Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]


Master and M. - Discussion about Divine Incarnation - Kirtan about Radha and Krishna - About Hazra - Master's exalted mood - Difference between a jiva and an Incarnation - Divine knowledge destroys egotism - The ego after God-vision - Hazra's selfishness - God's grace - Unreality of all worldly relationships - Narendra's scepticism - Narendra's music - Vidyamaya and avidyamaya - Knowledge of Brahman - The all-powerful maya.

Friday, April 24, 1885

ABOUT ONE O'CLOCK in the afternoon M. arrived at Balaram's house in Calcutta and found the Master asleep in the drawing-room, one or two devotees resting near him. M. began to fan the Master gently. A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna woke up and sat on the bed with his clothes in a rather untidy condition. M. saluted him and took the dust of his feet.

MASTER (tenderly to M.): "Are you well? I'm feeling rather uneasy. I have a sore (The beginning of his cancer of the throat.) in my throat. I suffer very much during the early hours of tne morning. Can you tell me how I may be cured? (In a worried tone) They served pickled mango with the meal. I ate a little of it.

"How is your wife? I noticed the other day that she was looking rather sickly. Give her soothing drinks to keep her nerves cool."

M: "Green coconut milk, sir?"

MASTER: "Yes. A drink made of sugar candy is also good."

M: "Since last Sunday I have been living at our house with my parents.

MASTER: "You have done well. It will be convenient for you to live at home. Since your parents live there, you won't have to worry so much about the family."

While Sri Ramakrishna was talking, his mouth became dry. He said to M., like a child: "I feel a dryness in my mouth. Do you all feel that way?

M. (to Jogin): "Is your mouth also drying up?"

JOGIN: "No. Perhaps it is due to the heat."

Jogindra of Ariadaha was an intimate disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and later, after the passing away of the Master, renounced the world.

Sri Ramakrishna's clothes were still untidy. Some of the devotees smiled.

MASTER: "I look like a mother nursing her babies. (All laugh.) Well, my tongue is drying up. Shall I eat a pear or a jamrul?" (A kind of juicy fruit.)

BABURAM: "Let me get a jamrul for you."

MASTER: "You don't have to go out in this sun."

M. was still fanning the Master.

MASTER: "You may stop now. You have been fanning a long time."

M: "I am not tired, sir."

MASTER (tenderly): "No?"

M. taught in a school in the neighbourhood. He had a little recess at one o'clock, during which he visited Sri Ramakrishna. It was time for him to go back to the school. He saluted the Master.

MASTER (to M.): "Must you go now?"

A DEVOTEE: "School is not over yet. He came here during recess."

MASTER (smiling): "He is like a mother with seven or eight children. Day and night she is busy with her worldly duties. But now and then she makes time to serve her husband."

M.'s school closed at four o'clock. He came back to Balaram's house and found the Master sitting in the drawing-room. The devotees were arriving one by one. The younger Naren and Ram came. Narendra, too, was there. M. saluted the Master and took a seat. The ladies sent a plate of halua for Sri Ramakrishna. Because of the sore in his throat he could not eat any hard food.

MASTER (to Narendra): "Ah! This is nice stuit! Eat some! It is good! Eat some!" (All laugh.)

Dusk was coming on. Sri Ramakrishna was about to go to the house of Girish, who had arranged a festival to celebrate the Master's coming. The Master came down from the second floor of Balaram's house with M. and a few other devotees. Near the gate he saw a beggar chanting the name of Rama, and he stood still. He fell into a meditative mood and remained standing a few minutes. He said to M., "He sings well." A devotee gave the beggar four pice.

Sri Ramakrishna entered Bosepara Lane. Laughing, he said to M.: "What are these people saying? 'There comes Paramahamsa's battalion!' What these fools say!" (All laugh.)

Sri Ramakrishna entered Girish's house. The latter had invited a large number of devotees to join the festival. Many of them were present. They all stood up to receive the Master, who, smiling, took his seat. The devotees sat around him. Among them were Girish, Mahimacharan, Ram, and Bhavanath, and also Baburam, Narendra, Jogin, the younger Naren, Chuni, Balaram, M., and the other devotees who had accompanied the Master from Balaram's house.

MASTER (to Mahimacharan): "I said. to Girish about you, 'There is one - very deep. You are only knee-deep.' Now you must help me check up on what I said. I want to see you two argue. But don't compromise." (All laugh.)

Girish and Mahimacharan started their discussion. Soon Ram said: "Let them stop. Let us have some kirtan."

MASTER (to Ram): "No, no! This has a great deal of meaning. They are 'Englishmen'. I want to hear what they say."

Mahimacharan contended that all could become Krishna by means of sadhana. Girish said that Sri Krishna was an Incarnation of God. However much a man practised sadhana, he could never be an Incarnation.

MAHIMA: "Do you know what I mean? Let me give an illustration. The bel-tree can become a mango-tree if only the obstructions are removed. It can be done by the practice of yoga."

GIRISH: "You may say whatever you like, but it cannot be done either by the practice of yoga or by anything else. Only a Krishna can become Krishna. If anybody has all the attributes of another person, Radha for instance, then he is none other than that person - Radha herself. If I see in a person all the attributes of Krishna, then I shall conclude that I am seeing Krishna Himself."

Mahimacharan could not argue well. At last he had to accept Girish's views.

MAHIMA (to Girish): "Yes, sir, both views are right. God has willed the path of knowledge. He has also willed the path of bhakti. (Pointing to Sri Ramakrishna) As he says, by different paths people ultimately reach one and the same goal."

MASTER (aside to Mahima): "You see, what I said was right, wasn't it?"

MAHIMA: "Yes, sir. As you say, both paths are right."

MASTER (pointing to Girish): "Haven't you noticed how deep his faith is? He forgot to eat his refreshments. Like a dog, he would have torn your throat if you hadn't accepted his view. But we have enjoyed the discussion. You two have known each other and I myself have learnt many things."

The musician arrived with his party and sat in the middle of the room. He was waiting for a sign from Sri Ramakrishna to begin the kirtan. The Master gave his permission.

RAM (to the Master): "Please tell them what to sing."

MASTER: "What shall I suggest? (After a little reflection) Well, let them sing the prelude to the union of Radha and Krishna."

The musician sang:

My Gora, my treasure, the jewel among men,
Weeps as he chants Sri Radha's name
And rolls on the ground; with fervent love
He chants her name again and again.
The tears stream from his love-filled eyes;
Once more he rolls upon the ground,
As chanting her name he faints away.
The hair on his body stands on end;
His tongue can lisp but a single word.
Says Basu: (The author of the song.) Why is Gora so restless?

The kirtan continued.

Radha had met Krishna on the bank of the Jamuna under the kadamba tree. Her companions describe her physical and mental condition:

A hundred times each hour, in and out of the room she goes;
Restless, breathing hard, she looks toward the kadamba grove.
Is she afraid of the elders? Has she been possessed by a ghost?
Filled with restlessness, she cannot keep her dress arranged;
Her jewels have fallen off; she trembles every now and then.
Alas, she is so young! A princess born, and a wife besides!
What is it that she craves? We do not understand her mind;
But we can guess her hand is reaching out to catch the moon.
Humbly says Chandidas: (The author of the song.) Radha has fallen in Krishna's trap.

The Kirtan went on.

Radha's friends say to her.

Tell us, O Radha of comely face! Tell us what it is that ails you.
Why has your mind wandered away? Why do you claw the earth in frenzy?
Tell us why your golden skin has taken the ashy hue of cinders.
From your body the scarlet cloth has dropped unheeded to the ground;
Ah! Your eyes are red with tears; your lovely lotus face has withered.
Tell us what it is that ails you, lest our hearts should break with grief.

Radha says to her friends:

I long for the sight of Krishna's face.
The musician sang again.

Hearing Krishna's flute, Radha has gone mad. She says to her friends:

Who is the Sorcerer that dwells in the kadamba grove?
His flute-notes suddenly enter my ears and strike a chord in my heart;
Piercing my very soul, they slay my dharma and drive me mad.
With restless mind and streaming eyes, alas! I can scarcely breathe:
How He plays His magic flute, whose music thrills my soul!
Because He is out of my sight, my heart expires; I cannot stay home.
My soul yearns for Him; racked with pain, it longs to see Him once more.
Says Uddhava Das: But you will die, O Radha, when you behold Him!

The music continued.

Radha's heart yearns for the vision of Krishna. She says to her friends:

First I heard His magic flute from the kadamba grove,
And the next day the minstrel told me of Him and thrilled my soul;
Another day, O friend of my heart, you chanted His blessed name.
(Ah, the blessed name of Krishna, full of honeyed sweemess!)
The wise men, too, described to me His virtues without number.
I am a weak and simple girl, and stern, alas! are my elders;
My love for my Beloved grows; how can I live any longer?
After reflecting long, I find that I must die at last:
Can you not tell me a way, O friend, by which I may meet my Krishna?

As Sri Ramakrishna heard the line, "Ah, the blessed name of Krishna, full of honeyed sweetness!", he could not remain seated any longer. He stood up in a state of unconsciousness and went into deep samadhi. The younger Naren stood at his right. Regaining partial consciousness, the Master repeated the name of Krishna in his melodious voice. Tears flowed down his cheeks. He sat down again. The musician continued his singing.

Visakha, a friend of Radha, runs out and brings a portrait of Krishna. She holds it before Radha's eyes. Radha says: "I see the picture of Him whom I beheld on the Jamuna's bank. Ever since then I have been in this plight.

I see the picture of Him whom I beheld on the Jamuna's bank;
The name Visakha spoke is the name of Him who is painted here.
He who played on the flute is the Beloved of my soul;
His virtues the minstrel sang to me; He has bewitched my heart.
It is none other than He!" So saying, Radha falls in a swoon.
Restored to her senses by her friends, at once she says to them,
"Show me Him, O friends, whom I saw reflected in my soul."
And they promise her that they will.

Now Sri Ramakrishna with Narendra and the other devotees began to sing the kirtan in a loud voice. They sang:

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

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

Again Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. After regaining consciousness of the outer world, he returned to his seat. Turning to M., he said, "I don't remember which way I was facing before." Then he began to talk to the devotees.

NARENDRA (to the Master): "Hazra has now become a good man."

MASTER: "You don't know. There are people who repeat Rama's name with their tongues but hide stones under their arms to throw at others."

NARENDRA: "I don't agree with you, sir. I asked him about the things people complain of. He denied them."

MASTER: "He is steadfast in his devotions. He practises japa a little. But he also behaves in a queer way. He doesn't pay the coachman his fare."

NARENDRA: "That isn't true, sir. He said he had paid it."

MASTER: "Where did he get the money?"

