How the Lord Himself is deluded by His own maya — The Anahata sound — Reincarnation — The “ego of Devotion” — The “ego of Knowledge” — The signs of a jnani — The ego of a jnani — Jnani looks on the world as illusory — The state of a vijnani — Master’s adherence to truth — A teacher must renounce the world — Synthesis of jnana and bhakti — Friction between different religious sects — Harmony of religions — Our duties to father and mother — Through divine love man transcends his worldly duties.
Saturday, April 5, 1884
IT WAS ABOUT EIGHT O’CLOCK in the morning when M. arrived at the temple garden and found Sri Ramakrishna seated on the small couch in his room. A few devotees were sitting on the floor. The Master was talking to them. Prankrishna Mukherji was there.
Prankrishna belonged to an aristocratic family and lived in the northern part of Calcutta. He held a high post in an English business firm. He was very much devoted to Sri Ramakrishna and, though a householder, derived great pleasure from the study of Vedanta philosophy. He was a frequent visitor at the temple garden. Once he invited the Master to his house in Calcutta and held a religious festival. Every day, early in the morning, he bathed in the holy water of the Ganges. Whenever it was convenient, he would come to Dakshineswar in a hired country boat.
That morning he had hired a boat and invited M. to accompany him to Dakshineswar. The boat had hardly left shore when the river became choppy. M. had become frightened and begged Prankrishna to put him back on land. In spite of assurances, M. had kept saying: “You must put me ashore. I shall walk to Dakshineswar.” And so M. came on foot and found Sri Ramakrishna talking to Prankrishna and the others.
MASTER (to Prankrishna): “But there is a greater manifestation of God in man. You may ask, ‘How is it possible for God to be incarnated as a man who suffers from hunger, thirst, and the other traits of an embodied being, and perhaps also from disease and grief?’ The reply is, ‘Even Brahman weeps, entrapped in the snare of the five elements.’
“Don’t you know how Rama had to weep, stricken with grief for Sita? Further, it is said that the Lord incarnated Himself as a sow in order to kill the demon Hiranyaksha. Hiranyaksha was eventually killed, but God would not go back to His abode in heaven. He enjoyed His sow’s life. He had given birth to several young ones and was rather happy with them. The gods said among themselves: ‘What does this mean? The Lord doesn’t care to return to heaven!’ They all went to Siva and laid the matter before him. Siva came down and urged the Lord to leave the sow body and return to heaven. But the sow only suckled her young ones. (Laughter.) Then Siva destroyed the sow body with his trident, and the Lord came out laughing aloud and went back to His own abode.”
PRANKRISHNA (to the Master): “Sir, what is the Anahata sound?”
MASTER: “It is a spontaneous sound constantly going on by itself. It is the sound of the Pranava, Om. It originates in the Supreme Brahman and is heard by yogis. People immersed in worldliness do not hear it. A yogi alone knows that this sound originates both from his navel and from the Supreme Brahman resting on the Ocean of Milk.”1
PRANKRISHNA: “Sir, what is the nature of the life after death?”
MASTER: “Keshab Sen also asked that question. As long as a man remains ignorant, that is to say, as long as he has not realised God, so long will he be born. But after attaining Knowledge he will not have to come back to this earth or to any other plane of existence.
“The potter puts his pots in the sun to dry. Haven’t you noticed that among them there are both baked and unbaked ones? When a cow happens to walk over them, some of the pots get broken to pieces. The broken pots that are already baked, the potter throws away, since they are of no more use to him. But the soft ones, though broken, he gathers up. He makes them into a lump and out of this forms new pots. In the same way, so long as a man has not realised God, he will have to come back to the Potter’s hand, that is, he will have to be born again and again.
“What is the use of sowing a boiled paddy grain? It will never bring forth a shoot. Likewise, if a man is boiled in the fire of Knowledge, he will not be used for new creation. He is liberated.
