Adhar — Meaning of Radha and Krishna — Purusha and Prakriti imply each other — Their inner harmony — Master and preaching — Preaching without God’s command — Life after death — Duties of life — Master scolds Bankim — Devotees and tlie worldly-minded — Charity — The sannyasi’s duty — The householder’s duty — Difficulty of karmayoga — Spirituality and book-learning — God and the world — Faith in guru — Yearning tor God-vision.
Saturday, December 6, 1884
ADHAR, A GREAT DEVOTEE of Sri Ramakrishna, lived in Sobhabazar in the northern section of Calcutta. Almost every day, after finishing his hard work at the office and returning home in the late afternoon, he paid Sri Ramakrishna a visit. From his home in Calcutta he would go to Dakshineswar in a hired carriage. His sole delight was to visit the Master. But he would hear very little of what Sri Ramakrishna said; for, after saluting the Master and visiting the temples, he would lie down, at the Master’s request, on a mat spread on the floor and would soon fall asleep. At nine or ten o’clock he would he awakened to return home. However, he considered himself blessed to be able to visit the God-man of Dakshineswar. At Adhar’s request Sri Ramakrishna often visited his home. His visits were occasions for religious festivals. Devotees in large numbers would assemble, and Adhar would feed them sumptuously. One day, while Sri Ramakrishna was visiting his home, Adhar said to him: “Sir, you haven’t come to our house for a long time. The rooms seemed gloomy; they had a musty smell. But today the whole house is cheerful; the sweetness of your presence fills the atmosphere. Today I called on God earnestly. I even shed tears while praying.” “Is that so?” the Master said tenderly, casting a kindly glance on his disciple.
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Adhar’s house with his attendants. Everyone was in a joyous mood. Adhar had arranged a rich feast. Many strangers were present. At Adhar’s invitation, several other deputy magistrates had come; they wanted to watch the Master and judge his holiness. Among them was Bankim Chandra Chatterji, perhaps the greatest literary figure of Bengal during the later part of the nineteenth century. He was one of the creators of modern Bengali literature and wrote on social and religious subjects. Bankim was a product of the contact of India with England. He gave modern interpretations of the Hindu scriptures and advocated drastic social reforms.
Sri Ramakrishna had been talking happily with the devotees when Adhar introduced several of his personal friends to him.
ADHAR (introducing Banking): “Sir, he is a great scholar and has written many books. He has come here to see you. His name is Bankim Babu.”
MASTER (smiling): “Bankim! (Literally the word means “bent” or “curved”.) Well, what has made you bent?”)
BANKIM (smiling): “Why, sir, boots are responsible for it. The kicks of our white masters have bent my body.”
MASTER: “No, my dear sir! Sri Krishna was bent on account of His ecstatic love. His body was bent in three places owing to His love for Radha. That is how some people explain Sri Krishna’s form. Do you know why He has a deep-blue complexion? And why He is of such small stature — only three and a half cubits measured by His own hand? God looks so as long as He is seen from a distance. So the water of the ocean looks blue from afar. But if you go near the ocean and take the water in your hand, you will no longer find it blue; it will be very clear, transparent. So the sun appears small because it is very far away; if you go near it, you will no longer find it small. When one knows the true nature of God, He appears neither blue nor small. But that is a far-off vision: one does not see it except in samadhi. As long as ‘I’ and you’ exist, name and form will also exist. Everything is God’s lila, His sportive pleasure. As long as a man is conscious of ‘I’ and ‘you’, he will experience the manifestations of God through diverse forms.
