Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]


Master's love for Narendra - Master's samadhi - Hazra's eccentricities - Goal of scriptural study - Occult powers - Go beyond duality - Advice to Surendra - Duties of householders - Master praises charity - Master and Girish - Selfless divine love - Knowledge of Brahman - Two paths of Brahmajnana - The ego of the Divine Incarnation - The path of bhakti - Meaning of liberation - Master warns against lust - Sannyasi's discipline - Householder's discipline - Different aspects of bhakti - Different kinds of samadhi - How to cultivate longing for God - Master at the theatre.

Sunday, February 22, 1885

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting on the northeast verandah outside his room at Dakshineswar. It was about eight o'clock in the morning. Many devotees, including Narendra, Rakhal, Girish, Baburam, and Surendra, were present. They were celebrating the Master's birthday, which had fallen on the previous Monday. M. arrived and saluted him. The Master signed to him to take a seat near him.

Narottam was singing kirtan. Sri Ramakrishna was in partial ecstasy. The subject was Krishna's meeting with His cowherd friends in the meadow. Krishna had not yet arrived. The cowherd boys were restless for Him. One of them said that Mother Yasoda was preventing Krishna from coming. Balai said in a determined voice that he would bring Krishna with the sound of his horn. Balai's love for Krishna knew no bounds. The music went on. The cowherd boys and girls heard Krishna's flute and were filled with spiritual emotion.

Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna's eyes fell on Narendra, who was sitting very near him. He stood up and went into samadhi; he stood there touching Narendra's knee with his foot. Regaining consciousness he took his seat again. Narendra left the room. The music went on.

Sri Ramakrishna whispered to Baburam: "There is kshir in the room. Give Narendra some."

Did the Master see Narendra as the embodiment of God?

After the kirtan Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room. Tenderly he began to feed Narendra with sweets.

It was Girish's belief that God Himself had been born in the person of Sri Ramakrishna.

GIRISH (to the Master): "Your ways are like Krishna's. He too pretended many things to His mother Yasoda."

MASTER: "True. It was because Krishna was an Incarnation of God. When God is born as a man He acts that way. You see, Krishna easily lifted the hill of Govardhan with His hand, but He made Nanda believe that He found it very hard to carry a footstool."

GIRISH: "Yes, sir, I have understood you now."

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. It was about eleven o'clock. Ram and the other devotees wanted to dress him in a new cloth. The Master said, "No, no." Pointing to an English-educated man, he said, "What will he say about it?" At the earnest request of the devotees he said, "Well, since you insist, I shall have to agree."
The devotees were arranging the Master's meal in the room. He asked Narendra to sing.

Narendra sang:

In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave.
In the lap of boundless dark, on Mahanirvana's waves upborne,
Peace flows serene and inexhaustible.
Taking the form of the Void, in the robe of darkness wrapped,
Who art Thou, Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?
From the Lotus of Thy fear-scattering Feet flash Thy love's lightnings;
Thy Spirit-Face shines forth with laughter terrible and loud!

As Narendra sang the line, "Who art Thou, Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?", Sri Ramakrishna went into deep samadhi and lost all outer consciousness. After a long time, when he was regaining partial consciousness, the devotees seated him on the carpet and placed a plate of food before him. Still overcome with divine emotion, he began to eat the rice with both hands. He said to Bhavanath, "Feed me." Because of his ecstatic mood he could not use his own right hand. Bhavanath began to feed him. Sri Ramakrishna could eat very little. Ram said to him, "Nityagopal will eat from your plate."

MASTER: "Why from my plate? Why?"

RAM: "Why not?"

Nityagopal was also in an ecstatic mood. The Master put a morsel or two into his mouth with his own hand.

Some devotees from Konnagar arrived by boat. They entered Sri Ramakrishna's room singing kirtan; afterwards they went out to take some refreshments. Narottam was in the room. The Master said to him and the other devotees: "The music of the Konnagar devotees was dull. Music should be so lively as to make everyone dance. One should sing a song like this:

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

And along with it these lines:

Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name,
The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari's love. . . .

And these too:

Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!
I have heard how kind you are,
And therefore I have come to you. . . ."

The devotees were taking the prasad. It was a sumptuous feast. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Haven't you invited the Mukherjis? Ask Surendra to feed the musicians."

Bepin Sarkar arrived. The devotees introduced him to the Master. Sri Ramakrishna sat up and said to the devotees, "Give him a seat and some betel-leaf." He said to Bepin humbly: "I am sorry not to be able to talk to you. There is a great crowd today."

Pointing to Girindra, Sri Ramakrishna said to Baburam, "Give him a carpet." Nityagopal was sitting on the floor. The Master asked a devotee to give him a carpet too.

Physician Mahendra of Sinthi arrived. The Master, smiling, asked Rakhal by a sign to have the physician examine his pulse.

Turning to Ramlal, the Master said, "Be friendly with Girish Ghosh; then you will get a free ticket to the theatre."

Narendra had been talking a long time with Hazra on the porch. Since his father's death Narendra had been having financial worries. He entered the room and took a seat.

MASTER (to Narendra): "Were you with Hazra? Both of you are in the same boat. You know the saying about the two friends: 'You are away from your country and he is away from his beloved.' Hazra, too, needs fifteen hundred rupees (laughter.)

"Hazra says: 'Narendra has acquired one hundred per cent sattva, though still there is in him a pink glow of rajas. But I have one hundred and twenty-five per cent pure sattva.' (All laugh.)

"I say to Hazra, 'You indulge in reasoning only: that is why you are so dry.' He retorts, 'No, I am dry because I drink the nectar of the sun.'

"Speaking of pure bhakti, I say to Hazra, 'A real devotee does not pray to God for money or riches.' Hazra replies: 'When the flood of divine grace descends, the rivers overflow; and further, the pools and canals are filled. By the grace of God one gets not only pure devotion but also the six super-natural powers, and money too.'"

Narendra and many other devotees were seated on the floor. Girish entered the room and joined them.

MASTER (to Girish): "I look on Narendra as Atman. I obey him."

GIRISH: "Is there anyone you don't obey?"

MASTER (smiling): "He has a manly nature and I have the nature of a woman. He is a noble soul and belongs to the realm of the Indivisible Brahman."

Girish went out to have a smoke.

NARENDRA (to the Master): "I had a talk with Girish Ghosh. He is indeed a great man. We talked about you."

MASTER: "What did you say about me?"

NARENDRA: "That you are illiterate and we are scholars. Oh, we talked in that vein!" (Laughter.)

MANI MALLICK (to the Master): "You have become a pundit without reading a book."

MASTER (to Narendra and the others): "Let me tell you this: really and truly I don't feel sorry in the least that I haven't read the Vedanta or the other scriptures. I know that the essence of the Vedanta is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. And what is the essence of the Gita? It is what you get by repeating the word ten times. Then it is reversed into 'tagi', which refers to renunciation. The pupil should hear the essence of the scriptures from the guru; then he should practise austerity and devotions. A man needs the letter he has received from home as long as he has not learnt its contents. After reading it, however, he sets out to get the things he has been asked to send. Likewise, what need is there of the scriptures if you know their essence? The next thing is the practice of spiritual discipline."

Girish entered the room.

MASTER (to Girish): "Hello! What were you saying about me? I eat, drink, and make merry."

GIRISH: "What should we have been saying about you? Are you a holy man?"

MASTER: "No, nothing of the sort. Truly I do not feel I am a holy man."

GIRISH: "I am not your equal even in joking."

MASTER: "I once went to Jaygopal Sen's garden house wearing a red-bordered cloth. Keshab was there. Looking at the red borders Keshab said: 'What's this? Such a flash of colour today! Such a display of red borders!' I said, 'I have to cast a spell on Keshab; hence this display.'"

Narendra was going to sing again. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to take down the tanpura from the wall. Narendra was a long time tuning it. The Master and the devotees became impatient. Binode said, "He will tune it today and sing another day." (Laughter.)

Sri Ramakrishna laughed. He said: "I feel like breaking the tanpura to pieces! What is this? Only Tong - tong'! Then he will practise: 'Tana-nana-nere-num'!" (The sound of a stringed instrument.)

BHAVANATH: "Everybody feels annoyed like this before a musical performance begins."

NARENDRA (still tuning): "If you don't understand it."

MASTER (smiling): "There! He explains away our complaints!"

Narendra began to sing. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch. Nityagopal and the other devotees were on the floor.

Narendra sang:

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? . . .

Then he sang:

O my lute of a single string!
Sing the blessed Mother's name,
For She is the solace of my soul. . . .

And again:

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

In an ecstatic mood Sri Ramakrishna came down and sat by Narendra's side. He began to talk, still in ecstasy.

MASTER: "Shall I sing? Fie! (To Nityagopal) What do you say? One should listen to singing to awaken the inner spirit. Nothing matters afterwards.

"He has kindled the fire. That is nice. Now all is silence. That's nice too. I am silent; you be silent too. The thing is to dive into the Elixir of Bliss.

"Shall I sing? Well, I may. Water is water whether it is still or in waves."

Narendra was seated near the Master. He was constantly worried about his financial difficulties at home. He was now twenty-three years old. Sri Ramakrishna looked at him intently.

MASTER (to Narendra, smiling): "Undoubtedly you are 'Kha'. But you have to worry about 'taxes'; that's the trouble."

By "taxes" the Master meant Narendra's financial difficulties at home.