“According to the Puranas, the bhakta and the Bhagavan are two separate entities. ‘I’ am one and ‘You’ are another. The body is a plate, as it were, containing the water of mind, intelligence, and ego. Brahman is like the sun. It is reflected in the water. Therefore the devotee sees the divine form.
“According to the Vedanta, Brahman alone is real and all else is maya, dreamlike and unsubstantial. The ego, like a stick, lies across the Ocean of Satchidananda. (To M.) Listen to what I am saying. When this ego is taken away, there remains only one undivided Ocean of Satchidananda. But as long as the stick of ego remains, there is an appearance of two: here is one part of the water and there another part. Attaining the Knowledge of Brahman one is established in samadhi. Then the ego is effaced.
“But Sankaracharya retained the ‘ego of Knowledge’2 in order to teach men. (To Prankrishna) But there are signs that distinguish the man of Knowledge. Some people think they have Knowledge. What are the characteristics of Knowledge? A jnani cannot injure anybody. He becomes like a child. If a steel sword touches the philosopher’s stone, it is transformed into gold. Gold can never cut. It may seem from the outside that a jnani also has anger or egotism, but in reality he has no such thing.
“From a distance a burnt string lying on the ground may look like a real one; but if you come near and blow at it, it disappears altogether. The anger and egotism of a jnani are mere appearances; they are not real.
“A child has no attachment. He makes a play house, and if anyone touches it, he will jump about and cry. The next moment he himself will break it. This moment he may be very attached to his cloth. He says: ‘My daddy has given it to me. I won’t part with it.’ But the next moment you can cajole him away from it with a toy. He will go away with you, leaving the cloth behind.
“These are the characteristics of a jnani. Perhaps he has many luxuries at home — couch, chairs, paintings, and equipage. But any day he may leave all these and go off to Benares.
“According to Vedanta the waking state, too, is unreal. Once a wood-cutter lay dreaming, when someone woke him up. Greatly annoyed, he said: ‘Why have you disturbed my sleep? I was dreaming that I was a king and the father of seven children. The princes were becoming well versed in letters and military arts. I was secure on my throne and ruled over my subjects. Why have you demolished my world of joy?’ ‘But that was a mere dream’, said the other man. ‘Why should that bother you?’ Fool!’ said the wood-cutter. ‘You don’t understand. My becoming a king in the dream was just as real as is mv being a wood-cutter. If being a wood-cutter is real, then being a king in a dream is real also.'”
Prankrishna always talked about jnana. Was this why the Master described the state of the jnani? Now he proceeded to describe the state of the vijnani.
MASTER: “Jnana is the realisation of Self through the process of ‘Neti, neti’, ‘Not this, not this’. One goes into samadhi through this process of elimination and realises the Atman.
“But vijnana means Knowledge with a greater fullness. Some have heard of milk, some have seen milk, and some have drunk milk. He who has merely heard of it is ‘ignorant’. He who has seen it is a jnani. But he who has drunk it has vijnana, that is to say, a fuller knowledge of it. After having the vision of God one talks to Him as if He were an intimate relative. That is vijnana.
“First of all you must discriminate, following the method of ‘Neti, neti’: ‘He is not the five elements, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the intelligence, nor the ego. He is beyond all these cosmic principles.’ You want to climb to the roof; then you must eliminate and leave behind all the steps, one by one. The steps are by no means the roof. But after reaching the roof you find that the steps are made of the same materials — brick, lime, and brick-dust — as the roof. It is the Supreme Brahman that has become the universe and its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. That which is Atman has become the five elements. You may ask why the earth is so hard, if it has come out of Atman? All is possible through the will of God. Don’t you see that bone and flesh are made from blood and semen? How hard ‘sea-foam’3 becomes!
“After attaining vijnana one can live in the world as well. Then one clearly realises that God Himself has become the universe and all living beings, that He is not outside the world.