“Sri Krishna is the Purusha; Srimati (Radhika, the Divine Consort of Krishna.) is His Sakti, the Primal Power. The two are Purusha and Prakriti. What is the meaning of the Yugala Murti, the conjoined images of Radha and Krishna? It is that Purusha and Prakriti are not different; there is no difference between them. Purusha cannot exist without Prakriti, and Prakriti cannot exist without Purusha. If you mention the one, the other is understood. It is like fire and its power to burn: one cannot think of fire without its power to burn; again, one cannot think of fire’s power to burn without fire. Therefore in the conjoined images of Radha and Krishna, Krishna’s eyes are fixed on Radha and Radha’s on Krishna. Radha’s complexion is golden, like lightning; so Krishna wears yellow apparel. Krishna’s complexion is blue, like a dark cloud; so Radha wears a blue dress; she has also decked herself with blue sapphires. Radha has tinkling anklets; so Krishna has them too. In other words, there is inner and outer harmony between Purusha and Prakriti.”
As Sri Ramakrishna finished these words, Bankim and his friends began to whisper in English.
MASTER (smiling, to Bankim and the others): “Well, gentlemen! What are you talking about in English?”
ADHAR: “We are discussing what you have just said, your explanation of Krishna’s form.”
MASTER (smiling): “That reminds me of a funny story. It makes me want to laugh. Once a barber was shaving a gentleman. The latter was cut slightly by the razor. At once he cried out, ‘Damn!’ But the barber didn’t know the meaning of the word. He put his razor and. other shaving articles aside, tucked up his shirt-sleeves — it was winter —, and said: ‘You said “damn” to me. Now you must tell me its meaning.’ The gentleman said: ‘Don’t be silly. Go on with your shaving. The word doesn’t mean anything in particular; but shave a little more carefully.’ But the barber wouldn’t let him off so easily. said, ‘If “damn” means something good, then I am a “damn”, my father is a “damn”, and all my ancestors are “damns”. (All laugh.’) But if it means something bad, then you are a “damn”, your father is a “damn”, and all your ancestors are “damns”. (All laugh.) They are not only “damns”, but “damn — damn — damn — da-damn — damn”.'” (Loud laughter.)
As the laughter stopped, Bankim began the conversation.
BANKIM: “Sir, why don’t you preach?”
MASTER (smiling): “Preaching? It is only a man’s vanity that makes him think of preaching. A man is but an insignificant creature. It is God alone who will preach — God who has created the sun and moon and so illumined the universe. Is preaching such a trifling affair? You cannot preach unless God reveals Himself to you and gives you the command to preach. Of course, no one can stop you from preaching. You haven’t received the command, but still you cry yourself hoarse. People will listen to you a couple of days and then forget all about it. It is like any other sensation: as long as you speak, people will say, ‘Ah! He speaks well’; and the moment you stop, everything will disappear.
“The milk in the pot hisses and swells as long as there is heat under it. Take away the heat, and the milk will quiet down as before.
“One must increase one’s strength by sadhana; otherwise one cannot preach. As the proverb goes: ‘You have no room to sleep yourself and you invite a friend to sleep with you.’ There is no place for you to lie down and you say: ‘Come, friend! Come and lie down with me.’ (Laughter.)
“Some people used to befoul the bank of the Haldarpukur at Kamarpukur every morning. The villagers would notice it and abuse the offenders. But that didn’t stop it. At last the villagers filed a petition with the Government. An officer visited the place and put up a sign: ‘Commit no nuisance. Offenders fenders will be punished.’ That stopped it completely. Afterwards there was no more trouble. It was a government order, and everyone had to obey it.
“Likewise, if God reveals Himself to you and gives you the command, then you can preach and teach people. Otherwise, who will listen to you?”
The visitors were listening seriously.
MASTER (to Bankim): “I understand you are a great pundit and have written many books. Please tell me what you think about man’s duties? What will accompany him after death? You believe in the hereafter, don’t you?”
BANKIM: “The hereafter? What is that?”
MASTER: “True. When a man dies after attaining Knowledge, he doesn’t have to go to another plane of existence; he isn’t born again. But as long as he has not attained Knowledge, as long as he has not realised God, he must come back to the life of this earth; he can never escape it. For such a person there is a hereafter. A man is liberated after attaining Knowledge, after realizing God. For him there is no further coming back to earth. If a boiled paddy-grain is sown, it doesn’t sprout. Just so, if a man is boiled by the fire of Knowledge, he cannot take part any more in the play of creation; he cannot lead a worldly life, for he has no attachment to ‘woman and gold’. What will you gain by sowing boiled paddy?”
