Master’s love for Narendra — Master’s samadhi — Hazra’s eccentricities — Goal of scriptural study — Occult powers — Go beyond duality — Advice to Surendra — Duties of householders — Master praises charity — Master and Girish — Selfless divine love — Knowledge of Brahman — Two paths of Brahmajnana — The ego of the Divine Incarnation — The path of bhakti — Meaning of liberation — Master warns against lust — Sannyasi’s discipline — Householder’s discipline — Different aspects of bhakti — Different kinds of samadhi — How to cultivate longing for God — Master at the theatre.
Sunday, February 22, 1885
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting on the northeast verandah outside his room at Dakshineswar. It was about eight o’clock in the morning. Many devotees, including Narendra, Rakhal, Girish, Baburam, and Surendra, were present. They were celebrating the Master’s birthday, which had fallen on the previous Monday. M. arrived and saluted him. The Master signed to him to take a seat near him.
Narottam was singing kirtan. Sri Ramakrishna was in partial ecstasy. The subject was Krishna’s meeting with His cowherd friends in the meadow. Krishna had not yet arrived. The cowherd boys were restless for Him. One of them said that Mother Yasoda was preventing Krishna from coming. Balai said in a determined voice that he would bring Krishna with the sound of his horn. Balai’s love for Krishna knew no bounds. The music went on. The cowherd boys and girls heard Krishna’s flute and were filled with spiritual emotion.
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna’s eyes fell on Narendra, who was sitting very near him. He stood up and went into samadhi; he stood there touching Narendra’s knee with his foot. Regaining consciousness he took his seat again. Narendra left the room. The music went on.
Sri Ramakrishna whispered to Baburam: “There is kshir in the room. Give Narendra some.”
Did the Master see Narendra as the embodiment of God?
After the kirtan Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room. Tenderly he began to feed Narendra with sweets.
It was Girish’s belief that God Himself had been born in the person of Sri Ramakrishna.
GIRISH (to the Master): “Your ways are like Krishna’s. He too pretended many things to His mother Yasoda.”
MASTER: “True. It was because Krishna was an Incarnation of God. When God is born as a man He acts that way. You see, Krishna easily lifted the hill of Govardhan with His hand, but He made Nanda believe that He found it very hard to carry a footstool.”
GIRISH: “Yes, sir, I have understood you now.”
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. It was about eleven o’clock. Ram and the other devotees wanted to dress him in a new cloth. The Master said, “No, no.” Pointing to an English-educated man, he said, “What will he say about it?” At the earnest request of the devotees he said, “Well, since you insist, I shall have to agree.”
The devotees were arranging the Master’s meal in the room. He asked Narendra to sing.
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave.
In the lap of boundless dark, on Mahanirvana’s waves upborne,
Peace flows serene and inexhaustible.
Taking the form of the Void, in the robe of darkness wrapped,
Who art Thou, Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?
From the Lotus of Thy fear-scattering Feet flash Thy love’s lightnings;
Thy Spirit-Face shines forth with laughter terrible and loud!
As Narendra sang the line, “Who art Thou, Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?”, Sri Ramakrishna went into deep samadhi and lost all outer consciousness. After a long time, when he was regaining partial consciousness, the devotees seated him on the carpet and placed a plate of food before him. Still overcome with divine emotion, he began to eat the rice with both hands. He said to Bhavanath, “Feed me.” Because of his ecstatic mood he could not use his own right hand. Bhavanath began to feed him. Sri Ramakrishna could eat very little. Ram said to him, “Nityagopal will eat from your plate.”
MASTER: “Why from my plate? Why?”
RAM: “Why not?”
Nityagopal was also in an ecstatic mood. The Master put a morsel or two into his mouth with his own hand.
Some devotees from Konnagar arrived by boat. They entered Sri Ramakrishna’s room singing kirtan; afterwards they went out to take some refreshments. Narottam was in the room. The Master said to him and the other devotees: “The music of the Konnagar devotees was dull. Music should be so lively as to make everyone dance. One should sing a song like this:
See how all Nadia is shaking
Under the waves of Gauranga’s love!
And along with it these lines:
Behold, the two brothers1 have come, who weep while chanting Hari’s name,
The brothers who, in return for blows, offer to sinners Hari’s love. . . .
And these too:
Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!
I have heard how kind you are,
And therefore I have come to you. . . .”
The devotees were taking the prasad. It was a sumptuous feast. Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: “Haven’t you invited the Mukherjis? Ask Surendra to feed the musicians.”
Bepin Sarkar arrived. The devotees introduced him to the Master. Sri Ramakrishna sat up and said to the devotees, “Give him a seat and some betel-leaf.” He said to Bepin humbly: “I am sorry not to be able to talk to you. There is a great crowd today.”