(To Prankrishna) “The fact is that one must have the ‘spiritual eye’. You will develop that eye as soon as your mind becomes pure. Take for instance the Kumari Puja. I worshipped a virgin. The girl, to be sure, had all her human imperfections; still I regarded her as the Divine Mother Herself.
“On one side is the wife and on the other the son. Love is bestowed on both, but in different ways. Therefore it comes to this, that everything depends upon the mind. The pure mind acquires a new attitude. Through that mind one sees God in this world. Therefore one needs spiritual discipline.
“Yes, spiritual discipline is necessary. You should know that a man becomes easily attached to a woman. A woman naturally loves a man, and a man also naturally loves a woman. Therefore both fall speedily from their spiritual ideal. But it also must be said that there is a great advantage in leading the life of a householder. In case of urgent necessity a man may live with his wife.
(Smiling) “Well, M., why are you smiling?”
M. (to himself): “The Master makes this much allowance for householders since they cannot renounce everything. Is complete and absolute continence impossible for a householder?”
The hathayogi who had been living in the Panchavati entered the room. He was in the habit of taking milk and opium. He did not eat rice or other food and had no money to buy the milk and opium. The Master had talked with him in the Panchavati. The hathayogi had told Rakhal to ask the Master to make some provision for him, and Sri Ramakrishna had promised ito speak about it to the visitors from Calcutta.
HATHAYOGI (to the Master): “What did you say to Rakhal about me?”
MASTER: “I said that I would ask some rich visitors to help you. But — (to Prankrishna) you, perhaps, do not like these yogis?”
Prankrishna remained silent. The hathayogi left the room and the conversation went on.
MASTER (to Prankrishna and the others): “If a man leads a householder’s life he must have unflagging devotion to truth. God can be realised through truth alone. Formerly I was very particular about telling the truth, though now my zeal has abated a little. If I said, ‘I shall bathe’, then I would get into the water of the Ganges, recite the mantra, and sprinkle a little water over my head. But still there would remain some doubt in me as to whether my bath was complete. Once I went to Ram’s house in Calcutta. I happened to say, ‘I shall not take any luchi.’ When I sat down for the meal I felt hungry. But I had said I would not eat the luchi; so I had to fill my stomach with sweets. (All laugh.)
“But my zeal for truthfulness has abated a little now. Once I said I would go to the pine-grove, but then I felt I had no particular urge to go. What was to be done? I asked Ram (Ram Chatterji, the priest in the Radihakanta temple.) about it. He said I didn’t have to go. Then I reasoned to myself: ‘Well, everyone is Narayana. So Ram, too, is Narayana. Why shouldn’t I listen to him? The elephant is Narayana no doubt, but the mahut is Narayana too. Since the mahut asked me not to go near the elephant, then why shouldn’t I obey him?’ Through reasoning like this my zeal for truthfulness is slightly less strong now than before.
“I find a change coming over me. Years ago Vaishnavcharan said to me, ‘One attains Perfect Knowledge when one sees God in man.’ Now I see that it is God alone who is moving about in various forms: as a holy man, as a cheat, as a villain. Therefore I say, ‘Narayana in the guise of the sadhu, Narayana in the guise of the cheat, Narayana in the guise of the villain, Narayana in the guise of the lecher.’
“Now my problem is how I can feed all of you. I want to feed everyone. So I keep one at a time with me and feed him.”
Prankrishna (looking at M. and smiling): “A fine man, indeed! (To the Master) He would not let us go till we put him ashore.”
MASTER (smiling): “Why? What happened?”
PRANKRISHNA: “He was in our boat. Seeing that the river was slightly rough, he insisted on being put ashore. (To M.) How did you come?”
M. (smiling): “On foot.”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed.
PRANKRISHNA (to the Master): “Sir, I am thinking now of giving up my work. One who is involved in activity cannot accomplish anything. (Pointing to his companion) I am training him to do my work. After I resign, he will relieve me. Work has become intolerable.”
