Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 
WITH THE DEVOTEES IN CALCUTTA
Balaram Bose - Master's exalted spiritual state - The younger Naren - Mystery of Divine Incarnation - Seek God in man - God known to the pure mind - Master's love for Narayan - The purpose of the scriptures - Mere scholarship condemned - Narendra's many virtues - Master's prayer - At Girish's house - Narendra and Girish argue about God - Qualified Monism - Futility of mere reasoning - Kali and Brahman - Master's love for Narendra - About Purna - Master at Devendra's house - Master praises renunciation - About Girish.
March 11, 1885
ON THE MORNING of Wednesday, March 11, Sri Ramakrishna and some of his disciples visited Balaram Bose's house. Balaram was indeed blessed among the householder disciples of the Master. Sri Ramakrishna often described him as a rasaddar, or supplier of stores, appointed by the Divine Mother to take care of his physical needs. Balaram's house in Calcutta had been sanctified many times by the Master's presence. There he frequently lost himself in samadhi, dancing, singing, or talking about God. Those of the Master's disciples and devotees who could not go to Dakshineswar visited him there and received his instruction. He often asked Balaram to invite young disciples such as Rakhal, Bhavanath, and Narendra to his house, saying: "These pure souls are the veritable manifestations of God. To feed them is to feed God Himself. They are born with special divine attributes. By serving them you will be serving God." And so it happened that whenever the Master was at Balaram's house the devotees would gather there. It was the Master's chief vineyard in Calcutta. It was here that the devotees came to know each other intimately.
M. taught in a school in the neighbourhood. He often brought his young students to visit the Master at Balaram's house. On this day, having learnt of Sri Ramakrishna's arrival, M. went there at noon during the recess hour of the school. He found the Master resting in the drawing-room after his midday meal. Several young boys were in the room. M. prostrated himself before the Master and sat by his side.
MASTER (tenderly): "How could you come now? Have you no school work?"
M: "I have come directly from school. Just now I have no important work to do."
A DEVOTEE: "No, sir; he is playing truant today." (All laugh.)
M. said to himself, "Alas! It is indeed as if some invisible power had drawn me here."
The Master, looking a little thoughtful, asked M. to come nearer. He said, "Please wring out my wet towel and put my coat in the sun." Then he continued: "My legs and feet ache. Please rub them gently."
M. felt very happy to be given the privilege of rendering these services to the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Can you tell me why I have been feeling like this the past few days? It is impossible for me to touch any metal. When I touched a metal cup I felt as if I had been stung by a horned fish. There was an excruciating pain all over my arm. But I must use a brass water-jar, and so I tried to carry it after covering it with my towel. But the moment I touched the jar I felt the same acute pain in my arm. It was an unbearable pain! At last I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I shall never do it again. Please forgive me this time.'
"The younger Naren often visits me. Do you think his people at home will object? He is very pure and doesn't know what carnal pleasure is."
M: "He is a 'large receptacle'."
MASTER: "That is true. Further, he says he remembers spiritual things after hearing them once only. He told me, 'I used to weep in my boyhood because I couldn't see God.'"
The Master and M. were thus talking about the young devotee when someone reminded M. of his school.
MASTER: "What is the time now?"
A DEVOTEE: "It is ten minutes to one."
MASTER'(to M.): "You had better go now. It is getting late for you. You have, left your duties. (To Latu) Where is Rakhal?"
LATU: "He has gone home."
MASTER: "What? Has he gone away without seeing me?"
After school-hours M. returned to Balaram's house and found the Master sitting in the drawing-room, surrounded by his devotees and disciples. Among them were Girish, Suresh, Balaram, Latu, and Chunilal. The Master's face was beaming with a sweet smile, which was reflected in the happy faces of those in the room. M. was asked to take a seat by the Master's side.
MASTER (to Girish): "You had better argue this point with Narendra and see what he has to say."
GIRISH: "Narendra says that God is infinite; we cannot even so much as say that the things or persons we perceive are parts of God. How can Infinity have parts? It cannot."
MASTER: "However great and infinite God may be, His Essence can and does manifest itself through man by His mere will. God's Incarnation as a man cannot be explained by analogy. One must feel it for oneself and realize it by direct perception. An analogy can give us only a little glimpse. By touching the horns, legs, or tail of a cow, we in fact touch the cow herself; but for us the essential thing about a cow is her milk, which comes through the udder. The Divine Incarnation is like the udder. God incarnates Himself as man from time to time in order to teach people devotion and divine love."
GIRISH: "Narendra says: 'Is it ever possible to know all of God? He is infinite.'"
MASTER (to Girish): "Who can comprehend everything about God? It is not given to man to know any aspect of God, great or small. And what need is there to know everything about God? It is enough if we only realize Him. And we see God Himself if we but see His Incarnation. Suppose a person goes to the Ganges and touches its water. He will then say, 'Yes, I have seen and touched the Ganges.' To say this it is not necessary for him to touch the whole length of the river from Hardwar to Gangasagar. (Laughter.)
"If I touch your feet, surely that is the same as touching you. (Laughter.) If a person goes to the ocean and touches but a little of its water, he has surely touched the ocean itself. Fire, as an element, exists in all things, but in wood it is present to a greater degree."
GIRISH (smiling): "I am looking for fire. Naturally I want to go to a place where I can get it."
MASTER (smiling): "Yes, fire, as an element, is present more in wood than in any other object. If you seek God, then seek Him in man; He manifests Himself more in man than in any other thing. If you see a man endowed with ecstatic love, overflowing with prema, mad after God, intoxicated with His love, then know for certain that God has incarnated Himself through that man.
(To M.) "There is no doubt that God exists in all things; but the manifestations of His Power are different in different beings. The greatest manifestation of His Power is through an Incarnation. Again, in some Incarnations there is a complete manifestation of God's Power. It is the Sakti, the Power of God, that is born as an Incarnation."
GIRISH: "Narendra says that God is beyond our words and thought."
MASTER: "That is not altogether true. He is, no doubt, unknowable by this ordinary mind, but He can indeed be known by the pure mind. The mind and intellect become pure the moment they are free from attachment to 'woman and gold'. The pure mind and pure intellect are one and the same. God is known by the pure mind. Didn't the sages and seers of olden times see God? They realized the All-pervading Consciousness by means of their inner consciousness."
GIRISH (with a smile): "I defeated Narendra in the argument."
MASTER: "Oh, no! He said to me: 'When Girish Ghosh has so much faith in God's Incarnation as man, what can I say to him? It is not proper to meddle with such faith.'"
GIRISH (with a smile): "Sir, we are very free and easy with our words. But M. is sitting there with his lips shut tight. What in the world is passing through his mind? What do you say about it, sir?"
MASTER (with a laugh): "There is a common adage that tells people to beware of the following: a man with a loose tongue, a man whose mind cannot be fathomed even by an expert diver, a man who sticks the sacred tulsi-leaf in his ears as a sign of holiness, a woman wearing a long veil to proclaim her chastity, and the cold water of a reservoir covered with green scum, by bathing in which one gets typhoid fever. These are all dangerous things. (With a smile) But it is different with M. He is a serious man." (All laugh.)
CHUNILAL: "People have begun to whisper about M.'s conduct. The younger Naren and Baburam are his students, as are Naran, Paltu, Purna, and Tejchandra. The rumour is that he brings these boys to you and so they neglect their studies. The boys' guardians hold M. responsible."
MASTER: "But who would believe their words?"
They were thus talking when Naran entered the room and bowed low before the Master. He was a student seventeen or eighteen years old and of fair complexion. He was dearly loved by the Master, who was very eager to see the boy and feed him. Many a time at the temple garden at Dakshineswar the Master wept silently for Naran. He looked on him as the manifestation of Narayana Himself.
GIRISH (at the sight of Naran): "There! Who told him about this? Now we realize that M. is at the root of all the mischief." (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): "Stop! Hold your tongue. There is already an evil rumour about him."
The conversation next turned to Narendra.
A DEVOTEE: "Why doesn't he come to you so frequently nowadays?"
MASTER (quoting a proverb): "Man's worries over bread and butter are simply amazing; they make even Kalidasa lose his wits."
BALARAM: "Narendra frequently visits his friend Annada Guha of the family of Shiva Guha."
MASTER: "Yes, I have heard that too. Narendra and his friends meet at the house of a government officer and conduct meetings of the Brahmo Samaj there."
A DEVOTEE: "The officer's name is Tarapada."
BALARAM (smiling): "The brahmins say that Annada Guha is a very egotistic man."
MASTER: "Never listen to what the brahmins say. You know their nature very well. If a man doesn't give them money, they will call him bad; on the other hand, if a man is generous to them, they will call him good. (All laugh.) I know Annada. He is a good man."
The drawing-room was full of devotees. The Master wanted to hear some songs. At his request Tarapada sang about Krishna:
O Kesava, bestow Thy grace
Upon Thy luckless servants here!
O Kesava, who dost delight
To roam Vrindavan's glades and groves!
O Madhava, our mind's Bewitcher!
Sweet One, who dost steal our hearts,
Sweetly playing on Thy flute!
(Chant, O Mind, the name of Hari,
Sing aloud the name of Hari,
Praise Lord Hari's name!)
O Thou Eternal Youth of Braja,
Tamer of fierce Kaliya,
Slayer of the afflicted's fear!
Beloved, with the arching eyes
And crest with arching peacock feather,
Charmer of Sri Radha's heart!
Govardhan's mighty Lifter, Thou,
All garlanded with sylvan flowers!
O Damodara, Kamsa's Scourge!
O Dark One, who dost sport in bliss
With sweet Vrindavan's gopi maids.
(Chant, O mind, the name of Hari,
Sing aloud the name of Hari,
Praise Lord Hari's name!)
MASTER (to Girish): "Ah! It is a beautiful song. Did you write it?"
A DEVOTEE: "Yes, sir, he wrote all the songs for his play, the Chaitanyalila."
MASTER: "This one has really hit the mark."
At Sri Ramakrishna's request Tarapada sang two more songs. In the first, Nitai exhorts people to share Radha's love for Sri Krishna:
Come one and all! Take Radha's love!
The high tide of her love flows by;
It will not last for very long.
Oh, come then! Come ye, one and all!
In countless streams it flows from her;
As much as you desire is yours.
Made all of love, she pours out love
Unstintingly for everyone;
Her love intoxicates the heart
With heavenly bliss, and thrills the soul.
Oh, come and sing Lord Hari's name,
Drawn by her love. Oh, come ye all!
Next he sang about Gauranga:
Who art Thou, Gaur of the golden hue,
That quenchest the thirst of my soul?
Thou raisest a storm in the sea of Love,
And scarcely can I steady my boat.