NARENDRA: "From Ramlal or someone else."

MASTER: "Did you ask him all these things in detail? Once I prayed to the Divine Mother, O Mother, if Hazra is a hypocrite then please remove him from here.' Later on I told him of my prayer. After a few days he came to me and said, 'You see, I am still here.' (The Master and the others laugh.) But soon afterwards he left.

"Hazra's mother begged me through Ramlal to ask Hazra to come home. She was almost blind with weeping. I tried in various ways to persuade him to visit her. I said: 'Your mother is old. Go and see her once.' I couldn't make him go. Afterwards the poor mother died weeping for him."

NARENDRA: "This time he will go home."

MASTER: "Yes, yes! He will go home! He is a rogue. He is a rascal. You don't understand him. You are a fool. Gopal said that Hazra stayed at Sinthi a few days. People used to supply him with butter, rice, and other food. He had the impudence to tell them he couldn't swallow such coarse rice and bad butter. Ishan of Bhatpara accompanied him there. He ordered Ishan to carry water for him. That made the other brahmins very angry."

NARENDRA: "I asked him about that too. He said that Ishan Babu had himself come forward with the water. Besides, many brahmins of Bhatpara showed him respect."

MASTER (smiling): "That was the result of his japa and austerity. You see, physical traits to a great extent influence character. Short stature and a body with dents here and there are not good traits. People with such traits take a long time to acquire spiritual knowledge."

BHAVANATH: "Let us stop talking about these things."

MASTER: "Don't misunderstand me. (To Narendra) You say you understand people; that is why I am telling you all this. Do you know how I look on people like Hazra? I know that just as God takes the form of holy men, so He also takes the form of cheats and rogues. (To Mahimacharan) What do you say? All are God."

MAHIMA: "Yes, sir. All are God."

GIRISH (to the Master): "Sir, what is ekangi prema?"

MASTER: "It means one-sided love. For instance, the water does not seek the duck, but the duck loves water. There are other kinds of love: sadharani, samanjasa, and samartha. In the first, which is ordinary love, the lover seeks his own happiness; he doesn't care whether the other person is happy or not. That was Chandravali's attitude toward Krishna. In the second, which is a compromise, both seek each other's happiness. This is a noble kind of love. But the third is the highest of all. Such a lover says to his beloved, 'Be happy yourself, whatever may happen to me.' Radha had this highest love. She was happy in Krishna's happiness. The gopis, too, had attained this exalted state.

"Do you know who the gopis were? Ramachandra was wandering in the forest where sixty thousand rishis dwelt. They were very eager to see Him. He cast a tender glance at them. According to a certain Purana, they were born later on as the gopis of Vrindavan."

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, who may be called an antaranga?"

MASTER: "Let me give an illustration. A natmandir has pillars inside and outside. An antaranga is like the inside pillars. Those who always live near the guru are the antarangas.

(To Mahimacharan) "The jnani wants neither a form of God nor His Incarnation. While wandering in the forest, Ramachandra saw a number of rishis. They welcomed Him to their asrama with great love and said to Him: 'O Rama, today our life is blessed because we have seen You. But we know You as the son of Dasaratha. Bharadvaja and other sages call You a Divine Incarnation; but that is not our view. We meditate on the Indivisible Satchidananda.' Rama was pleased with them and smiled.

"Ah, what a state of mind I passed through! My mind would lose itself in the Indivisible Absolute. How many days I spent that way! I renounced bhakti and bhakta, devotion and devotee. I became inert. I could not feel the form of my own head. I was about to die. I thought of keeping Ramlal's aunt (Referring to his own wife) near me.

"I ordered the removal of all pictures and portraits from my room. When I regained outer consciousness, when the mind climbed down to the ordinary level, I felt as if I were being suffocated like a drowning person. At last I said to myself, 'If I can't bear people, then how shall I live?' Then my mind was again directed to bhakti and bhakta. 'What has happened to me?' I kept asking people. Bholanath (A clerk at the Dakshineswar temple garden) said to me, 'This state of mind has been described in the Mahabharata.' How can a man live, on coming down from the plane of samadhi? Surely he requires devotion to God and the company of devotees. Otherwise, how will he keep his mind occupied?"

MAHIMACHARAN (to the Master): "Sir, can a man return from the plane of samadhi to the plane of the ordinary world?"

MASTER (in a low voice, to Mahima): "I shall tell you privately. You are the only one fit to hear it.

"Koar Singh also asked me that question. You see, there is a vast difference between the jiva and Isvara. Through worship and austerity, a jiva can at the utmost attain samadhi; but he cannot come down from that state. On the other hand, an Incarnation of God can come down from samadhi. A jiva is like an officer of the king; he can go as far as the outer court of the seven-storey palace. But the king's son has access to all the seven floors; he can also go outside. Everybody says that no one can return from the plane of samadhi. In that case, how do you account for sages like Sankara and Ramanuja? They retained the 'ego of Knowledge'."

MAHIMA: "That is true, indeed. Otherwise, how could they write books?"

MASTER: "Again, there are the instances of sages like Prahlada, Narada, and Hanuman. They too retained bhakti after attaining samadhi."

MAHIMA: "That is true, sir."

MASTER: "Some people indulge in philosophical speculation and think much of themselves. Perhaps they have studied a little Vedanta. But a man cannot be egotistic if he has true knowledge. In other words, in samadhi man becomes one with God and gets rid of his egotism. True knowledge is impossible without samadhi. In samadhi man becomes one with God. Then he can have no egotism.

"Do you know what it is like? Just at noon the sun is directly overhead. If you look around then, you do not see your shadow. Likewise, you will not find the 'shadow' of ego after attaining Knowledge, samadhi.

"But if you see in anyone a trace of 'I-consciousness' after the attainment of true Knowledge, then know that it is either the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion' or the 'servant ego'. It is not the 'ego of ignorance'.

"Again, jnana and bhakti are twin paths. Whichever you follow, it is God that you will, ultimately reach. The jnani looks on God in one way and the bhakta looks on Him in another way. The God of the jnani is full of brilliance, and the God of the bhakta full of sweetness."

Bhavanath was seated near the Master, listening to these words.

BHAVANATH (to the Master): "Sir, I have a question to ask. I don't quite understand the Chandi. It is written there that the Divine Mother kills all beings. What does that mean?"

MASTER: "This is all Her lila. Her sportive pleasure. That question used to bother me too. Later I found out that all is maya. Both creation and destruction are God's maya."

Girish conducted Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees to the roof, where the meal was served. There was a bright moon in the sky. The devotees took their seats. The Master occupied a seat in front of them. All were in a joyous mood.

Sri Ramakrishna was beside himself with joy at the sight of Narendra. The beloved disciple sat in the front row. Every now and then the Master asked how he was getting along. He had hardly finished half his meal when he came to Narendra with some water-melon sherbet and curd from his own plate. Tenderly he said to the disciple, "Please eat this." Then he went back to his own place.

Saturday, May 9, 1885

It was about three o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna sat in Balaram's drawing-room in a happy mood. Many devotees were present. Narendra, M., Bhavanath, Purna, Paltu, the younger Naren, Girish, Ram, Binode, Dwija, and others sat around him.

Balaram was not there. He had gone to Monghyr for a change of air. His eldest daughter had invited Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees and celebrated the occasion with a feast. The Master was resting after the meal.

Again and again the Master asked M.: "Am I liberal-minded? Tell me."

BHAVANATH (smiling): "Why do you ask him? He will only keep quiet."

A beggar entered the room. He wanted to sing. The devotees listened to a song or two. Narendra liked his singing and asked him to sing more.

MASTER: "Stop! Stop! We don't want any more songs. Where is the money? (To Narendra) You may order the music, but who will pay?"

A DEVOTEE (smiling): "Sir, the beggar may think you are an amir, a wealthy aristocrat, the way you are leaning against that big pillow." (All laugh.)

MASTER (smiling): "He may also think I am ill."

The conversation drifted to Hazra and his egotism. For some reason he had to go away from Dakshineswar.

NARENDRA: "Hazra now admits he was egotistic."

MASTER: "Don't believe him. He says so in order to come back to Dakshineswar. (To the devotees) Narendra always insists that Hazra is a grand person."

NARENDRA: "Even now I say so."

MASTER: "Why? You have heard so much about him, and still you think so?"

NARENDRA: "He has slight defects but many virtues."

MASTER: "I admit that he has devotion to his ideal. He said to me, 'You don't care for me now, but later you will be seeking my company.' A goswami came from Srerampore. He was a descendant of Advaita Goswami. He intended to spend a night or two at the temple garden. I asked him very cordially to stay. Do you know what Hazra said to me? He said, 'Send him to the temple officer.' What was in his mind was that the goswami might ask for milk or food, and that he might have to give him some from his own share. I said to Hazra: 'Now, you rogue! Even I prostrate myself before him because he is a goswami. And you, after leading a worldly life and indulging a great deal in "woman and gold", have so much pride because of a little japa! Aren't you ashamed of yourself?'

"One realizes God through sattva. Rajas and tamas take one away from Him. The scriptures describe sattva as white, rajas as red, and tamas as black. Once I asked Hazra: Tell me what you think of the people that come here. How much sattva does each one possess?' He said, 'Narendra has one hundred per cent and I have one hundred and ten per cent.' 'What about me?' I asked. And he said: 'You still have a trace of pink. You have only seventy-five per cent, I should say.' (All laugh.)

"Hazra used to practise japa at Dakshineswar. While telling his beads, he would also try to do a little brokerage business. He has a debt of a few thousand rupees which he must clear up. About the brahmin cooks of the temple he remarked, 'Do you think I talk with people of that sort?'

"The truth is that you cannot attain God if you have even a trace of desire. Subtle is the way of dharma. If you are trying to thread a needle, you will not succeed if the thread has even a slight fibre sticking out.

"There are people who perform japa for thirty years and still do not attain any result. Why? A gangrenous sore requires very drastic treatment. Ordinary medicine won't cure it.

"No matter how much sadhana you practise, you will not realize the goal as long as you have desire. But this also is true, that one can realize the goal in a moment through the grace of God, through His kindness. Take the case of a room that has been dark a thousand years. If somebody suddenly brings a lamp into it, the room is lighted in an instant.

"Suppose a poor man's son has fallen into the good graces of a rich person. He marries his daughter. Immediately he gets an equipage, clothes, furniture, a house, and other things."

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, how does one receive God's grace?"

MASTER: "God has the nature of a child. A child is sitting with gems in the skirt of his cloth. Many a person passes by him along the road. Many of them pray to him for gems. But he hides the gems with his hands and says, turning away his face, 'No, I will not give any away.' But another man comes along. He doesn't ask for the gems; and yet the child runs after him and offers him the gems, begging him to accept them.