BANKIM (smiling): “Sir, neither does a weed serve the purpose of a tree. MASTER: “But you cannot call a jnani a weed. He who has realised God has obtained the fruit of Immortality — not a common fruit like a gourd or a pumpkin. He is free from rebirth. He is not born anywhere — on earth, in the solar world, or in the lunar world.
“Analogy is one-sided. You are a pundit; haven’t you read logic? Suppose you say that a man is as terrible as a tiger. That doesn’t mean that he has a fearful tail or a tiger’s pot-face! (All laugh.)
“I said the same thing to Keshab. He asked me, ‘Sir, is there an after-life?’ I didn’t commit myself either way. I said that the potters put their pots in the sun to bake. Among them you see both baked and soft pots. Sometimes cattle trample over them. When the baked pots are broken, the potters throw them away; but when the soft ones are broken they keep them. They mix them with water and put the clay on the wheel and make new pots. They don’t throw away the unbaked pots. So I said to Keshab: ‘The Potter won’t let you go as long as you are unbaked. He will put you on the wheel of the world as long as you have not attained Knowledge, as long as you have not realised Him. He won’t let you go. You will have to return to the earth again and again: there is no escape. You will be liberated only when you realise God. Then alone will the Potter let you go. It is because then you won’t serve any purpose in this world of maya.’ The jnani has gone beyond maya. What will he do in this world of maya?
“But God keeps some jnanis in the world of maya to be teachers of men. In order to teach others the jnani lives in the world with the help of vidyamaya. It is God Himself who keeps the jnani in the world for His work. Such was the case with Sukadeva and Sankaracharya.
(To Bankim, smiling) “Well, what do you say about man’s duties?”
BANKIM (smiling): “If you ask me about them, I should say they are eating, sleeping, and sex-life.”
MASTER (sharply): “Eh? You are very saucy! What you do day and night comes out through your mouth. A man belches what he eats. If he eats radish, he belches radish; if he eats green coconut, he belches green coconut. Day and night you live in the midst of ‘woman and gold’; so your mouth utters words about that alone. By constantly thinking of worldly things a man becomes calculating and deceitful. On the other hand, he becomes guileless by thinking of God. A man who has seen God will never say what you have just said. What will a pundit’s scholarship profit him if he does not think of God and has no discrimination and renunciation? Of what use is erudition if the mind dwells on ‘woman and gold’?
“Kites and vultures soar very high indeed, but their gaze is fixed only on the charnel-pit. The pundit has no doubt studied many books and scriptures; he may rattle off their texts, or he may have written books. But if he is attached to women, if he thinks of money and honour as the essential things, will you call him a pundit? How can a man be a pundit if his mind does not dwell on God?
Some may say about the devotees: ‘Day and night these people speak shout God. They are crazy; they have lost their heads. But how clever we are. How we enjoy pleasure — money, honour, the senses!’ The crow, too thinks he is a clever bird; but the first thing he does when he wakes up in the early morning is to fill his stomach with nothing but others’ filth. Haven’t you noticed how he struts about? Very clever indeed!”
There was dead silence.
Sri Ramakrishna continued: “But like the swan are those who think of God, who pray day and night to get rid of their attachment to worldly things and their love for ‘woman and gold’, who do not enjoy anything except the nectar of the Lotus Feet of the Lord, and to whom worldly pleasures taste bitter. If you put a mixture of milk and water before the swan, it will leave the water and drink only the milk. And haven’t you noticed the gait of a swan? It goes straight ahead in one direction. So it is with genuine devotees: they go toward God alone. They seek nothing else; they enjoy nothing else.
(Tenderly, to Bankim) “Please don’t take offence at my words.”
BANKIM: “Sir, I haven’t come here to hear sweet things.”