Once as a cowherd boy in Vrindavan
Thou didst tend the cows;
In Thy hands Thou heldest the flute
That so bewitched the gopi maids.
Lifting Govardhan's mount in Thine arms,
Thou shieldedst Vrindavan from ill;
And at the wounded gopis' feet
Humbledst Thyself in repentant love.
The devotees pressed M. to sing; but M. was shy and asked them in a whisper to excuse him.
GIRISH (to the Master): "Sir, we can't find a way to persuade M. to sing.'
MASTER (annoyed): "Yes, he can bare his teeth at school, but shyness overpowers him when he is asked to sing!"
M., feeling greatly distressed, remained speechless.
Suresh Mitra, a beloved householder disciple of the Master, was seated at a distance. The Master cast an affectionate glance at him and said to him, pointing to Girish, "You talk of having lived a wild life, but here is one you could not surpass."
SURESH (with a smile): "Yes, sir, he is my elder brother in that respect." (All laugh.)
GIRISH (to the Master): "Well, sir, I didn't have any education during my boyhood, but still people say I am a learned man."
MASTER: "Mahimacharan has studied many scriptures. A big man. (To M.) Isn't that so?"
M: "Yes, sir."
GIRISH: "What? Book-learning? I have seen enough of it. It can't fool me any more.
MASTER (with a smile): "Do you know my attitude? Books, scriptures, and things like that only point out the way to reach God. After finding the way, what more need is there of books and scriptures? Then comes the time for action.
"A man received a letter from home informing him that certain presents were to be sent to his relatives. The names of the articles were given in the letter. As he was about to go shopping for them, he found that the letter was missing. He began anxiously to search for it, several others joining in the search. For a long time they continued to search. When at last the letter was discovered, his joy knew no bounds. With great eagerness he opened the letter and read it. It said that he was to buy five seers of sweets, a piece of cloth, and a few other things. Then he did not need the letter any more, for it had served its purpose. Putting it aside, he went out to buy the things. How long is such a letter necessary? As long as its contents are not known. When the contents are known one proceeds to carry out the directions.
"In the scriptures you will find the way to realize God. But after getting all the information about the path, you must begin to work. Only then can you attain your goal.
"What will it avail a man to have mere scholarship? A pundit may have studied many scriptures, he may recite many sacred texts, but if he is still attached to the world and if inwardly he loves 'woman and gold', then he has not assimilated the contents of the scriptures. For such a man the study of scriptures is futile.
"The almanac forecasts the rainfall tor the year. You may squeeze the book, but you won't get a drop of water - not even a single drop." (Laughter.)
GIRISH (smiling): "What did you say, sir, about squeezing the almanac? Won't a single drop of water come out of it?" (All laugh.)
MASTER (with a smile): "The pundits talk big, but where is their mind fixed? On 'woman and gold', on creature comforts and money. The vulture soars very high in the sky, but its eyes are fixed on the charnel-pit. It is continually looking for chamel-pits, carcasses, and dead bodies.
(To Girish) "Narendra is a boy of a very high order. He excels in everything: vocal and instrumental music and studies. Again, he has control over his sense-organs. He is truthful and has discrimination and dispassion. So many virtues in one person! (To M.) What do you say? Isn't he unusually good?"
M: "Yes, sir, he is."
MASTER (aside to M.): "He [meaning Girish] has great earnestness and faith."
M. looked at Girish, and marvelled at his tremendous faith. Girish had been coming to Sri Ramakrishna only a short time and had already recognized his spiritual power. To M. he seemed a familiar friend and kinsman, related to him by the strong bond of spirituality. Girish was one of the gems in the necklace of the Master's devotees.
Narayan asked the Master whether he would sing. Sri Ramakrishna sang of the Divine Mother:
Cherish my precious Mother Syama
Tenderly within, O mind;
May you and I alone behold Her,
Letting no one else intrude.
O mind, in solitude enjoy Her,
Keeping the passions all outside;
Take but the tongue, that now and again
It may cry out, "O Mother! Mother!"
Suffer no breath of base desire
To enter and approach us there,
But bid true knowledge stand on guard,
Alert and watchful evermore.
Then he sang, as if he were one of the afflicted souls of the world:
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss!
My mind knows nothing but Thy Lotus Feet.
The King of Death scowls at me terribly;
Tell me, Mother, what shall I say to him? . . .
Again he sang about the bliss of the Divine Mother:
Behold my Mother playing with Siva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!
Drunk with a draught of celestial wine. She reels and yet She does not fall. . . .
The devotees listened to the songs in deep silence. After a few moments Sri Ramakrishna said, "I have a slight cold; so I couldn't sing well."
Gradually it became dusk. The shadow of evening fell on Calcutta. For the moment the noise of the busy metropolis was stilled. Gongs and conch-shells proclaimed the evening worship in many Hindu homes. Devotees of God set aside their worldly duties and turned their minds to prayer and meditation. This joining of day and night, this mystic twilight, always created an ecstatic mood in the Master.
The devotees seated in the room looked at Sri Ramakrishna as he began to chant the sweet name of the Divine Mother. After the chanting he began to pray. What was the need of prayer to a soul in constant communion with God? Did he not rather want to teach erring mortals how to pray? Addressing the Divine Mother, he said, "O Mother, I throw myself on Thy mercy; I take shelter at Thy Hallowed Feet. I do not want bodily comforts; I do not crave name and fame; I do not seek the eight occult powers. Be gracious and grant that I may have pure love for Thee, a love unsmitten by desire, untainted by any selfish ends - a love craved by the devotee for the sake of love alone. And grant me the favour, O Mother, that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching maya, that I may never be attached to the world, to 'woman and gold', conjured up by Thy inscrutable maya! O Mother, there is no one but Thee whom I may call my own. Mother, I do not know how to worship; I am without austerity; I have neither devotion nor knowledge. Be gracious, Mother, and out of Thy infinite mercy grant me love for Thy Lotus Feet."
Every word of this prayer, uttered from the depths of his soul, stirred the minds of the devotees. The melody of his voice and the childlike simplicity of his face touched their hearts very deeply.
Girish invited the Master to his house, saying that he must go there that very night.
MASTER: "Don't you think it will be late?"
GIRISH: "No, sir. You may return any time you like. I shall have to go to the theatre tonight to settle a quarrel there."
It was nine o'clock in the evening when the Master was ready to start for Girish's house. Since Balaram had prepared supper for him, Sri Ramakrishna said to Balaram: "Please send the food you have prepared for me to Girish's. I shall enjoy it there." He did not want to hurt Balaram's feelings.
As the Master was coming down from the second floor of Balaram's house, he became filled with divine ecstasy. He looked as if he were drunk. Narayan and M. were by his side; a little behind came Ram, Chuni, and the other devotees. No sooner did he reach the ground floor than he became totally overwhelmed. Narayan came forward to hold him by the hand lest he should miss his footing and fall. The Master expressed annoyance at this. A few minutes later he said to Narayan affectionately: "If you hold me by the hand people may think I am drunk. I shall walk by myself."
Girish's house was not far away. The Master passed the crossing at Bosepara Lane. Suddenly he began to walk faster. The devotees were left behind. Presently Narendra was seen coming from a distance. At other times The Master's joy would have been unbounded at the thought of Narendra or at the mere mention of his name; but now he did not even exchange a word with his beloved disciple.
As the Master and the devotees entered the lane where Girish lived, he was able to utter words. He said to Narendra: "Are you quite well, my child? I could not talk to you then." Every word the Master spoke was full of infinite tenderness. He had not yet reached the door of Girish's house, when suddenly he stopped and said, looking at Narendra: "I want to tell you something. 'This' is one and 'that' is another." Who could know what was passing through his innermost soul at that moment?
Girish stood at the door to welcome the Master. As Sri Ramakrishna entered the house, Girish fell at his feet and lay there on the floor like a rod. At the Master's bidding he stood up, touching the Master's feet with his forehead. Sri Ramakrishna was taken to the drawing-room on the second floor. The devotees followed him and sat down, eager to get a view of the Master and listen to every word that fell from his lips.
As Sri Ramakrishna was about to take the seat reserved for him, he saw a newspaper lying near it. He signed to someone to remove the paper. Since a newspaper contains worldly matters - gossip and scandal -, he regarded it as unholy. After the paper was removed he took his seat. Nityagopal came forward and bowed low before the Master.
MASTER: "Well! You haven't been to Dakshineswar for a long time."
NITYAGOPAL: "True, sir. I haven't been able to go there. I haven't been well. I have had pains all over my body."
MASTER: "How are you now?"
NITYAGOPAL: "Not so well, sir."
MASTER: "Bring your mind down one or two notes."
NITYAGOPAL: "I don't like people's company. They say all kinds of things about me. That sometimes frightens me, but again I feel great strength within."
MASTER: "That's only natural. Who lives with you?"
NITYAGOPAL: "Tarak. He is always with me. But sometimes he too gets on my nerves."
MASTER: "Nangta told me that there lived at his monastery an ascetic who had acquired occult powers. He used to go about with his eyes fixed on the sky. But when one of his companions left him, he became disconsolate."
Again the Master went into an ecstatic mood. Strange thoughts seemed to stir his mind and he remained speechless. After a while he said: "Art Thou come? I too am here." Who could pretend to understand these words?
Many of his devotees were in the room: Narendra, Girish, Ram, Haripada, Chuni, Balaram, and M. Narendra did not believe that God could incarnate Himself in a human body. But Girish differed with him; he had the burning faith that from time to time the Almighty Lord, through His inscrutable Power, assumes a human body and descends to earth to serve a divine purpose.
The Master said to Girish, "I should like to hear you and Narendra argue in English."
The discussion began; but they talked in Bengali. Narendra said: "God is Infinity. How is it possible for us to comprehend Him? He dwells in every human being. It is not the case that He manifests Himself through one person only."
SRI RAMAKRISHNA (tenderly): "I quite agree with Narendra. God is everywhere. But then you must remember that there are different manifestations of His Power in different beings. At some places there is a manifestation of His avidyasakti, at others a manifestation of His vidyasakti. Through different instruments God's Power is manifest in different degrees, greater and smaller. Therefore all men are not equal."
RAM: "What is the use of these futile arguments?"
MASTER (sharply): "No! No! There is a meaning in all this."
GIRISH (to Narendra): "How do you know that God does not assume a human body?"
NARENDRA: "God is 'beyond words or thought'."
MASTER: "No, that is not true. He can be known by the pure buddhi, which is the same as the Pure Self. The seers of old directly perceived the Pure Self through their pure buddhi."
GIRISH (to Narendra): "Unless God Himself teaches men through His human Incarnation, who else will teach them spiritual mysteries? God takes a human body to teach men divine knowledge and divine love. Otherwise, who will teach?"