MASTER: “Yes, work is very troublesome. It is now good for you to meditate on God for a few days in solitude. No doubt you say that you would like to give up your work. Captain said the same thing. Worldly people talk that way; but they don’t succeed in carrying out their intention.
“There are many pundits who speak words of wisdom. But they merely talk; they don’t live up to them. They are like vultures, which soar very high but keep their gaze fixed on the charnel-pit. What I mean is that these pundits are attached to the world, to ‘woman and gold’. If I hear that pundits are practising discrimination and dispassion, then I fear them. Otherwise I look upon them as mere goats and dogs.”
Prankrishna saluted the Master and took his leave. He said to M., “Will you come with us?”
M: “No, sir! Catch me going with you again! Good-bye.”
Prankrishna laughed and said, “I see you won’t come in the boat.”
M. took a little stroll near the Panchavati and bathed in the river. Then he went to the temples of Radhakanta and Kali and prostrated himself before the images. He said to himself: “I have heard that God has no form. Then why do I bow before these images? Is it because Sri Ramakrishna believes in gods and goddesses with form? I don’t know anything about God, nor do I understand Him. The Master believes in images; then why shouldn’t I too, who am so insignificant a creature, accept them?”
M. looked at the image of Kali. Me saw that the Divine Mother holds in Her two left hands a man’s severed head and a sword. With Her two right hands She offers boons and reassurance to Her devotees. In one aspect She is terrible, and in another She is the ever affectionate Mother of Her devotees. The two ideals are harmonized in Her. She is compassionate and affectionate to Her devotees, to those who are submissive and helpless. It is also true that She is terrible, the “Consort of Death”. She alone knows why She assumes two aspects at the same time.
M. remembered this interpretation of Kali given by the Master. He said to himself, “I have heard that Keshab accepted Kali in Sri Ramakrishna’s presence. Is this, as Keshab used to say, the Goddess, all Spirit and Consciousness; manifesting Herself through a clay image?”
M. returned to the Master’s room and sat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna offered him some fruit and sweets to eat. On account of trouble in the family, M. had recently rented a house in another section of Calcutta near his school, his father and brothers continuing to live in the ancestral home. But Sri Ramakrishna wanted him to return to his own home, since a joint family affords many advantages to one leading a religious life. Once or twice the Master had spoken to M. to this effect, but unfortunately he had not yet returned to his family. Sri Ramakrishna referred to the matter again.
MASTER: “Tell me that you are going to your ancestral home.”
M: “I can never persuade myself to enter that place.”
MASTER: “Why? Your father is making over the whole house.”
M: “I have suffered too much there. I can by no means make up my mind to go there.”
MASTER: “Whom do you fear?”
M: “All of them.”
MASTER (seriously): “Isn’t that like your being afraid to get into the boat?”
The midday worship and the offering of food in the temples were over. The bells, gongs, and cymbals of the arati were being played, and the temple garden was filled with joyful activity. Beggars, sadhus, and guests hurried to the guest-house for the noonday meal, carrying leaf or metal plates in their hands. M. also took some of the prasad from the Kali temple.
Sri Ramakrishna had been resting awhile after his meal when several devotees, including Ram and Girindra, arrived. They sat down after saluting the Master. The conversation turned to the New Dispensation Church of Keshab Chandra Sen.
RAM (to the Master): “Sir, I don’t think the Navavidhan has done people any good. If Keshab Babu himself was a genuine man, why are his disciples left in such a plight? I don’t think there is anything at all in the New Dispensation. It is like rattling some potsherds in a room and then locking it up. People may take it to be the jingling of coins, but inside there is nothing but potsherds. Outsiders don’t know what is inside.”
MASTER: “There must be some substance in it. Otherwise, why should so many people respect Keshab? Why isn’t Shivanath honoured as much as Keshab? Such a thing cannot happen without the will of God.