"One cannot realize God without renunciation. Who will accept my words? I have been seeking a companion, a sympathetic soul who will understand my feelings. When I see a great devotee, I say to myself, 'Perhaps he will accept my ideal.' But later on I find that he behaves in a different way.

"A ghost sought a companion. One becomes a ghost if one dies from an accident on a Saturday or a Tuesday. So whenever the ghost found someone who seemed to be dying from an accident on either of these days, he would run to him. He would say to himself that at last he had found his companion. But no sooner would he run to the man than he would see the man getting up. The man, perhaps, had fallen from a roof and after a few moments regained consciousness.

"Once Mathur Babu was in an ecstatic mood. He behaved like a drunkard and could not look after his work. At this all said: 'Who will look after his estate it he behaves like that? Certainly the young priest (Sri Ramakrishna, who was at that time a priest in the Kali temple) has cast a spell upon him.'

"During one of Narendra's early visits I touched his chest and he became unconscious. Regaining consciousness, he wept and said: 'Oh, why did you do that to me? I have a father! I have a mother!' This 'I' and 'mine' spring from ignorance.

"A guru said to his disciple: 'The world is illusory. Come away with me.' 'But, revered sir,' said the disciple, 'my people at home - my father, my mother, my wife - love me so much. How can I give them up?' The guru said: 'No doubt you now have this feeling of "I" and "mine" and say that they love you; but this is all an illusion of your mind. I shall teach you a trick, and you will know whether they love you truly or not.' Saying this, the teacher gave the disciple a pill and said to him: 'Swallow this at home. You will appear to be a corpse, but you will not lose consciousness. You will see everything and hear everything. Then I shall come to your house and gradually you will regain your normal state.'

"The disciple followed the teacher's instructions and lay on his bed like a dead person. The house was filled with loud wailing. His mother, his wife, and the others lay on the ground weeping bitterly. Just then a brahmin entered the house and said to them, 'What is the matter with you?' 'This boy is dead', they replied. The brahmin felt his pulse and said: 'How is that? No, he is not dead. I have a medicine for him that will cure him completely.' The joy of the relatives was unbounded; it seemed to them that heaven itself had come down into their house. 'But', said the brahmin, 'I must tell you something else. Another person must take some of this medicine first, and then the boy must swallow the rest. But the other person will die. I see he has so many dear relatives here; one of them will certainly agree to take the medicine. I see his wife and mother crying bitterly. Surely they will not hesitate to take it.'

"At once the weeping stopped and all sat quiet. The mother said: 'Well, this is a big family. Suppose I die; then who will look after the family?' She fell into a reflective mood. The wife, who had been crying a minute before and bemoaning her ill luck, said: 'Well, he has gone the way of mortals. I have these two or three young children. Who will look after them if I die?'

"The disciple saw everything and heard everything. He stood up at once and said to the teacher: 'Let us go, revered sir. I will follow you.' (All laugh.)

"Another disciple said to his teacher: 'Revered sir, my wife takes great care of me. It is for her sake that I cannot give up the world.' The disciple practised hathayoga. The teacher taught him, too, a trick to test his wife's love. One day there was a great wailing in his house. The neighbours came running and saw the hathayogi seated in a posture, his limbs paralysed and distorted. They thought he was dead. His wife fell on the ground, weeping piteously: 'Oh, what has befallen me? How have you provided for our future? Oh, friends, I never dreamt I should meet such a fate!'

"In the mean time the relatives and friends had brought a cot to take the corpse out. But suddenly a difficulty arose as they started to move it. Since the body was twisted and stiff, it could not be taken out through the door. A neighbour quickly brought an axe and began to chop away the door-frame. The wife was crying bitterly, when she heard the sound of the axe. She ran to the door. 'What are you doing, friends?' she asked, still weeping. The neighbour said, 'We can't take the body out; so we are chopping away the door-frame.'

"'Please', said the wife, 'don't do any such thing. I am a widow now; I have no one to look after me. I have to bring up these young children. If you destroy this door, I shall not be able to replace it. Friends, death is inevitable for all, and my husband cannot be called back to life. You had better cut his limbs.' The hathayogi at once stood up. The effect of the medicine had worn off. He said to his wife: 'You evil one! You want to cut off my hands and feet, do you?' So saying, he renounced home and followed his teacher. (All laugh.)

"Many women make a show of grief. Knowing beforehand that they will have to weep, they first take off their nose-rings and other ornaments, put them securely in a box, and lock it. Then they fall on the ground and weep, 'O friends, what has befallen us?'"

NARENDRA: "How can I believe, without proof, that God incarnates Him self as a man?"
GIRISH: "Faith alone is sufficient. What is the proof that these objects exist here? Faith alone is the proof."

A DEVOTEE: "Have philosophers been able to prove that the external world exists outside us? But they say we have an irresistible belief in it."

GIRISH (to Narendra): "You wouldn't believe, even if God appeared before you. God Himself might say that He was God born as a man, but perhaps you would say that He was a liar and a cheat."

The conversation turned to the immortality of the gods.

NARENDRA: "What is the proof of their immortality?"

GIRISH: "You wouldn't believe it even if the gods appeared before you."

NARENDRA: "That the immortals existed in the past requires proof."

M. whispered something to Paltu.

PALTU (smiling, to Narendra): "What need is there for the immortals to be without beginning? To be immortal one need only be without end."

MASTER (smiling): "Narendra is the son of a lawyer, but Paltu of a deputy magistrate." (All laugh.)

All kept silent awhile.

JOGIN (smiling): "He [meaning the Master] doesn't accept Narendra's words any more."

MASTER (smiling): "One day I remarked that the chatak bird doesn't drink any water except that which falls from the sky. Narendra said, 'The chatak drinks ordinary water as well.' Then I said to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, then are my words untrue?' I was greatly worried about it. Another day, later on, Narendra was here. Several birds were flying about in the room. He exclaimed, 'There! There!' 'What is there?' I asked. He said, 'There is your chatak!' I found they were only bats. Since that day I don't accept what he says. (All laugh.)

"At Jadu Mallick's garden house Narendra said to me, 'The forms of God that you see are the fiction of your mind.' I was amazed and said to him, 'But they speak too!' Narendra answered, 'Yes, one may think so.' I went to the temple and wept before the Mother. 'O Mother,' I said, 'what is this? Then is this all false? How could Narendra say that?' Instantly I had a revelation. I saw Consciousness - Indivisible Consciousness - and a divine being formed of that Consciousness. The divine form said to me, 'If your words are untrue, how is it that they tally with the facts?' Thereupon I said to Narendra: 'You rogue! You created unbelief in my mind. Don't come here any more.'"

The discussion continued. Narendra was arguing. He was then slightly over twenty-two years of age.

NARENDRA (to Girish, M., and the others): "How am I to believe in the words of scripture? The Mahanirvana Tantra says, in one place, that unless a man attains the Knowledge of Brahman he goes to hell; and the same book says, in another place, that there is no salvation without the worship of Parvati, the Divine Mother. Manu writes about himself in the Manusamhita; Moses describes his own death in the Pentateuch.

"The Samkhya philosophy says that God does not exist, because there is no proof of His existence. Again, the same philosophy says that one must accept the Vedas and that they are eternal.

"But I don't say that these are not true. I simply don't understand them. Please explain them to me. People have explained the scriptures according to their fancy. Which explanation shall we accept? White light coming through a red medium appears red, through a green medium, green."

A DEVOTEE: "The Gita contains the words of God."

MASTER: "Yes, the Gita is the essence of all scriptures. A sannyasi may or may not keep with him another book, but he always carries a pocket Gita."

A DEVOTEE: "The Gita contains the words of Krishna."

NARENDRA: "Yes, Krishna or any fellow for that matter!"

Sri Ramakrishna was amazed at these words of Narendra.

MASTER: "This is a fine discussion. There are two interpretations of the scriptures: the literal and the real. One should accept the real meaning alone - what agrees with the words of God. There is a vast difference between the words written in a letter and the direct words of its writer. The scriptures are like the words of the letter; the words of God are direct words. I do not accept anything unless it agrees with the direct words of the Divine Mother."

The conversation again turned to Divine Incarnation.

NARENDRA: "It is enough to have faith in God. I don't care about what He is doing or what He hangs from. Infinite is the universe; infinite are the Incarnations."

As Sri Ramakrishna heard the words, "Infinite is the universe; infinite are the Incarnations", he said with folded hands, "Ah!"

M. whispered something to Bhavanath.

BHAVANATH: "M. says: 'As long as I have not seen the elephant, how can I know whether it can pass through the eye of a needle? I do not know God; how can I understand through reason whether or not He can incarnate Himself as man?"

MASTER: "Everything is possible for God. It is He who casts the spell. The magician swallows the knife and takes it out again; he swallows stones and bricks."

A DEVOTEE: "The Brahmos say that a man should perform his worldly duties. He must not renounce them."

GIRISH: "Yes, I saw something like that in their paper, the Sulabha Samachar. But a man cannot even finish all the works that are necessary for him in order to know God, and still he speaks of worldly duties."

Sri Ramakrishna smiled a little, looked at M., and made a sign with his eye, as if to say, "What he says is right."
M. understood that this question of performing duties was an extremely difficult one.

Purna arrived.

MASTER: "Who told you about our being here?"

PURNA: "Sarada."

MASTER (to the woman devotees): "Give him some refreshments."

Narendra was preparing to sing. The Master and the devotees were eager to hear his music. Narendra sang:

Siva, Thy ready thunderbolt rules over meadows, hills, and sky!
O God of Gods! O Slayer of Time! Thou the Great Void, the King of Dharma!
Siva, Thou Blessed One, redeem me; take away my grievous sin.

He sang again:

Sweet is Thy name, O Refuge of the humble!
It falls like sweetest nectar on our ears
And comforts us, Beloved of our souls! . . .


Why, O mind, do you never call on Him
Who takes away all fear of danger?
Tricked by delusion you forget yourself,
Enamoured of the world's bleak wilderness.
Alas, what mockery is here!

Comrades and wealth you cannot always keep;
Take care lest you forget Him quite.
Give up the false, O mind! Adore the Real;
And all the grief will vanish from your life.
Keep my good counsel in your heart.

With sounding voice proclaim Lord Hari's name
And cast away your false desires,
If you would cross the ocean of this life;
Surrender to Him body, mind, and soul,
And worship Him with trusting love.

PALTU: "Won't you sing that one?"

NARENDRA: "Which one?"

PALTU: "'When I behold Thy peerless face.'"