NARENDRA: "Why, God dwells in our own heart; He will certainly teach us from within the heart."
MASTER (tenderly): "Yes, yes. He will teach us as our Inner Guide."
Gradually Narendra and Girish became involved in a heated discussion. If God is Infinity, how can He have parts? What did Hamilton say? What were the views of Herbert Spencer, of Tyndall, of Huxley? And so forth and so on.
MASTER (to M.): "I don't enjoy these discussions. Why should I argue at all? I clearly see that God is everything; He Himself has become all. I see that whatever is, is God. He is everything; again, He is beyond everything. I come to a state in which my mind and intellect merge in the Indivisible. At the sight of Narendra my mind loses itself in the consciousness of the Absolute. (To Girish) What do you say to that?"
GIRISH (with a smile): "Why ask me? As if I understood everything except that one point!" (All laugh.)
MASTER: "Again, I cannot utter a word unless I come down at least two steps from the plane of samadhi. Sankara's Non-dualistic explanation of Vedanta is true, and so is the Qualified Non-dualistic interpretation of Ramanuja."
NARENDRA: "What is Qualified Non-dualism?"
MASTER: "It is the theory of Ramanuja. According to this theory, Brahman, or the Absolute, is qualified by the universe and its living beings. These three - Brahman, the world, and living beings - together constitute One. Take the instance of a bel-fruit. A man wanted to know the weight of the fruit. He separated the shell, the flesh, and the seeds. But can a man get the weight by weighing only the flesh? He must weigh flesh, shell, and seeds together. At first it appears that the real thing in the fruit is the flesh, and not its seeds or shell. Then by reasoning you find that the shell, seeds, and flesh all belong to the fruit; the shell and seeds belong to the same thing that the flesh belongs to. Likewise, in spiritual discrimination one must first reason, following the method of 'Not this, not this': God is not the universe; God is not the living beings; Brahman alone is real and all else is unreal. Then one realizes, as with the bel-fruit, that the Reality from which we derive the notion of Brahman is the very Reality that evolves the idea of living beings and the universe. The Nitya and the Lila are the two aspects of one and the same Reality; therefore, according to Ramanuja, Brahman is qualified by the universe and the living beings. This is the theory of Qualified Non-dualism.
(To M.) "I do see God directly. What shall I reason about? I clearly see that He Himself has become everything; that He Himself has become the universe and all living beings.
"But without awakening one's own inner consciousness one cannot realize the All-pervading Consciousness. How long does a man reason? So long as he has not realized God. But mere words will not do. As for myself, I clearly see that He Himself has become everything. The inner consciousness must be awakened through the grace of God. Through this awakening a man goes into samadhi. He often forgets that he has a body. He gets rid of his attachment to 'woman and gold' and does not enjoy any talk unless it is about God. Worldly talk gives him pain. Through the awakening of the inner consciousness one realizes the All-pervading Consciousness."
The discussion came to a close. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "I have observed that a man acquires one kind of knowledge about God through reasoning and another kind through meditation; but he acquires a third kind of Knowledge about God when God reveals Himself to him, His devotee. If God Himself reveals to His devotee the nature of Divine Incarnation - how He plays in human form -, then the devotee doesn't have to reason about the problem or need an explanation. Do you know what it is like? Suppose a man is in a dark room. He goes on rubbing a match against a match-box and all of a sudden light comes. Likewise, if God gives us this flash of divine light, all our doubts are destroyed. Can one ever know God by mere reasoning?"
Sri Ramakrishna asked Narendra to sit by his side. He tenderly inquired about his health and showed him much affection.
NARENDRA (to the Master): "Why, I have meditated on Kali for three or four days, but nothing has come of it."
MASTER: "All in good time, my child. Kali is none other than Brahman That which is called Brahman is really Kali. She is the Primal Energy. When that Energy remains inactive, I call It Brahman, and when It creates, preserves, or destroys, I call It Sakti or Kali. What you call Brahman I call Kali.
"Brahman and Kali are not different. They are like fire and its power to burn: if one thinks of fire one must think of its power to burn. If one recognizes Kali one must also recognize Brahman; again, if one recognizes Brahman one must recognize Kali. Brahman and Its Power are identical. It is Brahman whom I address as Sakti or Kali."
It was late at night. Girish asked Haripada to call a cab, for he had to go to the theatre. As Haripada was about to leave the room the Master said with a smile: "Mind, a cab. Don't forget to bring one." (All laugh.)
HARIPADA (smiling): "Yes, sir. I am going out just for that. How can I forget it?"
GIRISH: "That I should have to go to the theatre and leave you here!"
MASTER: "No, no. You must hold to both. King Janaka paid attention to both religious and worldly duties and 'drank his milk from a brimming cup'." (All laugh.)
GIRISH: "I have been thinking of leaving the theatre to the youngsters."
MASTER: "No, no. It is all right. You are doing good to many."
Narendra said in a whisper, "Just a moment ago he [meaning Girish] was calling him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] God, an Incarnation, and now he is attracted to the theatre!"
Narendra was sitting beside the Master. The latter looked at him intently and suddenly moved closer to his beloved disciple. Narendra did not believe in God's assuming a human body; but what did that matter? Sri Ramakrishna's heart overflowed with more and more love for his disciple. He touched Narendra's body and said, quoting from a song:
Do you feel that your pride is wounded?
So be it, then; we too have our pride.
Then the Master said to Narendra: "As long as a man argues about God, he has not realized Him. You two were arguing. I didn't like it.
"How long does one hear noise and uproar in a house where a big feast is being given? So long as the guests are not seated for the meal. As soon as food is served and people begin to eat, three quarters of the noise disappears. (All laugh.) When the dessert is served there is still less noise. But when the guests eat the last course, buttermilk, then one hears nothing but the sound 'soop, sup'. When the meal is over, the guests retire to sleep and all is quiet.
"The nearer you approach to God, the less you reason and argue. When you attain Him, then all sounds - all reasoning and disputing - come to an end. Then you go into samadhi - sleep -, into communion with God in silence."
The Master gently stroked Narendra's body and affectionately touched his chin, uttering sweetly the holy words, "Hari Om! Hari Om! Hari Om!" He was fast becoming unconscious of the outer world. His hand was on Narendra's foot. Still in that mood he gently stroked Narendra's body. Slowly a change came over his mind. With folded hands he said to Narendra: "Sing a song, please; then I shall be all right. How else shall I be able to stand on my own legs?" Again he became speechless. He sat motionless as a statue. Presently he became intoxicated with divine love and said: "O Radha, watch your step! Otherwise you may fall into the Jamuna. Ah! How mad she is with love of Krishna!"
The Master was in a rapturous mood. Quoting from a song, he said:
Tell me, friend, how far is the grove
Where Krishna, my Beloved, dwells?
His fragrance reaches me even here,
But I am tired and can walk no farther.
Then the Master completely forgot the outer world. He did not notice anyone in the room, not even his beloved Narendra seated by his side. He did not know where he himself was seated. He was totally merged in God. Suddenly he stood up, shouting, "Deep drunk with the Wine of Divine Love!" As he took his seat again, he muttered, "I see a light coming, but I know not whence it comes."
Now Narendra sang:
Lord, Thou hast lifted all my sorrow with the vision of Thy face,
And the magic of Thy beauty has bewitched my mind;
Beholding Thee, the seven worlds forget their never-ending woe;
What shall I say, then, of myself, a poor and lowly soul? . . .
Listening to the song, Sri Ramakrishna again went into deep samadhi. His eyes were closed and his body was transfixed.
Coming down from the ecstatic mood he looked around and said, "Who will take me to the temple garden?" He appeared like a child who felt confused in the absence of his companion.
It was late in the evening. The night was dark. The devotees stood by the carriage that had been brought to take the Master to Dakshineswar. They helped him in gently, for he was still in deep ecstasy. The carriage moved down the street and they looked after it with wistful eyes.
Soon the devotees turned homeward, a gentle south wind blowing in their faces. Some were humming the lines of the song:
Lord, Thou hast lifted all my sorrow with the vision of Thy face,
And the magic of Thy beauty has bewitched my mind.
April 6, 1885
Sri Ramakrishna sat in the drawing-room of Balaram's house talking to M. It was a very hot day and long past three o'clock. He had come to Calcutta to see some of his young disciples and also to visit Devendra's house.
MASTER (to M.): "I gave my word that I would be here at three o'clock; so I have come. But it is very hot."
M: "Yes, sir, you must have suffered very much."
The devotees were fanning Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER: "I have come here for Baburam and the younger Naren. Why haven't you brought Purna?"
M: "He doesn't like to come to a gathering of people. He is afraid you might praise him before others and his relatives might then hear about it."
MASTER: "Yes, that's true. I won't do it in the future. Well, I understand that you are giving Purna religious instruction. That is fine."
M: "As a matter of fact, the same thing is written in one of the text-books of the school. It says:
With all thy soul love God above;
And as thyself thy neighbour love.
If their guardians are displeased with such teachings, it can't be helped."
MASTER: "No doubt many things like that are written in those books; but the authors themselves do not assimilate what they write. This power of assimilation comes from associating with holy men. People listen to instruction only when it is given by a sadhu who has truly renounced the world; they are not much impressed by the writings or the words of a mere scholar. Suppose a physician has a big jar of molasses by his side, and he asks his patients not to eat molasses; the patients won't pay much attention to his advice.
"Well, how do you find Purna? Does he go into ecstatic moods?"
M: "No, I haven't noticed in him any outer sign of such emotion. One day I told him those words of yours."
MASTER: "What words?"
M: "You told us that if a man is a 'small receptacle' he cannot control spiritual emotion; but if he is a 'large receptacle' he experiences intense emotion without showing it outwardly. You said that a big lake does not become disturbed when an elephant enters it; but when the elephant enters a pool, one sees tremendous confusion and the water splashes on the banks."
MASTER: "Purna will not show his emotion outwardly; he hasn't that kind of temperament. His other signs are good. What do you say?"
M: "His eyes are very bright and prominent."
MASTER: "Mere bright eyes are not enough. The eyes of a godly person are different. Did you ask him what he felt after meeting me?"
M: "Yes, sir, we talked about that. He has been telling me for the last four or five days that whenever he thinks of God or repeats His name, tears flow from his eyes and the hair on his body stands on end - such is his joy."
MASTER: "Indeed! That's all he needs."
The Master and M. were silent a few moments. Then M. said, "He is waiting -"
M: "Purna. Perhaps he has been standing at the door of his house. When any of us passes that way he will come running and salute us."
MASTER: "Ah! Ah!"
Sri Ramakrishna was resting, reclining against a bolster. M. had brought with him a twelve-year-old boy who was a student in his school. His name was Kshirode.
M: "He is a nice boy. He finds great joy in spiritual talk."