“But a man cannot act as an acharya without renouncing the world. People won’t respect him. They will say: ‘Oh, he is a worldly man. He secretly enjoys “woman and gold” himself but tells us that God alone is real and the world unsubstantial, like a dream.’ Unless a man renounces everything his teachings cannot be accepted by all. Some worldly people may follow him. Keshab led the life of a householder; hence his mind was directed to the world also. He had to safeguard his family interests. That is why he left his affairs in such good order though he delivered so many religious lectures. What an aristocratic man he married his daughter to! Inside Keshab’s inner apartments I saw many big bedsteads. All these things gradually come to one who leads a householder’s life. The world is indeed a place for enjoyment.”
RAM: “Keshab Sen inherited those bedsteads when his ancestral property was divided. And for Keshab to take part in the division of property! Whatever you may say, sir, Vijay Babu told me that Keshab had said to him, “I am a partial manifestation of Christ and Gauranga. I suggest that you declare yourself as Advaita.’ (An intimate companion of Gauranga.) Do you know what else he said? He said that you too were a follower of the New Dispensation.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (laughing): “Who knows? But as for myself, I don’t even know what the term ‘New Dispensation’ means.” (Laughter.)
RAM: “Keshab’s disciples say that he was the first to harmonize jnana and bhakti.”
MASTER (in surprise): “How is that? What then of the Adhyatma Ramayana? It is written there that, while praying to Rama, Narada said: ‘O Rama, Thou art the Supreme Brahman described in the Vedas. Thou dwellest with us as a man; Thou appearest as a man. In reality Thou art not a man; Thou art that Supreme Brahman.’ Rama said: ‘Narada, I am very much pleased with you. Accept a boon from Me.’ Narada replied: ‘What boon shall I ask of Thee? Grant me pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, and may I never be deluded by Thy world-bewitching maya!’ The Adhyatma Ramayana is full of such statements regarding jnana and bhakti.”
The conversation turned to Amrita, a disciple of Keshab.
RAM: “Amrita Babu seems to be in very bad shape.”
MASTER: “Yes, he looked very ill when I saw him the other day.”
RAM: “Sir, let me tell you about the lectures of the New Dispensation. While the drum is being played, the members cry out, ‘Victory unto Keshab!’ You say that ‘dal’ (The word has the double meaning of “hedge” and “sect”.) grows only in a stagnant pool. So Amrita said one day in the course of his sermon: ‘The holy man (Referring to Sri Ramakrishna.) has no doubt said that ‘dal’ grows in a stagnant pool. But, brothers, we want ‘dal’, we want a sect. Really and truly, I tell you that we want a sect.'”
MASTER: “What nonsense! Shame on him! What kind of sermon is that?”
The conversation drifted to the desire of some people for praise.
MASTER: “They took me to Keshab’s house to see a performance of the Nimai-sannyas. I heard, that day, someone speaking of Keshab and Pratap as Chaitanya and Nityananda. Prasanna asked me, ‘Who are you then?’ Keshab looked at me to see what I would say. I said to him, ‘I am the servant of your servant, the dust of the dust of your feet.’ Keshab said with a smile, ‘You can’t catch him!'”
RAM: “Sometimes Keshab used to say you were John the Baptist.”
A DEVOTEE: “But Keshab also said you were the Chaitanya of the nineteenth century [said in English].”
MASTER: “What does that mean?”
DEVOTEE: “That Chaitanya has been incarnated again in the present century of the Christian era, and that you are he.”
MASTER (absent-mindedly): “What of it? Can you tell me now how my arm can be cured? This arm is worrying me so much.”
They talked about Trailokya’s music. Trailokya sang devotional songs in Keshab’s Brahmo Samaj.
MASTER: “Ah! How nice his songs are!”
RAM: “Do you think they are genuine?”
MASTER: “Yes, they are. Otherwise, why should I be so drawn to them?”
RAM: “He has composed his songs by borrowing your ideas. While conducting the worship Keshab Sen described your feelings and realisations, and Trailokya Babu composed songs accordingly. Take this song, for instance:
There is an overflow of Joy in the market-place of Love;
See how the Lord sports with His own in the ecstasy of Bliss!