Narendra sang:

When I behold Thy peerless face, beaming with love, O Lord,
What fear have I of earthly woe or of the frown of sorrow?
As the first ray of the dawning sun dispels the dark,
So too, Lord, when Thy blessed light bursts forth within the heart,
It scatters all our grief and pain with sweetest balm.
When on Thy love and grace I ponder, in my heart's deepest depths,
Tears of joy stream down my cheeks beyond restraining.
Hail, Gracious Lord! Hail, Gracious One! I shall proclaim Thy love.
May my life-breath depart from me as I perform Thy works!

At M.'s request Narendra sang again, M. and many of the devotees listening with folded hands:

Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!
Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari's sweet name! . . .

Narendra sang again:

Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through.
How peerless is the light that in Him shines!
How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form!
How dear is He to all His devotees! . . .

He sang another song:

This universe, wondrous and infinite,
O Lord, is Thy handiwork;
And the whole world is a treasure-house
Full of Thy beauty and grace.
The stars glisten innumerable,
Like gems on a necklace of gold;
How can the myriad suns and moons
Ever be numbered above?
The earth is glowing with grain and gold,
Thine ever brimming store;
Uncounted stars, O God, sing forth:
Blessed, blessed art Thou!

Then he sang:

Upon the tray of the sky blaze bright
The lamps of sun and moon;
Like diamonds shine the glittering stars
To deck Thy wondrous form. . . .

He continued:

Fasten your mind, O man, on the Primal Purusha,
Who is the Cause of all causes,
The Stainless One, the Beginningless Truth.
As Prana He pervades the infinite universe;
The man of faith beholds Him,
Living, resplendent, the Root of all. . . .

At Narayan's request Narendra sang:

Come! Come, Mother! Doll of my soul! My heart's Delight!
In my heart's lotus come and sit, that I may see Thy face.
Alas! sweet Mother, even from birth I have suffered much;
But I have borne it all. Thou knowest, gazing at Thee.
Open the lotus of my heart, dear Mother! Reveal Thyself there.

Then Narendra sang a song of his own choice:

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

As Sri Ramakrishna heard this soul-enthralling song, he went into samadhi.

Narendra again sang:

Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss! . . .

The Master was in samadhi. He was sitting on a pillow, dangling his feet, facing the north and leaning against the wall. The devotees were seated around him.

In an ecstatic mood Sri Ramakrishna talked to the Divine Mother. He said: "I shall take my meal now. Art Thou come? Hast Thou found Thy lodging and left Thy baggage there and then come out?" He continued: "I don't enjoy anybody's company now. Why should I listen to the music, Mother? That diverts part of my mind to the outside world."

The Master was gradually regaining consciousness of the outer world. Looking at the devotees he said: "Years ago I used to be amazed to see people keeping kai fish alive in a pot of water. I would say: 'How cruel these people are! They will finally kill the fish.' But later, as changes came over my mind, I realized that bodies are like pillow-cases. It doesn't matter whether they remain or drop off."

BHAVANATH: "Then may one injure a man without incurring sin? Kill him?"

MASTER: "Yes, it is permissible if one has achieved that state of mind, But not everyone has it. It is the state of Brahmajnana.

"By coming down a step or two from samadhi I enjoy bhakti and bhakta. "There exist in God both vidya and avidya. Vidyamaya leads one to God, and avidyamaya away from Him. Knowledge, devotion, compassion; and renunciation belong to the realm of vidya. With the help of these a man comes near God. One step more and he attains God, Knowledge of Brahman. In that state he clearly feels and sees that it is God who has become everything. He has nothing to give up and nothing to accept. It is impossible tor him to be angry with anyone.

"One day I was riding in a carriage. I saw two prostitutes standing on a verandah. They appeared to me to be embodiments of the Divine Mother Herself. I saluted, them.

"When I first attained this exalted state I could not worship Mother Kali or give Her the food offering. Haladhari and Hriday told me that on account of this the temple officer had slandered me. But I only laughed; I wasn't in the least angry. Attain Brahmajnana and then roam about enjoying God's lila. A holy man came to a town and went about seeing the sights. He met another sadhu, an acquaintance. The latter said: 'I see you are gadding about. Where is your baggage. I hope no thief has stolen it.' The first sadhu said: 'Not at all. First I found a lodging, put my things in the room in proper order, and locked the door. Now I am enjoying the fun of the city.'" (All laugh.)

BHAVANATH: "These are very lofty words."

M. (to himself): "Tasting God's lila after Brahmajnana! Climbing down to the ordinary plane of consciousness after the attainment of samadhi!"

MASTER (to M. and the others): "Is it an easy thing to obtain the Knowledge of Brahman? It is not possible unless the mind is annihilated. The guru said to the disciple, 'Give me your mind and I shall give you Knowledge.' In this state one enjoys only spiritual talk and the company of devotees.

(To Ram) "You are a physician. You know that medicine works only when it mixes with the patient's blood and becomes one with it. Likewise, in the state of Brahmajnana one sees God both within and without. One sees that it is God Himself who has become the body, mind, life, and soul."

M. (to himself): "Assimilation!"

MASTER: "A man attains Brahmajnana as soon as his mind is annihilated. With the annihilation of the mind dies the ego, which says 'I', 'I'. One also attains the Knowledge of Brahman by following the path of devotion. One also attains It by following the path of knowledge, that is to say, discrimination. The jnanis discriminate, saying, 'Neti, neti', that is, 'All this is illusory, like a dream.' They analyse the world through the process of 'Not this, not this'; it is maya. When the world vanishes, only the jivas, that is to say, so many egos, remain.

"Each ego may be likened to a pot. Suppose there are ten pots filled with water, and the sun is reflected in them. How many suns do you see?"

A DEVOTEE: "Ten reflections. Besides, there certainly exists the real sun."

MASTER: "Suppose you break one pot. How many suns do you see now?"

DEVOTEE: "Nine reflected suns. But there certainly exists the real Sun."

MASTER: "All right. Suppose you break nine pots. How many suns do you see now?"

DEVOTEE: "One reflected sun. But there certainly exists the real sun."

MASTER (to Girish): "What remains when the last pot is broken?"

GIRISH: "That real sun, sir."

MASTER: "No. What remains cannot be described. What is remains. How will you know there is a real sun unless there is a reflected sun? 'I- consciousness' is destroyed in samadhi. A man climbing down from samadhi to the lower plane cannot describe what he has seen there."

It was late in the evening. Lamps were burning in the drawing-room. Sri Ramakrishna was in a spiritual mood. The devotees sat around him.

MASTER (in the ecstatic mood): "There is no one else here; so I am telling you this. He who from the depth of his soul seeks to know God will certainly realize Him. He must. He alone who is restless for God and seeks nothing but Him will certainly realize Him.

"Those who belong to this place (The inner circle of the Master's devotees.) have already come. Those who will come from now on are outsiders. Such people will come now and then. The Divine Mother will tell them: 'Do this. Call on God in this way.'

"Why doesn't man's mind dwell on God? You see, more powerful than God is His Mahamaya, His Power of Illusion. More powerful than the judge is his orderly. (All laugh.)

"Rama said to Narada: 'I am very much pleased with your prayer. Ask a boon of Me.' Narada replied, 'O Rama, may I have pure devotion to Your Lotus Feet, and may I not be deluded by Your world-bewitching maya!' Rama said, 'Be it so: ask for something else.' Narada replied, 'No, Rama, I do not want any other boon.'

"Everyone is under the spell of this world-bewitching maya. When God assumes a human body, He too comes under the spell. Rama wandered about weeping for Sita. 'Brahman weeps entangled in the snare of the five elements.' But you must remember this: God, by His mere will, can liberate Himself from this snare."

BHAVANATH: "The guard of a railway train shuts himself of his own will in a carriage; but he can get out whenever he wants to."

MASTER: "The Isvarakotis - Divine Incarnations, for instance - can liberate themselves whenever they want to; but the jivakotis cannot. Jivas are imprisoned by 'woman and gold'. When the doors and windows of a room are fastened with screws, how can a man get out?"

BHAVANATH (smiling): "Ordinary men are like the third-class passengers on a railway train. When the doors of their compartments are locked, they have no way to get out."

GIRISH: "If a man is so strongly tied hand and foot, then what is his way?"

MASTER: "He has nothing to fear if God Himself, as the guru, cuts the chain of maya."


Nitya and Lila - The seed of bhakti cannot be destroyed - Reality includes both Absolute and universe - Futility of mere scholarship - Advice to the worldly - The real teacher - Go beyond knowledge and ignorance - Nature of the worldly - Master's adherence to truth - Divine Incarnation - Master reprimands Captain - Significance of Radhika - Master's boyhood reminiscences - Magician and his magic - Harmless ego - "Wicked ego" must be killed - Signs of God-realization - Man's peace in God - Sincere yearning enables one to realize God - Advice to householders.

Saturday, May 25, 1885

SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in the drawing-room on the ground floor of Ram's house. He was surrounded by devotees and was conversing with them. Mahima sat in front of him, M. to his left. Paltu, Bhavanath, Nityagopal, Haramohan, and a few others sat around him. It was about five o'clock in the afternoon. The Master inquired after several devotees.

MASTER (to M.): "Hasn't the younger Naren arrived yet?"

Presently the younger Naren entered the room.

MASTER: "What about him?"

M: "Who, sir?"

MASTER: "Kishori. Isn't Girish Ghosh coming? What about Narendra?"

A few minutes later Narendra arrived and saluted Sri Ramakrishna.

MASTER (to the devotees): "It would be fine if Kedar were here. He agrees with Girish. (To Mahima, smiling) He says the same thing."

Ram had arranged the kirtan. With folded hands the musician said to Sri Ramakrishna, "Sir, I can begin if you give the order."

The Master drank some water and chewed spices from a small bag. He asked M. to close the bag.

The musician started the kirtan. As Sri Ramakrishna heard the sound of the drum he went into an ecstatic mood. While listening to the prelude of the kirtan he plunged into deep samadhi. He placed his legs on the lap of Nityagopal, who was sitting near him. The devotee, too, was in an ecstatic mood. He was weeping. The other devotees looked on intently.

Regaining partial consciousness, Sri Ramakrishna said: "From the Nitya to the Lila and from the Lila to the Nitya. (To Nityagopal) What is your ideal?"

NITYAGOPAL: "Both are good."

Sri Ramakrishna closed his eyes and said: "Is it only this? Does God exist only when the eyes are closed; and cease to exist when the eyes are opened? The Lila belongs to Him to whom the Nitya belongs, and the Nitya belongs to Him to whom the Lila belongs. (To Mahima) My dear sir, let me tell you -"

MAHIMA: "Revered sir, both are according to the will of God."

MASTER: "Some people climb the seven floors of a building and cannot pet down; but some climb up and then, at will, visit the lower floors.