MASTER (smiling): "He has eyes like a deer's."
The boy saluted Sri Ramakrishna, touching his feet. Then he gently stroked the Master's feet.
MASTER (to M.): "Rakhal is staying at home now; he has an abscess and is not well. I understand that his wife expects a baby."
Paltu and Binode were seated in front of Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER (to Paltu, smiling): "What did you say to your father? (To M.) He answered back when his father told him not to come here. (To Paltu) What did you say?"
PALTU: "I said to him: 'Yes, I go to him. Is that wrong?' (The Master and M. laugh.) I shall say more if necessary."
MASTER (to M., smiling): "No, no! Should he go so far?"
M: "No, sir, he should not go too far." (Sri Ramakrishna laughs.)
MASTER (to Binode): "How are you? Why haven't you come to Dakshineswar?"
BINODE: "I almost came, but then I was afraid of falling ill again. I have been ill and am not doing well."
MASTER: "Come to Dakshineswar with me. The air is very good there. You will recover."
The younger Naren entered the room. Sri Ramakrishna was going out to wash his hands and face. The younger Naren followed him with a towel; he wanted to pour water for the Master. M. was with them.
MASTER: "It's very hot today."
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "How do you live in that small room of yours? Doesn't it get very hot on the upper floor?"
M: "Yes, sir, it gets very hot."
MASTER: "Besides, your wife has been suffering from brain trouble. You should keep her in a cool room."
M: "Yes, sir. I have asked her to sleep downstairs."
Sri Ramakrishna returned to the drawing-room and took his seat.
MASTER (to M.): "Why didn't you come to Dakshineswar last Sunday?"
M: "Sir, there was no one else at home. My wife was not well and no one was there to look after her."
Sri Ramakrishna was on his way in a carriage to Devendra's house in Nimu Goswami's Lane. The younger Naren, M., and one or two other devotees were with him. The Master felt great yearning for Purna. He began to talk of the young disciple.
MASTER (to M.): "A great soul! Or how could he make me do japa for his welfare? But Purna doesn't know anything about it."
M. and the other devotees were amazed at these words.
MASTER: "It would have been nice if you had brought him here with you today. Why didn't you?"
Seeing the younger Naren laugh, the Master and the other devotees laughed too. The Master said to M., laughing and pointing to Naren: "Look at him! Look! How naive he looks when he laughs, as if he knew nothing. He never thinks of these three things: land, wife, and money. God cannot be realized unless the mind is totally free from 'woman and gold'."
The carriage proceeded to Devendra's house. Once Sri Ramakrishna had said to Devendra at Dakshineswar, "I have been thinking of visiting your house one day." Devendra had replied: "The same idea came to my mind today, and I have come here to ask that favour of you. You must grace my house this Sunday." "But", the Master had said, "you have a small income. Don't invite many people. The carriage hire will also run to a big amount." Devendra had answered, laughing: "What if my income is small? 'One can run into debt to eat butter!'" At these words Sri Ramakrishna had laughed a long time.
Soon the carriage reached Devendra's house. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "Devendra, don't make elaborate arrangements for my meal. Something very simple will do. I am not very well today."
Sri Ramakrishna seated himself in the drawing-room on the ground floor of Devendra's house. The devotees sat around him. It was evening. The room was well lighted. The younger Naren, Ram, M., Girish, Devendra, Akshay, Upendra, and some other devotees were present. As the Master cast his glance on a young devotee, his face beamed with joy. Pointing to the devotee, Sri Ramakrishna said to the others: "He is totally free from attachment to land, wife, and money, the three things that entangle one in worldliness. The mind that dwells on these three cannot be fixed on God. He saw a vision, too. (To the devotee) Tell us, what did you see?"
DEVOTEE (laughing): "I saw a heap of dung. Some were seated on it, and some sat at a distance."
MASTER: "It was a vision of the plight of the worldly people who are forgetful of God. It shows that all these desires are disappearing from his mind. Need one worry about anything if one's mind is detached from 'woman and gold'? How strange! Only after much meditation and japa could I get rid of these desires; and how quickly he could banish them from his mind! Is it an easy matter to get rid of lust? I myself felt a queer sensation in my heart six months after I had begun my spiritual practice. Then I threw myself on the ground under a tree and wept bitterly. I said to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, if it comes to that, I shall certainly cut my throat with a knife!'
(To the devotees) "If the mind is free from 'woman and gold', then what else can obstruct a man? He enjoys then only the Bliss of Brahman."
Sashi had recently been visiting Sri Ramakrishna. He was studying at the Vidyasagar College for his Bachelor's degree. The Master began to talk about him.
MASTER (to the devotees): "That boy will think of money for some time. But there are some who will never do so. Some of the youngsters will not marry."
The devotees listened silently to the Master.
MASTER: "It is hard to recognize an Incarnation of God unless the mind is totally free from 'woman and gold'. A man asked a seller of egg-plants the value of a diamond. He said, 'I can give nine seers of egg-plants in exchange, and not one more.'" (See)
At these words all the devotees laughed. The younger Naren laughed very loudly. Sri Ramakrishna noticed that he had quickly understood the implication of these words.
MASTER: "What a subtle mind he has! Nangta also could understand things that way, in a flash - the meaning of the Gita, the Bhagavata, and other scriptures.
"Renunciation of 'woman and gold' from boyhood! Amazing indeed! It falls to the lot of a very few. A person without such renunciation is like a mango struck by a hail-stone. The fruit cannot be offered to the Deity, and even a man hesitates to eat it.
"There are people who during their youth committed many sins, but in old age chant the name of God. Well, that is better than nothing.
"The mother of a certain Mallick, who belonged to a very noble family, asked me if prostitutes would ever be saved. She herself had led that kind of life; that is why she asked the question. I said: 'Yes, they too will be saved, if only they cry to God with a yearning heart and promise not to repeat their sins.' What will the mere chanting of Hari's name accomplish? One must weep sincerely."
The kirtan began to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. The singer was a professional. He sang about Sri Gauranga's initiation as a monk by Keshab Bharati:
Oh, what a vision I have beheld in Keshab Bharati's hut!
Gora, in all his matchless grace,
Shedding tears in a thousand streams! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna went into ecstasy when he heard the song. The musician sang again, describing the suffering of a milkmaid of Vrindavan at her separation from Sri Krishna. She was seeking her Krishna in the madhavi (A spring creeper with fragrant flowers) bower:
O madhavi, give me back my Sweet One!
Give me, give me back my Sweet One!
Give Him back, for He is mine,
And make me your slave for ever.
He is my life, as water is to the fish;
O madhavi, you have hidden Him in your bosom!
I am a simple, guileless girl,
And you have stolen my Beloved.
O madhavi, I die for my Sweet One;
I cannot hear to live without Him.
Without my Madhava (A name of Krishna) I shall die;
Oh, give Him, give Him back to me!
Now and then Sri Ramakrishna sang with the musicians, improvising lines:
How far from here is Mathura,
Where dwells the Beloved of my soul?
Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. His body was motionless. He remained in that state a long time.
Gradually he came down to the consciousness of the outer world. Still in a spiritual mood, he began to talk, sometimes addressing the devotees, sometimes the Divine Mother.
MASTER: "Mother, please attract him to Thee. I can't worry about him any more. (To M.) My mind is inclined a little to your brother-in-law.
(To Girish) "You utter many abusive and vulgar words; but that doesn't matter. It is better for these things to come out. There are some people who fall ill on account of blood-poisoning; the more the poisoned blood finds an outlet, the better it is for them. At the time when the upadhi of a man is being destroyed, it makes a loud noise, as it were. Wood crackles when it burns; there is no more noise when the burning is over.
"You will be purer day by day. You will improve very much day by day. People will marvel at you.
"I may not come many more times; but that doesn't matter. You will succeed by yourself."
The Master's spiritual mood became very intense. Again he talked to the Divine Mother.
MASTER: "Mother, what credit is there in making a man good who is already good? O Mother, what wilt Thou accomplish by killing one who is already dead? Only if Thou canst kill a person who is still standing erect wilt Thou show Thy glory."
Sri Ramakrishna remained silent a few moments. Suddenly he said in a slightly raised voice: "I have come from Dakshineswar. I am going, Mother!" It was as if a child had heard the call of its mother from a distance and was responding to it. He again became motionless, absorbed in samadhi. The devotees looked at him with unwinking eyes. Still in an ecstatic mood he said, "I shall not eat any more luchi." At this point a few Vaishnava priests, who had come from the neighbourhood, left the place.
Sri Ramakrishna began to talk with his devotees in a very joyous spirit. It was the month of April and the day was very sultry. Devendra had made ice-cream. He offered it to the Master and the devotees. M. said in a low voice, "Encore! Encore!" The devotees laughed. At the sight of the ice-cream Sri Ramakrishna was happy as a child.
MASTER: "The kirtan was very nice. The song described beautifully the gopis' state of mind: 'O madhavi, give me back my Sweet One!' The milk-maids of Vrindavan were drunk with ecstatic love for Krishna. How wonderful! Mad for Krishna!"
A devotee, pointing to another devotee, said, "He has the attitude of the gopis."
RAM: "No, he has both - the attitude of tender love and the attitude of austere knowledge."
MASTER: "What is it you are talking about?"
Sri Ramakrishna inquired about Surendra.
RAM: "I sent him word, but he hasn't come."
MASTER: "He gets very tired from his heavy office-work."
A DEVOTEE: "Ram Babu has been writing about you."
MASTER (smiling): "What is he writing?"
DEVOTEE: "He is writing an article on 'The Bhakti of the Paramahamsa'."
MASTER: "Good! That will make Ram famous."
GIRISH (smiling): "He says he is your disciple."
MASTER: "I have no disciple. I am the servant of the servant of Rama."
Some people of the neighbourhood had dropped in; but they did not please the Master. He said: "What sort of place is this? I don't find a single pious soul here."
Devendra took Sri Ramakrishna into the inner apartments and offered him refreshments. Afterwards the Master returned to the drawing-room with a happy face and took his seat. The devotees sat around him. Upendra and Akshay sat on either side of him and stroked his feet. The Master spoke highly of the women of Devendra's family, saying: "They are very nice. They come from the country; so they are very pious."
The Master was absorbed in his own joy. In a happy mood he began to sing:
Unless a man is simple, he cannot recognize God, the Simple One. . . .
Again he sang:
Stay your steps, O wandering monk!
Stand there with begging-bowl in hand,
And let me behold your radiant face. . . .
A mendicant has come to us, ever absorbed in divine moods;
Holy alike is he to Hindu and Mussalman. . . .
