Thursday, October 29, 1885
M. and Dr. Sarkar
IT WAS ABOUT TEN O’CLOCK in the morning when M. arrived at Dr. Sarkar’s house in Sankharitola, Calcutta, to report Sri Ramakrishna’s condition. M. and Dr. Sarkar became engaged in conversation.
DOCTOR: “You see, Dr. Behari Bhaduri always harps on the same thing. He says that Goethe’s spirit came out of his body and that Goethe himself saw it. It must have been very amazing.”
The aim of human life
M: “As Sri Ramakrishna says, what shall we gain from these discussions? We have been born in this world in order to cultivate devotion to the Lotus Feet of God. He tells us the story of a man who entered an orchard to eat mangoes. But instead of eating the fruit, he took out pencil and paper and began to jot down the number of trees, branches, and leaves in the orchard. A servant saw him and asked: ‘What are you doing? Why have you come here?’ The man said: ‘I have come here to eat mangoes. I am now counting the trees, branches, and leaves in the orchard.’ Thereupon the servant replied: ‘If you have come here to eat mangoes, then enjoy them. What will you gain by counting the trees, branches, and leaves?’ “
DOCTOR: “I see that the Paramahamsa has been able to extract the essence.”
Then Dr. Sarkar told M. many stories about his homeopathic hospital. He showed M. the list of the patients who visited the hospital every day. He further remarked that at the beginning many medical practitioners had discouraged him about homeopathy and had even written against him in magazines.
M. and Dr. Sarkar got into the doctor’s carriage. The doctor visited many patients. He entered a house of the Tagore family at Pathuriaghata and was detained there by the head of the family. Returning to the carriage, he began to talk to M.
DOCTOR: “I was talking to that gentleman about the Paramahamsa. We also talked about Theosophy and Colonel Olcott. The Paramahamsa is angry with the gentleman. Do you know why? Because he says he knows everything.”
M: “No, why should the Master be angry? I heard that they once met each other. Paramahamsadeva was talking about God. The gentleman said, ‘Oh, yes! I know all that!’
DOCTOR: “He has donated thirty-two thousand five hundred rupees to the Science Association.”
They drove on, talking about Sri Ramakrishna’s illness and the care that should be taken of him.
DOCTOR: “Do you intend to send him back to Dakshineswar?”
M: “No, sir. That would greatly inconvenience the devotees. They can always visit him if he is in Calcutta.”
DOCTOR: “But it is very expensive here.”
M: “The devotees don’t mind that. All they want is to be able to serve him. As regards the expense, it must be borne whether he lives in Calcutta or at Dakshineswar. But if he goes back to Dakshineswar, the devotees won’t always be able to visit him, and that will cause them great worry.”
Dr. Bhaduri and Dr. Sarkar
Dr. Sarkar and M. arrived at Syampukur and found the Master sitting with the devotees in his room. Dr. Bhaduri also was there.
Dr. Sarkar examined the Master’s pulse and inquired about his condition. The conversation turned to God.
DR. BHADURI: “Shall I tell you the truth? All this is unreal, like a dream.”
Is the world a delusion?
DR. SARKAR: “Is everything delusion? Then whose is this delusion? And why this delusion? If all know it to be delusion, then why do they talk? I cannot believe that God is real and His creation unreal”
MASTER: “That is a good attitude. It is good to look on God as the Master and oneself as His servant. As long as a man feels the body to be real, as long as he is conscious of ‘I’ and ‘you’, it is good to keep the relationship of master and servant; it is not good to cherish the idea of ‘I am He’.
“Let me tell you something else. You see the same room whether you look at it from one side or from the middle of the room.”
DR. BHADURI (to Dr. Sarkar): “What I have just said you will find in the Vedānta. You must study the scriptures. Then you will understand.”
DR. SARKAR: “Why so? Has he [meaning the Master] acquired all this wisdom by studying the scriptures? He too supports my view. Can’t one be wise without reading the scriptures?”