"Uddhava said to the gopis: 'He whom you address as your Krishna dwells in all beings. It is He alone who has become the universe and its living beings.'

"Therefore I say, does a man meditate on God only when his eyes are closed? Doesn't he see anything of God when his eyes are open?"

MAHIMA: "I have a question to ask, sir. A lover of God needs Nirvana some time or other, doesn't he?"

MASTER: "It can't be said that bhaktas need Nirvana. According to some schools there is an eternal Krishna and there are also His eternal devotees. Krishna is Spirit embodied, and His Abode also is Spirit embodied. Krishna is eternal and the devotees also are eternal. Krishna and the devotees are like the moon and the stars - always near each other. You yourself repeat: 'What need is there of penance if God is seen within and without?' Further, I have told you that the devotee who is born with an element of Vishnu cannot altogether get rid of bhakti. Once I fell into the clutches of a jnani, who made me listen to Vedanta for eleven months. But he couldn't altogether destroy the seed of bhakti in me. No matter where my mind wandered, it would come back to the Divine Mother. Whenever I sang of Her, Nangta would weep and say, 'Ah! What is this?' You see, he was such a great jnani and still he wept. (To the younger Naren and the others) Remember the popular saying that if a man drinks the juice of the alekh creeper, a plant grows inside his stomach. Once the seed of bhakti is sown, the effect is inevitable: it will gradually grow into a tree with flowers and fruits.

"You may reason and argue a thousand times, but if you have the seed of bhakti within you, you will surely come back to Hari."

The devotees listened silently to the Master. Sri Ramakrishna asked Mahima, laughing, "What is the thing you enjoy most?"

MAHIMA (smiling): "Nothing, sir. I like mangoes."

MASTER (smiling): "All by yourself? Or do you want to share them with others?"

MAHIMA (smiling): "I am not so anxious to give others a share. I may as well eat them all by myself."

MASTER: "But do you know my attitude? I accept both, the Nitya and the Lila. Doesn't God exist if one looks around with eyes open? After realizing Him, one knows that He is both the Absolute and the universe. It is He who is the Indivisible Satchidananda. Again, it is He who has become the universe and its living beings.

"One needs sadhana. Mere study of the scriptures will not do. I noticed that though Vidyasagar had no doubt read a great deal, he had not realized what was inside him; he was satisfied with helping boys get their education, but had not tasted the Bliss of God. What will mere study accomplish? How little one assimilates! The almanac may forecast twenty measures of rain; but you don't get a drop by squeezing its pages."

MAHIMA: "We have so many duties in the world. Where is the time for sadhana?"

MASTER: Why should you say such a thing? It is you who describe the world as illusory, like a dream.

"Rama and Lakshmana wanted to go to Ceylon. But the ocean was before them. Lakshmana was angry. Taking his bow and arrow, he said: 'I shall kill Varuna. This ocean prevents our going to Ceylon.' Rama explained the matter to him, saying: 'Lakshmana, all that you are seeing is unreal, like a dream. The ocean is unreal. Your anger is also unreal. It is equally unreal to think of destroying one unreal thing by means of another.'"
Mahimacharan kept quiet. He had many duties in the world. He had lately started a school to help others.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Sambhu once said to me: 'I have some money. It is my desire to spend it for good works - for schools and dispensaries, roads, and so forth.' I said to him: 'It will be good if you can do these works in a selfless spirit. But it is extremely difficult to perform unselfish action. Desire for fruit comes from nobody knows where. Let me ask you something. Suppose God appears before you; will you pray to Him, then, for such things as schools and dispensaries and hospitals?'"

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the way for worldly people?"

MASTER: "The company of holy men. Worldly people should listen to spiritual talk. They are in a state of madness, intoxicated with 'woman and gold'. A drunkard should be given rice-water as an antidote. Drinking it slowly, he gradually recovers his normal consciousness.

"A worldly person should also receive instructions from a sadguru, a real teacher. Such a teacher has certain signs. You should hear about Benares only from a man who has been to Benares and seen it. Mere book-learning will not do. One should not receive instruction from a pundit who has not realized the world to be unreal. Only if a pundit has discrimination and renunciation is he entitled to instruct.

"Samadhyayi remarked that God was dry. Think of his speaking like that of Him who is the embodiment of sweetness! It sounds like the remark, 'My uncle's cow-shed is full of horses.' (All laugh.)

"Yes, a worldly person is in a state of intoxication. He always says to himself: 'It is I who am doing everything. All these - the house and family - are mine.' Baring his teeth, he says: 'What will happen to my wife and children without me? How will they get along? Who will look after my wife and children?' Rakhal said one day, 'What will happen to my wife?'"

HARAMOHAN: "Did Rakhal say that?"

MASTER: "What else could he do? He who has knowledge has ignorance also. 'How amazing!' Lakshmana said to Rama. 'Even a sage like Vasishtha is stricken with grief because of the death of his sons!' 'Brother,' replied Rama, 'he who has knowledge has ignorance also. Therefore go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.'

"Suppose a thorn has pierced a man's foot. He picks another thorn to pull out the first one. After extracting the first thorn with the help of the second, he throws both away. One should use the thorn of knowledge to pull out the thorn of ignorance. Then one throws away both the thorns, knowledge and ignorance, and attains vijnana. What is vijnana? It is to know God distinctly by realizing His existence through an intuitive experience and to speak to Him intimately. That is why Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Go beyond the three gunas.'

"In order to attain vijnana one has to accept the help of vidyamaya. Vidyamaya includes discrimination - that is to say, God is real and the world illusory - and dispassion, and also chanting God's name and glories, meditation, the company of holy persons, prayer, and so forth. Vidyamaya may be likened to the last few steps before the roof. Next is the roof, the realization of God.

"Worldly people are in a state of chronic intoxication - mad with 'woman and gold'; they are insensible to spiritual ideas. That is why I love the youngsters not yet stained by 'woman and gold'. They are 'good receptacles' and may become useful in God's work. But as for worldly people, you lose almost everything while trying to eliminate the worthless stuff in them. They are like bony fish - almost all bones and very little meat.

"Worldly people are like mangoes struck by hail. If you want to offer them to God you have to purify them by sprinkling them with Ganges water. Even then they are seldom used in the temple worship. If you are to use them at all, you have to apply Brahmajnana, that is to say, you have to persuade yourself that it is God alone who has become everything."

A Theosophist gentleman arrived with Aswini Kumar Dutta and the son of Behari Bhaduri. The Mukherji brothers entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. Arrangements were being made for devotional music in the courtyard. At the first beat of the drum the Master left the room and went there. The devotees followed him.

Bhavanath introduced Aswini to the Master. The Master introduced him to M. Aswini and M. were talking together when Narendra arrived. Sri Ramakrishna said to Aswini, "This is Narendra."

Saturday, June 13, 1885

About three o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was resting in his room after the midday meal. A pundit was sitting on a mat on the floor. Near the north door of the room stood a brahmin woman who had recently lost her only daughter and was stricken with grief. Kishori, too, was in the room. M. arrived and saluted the Master. He was accompanied by Dwija and a few other devotees.

Sri Ramakrishna was not well. He had been suffering from an inflamed throat. These were the hot days of summer. M. was not keeping well either, and of late he had not been able to visit Sri Ramakrishna frequently.

MASTER (to M.): "How are you? It is nice to see you. The bel-fruit you sent me was very good."

M: "I am slightly better now, sir."

MASTER: "It is very hot. Take a little ice now and then. I have been feeling the heat very much myself; so I ate a great deal of ice-cream. That is why I have this sore throat. The saliva smells very bad.

"I have said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, make me well. I shall not eat ice-cream any more.' Next I said to Her that I wouldn't eat ice either. Since I have given my word to the Mother, I shall certainly not eat these things. But sometimes I become forgetful. Once I said that I wouldn't eat fish on Sundays; but one Sunday I forgot and ate fish. But I cannot consciously go back on my word. The other day I asked a devotee to bring my water-jug to the pine-grove. As he had to go elsewhere, another man brought the jug. But I couldn't use that water. I was helpless. I waited there until the first man brought water for me.

"When I renounced everything with an offering of flowers at the Lotus Feet of the Mother, I said: 'Here, Mother, take Thy holiness, take Thy unholiness. Here, Mother, take Thy dharma, take Thy adharma. Here, Mother, take Thy sin, take Thy virtue. Here, Mother, take Thy good, take Thy evil. And give me only pure bhakti.' But I could not say, 'Here, Mother, take Thy truth, take Thy falsehood.'"

A devotee had brought some ice. Again and again the Master asked M., "Shall I eat it?"

M. said humbly, "Please don't eat it without consulting the Mother." Sri Ramakrishna could not take-the ice.

MASTER: "It is the bhakta, and not the jnani, who discriminates between holiness and unholiness. Vijay's mother-in-law said to me: 'How little I have achieved of my spiritual ideal! I cannot take food from everybody.' I said to her: 'Is eating everybody's food a sign of jnana? A dog eats anything and everything. Does that make it a jnani?'

(To M.) "Why do I eat a variety of dishes? In order not to become monotonous. Otherwise I should have to renounce the devotees.

"I said to Keshab: 'If I instruct you from a still higher standpoint, then you won't be able to preserve your organization. In the state of jnana organizations and things, like that become unreal, like a dream.'

"One time I gave up fish. At first I suffered from it; afterwards it didn't bother me much. If someone burns up a bird's nest, the bird flies about; it takes shelter in the sky. If a man truly realizes that the body and the world are unreal, then his soul attains samadhi.

"Formerly I had the state of mind of a jnani: I couldn't enjoy the company of men. I would hear that a jnani or a bhakta lived at a certain place; then, a few days later, I would learn that he was dead. Everything seemed to me impermanent; so I couldn't enjoy people's company. Later the Mother brought my mind down to a lower plane; She so changed my mind that I could enjoy love of God and His devotees."

Next the Master began to talk about Divine Incarnation.

MASTER (to M.): "Do you know why God incarnates Himself as a man? It is because through a human body one can hear His words. He sports through it. He tastes divine bliss through a human body. But through His other devotees God manifests only a small part of Himself. A devotee is like something you get a little juice from after much sucking - like a flower you get a drop of honey from after much sucking. (To M.) Do you understand this?"

M: "Yes, sir. Very well."

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Dwija, who was about sixteen years old. His father had married a second time. Dwija often accompanied M. to Dakshineswar, and Sri Ramakrishna was fond of him. The boy said that his father opposed his coming to Dakshineswar.

MASTER: "And your brothers too? Do they speak slightingly of me?"

Dwija did not answer.

M. (to the Master): "Those who speak slightingly of you will be cured of it after getting a few more blows from the world."