MASTER: "Krishnakishore used to say that he was 'Kha'. One day I visited him at his home and found him worried. He wouldn't talk to me freely. I asked him: 'What's the matter? Why are you brooding like this?' Krishnakishore said: 'The tax-collector came today. He said my pots and pans would be sold at auction if I didn't pay my taxes. That's what I am worrying about.' I laughed and said: 'How is that? You are surely 'Kha', the akasa. Let the rascals take away your pots and pans. What is that to you?'

(To Narendra) "So I am saying that you are 'Kha'. Why are you so worried? Don't you know that Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, 'If you have one of the eight siddhis, you may get a little power, but you will not realize Me.' By siddhis one may acquire powers, strength, money, and such things, but not God.

"Let me tell you something else. Go beyond knowledge and ignorance. People say that such and such a one is a jnani; but in reality it is not so. Vasishtha was a great jnani, but even he was stricken with grief on account of the death of his sons. At this Lakshmana said to Rama: 'This is amazing, Rama. Even Vasishtha is so grief-stricken!' Rama said: 'Brother, he who has knowledge has ignorance as well. He who is aware of light is also aware of darkness. He who knows good also knows bad. He who knows happiness also knows misery. Brother, go beyond duality, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond knowledge and ignorance.' (To Narendra) So I am asking you to go beyond both knowledge and ignorance."

Sri Ramakrishna went back to his small couch. The devotees were seated on the floor. Surendra sat by his side. The Master cast an affectionate look on him and began to give him advice.
MASTER (to Surendra): "Come here every now and then. Nangta used to say that a brass pot must be polished every day; otherwise it gets stained. One should constantly live in the company of holy men.

"The renunciation of 'woman and gold' is for sannyasis. It is not for you. Now and then you should go into solitude and call on God with a yearning heart. Your renunciation should be mental.

"Unless a devotee is of the heroic type he cannot pay attention to both God and the world. King Janaka lived a householder's life only after attaining perfection through austerity and prayer. He fenced with two swords, the one of Knowledge and the other of action."

The Master sang:

This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.
Janaka's might was unsurpassed;
What did he lack of the world or the Spirit?
Holding to one as well as the other,
He drank his milk from a brimming cup!

MASTER: "For you, as Chaitanya said, the disciplines to be practised are kindness to living beings, service to the devotees, and chanting the name of God.

(To Surendra) "Why do I say all this to you? You work in a merchant's office. I say this to you because you have many duties to perform there.

"You tell lies at the office. Then why do I eat the food you offer me? Because you give your money in charity; you give away more than you earn. The seed of the melon is bigger than the fruit', as the saying goes.

"I cannot eat anything offered by miserly people. Their wealth is squandered in these ways: first, litigation; second, thieves and robbers; third, physicians; fourth, their wicked children's extravagance. It is like that.

'"Your giving money away in charity is very good. Those who have money should give in charity. The miser's wealth is spirited away, but the money of the charitable person is saved. He spends it for a righteous purpose. At Kamarpukur I have seen the farmers cutting channels to irrigate their fields. Sometimes the water rushes in with such force that the ridges around the fields are washed away and the crops destroyed. For this reason the farmers make holes here and there in the ridges. Since the water escapes through the holes, the ridges are not destroyed by the rush of the water. Furthermore, the escaping water deposits soft clay in the fields, which increases their fertility and gives a richer crop. He who gives away in charity achieves great results. He achieves the four fruits; dharma, artha, kama, and moksha."

The devotees listened with great attention to Sri Ramakrishna's words.

SURENDRA: "I cannot meditate well. I repeat the Divine Mother's name now and then. Lying in bed, I repeat Her name and fall asleep."

MASTER: "That is enough. You remember Her, don't you?

"There are two kinds of yoga: manoyoga and karmayoga. To perform, following the guru's instructions, such pious acts as worship, pilgrimage, and service to living beings is called karmayoga. The duties that Janaka performed are also called karmayoga. The meditation and contemplation of the yogis is called manoyoga.

"Sometimes I say to myself in the Kali temple, 'O Mother, the mind is nothing but Yourself.' Therefore Pure Mind, Pure Buddhi, and Pure Atman are one and the same thing."

It was about dusk. Many of the devotees saluted Sri Ramakrishna and started to go home. The Master went to the west porch. Bhavanath and M. were with him.

MASTER (to Bhavanath): "Why do you come here so seldom?"

BHAVANATH (smiling): "Sir, I visit you once in a fortnight. I saw you in the street the other day, so I didn't come here."

MASTER: "What do you mean? What can you gain by mere seeing? Touch and talk are also necessary."

The evening worship had begun in the temples. It was the eighth day of the bright fortnight of the moon; the temple domes, the courtyard, the gardens, and the trees were shining in the moonlight. The Ganges was flowing north with a murmuring sound. Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch in his room absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother.

The evening worship was over. One or two devotees were still in the temple garden. Narendra had left. Sri Ramakrishna was pacing the verandah northeast of his room. M. stood there looking at him. Suddenly he said to M., "Ah, how sweet Narendra's music is!"

M: "Yes, sir. That song beginning with 'In dense darkness' is particularly beautiful."

MASTER: "You are right. That song has a deep meaning. A part of my mind is still drawn to it."

M: "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Meditation in darkness is prescribed in the Tantra."

Girish Ghosh came and stood by Sri Ramakrishna, who had started to sing:

Is Kali, my Mother, really black?
The Naked One, of blackest hue,
Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .

Sri Ramakrishna was filled with divine fervour. Standing with one arm resting on Girish's body 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?
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. . . .
Then he sang:

Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava.
A man has come to me from a country where there is no night,
And now I cannot distinguish day from night any longer;
Rituals and devotions have all grown profitless for me.

My sleep is broken; how can I slumber any more?
For now I am wide awake in the sleeplessness of yoga.
O Divine Mother, made one with Thee in yoga-sleep at last,

My slumber I have lulled asleep for evermore.

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 righteousness and sin.

As Sri Ramakrishna looked at Girish, his ecstatic fervour became more intense.

He sang:

I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother;
Am I afraid of Death any more?
Unto the tuft of hair on my head
Is tied the almighty mantra. Mother Kali's name.
My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga's name. . . .

Intoxicated with God, Sri Ramakrishna repeated the lines:

My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga's name.

Looking at Girish and M. he said, "'Divine fervour fills my body and robs me of consciousness.' "Here 'consciousness' means consciousness of the outer world. One needs the Knowledge of Reality and Brahman.

"Bhakti, love of God, is the only essential thing. One kind of bhakti has a motive behind it. Again, there is a motiveless love, pure devotion, a love of God that seeks no return. Keshab Sen and the members of the Brahmo Samaj didn't know about motiveless love. In this love there is no desire; it is nothing but pure love of the Lotus Feet of God.

"There is another kind of love, known as urjhita bhakti, an ecstatic love of God that overflows, as it were. When it is awakened, the devotee laughs and weeps and dances and sings'. Chaitanyadeva is an example of this love. Rama said to Lakshmana, 'Brother, if anywhere you see the manifestation of urjhita bhakti, know for certain that I am there.'"

GIRISH: "Everything is possible through your grace. What was I before? And see what I am now."

MASTER: "You had latent tendencies; so they are manifesting themselves now. Nothing happens except at the proper time. Take the case of a patient, Nature has almost cured him, when the physician prescribes a herb and asks him to drink its juice. After taking the medicine he is completely cured. Now, is the patient cured by the medicine, or does he get well by himself? Who can tell?

"Lakshmana said to Lava and Kusa: (Rama's two sons) "You are mere children; you don't know Rama's power. At the touch of His feet, Ahalya, who had been turned into a stone, got back her human form.' Lava and Kusa said: 'Revered sir, we know that. We have heard the story. The stone became Ahalya because of the power of the holy man's words. The sage Gautama said to her: "In the Tretayuga, Rama will pass this hermitage. You will become a human being again at the touch of His feet."' Now, who can tell whether the miracle happened in order that the sage's words should be fulfilled or on account of Rama's holiness?

"Everything happens by the will of God. If your spiritual consciousness has been awakened at this place, know that I am only an instrument. 'Uncle Moon is everybody's uncle.' All happens by the will of God."

GIRISH (smiling): "Did you say 'by the will of God'? What I am saying is the very same thing." (All laugh.)

MASTER (to Girish): "By being guileless one can speedily realize God. There are several kinds of people who do not attain divine knowledge. First, a man with a perverse mind; he is not guileless. Second, one who is very fastidious about outer purity. Third, a doubting person."

Sri Ramakrishna spoke highly of Nityagopal's ecstasy.

Three or four devotees stood near Sri Ramakrishna on the verandah and listened to his words about the exalted state of the paramahamsa. The Master said: "A paramahamsa is always conscious that God alone is real and all else illusory. Only the swan has the power to separate milk from a mixture of milk and water. The swan's tongue secretes an acid that separates the milk from the mixture. The paramahamsa also possesses such a juice; it is his ecstatic love for God. That separates the Real from the mixture of the Real and the unreal. Through it one becomes aware of God and sees Him."

Wednesday, February 25, 1885

Sri Ramakrishna was at the house of Girish Ghosh in Bosepara Lane, Calcutta. It was about three o'clock when M. arrived and prostrated himself before him. The Master was going to see a play at the Star Theatre. He was talking with the devotees about the Knowledge of Brahman.