Pointing to Girindra, Sri Ramakrishna said to Baburam, “Give him a carpet.” Nityagopal was sitting on the floor. The Master asked a devotee to give him a carpet too.
Physician Mahendra of Sinthi arrived. The Master, smiling, asked Rakhal by a sign to have the physician examine his pulse.
Turning to Ramlal, the Master said, “Be friendly with Girish Ghosh; then you will get a free ticket to the theatre.”
Narendra had been talking a long time with Hazra on the porch. Since his father’s death Narendra had been having financial worries. He entered the room and took a seat.
MASTER (to Narendra): “Were you with Hazra? Both of you are in the same boat. You know the saying about the two friends: ‘You are away from your country and he is away from his beloved.’ Hazra, too, needs fifteen hundred rupees (laughter.)
“Hazra says: ‘Narendra has acquired one hundred per cent sattva, though still there is in him a pink glow of rajas. But I have one hundred and twenty-five per cent pure sattva.’ (All laugh.)
“I say to Hazra, ‘You indulge in reasoning only: that is why you are so dry.’ He retorts, ‘No, I am dry because I drink the nectar of the sun.’
“Speaking of pure bhakti, I say to Hazra, ‘A real devotee does not pray to God for money or riches.’ Hazra replies: ‘When the flood of divine grace descends, the rivers overflow; and further, the pools and canals are filled. By the grace of God one gets not only pure devotion but also the six super-natural powers, and money too.'”
Narendra and many other devotees were seated on the floor. Girish entered the room and joined them.
MASTER (to Girish): “I look on Narendra as Atman. I obey him.”
GIRISH: “Is there anyone you don’t obey?”
MASTER (smiling): “He has a manly nature and I have the nature of a woman. He is a noble soul and belongs to the realm of the Indivisible Brahman.”
Girish went out to have a smoke.
NARENDRA (to the Master): “I had a talk with Girish Ghosh. He is indeed a great man. We talked about you.”
MASTER: “What did you say about me?”
NARENDRA: “That you are illiterate and we are scholars. Oh, we talked in that vein!” (Laughter.)
MANI MALLICK (to the Master): “You have become a pundit without reading a book.”
MASTER (to Narendra and the others): “Let me tell you this: really and truly I don’t feel sorry in the least that I haven’t read the Vedanta or the other scriptures. I know that the essence of the Vedanta is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. And what is the essence of the Gita? It is what you get by repeating the word ten times. Then it is reversed into ‘tagi’, which refers to renunciation. The pupil should hear the essence of the scriptures from the guru; then he should practise austerity and devotions. A man needs the letter he has received from home as long as he has not learnt its contents. After reading it, however, he sets out to get the things he has been asked to send. Likewise, what need is there of the scriptures if you know their essence? The next thing is the practice of spiritual discipline.”
Girish entered the room.
MASTER (to Girish): “Hello! What were you saying about me? I eat, drink, and make merry.”
GIRISH: “What should we have been saying about you? Are you a holy man?”
MASTER: “No, nothing of the sort. Truly I do not feel I am a holy man.”
GIRISH: “I am not your equal even in joking.”
MASTER: “I once went to Jaygopal Sen’s garden house wearing a red-bordered cloth. Keshab was there. Looking at the red borders Keshab said: ‘What’s this? Such a flash of colour today! Such a display of red borders!’ I said, ‘I have to cast a spell on Keshab; hence this display.'”
Narendra was going to sing again. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to take down the tanpura from the wall. Narendra was a long time tuning it. The Master and the devotees became impatient. Binode said, “He will tune it today and sing another day.” (Laughter.)
Sri Ramakrishna laughed. He said: “I feel like breaking the tanpura to pieces! What is this? Only Tong — tong’! Then he will practise: ‘Tana-nana-nere-num’!” (The sound of a stringed instrument.)
BHAVANATH: “Everybody feels annoyed like this before a musical performance begins.”
NARENDRA (still tuning): “If you don’t understand it.”
MASTER (smiling): “There! He explains away our complaints!”
Narendra began to sing. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch. Nityagopal and the other devotees were on the floor.
O Mother, Thou my Inner Guide, ever awake within my heart!
Day and night Thou boldest me in Thy lap.
Why dost Thou show such tenderness to this unworthy child of Thine? . . .
Then he sang:
O my lute of a single string!
Sing the blessed Mother’s name,
For She is the solace of my soul. . . .
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave. . . .
In an ecstatic mood Sri Ramakrishna came down and sat by Narendra’s side. He began to talk, still in ecstasy.
MASTER: “Shall I sing? Fie! (To Nityagopal) What do you say? One should listen to singing to awaken the inner spirit. Nothing matters afterwards.