MASTER (to Bankim):” ‘Woman and gold’ alone is the world; that alone is maya. Because of it you cannot see or think of God. After the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister and talk only of God. Then both their minds will be drawn to God, and the wife will be a help to the husband on the path of spirituality. None can taste divine bliss without giving up his animal feeling. A devotee should pray to God to help him get rid of this feeling. It must be a sincere prayer. God is our Inner Controller; He will certainly listen to our prayer if it is sincere.
“And ‘gold’. Sitting on the bank of the Ganges below the Panchavati, I used to say, ‘Rupee is clay and clay is rupee.’ Then I threw both into the Ganges.”
BANKIM: “Indeed! Money is clay! Sir, if you have a few pennies you can help the poor. If money is clay, then a man cannot give in charity or do good to others.”
MASTER (to ‘Bankim’): “Charity! Doing good! How dare you say you can do good to others? Man struts about so much; but if one pours foul water into his mouth when he is asleep, he doesn’t even know it; his mouth overflows with it. Where are his boasting, his vanity, his pride, then?
“A sannyasi must give up ‘woman and gold’; he cannot accept it any more. One must not swallow one’s own spittle. When a sannyasi gives something to another, he knows that it is not himself who gives. Kindness belongs to God alone. How can a man lay claim to it? Charity depends on the will of Rama. A true sannyasi renounces ‘woman and gold’ both mentally and outwardly. He who eats no molasses must not even keep molasses about. If he does, and yet tells others not to eat it, they won’t listen to him.
“A householder, of course, needs money, for he has a wife and children. He should save up to feed them. They say that the bird and the sannyasi should not provide for the future. But the mother bird brings food in her mouth for her chicks; so she too provides. A householder needs money He has to support his family.
“If a householder is a genuine devotee he performs his duties without attachment; he surrenders the fruit of his work to God. — his gain or loss, his pleasure or pain — and day and night he prays for devotion and for nothing else. This is called motiveless work, the performance of duty without attachment. A sannyasi, too, must do all his work in that spirit of detachment; but he has no worldly duties to attend to, like a householder.
“If a householder gives in charity in a spirit of detachment, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. It is God alone that he serves — God, who dwells in all beings; and when he serves God, he is really doing good to himself and not to others. If a man thus serves God through all beings, not through men alone but through animals and other living beings as well; if he doesn’t seek name and fame, or heaven after death; if he doesn’t seek any return from those he serves; if he can carry on his work of service in this spirit — then he performs truly selfless work, work without attachment. Through such selfless work he does good to himself. This is called karmayoga. This too is a way to realise God. But it is very difficult, and not suited to the Kaliyuga.
“Therefore I say, he who works in such a detached spirit — who is kind and charitable — benefits only himself. Helping others, doing good to others — this is the work of God alone, who for men has created the sun and moon, father and mother, fruits, flowers, and corn. The love that you see in parents is God’s love: He has given it to them to preserve His creation. The compassion that you see in the kind-hearted is God’s compassion: He has given it to them to protect the helpless. Whether you are charitable or not, He will have His work done somehow or other. Nothing can stop His work.
“What then is man’s duty? What else can it be? It is just to take refuge in God and to pray to Him with a yearning heart for His vision.
“Sambhu said to me: ‘It is my desire to build a large number of hospitals and dispensaries. Thus I can do much good to the poor.’ I said to him: ‘Yes, that is not bad if you can do it in a detached spirit. But to be detached is very difficult unless you sincerely love God. And further, if you entangle yourself in many activities, you will be attached to them in a way unknown to yourself. You may think you have no motive behind your work, but perhaps there has already grown a desire for fame and the advertising of your name. Then again, if you are entangled in too many activities, the pressure of them will make you forget God.’ I also said to him: ‘Sambhu, let me ask you one thing. If God appears before you, will you want Him or a number of hospitals and dispensaries?’ If one realises God, one doesn’t enjoy anything else. One who has tasted syrup of sugar candy cannot enjoy a drink made from common treacle.
