Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 
Adhar - Meaning of Radha and Krishna - Purusha and Prakriti imply each other - Their inner harmony - Master and preaching - Preaching without God's command - Life after death - Duties of life - Master scolds Bankim - Devotees and the worldly-minded - Charity - The sannyasi's duty - The householder's duty - Difficulty of karmayoga - Spirituality and book-learning - God and the world - Faith in guru - Yearning tor God-vision.
Saturday, December 6, 1884
ADHAR, A GREAT DEVOTEE of Sri Ramakrishna, lived in Sobhabazar in the northern section of Calcutta. Almost every day, after finishing his hard work at the office and returning home in the late afternoon, he paid Sri Ramakrishna a visit. From his home in Calcutta he would go to Dakshineswar in a hired carriage. His sole delight was to visit the Master. But he would hear very little of what Sri Ramakrishna said; for, after saluting the Master and visiting the temples, he would lie down, at the Master's request, on a mat spread on the floor and would soon fall asleep. At nine or ten o'clock he would he awakened to return home. However, he considered himself blessed to be able to visit the God-man of Dakshineswar. At Adhar's request Sri Ramakrishna often visited his home. His visits were occasions for religious festivals. Devotees in large numbers would assemble, and Adhar would feed them sumptuously. One day, while Sri Ramakrishna was visiting his home, Adhar said to him: "Sir, you haven't come to our house for a long time. The rooms seemed gloomy; they had a musty smell. But today the whole house is cheerful; the sweetness of your presence fills the atmosphere. Today I called on God earnestly. I even shed tears while praying." "Is that so?" the Master said tenderly, casting a kindly glance on his disciple.
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Adhar's house with his attendants. Everyone was in a joyous mood. Adhar had arranged a rich feast. Many strangers were present. At Adhar's invitation, several other deputy magistrates had come; they wanted to watch the Master and judge his holiness. Among them was Bankim Chandra Chatterji, perhaps the greatest literary figure of Bengal during the later part of the nineteenth century. He was one of the creators of modern Bengali literature and wrote on social and religious subjects. Bankim was a product of the contact of India with England. He gave modern interpretations of the Hindu scriptures and advocated drastic social reforms.
Sri Ramakrishna had been talking happily with the devotees when Adhar introduced several of his personal friends to him.
ADHAR (introducing Bankim): "Sir, he is a great scholar and has written many books. He has come here to see you. His name is Bankim Babu."
MASTER (smiling): "Bankim! (Literally the word means "bent" or "curved".) Well, what has made you bent?")
BANKIM (smiling): "Why, sir, boots are responsible for it. The kicks of our white masters have bent my body."
MASTER: "No, my dear sir! Sri Krishna was bent on account of His ecstatic love. His body was bent in three places owing to His love for Radha. That is how some people explain Sri Krishna's form. Do you know why He has a deep-blue complexion? And why He is of such small stature - only three and a half cubits measured by His own hand? God looks so as long as He is seen from a distance. So the water of the ocean looks blue from afar. But if you go near the ocean and take the water in your hand, you will no longer find it blue; it will be very clear, transparent. So the sun appears small because it is very far away; if you go near it, you will no lonoer find it small. When one knows the true nature of God, He appears neither blue nor small. But that is a far-off vision: one does not see it except in samadhi. As long as 'I' and you' exist, name and form will also exist. Everything is God's lila, His sportive pleasure. As long as a man is conscious of 'I' and 'you', he will experience the manifestations of God through diverse forms.
"Sri Krishna is the Purusha; Srimati (Radhika, the Divine Consort of Krishna) is His Sakti, the Primal Power. The two are Purusha and Prakriti. What is the meaning of the Yugala Murti, the conjoined images of Radha and Krishna? It is that Purusha and Prakriti are not different; there is no difference between them. Purusha cannot exist without Prakriti, and Prakriti cannot exist without Purusha. If you mention the one, the other is understood. It is like fire and its power to burn: one cannot think of fire without its power to burn; again, one cannot think of fire's power to burn without fire. Therefore in the conjoined images of Radha and Krishna, Krishna's eyes are fixed on Radha and Radha's on Krishna. Radha's complexion is golden, like lightning; so Krishna wears yellow apparel. Krishna's complexion is blue, like a dark cloud; so Radha wears a blue dress; she has also decked herself with blue sapphires. Radha has tinkling anklets; so Krishna has them too. In other words, there is inner and outer harmony between Purusha and Prakriti."
As Sri Ramakrishna finished these words, Bankim and his friends began to whisper in English.
MASTER (smiling, to Bankim and the others): "Well, gentlemen! What are you talking about in English?"
ADHAR: "We are discussing what you have just said, your explanation of Krishna's form."
MASTER (smiling): "That reminds me of a funny story. It makes me want to laugh. Once, a barber was shaving a gentleman. The latter was cut slightly by the razor. At once he cried out, 'Damn!' But the barber didn't know the meaning of the word. He put his razor and other shaving articles aside, tucked up his shirt-sleeves - it was winter -, and said: 'You said "damn" to me. Now you must tell me its meaning.' The gentleman said: 'Don't be silly. Go on with your shaving. The word doesn't mean anything in particular; but shave a little more carefully.' But the barber wouldn't let him off so easily. said, 'If "damn" means something good, then I am a "damn", my father is a "damn", and all my ancestors are "damns". (All laugh.') But if it means something bad, then you are a "damn", your father is a "damn", and all your ancestors are "damns". (All laugh.) They are not only "damns", but "damn - damn - damn - da-damn - damn".'" (Loud laughter.)
As the laughter stopped, Bankim began the conversation.
BANKIM: "Sir, why don't you preach?"
MASTER (smiling): "Preaching? It is only a man's vanity that makes him think of preaching. A man is but an insignificant creature. It is God alone who will preach - God who has created the sun and moon and so illumined the universe. Is preaching such a trifling affair? You cannot preach unless God reveals Himself to you and gives you the command to preach. Of course, no one can stop you from preaching. You haven't received the command, but still you cry yourself hoarse. People will listen to you a couple of days and then forget all about it. It is like any other sensation: as long as you speak, people will say, 'Ah! He speaks well'; and the moment you stop, everything will disappear.
"The milk in the pot hisses and swells as long as there is heat under it. Take away the heat, and the milk will quiet down as before.
"One must increase one's strength by sadhana; otherwise one cannot preach. As the proverb goes: 'You have no room to sleep yourself and you invite a friend to sleep with you.' There is no place for you to lie down and you say: 'Come, friend! Come and lie down with me.' (Laughter.)
"Some people used to befoul the bank of the Haldarpukur at Kamarpukur every morning. The villagers would notice it and abuse the offenders. But that didn't stop it. At last the villagers filed a petition with the Government. An officer visited the place and put up a sign: 'Commit no nuisance. Offenders will be punished.' That stopped it completely. Afterwards there was no more trouble. It was a government order, and everyone had to obey it.
"Likewise, if God reveals Himself to you and gives you the command, then you can preach and teach people. Otherwise, who will listen to you?"
The visitors were listening seriously.
MASTER (to Bankim): "I understand you are a great pundit and have written many books. Please tell me what you think about man's duties? What will accompany him after death? You believe in the hereafter, don't you?"
BANKIM: "The hereafter? What is that?"
MASTER: "True. When a man dies after attaining Knowledge, he doesn't have to go to another plane of existence; he isn't born again. But as long as he has not attained Knowledge, as long as he has not realized God, he must come back to the life of this earth; he can never escape it. For such a person there is a hereafter. A man is liberated after attaining Knowledge, after realizing God. For him there is no further coming back to earth. If a boiled paddy-grain is sown, it doesn't sprout. Just so, if a man is boiled by the fire of Knowledge, he cannot take part any more in the play of creation; he cannot lead a worldly life, for he has no attachment to 'woman and gold'. What will you gain by sowing boiled paddy?"