“He has kindled the fire. That is nice. Now all is silence. That’s nice too. I am silent; you be silent too. The thing is to dive into the Elixir of Bliss.
“Shall I sing? Well, I may. Water is water whether it is still or in waves.”
Narendra was seated near the Master. He was constantly worried about his financial difficulties at home. He was now twenty-three years old. Sri Ramakrishna looked at him intently.
MASTER (to Narendra, smiling): “Undoubtedly you are ‘Kha’. But you have to worry about ‘taxes’; that’s the trouble.”
By “taxes” the Master meant Narendra’s financial difficulties at home.
MASTER: “Krishnakishore used to say that he was ‘Kha’. One day I visited him at his home and found him worried. He wouldn’t talk to me freely. I asked him: ‘What’s the matter? Why are you brooding like this?’ Krishnakishore said: ‘The tax-collector came today. He said my pots and pans would be sold at auction if I didn’t pay my taxes. That’s what I am worrying about.’ I laughed and said: ‘How is that? You are surely ‘Kha’, the akasa. Let the rascals take away your pots and pans. What is that to you?’
(To Narendra) “So I am saying that you are ‘Kha’. Why are you so worried? Don’t you know that Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘If you have one of the eight siddhis, you may get a little power, but you will not realise Me.’ By siddhis one may acquire powers, strength, money, and such things, but not God.
“Let me tell you something else. Go beyond knowledge and ignorance. People say that such and such a one is a jnani; but in reality it is not so. Vasishtha was a great jnani, but even he was stricken with grief on account of the death of his sons. At this Lakshmana said to Rama: ‘This is amazing, Rama. Even Vasishtha is so grief-stricken!’ Rama said: ‘Brother, he who has knowledge has ignorance as well. He who is aware of light is also aware of darkness. He who knows good also knows bad. He who knows happiness also knows misery. Brother, go beyond duality, beyond pleasure and pain, beyond knowledge and ignorance.’ (To Narendra) So I am asking you to go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.”
Sri Ramakrishna went back to his small couch. The devotees were seated on the floor. Surendra sat by his side. The Master cast an affectionate look on him and began to give him advice.
MASTER (to Surendra): “Come here every now and then. Nangta used to say that a brass pot must be polished every day; otherwise it gets stained. One should constantly live in the company of holy men.
“The renunciation of ‘woman and gold’ is for sannyasis. It is not for you. Now and then you should go into solitude and call on God with a yearning heart. Your renunciation should be mental.
“Unless a devotee is of the heroic type he cannot pay attention to both God and the world. King Janaka lived a householder’s life only after attaining perfection through austerity and prayer. He fenced with two swords, the one of Knowledge and the other of action.”
The Master sang:
This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.
Janaka’s might was unsurpassed;
What did he lack of the world or the Spirit?
Holding to one as well as the other,
He drank his milk from a brimming cup!
MASTER: “For you, as Chaitanya said, the disciplines to be practised are kindness to living beings, service to the devotees, and chanting the name of God.
(To Surendra) “Why do I say all this to you? You work in a merchant’s office. I say this to you because you have many duties to perform there.
“You tell lies at the office. Then why do I eat the food you offer me? Because you give your money in charity; you give away more than you earn. The seed of the melon is bigger than the fruit’, as the saying goes.
“I cannot eat anything offered by miserly people. Their wealth is squandered in these ways: first, litigation; second, thieves and robbers; third, physicians; fourth, their wicked children’s extravagance. It is like that.
‘”Your giving money away in charity is very good. Those who have money should give in charity. The miser’s wealth is spirited away, but the money of the charitable person is saved. He spends it for a righteous purpose. At Kamarpukur I have seen the farmers cutting channels to irrigate their fields. Sometimes the water rushes in with such force that the ridges around the fields are washed away and the crops destroyed. For this reason the farmers make holes here and there in the ridges. Since the water escapes through the holes, the ridges are not destroyed by the rush of the water. Furthermore, the escaping water deposits soft clay in the fields, which increases their fertility and gives a richer crop. He who gives away in charity achieves great results. He achieves the four fruits; dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.”
The devotees listened with great attention to Sri Ramakrishna’s words.
SURENDRA: “I cannot meditate well. I repeat the Divine Mother’s name now and then. Lying in bed, I repeat Her name and fall asleep.”
MASTER: “That is enough. You remember Her, don’t you?
“There are two kinds of yoga: manoyoga and karmayoga. To perform, following the guru’s instructions, such pious acts as worship, pilgrimage, and service to living beings is called karmayoga. The duties that Janaka performed are also called karmayoga. The meditation and contemplation of the yogis is called manoyoga.
“Sometimes I say to myself in the Kali temple, ‘O Mother, the mind is nothing but Yourself.’ Therefore Pure Mind, Pure Buddhi, and Pure Atman are one and the same thing.”