MASTER: "Man experiences three states of consciousness: waking, dream, and deep sleep. Those who follow the path of knowledge explain away the three states. According to them, Brahman is beyond the three states. It is also beyond the gross, the subtle, and the causal bodies, and beyond the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas. All these are maya, like a reflection in a mirror. The reflection is by no means the real substance. Brahman alone is the Substance and all else is illusory.

"The knowers of Brahman say, further, that it is the identification of the soul with the body that creates the notion of duality. In that state of identification the reflection appears real. When this identification disappears, a man realizes, 'I am He; I am Brahman.

A DEVOTEE: "Then shall we all follow the path of reasoning?"

MASTER: "Reasoning is one of the paths; it is the path of the Vedantists. But there is another path, the path of bhakti. If a bhakta weeps longingly for the Knowledge of Brahman, he receives that as well. These are the two paths: jnana and bhakti.

"One may attain the Knowledge of Brahman by either path. Some retain bhakti even after realizing Brahman, in order to teach humanity. An Incarnation of God is one of these.

"A man cannot easily get rid of the ego and the consciousness that the body is the soul. It becomes possible only when, through the grace of God, he attains samadhi - nirvikalpa samadhi, jada samadhi.

"The ego of the Incarnations returns to them when they come down from the plane of samadhi; but then it is the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion'. Through the 'ego of Knowledge' they teach men. Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge'.

"Through the 'ego of Devotion' Chaitanyadeva tasted divine love and enjoyed the company of the devotees. He talked about God and chanted His name.

"Since one cannot easily get rid of the ego, a bhakta does not explain away the states of waking, dream, and deep sleep. He accepts all the states. Further, he accepts the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas. A bhakta sees that God alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings. He also sees that God reveals Himself to His devotees in a tangible form, which is the embodiment of Spirit.

"The bhakta takes shelter under vidyamaya. He seeks holy company, goes on pilgrimage, and practises discrimination, devotion, and renunciation. He says that, since a man cannot easily get rid of his ego, he should let the rascal remain as the servant of God, the devotee of God.

"But a bhakta also attains the Knowledge of Oneness; he sees that nothing exists but God. He does not regard the world as a dream, but says that it is God Himself who has become everything. In a wax garden you may see various objects, but everything is made of wax.

"But a man realizes this only when his devotion to God has matured. One gets jaundice when too much bile accumulates. Then one sees everything as yellow. From constantly meditating on Krishna, Radhika saw everything as Krishna; moreover, she even felt that she herself had become Krishna. If a piece of lead is kept in a lake of mercury a long time, it turns into mercury. The cockroach becomes motionless by constantly meditating on the kumira worm; it loses the power to move. At last it is transformed into a kumira. Similarly, by constantly meditating on God the bhakta loses his ego; he realizes that God is he and he is God. When the cockroach becomes the kumira everything is achieved. Instantly one obtains liberation.

"As long as God retains the ego of a man, he should establish a definite relationship with God, calling on Him as Master, Mother, Friend", or the like. I spent one year as a handmaid - the handmaid of the Divine Mother, the Embodiment of Brahman. I used to dress myself as a woman. I put on a nose-ring. One can conquer lust by assuming, the attitude of a woman.

"One must worship the Adyasakti. She must be propitiated. She alone has assumed all female forms. Therefore I look on all women as mother. The attitude of looking on woman as mother is very pure. The Tantra mentions the vamachara method also. But that is not a good method; it causes the aspirant's downfall. A devotee keeping an object of enjoyment near him has reason to be afraid.

"Looking on woman as mother is like fasting on the ekadasi day without touching even a drop of water; in this attitude there is not the slightest trace of sensual enjoyment. Another way of observing the ekadasi allows the taking of fruit and the like. One can also observe the day by eating luchi and curries! But my attitude is not to touch even a drop of water while I observe the fast. I worshipped the Shorasi as my mother; I looked on all parts of her body as those of my mother. This attitude of regarding God as Mother is the last word in sadhana. 'O God, Thou art my Mother and I am Thy child' - this is the last word in spirituality.

"The sannyasi's way of living is like observing the ekadasi fast without taking even a drop of water. If he clings to enjoyment, then he has reason to be afraid. 'Woman and gold' is enjoyment. If a monk enjoys it, he is swallowing his own spittle, as it were. There are different kinds of enjoyment: money, wealth, name, fame, and sense pleasures. It is not good for a sannyasi to sit in the company of a woman devotee, or even to talk to her. This injures him and others as well. Then others cannot learn from him; he cannot set an example to humanity. A sannyasi keeps his body in order to teach mankind.

"To sit with a woman or talk to her a long time has also been described as a kind of sexual intercourse. There are eight kinds. To listen to a woman and enjoy her conversation is one kind; to speak about a woman is another kind; to whisper to her privately is a third kind; to keep something belonging to a woman and enjoy it is a fourth kind; to touch her is a fifth. Therefore a sannyasi should not salute his guru's young wife, touching her feet. These are the rules for sannyasis.

"But the case is quite different with householders. After the birth cf one or two children, the husband and wife should live as brother and sister. The other seven kinds of sexual intercourse do not injure them much.

"A householder has various debts: debts to the gods, to the fathers, and to the rishis. He also owes a debt to his wife. He should make her the mother of one or two children and support her if she is a chaste woman.

"Householders do not know who is a good wife and who is a bad wife, who is a vidyasakti and who is an avidyasakti. A vidyasakti, a good wife, has very little lust and anger. She sleeps little. She pushes her husband's head away from her. She is full of affection, kindness, devotion, modesty, and other noble qualities. Such a wife serves all, looking on all men as her children. Further, she helps increase her husband's love of God. She doesn't spend much money lest her husband should have to work hard and thus not get leisure to think of God.

"Mannish women have different traits. These are bad traits: squint eyes and hollow eyes, catlike eyes, lantern jaws like a calf's, and pigeon-breast"

GIRISH: "What is the way for people like us?"

MASTER: "Bhakti is the only essential thing. Bhakti has different aspects: the sattvic, the rajasic, and the tamasic. One who has sattvic bhakti is very modest and humble. But a man with tamasic bhakti is like a highwayman in his attitude toward God. He says: 'O God, I am chanting Your name; how can I be a sinner? O God, You are my own Mother; You must reveal Yourself to me.'"

GIRISH (smiling): "It is you, sir, who teach us tamasic bhakti."

MASTER (smiling): "There are certain signs of God-vision. When a man sees God he goes into samadhi. There are five kinds of samadhi. First, he feels the Mahavayu rise like an ant crawling up. Second, he feels It rise like a fish swimming in the water. Third, he feels It rise like a snake wriggling along. Fourth, he feels It rise like a bird flying - flying from one branch to another. Fifth, he feels It rise like a monkey making a big jump; the Mahavayu reaches the head with one jump, as it were, and samadhi follows.

"There are two other kinds of samadhi. First, the sthita samadhi, when the aspirant totally loses outer consciousness: he remains in that state a long time, it may be for many days. Second, the unmana samadhi: it is to withdraw the mind suddenly from all sense-objects and unite it with God.

(To M.) "Do you understand this?"

M: "Yes, sir."

GIRISH: "Can one realize God by sadhana?"

MASTER: "People have realized God in various ways. Some through much austerity, worship, and devotion; they have attained perfection through their own efforts. Some are born perfect, as for example Narada and Sukadeva; they are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. There are also those who have attained perfection all of a sudden; it is like a man's unexpectedly coming into a great fortune. Again, there are instances of people's realizing God in a dream and by divine grace."

Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna sang, intoxicated with divine fervour:

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! . . .

Sri Ramakrishna remained in ecstasy a few moments. Girish and the other devotees were seated before him. A few days earlier Girish had been very rude to the Master at the Star Theatre; but now he was in a calm state of mind.

MASTER (to Girish): "This mood of yours is very good; it is peaceful. I prayed about you to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, make him peaceful so that he won't abuse me.

GIRISH (to M.): "I feel as if someone were pressing my tongue. I can't talk."

Sri Ramakrishna was still in an indrawn mood; he seemed to be gradually forgetting the men and the objects around him. He tried to bring his mind down to the relative world. He looked at the devotees.

Looking at M., he said: "They all come to Dakshineswar. Let them. Mother knows everything." To a young man of the neighbourhood he said: "Hello! What do you think? What is the duty of man?" All sat in silence. To Narayan he said: "Don't you want to pass the examinations? But, my dear child, a man freed from bondage is Siva; entangled in bondage, he is jiva."

Sri Ramakrishna was still in the God-intoxicated mood. There was a glass of water near him. He drank the water. He said to himself, "Why, I have drunk water in this mood!"

It was not yet dusk. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Atul, who was seated in front of him. Atul was Girish's brother and a lawyer of the High Court of Calcutta. A brahmin neighbour was also seated near him.

MASTER (to Atul): "All I want to tell you is this. Follow both; perform your duties in the world and also cultivate love of God."

BRAHMIN: "Can anyone but a brahmin achieve perfection?"

MASTER: "Why should you ask that? It is said that in the Kaliyuga the sudras achieve love of God. There are the instances of Savari, Ruhidas, the untouchable Guhaka, and others."

NARAYAN (smiling): "Brahmins and sudras - all are one."

BRAHMIN: "Can a man realize God in one birth?"