Girish saluted the Master and took his leave. Devendra and the other devotees took the Master to his carriage. Seeing that one of his neighbours was sound asleep on a bench in the courtyard, Devendra woke him up. The neighbour rubbed his eyes and said, "Has the Paramahamsa come?" All burst into laughter. The man had come a long time before Sri Ramakrishna's arrival, and because of the heat had spread a mat on the bench, laid down, and gone sound asleep.
Sri Ramakrishna's carriage proceeded to Dakshineswar. He said to M. happily, "I have eaten a good deal of ice-cream; bring four or five cones for me when you come to Dakshineswar." Continuing, he said, "Now my mind is drawn to these few youngsters: the younger Naren, Purna, and your brother-in-law."
M: "Do you mean Dwija?"
MASTER: "No, he is all right; I mean his elder brother."
The carriage rolled on to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar.
THE MASTER'S REMINISCENCES
Master's own reminiscences - Various forms of his meditation - Master's meditation on formless Spirit - Three kinds of sadhana - Nature of deep concentration - Single-mindedness in meditation - Occult powers - A false teacher - Master's'visions during sadhana - Experience of mahabhava - Power of "woman and gold" - Efficacy of truthfulness - Narada and Sukadeva - Special traits of a Divine Incarnation - Master urges intense dispassion - Advice to householders - Discussion with Trailokya - Divine bliss is the highest - Holding to both God and the world - Worldly man's charity - Discussion about Divine Incarnations.
April 12, 1885
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting with the devotees in Balaram's drawing-room in Calcutta. M. arrived at three o'clock. Girish, Balaram, the younger Naren, Paltu, Dwija, Purna, Mahendra Mukherji, and many other devotees were there. Shortly Trailokya Sannyal, Jaygopal Sen, and other members of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. Many woman devotees were present also, seated behind a screen. Among them was Mohini's wife, who had almost gone insane on account of her son's death. There were a few other afflicted souls like her who used to visit the Master to obtain peace of mind.
Sri Ramakrishna was describing to the devotees the various incidents of his sadhana and the phases of his spiritual realization.
MASTER: "During my sadhana, when I meditated, I would actually see a person sitting near me with a trident in his hand. He would threaten to strike me with the weapon unless I fixed my mind on the Lotus Feet of God, warning me that it would pierce my breast if my mind strayed from God.
"The Divine Mother would put me in such a state that sometimes my mind would come down from the Nitya to the Lila, and sometimes go up from the Lila to the Nitya.
"Sometimes, when the mind descended to the Lila, I would meditate day and night on Sita and Rama. At those times I would constantly behold the forms of Sita and Rama. Ramlala was my constant companion. Sometimes I would bathe Him and sometimes feed Him.
"Again, I used to be absorbed in the ideal of Radha and Krishna and would constantly see their forms. Or again, I would be absorbed in Gauranga. He is the harmonization of two ideals: the Purusha and the Prakriti. At such times I would always see the form of Gauranga.
"Then a change came over me. The mind left the plane of the Lila and ascended to the Nitya. I found no distinction between the sacred tulsi and the ordinary sajina plant. I no longer enjoyed seeing the forms of God; I said to myself, 'They come and go.' I lifted my mind above them. I removed all the pictures of gods and goddesses from my room and began to meditate on the Primal Purusha, the Indivisible Satchidananda, regarding myself as His handmaid.
"I practised all sorts of sadhana. There are three classes of sadhana: sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic. In the sattvic sadhana the devotee calls on the Lord with great longing or simply repeats His name; he doesn't seek any result in return. The rajasic sadhana prescribes many rituals: purascharana, pilgrimage, panchatapa, worship with sixteen articles, and so forth. The tamasic sadhana is a worship of God with the help of tamas. The attitude of a tamasic devotee is this: 'Hail, Kali! What? Wilt Thou not reveal Thyself to me? If not, I will cut my throat with a knife!' In this discipline one does not observe conventional purity; it is like some of the disciplines prescribed by the Tantra.
"During my sadhana period I had all kinds of amazing visions. I distinctly perceived the communion of Atman. A person exactly resembling me entered my body and began to commune with each one of the six lotuses. The petals of these lotuses had been closed; but as each of them experienced the communion, the drooping flower bloomed and turned itself upward. Thus blossomed forth the lotuses at the centres of Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Anahata, Visuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara. The drooping Bowers turned upward. I perceived all these things directly.
"When I meditated during my sadhana, I used to think of the unflickering flame of a lamp set in a windless place.
"In deep meditation a man is not at all conscious of the outer world. A hunter was aiming at a bird. A bridal procession passed along beside him, with the groom's relatives and friends, music, carriages, and horses. It took a long time for the procession to pass the hunter, but he was not at all conscious of it. He did not know that the bridegroom had gone by.
"A man was angling in a lake all by himself. After a long while the float began to move. Now and then its tip touched the water. The angler was holding the rod tight in his hands, ready to pull it up, when a passer-by stopped and said, 'Sir, can you tell me where Mr. Bannerji lives?' There was no reply from the angler, who was just on the point of pulling up the rod. Again and again the stranger said to him in a loud voice, 'Sir, can you tell me where Mr. Bannerji lives?' But the angler was unconscious of everything around him. His hands were trembling, his eyes fixed on the float. The stranger was annoyed and went on. When he had gone quite a way, the angler's float sank under water and with one pull of the rod he landed the fish. He wiped the sweat from his face with his towel and shouted after the stranger. 'Hey!' he said. 'Come here! Listen!' But the man would not turn his face. After much shouting, however, he came back and said to the angler, 'Why are you shouting at me?' 'What did you ask me about?’ said the angler. The stranger said, 'I repeated the question so many times, and now you are asking me to repeat it once more!' The angler replied, 'At that time my float was about to sink; so I didn't hear a word of what you said.'
"A person can achieve such single-mindedness in meditation that he will see nothing, hear nothing. He will not be conscious even of touch. A snake may crawl over his body, but he will not know it. Neither of them will be aware of the other.
"In deep meditation the sense-organs stop functioning; the mind does not look outward. It is like closing the gate of the outer court in a house. There are five objects of the senses: form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. They are all left outside.
"At the beginning of meditation the objects of the senses appear before the aspirant. But when the meditation becomes deep, they no longer bother him. They are left outside. How many things I saw during meditation! I vividly perceived before me a heap of rupees, a shawl, a plate of sweets, and two women with rings in their noses. 'What do you want?' I asked my mind. 'Do you want to enjoy any of these things?' 'No,' replied the mind, 'I don't want any of them. I don't want anything but the Lotus Feet of God.' I saw the inside and the outside of the women, as one sees from outside the articles in a glass room. I saw what is in them: entrails, blood, filth, worms, phlegm, and such things."
Girish Chandra Ghosh used to say now and then that he could cure illness by the strength of the Master's name.
MASTER (to Girish and the other devotees): "People of small intellect seek occult powers - powers to cure disease, win a lawsuit, walk on water, and such things. But the genuine devotees of God don't want anything except His Lotus Feet. One day Hriday said to me, 'Uncle, please ask the Mother for some powers, some occult powers.' I have the nature of a child. While I was practising japa in the Kali temple, I said to Kali, 'Mother, Hriday asked me to pray to You for some occult powers.' The Divine Mother at once showed me a vision. A middle-aged prostitute, about forty' years old, appeared and sat with her back to me. She had large hips and wore a black-bordered sari. Soon she was covered with filth. The Mother showed me that occult powers are as abominable as the filth of that prostitute. Thereupon I went to Hriday and scolded him, saying: 'Why did you teach me such a prayer? It is because of you that I had such an experience.'
"People with a little occult power gain such things as name and fame. Many of them want to follow the profession of guru, gain people's recognition, and make disciples and devotees. Men say of such a guru: 'Ah! He is having a wonderful time. How many people visit him! He has many disciples and followers. His house is overflowing with furniture and other things. People give him presents. He has such power that he can feed many people if he so desires.'
"The profession of a teacher is like that of a prostitute. It is the selling of oneself for the trifle of money, honour, and creature comforts. For such insignificant things it is not good to prostitute the body, mind, and soul, the means by which one can attain God. A man once said about a certain woman: 'Ah! She is having a grand time now. She is so well off! She has rented a room and furnished it with a couch, a mat, pillows, and many other things. And how many people she controls! They are always visiting her.' In other words, the woman has now become a prostitute. Therefore her happiness is unbounded. Formerly she was a maidservant in a gentleman's house; now she is a prostitute. She has ruined herself for a mere trifle.
"How many other visions I saw while meditating during my sadhana! Once I was meditating under the bel-tree when 'Sin' appeared before me and tempted me in various ways. He came to me in the form of an English soldier. He wanted to give me wealth, honour, sex pleasure, various occult powers, and such things. I began to pray to the Divine Mother. Now I am telling you something very secret. The Mother appeared. I said to Her, 'Kill him. Mother!' I still remember that form of the Mother, Her world-bewitching beauty. She came to me taking the form of Krishnamayi. But it was as if her glance moved the world."
Sri Ramakrishna became silent. Resuming his reminiscences, he said: "How many other visions I saw! But I am not permitted to tell them. Someone one is shutting my mouth, as it were. I used to find no distinction between the sacred tulsi and the insignificant sajina leaf. The feeling of distinction was entirely destroyed. Once I was meditating under the banyan when I was shown a Mussalman with a long beard. He came to me with rice in an earthen plate. He fed some other Mussalmans with the rice and also gave me a few grains to eat. The Mother showed me that there exists only One, and not two. It is Satchidananda alone that has taken all these various forms; He alone has become the world and its living beings. Again, it is He who has become food.
(To Girish, M., and the others) "I have the nature of a child. Hriday said to me, 'Uncle, ask the Mother for some occult powers.' At once I went to the temple to ask Her about them. At that time God had put me in such a state that I had to listen to those who lived with me. I felt like a child who sees darkness all around unless someone is with him. I felt as if I should die unless Hriday was near me. You see I am in that state of mind just now. While I am speaking to you my inner spirit is being awakened."
As Sri Ramakrishna uttered these words, he was on the point of plunging into samadhi and losing consciousness of time and space. But he was trying with the utmost difficulty to control himself. He said to the devotees in an ecstatic mood: "I still see you. But I feel as if you had been sitting here for ever. I don't recall when you came or where you are."
Sri Ramakrishna was silent a few minutes. Then, regaining partial consciousness, he said, "I shall have a drink of water." He often said things like this after samadhi, in order to bring down his mind to the ordinary plane of consciousness. Girish was a new-comer and did not know this; so he started to bring some water. Sri Ramakrishna asked him not to, saying, "No, my dear sir, I cannot drink now."
The Master and the devotees were silent awhile. Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.
MASTER (to M.): "Well, have I done any wrong in telling these secret experiences?"
M. did not know what to say and kept quiet.
MASTER: "Why should there be any harm in it? I have told these things to create faith in you all."