It was about dusk. Many of the devotees saluted Sri Ramakrishna and started to go home. The Master went to the west porch. Bhavanath and M. were with him.
MASTER (to Bhavanath): “Why do you come here so seldom?”
BHAVANATH (smiling): “Sir, I visit you once in a fortnight. I saw you in the street the other day, so I didn’t come here.”
MASTER: “What do you mean? What can you gain by mere seeing? Touch and talk are also necessary.”
The evening worship had begun in the temples. It was the eighth day of the bright fortnight of the moon; the temple domes, the courtyard, the gardens, and the trees were shining in the moonlight. The Ganges was flowing north with a murmuring sound. Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch in his room absorbed in contemplation of the Divine Mother.
The evening worship was over. One or two devotees were still in the temple garden. Narendra had left. Sri Ramakrishna was pacing the verandah northeast of his room. M. stood there looking at him. Suddenly he said to M., “Ah, how sweet Narendra’s music is!”
M: “Yes, sir. That song beginning with ‘In dense darkness’ is particularly beautiful.”
MASTER: “You are right. That song has a deep meaning. A part of my mind is still drawn to it.”
M: “Yes, sir.”
MASTER: “Meditation in darkness is prescribed in the Tantra.”
Girish Ghosh came and stood by Sri Ramakrishna, who had started to sing:
Is Kali, my Mother, really black?
The Naked One, of blackest hue,
Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna was filled with divine fervour. Standing with one arm resting on Girish’s body he sang:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
So long as I can breathe my last with Kali’s name upon my lips?
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother’s name at the three holy hours?
Rituals may pursue him close, but never can they overtake him. . . .
Then he sang:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One2 who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava.
A man has come to me from a country where there is no night,
And now I cannot distinguish day from night any longer;
Rituals and devotions have all grown profitless for me.
My sleep is broken; how can I slumber any more?
For now I am wide awake in the sleeplessness of yoga.
O Divine Mother, made one with Thee in yoga-sleep3 at last,
My slumber I have lulled asleep for evermore.
I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
Knowing the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I have discarded, once for. all, both righteousness and sin.
As Sri Ramakrishna looked at Girish, his ecstatic fervour became more intense.
I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother;
Am I afraid of Death any more?
Unto the tuft of hair on my head
Is tied the almighty mantra. Mother Kali’s name.
My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga’s name. . . .
Intoxicated with God, Sri Ramakrishna repeated the lines:
My body I have sold in the market-place of the world
And with it have bought Sri Durga’s name.
Looking at Girish and M. he said, “‘Divine fervour fills my body and robs me of consciousness.’ “Here ‘consciousness’ means consciousness of the outer world. One needs the Knowledge of Reality and Brahman.
“Bhakti, love of God, is the only essential thing. One kind of bhakti has a motive behind it. Again, there is a motiveless love, pure devotion, a love of God that seeks no return. Keshab Sen and the members of the Brahmo Samaj didn’t know about motiveless love. In this love there is no desire; it is nothing but pure love of the Lotus Feet of God.
“There is another kind of love, known as urjhita bhakti, an ecstatic love of God that overflows, as it were. When it is awakened, the devotee laughs and weeps and dances and sings’. Chaitanyadeva is an example of this love. Rama said to Lakshmana, ‘Brother, if anywhere you see the manifestation of urjhita bhakti, know for certain that I am there.'”
GIRISH: “Everything is possible through your grace. What was I before? And see what I am now.”
MASTER: “You had latent tendencies; so they are manifesting themselves now. Nothing happens except at the proper time. Take the case of a patient Nature has almost cured him, when the physician prescribes a herb and asks him to drink its juice. After taking the medicine he is completely cured. Now, is the patient cured by the medicine, or does he get well by himself? Who can tell?
“Lakshmana said to Lava and Kusa: (Rama’s two sons.) “You are mere children; you don’t know Rama’s power. At the touch of His feet, Ahalya,4 who had been turned into a stone, got back her human form.’ Lava and Kusa said: ‘Revered sir, we know that. We have heard the story. The stone became Ahalya because of the power of the holy man’s words. The sage Gautama said to her: “In the Tretayuga, Rama will pass this hermitage. You will become a human being again at the touch of His feet.”‘ Now, who can tell whether the miracle happened in order that the sage’s words should be fulfilled or on account of Rama’s holiness?
“Everything happens by the will of God. If your spiritual consciousness has been awakened at this place, know that I am only an instrument. ‘Uncle Moon is everybody’s uncle.’ All happens by the will of God.”