BANKIM (smiling): "Sir, neither does a weed serve the purpose of a tree.
MASTER: "But you cannot call a jnani a weed. He who has realized God has obtained the fruit of Immortality - not a common fruit like a gourd or a pumpkin. He is free from rebirth. He is not born anywhere - on earth, in the solar world, or in the lunar world.
"Analogy is one-sided. You are a pundit; haven't you read logic? Suppose you say that a man is as terrible as a tiger. That doesn't mean that he has a fearful tail or a tiger's pot-face! (All laugh.)
"I said the same thing to Keshab. He asked me, 'Sir, is there an after-life?' I didn't commit myself either way. I said that the potters put their pots in the sun to bake. Among them you see both baked and soft pots. Sometimes cattle trample over them. When the baked pots are broken, the potters throw them away; but when the soft ones are broken they keep them. They mix them with water and put the clay on the wheel and make new pots. They don't throw away the unbaked pots. So I said to Keshab: 'The Potter won't let you go as long as you are unbaked. He will put you on the wheel of the world as long as you have not attained Knowledge, as long as you have not realized Him. He won't let you go. You will have to return to the earth again and again: there is no escape. You will be liberated only when you realize God. Then alone will the Potter let you go. It is because then you won't serve any purpose in this world of maya.' The jnani has gone beyond maya. What will he do in this world of maya?
"But God keeps some jnanis in the world of maya to be teachers of men. In order to teach others the jnani lives in the world with the help of vidyamaya. It is God Himself who keeps the jnani in the world for His work. Such was the case with Sukadeva and Sankaracharya.
(To Bankim, smiling) "Well, what do you say about man's duties?"
BANKIM (smiling): "If you ask me about them, I should say they are eating, sleeping, and sex-life."
MASTER (sharply): "Eh? You are very saucy! What you do day and night comes out through your mouth. A man belches what he eats. If he eats radish, he belches radish; if he eats green coconut, he belches green coconut. Day and night you live in the midst of 'woman and gold'; so your mouth utters words about that alone. By constantly thinking of worldly things a man becomes calculating and deceitful. On the other hand, he becomes guileless by thinking of God. A man who has seen God will never say what you have just said. What will a pundit's scholarship profit him if he does not think of God and has no discrimination and renunciation? Of what use is erudition if the mind dwells on 'woman and gold'?
"Kites and vultures soar very high indeed, but their gaze is fixed only on the charnel-pit. The pundit has no doubt studied many books and scriptures; he may rattle off their texts, or he may have written books. But if he is attached to women, if he thinks of money and honour as the essential things, wll you call him a pundit? How can a man be a pundit if his mind does not dwell on God?
Some may say about the devotees: 'Day and night these people speak shout God. They are crazy; they have lost their heads. But how clever we are. How we enjoy pleasure - money, honour, the senses!' The crow, too thinks he is a clever bird; but the first thing he does when he wakes up in the early morning is to fill his stomach with nothing but others' filth. Haven't you noticed how he struts about? Very clever indeed!"
There was dead silence.
Sri Ramakrishna continued: "But like the swan are those who think of God, who pray day and night to get rid of their attachment to worldly things and their love for 'woman and gold', who do not enjoy anything except the nectar of the Lotus Feet of the Lord, and to whom worldly pleasures taste bitter. If you put a mixture of milk and water before the swan, it will leave the water and drink only the milk. And haven't you noticed the gait of a swan? It goes straight ahead in one direction. So it is with genuine devotees: they go toward God alone. They seek nothing else; they enjoy nothing else.
(Tenderly, to Bankim) "Please don't take offence at my words."
BANKIM: "Sir, I haven't come here to hear sweet things."
MASTER (to Bankim):" 'Woman and gold' alone is the world; that alone is maya. Because of it you cannot see or think of God. After the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister and talk only of God. Then both their minds will be drawn to God, and the wife will be a help to the husband on the path of spirituality. None can taste divine bliss without giving up his animal feeling. A devotee should pray to God to help him get rid of this feeling. It must be a sincere prayer. God is our Inner Controller; He will certainly listen to our prayer if it is sincere.
"And 'gold'. Sitting on the bank of the Ganges below the Panchavati, I used to say, 'Rupee is clay and clay is rupee.' Then I threw both into the Ganges."
BANKIM: "Indeed! Money is clay! Sir, if you have a few pennies you can help the poor. If money is clay, then a man cannot give in charity or do good to others."
MASTER (to 'Bankim'): "Charity! Doing good! How dare you say you can do good to others? Man struts about so much; but if one pours foul water into his mouth when he is asleep, he doesn't even know it; his mouth overflows with it. Where are his boasting, his vanity, his pride, then?
"A sannyasi must give up 'woman and gold'; he cannot accept it any more. One must not swallow one's own spittle. When a sannyasi gives something to another, he knows that it is not himself who gives. Kindness belongs to God alone. How can a man lay claim to it? Charity depends on the will of Rama. A true sannyasi renounces 'woman and gold' both mentally and outwardly. He who eats no molasses must not even keep molasses about. If he does, and yet tells others not to eat it, they won't listen to him.
"A householder, of course, needs money, for he has a wife and children. He should save up to feed them. They say that the bird and the sannyasi should not provide for the future. But the mother bird brings food in her mouth for her chicks; so she too provides. A householder needs money. He has to support his family.
"If a householder is a genuine devotee he performs his duties without attachment; he surrenders the fruit of his work to God. - his gain or loss, his pleasure or pain - and day and night he prays for devotion and for nothing else. This is called motiveless work, the performance of duty without attachment. A sannyasi, too, must do all his work in that spirit of detachment; but he has no worldly duties to attend to, like a householder.
"If a householder gives in charity in a spirit of detachment, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. It is God alone that he serves - God, who dwells in all beings; and when he serves God, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. If a man thus serves God through all beings, not through men alone but through animals and other living beings as well; if he doesn't seek name and fame, or heaven after death; if he doesn't seek any return from those he serves; if he can carry on his work of service in this spirit - then he performs truly selfless work, work without attachment. Through such selfless work he does good to himself. This is called karmayoga. This too is a way to realize God. But it is very difficult, and not suited to the Kaliyuga.
"Therefore I say, he who works in such a detached spirit - who is kind and charitable - benefits only himself. Helping others, doing good to others - this is the work of God alone, who for men has created the sun and moon, father and mother, fruits, flowers, and corn. The love that you see in parents is God's love: He has given it to them to preserve His creation. The compassion that you see in the kind-hearted is God's compassion: He has given it to them to protect the helpless. Whether you are charitable or not, He will have His work done somehow or other. Nothing can stop His work.
"What then is man's duty? What else can it be? It is just to take refuge in God and to pray to Him with a yearning heart for His vision.
"Sambhu said to me: 'It is my desire to build a large number of hospitals and dispensaries. Thus I can do much good to the poor.' I said to him: 'Yes, that is not bad if you can do it in a detached spirit. But to be detached is very difficult unless you sincerely love God. And fulther, if you entangle yourself in many activities, you will be attached to them in a way unknown to yourself. You may think you have no motive behind your work, but perhaps there has already grown a desire for fame and the advertising of your name. Then again, if you are entangled in too many activities, the pressure of them will make you forget God.' I also said to him: 'Sambhu, let me ask you one thing. If God appears before you, will you want Him or a number of hospitals and dispensaries?' If one realizes God, one doesn't enjoy anything else. One who has tasted syrup of sugar candy cannot enjoy a drink made from common treacle.