After a while he said to M. very humbly, "Will you kindly bring him here?" He referred to Purna.
M. (hesitating): "Yes, sir. I shall send for him this very moment."
MASTER (eagerly: "In Purna I have reached the 'post'."
Was Sri Ramakrishna hinting that Purna was perhaps the last devotee of his inner circle?
Sri Ramakrishna then described to Girish, M., and the other devotees his own experience of mahabhava.
MASTER (to the devotees): "My joy after that experience was equal to the pain I suffered before it. Mahabhava is a divine ecstasy; it shakes the body and mind to their very foundation. It is like a huge elephant entering a small hut. The house shakes to its foundation. Perhaps it falls to pieces.
"The burning pain that one feels when one is separated from God is not an ordinary feeling. It is said that the fire of this anguish in Rupa and Sanatana (Two great disciples of Sri Chaitanya) scorched the leaves of the tree under which they sat. I was unconscious three days in that state. I couldn't move. I lay in one place. When I regained consciousness, the Brahmani took me out for a bath. But my skin couldn't bear the touch of her hand; so my body had to be covered with a heavy sheet. Only then could she hold me with her hand and lead me to the bathing-place. The earth that had stuck to my body while I was lying on the ground had become baked.
"In that state I felt as if a ploughshare were passing through my backbone. I cried out: 'Oh, I am dying! I am dying!' But afterwards I was filled with great joy."
The devotees listened breathlessly to these experiences of the Master.
MASTER (to Girish): "But it isn't necessary for you to go so far. My experiences are for others to refer to. You busy yourself with five different things, but I have one ideal only. I do not enjoy anything but God. This is what God has ordained for me. (Smiling) There are different trees in the forest, some shooting up with one trunk and others spreading out with five branches. (All smile.)
"Yes, my experiences are for others to refer to. But you should live in the world in a spirit of detachment. You will no doubt have dirt on your body, but you must shake it off as the mudfish shakes off the mud. You may swim in the black ocean of the world, but your body should not be stained."
GIRISH (smiling): "But you too had to marry." (Laughter.)
MASTER (smiling): "Marriage is necessary for the sake of samskara. But how could I lead a worldly life? So uncontrollable was my divine fervour that every time the sacred thread was put around my neck it dropped off. Some believe that Sukadeva also had to marry - for the sake of samskara. They say he even had a daughter. (All laugh.)
"'Woman and gold' alone is the world. It makes one forget God."
GIRISH: "But how can we get rid of 'woman and gold'?"
MASTER: "Pray to God with a yearning heart. Pray to Him for discrimination. 'God alone is real and all else illusory' - this is discrimination. One strains water through a fine sieve in order to separate the dirt from it. The clear water goes through the sieve leaving the dirt behind. Apply the sieve of discrimination to the world. Live in the world after knowing God. Then it will be the world of vidya.
"Just see the bewitching power of women! I mean the women who are the embodiment of avidya, the power of delusion. They fool men, as it were. They take away their inner substance. When I see a man and woman sitting together, I say to myself, 'Alas, they are done for!' (Looking at M.) Haru, such a nice boy, is possessed by a witch. People ask: 'Where is Haru? Where is he?' But where do you expect him to be? They all go to the banyan and find him sitting quietly under it. He no longer has his beauty, power, or joy. Ah! He is possessed by the witch that lives in the banyan.
"If a woman says to her husband, 'Go there', he at once stands up, ready to go. If she says, 'Sit down here', immediately he sits down.
"A job-seeker got tired of visiting the manager in an office. He couldn't get the job. The manager said to him, 'There is no vacancy now; but come and see me now and then.' This went on for a long time, and the candidate lost all hope. One day he told his tale of woe to a friend. The friend said: 'How stupid you are! Why are you wearing away the soles of your feet going to that fellow? You had better go to Golap. You will get the job tomorrow.' 'Is that so?' said the candidate. 'I am going right away.' Golap was the manager's mistress. The candidate called on her and said: 'Mother, I am in great distress. You must help me out of it. I am the son of a poor brahmin. Where else shall I go for help? Mother, I have been out of work many days. My children are about to starve to death. I can get a job if you but say the word.' Golap said to him, 'Child, whom should I speak to?' She said to herself; 'Ah, the poor brahmin! He has been suffering too much.' The candidate said to her, 'I am sure to get the job if you just put in a word about it to the manager.' Golap said, 'I shall speak to him today and settle the matter.' The very next morning a man called on the candidate and said, 'You are to work in the manager's office, beginning today.' The manager said to his English boss: 'This man is very competent. I have appointed him. He will do credit to the firm.'
"All are deluded by 'woman and gold'. But I do not care for it at all. And I swear to you that I do not know anything but God."
A DEVOTEE: "Sir, a new sect, named 'Nava Hullol', has been started. Lalit Chatterji is one of the members."
MASTER: "There are different views. All these views are but so many paths to reach the same goal. But everyone believes that his view alone is right, that his watch alone keeps correct time."
GIRISH (to M): "Do you remember what Pope says about it?
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own."
MASTER (to M.): "What does it mean?"
M: "Everyone thinks that his own watch keeps the correct time. But different watches do not give the same time."
MASTER: "But however wrong the watches may be, the sun never makes a mistake. One should check one's watch with the sun."
A DEVOTEE: "Mr. X- tells lies."
MASTER: "Truthfulness in speech is the tapasya of the Kaliyuga. It is difficult to practise other austerities in this cycle. By adhering to truth one attains God. Tulsidas said: 'Truthfulness, obedience to God, and the regarding of others' wives as one's mother, are the greatest virtues. If one does not realize God by practising them, then Tulsi is a liar.'
"Keshab Sen assumed his father's debts. Others would have repudiated them. I visited Devendra's Samaj at Jorashanko and found Keshab meditating on the dais. He was then a young man. I said to Mathur Babu, 'Of all who are meditating here, this young man's "float" alone has sunk under water. The "fish" is biting at the hook.'
"There was a man - whom I shall not name - who for ten thousand rupees told a lie in court. In order to win the lawsuit he made me give an offering to the Divine Mother. He said to me, 'Father, please give this offering to the Mother.' Trusting him like a child, I gave the offering."
DEVOTEE: "A nice man indeed!"
MASTER: "But he had such faith in me that he believed the Mother would grant his prayer if I but made the offering."
Referring to Lalit Babu, Sri Ramakrishna said: "Is it an easy matter to get rid of pride? There are very few who are without pride. Balaram is one of them. (Pointing to a devotee) And here is another. Other people in their position would have swelled with pride. They would have parted their hair and showed other traits of tamas. They would have been proud of their learning. The 'fat brahmin' [referring to Prankrishna] still has a little of it. (To M.) Mahima Chakravarty has read many books, hasn't he?"
M: "Yes, sir, he has read a great deal."
MASTER (smiling): "I wish he and Girish could meet. Then we could enjoy a little discussion."
GIRISH (smiling): "Doesn't he say that by means of sadhana all people can be like Sri Krishna?"
MASTER: "Not exactly that, but something like it."
DEVOTEE: "Sir, can all be like Sri Krishna?"
MASTER: "An Incarnation of God or one born with some of the characcristics of an Incarnation is called an Isvarakoti. An ordinary man is called a jiva or jivakoti. By dint of sadhana a jivakoti can realize God; but after samadhi he cannot come back to the plane of relative consciousness.
The Isvarakoti is like the king's son. He has the keys to all the rooms of the seven-storey palace; he can climb to all the seven floors and come down at will. A jivakoti is like a petty officer. He can enter some of the rooms of the palace; that is his limit.
"Janaka was a jnani. He attained Knowledge by means of his sadhana. But Sukadeva was Knowledge itself."
MASTER: "Sukadeva did not attain Knowledge through sadhana. Like Sukadeva, Narada also had the Knowledge of Brahman. But he retained bhakti in order to teach people. Prahlada sometimes assumed the attitude of 'I am He', sometimes that of a servant of God, and sometimes that of His child. Hanuman also was like that.
"All may wish for such a lofty state, but all cannot attain it. Some bamboos are hollower than others; some are more solid inside."
A DEVOTEE: "You say that your spiritual experiences are for others to refer to. Tell us what we should do."
MASTER: "If you want to realize God, then you must cultivate intense dispassion. You must renounce immediately what you feel to be standing in your way. You should not put it off till the future. 'Woman and gold' is the obstruction. The mind must be withdrawn from it.
"One must not be slow and lazy. A man was going to bathe; he had his towel on his shoulder. His wife said to him: 'You are worthless. You are getting old and still you cannot give up some of your habits. You cannot live a single day without me. But look at that man! What a renouncer he is!'
"HUSBAND: 'Why? What has he done?'
"WIFE: 'He has sixteen wives and he is renouncing them one by one. You will never be able to renounce.'
"HUSBAND: 'Renouncing his wives one by one! You are crazy. He won't be able to renounce. If a man wants to renounce, does he do it little by little?'
"WIFE (smiling): 'Still he is better than you.'
"HUSBAND: 'You are silly; you don't understand. He cannot renounce. But I can. See! Here I go!'"
The Master continued: "That is called intense renunciation. No sooner did the man discriminate than he renounced. He went away with the towel on his shoulder. He didn't turn back to settle his worldly affairs. He didn't even look back at his home.
"He who wants to renounce needs great strength of mind. He must have a dare-devil attitude like a dacoit's. Before looting a house, the dacoits shout: 'Kill! Murder! Loot!'
"Cultivate devotion and love of God and so pass your days. What else can you do? When Krishna went away, Yasoda became insane with grief and visited Radha. Radha was moved by her sorrow and appeared before her as Adyasakti. She said, 'My child, ask a boon of Me.' Yasoda replied: 'Mother, what else shall I ask of You? Bless me that I may serve Krishna alone with my body, mind, and speech; that I may behold His devotee with these eyes; that I may go with these feet to the place where His divine sport is manifested; that I may serve Him and His devotees with these hands; and that I may devote all my sense-organs to His service alone.'"
As Sri Ramakrishna uttered these words, he was about to go into ecstasy. Suddenly he exclaimed: "Kali, the Embodiment of Destruction! No, Nitya-Kali, my eternal Divine Mother!" With great difficulty he restrained himself. He was starting to say more about Yasoda, when Mahendra Mukherji arrived. Mahendra and his younger brother, Priya, had been visiting the Master for some time. Mahendra owned a flour-mill and other businesses. His brother was an engineer. Both the brothers engaged people to manage their affairs and therefore had considerable leisure. Mahendra was thirty-six or thirty-seven and his brother two years younger. Besides their country home at Kedeti, they had a house at Baghbazar, Calcutta. A young devotee named Hari accompanied them on their visits to Sri Ramakrishna. Hari was married but greatly devoted to the Master. Mahendra and Hari had not visited Dakshineswar for a long time. They saluted Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER: "Hello! Why haven't you visited Dakshineswar for so long?"