GIRISH (smiling): “Did you say ‘by the will of God’? What I am saying is the very same thing.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (to Girish): “By being guileless one can speedily realise God. There are several kinds of people who do not attain divine knowledge. First, a man with a perverse mind; he is not guileless. Second, one who is very fastidious about outer purity. Third, a doubting person.”
Sri Ramakrishna spoke highly of Nityagopal’s ecstasy.
Three or four devotees stood near Sri Ramakrishna on the verandah and listened to his words about the exalted state of the paramahamsa. The Master said: “A paramahamsa is always conscious that God alone is real and all else illusory. Only the swan has the power to separate milk from a mixture of milk and water. The swan’s tongue secretes an acid that separates the milk from the mixture. The paramahamsa also possesses such a juice; it is his ecstatic love for God. That separates the Real from the mixture of the Real and the unreal. Through it one becomes aware of God and sees Him.”
Wednesday, February 25, 1885
Sri Ramakrishna was at the house of Girish Ghosh in Bosepara Lane, Calcutta. It was about three o’clock when M. arrived and prostrated himself before him. The Master was going to see a play at the Star Theatre. He was talking with the devotees about the Knowledge of Brahman.
MASTER: “Man experiences three states of consciousness: waking, dream, and deep sleep. Those who follow the path of knowledge explain away the three states. According to them, Brahman is beyond the three states. It is also beyond the gross, the subtle, and the causal bodies, and beyond the three gunas — sattva, rajas, and tamas. All these are maya, like a reflection in a mirror. The reflection is by no means the real substance. Brahman alone is the Substance and all else is illusory.
“The knowers of Brahman say, further, that it is the identification of the soul with the body that creates the notion of duality. In that state of identification the reHection appears real. When this identification disappears, a man realises, ‘I am He; I am Brahman.
A DEVOTEE: “Then shall we all follow the path of reasoning?”
MASTER: “Reasoning is one of the paths; it is the path of the Vedantists. But there is another path, the path of bhakti. If a bhakta weeps longingly for the Knowledge of Brahman, he receives that as well.5 These are the two paths: jnana and bhakti.
“One may attain the Knowledge of Brahman by either path. Some retain bhakti even after realizing Brahman, in order to teach humanity. An Incarnation of God is one of these.
“A man cannot easily get rid of the ego and the consciousness that the body is the soul. It becomes possible only when, through the grace of God, he attains samadhi — nirvikalpa samadhi, jada samadhi.
“The ego of the Incarnations returns to them when they come down from the plane of samadhi; but then it is the ‘ego of Knowledge’ or the ‘ego of Devotion’. Through the ‘ego of Knowledge’ they teach men. Sankaracharya kept the ‘ego of Knowledge’.
“Through the ‘ego of Devotion’ Chaitanyadeva tasted divine love and enjoyed the company of the devotees. He talked about God and chanted His name.
“Since one cannot easily get rid of the ego, a bhakta does not explain away the states of waking, dream, and deep sleep. He accepts all the states. Further, he accepts the three gunas — sattva, rajas, and tamas. A bhakta sees that God alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings. He also sees that God reveals Himself to His devotees in a tangible form, which is the embodiment of Spirit.
“The bhakta takes shelter under vidyamaya. He seeks holy company, goes on pilgrimage, and practises discrimination, devotion, and renunciation. He says that, since a man cannot easily get rid of his ego, he should let the rascal remain as the servant of God, the devotee of God.
“But a bhakta also attains the Knowledge of Oneness; he sees that nothing exists but God. He does not regard the world as a dream, but says that it is God Himself who has become everything. In a wax garden you may see various objects, but everything is made of wax.
“But a man realises this only when his devotion to God has matured. One gets jaundice when too much bile accumulates. Then one sees everything as yellow. From constantly meditating on Krishna, Radhika saw everything as Krishna; moreover, she even felt that she herself had become Krishna. If a piece of lead is kept in a lake of mercury a long time, it turns into mercury. The cockroach becomes motionless by constantly meditating on the kumira worm; it loses the power to move. At last it is transformed into a kumira. Similarly, by constantly meditating on God the bhakta loses his ego; he realises that God is he and he is God. When the cockroach becomes the kumira everything is achieved. Instantly one obtains liberation.
“As long as God retains the ego m a man, he should establish a definite relationship with God, calling on Him as Master, Mother, Friend”, or the like. I spent one year as a handmaid — the handmaid of the Divine Mother, the Embodiment of Brahman. I used to dress myself as a woman. I put on a nose-ring. One can conquer lust by assuming, the attitude of a woman.
“One must worship the Adyasakti. She must be propitiated. She alone has assumed all female forms. Therefore I look on all women as mother. The attitude of looking on woman as mother is very pure. The Tantra mentions the vamachara6 method also. But that is not a good method; it causes the aspirant’s downfall. A devotee keeping an object of enjoyment near him has reason to be afraid.