'Those who build hospitals and dispensaries, and get pleasure from that, are no doubt good people; but they are of a different type. He who is a real devotee of God seeks nothing but God. If he finds himself entangled in too much work, he earnestly prays, 'Lord, be 'gracious and reduce my work; my mind, which should think of Thee day and night, has been wasting its power; it thinks of worldly things alone.' Pure-souled devotees are in a class by themselves. You cannot have real love of God unless you know that God alone is real and all else illusory. You cannot have real love of God unless you know that the world is impermanent, only of two days' existence, while its Creator alone is real and eternal.
"Janaka and sages like him worked in the world at the command of God.
(To Bankim) "Some people think that God cannot be realized without the study of books and scriptures. They think that first of all one should learn of this world and its creatures; that first of all one should study 'science'. (All laugh.) They think that one cannot realize God without first understanding His creation. Which comes first, 'science' or God? What do you say?"
BANKIM: "I too think that we should first of all know about the different things of the world. How can we know of God without knowing something of this world? We should first learn from books."
MASTER: "That's the one cry from all of you. But God comes first and then the creation. After attaining God you can know everything else, if it is necessary.
"If you can somehow get yourself introduced to Jadu Mallick, then you will be able to learn, if you want to, the number of his houses and gardens and the amount of his money invested in government securities. Jadu Mallick himself will tell you all about them. But if you haven't met him and if you are stopped by his door-keepers when you try to enter his house, then how will you get the correct information about his houses, gardens, and government securities? When you know God you know all else; but then you don't care to know small things. The same thing is stated in the Vedas. You talk about the virtues of a person as long as you haven't seen him, but no sooner does he appear before you than all such talk stops. You are beside yourself with joy simply to be with him. You feel overwhelmed by simply conversing with him. You don't talk about his virtues any more.
"First realize God, then think of the creation and other things. Valmiki was given the name of Rama to repeat as his mantra, but was told at first to repeat 'mara'. 'Ma' means God and 'ra' the world. First God and then the world. If you know one you know all. If you put fifty zeros after a one, you have a large sum; but erase the one and nothing remains. It is the one that makes the many. First one, then many. First God, then His creatures and the world.
"The one thing you need is to realize God. Why do you bother so much about the world, creation, 'science', and all that? Your business is to eat mangoes. What need have you to know how many hundreds of trees there are in the orchard, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves? You have come to the garden to eat mangoes. Go and eat them. Man is born in this world to realize God; it is not good to forget that and divert the mind to other things. You have come to eat mangoes. Eat the mangoes and be happy."
BANKIM: "Where do we get the mangoes?"
MASTER: "Pray to God with a longing heart. He will surely listen to your prayer if it is sincere. Perhaps He will direct you to holy men with whom you can keep company; and that will help you on your spiritual path. Perhaps someone will tell you, 'Do this and you will attain God.'"
BANKIM: "Who? The guru? He enjoys all the good mangoes himself and gives us the bad ones!" (Laughter.)
MASTER: "Why should that be so? The mother knows what food suits the stomachs of her different children. Can all of them digest pilau and kalia? Suppose a fish has been procured. The mother doesn't give pilau and kalia to all the children. For the weak child with a poor stomach she prepares simple soup. But does that mean she loves him the less?
"One must have faith in the guru's words. The guru is none other than Satchidananda. God Himself is the Guru. If you only believe his words like a child, you will realize God. What faith a child has! When a child's mother says to him about a certain man, 'He is your brother', the child believes he really is his brother. The child believes it one hundred and twenty-five per cent, though he may be the son of a brahmin, and the man the son of a blacksmith. The mother says to the child, 'There is a bugaboo in that room', and the child really believes there is a bugaboo in the room. Such is the faith of a child! One must have this childlike faith in the guru's words. God cannot be realized by a mind that is hypocritical, calculating, or argumentative. One must have faith and sincerity. Hypocrisy will not do. To the sincere, God is very near; but He is far, far away from the hypocrite.
"One must have for God the yearning of a child. The child sees nothing but confusion when his mother is away. You may try to cajole him by putting a sweetmeat in his hand; but he will not be fooled. He only says, 'No, I want to go to my mother.' One must feel such yearning for God. Ah, what yearning! How restless a child feels for his mother! Nothing can make him forget his mother. He to whom the enjoyment of worldly happiness appears tasteless, he who takes no delight in anything of the world - money, name, creature comforts, sense pleasure -, becomes sincerely grief-stricken for the vision of the Mother. And to him alone the Mother comes running, leaving all Her other duties.
"Ah, that restlessness is the whole thing. Whatever path you follow - whether you are a Hindu, a Mussalman, a Christian, a Sakta, a Vaishnava, or a Brahmo - the vital point is restlessness. God is our Inner Guide. It doesn't matter if you take a wrong path - only you must be restless for Him. He Himself will put you on the right path.
"Besides, there are errors in all paths. Everyone thinks his watch is right; but as a matter of fact no watch is absolutely right. But that doesn't hamper one's work. If a man is restless for God he gains the company of sadhus and as far as possible corrects his own watch with the sadhus' help."
Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj began to sing. Presently Sri Ramakrishna stood up and lost consciousness of the outer world. He became completely indrawn, absorbed in samadhi. The devotees stood around him in a circle. Pushing aside the crowd, Bankim came near the Master and began to watch him attentively. He had never seen anyone in samadhi.
After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna regained partial consciousness and began to dance in an ecstatic mood. It was a never-to-be-forgotten scene. Bankim and his Anglicized friends looked at him in amazement. Was this he God-intoxicated state? The devotees also watched him with wondering eyes.
The singing and dancing over, the Master touched the ground with his forehead, saying, "Bhagavata - Bhakta - Bhagavan! Salutations to the jnanis, yogis, and bhaktas! Salutations to all!" He sat down again and all sat around him.
BANKIM (to the Master): "Sir, how can one develop divine love?"
MASTER: "Through restlessness - the restlessness a child feels for his mother. The child feels bewildered when he is separated from his mother, and weeps longingly for her. If a man can weep like that for God he can even see Him.
"At the approach of dawn the eastern horizon becomes red. Then one knows it will soon be sunrise. Likewise, if you see a person restless for God, you can be pretty certain that he hasn't long to wait for His vision.
"A disciple asked his teacher, 'Sir, please tell me how I can see God.' Come with me,' said the guru, 'and I shall show you.' He took the disciple to a lake, and both of them got into the water. Suddenly the teacher pressed the disciple's head under the water. After a few moments he released him and the disciple raised his head and stood up. The guru asked him, 'How did you feel?' The disciple said, 'Oh! I thought I should die; I was panting for breath.' The teacher said, 'When you feel like that for God, then you will know you haven't long to wait for His vision.'
(To Bankim) "Let me tell you something. What will you gain by floating on the surface? Dive a little under the water. The gems lie deep under the water; so what is the good of throwing your arms and legs about on the surface? A real gem is heavy. It doesn't float; it sinks to the bottom. To get the real gem you must dive deep."
BANKIM: "Sir, what can we do? We are tied to a cork. It prevents us from diving." (All laugh.)
MASTER: "All sins vanish if one only remembers God. His name breaks the fetters of death. You must dive; otherwise you can't get the gem. Listen to a song."
The Master sang in his sweet voice:
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocaan of God's Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.
Go seek, O mind, go seek Vrindavan in your heart,
Where with His loving devotees
Sri Krishna sports eternally.
Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom's shining lamp,
And let it bum with steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart.
Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth?
It is your guru, says Kubir;
Meditate on his holy feet.
All listened spellbound. Again Sri Ramakrishna began to talk.
MASTER (to Bankim): "There are some who do not want to dive. They say, 'Won't we become deranged it we go to excess about God?' Referring to those who are intoxicated with divine love, they say, 'These people have lost their heads.' But they don't understand this simple thing: God is the Ocean of Amrita, Immortality. Once I said to Narendra: 'Suppose there were a cup of syrup and you were a fly. Where would you sit to drink the syrup?' Narendra said, 'I would sit on the edge of the cup and stretch out my neck to drink it.' 'Why?' I asked. 'What's the harm of plunging into the middle of the cup and drinking the syrup?' Narendra answered, 'Then I should stick in the syrup and die.' 'My child,' I said to him, 'that isn't the nature of the Nectar of Satchidananda. It is the Nectar of Immortality. Man does not die from diving into It. On the contrary he becomes immortal.'
"Therefore I say, dive deep. Don't be afraid. By diving deep in God one becomes immortal."
Bankim bowed low before the Master. He was about to take his leave.
BANKIM: "Sir, I am not such an idiot as you may think. I have a prayer to make. Please be kind enough to grace my house with the dust of your holy feet."
MASTER: "That's nice. I shall go if God wills."
BANKIM: "There too you will see devotees of God."
MASTER (smiling): "How so? What kind of devotees are they? Are they like those who said, 'Gopal! Gopal! Kesava! Kesava!'?" (All laugh.)
A DEVOTEE: "What is the story of 'Gopal', sir?"
MASTER (smiling): "Let me tell you. At a certain place there is a gold-smith's shop. The workers there are known as pious Vaishnavas: they have strings of beads around their necks, religious marks on their foreheads, and bags containing rosaries in their hands. They repeat the names of God aloud. One can almost call them sadhus; only they have to work as goldsmiths to earn their bread and support their wives and children. Many customers, hearing of their piety, come to the shop because they believe that in that shop there will be no trickery with their gold or silver. When the customers enter the shop, they see the workers repeating the name of Hari with their tongues and doing their work with their hands. No sooner do the customers take seats in the shop than one of the workers cries out, 'Kesava! Kesava! Kesava!' A few minutes later another says, 'Gopal! Gopal! Gopal!' After they talk a little while, the third man cries out, 'Hari! Hari! Hari!' In the mean time the customers have almost finished their transactions. Then the fourth exclaims, 'Hara! Hara! Hara!' The customers are very much impressed with the devotion and fervour of the owners and feel themselves quite secure in handing them the money. They are sure they won't be cheated.
"But do you know what lies behind all this? The man who says 'Kesava! Kesava! after the arrival of the customers means, 'Who are they?' In other words, he wants to know how intelligent they are. The man who says 'Gopal! Gopal!' means to say he finds them no better than a herd of cows. The man saying 'Hari! Hari!' means, 'May I rob them?'; he suggests that since they are like a herd of cows they can be robbed. And the last man, who says 'Hara! Hara!', replies, 'Yes, rob them.' He means that since the customers are like a herd of cows, they can certainly be robbed. Here, too, you see a group of pious men, very much devoted to God!" (All laugh.)
Bankim took his leave; but he was absent-minded. When he reached the door he discovered that he had dropped his shawl in the room; he was in his shirt-sleeves. A gentleman handed him his shawl.
Of the devotees at Adhar's house, Sarat and Sannyal were brahmins. But Adhar belonged to the lower caste of the goldsmiths, and so the two brahmins quickly left, lest they should be pressed by their host to take their meal there. Sarat and Sannyal had been coming to the Master only a short time and did not know how fond the Master was of Adhar. The Master used to say that the devotees formed a separate caste by themselves; among them there could be no caste distinction.
Adhar entertained the Master and the devotees with a feast. It was quite late in the evening when the devotees returned home, cherishing in their hearts the image of the Master in his spiritual ecstasy and remembering his words of great wisdom.
Since Bankim had invited Sri Ramakrishna to visit his home, the Master a few days later sent Girish and M. to his Calcutta residence. At that time Bankim had a long discussion with these two devotees about the Master. He told them that he wanted to visit Sri Ramakrishna again. But his desire was not fulfilled.
AT THE STAR THEATRE (II)
Assimilation of spiritual ideas - Master sees a performance - Signs of God-vision - Different moods of liberated souls - The ego of the devotee - Three classes of devotees - Restlessness for God-vision - Worldly man's spiritual discipline - Master and Girish - Master and book-learning - First God and then the world - Master's spiritual experiences - Chaitanya - The Divine Incarnation and the ordinary man - Yoga and God-vision.
Sunday, December 14, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA arrived at the Star Theatre on Beadon Street in Calcutta to see a play about the life of Prahlada. M., Baburam, Narayan, and other devotees were with him. The hall was brightly lighted. The play had not yet begun. The Master was seated in a box, talking with Girish.
MASTER (smiling): "Ah! You have written nice plays."
GIRISH: "But, sir, how little I assimilate! I just write."
MASTER: "No, you assimilate a great deal. The other day I said to you that no one could sketch a divine character unless he had love of God in his heart.
"Yes, one needs to assimilate spiritual ideas. I went to Keshab's house to see the play, Nava-Vrindavan. I saw a deputy magistrate there who earned eight hundred rupees a month. Everyone said that he was a very learned man; but I found him restless because of a boy, his son. He was very anxious to find a good seat for the boy; he paid no attention to the spiritual conversation of the players. The boy was pestering him with questions: 'Father! What is this? What is that?' He was extremely busy with the boy. You see, he merely read books; but he didn't assimilate their ideas."
GIRISH: "I often ask myself, 'Why bother about the theatre any more?'"
MASTER: "No, no! Let things be as they are. People will learn much from your plays."
The performance began. Prahlada was seen entering the schoolroom as a student. At the sight of him Sri Ramakrishna uttered once or twice the word "Prahlada" and went into samadhi.
During another scene Sri Ramakrishna wept to see Prahlada under an elephant's feet. He cried when the boy was thrown into the fire.
The scene changed. Lakshmi and Narayana were seen seated in Goloka. Narayana was worried about Prahlada. This scene, too, threw Sri Ramakrishna into an ecstatic mood.
After the performance Girish conducted Sri Ramakrishna to his private room in the theatre. He said to the Master, "Would you care to see the farce, Vivaha Vibhrata [The Confusion of Marriage']?"
MASTER: "Oh, no! Why something like that after the life of Prahlada? I once said to the leader of a theatrical troupe, 'End your performance with some religious talk.' We have been listening to such wonderful spiritual conversation; and now to see 'The Confusion of Marriage'! A worldly topic! We should become our old selves again. We should return to our old mood."
GIRISH: "How did you like the performance?"
MASTER: "I found that it was God Himself who was acting the different parts. Those who played the female parts seemed to me the direct embodiments of the Blissful Mother, and the cowherd boys of Goloka the embodiments of Narayana Himself. It was God alone who had become all these.
"There are signs by which you can know whether a man has truly seen God. One of these is joy; there is no hesitancy in him. He is like the ocean: the waves and sounds are on the surface; below are profound depths. The man who has seen God behaves sometimes like a madman; sometimes like a ghoul, without any feeling of purity or impurity; sometimes like an inert thing, remaining speechless because he sees God within and without; sometimes like a child, without any attachment, wandering about unconcernedly with his cloth under his arm. Again, in the mood of a child, he acts in different ways: sometimes like a boy, indulging in frivolity; sometimes like a young man, working and teaching with the strength of a lion.