MASTER: “But how many scriptures I have heard!”
DR. SARKAR: “A man may mistake the meaning if he only hears. In your case it is not mere hearing.”
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “I understand that you spoke of me as insane. That is why they (pointing to M. and the others) don’t want to go to you.”
DR. SARKAR (looking at M.): “Why Should I call you [meaning the Master] insane? But I mentioned your egotism. Why do you allow people to take the dust of your feet?”
M: “Otherwise they weep.”
DR. SARKAR: “That is their mistake. They should be told about it.”
M: “Why should you object to their taking the dust of his feet? Doesn’t God dwell in all beings?”
DR. SARKAR: “I don’t object to that. Then you must take the dust of everyone’s feet.”
M: “But there is a greater manifestation of God in some men than in others. There is water everywhere; but you see more of it in a lake, a river, or an ocean. Will you show the same respect to a new Bachelor of Science as you do to Faraday?”
DR. SARKAR: “I agree with that. But why do you call him God?”
M: “Why do we salute each other? It is because God dwells in everybody’s heart. You haven’t given much thought to this subject.”
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “I have already told you that some people reveal more of God than others. Earth reflects the sun’s rays in one way, a tree in another way, and a mirror in still another way. You see a better reflection in a mirror than in other objects. Don’t you see that these devotees here are not on the same level with Prahlada and others of his kind? Prahlada’s whole heart and soul were dedicated to God.”
Dr. Sarkar did not reply. All were silent.
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “You see, you have love for this [meaning himself]. You told me that you loved me.”
DR. SARKAR: “You are a child of nature. That is why I tell you all this. It hurts me to see people salute you by touching your feet. I say to myself, ‘They are spoiling such a good man.’ Keshab Sen, too, was spoiled that way by his devotees. Listen to me-“
Master sharply reprimands Dr. Sarkar
MASTER: “Listen to you? You are greedy, lustful, and egotistic.”
DR. BHADURI (to Dr. Sarkar): “That is to say, you have the traits of a jiva, an embodied being. These are his traits: lust, egotism, greed for wealth, and a hankering after name and fame. All embodied beings have these traits.”
DR. SARKAR (to the Master): “If you talk that way, I shall only examine your throat and go away. Perhaps that is what you want. In that case we should not talk about anything else. But if you want discussion, then I shall say what I think to be right.”
All remained silent.
After a while the Master became engaged in conversation with Dr. Bhaduri.
Paths of negation and affirmation
MASTER: “Let me tell you the truth. He [meaning Dr. Sarkar] is now following the path of negation. Therefore he discriminates, following the process of ‘Neti, neti’, and reasons in this way: God is not the living beings; He is not the universe; He is outside the creation. But later he will follow the path of affirmation and accept everything as the manifestation of God.
“By taking off, one by one, the sheaths of a banana tree, one obtains the pith. The sheaths are one thing, and the pith is another. The sheaths are not the pith, and the pith is not the sheaths. But in the end one realizes that the pith cannot exist apart from the sheaths, and the sheaths cannot exist apart from the pith; they are part and parcel of one and the same banana tree. Likewise, it is God who has become the twenty-four cosmic principles; it is He who has become man.
Three classes of devotees
(To Dr. Sarkar) “There are three kinds of devotees: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The inferior devotee says, ‘God is out there.’ According to him God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says: ‘God is the Antaryami, the Inner Guide. God dwells in everyone’s heart. The mediocre devotee sees God in the heart. But the superior devotee sees that God alone has become everything; He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. He finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God.
“Read the Gitā, the Bhagavata, and the Vedānta, and you will understand all this. Is not God in His creation?”
DR. SARKAR: “Not in any particular object. He is everywhere. And because He is everywhere, He cannot be sought after.”