‘Those who build hospitals and dispensaries, and get pleasure from that, are no doubt good people; but they are of a different type. He who is a real devotee of God seeks nothing but God. If he finds himself entangled in too much work, he earnestly prays, ‘Lord, be ‘gracious and reduce my work; my mind, which should think of Thee day and night, has been wasting its power; it thinks of worldly things alone.’ Pure-souled devotees are in a class by themselves. You cannot have real love of God unless you know that God alone is real and all else illusory. You cannot have real love of God unless you know that the world is impermanent, only of two days’ existence, while its Creator alone is real and eternal.
“Janaka and sages like him worked in the world at the command of God.
(To Bankim) “Some people think that God cannot be realised without the study of books and scriptures. They think that first of all one should learn of this world and its creatures; that first of all one should study ‘science’. (All laugh.) They think that one cannot realise God without first understanding His creation. Which comes first, ‘science’ or God? What do you say?”
BANKIM: “I too think that we should first of all know about the different things of the world. How can we know of God without knowing something of this world? We should first learn from books.”
MASTER: “That’s the one cry from all of you. But God comes first and then the creation. After attaining God you can know everything else, if it is necessary.
“If you can somehow get yourself introduced to Jadu Mallick, then you will be able to learn, if you want to, the number of his houses and gardens and the amount of his money invested in government securities. Jadu Mallick himself will tell you all about them. But if you haven’t met him and if you are stopped by his door-keepers when you try to enter his house, then how will you get the correct information about his houses, gardens, and government securities? When you know God you know all else; but then you don’t care to know small things. The same thing is stated in the Vedas. You talk about the virtues of a person as long as you haven’t seen him, but no sooner does he appear before you than all such talk stops. You are beside yourself with joy simply to be with him. You feel overwhelmed by simply conversing with him. You don’t talk about his virtues any more.
“First realise God, then think of the creation and other things. Valmiki was given the name of Rama to repeat as his mantra, but was told at first to repeat ‘mara’. ‘Ma’ means God and ‘ra’ the world. First God and then the world. If you know one you know all. If you put fifty zeros after a one, you have a large sum; but erase the one and nothing remains. It is the one that makes the many. First one, then many. First God, then His creatures and the world.
“The one thing you need is to realise God. Why do you bother so much about the world, creation, ‘science’, and all that? Your business is to eat mangoes. What need have you to know how many hundreds of trees there are in the orchard, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves? You have come to the garden to eat mangoes. Go and eat them. Man is born in this world to realise God; it is not good to forget that and divert the mind to other things. You have come to eat mangoes. Eat the mangoes and be happy.”
BANKIM: “Where do we get the mangoes?”
MASTER: “Pray to God with a longing heart. He will surely listen to your prayer if it is sincere. Perhaps He will direct you to holy men with whom you can keep company; and that will help you on your spiritual path. Perhaps someone will tell you, ‘Do this and you will attain God.'”
BANKIM: “Who? The guru? He enjoys all the good mangoes himself and gives us the bad ones!” (Laughter.)
MASTER: “Why should that be so? The mother, knows what food suits the stomachs of her different children. Can all of them digest pilau and kalia? Suppose a fish has been procured. The mother doesn’t give pilau and kalia to all the children. For the weak child with a poor stomach she prepares simple soup. But does that mean she loves him the less?
“One must have faith in the guru’s words. The guru is none other than Satchidananda. God Himself is the Guru. If you only believe his words like a child, you will realise God. What faith a child has! When a child’s mother says to him about a certain man, ‘He is your brother’, the child believes he really is his brother. The child believes it one hundred and twenty-five per cent, though he may be the son of a brahmin, and the man the son of a blacksmith. The mother says to the child, ‘There is a bugaboo in that room’, and the child really believes there is a bugaboo in the room. Such is the faith of a child! One must have this childlike faith in the guru’s words. God cannot be realised by a mind that is hypocritical, calculating, or argumentative. One must have faith and sincerity. Hypocrisy will not do. To the sincere, God is very near; but He is far, far away from the hypocrite.