“Looking on woman as mother is like fasting on the ekadasi day without touching even a drop of water; in this attitude there is not the slightest trace of sensual enjoyment. Another way of observing the ekadasi allows the taking of fruit and the like. One can also observe the day by eating luchi and curries! But my attitude is not to touch even a drop of water while I observe the fast. I worshipped the Shorasi7 as my mother; I looked on all parts of her body as those of my mother. This attitude of regarding God as Mother is the last word in sadhana. ‘O God, Thou art my Mother and I am Thy child’ — this is the last word in spirituality.
“The sannyasi’s way of living is like observing the ekadasi fast without taking even a drop of water. If he clings to enjoyment, then he has reason to be afraid. ‘Woman and gold’ is enjoyment. If a monk enjoys it, he is swallowing his own spittle, as it were. There are different kinds of enjoyment: money, wealth, name, fame, and sense pleasures. It is not good for a sannyasi to sit in the company of a woman devotee, or even to talk to her. This injures him and others as well. Then others cannot learn from him; he cannot set an example to humanity. A sannyasi keeps his body in order to teach mankind.
“To sit with a woman or talk to her a long time has also been described as a kind of sexual intercourse. There are eight kinds. To listen to a woman and enjoy her conversation is one kind; to speak about a woman is another kind; to whisper to her privately is a third kind; to keep something belonging to a woman and enjoy it is a fourth kind; to touch her is a fifth. Therefore a sannyasi should not salute his guru’s young wife, touching her feet. These are the rules for sannyasis.
“But the case is quite different with householders. After the birth of one or two children, the husband and wife should live as brother and sister. The other seven kinds of sexual intercourse do not injure them much.
“A householder has various debts: debts to the gods, to the fathers, and to the rishis. He also owes a debt to his wife. He should make her the mother of one or two children and support her if she is a chaste woman.
“Householders do not know who is a good wife and who is a bad wife, who is a vidyasakti and who is an avidyasakti. A vidyasakti, a good wife, has very little lust and anger. She sleeps little. She pushes her husband’s head away from her. She is full of affection, kindness, devotion, modesty, and other noble qualities. Such a wife serves all, looking on all men as her children. Further, she helps increase her husband’s love of God. She doesn’t spend much money lest her husband should have to work hard and thus not get leisure to think of God.
“Mannish women have different traits. These are bad traits: squint eyes and hollow eyes, catlike eyes, lantern jaws like a calf’s, and pigeon-breast”
GIRISH: “What is the way for people like us?”
MASTER: “Bhakti is the only essential thing. Bhakti has different aspects: the sattvic, the rajasic, and the tamasic. One who has sattvic bhakti is very modest and humble. But a man with tamasic bhakti is like a highwayman in his attitude toward God. He says: ‘O God, I am chanting Your name; how can I be a sinner? O God, You are my own Mother; You must reveal Yourself to me.'”
GIRISH (smiling): “It is you, sir, who teach us tamasic bhakti.”
MASTER (smiling): “There are certain signs of God-vision. When a man sees God he goes into samadhi. There are five kinds of samadhi. First, he feels the Mahavayu8 rise like an ant crawling up. Second, he feels It rise like a fish swimming in the water. Third, he feels It rise like a snake wriggling along. Fourth, he feels It rise like a bird flying — flying from one branch to another. Fifth, he feels It rise like a monkey making a big jump; the Mahavayu reaches the head with one jump, as it were, and samadhi follows.
“There are two other kinds of samadhi. First, the sthita samadhi, when the aspirant totally loses outer consciousness: he remains in that state a long time, it may be for many days. Second, the unmana samadhi: it is to withdraw the mind suddenly from all sense-objects and unite it with God.
(To M.) “Do you understand this?”
M: “Yes, sir.”
GIRISH: “Can one realise God by sadhana?”
MASTER: “People have realised God in various ways. Some through much austerity, worship, and devotion; they have attained perfection through their own efforts. Some are born perfect, as for example Narada and Sukadeva; they are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. There are also those who have attained perfection all of a sudden; it is like a man’s unexpectedly coming into a great fortune. Again, there are instances of people’s realizing God in a dream and by divine grace.”
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna sang, intoxicated with divine fervour:
Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kali’s treasure for everyone?
Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna remained in ecstasy a few moments. Girish and the other devotees were seated before him. A few days earlier Girish had been very rude to the Master at the Star Theatre; but now he was in a calm state of mind.
MASTER (to Girish): “This mood of yours is very good; it is peaceful. I prayed about you to the Divine Mother, ‘O Mother, make him peaceful so that he won’t abuse me.
GIRISH (to M.): “I feel as if someone were pressing my tongue. I can’t talk.”