The conversation turned to other things. Sri Ramakrishna was always experiencing ecstatic moods, which the doctor said might aggravate his illness. Dr. Sarkar said to him: “You must suppress your emotion. My feelings, too, are greatly stirred up. I can dance much more than you.”
THE YOUNGER NAREN (smiling): “What would you do if your emotion increased a little more?”
DR. SARKAR: “My power of control would also increase.”
MASTER AND M: “You may say that now!”
M: “Can you tell us what you would do if you went into an ecstatic mood?”
The conversation turned to money.
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “I don’t think about it at all. You know that very well, don’t you? This is not a pretence.”
Absent-mindedness of worldly people
DR. SARKAR: “Even I have no desire for money-not to speak of yourself! My cash-box lies open.”
MASTER: “Jadu Mallick, too, is absent-minded. When he takes his meals he sometimes becomes so absent-minded that he doesn’t know whether the food is good or bad. When someone says to him, ‘Don’t eat that; it doesn’t taste good’, Jadu says: ‘Eh? Is this food bad? Why, that’s so!'”
Was the Master hinting that there was an ocean of difference between absent-mindedness due to the contemplation of God, and absent-mindedness due to preoccupation with worldly thoughts?
Pointing to Dr. Sarkar, Sri Ramakrishna said to the devotees, with a smile: “When a thing is boiled, it becomes soft. At first he was very hard. Now he is softening from inside.”
DR. SARKAR: “When a thing is boiled, it begins to soften from the outside. I am afraid that won’t happen to me in this birth.” (All laugh.) .
Dr. Sarkar was about to take his leave. He was talking to Sri Ramakrishna.
DOCTOR: “Can’t you forbid people to salute you by touching your feet?”
MASTER: “Can all comprehend the Indivisible Satchidananda?”
DR. SARKAR: “But shouldn’t you tell people what is right?”
Different disciplines for different temperaments
MASTER: “People have different tastes. Besides, all have not the same fitness for spiritual life.”
DR. SARKAR: “How is that?”
MASTER: “Don’t you know what difference in taste is? Some enjoy fish curry; some, fried fish; some, pickled fish; and again, some, the rich dish of fish pilau. Then too, there is
difference in fitness. I ask people to learn to shoot at a banana tree first, then at the wick of a lamp, and then at a flying bird.”
It was dusk. Sri Ramakrishna became absorbed in contemplation of God. For the time being he forgot all about his painful disease. Several intimate disciples sat near him and looked at him intently. After a long time he became aware of the outer world and said to M. in a whisper: “You see, my mind was completely merged in the Indivisible Brahman. After that I saw many things. I found that the doctor will have spiritual awakening. But it will take some time. I won’t have to tell him much. I saw another person while in that mood. My mind said to me, ‘Attract him too.’ I shall tell you about him later.”
Shyam Basu, Dr. Dukari, and a few other devotees arrived. Sri Ramakrishna talked to them.
SHYAM: “Ah, what a fine thing you said to us the other day!”
MASTER (smiling): “What was that?”
Jnāna, ajnāna, and vijnāna
SHYAM: “What remains with a man when he goes beyond jnāna and ajnāna, knowledge and ignorance.”
MASTER (smiling): “It is vijnāna, special Knowledge of God. To know many things is ignorance. To know that God dwells in all beings is knowledge. And what is vijnāna? It is to know God in a special manner, to converse with Him and feel Him to be one’s own relative.
“To know that there is fire in wood is knowledge. But to make a fire with that wood, cook food with that fire, and become healthy and strong from that food is vijnāna.”
SHYAM (smiling): “And about the thorn?”
MASTER (smiling): “Yes. When a thorn gets into the sole of your foot, you procure a second thorn. After taking out the first thorn with the help of the second, you throw both thorns away. Likewise, you should procure the thorn of knowledge in order to remove the thorn of ignorance. After destroying ignorance, you should discard both knowledge and ignorance. Then you attain vijnāna.”
Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with Shyam Basu. He was quite an elderly person and wanted to devote his time to contemplation. This was his second visit to the Master.