"Man cannot see God on account of his ego. You cannot see the sun when a cloud rises in the sky. But that doesn't mean there is no sun; the sun is there just the same.
"But there is no harm in the 'ego of a child'. On the contrary, this ego is helpful. Greens are bad for the stomach; but hinche is good. So hinche cannot properly be called greens. Sugar candy, likewise, cannot be classed with other sweets. Other sweets are injurious to the health, but not sugar candy.
"So I said to Keshab, 'If I tell you more than I have already said, you won't be able to keep your organization together.' That frightened him. Then I said to him, 'There is no harm in the "ego of a child" or the "ego of a servant".'
"He who has seen God finds that God alone has become the world and all its living beings; it is He who has become all. Such a person is called a superior devotee."
GIRISH (smiling): "Yes, God is everything. But the devotee keeps a trace of ego; that is not harmful."
MASTER (smiling): "Yes, there is no harm in that. That trace of ego is kept in order to enjoy God. You can enjoy divine bliss only when you make a distinction between yourself and God - the distinction between the servant and the Master.
"There is also the devotee of the mediocre class: he sees that God dwells in all beings as their Inner Guide. But the inferior devotee says, 'God exists; He is up there', that is to say, beyond the sky. (All laugh.)
"When I saw the cowherd boys of Goloka in your performance I felt that God has become all. He who has seen God knows truly that God alone is the Doer, that it is He who does everything."
GIRISH: "Sir, I know truly that it is God who does everything."
MASTER: "I say, 'O Mother, I am the machine and You are the Operator; I am inert and You make me conscious; I do as You make me do; I speak as You make me speak.' But the ignorant say, 'I am partly responsible, and God is partly responsible.'"
GIRISH: "Sir, I am not really doing anything. Why should I bother about work at all?"
MASTER: "No, work is good. When the ground is well cultivated and cleared of stones and pebbles, whatever you plant will grow. But one should work without any personal motive.
"There are two types of paramahamsas: the jnani and the premi. (Lover of God.) The jnani is self-centred; he feels that it is enough to have Knowledge for his own self. The premi, like Sukadeva, after attaining his own realization, teaches men. Some eat mangoes and wipe off the traces from their mouths; but some share their mangoes with others. Spades and baskets are needed to dig a well. After the digging is over, some throw the spades and baskets into the well. But others put them away; for a neighbour may use them. Sukadeva and a few others kept the spades and baskets for the benefit of others. (To Girish) You should do the same."
GIRISH: "Please bless me, sir."
MASTER: "Have faith in the Divine Mother and you will attain everything."
GIRISH: "But I am a sinner."
MASTER: "The wretch who constantly harps on sin becomes a sinner."
GIRISH: "Sir, the very ground where I used to sit would become unholy."
MASTER: "How can you say that? Suppose a light is brought into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it illumine the room little by little, or all in a flash?"
GIRISH: "Then you have blessed me."
MASTER: "If you sincerely believe it. What more shall I say? I eat and drink and chant the name of God."
GIRISH: "I have no sincerity. Please give it to me."
MASTER: "I? Sages like Narada and Sukadeva could have done that."
GIRISH: "I don't see Narada and Sukadeva. But you are here before me."
MASTER (smiling): "All right. You have faith."
All remained silent. The conversation began again.
GIRISH: "I have one desire: love of God for its own sake."
MASTER: "Only the Isvarakotis have such love. It is not for ordinary men."
All sat in silence. The Master began to sing in an absent-minded mood, his gaze turned upward:
Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kali's treasure for everyone?
Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true!
Even with all His penances, rarely does Siva Himself behold
The mind-bewitching sight of Mother Syama's crimson feet.
To him who meditates on Her the riches of heaven are poor indeed;
If Syama casts Her glance on him, he swims in Eternal Bliss.
The Prince of yogis, the King of the gods, meditate on Her feet in vain;
Yet worthless Kamalakanta yearns for the Mother's blessed feet!
Yet worthless Kamalakanta yearns for the Mother's blessed feet!
MASTER (to Girish): "One can realize God through intense renunciation. But the soul must be restless for Him, as restless as one feels for a breath of air when one's head is pressed under water.
"A man can see God if he unites in himself the force of these three attractions: the attraction of worldly possessions for the worldly man, the husband's attraction for the chaste wife, and the child's attraction for its mother. If you can unite these three forms of love and give it all to God, then you can see Him at once.
Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, O mind!
And how can She hold Herself from you?
"If a devotee prays to God with real longing, God cannot help revealing Himself to him.
"The other day I told you the meaning of bhakti. It is to adore God with body, mind, and words. 'With body' means to serve and worship God with one's hands, go to holy places with one's feet, hear the chanting of the name and glories of God with one's ears, and behold the divine image with one's eyes. 'With mind' means to contemplate and meditate on God constantly and to remember and think of His lila. 'With words' means to sing hymns to Him and chant His name and glories.
"Devotion as described by Narada is suited to the Kaliyuga. It means to chant constantly the name and glories of God. Let those who have no leisure worship God at least morning and evening by whole-heartedly chanting His name and clapping their hands.
"The 'ego of a devotee' begets no pride; it does not create ignorance. On the contrary it helps one realize God. This ego is no more like the ordinary ego than hinche is like ordinary greens. One generally becomes indisposed by eating greens; but hinche removes excessive bile; it does one good. Sugar candy is not like ordinary sweets. Sweets are generally harmful, but sugar candy removes acidity.
"Nishtha leads to bhakti; bhakti, when mature, becomes bhava; bhava, when concentrated, becomes mahabhava; and last of all is prema. Prema is like a cord: by prema God is bound to the devotee; He can no longer run away. An ordinary man can at best achieve bhava. None but an Isvarakoti attains mahabhava and prema. Chaitanyadeva attained them.
"What is the meaning of jnanayoga? It is the path by which a man can realize the true nature of his own Self; it is the awareness that Brahman alone is his true nature. Prahlada sometimes was aware of his identity with Brahman. And sometimes he would see that God was one and he another; at such times he would remain in the mood of bhakti.
"Hanuman said, 'O Rama, sometimes I find that You are the whole and I a part, sometimes that You are the Master and I Your servant; but, O Rama, when I have the Knowledge of Reality, I see that You are I and I am You.'"
MASTER: "Why shouldn't a man be able to realize God in the world? But he must have discrimination and dispassion; he must have the unshakable awareness that God alone is real and all else is unreal and has but a two-day's existence. It will not do to float on the surface. You must dive deep."
With these words, 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. . . .
MASTER: "You must remember another thing: in the ocean there is danger of alligators, that is to say, of lust and the like."
GIRISH: "I am not afraid of the King of Death."
MASTER: "But I am speaking of the danger of the alligators of lust and the like. Because of them one should smear one's body with turmeric before diving in - the turmeric of discrimination and dispassion.
"Some attain knowledge of God in the world. Mention is made of two classes of yogis: the hidden and the known. Those who have renounced the world are 'known' yogis: all recognize them. But the 'hidden' yogis live in the world. They are not known. They are like the maidservant who performs her duties in the house but whose mind is fixed on her children in the country. They are also, as I have told you, like the loose woman who performs her household duties zealously but whose mind constantly dwells on her lover. It is very hard to cultivate discrimination and dispassion. It is not easy to get rid of the idea, 'I am the master and all these are mine.' I saw a deputy magistrate, who earns a salary of eight hundred rupees, paying no attention to a religious discourse. He had brought one of his children with him and was busy finding a good place for him to sit. I know another man, whom I shall not name, who used to devote a great deal of time to japa; but he bore false witness in court for the sake of ten thousand rupees. Therefore I say that a man can realize God in the world, too, but only if he has discrimination and dispassion."