Sri Ramakrishna was still in an indrawn mood; he seemed to be gradually forgetting the men and the objects around him. He tried to bring his mind down to the relative world. He looked at the devotees.
Looking at M., he said: “They all come to Dakshineswar. Let them. Mother knows everything.” To a young man of the neighbourhood he said: “Hello! What do you think? What is the duty of man?” All sat in silence. To Narayan he said: “Don’t you want to pass the examinations? But, my dear child, a man freed from bondage is Siva; entangled in bondage, he is jiva.”
Sri Ramakrishna was still in the God-intoxicated mood. There was a glass of water near him. He drank the water. He said to himself, “Why, I have drunk water in this mood!”
It was not yet dusk. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Atul, who was seated in front of him. Atul was Girish’s brother and a lawyer of the High Court of Calcutta. A brahmin neighbour was also seated near him.
MASTER (to Atul): “All I want to tell you is this. Follow both; perform your duties in the world and also cultivate love of God.”
BRAHMIN: “Can anyone but a brahmin achieve perfection?”
MASTER: “Why should you ask that? It is said that in the Kaliyuga the sudras achieve love of God. There are the instances of Savari, Ruhidas, the untouchable Guhaka, and others.”
NARAYAN (smiling): “Brahmins and sudras — all are one.”
BRAHMIN: “Can a man realise God in one birth?”
MASTER: “Is anything impossible for the grace of God? Suppose you bring a light into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it remove the darkness little by little? The room is lighted all at once. (To Atul) Intense renunciation is what is needed. One should be like an unsheathed sword. When a man has that renunciation, he looks on his relatives as black cobras and his home as a deep well.
“One should pray to God with sincere longing. God cannot but listen to prayer if it is sincere.”
All sat in silence, pondering Sri Ramakrishna’s words.
MASTER (to Atul): “What is worrying you? Is it that you haven’t that grit, that intense restlessness for God?”
ATUL: “How can we keep our minds on God?”
MASTER: “Abhyasayoga, the yoga of practice. You should practise calling on God every day. It is not possible to succeed in one day; through daily prayer you will come to long for God.
“How can you feel that restlessness if you are immersed in worldliness day and night? Formerly Jadu Mallick enjoyed spiritual talk; he liked to engage in it himself. But nowadays he doesn’t show that much interest. He surrounds himself with flatterers day and night and indulges in worldly talk.”
It was dusk. The lamp was lighted in the room. Sri Ramakrishna chanted the divine names. He was singing and praying. He said, “Chant the name of Hari, repeal the name of Hari, sing the name of Hari.” Again he said, “Rama! Rama! Rama!” Then: “O Mother! Thou dost ever enjoy Thine eternal sports. Tell us, O Mother, what is the way? We have taken refuge in Thee; we have taken shelter at Thy feet.”
Finding Girish restless, Sri Ramakrishna remained silent a moment. He asked Tejchandra to sit near him. The boy sat near the Master. He whispered to M. that he would have to leave soon.
MASTER (to M.): “What did he say?”
M: “He said he would have to go home.”
MASTER: “Why do I attract these boys to me so much? They are pure vessels untouched by worldliness. A man cannot assimilate instruction if his mind is stained with worldliness. Milk can be safely kept in a new pot; but it turns sour if kept in a pot in which curd has been made. You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic, but still you cannot remove the smell.”
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the Star Theatre, on Beadon Street, to see a performance of Vrishaketu.9 He sat in a box, facing the south. M. and other devotees were near him.
MASTER (to M.): “Has Narendra come?”
M: “Yes, sir.”
The performance began. Karna and his wife Padmavati sacrificed their son to please God, who had come to them in the guise of a brahmin to test Karna’s charity. During this scene one of the devotees gave a suppressed sigh. Sri Ramakrishna also expressed his sorrow.
After the play Sri Ramakrishna went to the recreation room of the theatre. Girish and Narendra were already there. The Master stood near Narendra and said, “I have come.”
Sri Ramakrishna took a seal. The orchestra was playing in the auditorium.
MASTER (to the devotee): “I feel happy listening to the concert. The musicians used to play on the sanai at Dakshineswar and I would go into ecstasy. Noticing this, a certain sadhu said, ‘This is a sign of the Knowledge of Brahman.'”
The orchestra stopped playing and Sri Ramakrishna began the conversation.
MASTER (to Girish): “Does this theatre belong to you?”
GIRISH: “It is ours, sir.”
MASTER: “‘Ours’ is good, it is not good to say ‘mine’. People say ‘I’ and ‘mine’; they are egotistic, small-minded people.”
NARENDRA: “The whole world is a theatre.”
MASTER: “Yes, yes, that’s right. In some places you see tlie play of vidya and in some, the play of avidya.”