Master’s advice to Shyam Basu
MASTER (to Shyam Basu): “Give up worldly talk altogether. Don’t talk about anything whatever but God. If you see a worldly person coming near you, leave the place before he arrives. You have spent your whole life in the world. You have seen that it is all hollow. Isn’t that so? God alone is Substance, and all else is illusory. God alone is real, and all else has only a two days existence. What is there in the world? The world is like a
pickled hog plum: one craves for it. But what is there in a hog plum? Only skin and pit. And if you eat it you will have colic.”
SHYAM: “Yes, sir. Everything you have said is true.”
Nature of the world
MASTER: “For many years you have devoted yourself to various worldly things. You will not be able to think of God and meditate on Him in this confusion of the world. A little solitude is necessary for you; otherwise your mind will not be steady. Therefore you must fix a place for meditation at least half a mile away from your house.”
Shyam Basu remained silent a few moments. He appeared absorbed in thought.
MASTER (Smiling): “Besides, all your teeth are gone. Why should you bother so much about the Durga Puja? (All laugh.) A man used to celebrate the worship of Durga with the sacrifice of goats and with other ceremonies. He continued the worship many years and then stopped it. A friend asked him, ‘Why don’t you perform the Durga Puja any more?’ ‘Brother,’ replied the man, ‘my teeth are all gone. I have lost the power to chew goat-meat.'”
SHYAM: “Ah! How sweet these words are!”
MASTER (smiling): “This world is a mixture of sand and sugar. Like the ant, one should discard the sand and eat the sugar. He who can eat the sugar is clever indeed. Build a quiet place for thinking of God-a place for your meditation. Have it ready. I shall visit it.”
SHYAM: “Sir, is there such a thing as reincarnation? Shall we be born again?”
MASTER: “Ask God about it. Pray to Him sincerely. He will tell you everything. Speak to Jadu Mallick, and he himself will tell you how many houses he has, and how many government bonds. It is not right to try to know these things at the beginning. First of all realize God; then He Himself will let you know whatever you desire.”
SHYAM: “Sir, how much wrong, how many sinful things a man does in this world! Can he ever realize God?”
MASTER: “If a man practises spiritual discipline before his death and if he gives up his body praying to God and meditating on Him, when will sin touch him? It is no doubt the elephant’s nature to smear his body with dust and mud, even after his bath. But he cannot do so if the mahut takes him into the stable immediately after his bath.”
In spite of his serious illness the Master keenly felt the sorrow and suffering of men. Day and night he thought about their welfare. The devotees wondered at his compassion. The assurance of Sri Ramakrishna that no sin can touch a man if he gives up his body while praying to God was deeply impressed on their minds.
Friday, October 30, 1885
It was nine o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was talking with M. in his room. No one else was present. M. was going to Dr. Sarkar to report his condition and bring him to examine the Master.
Master on Purna and Manindra
MASTER (to M., smiling): “Purna came this morning. He has such a nice nature! Manindra has an element of Prakriti, of womanliness. He has read the life of Chaitanya and understood the attitude of the gopis. He has also realized that God is Purusha and man is Prakriti, and that man should worship God as His handmaid. How remarkable!”
M: “It is true, sir.”
Purna was then fifteen or sixteen years old. Sri Ramakrishna always longed to see him. But his relatives did not allow him to visit the Master. One night, before his illness, Sri Ramakrishna had been so eager to see Purna that he had suddenly left Dakshineswar and arrived at M.’s house in Calcutta. M. had brought Purna from his home to see Sri Ramakrishna. The Master had given the boy many instructions about prayer and had afterwards returned to Dakshineswar. Manindra was about the same age as Purna. The devotees addressed him as “khoka”. He used to dance in ecstasy when he heard the chanting of God’s name.
