiling. It was as if the living Deity, manifesting Herself through the image, was delighted to hear the Master's words, holy as the words of the Vedas.

ISHAN (pointing to the image): "Those words from your sacred lips have really come from there."

MASTER: "I am the machine and She is the Operator. I am the house and She is the Indweller. I am the chariot and She is the Charioteer. I move as She moves me; I speak as She speaks through me. In the Kaliyuga one does not hear the voice of God, it is said, except through the mouth of a child or a madman or some such person.

"A man cannot be a guru. Everything happens by the will of God. Heinous sins - the sins of many births - and accumulated ignorance all disappear in the twinkling of an eye, through the grace of God. When light enters a room that has been kept dark a thousand years, does it remove the thousand years' darkness little by little, or instantly? Of course, at the mere touch of light all the darkness disappears.

"What can a man do? He may speak many words, but after all is said and done everything rests with God. The lawyer says: 'I have said all that can be said. Now the verdict rests with the judge.'

"Brahman is actionless. When It is engaged in creation, preservation, and dissolution, It is called the Primal Power, Adyasakti. This Power must be propitiated. Don't you know that it is so written in the Chandi? The gods first sang a hymn to the Adyasakti in order to propitiate Her. Only then did Hari wake up from His yoga sleep."

ISHAN: "Yes, sir. Brahma and the other gods sang this hymn at the time of the death of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha:

Svaha, Vashat, and Svadha art Thou; Thou the inner Self of the mantra;
Thou the Nectar of Immortality, O Everlasting One!
Eternal and unutterable art Thou, and yet Thou art manifest
In the three matras and the half matra.

O Goddess, Thou art Savitri; Thou art the Ultimate Mother;
All things have their support in Thee, by whom this universe was made.
O Goddess, Thou sustainest all, and all by Thee is devoured!

Thou it is that we call the Creator, when Thou Greatest the world,
O Embodiment of creation!
Thou it is that we call the Preserver, when Thou preservest it;
Thou it is that we call the Destroyer, when Thou destroyest it."

MASTER: "Yes, but you must assimilate that."

The Master rose. He mounted the platform in front of the shrine and saluted the Mother, touching the ground with his forehead. The devotees quickly gathered around him and fell at his feet. They all begged his grace. He descended from the platform and started toward his room, conversing with M. First he sang:

I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both dharma and adharma.

The Master continued: "Do you know the meaning of dharma and adharma? Here dharma means religious acts enjoined by the scriptures, such as charity, sraddha, feeding the poor, and the like.

"The performance of this dharma is called the path of karma. It is an extremely difficult path: it is very hard to act without motive. Therefore one is asked to pursue the path of devotion.

"A man was performing the sraddha ceremony at his house. He was feeding many people. Just then a butcher passed, leading a cow to slaughter. He could not control the animal and became exhausted. He said to himself: 'Let me go into that house and enjoy the feast of the sraddha ceremony and strengthen my body. Then I shall be able to drag the cow along.' So he carried out his intention. But when he killed the cow, the sin of the slaughter fell also on the performer of the sraddha. That is why I say the path of devotion is better than the path of action."

The Master entered his room accompanied by M. He was humming a song. The forceful words of renunciation that he had just spoken to Ishan found expression through its words. He sang the lines:

Mother, take everything else away from me,
But leave me my necklace of bones and my pot of hemp!

Sri Ramakrishna sat down on the small couch, and Adhar, Kishori, and the other devotees sat on the floor.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I was noticing Ishan. Why, he hasn't achieved anything! What can be the reason? He practised the purascharana for five months. That would have caused a revolution in any other person."

ADHAR: "It wasn't wise of you to say those things to him in front of us."

MASTER: "How is that? He is so much given to japa! How can words affect him?"

After a while Sri Ramakrishna said to Adhar, "Ishan is very charitable, and he practises japa and austerity a great deal." The Master remained quiet a few moments. The eyes of the devotees were fixed on him. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna said to Adhar, "You have both - yoga and bhoga."

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