MASTER (referring to Dwija's brothers): "They live with their step-mother. So they are getting blows."

All were silent a moment.

MASTER (to M.): "Introduce Dwija to Purna some time."

M: "Yes, I shall. (To Dwija) Go to Panihati."

MASTER: "I am asking everyone to send people to Panihati. (To M.) Won't you go?"

Sri Ramakrishna intended to visit the religious festival at Panihati; so he was asking the devotees to go too.

M: "Yes, sir, I want to go."

MASTER: "We shall engage a big boat; then it won't toss about. Will Girish Ghosh be there?"

Sri Ramakrishna looked steadily at Dwija.

MASTER: "Well, there are so many youngsters in the city; why does this boy come here? (To M.) Tell me what you think. Certainly he has inherited some good tendencies from his previous birth."

M: "Undoubtedly, sir."

MASTER: "There is such a thing as inborn tendencies. When a man has performed many good actions in his previous births, in the final birth he becomes guileless. In the final birth he acts somewhat like a madcap.

"To tell you the truth, everything happens by God's will. When He says 'Yea', everything comes to pass, and when He says 'Nay', everything comes to a standstill.

"Why is it that one man should not bless another? Because nothing can happen by man's will: things come to pass or disappear by God's will.

"The other day I went to Captain's house. I saw some young boys going along the road. They belong to a different class. I saw one of them, about nineteen or twenty years old, with his hair parted on the side. He was whistling as he walked along.

"I see some immersed in the thickest tamas. They play the flute and are proud of it.

(To Dwija) "Why should a man of Knowledge be afraid of criticism? His understanding is as immovable as the anvil in a blacksmith’s shop. Blows from the hammer fall continually on the anvil but cannot affect it in the least.

"I saw X -'s father going along the street."

M; "He is a very artless man."

MASTER: "But he has red eyes."

Sri Ramakrishna told the devotees about his visit to Captain's house. Captain had criticized the young men who visited the Master. Perhaps Hazra had poisoned his mind.

MASTER: "I was talking to Captain. I said: 'Nothing exists except Purusha and Prakriti. Narada said to Rama, "O Rama, all the men You see are parts of Yourself, and all the women are parts of Sita."'
"Captain was highly pleased. He said: 'You alone have the right perception. All men are really Rama, being parts of Rama; all women are really Sita, being parts of Sita.'

"Immediately after saying this he began to criticize the young devotees. He said: 'They study English books and don't discriminate about their food. It is not good that they should visit you frequently. It may do you harm. Hazra is a real man, a grand fellow. Don't allow those young people to visit you so much.' At first I said, 'What can I do if they come?' Then I gave him some mortal blows. His daughter laughed. I said to him: 'God is far, far away from the worldly-minded. But God is very near the man - nay, within a distance, of three cubits - whose mind is free from worldliness.' Speaking of Rakhal, Captain said, 'He eats with all sorts of people.' Perhaps he had heard it from Hazra. Thereupon I said to him: 'A man may practise intense austerity and japa, but he won't achieve anything if his mind dwells on the world. But blessed is the man who keeps his mind on God even though he eats pork. He will certainly realize God in due time. Hazra, with all his austerity and japa, doesn't allow an opportunity to slip by for earning money as a broker.'

"'Yes, yes!' said Captain. 'You are right.' I said to him further, 'A few minutes ago you said that all men were parts of Rama and all women parts of Sita, and now you are talking like this!'

"Captain said: 'Yes, that's true. But you don't love everybody.'

"I said: 'According to the scriptures, water is God. We see water everywhere. But some water we drink, some we bathe in, and some we use for washing dirty things. Here sit your wife and daughter. I see them as embodiments of the Blessed Mother.'

"Thereupon Captain said, 'Yes, yes! That's true.' He wanted to apologize by touching my feet."

After speaking thus, Sri Ramakrishna laughed. Then he began to tell of Captain's many virtues.

MASTER: "Captain has many virtues. Every day he attends, to his devotions. He himself performs the worship of the Family Deity. How many mantras he recites while bathing the image! He is a great ritualist. He performs his daily devotions, such as worship, japa, arati, recital of the scriptures, and chanting of hymns.

"I scolded Captain and said: 'Too much reading has spoiled you. Don't read any more.'

"About my own spiritual state Captain said, 'Your soul, like a bird, is ready to fly.' There are two entities: jivatma, the embodied soul, and Paramatma, the Supreme Soul. The embodied soul is the bird. The Supreme Soul is like the akasa; it is the Chidakasa, the akasa of Consciousness. Captain said: 'Your embodied soul flies into the akasa of Consciousness. Thus you go into samadhi.'

(Smiling) "He criticized the Bengalis. He said: The Bengalis are fools. They have a gem (Sri Ramakrishna.) near them, but they cannot recognize it.'

"Captain's father was a great devotee. He was a subadar in the English army. Even on the battle-field he would perform his worship at the proper time. With one hand he would worship Siva and with the other he would wield his gun and sword.

(To M.) "But Captain is engaged in worldly duties day and night. Whenever I go to his house I see him surrounded by his wife and children. Besides, his men bring him their account books now and then. But at times his mind dwells on God also. It is like the case of a typhoid patient who is always in a delirium. Now and then he gets a flash of consciousness and cries out: 'I want a drink of water! I want a drink of water!' But while you are giving him the water, he becomes unconscious again and is not aware of anything. I said to Captain, 'You are a ritualist.' He said: 'Yes, I feel very happy while performing worship and things like that. Worldly people have no other way.'

"I said to him: 'But must one perform formal worship for ever? How long does a bee buzz about? As long as it hasn't lighted on a flower. While sipping honey it doesn't buzz.' 'But', he said, 'can we, like you, give up worship and other rituals?' Yet he doesn't always say the same thing. Sometimes he says that all this is inert, sometimes that all this is conscious. I say: 'What do you mean by inert? Everything is Chaitanya, Consciousness.'"

Sri Ramakrishna asked M. about Purna.

MASTER: "If I see Purna once more, then my longing for him will diminish. How intelligent he is! His mind is much drawn to me. He says, 'I too feel a strange sensation in my heart for you.' (To M.) They have taken him away from your school. Will that harm you?"

M: "If Vidyasagar (The founder of the school.) tells me that Purna's relatives have taken him away from the school on my account, I have an explanation to give him."

MASTER: "What will you say?"

M: "I shall say that one thinks of God in holy company. That is by no means bad. Further, I shall tell him that the text-books prescribed by the school authorities say that one should love God with all one's soul." (The Master laughs.)

MASTER: "At Captain's house I sent for the younger Naren. I said to him: Where is your house? I want to see it.' 'Please do come', he said. But he became nervous as we were going there, lest his father should know about it" (All laugh.)

(To a visitor) "You haven't been here for a long time - about seven or eight months."

VISITOR: "About a year, sir."

MASTER: "Another gentleman used to come with you."

VISITOR: "Yes, sir. Nilmani Babu."

MASTER: "Why doesn't he come any more? Ask him to come some time. I want to see him. Who is this boy with you?"

VISITOR: "He comes from Assam."

MASTER: "Where is Assam? In which direction?"

Dwija spoke to the Master about Ashu. Ashu's father was arranging for his marriage, but Ashu had no wish to marry.

MASTER: "See, he doesn't want to marry. They are forcing him."

Sri Ramakrishna said to a devotee that he should show respect to his elder brother. He said: "The elder brother is like one's father. Respect him."

A pundit was sitting with the devotees. He came from upper India.

MASTER (smiling, to M.): "The pundit is a great student of the Bhagavata." M. and the devotees looked at the pundit.

MASTER (to the pundit): "Well, sir, what is Yogamaya?"

The pundit gave some sort of explanation.

MASTER: "Why isn't Radhika called Yogamaya?"

The pundit also answered this question after a fashion.

MASTER: "Radhika is full of unmixed sattva, the embodiment of prema. Yogamaya contains all the three gunas - sattva, rajas, and tamas; but Radhika has nothing but pure sattva.

(To M.) "Narendra now respects Radhika very much. He says that if anyone wants to know how to love Satchidananda, he can learn it from her.

"Satchidananda wanted to taste divine bliss for Itself. That is why It created Radhika. She was created from the person of Satchidananda Krishna. Satchidananda Krishna is the 'container', and He Himself, in the form of Radhika, is the 'contained'. He manifested Himself in that way in order to taste His own bliss, that is to say, in order to experience divine bliss by loving Satchidananda.

"Therefore it is written in the Vaishnava books that after her birth Radhika did not open her eyes. The idea is that she did not wish to see any human being. Yasoda came with Krishna in her arms to see Radhika. Only then did she open her eyes, to behold Krishna. In a playful mood Krishna touched her eyes. (To the Assamese boy) Haven't you seen this? Small children touch others' eyes with their hands."

The pundit was about to take leave of Sri Ramakrishna.

PUNDIT: "I must go home."

MASTER (tenderly): "Have you earned anything?"

PUNDIT: "The market is very dull. I've earned nothing."

A few minutes later he saluted the Master and departed.

MASTER (to M.): "You see how great the difference is between worldly people and the youngsters? This pundit has been worrying about money day and night. He has come to Calcutta to earn money; otherwise his people at home will have nothing to eat. So he has to knock at different doors. When will he concentrate his mind on God? But the youngsters are untouched by 'woman and gold'; hence they can direct their mind to God whenever they desire.

"The youngsters do not enjoy worldly people's company. Rakhal used to say, 'I feel nervous at the sight of the worldly-minded.' When I was first beginning to have spiritual experiences, I used to shut the doors of my room when I saw worldly people coming.

"As a boy, at Kamarpukur, I loved Ram Mallick dearly. But afterwards, when he came here, I couldn't even touch him. Ram Mallick and I were great friends during our boyhood. We were together day and night; we slept together. At that time I was sixteen or seventeen years old. People used to say, 'If one of them were a woman they would marry each other.' Both of us used to play at his house. I remember those days very well. His relatives used to come riding in palanquins. Now he has a shop at Chanak. I sent for him many a time; he came here the other day and spent two days. Ram said he had no children; he brought up his nephew, but the boy died. He told me this with a sigh; his eyes were filled with tears; he was grief-stricken for his nephew. He said further that since they had no children of their own, all his wife's affection had been turned to the nephew. She was completely overwhelmed with grief. Ram said to her: 'You are crazy. What will you gain by grieving? Do you want to go to Benares?' You see, he called his wife crazy. Grief for the boy totally 'diluted' him. I found he had no stuff in him. I couldn't touch him."

The brahmin lady still stood near the north door. She was a widow. Her only daughter had been married to a very aristocratic man, a landlord in Calcutta with the title of Raja. Whenever the daughter visited her she was escorted by liveried footmen. Then the mother's heart swelled with pride. Just a few days ago the daughter had died, and now she was beside herself with sorrow.