About half past ten M. arrived at Dr. Sarkar’s house. He went up to the second floor and sat in a chair on the porch adjacent to the drawing-room. In front of Dr. Sarkar was a glass bowl in which some goldfish were kept. Now and then Dr. Sarkar threw some cardamom shells into the bowl. Again, he threw pellets of flour to the sparrows. M. watched him.
Dr. Sarkar on bhakti and jnāna
DOCTOR (smiling, to M.): “You see, these goldfish are staring at me like devotees staring at God. They haven’t noticed the food I have thrown into the water. Therefore I say, what will you gain by mere bhakti? You need knowledge too. (M. smiles.) Look there at the sparrows! They flew away when I threw flour pellets to them. They were frightened. They have no bhakti because they are without knowledge. They don’t know that flour is their food.”
Dr. Sarkar and M. entered the drawing-room. There were shelves all around filled with books. The doctor rested a little. M. looked at the books. He picked up Canon Farrar’s Life of Jesus and read a few pages. Dr. Sarkar told M. how the first homeopathic hospital was started in the teeth of great opposition. He asked M. to read the letters relating to it, which had been published in the “Calcutta Journal of Medicine” in 1876. Dr. Sarkar was much devoted to homeopathy.
M. picked up another book, Munger’s New Theology. Dr. Sarkar noticed it.
Dr. Sarkar on faith
DOCTOR: “Munger has based his conclusions on nice argument and reasoning. It is not like your believing a thing simply because a Chaitanya or a Buddha or Jesus Christ has said so.”
M. (smiling): “Yes, we should not believe Chaitanya or Buddha; but we must believe Munger!”
DOCTOR: “Whatever you say.”
M: “We must quote someone as our authority; so it is Munger.” (The doctor smiles.)
Dr. Sarkar got into his carriage accompanied by M. The carriage proceeded toward Syampukur. It was midday. They gossiped together. The conversation turned to Dr. Bhaduri, who had also been visiting the Master now and then.
M. (smiling): “Bhaduri said about you that you must begin all over again from the stone and brick-bat.”
DR. SARKAR: “How is that?”
M: “Because you don’t believe in the Mahatmas, astral bodies, and so forth. Perhaps Bhaduri is a Theosophist. Further, you don’t believe in the Incarnation of God. That is why he teased you, saying that when, you died this time you would certainly not be reborn as a human being. That would be far off. You wouldn’t be born even as an animal or bird, or even as a tree or a plant. You would have to begin all over again, from stone and brick-bat. Then, after many, many births, you might assume a human body.”
DR. SARKAR: “Goodness gracious!”
M: “Bhaduri further said that the knowledge of your physical science was a false knowledge. Such knowledge is momentary. He gave an analogy. Suppose there are two wells. The one gets its water from an underground spring. The other has no such spring and is filled with rain-water. But the water of the second well does not last a long time. The knowledge of your science is like the rain-water. It dries up.”
DR. SARKAR (with a smile): “I see!”
The carriage arrived at Cornwallis Street. Dr. Sarkar picked up Dr. Pratap Mazumdar. Pratap had visited Sri Ramakrishna the previous day. They soon arrived at Syampukur.
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room, on the second floor, with several devotees.
DR. SARKAR (to the Master): “I see you are coughing. (Smiling) But it is good to go to Kasi.” (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): “But that will give me liberation. I don’t want liberation; I want love of God!” (All laugh.)
Pratap was Dr. Bhaduri’s son-in-law. Sri Ramakrishna was speaking to Pratap in praise of his father-in-law.
MASTER (to Pratap): “Ah, what a grand person he has become! He contemplates God and observes purity in his conduct. Further, he accepts both aspects of God-personal and impersonal.”
M. was very eager to mention Dr. Bhaduri’s remarks about Dr. Sarkar’s being born again as a stone or brick-bat. He asked the younger Naren very softly whether he remembered those remarks of Dr. Bhaduri. Sri Ramakrishna overheard this.