He saw you enjoying divine bliss in the company of devotees and wrote songs like this.”
MASTER (with a smile): “Stop! Don’t torment me any more. Why should I be involved in all this?” (All laugh.)
GIRINDRA: “The Brahmos say that the Paramahamsadeva has no faculty for organization [said in English].”
MASTER: “What does that mean?”
M: “That you don’t know how to lead a sect; that your intellect is rather dull. They say things like that.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (to Ram): “Now tell me why my arm was hurt. Stand up and deliver a lecture on that. (Laughter.)
“The Brahmos insist that God is formless. Suppose they do. It is enough to call on Him with sincerity of heart. If the devotee is sincere, then God, who is the Inner Guide of all, will certainly reveal to the devotee His true nature.
“But it is not good to say that what we ourselves think of God is the only truth and what others think is false, that because we think of God as formless, therefore He is formless and cannot have any form; that because we think of God as having form, therefore He has form and cannot be formless. Can a man really fathom God’s nature?
“This kind of friction exists between the Vaishnavas and the Saktas; The Vaishnava says, ‘My Kesava is the only Saviour’, whereas the Sakta insists, ‘My Bhagavati is the only Saviour.’
“Once I took Vaishnavcharan to Mathur Babu. Now, Vaishnavcharan was a very learned Vaishnava and an orthodox devotee of his sect. Mathur, on the other hand, was a devotee of the Divine Mother. They were engaged in a friendly discussion when suddenly Vaishnavcharan said, ‘Kesava is the only Saviour.’ No sooner did Mathur hear this than his ,face became red with anger and he blurted out, ‘You rascal!’ (All laugh.) He was a Sakta. Wasn’t it natural for him to say that? I gave Vaishnavcharan a nudge.
“I see people who talk about religion constantly quarrelling with one another. Hindus, Mussalmans, Brahmos, Saktas, Vaishnavas, Saivas, all quarrel with one another. They haven’t the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is also Siva and the Primal Sakti, and that it is He, again, who is called Jesus and Allah. There is only one Rama and He has a thousand names.’
“Truth is one; only It is called by different names. All people are seeking the same Truth; the variance is due to climate, temperament, and name. A lake has many ghats. From one ghat the Hindus take water in jars and call it ‘jal’. From another ghat the Mussalmans take water in leather bags and call it ‘pani’. From a third the Christians take the same thing and call it ‘water’. (All laugh.) Suppose someone says that the thing is not ‘jal’ but ‘pani’, or that it is not ‘pani’ but ‘water’, or that it is not ‘water’ but ‘jal’, It would indeed be ridiculous. But this very thing is at the root of the friction among sects, their misunderstandings and quarrels. This is why people injure and kill one another, and shed blood, in the name of religion. But this is not good. Everyone is going toward God. They will all realise Him if they have sincerity and longing of heart.
(To M.) “This is for you. All scriptures — the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras — seek Him alone and no one else, only that one Satchidananda. That which is called Satchidananda Brahman in the Vedas is called Satchidananda Siva in the Tantra. Again it is He alone who is called Satchidananda Krishna in the Puranas.”
The Master was told that now and then Ram cooked his own food at home.
MASTER (to M.): “Do you too cook your own meals?”
M: “No, sir.”
MASTER: “You may try it. With your meals take a little clarified butter made from cow’s milk. That will purify your body and mind.”
A long conversation ensued about Ram’s household affairs. Ram’s father was a devout Vaishnava and worshipped Krishna daily at home. He had married a second time when Ram was quite young. Both the father and the stepmother lived with Ram at Ram’s house. But Ram was never happy with his stepmother, and this sometimes created a misunderstanding between himself and his father.
They were talking about this when Ram said, “My father has gone to the dogs!”