GIRISH: "What will happen to this sinner?"
Sri Ramakrishna sang in a tender voice, turning his eyes upward:
Meditate on the Lord, the Slayer of hell's dire woes,
He who removes the fear of death;
Thinking of Him, the soul is freed from worldly grief
And sails across the sea of life in the twinkling of an eye.
Consider, O my mind, why you have come to earth;
What gain is there in evil thoughts and deeds?
Your way lies not through these: perform your penance here
By meditating long and deep on the everlasting Lord.
MASTER: "'Sails across the sea of life in the twinkling of an eye.' One attains the vision of God if Mahamaya steps aside from the door. Mahamaya's grace is necessary: hence the worship of Sakti. You see, God is near us, but it is not possible to know Him because Mahamaya stands between. Rama, Lakshmana, and Sita were walking along. Rama walked ahead, Sita in the middle, and Lakshmana last. Lakshmana was only two and a half cubits away from Rama, but he couldn't see Rama because Sita - Mahamaya - was in the way.
"While worshipping God, one should assume a definite attitude. I have three attitudes: the attitude of a child, the attitude or a maidservant, and the attitude of a friend. For a long time I regarded myself as a maidservant and a woman companion of God; at that time I used to wear skirts and ornaments, like a woman. The attitude of a child is very good.
"The attitude of a 'hero' is not good. Some people cherish it. They regard themselves as Purusha and woman as Prakriti; they want to propitiate woman through intercourse with her. But this method often causes disaster."
GIRISH: "At one time I too cherished that idea."
Sri Ramakrishna looked at Girish pensively.
GIRISH: "I still have that twist in my mind. Tell me what I should do." Sri Ramakrishna reflected a minute and said, "Give God your power of attorney. Let Him do whatever He likes."
The conversation then turned to Sri Ramakrishna's young devotees.
MASTER (to Girish and the others): "In meditation I see the inner traits of these youngsters. They have no thought of acquiring house and property. They do not crave sex pleasure. Those of the youngsters who are married do not sleep with their wives. The truth is that unless a man has got rid ot rajas and has acquired sattva, he cannot steadily dwell in God; he cannot love God and realize Him."
GIRISH: "You have blessed me."
MASTER: "How is that? I said that you would succeed if you were sincere."
Saying this, the Master exclaimed, "Anandamayi!" and went into samadhi. He remained in that state a long time. Regaining partial consciousness, he said, "Where are those rascals?" M. brought Baburam to him. Sri Ramakrishna looked at Baburam and the other devotees and said, still in ecstasy, "The bliss of Satchidananda is indeed good; but what about the bliss of divine inebriation?"
He began to sing:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava. . . .
Again he sang:
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? . . .
The Master continued, saying, "While praying to the Divine Mother, I said, 'O Mother, I don't seek anything else: give me only pure love for Thee.'"
Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with Girish's calm mood. He said to him, "This mood of yours is good; the calm mood is the best."
The Master was seated in the manager's room. A man entered and said, "Will you see the farce. 'The Confusion of Marriage'? It is being played now."
Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish: "What have you done? This farce after the life of Prahlada! First sweets and rice pudding and then a dish of bitter herbs!"
After the theatre, the actresses, following Girish's instructions, came to the room to salute Sri Ramakrishna. They bowed before him, touching the ground with their foreheads. The devotees noticed that some of the actresses, in saluting the Master, touched his feet. He said to them very tenderly, "Please don't do that, mother!"
After the actresses had left the room, Sri Ramakrishna said to the devotees, "It is all He, only in different forms."
The carriage was ready at the door. Girish and the others came to the street to see the Master off. As soon as Sri Ramakrishna stepped into the carriage, he went into deep samadhi. Narayan and several other devotees were with him. The carriage started for Dakshineswar.
Saturday, December 27, 1884
It was the Christmas season. Taking advantage of the holiday, many devotees came to the temple garden to visit the Master, some of them arriving in the morning. Among these were Kedar, Ram, Nityagopal, Tarak, Surendra, M., Sarada Prasanna, and a number of young devotees. This was Sarada Prasanna's first visit.
MASTER (to M.): "Where is Bankim? Haven't you brought him with you?"
Bankim was a schoolboy whom Sri Ramakrishna had met in Baghbazar. Noticing him even from a distance, the Master had said that he was a fine boy.
After a while Sri Ramakrishna went to the Panchavati with the devotees. They surrounded him, some sitting and some standing. He was seated on the cement platform around the tree, facing the southwest. He asked M. with a smile, "Have you brought the book?"
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "Read a little to me."
The devotees were eager to know the name of the book. It was called Devi Choudhurani. The Master had heard that the book dealt with motiveless action. He had also heard of the great renown of its author, Bankim Chandra Chatterji, whom he had met some days before, and he wanted to gauge the author's mind from the book.
M. said: "A young girl - the heroine - fell into the hands of a robber named Bhavani Pathak. Her name had been Prafulla, but the robber changed it to 'Devi Choudhurani'. At heart Bhavani was a good man. He made Prafulla go through many spiritual disciplines; he also taught her how to perform selfless action. He robbed wicked people and with that money fed the poor and helpless. He said to Prafulla, 'I chastise the wicked and protect the virtuous.'"
MASTER: "But that is a king's duty."
M: "In one place the author writes of bhakti. Bhavani Pathak sent a girl named Nishi to keep Prafulla company. Nishi was full of piety and looked on Krishna as her husband. Prafulla was already married; she had lost her father and lived with her mother. The neighbours had created a scandal about her character and avoided her, and so her father-in-law had not allowed her to live with his son. Later her husband had married again; but Prafulla was extremely devoted to her husband.
(To Sri Ramakrishna) "Now, sir, you can follow the story."
NISHI: "I am a daughter of Bhavani Pathak. He is my father. He has also, in a way, given me in marriage."
PRAFULLA: "What do you mean?"
NISHI: "I have surrendered my all to Krishna."
PRAFULLA: "How is that?"
NISHI: "My beauty, youth, and soul."
PRAFULLA: "Then He is your husband."
NISHI: "Yes, because he alone is my husband who completely possesses me."
PRAFULLA (with a sigh): "I do not know. You talk that way because you do not know what a husband is. If you had a real husband, you could never have liked Sri Krishna."
The foolish Brajeswar - Prafulla's husband - was unaware that his wife loved him so much.
NISHI: "All can love Sri Krishna, because He has infinite beauty, infinite youth, and infinite splendour."
This young lady was a disciple of Bhavani and well-versed in logic. But Prafulla was illiterate; she could not answer Nishi's arguments. But the writers of the Hindu social laws knew the reply. God is infinite, no doubt; but one cannot keep the infinite in the small cage of the heart. One can do so only with the finite. Therefore the infinite Creator of the universe is worshipped by the Hindu in the cage of his heart as Sri Krishna, the finite Personal God. The husband of a woman has a still more definite form. Therefore if the wife cherishes pure conjugal love, the husband becomes the first step toward God. Hence the husband is the only Deity to the Hindu woman. Other societies are inferior to Hindu society in this respect.
Prafulla was an ignorant girl; she could not understand Nishi's arguments. She said, "Friend, I do not understand all these arguments; but you haven't yet told me your name."
NISHI: "Bhavani Pathak has given me the name of Nishi, Night. I am the sister of Diva, Day. One day I shall introduce my sister to you. Let me continue what I was saying. God alone is the real Husband; and to a woman the husband is her only God. Sri Krishna is the God of all. Why should we cherish two Deities, two Gods? If you divide the little bhakti of this small heart, how little there will be!"