MASTER: "Is anything impossible for the grace of God? Suppose you bring a light into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it remove the darkness little by little? The room is lighted all at once. (To Atul) Intense renunciation is what is needed. One should be like an unsheathed sword. When a man has that renunciation, he looks on his relatives as black cobras and his home as a deep well.

"One should pray to God with sincere longing. God cannot but listen to prayer if it is sincere."

All sat in silence, pondering Sri Ramakrishna's words.

MASTER (to Atul): "What is worrying you? Is it that you haven't that grit, that intense restlessness for God?"

ATUL: "How can we keep our minds on God?"

MASTER: "Abhyasayoga, the yoga of practice. You should practise calling on God every day. It is not possible to succeed in one day; through daily prayer you will come to long for God.

"How can you feel that restlessness if you are immersed in worldliness day and night? Formerly Jadu Mallick enjoyed spiritual talk; he liked to engage in it himself. But nowadays he doesn't show that much interest. He surrounds himself with flatterers day and night and indulges in worldly talk."

It was dusk. The lamp was lighted in the room. Sri Ramakrishna chanted the divine names. He was singing and praying. He said, "Chant the name of Hari, repeal the name of Hari, sing the name of Hari." Again he said, "Rama! Rama! Rama!" Then: "O Mother! Thou dost ever enjoy Thine eternal sports. Tell us, O Mother, what is the way? We have taken refuge in Thee; we have taken shelter at Thy feet."

Finding Girish restless, Sri Ramakrishna remained silent a moment. He asked Tejchandra to sit near him. The boy sat near the Master. He whispered to M. that he would have to leave soon.

MASTER (to M.): "What did he say?"

M: "He said he would have to go home."

MASTER: "Why do I attract these boys to me so much? They are pure vessels untouched by worldliness. A man cannot assimilate instruction if his mind is stained with worldliness. Milk can be safely kept in a new pot; but it turns sour if kept in a pot in which curd has been made. You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic, but still you cannot remove the smell."

Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the Star Theatre, on Beadon Street, to see a performance of Vrishaketu. He sat in a box, facing the south. M. and other devotees were near him.

MASTER (to M.): "Has Narendra come?"

M: "Yes, sir."

The performance began. Karna and his wife Padmavati sacrificed their son to please God, who had come to them in the guise of a brahmin to test Karna's charity. During this scene one of the devotees gave a suppressed sigh. Sri Ramakrishna also expressed his sorrow.

After the play Sri Ramakrishna went to the recreation room of the theatre. Girish and Narendra were already there. The Master stood near Narendra and said, "I have come."

Sri Ramakrishna took a seat. The orchestra was playing in the auditorium.

MASTER (to the devotee): "I feel happy listening to the concert. The musicians used to play on the sanai at Dakshineswar and I would go into ecstasy. Noticing this, a certain sadhu said, 'This is a sign of the Knowledge of Brahman.'"

The orchestra stopped playing and Sri Ramakrishna began the conversation.

MASTER (to Girish): "Does this theatre belong to you?"

GIRISH: "It is ours, sir."

MASTER: "'Ours' is good, it is not good to say 'mine'. People say 'I' and 'mine'; they are egotistic, small-minded people."

NARENDRA: "The whole world is a theatre."

MASTER: "Yes, yes, that's right. In some places you see the play of vidya and in some, the play of avidya."

NARENDRA: "Everything is the play of vidya."

MASTER: "True, true. But a man realizes that when he has the Knowledge of Brahman. But for a bhakta, who follows the path of divine love, both exist - vidyamaya and avidyamaya.

"Please sing a little."

Narendra sang:

Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness waves of ecstatic love arise:
Rapture divine! Play of God's Bliss!
Oh, how enthralling!
Wondrous waves of the sweetness of God, ever new and ever enchanting,
Rise on the surface, ever assuming
Forms ever fresh.
Then once more in the Great Communion all are merged, as the barrier walls
Of time and space dissolve and vanish:
Dance then, O mind!
Dance in delight with hands upraised, chanting Lord Hari's holy name.

As Narendra sang the words, "Then once more in the Great Communion all are merged", Sri Ramakrishna said to him, "One realizes this after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman; then all is vidya, Brahman, as you said."

As Narendra sang the line, "Dance in delight with hands upraised, chanting Lord Hari's holy name", the Master said to him, "Sing that line twice." After the song Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.

GIRISH: "Devendra Babu hasn't come. He says in a mood of wounded pride: 'We haven't any stuff inside us, no filling of thickened milk. We are filled only with worthless lentil-paste. Why should we go there?'"

MASTER (surprised): "Does he say that? He never said so before." Sri Ramakrishna took some refreshments and handed some to Narendra.

JATIN DEVA (to the Master): "You always say: 'Narendra, eat this! Eat that!' Are the rest of us fools? Are we like straw washed ashore by the flood-tide?"

Sri Ramakrishna loved Jatin dearly. Jatin visited the Master now and then at Dakshineswar and occasionally spent the night there. He belonged to an aristocratic family of Sobhabazar. The Master said laughingly to Narendra, "He is talking about you."

Sri Ramakrishna laughed and showed his affection to Jatin by touching his chin. He said to Jatin, "Come to Dakshineswar; I'll give you plenty to eat."

The Master went into the auditorium to see a farce. He sat in a box. He laughed at the conversation of the maidservant. After a while he became absent-minded and whispered a few words to M.

MASTER (to M.): "Well, is what Girish Ghosh says true?"

Girish had lately been speaking of Sri Ramakrishna as an Incarnation of God.

M: "Yes, sir, it must be true. Otherwise why should it appeal to our minds?"

MASTER: "You see, a change is coming over me. The old mood has changed. I am not able to touch any metal now."

M. listened to these words in wonder.

MASTER: "There is a very deep meaning in this new mood." Was the Master hinting that a God-man cannot bear any association with worldly treasure?

MASTER (to M.): "Well, do you notice any change in me?"

M: "In what respect, sir?"

MASTER: "In my activities."

M: "Your activities are increasing as more people come to know about you.

MASTER: "Do you see? What I said before is now coming true.

After a few moments he said, "Can you tell me why Paltu can't meditate well?"

Sri Ramakrishna was ready to leave for Dakshineswar. He had remarked to a devotee about Girish, "You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic; but is it ever possible to get rid of the smell altogether?" Girish was offended by this remark. When the Master was about to leave, Girish spoke.

GIRISH: "Will this smell of garlic go?"

MASTER: "Yes, it will."

GIRISH: "So you say it will."

MASTER: "All smell disappears when a blazing fire is lighted. If you heat the cup smelling of garlic, you get rid of the smell; it becomes a new cup.

"The man who says he will not succeed will never succeed. He who feels he is liberated is indeed liberated; and he who feels he is bound verily remains bound. He who forcefully says, 'I am free' is certainly free; and he who says day and night, 'I am bound' is certainly bound."


Two kinds of devotion - Vision of God - How a liberated soul lives in the world - Detachment of a child - "I-consciousness" after God-realization - Master warns Narendra about householders - Worldly people have no time for spiritual practice - Akbar and the holy man - Master talks about his young disciples - Master's eagerness for a spiritual companion - False piety - Genuine bhakti - Nature of Atman - Jivanmukta - Separation of body and soul - Revelation about himself - About Girish - Master warns Tarak.

Sunday, March 1, 1885

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was seated on the small couch in his room, absorbed in deep samadhi. Mahimacharan, Ram, Manomohan, Nabai Chaitanya, M., and other devotees were sitting on a mat spread on the floor. They were watching the Master intently.

It was the day of the Dolayatra, a Hindu religious festival. Sri Krishna and Radha are the central figures of this celebration, their images being placed on a swing which is rocked now and then. A red powder is showered on the images. Later, friends and relatives throw the powder at one another. This festival is celebrated when winter passes into spring, on a full-moon day rendered doubly sacred by its association with the birth of Sri Chaitanya.

The devotees saw that the Master was returning to consciousness of the world, though his mind still lingered in the realm of God-vision.

The Master said to Mahimacharan, "My dear sir, please tell us something about love of God."

Mahimacharan chanted the following lines from the Narada Pancharatra:

What need is there of penance if God is worshipped with love?
What is the use of penance if God is not worshipped with love?
What need is there of penance if God is seen within and without?
What is the use of penance if God is not seen within and without?

O Brahman! O my child! Cease from practising further penances.
Hasten to Sankara, the Ocean of Heavenly Wisdom;
Obtain from Him the love of God, the pure love praised by devotees,
Which snaps in twain the shackles that bind you to the world.

Mahima said, "Once while the great sage Narada was practising austerity, he suddenly heard a heavenly voice repeating those lines."

MASTER: "There are two classes of devotees: jivakotis, or ordinary men, and Isvarakotis, or Divine Messengers. The jivakoti's devotion to God is called vaidhi, formal; that is, it conforms to scriptural laws. He worships God with a fixed number of articles, repeats God's holy name a specified number of times, and so on and so forth. This kind of devotion, like the path of knowledge, leads to the Knowledge of God and to samadhi. The jivakoti does not return from samadhi to the relative plane.

"But the case of the Isvarakoti is different. He follows the process of 'negation' and 'affirmation'. First he negates the world, realizing that it is not Brahman; but then he affirms the same world, seeing it as the manifestation of Brahman. To-give an illustration: a man wanting to climb to the roof first negates the stairs as not being the roof, but on reaching the roof he finds that the stairs are made of the same materials as the roof: brick, lime, and brick-dust. Then he can either move up and down the stairs or remain on the roof, as he pleases.