The brahmin lady listened to the account of Ram Mallick's grief for his nephew. For the last few days she had been running to the Master from her home at Baghbazar like an insane person. She was eager to know whether Sri Ramakrishna could suggest any remedy for her unquenchable grief. Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.

MASTER: "A man came here the other day. He sat a few minutes and then said, 'Let me go and see the "moon-face" of my child.' I couldn't control myself and said: 'So you prefer your son's "moon-face" to God's "moon-face"! Get out, you fool!'

(To M.) "The truth is that God alone is real and all else unreal. Men, universe, house, children - all these are like the magic of the magician. The magician strikes his wand and says: 'Come delusion! Come confusion!' Then he says to the audience, 'Open the lid of the pot; see the birds fly into the sky,' But the magician alone is real and his magic unreal. The unreal exists tor a second and then vanishes.

"Siva was seated in Kailas. His companion Nandi was near Him. Suddenly a terrific noise arose. 'Revered Sir,' asked Nandi, 'what does that mean?' Siva said: 'Ravana is born. That is its meaning.' A few moments later another terrific noise was heard. 'Now what is this noise?' Nandi asked. Siva said with a smile, 'Now Ravana is dead.' Birth and death are like magic: you see the magic for a second and then it disappears. God alone is real and all else unreal. Water alone is real; its bubbles appear and disappear. They disappear into the very water from which they rise.

"God is like an ocean, and living beings are its bubbles. They are born there and they die there. Children are like the few small bubbles around a big one.

"God alone is real. Make an effort to cultivate love for Him and find out the means to realize Him. What will you gain by grieving?"

All sat in silence. The brahmin lady said, "May I go home now?" The Master said to her tenderly: "Do you want to go now? It is very hot. Why now? You can go later in a carriage with the devotees."

Because the day was so hot, a devotee gave the Master a new fan made of sandal-wood. He was very much pleased and said: "Good! Good! Om Tat Sat! Kali!" First he fanned the pictures of the gods and goddesses, and then he fanned himself. He said to M.: "See! Feel the breeze!" M. was highly pleased.

Captain arrived with his children.

Sri Ramakrishna said to Kishori, "Please show the temples to the children." He began to talk to Captain. M., Dwija, and the other devotees were sitting on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch, facing the north. He asked Captain to sit in front of him on the same couch.

MASTER: "I was telling the devotees about you - your devotion, worship, and arati."

CAPTAIN (bashfully): "What do I know of worship and arati? How insignificant I am!"

MASTER: "Only the ego that is attached to 'woman and gold' is harmful. But the ego that feels it is the servant of God does no harm to anybody. Neither does the ego of a child, which is not under the control of any guna. One moment children quarrel, and the next moment they are on friendly terms. One moment they build their toy houses with great care, and immediately afterwards they knock them down. There is no harm in the 'I-consciousness' that makes one feel oneself to be a child of God or His servant. This ego is really no ego at all. It is like sugar candy, which is not like other sweets. Other sweets make one ill; but sugar candy relieves acidity. Or take the case of Om. It is unlike other sounds.

"With this kind of ego one is able to love Satchidananda. It is impossible to get rid of the ego. Therefore it should be made to feel that it is the devotee of God, His servant. Otherwise, how can one live? How intense was the love of the gopis for Sri Krishna! (To Captain) Please tell us something about the gopis. You read the Bhagavata so much."

CAPTAIN: "When Sri Krishna lived at Vrindavan, without any of His royal splendour, even then the gopis loved Him more than their own souls. Therefore Sri Krishna said, 'How shall I be able to pay off my debt to the gopis, who surrendered to me their all - their bodies, minds, and souls?'"

Captain's words awakened intense love for Krislina in the Master's mind.

He exclaimed, "Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!" and was about to go into an ecstatic mood. Captain was amazed and said: "How blessed he is! How blessed he is!"

Captain and the devotees watched this love-ecstasy of Sri Ramakrishna. They sat quietly gazing at him, awaiting his return to the consciousness of the world.

MASTER: "Tell us more."

CAPTAIN: "Sri Krishna is unattainable by the yogis, by yogis like you; but He can be attained by lovers like the gopis. How many years did the yogis practise yoga for His vision! Yet they did not succeed. But the gopis realized Him with such ease!"

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, He ate from the hands of the gopis, wept for them, played with them, and made many demands on them."

A DEVOTEE: "Bankim has written a life of Krishna."

MASTER: "He accepts Krishna but not Radhika."

CAPTAIN: "I see he doesn't accept Krishna's lila with the gopis."

MASTER: "I also hear that Bankim says that one needs passions such as lust."

A DEVOTEE: "He has written in his magazine that the purpose of religion is to give expression to our various faculties: physical, mental, and spiritual."

CAPTAIN: "I see. He believes that lust and so forth are necessary. But he doesn't believe that Sri Krishna could enjoy His sportive pleasure in the world, that God could incarnate Himself in a human form and sport in Vrindavan with Radha and the gopis."

MASTER (smiling): "But these things are not written in the newspaper. How could he believe them?

"A man said to his friend, 'Yesterday, as I was passing through a certain part of the city, I saw a house fall with a crash.' 'Wait', said the friend. 'Let me look it up in the newspaper.' But this incident wasn't mentioned in the paper. Thereupon the man said, 'But the paper doesn't mention it.' His friend replied, 'I saw it with my own eyes.' 'Be that as it may,' said the man, 'I can't believe it as long as it isn't in the paper.'

"How can Bankim believe that God sports about as a man? He doesn't get it from his English education. It is very hard to explain how God fully incarnates Himself as man. Isn't that so? The manifestation of Infinity in this human body only three and a half cubits tall!"

CAPTAIN: "Krishna is God Himself. In describing Him we have to use such terms as 'whole' and 'part'."

MASTER: "Whole and part are like fire and its sparks. An Incarnation of God is for the sake of the bhaktas and not of the jnanis. It is said in the Adhyatma Ramayana that Rama alone is both the Pervading Spirit and everything pervaded. 'You are the Supreme Lord distinguished as the vachaka, the signifying symbol, and the vachya, the object signified.'"

CAPTAIN: "The 'signifying symbol' means the pervader, and the 'object signified' means the thing pervaded."

MASTER: "The pervader in this case is a finite form. It is God incarnating Himself as a human being."

Sri Ramakrishna was talking thus to Captain and the devotees when Jaygopal Sen and Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj arrived. They saluted the Master and sat down. Sri Ramakrishna looked at Trailokya with a smile and continued the conversation.

MASTER: "It is on account of the ego that one is not able to see God. In front of the door of God's mansion lies the stump of ego. One cannot enter the mansion without jumping over the stump.

"There was once a man who had acquired the power to tame ghosts. One day, at his summons, a ghost appeared. The ghost said: 'Now tell me what you want me to do. The moment you cannot give me any work I shall break your neck.' The man had many things to accomplish, and he had the ghost do them all, one by one. At last he could find nothing more for the ghost to do. 'Now', said the ghost, 'I am going to break your neck.' 'Wait a minute', said the man. 'I shall return presently.' He ran to his teacher and said: 'Revered sir, I am in great danger. This is my trouble.' And he told his teacher his trouble and asked, 'What shall I do now?' The teacher said: 'Do this. Tell the ghost to straighten this kinky hair.' The ghost devoted itself day and night to straightening the hair. But how could it make a kinky hair straight? The hair remained kinky.

"Likewise, the ego seems to vanish this moment, but it reappears the next. Unless one renounces the ego, one does not receive the grace of God.

"Suppose there is a feast in a house and the master of the house puts a man in charge of the stores. As long as the man remains in the store-room, the master doesn't go there; but when of his own will he renounces the store-room and goes away, then the master locks it and takes charge of it himself.

"A guardian is appointed only for a minor. A boy cannot safeguard his property; therefore the king assumes responsibility for him. God does not take over our responsibilities unless we renounce our ego.

"Once, Lakshmi and Narayana were seated in Vaikuntha, when Narayana suddenly stood up. Lakshmi had been stroking His feet. She said, 'Lord, where are You going?' Narayana answered: 'One of My devotees is in great danger. I must save him.' With these words He went out. But He came back immediately. Lakshmi said, 'Lord, why have You returned so soon?' Narayana smiled and said: 'The devotee was going along the road overwhelmed with love for Me. Some washermen were drying clothes on the grass, and the devotee walked over the clothes. At this the washermen chased him and were going to beat him with their sticks. So I ran out to protect him.' 'But why have You come back?' asked Lakshmi. Narayana laughed and said: 'I saw the devotee himself picking up a brick to throw at them. (All laugh.) So I came back.'

"I said to Keshab, 'You must renounce your ego.' Keshab replied, 'If I do, how can I keep my organization together?'

"I said to him: 'How slow you are to understand! I am not asking you to renounce the "ripe ego", the ego that makes a man feel he is a servant of God or His devotee. Give up the "unripe ego", the ego that creates attachment to "woman and gold". The ego that makes a man feel he is God's servant. His child, is the "ripe ego". It doesn't harm one.'"

TRAILOKYA: "It is very difficult to get rid of the ego. People only think they are free from it."

MASTER: "Gauri would not refer to himself as 'I' lest he should feel egotistic. He would say 'this' instead. I followed his example and would refer to myself as 'this' instead of 'I'. Instead of saying, 'I have eaten,' I would say, 'This has eaten.' Mathur noticed it and said one day: 'What is this, revered father? Why should you talk that way? Let them talk that way. They have their egotism. You are free from it; you don't have to talk like them.'

"I said to Keshab, 'Since the ego cannot be given up, let it remain as the servant, the servant of God.' Prahlada had two moods. Sometimes he would feel that he was God. In that mood he would say, Thou art verily I, and I am verily Thou.' But when he was conscious of his ego, he felt that God was the Master and he was His servant. After a man is firmly established in the ideal of 'I am He', he can live as God's servant. He may then think of himself as the servant of God.

(To Captain) "When a man attains the Knowledge of Brahman he shows certain characteristics. The Bhagavata describes four of them: the state of a child, of an inert thing, of a madman, and of a ghoul. Sometimes the knower of Brahman acts like a five-year-old child. Sometimes he acts like a madman. Sometimes he remains like an inert thing. In this state he cannot work; he renounces all action. You may say that jnanis like Janaka were active. The truth is that people in olden times gave responsibility to their subordinate officers and thus freed themselves from worry. Further, at that time men possessed intense faith."

Sri Ramakrishna began to speak about the renunciation of action. But he also said that those who felt they must do their duties should do them in a detached spirit.

MASTER: "After attaining Knowledge one cannot do much work."