PRAFULLA: "Don't be silly. Is there any limit to a woman's bhakti?"
NISHI: "There is no end to a woman's love. But bhakti is one thing and love another."
Summarizing part of the book, M. said that Bhavani initiated Prafulla into spiritual life.
He continued reading:
During the first year Bhavani did not allow any man to enter Prafulla's house nor did he allow her to speak to any man outside the house. During the second year the rule about speaking was withdrawn, but no man was allowed inside her house. In the third year Prafulla shaved her head. Now Bhavani allowed his select disciples to see her. The shaven-headed disciple would converse with them on scriptural topics, keeping her eyes cast on the ground.
M. then read that Prafulla began the study of the scriptures; that she finished grammar and read Raghuvamsa, Kumara Sambhava, Sakuntala, and Naishadha; and that she studied a little of the Samkhya, Vedanta, and Nyaya philosophies.
MASTER: "Do you know what that means? People like the author of this book believe that knowledge is impossible without the study of books. They think that first comes the knowledge of books and then comes the knowledge of God. In order to know God one must read books! But if I want to know Jadu Mallick, must I first know the number of his houses and the amount of money he has in government securities? Do I really need all this information? Rather I should somehow enter his house, be it by flattering his gate-keepers or by disregarding their rough treatment, and talk to Jadu Mallick himself. Then, if I want to know about his wealth or possessions, I shall only have to ask him about them. Then it will be a very easy matter for me. First comes Rama, then His riches, that is, the universe. This is why Valmiki repeated the mantra, 'mara'. 'Ma' means God, and 'ra' the world, that is to say, His riches."
The devotees listened to the Master's words with rapt attention.
M. continued with the story of Prafulla:
Prafulla finished her studies and then practised spiritual austerity for many days. Then one day Bhavani visited her; he wanted to instruct her about selfless work. He quoted to her from the Gita: "Therefore do thou always perform obligatory actions without attachment; by performing action without attachment one attains to the highest."
He told her the three characteristics of disinterested action: first, control of the sense-organs; second, absence of egotism; and third, surrendering the fruit of action to Sri Krishna. He further told her that no dharma is possible for the egotistic person. Quoting from the Gita, he said: "The gunas of Prakrit; perform all action. With the understanding deluded by egotism, man thinks, I am the doer."
Bhavani next spoke to her about surrendering the fruit of action to Sri Krishna. Again he quoted from the Gita: "Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou givest away, whatever austerity thou practisest, O son of Kunti, do that as an offering unto Me."
MASTER: "This is fine. These are the words of the Gita; one cannot refute them. But something else must be noted. The author speaks about surrendering the fruit of action to Sri Krishna, but not about cultivating bhakti for Him."
M: "No, that is not especially mentioned here.
"Next Prafulla and Bhavani talked about the use of money. Prafulla said that she offered all her wealth to Krishna."
M. read from the book again.
PRAFULLA: "Like my actions, I offer all my wealth to Sri Krishna."
PRAFULLA: "Yes, all."
BHAVANI: "In that case you won't be able to perform action in a detached spirit. If you have to work to earn your food, you will be attached to that work. Hence there are two alternatives before you: either you will have to get your food by begging, or you will have to live on your money. Even a beggar becomes attached to the alms he receives; therefore you must use your own money to maintain your body."
M. (to the Master, smiling): "That is the nature of the calculating mind."
MASTER: "Yes, that is the nature of the calculating mind; that is the way the worldly man thinks. But he who seeks God plunges headlong; he doesn't calculate about how much or how little he needs for the protection of his body."
M: "Next Bhavani asked Prafulla, 'How will you offer all this money to Sri Krishna?' Prafulla said: 'Why, Sri Krishna dwells in all beings. I shall distribute the money among them.' Bhavani answered, 'Good! Good!'
"Quoting from the Gita, Bhavani said: 'He who sees Me in all things and all things in Me, never becomes separated from Me, nor do I become separated from him. That yogi who, established in unity, worships Me dwelling in all beings, abides in Me, whatever his mode of life. O Arjuna, that yogi is regarded as the highest who judges the pleasure and pain of all beings by the same standard that he applies to himself."
MASTER: "These are the characteristics of the highest bhakta."
M. again read from the book:
A man must work hard if he wants to help all beings with charity. Hence it is necessary for him to make a little display of clothes, of pomp and luxury. Therefore Bhavani said, "A little shopkeeping is necessary."
MASTER (sharply): "'A little shopkeeping is necessary'! One speaks as one thinks. If a man thinks of worldly things day and night, and deals with people hypocritically, then his words are coloured by his thoughts. If one eats radish, one belches radish. Instead of talking about 'shopkeeping', he should rather have said, 'A man should act as if he were the doer, knowing very well that he is really not the doer.' The other day a man was singing here. The song contained words like 'profit' and 'loss'. I stopped him. If one contemplates a particular subject day and night, one cannot talk of anything else."
The reading continued. The author was describing the realization of God. Prafulla had become Devi Choudhurani. It was the month of Vaisakh. Devi was seated on the roof of her house-boat talking with Diva and another woman companion. The moon was up. The boat had cast anchor in the Ganges. The conversation turned to the question of whether one could see God. Devi said, "As the aroma of a flower is directly perceived by the nose, so God is directly perceived by the mind."
At this point the Master interrupted and said: "Yes, God is directly perceived by the mind, but not by this ordinary mind. It is the pure mind that perceives God, and at that time this ordinary mind does not function. A mind that has the slightest trace of attachment to the world cannot be called pure. When all the impurities of the mind are removed, you may call that mind Pure Mind or Pure Atman."
M: "The author says a little later that God cannot easily be perceived by the mind. He says that one needs a telescope to have that direct vision. Yoga is the telescope. Yoga, as it is described in the Gita, is of three kinds: jnana, bhakti, and karma. One is able to see God through this telescope of yoga."
MASTER: "That is very good. These are the words of the Gita."
M: "At last Devi Choudhurani met her husband. She showed him great devotion and said to him: 'You are my God. I wanted to learn the worship of another God but I did not succeed. You have taken the place of all gods.'"
MASTER (smiling): "'I did not succeed.' This is the dharma of a woman totally devoted to her husband. This also is a path."
The reading was over. The Master was smiling. The devotees looked at him, eagerly waiting to hear what he would say.
MASTER (to the devotees, smiling): "This is not so bad; it is called the dharma of chastity, the single-minded devotion of a wife to her husband. If God can be worshipped through an image, why shouldn't it be possible to worship Him through a living person? It is God Himself who sports in the world as men.
"Oh, what a state I passed through! I passed some days absorbed in Siva and Durga, some days absorbed in Radha and Krishna, and some days absorbed in Sita and Rama. Assuming Radha's attitude, I would cry for Krishna, and assuming Sita's attitude, I would cry for Rama.
"But lila is by no means the last word. Passing through all these states, I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, in these states there is separation. Give me a state where there is no separation.' Then I remained for some time absorbed in the Indivisible Satchidananda. I removed the pictures of the gods and goddesses from my room. I began to perceive God in all beings. Formal worship dropped away. You see that bel-tree. I used to go there to pluck its leaves. One day, as I plucked a leaf, a bit of the bark came off. I found the tree full of Consciousness. I felt grieved because I had hurt the tree. One day I tried to pluck some durva grass, but I found I couldn't do it very well. Then I forced myself to pluck it.
"I cannot cut a lemon. The other day I managed to cut one only with great difficulty; I chanted the name of Kali and cut the fruit as they slaughter an animal before the Goddess. One day I was about to gather some flowers. They were everywhere on the trees. At once I had a vision of Virat; it appeared that His worship was just over. The flowers looked like a bouquet placed on the head of the Deity. I could not pluck them.