"Sukadeva was absorbed in samadhi - nirvikalpa samadhi, jada samadhi. Since Suka was to recite the Bhagavata to King Parikshit, the Lord sent the sage Narada to him. Narada saw him seated like an inert thing, absolutely unconscious of the world around him. Thereupon Narada sang four couplets on the beauty of Hari, to the accompaniment of the vina. While the first couplet was being sung the hair on Suka's body stood on end. Next he shed tears; for he saw the form of God, the Embodiment of Spirit, within himself, in his heart. Thus Sukadeva saw the form of God even after jada samadhi. He was an Isvarakoti.

"Hanuman, after having the vision of God both with form and without, remained firmly devoted to the form of Rama, the Embodiment of Consciousness and Bliss.

"Prahlada sometimes realized, 'I am He'; sometimes he felt that he was the servant of God. How can such a person live without love of God? That is why he must accept the relationship of master and servant, feeling that God is the Master and himself the servant. This enables him to enjoy the Bliss of Hari. In this attitude he feels that God is the Bliss and he himself is the enjoyer.

"The 'ego of Devotion', the 'ego of Knowledge', and the 'ego of a child' do not harm the devotee. Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge'. The 'ego of a child' is not attached to anything. The child is beyond the three gunas; he is not under the control of any of them. One moment you find him angry; the next moment it is all over. One moment you see him building his play house; the next moment he forgets all about it. Now you see him love his playmates; but if they are out of his sight a few days he forgets all about them. A child is not under the control of any of the gunas - sattva, rajas, or tamas.

"The bhakta feels, 'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy devotee.' This 'I' is the 'ego of bhakti'. Why does such a lover of God retain the 'ego of Devotion'? There is a reason. The ego cannot be got rid of; so let the rascal remain as the servant of God, the devotee of God.

"You may reason a thousand times, but you cannot get rid of the ego. The ego is like a pitcher and Brahman like the ocean - an infinite expanse of water on all sides. The pitcher is set in this ocean. The water is both inside and out; the water is everywhere; yet the pitcher remains. Now, this pitcher is the 'ego of the devotee'. As long as the ego remains, 'you' and 'I' remain, and there also remains the feeling, 'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy devotee; Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' You may reason a million times, but you cannot get rid of it. But it is different if there is no pitcher."

Narendra entered the room and saluted the Master. They began to talk together. Presently the Master came down from the couch and sat on the floor, on which a mat had been spread. In the mean time the room had become filled with people, both devotees and visitors.

MASTER (to Narendra): "Are you well? I hear that you often visit Girish Ghosh at his house. Is it true?"

NARENDRA: "Yes, sir, I go there now and then."

Girish had been visiting Sri Ramakrishna for some months. The Master said that none could fathom the depth of Girish's faith. And his longing for God was as intense as his faith was deep. At home, he was always absorbed in the thought of Sri Ramakrishna. Many of the Master's devotees visited him; they talked only about Sri Ramakrishna. But Girish was a householder who had varied experiences of worldly life, and the Master knew that Narendra would renounce the world, that he would shun "woman and gold" both mentally and outwardly.

MASTER: "Do you visit Girish frequently? No matter how much one washes a cup that has contained a solution of garlic, still a trace of the smell will certainly linger. The youngsters who come here are pure souls - untouched by 'woman and gold'. Men who have associated a long time with 'woman and gold' smell of the garlic, as it were. They are like a mango pecked by crows. Such a fruit cannot be offered to the Deity in the temple, and you would hesitate to eat it yourself. Again, take the case of a new pot and another in which curd has been made. One is afraid to keep milk in the second pot, for the milk very often turns sour.

"Householder devotees like Girish form a class by themselves. They desire yoga and also bhoga. Their attitude is that of Ravana, who wanted to enjoy the maidens of heaven and at the same time realize Rama. They are like the asuras, the demons, who enjoy various pleasures and also realize Narayana."

NARENDRA: "But Girish has given up his old associates."

MASTER: "Yes, yes. He is like a bull castrated in old age. In Burdwan I once saw an ox moving about the cows. I asked a bullock-cart driver: 'What is this? An ox? How strange!' He said to me: 'True, sir. But it was castrated in old age, and so it hasn't altogether shaken off the old tendencies.'

"In a certain place there sat some sannyasis. A young woman happened to pass by. All continued as before to meditate on God, except one of them, who cast sidelong glances at her. Before becoming a monk he had been the father of three children.

"If you make a solution of garlic in a cup, won't it be hard to remove the smell from it? Can a worthless tree like the babui produce mangoes? Of course such a thing may become possible through the occult powers of a yogi; but can everyone acquire such powers?

"When have worldly people time to think of God? A man wanted to engage a pundit who could explain the Bhagavata to him. His friend said: I know of an excellent pundit. But there is one difficulty: he does a great deal of farming. He has four ploughs and eight bullocks and is always busy with them; he has no leisure.' Thereupon the man said: 'I don't care for a pundit who has no leisure. I am not looking for a Bhagavata scholar burdened with ploughs and bullocks. I want a pundit who can really expound the sacred book to me.'

"There was a king who used to listen daily to a pundit's exposition of the Bhagavata. Every day at the end of their study the pundit would ask the king, 'O King, have you understood what I have read?' To this question the king would daily give the same reply: 'Sir, you had better understand it first yourself.' Each day, when the pundit returned home, he would ponder the meaning of the king's words. He was a pious man, devoted to prayer and meditation. Gradually he came to his senses and realized that the only real thing in the world is the Lotus Feet of God, and that all else is illusory. He felt dispassion for the world and took up the life of a monk. As he was leaving the world he sent a man to the king with the message: 'Yes, O King! Now I have understood.'

"But do I look down on worldly people? Of course not. When I see them, I apply the Knowledge of Brahman, the Oneness of Existence. Brahman Itself has become everything; all are Narayana Himself. Regarding all women as so many forms of the Divine Mother, I see no difference between a chaste woman and a streetwalker.
"Alas! I find no customers who want anything better than kalai pulse. No one wants to give up 'woman and gold'. Man, deluded by the beauty of woman and the power of money, forgets God. But to one who has seen the beauty of God, even the position of Brahma, the Creator, seems insignificant.

"A man said to Ravana, 'You have been going to Sita in different disguises; why don't you go to her in the form of Rama?' 'But', Ravana replied, 'when I meditate on Rama in my heart, the most beautiful women - celestial maidens like Rambha and Tilottama - appear no better than ashes of the funeral pyre. Then even the position of Brahma appears trivial to me, not to speak of the beauty of another man's wife.'

"Alas! I find that all the customers here seek worthless kalai pulse. Unless the soul is pure, it cannot have genuine love of God and single-minded devotion to the ideal. The mind wanders away to various objects.

(To Manomohan) "You may take offence at my words, but I said to Rakhal, 'I would rather hear that you had drowned yourself in the Ganges than learn that you had accepted a job under another person and become his servant.'
"One day a Nepalese girl came here. She sang devotional songs to the accompaniment of the esraj. When someone asked her if she was married, she said sharply: 'What? I am the handmaid of God! Whom else could I serve?'

"How can a man living in the midst of 'woman and gold' realize God? It is very hard for him to lead an unattached life. First, he is the slave of his wife, second, of money, and third, of the master whom he serves.

"When Akbar was Emperor of Delhi there lived a hermit in a hut in the forest. Many people visited the holy man. At one time he felt a great desire to entertain his visitors. But how could he do so without money? So he decided to go to the Emperor for help, for the gate of Akbar's palace was always open to holy men. The hermit entered the palace while the Emperor was at his daily devotions and took a seat in a corner of the room. He heard the Emperor conclude his worship with the prayer, 'O God, give me money; give me riches', and so on and so forth. When the hermit heard this he was about to leave the prayer hall; but the Emperor signed to him to wait. When the prayer was over, Akbar said to him, 'You came to see me; how is it that you were about to leave without saying anything to me?' 'Your Majesty need not trouble yourself about it', answered the hermit. 'I must leave now.' When the Emperor insisted, the hermit said, 'Many people visit my hut, and so I came here to ask you for some money.' 'Then', said Akbar, 'why were you going away without speaking to me?' The hermit replied: 'I found that you too were a beggar; you too prayed to God for money and riches. Thereupon I said to myself, "Why should I beg of a beggar? If I must beg, let me beg of God."'"

NARENDRA: "Nowadays Girish Ghosh thinks of nothing but spiritual things."

MASTER: "That is very good. But why is he so abusive? Why does he use such vulgar language to me? In my present state of mind I cannot bear such rudeness. When a thunderbolt strikes near a house, the heavy things inside the house are not much affected; but the window-panes rattle. Nowadays I cannot bear such roughness. A man living on the plane of sattva cannot bear noise and uproar. That is why Hriday was sent away. It was the Divine Mother who sent him away. During the later part of his stay he went to extremes; he became very rough and abusive. (To Narendra) Do you agree with Girish about me?"

NARENDRA: "He said he believed you to be an Incarnation of God. I didn't say anything in answer to his remarks."

MASTER: "But how great his faith is! Don't you think so?"

The devotees listened intently to the Master's words. He was still seated on the mat spread on the floor, with M. by his side and Narendra in front of him. The devotees were sitting around.