MAHENDRA: "Sir, I have been away from Calcutta. I was at Kedeti."
MASTER: "You have no children. You don't serve anybody. And still you have no leisure! Goodness gracious!'
The devotees remained silent. Mahendra was a little embarrassed.
MASTER (to Mahendra): "Why am I saying all this to you? You are sincere and generous. You have love for God."
MAHENDRA: 'You are saying these words for my good."
MASTER (smiling): 'You see, we don't take any collection during the performance at our place. Jadu's mother says to me, 'Other sadhus always ask for money, but you do not.' Worldly people feel annoyed if they have to spend money.
"A theatrical performance was being given at a certain place. A man felt a great desire to take a seat and see it. He peeped in and saw that a collection was being taken from the audience. Quietly he slipped away. Another performance was being given at some other place. He went there and inquiring, found that no collection would he taken. There was a great rush of people. He elbowed his way through the crowd and reached the centre of the hall. There he picked out a nice scat for himself, twirled his moustaches, and sat through the performance. (All laugh.)
"You have no children to divert your mind. I know a deputy magistrate who draws a salary of eight hundred rupees a month. He went to Keshab's house to see a performance. I was there too. Rakhal and a few other devotees were with me and sat beside me. After a while Rakhal went out for a few minutes. The deputy magistrate came over and made his young son take Rakhal's seat. I said, 'He can't sit there.' At that time I was in such a state of mind that I had to do whatever the person next to me would ask me to do; so I had seated Rakhal beside me. As long as the performance lasted the deputy did nothing but wander with his son. The rascal didn't look at the performance even once. I heard, too, that he is a slave to his wife; he gets up and sits down as she tells him to. And he didn't see the performance for that snub-nosed monkey of a boy. . . .
(To Mahendra) "Do you practise meditation?"
MAHENDRA: 'Yes, sir. A little."
MASTER: "Come to Dakshineswar now and then."
MAHENDRA (smiling): "Yes, sir. I will. You know where my knots and twists are. You will straighten them out."
MASTER (smiling): "First come to Dakshineswar; then I shall press your limbs to see where your twists are. Why don't you come?"
MAHENDRA: "Because of the pressure of my duties. Besides, I have to go to my country home now and then."
MASTER (to Mahendra, pointing his finger at the devotees): "Have they no homes or dwelling places? Have they no duties? How is it that they come?
(To Hari) "Why haven't you come to Dakshineswar? Is your wife living with you?"
HARI: "No, sir."
MASTER: "Then why did you forget me?"
HARI: "I haven't been well, sir."
MASTER (to the devotees): "He looks thin. He has no small measure of bhakti. He is overflowing with it, but it is of a rather troublesome nature." (Laughter.)
Sri Ramakrishna used to address a certain devotee's wife by the name of "Habi's mother". Her brother, a college student aged about twenty, was there. He stood up, ready to go and play cricket. His younger brother, named Dwija, was also a devotee of the Master. Both brothers left the room. A few minutes later Dwija returned. The Master said, "Why didn't you go?" A devotee answered: "He wants to hear the music. Perhaps that is why he has come back."
Trailokya, the Brahmo devotee, was to sing for the Master. Paltu arrived. The Master said: "Who is this? Ah! It is Paltu."
Purna, another young devotee, also arrived. It was with great difficulty that Sri Ramakrishna had managed to have him come. His relatives strongly objected to his visiting the Master. Purna was a student in the fifth grade of the school where M. taught. The boy prostrated himself before Sri Ramakrishna. The Master seated him by his side and was talking to him in a low voice. M. alone was sitting near them. The other devotees were talking about various things. Girish, sitting on the other side of the room, was reading a life of Keshab.
MASTER (to Purna): "Come nearer."
GIRISH (to M.): "Who is this boy?"
M. was afraid that others might notice the boy. This would make trouble for him at home and M. would be responsible for it.
M. (sharply): "Don't you see he is a boy?"
GIRISH (smiling): "I need no ghost to tell me that."
The Master and the boy were talking in low tones.
MASTER: "Do you practise what I asked you to?"
PURNA: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "Do you dream? Do you dream of a flame? A lighted torch? A married woman? A cremation ground? It is good to dream of these things."
PURNA: "I dreamt of you. You were seated and were telling me something.
MASTER: "What? Some instructions? Tell me some of it."
PURNA: "I don't remember now."
MASTER: "Never mind. But it is very good. You will make progress. You feel attracted to me, don't you?"
A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna said to the boy, "Won't you come there?" He meant Dakshineswar. "I can't promise", answered the boy.
MASTER: "Why? Doesn't one of your relatives live there?"
PURNA: "Yes, sir. But it won't be very convenient for me to go."
Girish was reading a life of Keshab written by Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj. In it Trailokya said that at first Sri Ramakrishna had been very much opposed to the world but that after meeting Keshab he had changed his mind and had come to believe that one could lead a spiritual life in the world as well. Several devotees had told the Master about this. They wanted to discuss it with Trailokya. Those passages in the book had been read to the Master.
Noticing the book in Girish's hand, Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish, M., Ram, and the other devotees: "Those people are busy with the world. That is why they set such a high value on worldly life. They are drowned in 'woman and gold'. One doesn't talk that way after realizing God. After enjoying divine bliss, one looks on the world as crow-droppings. At the very outset I utterly renounced everything. Not only did I renounce the company of worldly people, but now and then the company of devotees as well. I noticed that the devotees were dropping dead one by one, and that made my heart writhe with pain. But now I keep one or two of them with me."
Girish left for home, saying he would come back.
Trailokya arrived with Jaygopal Sen. They bowed before the Master and sat down. He inquired about their health. The younger Naren entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. The Master said to him, "Why didn't you see me last Saturday?"
Trailokya was ready to sing.
MASTER: "Ah! You sang that day about the Blissful Mother. How sweetly you sang! Others' songs seem insipid to me. That day I didn't enjoy even Narendra's singing. Why don't you sing those same songs again?"
Victory to Gora, Sachi's son!
Hail, Abode of every virtue,
Touchstone of Love, Ocean of Bliss,
Man's bewitcher, beauteous of form,
Enchanting the eye like shining gold!
His tender arms that reach to the knee,
Graceful and long as lotus stalks,
Are lovingly stretched to all mankind;
His lotus face of matchless beauty
Overflows with the nectar of Love;
His cheeks are covered with curling hair!
Alight with heavenly love, his beauty
Charms the eye! Beaming with fervour,
Radiant with Bliss, his body trembling
With Hari's joy, Gauranga the golden
Dances like a mad elephant, shaking
In all his limbs with the frenzy of love!
Gauranga, singer of Hari's glories,
Prize of every sadhu's heart,
Rarest of men, the Ocean of Love,
Embraces the outcaste, calls him brother,
Takes him in his arms in fervent love!
He dances with both his arms upraised,
And sings Hari's name; the tears are streaming
Down his cheeks; he weeps, he cries,
He trembles, roars, and rages, saying,
"Where is Hari, the Jewel of my heart?"
The hair on his limbs is standing on end;
Like a kadamba flower is his body;
Covered with dust he rolls on the ground.
O Thou, the Abode of Hari's lila,
Fountain-head of Love's elixir,
Friend of the helpless, Glory of Banga,
Hail Chaitanya, Thou who shinest
Bright as the moon, in the bhakta's heart!
Sri Ramakrishna left the room for a minute. The women devotees were seated near the screen. They were eager to see Sri Ramakrishna. Trailokya went on with his music.
Sri Ramakrishna entered the room again and said to Trailokya, "Please sing a little about the Blissful Mother."
O Mother, how deep is Thy love for men!
Mindful of it, I weep for joy. . . .
Listening to the song, the younger Naren went into deep meditation. He remained as still as a log. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Look at him. He is totally unaware of the outer world."
The song was over. At Sri Ramakrishna's request, Trailokya sang:
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .
Ram asked him to sing about Hari.
Chant, O mind, the name of Hari,
Sing aloud the name of Hari,
Praise Lord Hari's name!
And praising Hari's name, O mind,
Cross the ocean of this world.
Hari dwells in earth, in water,
Hari dwells in fire and air;
In sun and moon He dwells.
Hari's ever living presence
Fills the boundless universe.
M. said in a low voice to Trailokya, "Please - 'Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers'."
Sri Ramakrishna, too, asked him to sing the song. Trailokya and the devotees sang it in chorus, the Master joining them. When it was over, the Master sang:
Behold, the two brothers (Gauranga and Nityananda) have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name,
The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari's love,
Embracing everyone as brother, even the outcaste shunned by men.
Behold, the two brothers have come, who once were Kanai and Balai of Braja. . .
Sri Ramakrishna sang again:
See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga's love! . . .
Who are they that walk along, chanting Hari's name?
O Madhai, go out and see!
They seem to be Gaur and Nitai,
With golden anklets on their lovely feet;
Shaven of head and clad in rags,
They reel like madmen as they go. . . .
The younger Naren was about to leave.
MASTER: "Show great devotion to your parents; but don't obey them if they stand in your way to God. You must gird your loins with great determination and say, 'This rogue of a father!'"
NAREN: "Truly, I have no fear."
Girish arrived. Sri Ramakrishna introduced him to Trailokya. He asked them to talk to each other. A few minutes later the Master said, "That song again, please."
Victory to Gora, Sachi's son!
Hail, Abode of every virtue,
Touchstone of Love, Ocean of Bliss,
Man's bewitcher, beauteous of form,
Enchanting the eye like shining gold! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. He stood up, totally unconscious of the world.
Regaining partial consciousness, he begged Trailokya to sing "Oh, what a vision I have beheld".
Oh, what a vision I have beheld in Keshab Bharati's hut!
Gora, in all his matchless grace
Shedding tears in a thousand streams!
Like a mad elephant
He dances in ecstasy and sings,
Drunk with an overwhelming love.
Rolling flat upon the ground and swimming in his tears,
He weeps and shouts Lord Hari's name,
Piercing the very heavens with his cries,
Loud as a lion's roar;
Then most humbly he begs men's love,
To feel himself the servant of God.
Shorn of his locks, he has put on the yogi's ochre robe;
Even the hardest heart must melt
To see his pure and heavenly love.
Smitten with man's deep woe,
He has abandoned everything
And pours out love unstintingly.
Oh, would that Premdas were his slave and, passing from door to door,
Might sing Gauranga's endless praise!
The music was over. It was about dusk. Sri Ramakrishna was surrounded by the devotees.