"God sports through man as well. I see man as the embodiment of Narayana. As fire is kindled when you rub two pieces of wood together, so God can be seen in man if you have intense devotion. If there is suitable bait, big fish like carp gulp it down at once. When one is intoxicated with prema, one sees God in all beings. The gopis saw Krishna in everything; to them the whole world was filled with Krishna. They said that they themselves were Krishna. They were then in a God-intoxicated state. Looking at the trees, they said, ‘These are hermits absorbed in meditation on Krishna.' Looking at the grass they said, ‘The hair of the earth is standing on end at the touch of Krishna.'
"Devotion to the husband is also a dharma. The husband is God. Why shouldn't it be so? If God can be worshipped through an image, why not also through a living man? But three things are necessary in order to feel the presence of God in an image: first, the devotion of the priest; second, a beautiful image; and third, the devotion of the householder. Vaishnavcharan once said that in the end the mind of the devotee is absorbed in the human manifestation of God.
"But you must remember one thing. One cannot see God sporting as man unless one has had the vision of Him. Do you know the sign of one who has God-vision? Such a man acquires the nature of a child. Why a child? Because God is like a child. So he who sees God becomes like a child.
"God-vision is necessary. Now the question is, how can one get it? Intense renunciation is the means. A man should have such intense yearning for God that he can say, 'O Father of the universe, am I outside Your universe? Won't You be kind to me, You wretch?'
"You partake of the nature of him on whom you meditate. By worshipping Siva you acquire the nature of Siva. A devotee of Rama meditated on Hanuman day and night. He used to think he had become Hanuman. In the end he was firmly convinced that he had even grown a little tail. Jnana is the characteristic of Siva, and bhakti of Vishnu. One who partakes of Siva's nature becomes a jnani, and one who partakes of Vishnu's nature becomes a bhakta."
M: "But what about Chaitanyadeva? You said he had both knowledge and devotion."
MASTER (sharply): "His case was different. He was an Incarnation of God. There is a great difference between him and an ordinary man. The fire of Chaitanya's renunciation was so great that when Sarvabhauma poured sugar on his tongue, instead of melting, it evaporated into air. He was always absorbed in samadhi. How great was his conquest of lust! To compare him with a man! A lion eats meat and yet it mates only once in twelve years; but a sparrow eats grain and it indulges in sex-life day and night. Such is the difference between a Divine Incarnation and an ordinary human being. An ordinary man renounces lust; but once in a while he forgets his vow. He cannot control himself.
(To M.) "He who has realized God looks on man as a mere worm. 'One cannot succeed in religious life if one has shame, hatred, or fear.' These are fetters. Haven't you heard of the eight fetters?
"How can one who is eternally perfect be afraid of the world? He knows how to play his game. An eternally perfect soul can even lead a worldly life if he desires. There are people who can fence with two swords at the same time; they are such expert fencers that, if stones are thrown at them, the stones hit the swords and come back."
A DEVOTEE: "Sir, how can one see God?"
MASTER: "Can you ever see God if you do not direct your whole mind toward Him? The Bhagavata speaks about Sukadeva. When he walked about he looked like a soldier with fixed bayonet. His gaze did not wander; it had only one goal and that was God. This is the meaning of yoga.
"The chatak bird drinks only rain-water. Though the Ganges, the Jamuna, the Godavari, and all other rivers are full of water, and though the seven oceans are full to the brim, still the chatak will not touch them. It will drink only the water that falls from the clouds.
"He who has developed such yoga can see God. In the theatre the audience remains engaged in all kinds of conversation, about home, office, and school, till the curtain goes up; but no sooner does it go up than all conversation comes to a stop, and the people watch the play with fixed attention. If after a long while someone utters a word or two, it is about the play.
"After a drunkard has drunk his liquor he talks only about the joy of drunkenness."
Nityagopal was seated in front of Sri Ramakrishna. He was always in ecstasy. He sat there in silence.
MASTER (to Nityagoyal, smiling): "Gopal! Why are you always silent?" Nityagopal answered like a child, "I - do - not - know."
MASTER: "I understand why you don't say anything, perhaps you are afraid of committing a transgression. You are right. Jaya and Vijaya were gate-keepers for Narayana. They refused Sanaka, Sanatana, and other rishis admission into His palace. For this transgression Jaya and Vijaya had to be born three times on earth.
"Again, there is the instance of Sridama; he was Viraja's (A woman companion of Krishna) gate-keeper in Goloka. Sri Krishna was in Viraja's house. Radhika went there to surprise Krishna and wanted to enter the house. Sridama would not admit her, and so Radhika cursed him to be bom as a demon on earth. But Sridama, too cursed her.
But there is one thing you should remember. When a boy walks holding his father's hand, he may fall into the gutter; but what has he to fear if the father holds him by the hand?"
The story of Sridama is narrated in the Brahmavaivarta Purana.
Kedar, who was a government official, had been living at Dacca for some time. He had been transferred there from Calcutta. He was a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna and had gathered together at Dacca many devotees, who came to him regularly for spiritual instruction. As one should not come empty-handed to a religious man, the devotees would bring Kedar sweets and other offerings.
KEDAR (to the Master, humbly): "Should I eat those offerings?"
MASTER: "It won't injure you it the offerings are given out of love for God. But they are harmful if they are given with any selfish motive."
KEDAR: "I have explained everything to the devotees and now I feel relieved. I have told them that he (Sri Ramkrishna) who has given me his blessing knows all."
MASTER (smiling): "That is true. You see, people of all sorts come here. So they find here different things."
KEDAR: "I do not need to know different things."
MASTER (smiling): "Why not? One should know a little of everything. If a man starts a grocery-shop, he keeps all kinds of articles there, including a little lentil and tamarind. An expert musician knows how to play a little on all instruments."
Sri Ramakrishna left the room and went toward the pine-grove. The devotees began to walk about in the garden. Several went to the Panchavati. Sri Ramakrishna met them there and said: "I have indigestion. I took a meal' at the Mallicks'. They are very worldly people."
A few of the Master's personal things lay scattered on the cement platform of the Panchavati, and he asked M. to bring them. He proceeded to his room and the devotees followed.
In the afternoon the Master rested awhile. Afterwards a few devotees arrived. The Master sat on the small couch reclining against a pillow.
A DEVOTEE: "Sir, can one know God's attributes through the intellect?"
MASTER: "Certainly not by this ordinary intellect. Can one know God so easily? One must practise sadhana. One must also adopt a particular attitude toward God, for instance, the attitude of a servant toward his master. The rishis of old had the attitude of santa. Do you know the attitude of the jnanis? It is to meditate on one's own Self. (To a devotee, with a smile) What is your attitude?"
The devotee gave no answer.
MASTER (smiling): "You have two attitudes: you meditate on your own Self and also cherish toward God the attitude of a servant. Am I not right?"
DEVOTEE (hesitating and smiling): "Yes, sir."
MASTER (smiling): "You see, as Hazra says, I can read people's thoughts.
"One can maintain those two attitudes only at a very advanced stage. Prahlada maintained them. But one must work hard in order to practise this ideal.
"Let me give an illustration. Suppose a man is grasping the thorny branch of a plum-tree. His hand bleeds profusely; but he says, There is nothing the matter with me; I am not hurt.' If you ask him about his wound, he will say, 'It's all right; I am quite well.' Now is there any meaning in the mere utterance of these words? One must practise discipline in keeping with this ideal."
The devotees were giving their whole attention to what the Master was saying.