“One must have for God the yearning of a child. The child sees nothing but confusion when his mother is away. You may try to cajole him by putting a sweetmeat in his hand; but he will not be fooled. He only says, ‘No, I want to go to my mother.’ One must feel such yearning for God. Ah, what yearning! How restless a child feels for his mother! Nothing can make him forget his mother. He to whom the enjoyment of worldly happiness appears tasteless, he who takes no delight in anything of the world — money, name, creature comforts, sense pleasure —, becomes sincerely grief-stricken for the vision of the Mother. And to him alone the Mother comes running, leaving all Her other duties.
“Ah, that restlessness is the whole thing. Whatever path you follow — whether you are a Hindu, a Mussalman, a Christian, a Sakta, a Vaishnava, or a Brahmo — the vital point is restlessness. God is our Inner Guide. It doesn’t matter if you take a wrong path — only you must be restless for Him. He Himself will put you on the right path.
“Besides, there are errors in all paths. Everyone thinks his watch is right; but as a matter of fact no watch is absolutely right. But that doesn’t hamper one’s work. If a man is restless for God he gains the company of sadhus and as far as possible corrects his own watch with the sadhus’ help.”
Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj began to sing. Presently Sri Ramakrishna stood up and lost consciousness of the outer world. He became completely indrawn, absorbed in samadhi. The devotees stood around him in a circle. Pushing aside the crowd, Bankim came near the Master and began to watch him attentively. He had never seen anyone in samadhi.
After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna regained partial consciousness and began to dance in an ecstatic mood. It was a never-to-be-forgotten scene. Bankim and his Anglicized friends looked at him in amazement. Was this he God-intoxicated state? The devotees also watched him with wondering eyes.
The singing and dancing over, the Master touched the ground with his forehead, saying, “Bhagavata — Bhakta — Bhagavan! Salutations to the jnanis, yogis, and bhaktas! Salutations to all!” He sat down again and all sat around him.
BANKIM (to the Master): “Sir, how can one develop divine love?”
MASTER: “Through restlessness — the restlessness a child feels for his mother. The child feels bewildered when he is separated from his mother, and weeps longingly for her. If a man can weep like that for God he can even see Him.
“At the approach of dawn the eastern horizon becomes red. Then one knows it will soon be sunrise. Likewise, if you see a person restless for God, you can be pretty certain that he hasn’t long to wait for His vision.
“A disciple asked his teacher, ‘Sir, please tell me how I can see God.’ Come with me,’ said the guru, ‘and I shall show you.’ He took the disciple to a lake, and both of them got into the water. Suddenly the teacher pressed the disciple’s head under the water. After a few moments he released him and the disciple raised his head and stood up. The guru asked him, ‘How did you feel?’ The disciple said, ‘Oh! I thought I should die; I was panting for breath.’ The teacher said, ‘When you feel like that for God, then you will know you haven’t long to wait for His vision.’
(To Bankim) “Let me tell you something. What will you gain by floating on the surface? Dive a little under the water. The gems lie deep under the water; so what is the good of throwing your arms and legs about on the surface? A real gem is heavy. It doesn’t float; it sinks to the bottom. To get the real gem you must dive deep.”
BANKIM: “Sir, what can we do? We are tied to a cork. It prevents us from diving.” (All laugh.)
MASTER: “All sins vanish if one only remembers God. His name breaks the fetters of death. You must dive; otherwise you can’t get the gem. Listen to a song.”
The Master sang in his sweet voice:
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God’s Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.
Go seek, O mind, go seek Vrindavan in your heart,
Where with His loving devotees
Sri Krishna sports eternally.
Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom’s shining lamp,
And let it bum with steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart.
Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth?
It is your guru, says Kuhir;
Meditate on his holy feet.
All listened spellbound. Again Sri Ramakrishna began to talk.