MASTER (to Ram): "There were no instruments to accompany the songs. The singing creates an atmosphere when there is proper accompaniment. (Smiling) Do you know how Balaram manages a festival? He is like a miserly brahmin raising a cow. The cow must eat very little but give milk in torrents. (All laugh.) Sing your own songs and beat your own drums: that's Balaram's idea!" (All laugh.)
As evening came on, lamps were lighted in the drawing-room and on the verandah. Sri Ramakrishna bowed to the Divine Mother and began to chant the name of God. The devotees sat around and listened to his sweet chanting. They wanted to discuss with Trailokya his remarks about the Master's change of opinion on worldly life. Girish started the discussion.
GIRISH (to Trailokya): "You have written that, after coming in contact with Keshab, Sri Ramakrishna changed his views about worldly life; but it isn't true."
MASTER (to Trailokya and the other devotees): "If a man enjoys the Bliss of God, he doesn't enjoy the world. Having tasted divine bliss, he finds the world insipid. If a man gets a shawl, he doesn't care for broadcloth."
TRAILOKYA: "I referred to those who wanted to lead a worldly life. I didn't mean renouncers."
MASTER: "What are you talking about? People talk about leading a religious life in the world. But if they once taste the bliss of God they will not enjoy anything else. Their attachment to worldly duties declines. As their spiritual joy becomes deeper, they simply cannot perform their worldly duties. More and more they seek that joy. Can worldly pleasures and sex pleasures be compared to the bliss of God? If a man once tastes that bliss, he runs after it ever afterwards. It matters very little to him then whether the world remains or disappears.
"Though the chatak bird is about to die of a parched throat and around it there are seven oceans, rivers, and lakes overflowing with water, still it will not touch that water. Its throat is cracking with thirst, and still it will not drink that water. It looks up, mouth agape, for the rain to fall when the star Svati is in the ascendant. To the chatak bird all waters are mere dryness beside Svati water.'
"People say they will hold to both God and the world. After drinking an ounce of wine, a man may be pleasantly intoxicated and also conscious of the world; but can he be both when he has drunk a great deal more?
"After the bliss of God nothing else tastes good. Then talk about 'woman and gold' stabs the heart, as it were. (Intoning) 'I cannot enjoy the talk of worldly people.' When a man becomes mad for God, he doesn't enjoy money or such things."
TRAILOKYA: "But, sir, if a man is to remain in the world, he needs money and he must also save. He has to give in charity and -"
MASTER: "What? Do you mean that one must first save money and then seek God? And you talk about charity and kindness! A worldly man spends thousands of rupees for his daughter's marriage. Yet, all the while, his neighbours are dying of starvation; and he finds it hard to give them two morsels of rice; he calculates a thousand times before giving them even that much. The people around him have nothing to eat; but what does he care about that? He says to himself: 'What can I do? Let the rascals live or die. All I care about is that the members of my family should live well.' And they talk about doing good to others!"
TRAILOKYA: "But, sir, there are good people in the world as well. Take the case of Pundarika Vidyanidhi, the devotee of Chaitanya. He lived in the world."
MASTER: "He had drunk wine up to his neck. If he had drunk a little more, he couldn't have led a worldly life."
Trailokya remained silent. M. said aside to Girish, "Then what he has written is not true."
GIRISH (to Trailokya): "Then what you have written is not true."
TRAILOKYA: "Why so? Doesn't he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] admit that a man can lead a spiritual life in the world?"
MASTER: "Yes, he can. But such a man should first of all attain Knowledge and then live in the world. First he should realize God. Then 'he can swim in a sea of slander and not be stained.' After realizing God, a man can live in the world like a mudfish. The world he lives in after attaining God is the world of vidya. In it he sees neither woman nor gold. He finds there only devotion, devotee, and God. You see, I too have a wife, and a few pots and pans in my room; I too feed a few vagabonds; I too worry about the devotees - Habi's mother for instance - when they come here."
A DEVOTEE (to Trailokya): "I have read in your book that you do not believe in the Incarnation or God. You said so in connection with Chaitanya."
TRAILOKYA: "Why, Chaitanya himself protested against the idea of Divine Incarnation. Once, in Puri, Advaita and the other devotees sang a song to the effect that Chaitanya was God. At this Chaitanya shut the door of his room. Infinite are the glories of God. As he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] says, the devotee is the parlour of God. Suppose a parlour is very well furnished; does that mean that the master of the house has exhausted all his power and splendour in that one parlour?"
GIRISH: "He [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] says that prema alone is the essence of God; we need the man through whom this ecstatic love of God flows. He says that the milk of the cow flows through the udder; we need the udder; we do not care for the other parts of the cow - the legs, tail, or horns."
TRAILOKYA: "The milk of God's prema flows through an infinite number of channels. God has infinite powers."
GIRISH: "But what other power can stand before prema?"
TRAILOKYA: "It is possible if He who has the power wants it. Everything is in God's power."
GIRISH: "Yes, I admit that. But there is also a thing called the power of avidya."
TRAILOKYA: "Is avidya a thing? Does there exist a substance called avidya? It is only a negation, as darkness is the negation of light. There is no doubt that we prize prema most: what is a drop to God is an ocean to us. But if you say that prema is the last word about God, then you limit God Himself."
MASTER (to Trailokya and the other devotees): "Yes, yes, that is true. But an ounce of wine makes me drunk. What need have I to count the gallons of wine in the tavern? What need have we to know about the infinite powers of God?"
GIRISH (to Trailokya): "Do you believe in the Incarnation of God?"
TRAILOKYA: "God incarnates Himself through His devotees alone. There cannot be a manifestation of infinite powers. It simpiy isn't possible. It is impossible for any man to manifest infinite powers."
GIRISH: "You can serve your children as 'Brahma Gopala'. (A name of God.) Then why isn't it possible to worship a great soul as God?"
MASTER (to Trailokya): "Why all this bother about infinity? If I want to touch you, must I touch your entire body? If you want to bathe in the Ganges, must you touch the whole river from Hardwar down to the ocean?
"'All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.' As long as a trace of 'I-consciousness' remains, one is conscious of difference. Nobody knows what remains after the 'I' disappears. Nobody can express it in words. That which is remains. After the 'I' disappears one cannot say that a part manifests through this man and the rest through another. Satchidananda is the ocean. The pot of 'I' is immersed in it. As long as the pot exists, the water seems to be divided into two parts: one part inside the pot and the other part outside it. But when the pot is broken there is only one stretch of water. One cannot even say that. Who would say that?"
After the discussion Sri Ramakrishna became engaged in pleasant conversation with Trailokya.
MASTER: "You are happy. Isn't that so?"
TRAILOKYA: "But I shall become my old self again as soon as I leave this place. Here I feel very much the awakening of spiritual consciousness."
MASTER: "You don't have to be afraid of walking on thorns if you are wearing shoes. You needn't be afraid of 'woman and gold' if you know that God alone is real and all else illusory."
It was about nine o'clock in the evening. Balaram took Trailokya to another room and gave him refreshments. Sri Ramakrishna began to tell the devotees about Trailokya and people of his views.
MASTER (to Girish, M., and the other devotees): "Do you know what these people are like? They are like a frog living in a well, who has never seen the outside world. He knows only his well; so he will not believe that there is such a thing as the world. Likewise, people talk so much about the world because they have not known the joy of God.
(To Girish) "Why do you argue with them so much? They busy themselves with both - the world and God. One cannot understand the joy of God unless one has tasted it. Can anybody explain sex pleasure to a five-year-old boy? Worldly people talk about God only from hearsay. Children, hearing their old aunts quarrelling among themselves, learn to say, 'There is my God', 'I swear by God.'
"But that doesn't matter. I don't blame such people. Can all comprehend the Indivisible Satchidananda? Only twelve rishis could recognize Ramachandra. All cannot recognize an Incarnation of God. Some take him for an ordinary man, some for a holy person, and only a few recognize him as an Incarnation.
"One offers a price for an article according to one's capital. A rich man said to his servant: 'Take this diamond to the market and let me know how different people price it. Take it, first of all, to the egg-plant seller.' The servant took the diamond to the egg-plant seller. He examined it, turning it over in the palm of his hand, and said, 'Brother, I can give nine seers of egg-plants for it.' 'Friend,' said the servant, 'a little more - say, ten seers.' The egg-plant seller replied: 'No, I have already quoted above the market price. You may give it to me if that price suits you. The servant laughed. He went back to his master and said: 'Sir, he would give me only nine seers of egg-plants and not one more. He said he had offered more than the market price.' The master smiled and said: 'Now take it to the cloth-dealer. The other man deals only in egg-plants. What does he know about a diamond? The cloth-dealer has a little more capital. Let us see how much he offers for it.' The servant went to the cloth-dealer and said: 'Will you buy this? How much will you pay for it?' The merchant said: 'Yes, it is a good thing. I can make a nice ornament out of it. I will give you nine hundred rupees tor it.' 'Brother, said the servant, 'offer a little more and I will sell it to you. Give me at least a thousand rupees.' The cloth-dealer said: 'Friend, don't press me for more. I have offered more than the market price. I cannot give a rupee more. Suit yourself.' Laughing the servant returned to his master and said: 'He won't give a rupee more than nine hundred. He too said he had quoted above the market price.' The master said with a laugh: 'Now take it to a jeweller. Let us see what he has to say.' The servant went to a jeweller. The jeweller glanced at the diamond and said at once, 'I will give you one hundred thousand rupees for it.'
"They talk of practising religion in the world. Suppose a man is shut up in a room. All the doors and windows are closed. Only a little light comes through a hole in the ceiling. Can he see the sun with that roof over his head? And what will he do with only one ray of light? 'Woman and gold' is the roof. Can he see the sun unless he removes the roof? Worldly people are shut up in a room, as it were.
'The Incarnations of God belong to the class of the Isvarakotis. They roam about in the open spaces. They are never imprisoned in the world, never entangled by it. Their ego is not the 'thick ego' of worldly people. The ego, the 'I-consciousness', of worldly people is like four walls and a roof: the man inside them cannot see anything outside. The ego of the Incarnations and other Isvarakotis is a 'thin ego': through it they have an uninterrupted vision of God. Take the case of a man who stands by a wall on both sides of which there are meadows stretching to infinity. If there is a hole in the wall, through it he can see everything on the other side. If the hole is a big one, he can even pass through it. The ego of the Incarnations and other Isvarakotis is like the wall with a hole. Though they remain on this side of the wall, still they can see the endless meadow on the other side. That is to say, though they have a human body, they are always united with God. Again, if they will, they can pass through the big hole to the other side and remain in samadhi. And if the hole is big enough, they can go through it and come back again. That is to say, though established in samadhi, they can again descend to the worldly plane."
The devotees listened breathlessly to these words about the mystery of Divine Incarnation.