MASTER (to the devotees): “Did you hear that? The father has gone to the dogs and the son is all right!”
RAM: “There is no peace when my stepmother comes home. There is always some trouble or other. Our family is about to break up. So I say, let her live with her father.”
GIRINDRA (to Ram): “Why don’t you too keep your wife at her father’s home?” (Laughter.)
MASTER (smiling): “Are husband and wife like earthen pots or jars, that you may keep the pot in one place and the lid in another? Siva in one place and Sakti in another?”
RAM: “Sir, we are quite happy. But when she comes the family is broken up. If such is the case —”
MASTER: “Then build them a separate home. That will be a different thing. You will defray their monthly expenses. How worthy of worship one’s parents are! Rakhal asked me if he could take the food left on his father’s plate. ‘What do you mean?’ I said. “What have you become that you cannot?’ But it is also true that good people won’t give anyone, even a dog, the food from their plates.”
GIRINDRA: “Sir, suppose one’s parents are guilty of a terrible crime, a heinous sin?”
MASTER: “What if they are? You must not renounce your mother even if she commits adultery. The woman guru of a certain family became corrupt. The members of the family said that they would like to make the son of the guru their spiritual guide. But I said: ‘How is that? Will you accept the shoot and give up the yam? Suppose she is corrupt; still you must regard her as your Ishta. “Though my guru visits the tavern, still to me he is the holy Nityananda.”‘
“Are father and mother mere trifles? No spiritual practice will bear fruit unless they are pleased. Chaitanya was intoxicated with the love of God. Still, before taking to the monastic life, for how many days did he try to persuade his mother to give him her permission to become a monk! He said to her: “Mother, don’t worry. I shall visit you every now and then.’
(To M., reproachfully) “And let me say this to you. Your father and mother brought you up. You yourself are the father of several children. Yet you have left home with your wife. You have cheated your parents. “You have come away with your wife and children, and you feel you have become a holy man. Your father doesn’t need any money from you; otherwise I should have cried, ‘Shame on you!'”
Everybody in the room became grave and remained silent.
MASTER: “A man has certain debts to pay: his debts to the gods and rishis, and his debts to mother, father, and wife. He cannot achieve anything without paying the debt he owes to his parents. A man is indebted to his wife as well. Harish has renounced his wife and is living here. If he had left her unprovided for, then I should have called him an abominable wretch.
“After attaining Knowledge you will regard that very wife as the manifestation of the Divine Mother Herself. It is written in the Chandi, ‘The Goddess dwells in all beings as the Mother.’ It is She who has become your mother.
“All the women you see are only She, the Divine Mother. That is why I cannot rebuke even Brinde, the maidservant. There are people who spout verses from the scriptures and talk big, but in their conduct they are quite different. Ramprasanna is constantly busy procuring opium and milk for the hathayogi. He says that Manu enjoins it upon man to serve the sadhu. But his old mother hasn’t enough to eat. She walks to the market to buy her own groceries. It makes me very angry.
“But here you have to consider another thing. When a man is intoxicated with ecstatic love of God, then who is his father or mother or wife? His love of God is so intense that he becomes mad with it. Then he has no duty to perform. He is free from all debts. What is this divine intoxication? In this state a man forgets the world. He also forgets his own body, which is so dear to all. Chaitanya had this intoxication. He plunged into the ocean not knowing that it was the ocean. He dashed himself again and again on the ground. He was not aware of hunger, of thirst, or of sleep. He was not at all conscious of any such thing as his body.”
All at once Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, “Ah, Chaitanya!” and stood up.
MASTER (to the devotees): “Chaitanya means ‘Undivided Consciousness’. Vaishnavcharan used to say that Gauranga was like a bubble in the Ocean of Undivided Consciousness.
(To the elder Gopal4) “Do you intend to go on a pilgrimage now?”
GOPAL: “Yes, sir. I should like to wander about a little.”