TRAILOKYA: "Why so, sir? Pavhari Baba was a great yogi and yet he reconciled people's quarrels, even lawsuits."

MASTER: "Yes, yes. That's true. Dr. Durgacharan was a great drunkard. He used to drink twenty-four hours a day. But he was precise in his actions; he did not make any mistake in treating his patients. There is no harm in doing work after the attainment of bhakti. But it is very hard. One needs intense tapasya.

"It is God who does everything. We are His instruments. Some Sikhs said to me in front of the Kali temple, 'God is compassionate.' I said, 'To whom is He compassionate?' 'Why, revered sir, to all of us', said the Sikhs. I said: 'We are His children. Does compassion to one's own children mean much? A father must look after his children; or do you expect the people of the neighbourhood to bring them up?' Well, won't those who say that God is compassionate ever understand that we are God's children and not someone else's?"

CAPTAIN: "You are right. They don't regard God as their own."

MASTER: "Should we not, then, address God as compassionate? Of course we should, as long as we practise sadhana. After realizing God, one rightly feels that God is our Father or Mother. As long as we have not realized God, we feel that we are far away from Him, children of someone else.

"During the stage of sadhana one should describe God by all His attributes. One day Hazra said to Narendra: 'God is Infinity. Infinite is His splendour. Do you think He will accept your offerings of sweets and bananas or listen to your music? This is a mistaken notion of yours.' Narendra at once sank ten fathoms. So I said to Hazra, 'You villain! Where will these youngsters be if you talk to them like that?' How can a man live if he gives up devotion? No doubt God has infinite splendour; yet He is under the control of His devotees. A rich man's gate-keeper comes to the parlour where his master is seated with his friends. He stands on one side of fhe room. In his hand he has something covered with a cloth. He is very hesitant. The master asks him, 'Well, gate-keeper, what have you in your hand?' Very hesitantly the servant takes out a custard-apple from under the cover, places it in front of his master, and says, 'Sir, it is my desire that you should eat this.' The Master is impressed by his servant's devotion. With great love he takes the fruit in his hand and says: 'Ah! This is a very nice custard-apple. Where did you pick it? You must have taken a great deal of trouble to get it.'

"God is under the control of His devotees. King Duryodhana was very attentive to Krishna and said to Him, 'Please have your meal here.' But the Lord went to Vidura's hut. He is very fond of His devotees. He ate Vidura's simple rice and greens as if they were celestial food.

"Sometimes a perfect jnani behaves like a ghoul. He does not discriminate about food and drink, holiness and unholiness. A perfect knower of God and a perfect idiot have the same outer signs. A perfect jnani perhaps does not utter the mantras while bathing in the Ganges. While worshipping God, perhaps he offers all the flowers together at His feet. He doesn't utter the mantras, nor does he observe the rituals.

"A man cannot renounce action as long as he desires worldly enjoyment. As long as one cherishes a desire for enjoyment, one performs action.

"A bird sat absent-mindedly on the mast of a ship anchored in the Ganges. Slowly the ship sailed out into the ocean. When the bird came to its senses, it could find no shore in any direction. It flew toward the north hoping to reach land; it went very far and grew very tired but could find no shore. What could it do? It returned to the ship and sat on the mast. After a long while the bird flew away again, this time toward the east. It couldn't find land in that direction either; everywhere it saw nothing but limitless ocean. Very tired, it again returned to the ship and sat on the mast. After resting a long while, the bird went toward the south, and then toward the west. When it found no sign of land in any direction, it came back and settled down on the mast. It did not leave the mast again, but sat there without making any further effort. It no longer felt restless or worried. Because it was free from worry, it made no further effort."

CAPTAIN: "Ah, what an illustration!"

MASTER: "Worldly people wander about to the four quarters of the earth for the sake of happiness. They don't find it anywhere; they only become tired and weary. When through their attachment to 'woman and gold' they only suffer misery, they feel an urge toward dispassion and renunciation. Most people cannot renounce 'woman and gold' without first enjoying it. There are two sorts of people: those who stay in one place and those who go about to many places. There are some sadhakas who visit many sacred places. They cannot settle down in one spot; they must drink the water of many holy places. Thus roaming about, they satisfy their unfulfilled desires. And at last they build a hut in one place and settle down there. Then, free from worry and effort, they meditate on God.

"But what is there to enjoy in the world? 'Woman and gold'? That is only a momentary pleasure. One moment it exists and the next moment it disappears.

"The world is like an overcast sky that steadily pours down rain: the face of the sun is seldom seen. There is mostly suffering in the world. On account of the cloud of 'woman and gold' one cannot see the sun. Some people ask me: 'Sir, why has God created such a world? Is there no way out for us?' I say to them: 'Why shouldn't there be a way out? Take shelter with God and pray to Him with a yearning heart for a favourable wind, that you may have things in your favour. If you call on Him with yearning. He will surely listen to you.'

"A man had a son who was on the point of death. In a frenzy he asked remedies of different people. One of them said: 'Here is a remedy: First it must rain when the star Svati is in the ascendant; then some of the rain must fall into a skull; then a frog must come there to drink the water, and a snake must chase it; and when the snake is about to bite the frog, the frog must hop away and the poison must fall into the skull. You should give the patient a little of the poison and rain-water from the skull.' The father set out eagerly to find the medicine when the star Svati was in the sky. It started raining. Fervently he said to God, 'O Lord, please get a skull for me.' Searching here and there, he at last found a skull with rain-water in it. Again he prayed to God, saying, 'O Lord, I beseech Thee, please help me find the frog and the snake.' Since he had great longing, he got the frog and the snake also. In the twinkling of an eye he saw a snake chasing a frog, and as it was about to bite the frog, its poison fell into the skull.

"If one takes shelter with God and prays to Him with great longing, God will surely listen; He will certainly make everything favourable."

CAPTAIN: "What an apt illustration!"

MASTER: "Yes, God makes everything favourable. Perhaps the aspirant doesn't marry. Thus he is able to devote his whole attention to God. Or perhaps his brothers earn the family's livelihood. Or perhaps a son takes on the responsibilities of the family. Then the aspirant will not have to bother about the world; he can give one hundred per cent of his mind to God.

But one cannot succeed unless one renounces 'woman and gold'. Only by renunciation is ignorance destroyed. The sun's rays, falling on a lens, burn many objects. But if a room is dark inside, you cannot get that result. You must come out of the room to use the lens.

But some people live in the world even after attaining jnana. They see both what is inside and what is outside the room. The light of God illumines the world. Therefore with that light they can discriminate between good and bad, permanent and impermanent. The ignorant, who lead a worldly life without knowing God, are like people living in a house with mud walls. With the help of a dim light they can see the inside of the house but nothing more. But those who live in the world after having attained Knowledge and realized God, are like people living in a glass house. They see the inside of the room and also all that is outside. The light from the sun of Knowledge enters strongly into the room. They perceive everything inside the room very clearly. They know what is good and what is bad, what is permanent and what is impermanent.

"God alone is the Doer, and we are all His instruments. Therefore it is impossible even for a jnani to be egotistic. The writer of a hymn to Siva felt proud of his achievement; but his pride was dashed to pieces when Siva's bull bared his teeth. He saw that each tooth was a word of the hymn. Do you understand the meaning of this? These words had existed from the beginningless past. The writer had only discovered them.

"It is not good to be a guru by profession. One cannot be a teacher without a command from God. He who says he is a guru is a man of mean intelligence. Haven't you seen a balance? The lighter side goes higher. He who is spiritually higher than others does not consider himself a guru. Everyone wants to be a teacher, but a disciple is hard to find."

Trailokya was seated on the floor, to the north of the small couch. He was going to sing. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, "Ah, how sweetly you sing!"

Trailokya sang to the accompaniment of a tanpura:

I have joined my heart to Thee: all that exists art Thou;
Thee only have I found, for Thou art all that exists.
O Lord, Beloved of my heart! Thou art the Home of all;
Where indeed is the heart in which Thou dost not dwell?
Thou hast entered every heart: all that exists art Thou.
Whether sage or tool, whether Hindu or Mussalman,
Thou makest them as Thou wilt: all that exists art Thou.

Thy presence is everywhere, whether in heaven or in Kaaba;
Before Thee all must bow, for Thou art all that exists.
From earth below to the highest heaven, from heaven to deepest earth,
I see Thee wherever I look: all that exists art Thou.
Pondering, I have understood; I have seen it beyond a doubt;
I find not a single thing that may be compared to Thee.
To Jafar it has been revealed that Thou art all that exists.

He sang again:

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

Thou art my home, my place of rest; my dearest friend, my next of kin;
My present and my future, Thou; my heaven and my salvation.
Thou art my scriptures, my commandments; Thou art my ever gracious Guru;
Thou the Spring of my boundless bliss.

Thou art the Way, and Thou the Goal; Thou the Adorable One, O Lord!
Thou art the Mother tender-hearted; Thou the chastising Father;
Thou the Creator and Protector; Thou the Helmsman who dost steer
My craft across the sea of life.

While Sri Ramakrishna listened to the songs he was overwhelmed with emotion. Again and again he said: "Ah, Thou art all! Ah me! Ah me!"

The music was over. It was six o'clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna went to the pine-grove, M. accompanying him. Sri Ramakrishna was laughing and talking. Suddenly he said to M.: "Why haven't you eaten any refreshments? Why haven't the others eaten either?" He was eager for the devotees to take some refreshments.

Sri Ramakrishna was to go to Calcutta in the evening. While returning from the pine-grove he said to M., "I don't know who will take me to Calcutta in his carriage."

It was evening. A lamp was lighted in Sri Ramakrishna's room and incense was burnt. Lamps also were lighted in the different temples and buildings. The orchestra was playing in the nahabat. Soon the evening service would begin in the temples.

Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch. After chanting the names of the different deities, he meditated on the Divine Mother. The evening service was over. Sri Ramakrishna paced the room, now and then talking to the devotees. He also consulted M. about his going to Calcutta.

Presently Narendra arrived. He was accompanied by Sarat and one or two other young devotees. They all saluted the Master.'

At the sight of Narendra Sri Ramakrishna's love overflowed. He tenderly touched Narendra's chin as one touches a baby's to show one's love. He said in a loving voice, "Ah, you have come!"

The Master was standing in his room, facing the Ganges. Narendra and his young friends were talking to him, facing the east. The Master turned toward M. and said: "Narendra has come. How can I go to Calcutta now? I sent for Narendra. How can I go now? What do you think?"

M: "As you wish, sir. Let us put it off today."

MASTER: "All right. We shall go tomorrow, either by boat or by carriage. (To the other devotees) It is late. Go home now."

One by one the devotees saluted him and departed.