After a few minutes' silence he said to Narendra tenderly, "My child, you will not attain God without renouncing 'woman and gold'." As he said this, great emotion welled up in his heart. Fixing on Narendra an earnest and tender look, he sang:

We are afraid to speak, and yet we are afraid to keep still;
Our minds, O Radha, half believe that we are about to lose you!
We tell you the secret that we know -
The secret whereby we ourselves, and others, with our help,
Have passed through many a time of peril;
Now it all depends on you.
Sri Ramakrishna seemed to be afraid lest Narendra should leave him. Narendra looked at the Master with tears in his eyes.

A visitor who was there for the first time heard and saw all this. He said to the Master, "Sir, if one must renounce 'woman and gold', then what shall a householder do?"

MASTER: "You may enjoy 'woman and gold'. What has passed between us is no concern of yours."

Mahimacharan, a householder devotee, heard everything and sat speechless.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Go forward. Push on. You will discover the forest of sandal-wood. Go farther and you will find the silver-mine. Go farther still and you will see the gold-mine. Do not stop there. Go forward, and you will reach the mines of rubies and diamonds. Therefore I say, go forward."

MAHIMA: "But, sir, something holds us back. We can't move."

MASTER (with a smile): "Why? Cut the reins. Cut them with the sword of God's name. 'The shackles of Kala, Time, are cut by Kali's name.'"

Every now and then the Master cast his gracious look on Narendra. He said, "Have you now become an experienced physician?" Quoting a Sanskrit verse he said, "He who has killed only a hundred patients is a novice in medicine; but he becomes an expert after killing a thousand!"

Was the Master hinting that Narendra, even though still young, had many painful experiences of life?

Narendra smiled and kept silent.

It was afternoon. The devotees were seated around the Master, listening to Nabai Chaitanya's singing. Suddenly the Master left the room, but the music continued. M. accompanied the Master.

Sri Ramakrishna walked across the courtyard and entered the temple of Radhakanta. He bowed down before the images, M. following him. There was some red powder in a tray. The Master offered a little powder to the images and bowed down again.
Next he proceeded to the Kali temple. Passing up the seven steps, he stood on the open porch and looked at the image. Then he entered the shrine, offered red powder to the Divine Mother, and saluted Her. As he left the temple he asked M., "Why didn't you bring Baburam with you?"

Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room accompanied by M. and another devotee carrying the tray of red powder. He offered a little of it to all the pictures of gods and goddesses in his room, but not to those of Jesus Christ and himself. Then he threw the powder on the bodies of Narendra and the other devotees. They all took the dust of his feet.

In the cool shade of the late afternoon the devotees walked about in the temple garden, leaving the Master and M. in the room. The Master whispered to M.: "All say that they meditate well. But why is it different with Paltu? What do you think of Narendra? He is utterly guileless. Just now he is faced with many difficult family problems and so his spiritual progress is a little checked; but it will not be so for long."

Narendra was arguing on the verandah with a Vedantist. Now and then the Master went out to look at them. As the devotees gathered in the room he asked Mahima to recite a hymn. Mahima chanted a verse from the Mahanirvana Tantra:

We worship the Brahman-Consciousness in the Lotus of the Heart,
The Undifferentiated, who is adored by Hari, Hara, and Brahma. . . .

Mahima recited a few more hymns and at last one to Siva, by Sankaracharya, that compared the world to a deep well and a wilderness. Mahima was a householder.

The hymn ran thus:

O Great God! O Thou Auspicious One, with the moon shining in Thy crest!
Slayer of Madana! (The god of love.) Wielder of the trident! Unmoving One! Lord of the Himalayas!
O Consort of Durga, Lord of all creatures! Thou who scatterest the distress of the fearful!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O Beloved of Parvati's heart! O Thou moon-crested Deity!
Master of every being! Lord of hosts! O Thou, the Lord of Parvati!
O Vamadeva, Self-existent One! O Rudra, Wielder of the bow!

Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O blue-throated God! Siva, whose ensign is the bull! O Five-faced One!
Lord of the worlds, who wearest snakes upon Thy wrists! O Thou Auspicious One!
O Siva! O Pasupati! (Lord of beings.) O Thou, the Lord of Parvati!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O Lord of the Universe! O Siva Sankara! O God of Gods!
Thou who dost bear the river Ganges in Thy matted locks!
Thou, the Master of Pramatha and Nandika! (Attendants of Siva) O Hara, Lord of the world!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O King of Kasi, Lord of the cremation ground of Manikarnika!
O mighty Hero, Thou the Destroyer of Daksha's (Siva's father-in-law) sacrifice! O All-pervasive One!
O Lord of hosts! Omniscient One, who art the sole Indweller in every heart! O Lord!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.
O Great God! Compassionate One! O Benign Deity!
O Byomakesa! (A name of Siva) Blue-throated One! O Lord of hosts!
Thy body is smeared with ashes! Thou art garlanded with human skulls!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O Thou who dwellest on Mount Kailas! Thou whose carrier is the bull!
O Conqueror of death! O Three-eyed One! Lord of the three worlds!
Beloved of Narayana! Conqueror of lust! Thou, Sakti's Lord!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

Lord of the Universe! Refuge of the whole world! O Thou of infinite forms!
Soul of the Universe! O Thou in whom repose the infinite virtues of the world!
O Thou adored by all! Compassionate One! O Friend of the poor!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.
MASTER (to Mahima): "Why do you call the world a deep well or a track-less forest? An aspirant may think so in the beginning; but how can he be frightened by the world if he holds fast to God? Then he finds that -

This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.

"Why should you be frightened? Hold fast to God. What if the world is like a forest of thorns? Put on shoes and walk on the thorns. Whom should you fear? You won't have to play again the part of the 'thief in the game of hide-and-seek, once you touch the 'granny'.

"King Janaka used to fence with two swords - the one of Knowledge and the other of action. Nothing can frighten an expert player.

(To M.) "My mind is still drawn to what he just recited."

Sri Ramakrishna referred to the hymns chanted by Mahima.

Nabai Chaitanya and the other devotees began to sing. They were joined by the Master, who danced, drunk with divine love. Afterwards he said: "This is the one thing needful, the chanting of God's name. All else is unreal. Love and devotion alone are real, and other things are of no consequence."

Later Sri Ramakrishna went out in the direction of the Panchavati. He asked M. about Binode, a student in M.'s school, who now and then experienced ecstasy while thinking of God. The Master loved him dearly.

As he was returning to his room with M., he asked: "Well, some speak of me as an Incarnation of God. What do you think about it?" The Master came back to his room and sat on the small couch. He repeated the question to M. The other devotees were seated at a distance and could not follow the conversation.

MASTER: "What do you say?"

M: "I think so too. You are like Sri Chaitanya."

MASTER: "Is it a full manifestation of God, or a part? Tell me how much."

M: "I don't know, sir. But it is true that there is in you an Incarnation of the Divine Power. There is no doubt that God alone dwells in you."

MASTER: "That is true. Chaitanya also wanted to realize Sakti, the Divine Power."

Narendra was engaged in a heated discussion. Ram, who had recently recovered from an illness, joined him.

MASTER (to M.): "I don't like such discussions. (To Ram) Will you stop that? You haven't been well. All right, go on softly; don't get so excited. (To M.) I don't like these discussions. I used to weep and pray to the Divine Mother saying: 'O Mother, one man says it is this, while another says it is that. Do Thou tell me, O Mother, what is the truth.'"

Saturday, March 7, 1885

At three o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was in his room at Dakshineswar conversing happily with his devotees. Baburam, the younger Naren, Paltu, Haripada, Mohinimohan, and others were present. A young brahmin who had been staying with the Master a few days was also there.

The Holy Mother, Sri Ramakrishna's wife, was living in the nahabat. Occasionally she would come to Sri Ramakrishna's room to attend to his needs. Mohinimohan had brought his wife and Nabin's mother with him to the temple garden from Calcutta. The ladies were with the Holy Mother; they were waiting for an opportunity to visit the Master when the men devotees would leave the room.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. As he looked at the young devotees his Face beamed with joy.

Rakhal was not then living at Dakshineswar with the Master. Since his return from Vrindavan he had been living at home.

MASTER (smiling): "Rakhal is now enjoying his pension'. Since his return from Vrindavan he has been staying at home. His wife is there. But he said to me that he would not accept any work even if he were offered a salary of a thousand rupees.

Rakhal would lie down here and say to me that he didn't care even for my company. He was then passing through such an exalted state.

Bhavanath is married; but he spends the whole night in spiritual conversation with his wife. The couple pass their time talking of God alone. I said to him, 'Have a little fun with your wife now and then.' 'What?' he retorted angrily. 'Shall we too indulge in frivolity?'"

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk about Narendra.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I haven't felt the same strong longing for the younger Naren that I felt for Narendra.

(To Haripada) "Do you go to Girish Ghosh's house?"

HARIPADA: "Yes, I go there very often. He is our neighbour."

MASTER: "Does Narendra, too, go there?"

HARIPADA: "Yes, I see him there occasionally."

MASTER: "What does he say in reply to Girish?" [Girish Ghosh spoke of Sri Ramakrishna as an Incarnation of God.]

HARIPADA: "Narendra has been defeated in the argument."

MASTER: "No, Narendra says, 'Girish Ghosh has such strong faith; why should I contradict him?'"

The brother of Judge Anukal Mukhopadhyaya's son-in-law was in the room. The Master asked him, "Do you know Narendra?"