RAM (to Gopal): “He [meaning the Master] says that one becomes a kutichaka after being a vahudaka. The sadhu that visits many holy places is called a vahudaka. He whose craving for travel has been satiated and who sits down in one place is called a kutichaka.
“He also tells us a parable. Once a bird sat on the mast of a ship. When the ship sailed through the mouth of the Ganges into the ‘black waters’ of the ocean, the bird failed to notice the fact. When it finally became aware of the ocean, it left the mast and flew north in search of land. But it found no limit to the water and so returned. After resting awhile it flew south. There too it found no limit to the water. Panting for breath the bird returned to the mast. Again, after resting awhile, it flew east and then west. Finding no limit to the water in any direction, at last it settled down on the mast of the ship.”
MASTER (to the elder Gopal and the other devotees): “As long as a man feels that God is ‘there’, he is ignorant. But he attains Knowledge when he feels that God is ‘here’.
“A man wanted a smoke. He went to a neighbour’s house to light his charcoal. It was the dead of night and the household was asleep. After he had knocked a great deal, someone came down to open the door. At sight of the man he asked, ‘Hello! What’s the matter?’ The man replied: ‘Can’t you guess? You know how fond I am of smoking. I have come here to light my charcoal.’ The neighbour said: ‘Ha! Ha! You are a fine man indeed! You took the trouble to come and do all this knocking at the door! Why, you have a lighted lantern in your hand!’ (All laugh.)
“What a man seeks is very near him. Still he wanders about from place to place.”
RAM: “Sir, I now realise why a guru asks some of his disciples to visit the four principal holy places of the country. Once having wandered about, the disciple discovers that it is the same here as there. Then he returns to the guru. All this wandering is only to create faith in the guru’s words.”
After this conversation had come to an end, Sri Ramakrishna extolled Ram’s virtues.
MASTER (to the devotees): “How many fine qualities Ram possesses! How many devotees he serves and looks after! (To Ram.) Adhar told me that you showed him great kindness.”
Adhar, a beloved householder devotee of the Master, had recently arranged some religious music at his house. The Master and many devotees had been present. But Adhar had forgotten to invite Ram, who was a very proud man and had complained about it to his friends. So Adhar had gone to Ram’s house to express his regret for the mistake.
RAM: “It wasn’t really Adhar’s mistake. I have come to know that Rakhal is to blame. Rakhal was given charge —”
MASTER: “You mustn’t find fault with Rakhal. He’s a mere child. Even now you can bring out his mother’s milk by squeezing his throat.”
RAM: “Sir, why should you speak that way? It was such an occasion!”
MASTER: (interrupting): “Adhar simply didn’t remember to invite you. He is absent-minded. The other day he went with me to Jadu Mallick’s house. As we took our leave, I said to him, ‘You haven’t offered anything to the Goddess in the chapel.’ ‘Sir,’ he said, ‘I didn’t know one should.’
(To Ram) “Suppose he didn’t invite you to his house. Why such a fuss about going to a place where the name of the Lord was sung? One may go unasked to participate in religious music. One doesn’t have to be invited.”
- ^According to Hindu mythology, after the dissolution of the universe and before the next creation, the Supreme Lord rests on the Ocean of the Great Cause, also called the “Ocean of Milk”.
- ^The ego illumined and purified by the Knowledge of God. Following the method of discrimination, the jnani, in samadhi, merges his ego in Brahman. Thereafter he may come down to the relative plane with an appearance of individuality, but even then he is always conscious of his identity with Brahman. This apparent ego is called the “ego of Knowledge”. A bhakta, following the path of love, realises his eternal relationship with God. He too keeps an appearance of individuality on the relative plane. This ego has none of the characteristics of the worldly ego and is called the “ego of Devotion”. The two egos here described refer to the same state of realisation.
- ^The Master perhaps referred to the cuttle-bone found on the seashore. The popular belief is that it is hardened foam.
- ^A monastic disciple of the Master, known later as Swami Advaitananda.