NARENDRA: “Everything is the play of vidya.”
MASTER: “True, true. But a man realises that when he has the Knowledge of Brahman. But for a bhakta, who follows the path of divine love, both exist — vidyamaya and avidyamaya.
“Please sing a little.”
Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness waves of ecstatic love arise:
Rapture divine! Play of God’s Bliss!
Oh, how enthralling!
Wondrous waves of the sweetness of God, ever new and ever enchanting,
Rise on the surface, ever assuming
Forms ever fresh.
Then once more in the Great Communion all are merged, as the barrier walls
Of time and space dissolve and vanish:
Dance then, O mind!
Dance in delight with hands upraised, chanting Lord Hari’s holy name.
As Narendra sang the words, “Then once more in the Great Communion all are merged”, Sri Ramakrishna said to him, “One realises this after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman; then all is vidya, Brahman, as you said.”
As Narendra sang the line, “Dance in delight with hands upraised, chanting Lord Hari’s holy name”, the Master said to him, “Sing that line twice.” After the song Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.
GIRISH: “Devendra Babu hasn’t come. He says in a mood of wounded pride: ‘We haven’t any stuff inside us, no filling of thickened milk. We are filled only with worthless lentil-paste. Why should we go there?'”
MASTER (surprised): “Does he say that? He never said so before.” Sri Ramakrishna took some refreshments and handed some to Narendra.
JATIN DEVA (to the Master): “You always say: ‘Narendra, eat this! Eat that!’ Are the rest of us fools? Are we like straw washed ashore by the flood-tide?”
Sri Ramakrishna loved Jatin dearly. Jatin visited the Master now and then at Dakshineswar and occasionally spent the night there. He belonged to an aristocratic family of Sobhabazar. The Master said laughingly to Narendra, “He is talking about you.”
Sri Ramakrishna laughed and showed his affection to Jatin by touching his chin. He said to Jatin, “Come to Dakshineswar; I’ll give you plenty to eat.”
The Master went into the auditorium to see a farce. He sat in a box. He laughed at the conversation of the maidservant. After a while he became absent-minded and whispered a few words to M.
MASTER (to M.): “Well, is what Girish Ghosh says true?”
Girish had lately been speaking of Sri Ramakrishna as an Incarnation of God.
M: “Yes, sir, it must be true. Otherwise why should it appeal to our minds?”
MASTER: “You see, a change is coming over me. The old mood has changed. I am not able to touch any metal now.”
M. listened to these words in wonder.
MASTER: “There is a very deep meaning in this new mood.” Was the Master hinting that a God-man cannot bear any association with worldly treasure?
MASTER (to M.): “Well, do you notice any change in me?”
M: “In what respect, sir?”
MASTER: “In my activities.”
M: “Your activities are increasing as more people come to know about you.
MASTER: “Do you see? What I said before is now coming true.
After a few moments he said, “Can you tell me why Paltu can’t meditate well?”
Sri Ramakrishna was ready to leave for Dakshineswar. He had remarked to a devotee about Girish, “You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic; but is it ever possible to get rid of the smell altogether?” Girish was offended by this remark. When the Master was about to leave, Girish spoke.
GIRISH: “Will this smell of garlic go?”
MASTER: “Yes, it will.”
GIRISH: “So you say it will.”
MASTER: “All smell disappears when a blazing fire is lighted. If you heat the cup smelling of garlic, you get rid of the smell; it becomes a new cup.
“The man who says he will not succeed will never succeed. He who feels he is liberated is indeed liberated; and he who feels he is bound verily remains bound. He who forcefully says, ‘I am free’ is certainly free; and he who says day and night, ‘I am bound’ is certainly bound.”
- ^Gauranga and Nityananda.
- ^God, whom the poet worshipped as the Divine Mother.
- ^Samadhi, which makes one appear asleep.
- ^The beautiful and devoted wife of a great sage named Gautama. India, the king of heaven, infatuated with her beauty, seduced her, impersonating her husband. The sage, coming to know of this, cursed her and turned her into a stone; but he said that the touch of Rama’s feet would restore her human form. Indra, too, received his share of the curse, as a result of which he had a thousand eruptions on his body. Hence he is known as the “thousand-eyed god”.
- ^Usually the ideal of a bhakta is the vision of the Personal God.
- ^Literally, “left-hand path”. According to this attitude the aspirant seeks to conquer lust by fulfilling its urge.
- ^Literally, “maiden sixteen years old”. The worship of a maiden is a discipline Inscribed in the Tantra.
- ^The great nerve current whose rising is felt in the spinal column.
- ^Vrishaketu was the son of Karna, a hero of the Mahabharata, who was celebrated alike for charity and heroism. Karna sacrificed his son to fulfil a promise.