BROTHER: "Yes, sir. He is a very intelligent young man."

MASTER (to the devotees): "He must be a good man because he speaks highly of Narendra. Narendra was here the other day and sang with Trailokya Sannyal. But that day his singing seemed flat to me."

Baburam was a student in the Entrance Class in the school where M. taught.

MASTER (to Baburam): "Where are your books? Aren't you attending to your studies? (To M.) He wants to stick to both. (God and the world.)

"That is very difficult. What will you gain by knowing God partially? Vasishthadeva, great sage that he was, was overcome at the death of his sons. That amazed Lakshmana and he asked Rama the reason. Rama said: 'Brother, what is there to wonder at? He who has knowledge has ignorance also. Brother, go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.' If a thorn enters the sole of your foot, you get another thorn to take out the first one. Afterwards you throw both away. Likewise, one procures the thorn of knowledge to remove the thorn of ignorance; then one goes beyond both knowledge and ignorance."

BABURAM (smiling): "That's what I want."

MASTER (smiling): "But, my child, can you attain it by holding to both? If you want that, then come away."

BABURAM (smiling): "Take me away from the world."

MASTER (to M.): "Rakhal lived with me, but that was different; his father agreed to it. If these boys stay here there will be trouble.

(To Baburam) "You have no strength of mind; you haven't much courage. Just see how the younger Naren says, 'I will come away for good.'"

Sri Ramakrishna came down from the small couch and sat among the youngsters on the floor. M. sat by his side.

MASTER (to M.): "I have been seeking one who has totally renounced 'woman and gold'. When I find a young man, I think that perhaps he will live with me; but everyone raises some objection or other.

"A ghost sought a companion. It is said that a man who dies on a Saturday or Tuesday becomes a ghost. Therefore, whenever the ghost saw anybody fall from a roof or stumble and faint on the road on either of those days, he would run to him, hoping that the man, through an accidental death, would become a ghost and be his companion. But such was his ill luck that everyone revived. The poor thing could not get a companion.

"Just see, Rakhal always gives his wife as an excuse. He says, 'What will become of her?' When I touched Narendra on the chest, he became unconscious; then he cried out: 'Oh, what have you done to me? Don't you know that I have a father and mother?'

"Why has God made me lead this kind of life? Chaitanyadeva became a sannyasi so that all would salute him. Whoever salutes an Incarnation, even once, obtains liberation."

Mohinimohan had brought a basket of sweetmeats for Sri Ramakrishna.

MASTER: "Who has brought these sweets?"

Baburam pointed to Mohinimohan.

Sri Ramakrishna touched the sweets, uttering the word "Om", and ate a little. Then he distributed them among the devotees. To the surprise of the others, he fed the younger Naren and a few of the boys with his own hand.

MASTER (to M.): "This has a meaning. There is a greater manifestation of God in men of pure heart. In former years, when I used to go to Kamarpukur, I would feed some of the young boys with my own hand. Chine Sankhari would say, 'Why doesn't he feed us that way?' But how could I? They led an immoral life. Who would feed them?"

Sri Ramakrishna was in the happiest mood with his young and pure-souled devotees. He was seated on the small couch and was doing funny imitations of a kirtani. The devotees laughed heartily. The kirtani is dressed lavishly and covered with ornaments. She sings, standing on the floor, a coloured kerchief in her hand. Now and then she coughs to draw people's attention and blows her nose, raising her nose-ring. When a respectable gentleman enters the room, she welcomes him with appropriate words, still continuing her song. Now and then she pulls her sari from her arms to show off her jewels.

The devotees were convulsed with laughter at this mimicry by Sri Ramakrishna. Paltu rolled on the ground. Pointing to him, the Master said to M.: "Look at that child! He is rolling with laughter." He said to Paltu with a smile: "Don't report this to your father, or he will lose the little respect he has for me. You see, he is an 'Englishman'."

MASTER (to the devotees): "There are people who indulge in all kinds of gossip at the time of their daily devotions. As you know, one is not permitted to talk then; so they make all kinds of signs, keeping their lips closed. In order to say, 'Bring this', 'Bring that', they make sounds like 'Huh', 'Uhuh'. All such things they do! (Laughter.)

"Again, there are some who bargain for fish while telling their beads. As they count the rosary, with a finger they point out the fish, indicating, 'That one, please.' They reserve all their business for that time! (Laughter.)

"There are women who come to the Ganges for their bath and, instead of thinking of God, gossip about no end of things. 'What jewels did you offer at the time of your son's marriage?' - 'Has so-and-so returned from her father-in-law's house?' - 'So-and-so is seriously ill.' - 'So-and-so went to see the bride; we hope that they will offer a magnificent dowry and that there will be a great feast.' - 'Harish always nags at me; he can't stay away from me even an hour.' - 'My child, I couldn't come to see you all these days; I was so busy with the betrothal of so-and-so's daughter.'

"You see, they have come to bathe in the holy river, and yet they indulge in all sorts of worldly talk."

The Master began to look intently at the younger Naren and went into samadhi. Did he see God Himself in the pure-souled devotee?

The devotees silently watched the figure of Sri Ramakrishna motionless in samadhi. A few minutes before there had been so much laughter in the room; now there was deep silence, as if no one were there. The Master sat with folded hands as in his photograph.

After a short while his mind began to come down to the relative plane. He heaved a long sigh and became aware of the outer world. He looked at the devotees and began to talk with them of their spiritual progress.

MASTER (to the younger Naren): "I have been eager to see you. You will succeed. Come here once in a while. Well, which do you prefer - jnana or bhakti?"

THE YOUNGER NAREN: "Pure bhakti."

MASTER: "But how can you love someone unless you know him? (Pointing to M., with a smile) How can you love him unless you know him? (To M.) Since a pure-souled person has asked for pure bhakti, it must have some meaning.

"One does not seek bhakti of one's own accord without inborn tendencies. This is the characteristic of prema-bhakti. There is another kind of bhakti, called jnana-bhakti, which is love of God based on reasoning.

(To the younger Naren) "Let me look at your body; take off your shirt. Fairly broad chest. You will succeed. Come here now and then."

Sri Ramakrishna was still in the ecstatic mood. He spoke tenderly to the other devotees about their future.

MASTER (to Paltu): "You will succeed, too, but it will take a little time.

(To Baburam) "Why don't I attract you to me? It is just to avoid trouble.

(To Mohinimohan) "As for you, you are all right. There is a little yet to be done. When that is achieved, nothing will remain - neither duty nor work nor the world itself. Is it good to get rid of everything?"

As Sri Ramakrishna spoke these words he looked at Mohini affectionately, as if scanning his inmost feelings. Was Mohini really wondering whether it would be wise to renounce all for God? After a while Sri Ramakrishna said, "God binds the Bhagavata pundit to the world with one tie; otherwise, who would remain to explain the sacred book? He keeps the pundit bound for the good of men. That is why the Divine Mother has kept you in the world."
Now Sri Ramakrishna spoke to the young brahmin.

MASTER: "Give up knowledge and reasoning; accept bhakti. Bhakti alone is the essence. Is this the third day of your stay here?"

BRAHMIN (with folded hands): "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Have faith. Depend on God. Then you will not have to do anything yourself. Mother Kali will do everything for you.

"Jnana goes as far as the outer court, but bhakti can enter the inner court. The Pure Self is unattached. Both vidya and avidya are in It, but It is unattached. Sometimes there is a good and sometimes a bad smell in the air, but the air itself is unaffected.

"Once Vyasadeva was about to cross the Jamuna. The gopis also were there. They wanted to go to the other side of the river to sell curd, milk, and cream. But there was no ferry at that time. They were all worried about how to cross the river, when Vyasa said to them, 'I am very hungry.' The milkmaids fed him with milk and cream. He finished almost all their food. Then Vyasa said to the river, 'O Jamuna, if I have not eaten anything, then your waters will part and we shall walk through.' It so happened. The river parted and a pathway was formed between the waters. Following that path, the gopis and Vyasa crossed the river. Vyasa had said, 'If I have not eaten anything'. That means, the real man is Pure Atman. Atman is unattached and beyond Prakriti. It has neither hunger nor thirst; It knows neither birth nor death; It does not age, nor does It die. It is immutable as Mount Sumeru.

"He who has attained this Knowledge of Brahman is a jivanmukta, liberated while living in the body. He rightly understands that the Atman and the body are two separate things. After realizing God one does not identify the Atman with the body. These two are separate, like the kernel and the shell of the coconut when its milk dries up. The Atman moves, as it were, within the body. When the 'milk' of worldly-mindedness has dried up, one gets Self-Knowledge. Then one feels that Atman and body are two separate things. The kernel of a green almond or betel-nut cannot be separated from the shell; but when they are ripe the juice dries up and the kernel separates from the shell. After the attainment of the Knowledge of Brahman, the 'milk' of worldly-mindedness dries up.

"But it is extremely difficult to attain the Knowledge of Brahman. One doesn't get it by merely talking about it. Some people feign it. (Smiling) There was a man who was a great liar; but, on the other hand, he used to say he had the Knowledge of Brahman. When someone took him to task for telling lies, he said: 'Why, this world is truly like a dream. If everything is unreal, then can truth itself be real? Truth is as unreal as falsehood.'" (All laugh.)