MASTER (to Bankim): “There are some who do not want to dive. They say, ‘Won’t we become deranged it we go to excess about God?’ Referring to those who are intoxicated with divine love, they say, ‘These people have lost their heads.’ But they don’t understand this simple thing: God is the Ocean of Amrita, Immortality. Once I said to Narendra: ‘Suppose there were a cup of syrup and you were a fly. Where would you sit to drink the syrup?’ Narendra said, ‘I would sit on the edge of the cup and stretch out my neck to drink it.’ ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘What’s the harm of plunging into the middle of the cup and drinking the syrup?’ Narendra answered, ‘Then I should stick in the syrup and die.’ ‘My child,’ I said to him, ‘that isn’t the nature of the Nectar of Satchidananda. It is the Nectar of Immortality. Man does not die from diving into It. On the contrary he becomes immortal.’
“Therefore I say, dive deep. Don’t be afraid. By diving deep in God one becomes immortal.”
Bankim bowed low before the Master. He was about to take his leave.
BANKIM: “Sir, I am not such an idiot as you may think. I have a prayer to make. Please be kind enough to grace my house with the dust of your holy feet.”
MASTER: “That’s nice. I shall go if God wills.”
BANKIM: “There too you will see devotees of God.”
MASTER (smiling): “How so? What kind of devotees are they? Are they like those who said, ‘Gopal! Gopal! Kesava! Kesava!’?” (All laugh.)
A DEVOTEE: “What is the story of ‘Gopal’, sir?”
MASTER (smiling): “Let me tell you. At a certain place there is a gold-smith’s shop. The workers there are known as pious Vaishnavas: they have strings of beads around their necks, religious marks on their foreheads, and bags containing rosaries in their hands. They repeat the names of God aloud. One can almost call them sadhus; only they have to work as goldsmiths to earn their bread and support their wives and children. Many customers, hearing of their piety, come to the shop because they believe that in that shop there will be no trickery with their gold or silver. When the customers enter the shop, they see the workers repeating the name of Hari with their tongues and doing their work with their hands. No sooner do the customers take seats in the shop than one of the workers cries out, ‘Kesava! Kesava! Kesava!’ A few minutes later another says, ‘Gopal! Gopal! Gopal!’ After they talk a little while, the third man cries out, ‘Hari! Hari! Hari!’ In the mean time the customers have almost finished their transactions. Then the fourth exclaims, ‘Hara! Hara! Hara!’ The customers are very much impressed with the devotion and fervour of the owners and feel themselves quite secure in handing them the money. They are sure they won’t be cheated.
“But do you know what lies behind all this? The man who says ‘Kesava! Kesava!1 after the arrival of the customers means, ‘Who are they?’ In other words, he wants to know how intelligent they are. The man who says ‘Gopal! Gopal!’ means to say he finds them no better than a herd of cows. The man saying ‘Hari! Hari!’ means, ‘May I rob them?’; he suggests that since they are like a herd of cows they can be robbed. And the last man, who says ‘Hara! Hara!’, replies, ‘Yes, rob them.’ He means that since the customers are like a herd of cows, they can certainly be robbed. Here, too, you see a group of pious men, very much devoted to God!” (All laugh.)
Bankim took his leave; but he was absent-minded. When he reached the door he discovered that he had dropped his shawl in the room; he was in his shirt-sleeves. A gentleman handed him his shawl.
Of the devotees at Adhar’s house, Sarat2 and Sannyal were brahmins. But Adhar belonged to the lower caste of the goldsmiths, and so the two brahmins quickly left, lest they should be pressed by their host to take their meal there. Sarat and Sannyal had been coming to the Master only a short, time and did not know how fond the Master was of Adhar. The Master used to say that the devotees formed a separate caste by themselves; among them there could be no caste distinction.
Adhar entertained the Master and the devotees with a feast. It was quite late in the evening when the devotees returned home, cherishing in their hearts the image of the Master in his spiritual ecstasy and remembering his words of great wisdom.
Since Bankim had invited Sri Ramakrishna to visit his home, the Master a few days later sent Girish and M. to his Calcutta residence. At that time Bankim had a long discussion with these two devotees about the Master. He told them that he wanted to visit Sri Ramakrishna again. But his desire was not fulfilled.