Sri Ramakrishna sat with the devotees on the mat on the floor. He was smiling. He said to the devotees, "Please stroke my feet gently." They carried out his request. He said to M:, "There is great significance in this." (The stroking of his feet) Placing his hand on his heart, the Master said, "If there is anything here, then through this service the ignorance and illusion of the devotees will be completely destroyed."

Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna became serious, as if about to reveal a secret.

MASTER (to M.): "There is no outsider here. The other day, when Harish was with me, I saw Satchidananda come out of this sheath. (Sri Ramakrishna's body.) It said 'I incarnate Myself in every age.' I thought that I myself was saying these words out of mere fancy. I kept quiet and watched. Again Satchidananda Itself spoke, saying, 'Chaitanya, too, worshipped Sakti.'"

The devotees listened to these words in amazement. Some wondered whether God Himself was seated before them in the form of Sri Ramakrishna. The Master paused a moment. Then he said, addressing M., "I saw that it is the fullest manifestation of Satchidananda; but this time the Divine Power is manifested through the glory of sattva."

The devotees sat spellbound.

MASTER (to M.): "Just now I was saying to the Mother, 'I cannot talk much.' I also said to Her, 'May people's inner consciousness be awakened by only one touch!' You see, such is the power of Yogamaya that She can cast a spell. She did so at Vrindavan. That is why Subol (One of the companions of Sri Krishna) was able to unite Sri Krishna and Radhika. Yogamaya, the Primal Power, has a power of attraction. I applied that power myself.

(To M.) "Well, do you think that those who come here are realizing anything?"

M: "Yes, sir, it must be so."

MASTER: "How do you know?"

M. (smiling): "Everyone says, 'Whoever goes to him doesn't return to the world.'"

MASTER (smiling): "A bullfrog was caught by a water-snake. The snake could neither swallow the frog nor let it go. As a result the frog suffered very much; he croaked continuously. And the snake suffered too. But if the frog had been seized by a cobra, he would have been quiet after one or two croaks. (All laugh.)

(To the young devotees) "Read the Bhaktichaitanyachandrika by Trailokya. Ask Trailokya for a copy. He has written well about Chaitanyadeva."

A DEVOTEE: "Will he give it to us?"

MASTER (smiling): "Why not? If a farmer has a good crop of melons he can easily give away two or three. (All laugh.) Won't Trailokya give you the book free?

(To Paltu) "Come here now and then."

PALTU: "I shall come whenever I can."

MASTER: "Will you see me in Calcutta when I go there?"

PALTU: "Yes, I shall try."

MASTER: "That's the answer of a calculating mind."

PALTU: "If I don't say, 'I shall try', I may be a liar."

MASTER (to M.): "I don't mind the lies of these boys. They are not free.

(To Haripada) "Why hasn't Mahendra Mukherji come here lately?"

HARIPADA: "I'm not quite sure why."

M. (smiling): "He's practising jnanayoga!"

MASTER: "No, it's not that. The other day he promised to send me in his carriage to the theatre to see a play about the life of Prahlada; but he didn't send the carriage. Perhaps that is why he doesn't come."

M: "One day I saw Mahima Chakravarty and had a talk with him. It seems that Mahendra visits him."

MASTER: "But Mahima talks about bhakti also. He loves to recite the hymn: 'What need is there of penance if God is worshipped with love?'"

M. (smiling): "He says that because you make him say it."

Girish Chandra Ghosh was always talking to the devotees about the Master.

HARIPADA: "Girish Ghosh sees many visions nowadays. After going home from here he remains absorbed in spiritual moods and sees many things."

MASTER: "That may be true. Coming to the Ganges, one sees many things - boats, ships, and what not."

HARIPADA: "Girish Ghosh says: 'From now on I shall occupy myself only with my work. In the morning, on the stroke of the clock, I shall sit down with my pen and ink-pot and write for the whole day.' He makes the resolve, no doubt, but cannot carry it out. No sooner do we visit him than he begins to talk about you. You asked him to send Narendra here in a carriage. He said, 'I shall hire a carriage for Narendra.'"

At five o'clock the younger Naren was ready to go home. Sri Ramakrishna stood by his side on the northeast verandah and gave him various instructions. Then the boy saluted the Master and departed. Many of the devotees also took their leave.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch talking to Mohini. Mohini's wife was almost mad with grief on account of her son's death. Sometimes she laughed and sometimes she wept. But she felt peaceful in Sri Ramakrishna's presence.

MASTER: "How is your wife now?"

MOHINI: "She becomes quiet whenever she is here; but sometimes at home she becomes very wild. The other day she was going to kill herself."

When Sri Ramakrishna heard this he appeared worried. Mohini said to him humbly, "Please give her a few words of advice."

MASTER: "Don't allow her to cook. That will heat her brain all the more. And keep her in the company of others so that they may watch her."

It was dusk. Preparations were going on in the temples for the evening worship. The lamp was lighted in the Master's room and incense was burnt. Seated on the small couch, Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother and chanted Her name in a tender voice. There was nobody in the room except M., who was sitting on the floor.

Sri Ramakrishna rose from the couch. M. also stood up. The Master asked him to shut the west and north doors of the room. M. obeyed and stood by Sri Ramakrishna on the porch. The Master said that he wanted to go to the Kali temple. Leaning on M.'s arm, he came down to the terrace of the temple. He asked M. to call Baburam and sat down.

After visiting the Divine Mother, the Master returned to his room across the court, chanting, "O Mother! Mother! Rajarajesvari!"

Sri Ramakrishna entered his room and sat on the small couch. He had been passing through an extraordinary state of mind: he could not touch any metal. He had said a few days before, "It seems that the Divine Mother has been removing from my mind all ideas of possession." He had been eating from plantain-leaves and drinking water from an earthen tumbler. He could not touch a metal jar; so he had asked the devotees to get a few earthen jars for him. If he touched metal plates or pots, his hand ached as if stung by a horned fish.

Prasanna had brought a few earthen pots, but they were very small. The Master said with a smile: "These pots are too small. But he is a nice boy. Once I asked him to take off his clothes, and he stood naked in front of me. What a child he is!"

Tarak of Belgharia arrived with a friend and bowed low before Sri Ramakrishna, who was sitting on the small couch. The room was lighted by an oil lamp. A few devotees were sitting on the floor.

Tarak was about twenty years old, and married. His parents did not allow him to come to Sri Ramakrishna. He lived mostly at his home near Bowbazar. The Master was very fond of him. Tarak's friend had a tamasic nature; he rather scoffed at the Master and religious ideas in general.

MASTER (to Tarak's friend): "Why don't you go and visit the temples?"

FRIEND: "Oh, I've seen them before."

MASTER: "Is it wrong for Tarak to come here?"

FRIEND: "You know best."

MASTER (pointing to M.): "He is a headmaster."


Sri Ramakrishna asked about Tarak's health and talked with him at length. Tarak was ready to leave. Sri Ramakrishna asked him to be careful about many things.

MASTER: "My good man, beware. Beware of 'woman and gold'. Once you sink in the maya of a woman, you will not be able to rise. It is the whirlpool of the Visalakshi. (A stream near Kamarpukur) He who has fallen into it cannot pull himself out again. Come here now and then."

TARAK: "My people at home don't let me."

A DEVOTEE: "Suppose someone's mother says to him, 'Don't go to Dakshineswar.' Suppose she curses him, saying, 'If you go there you will be drinking my blood!'"

MASTER: "A mother who says that is no mother; she is the embodiment of avidya. There is no sin in disobeying such a mother. She obstructs her son's path to God. There is no harm in disobeying your elders for the sake of God. For Rama's sake Bharat did not obey his mother Kaikeyi. The gopis did not obey their husbands when they were forbidden to visit Krishna. Prahlada disobeyed his father for God. Vali disregarded the words of Sukracharya, his teacher, in order to please God. Bibhishana went against the wishes of Ravana, his elder brother, to please Rama. But you must obey your elders in all other things. Let me see your hand."

Sri Ramakrishna took Tarak's hand into his own and seemed to feel its weight. A few moments later he said: "There is a little crookedness in your mind; but that will go. Pray to God a little and come here now and then. Yes, that twist will go. Is it you that have hired the house at Bowbazar?"

TARAK: "Not I, sir, but my parents."

MASTER (smiling): "They or you? Is it because you are afraid of the 'tiger'?"

Tarak had a young wife. Did the Master mean that a woman is like a tiger to a man?

Tarak saluted Sri Ramakrishna and took his leave. The Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about Tarak. Suddenly he said to M., "Why do I worry so much about these young boys?" M. kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked him, "Why don't you speak?"

Mohini's wife entered the room and sat at one side. Sri Ramakrishna spoke to M. about Tarak's friend.

MASTER: "Why did Tarak bring that fellow with him?"

M: "Perhaps he wanted a companion for the road. It is a long way from Calcutta; so he brought a friend with him."

The Master suddenly addressed Mohini's wife and said: "By unnatural death one becomes an evil spirit. Beware. Make it clear to your mind. Is this what you have come to after hearing and seeing so much?"

Mohini was about to take his leave. He saluted Sri Ramakrishna. His wife also saluted the Master, who stood near the north door of the room. Mohini's wife spoke to him in a whisper.

MASTER: "Do you want to stay here?"

MOHINI'S WIFE: "Yes, I want to spend a few days with the Holy Mother at the nahabat. May I?"

MASTER: "That will be all right. But you talk of dying. That frightens me. And the Ganges is so near!"