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “Do you know what Dr. Bhaduri said about you? He said that, because you didn’t believe these things, in the next cycle you would have to begin your earthly life from a stone or brick-bat.” (All laugh.)
DR. SARKAR (smiling): “Suppose I begin from a stone or brick-bat, and after many births obtain a human body; but as soon as I come back to this place I shall have to begin over again from a stone or brick-bat.” (The doctor and all laugh.)
The conversation turned to the Master’s ecstasy in spite of his illness.
PRATAP: “Yesterday I saw you in an ecstatic mood.”
MASTER: “It happened of itself; but it was not intense.”
DR. SARKAR: “Ecstasy and talking are not good for you now.”
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “I saw you yesterday in my samādhi. I found that you are a mine of knowledge; but it is all dry knowledge. You have not tasted divine bliss. (To Pratap, referring to Dr. Sarkar) If he ever tastes divine bliss, he will see everything, above and below, filled with it. Then he will not say that whatever he says is right and what others say is wrong. Then he will not utter sharp, strong, pointed words.”
The devotees remained silent.
Advice to Dr. Sarkar
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna went into a spiritual mood and said to Dr. Sarkar: “Mahindra Babu, what is this madness of yours about money? Why such attachment to wife? Why such longing for name and fame? Give up all these, now, and direct your mind to God with whole-souled devotion. Enjoy the Bliss of God.”
Dr. Sarkar sat still without uttering a word. The devotees also remained silent.
How a Jnāni should meditate
MASTER: “Nangta used to tell me how a Jnāni meditates. Everywhere is water; all the regions above and below are filled with water; man, like a fish, is swimming joyously in that water. In real meditation you will actually see all this.
“Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water: Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The Jnāni sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words.
“Do you know another way a Jnāni meditates? Think of infinite Ākāśa and a bird flying there, joyfully spreading Its wings. There is the Chidakasa, and Ātman is the bird. The bird is not imprisoned in a cage; it flies in the Chidakasa. Its joy is limitless.”
The devotees listened with great attention to these words about meditation.After a time Pratap resumed the conversation.
PRATAP (to Dr. Sarkar): “When one thinks seriously, one undoubtedly sees everything as a mere shadow.”
DR. SARKAR: “If you speak of a shadow, then you need three things: the sun, the object, and the shadow. How can there be any shadow without an object? And you say that God is real and the creation unreal. I say that the creation is real too.”
PRATAP: “Very well. As you see a reflection in a mirror, so you see this universe in the mirror of your mind.”
DR. SARKAR: “But how can there be a reflection without an object?”
NARENDRA: “Why, God is the object.”
Dr. Sarkar remained silent.
MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): “You said a very fine thing. No one else has said before that samādhi is the result of the union of the mind with God. You alone have said that.
“Shivanath said that one lost one’s head by too much thinking of God. In other words, one becomes unconscious by meditating on the Universal Consciousness. Think of it! Becoming unconscious by contemplating Him who is of the very nature of Consciousness, and whose Consciousness endows the world with consciousness!
“And what does your ‘science’ say? This combined with this produces that; that combined with that produces this. One is more likely to lose consciousness by contemplating those things-by handling material things too much.”
DR. SARKAR: “One can see God in those things.”
M: “If so, one sees God more clearly in man, and still better in a great soul. In a great soul there is a greater manifestation of God.”
DR. SARKAR: “Yes, in man, no doubt.”
Losing consciousness in the thought of God
MASTER: “Losing consciousness by contemplating God-through whose Consciousness even inert matter appears to be conscious, and hands, feet, and body move! People say that the body moves of itself; but they do not know that it is God who moves it. They say that water scalds the hand. But water can by no means scald the hand; it is the heat in the water, the fire in the water, that scalds.
“Rice is boiling in a pot. Potatoes and egg-plant are also jumping about in the pot. The children say that the potatoes and egg-plant jump of themselves; they do not know that there is fire underneath. Man says that the sense-organs do their work of themselves; but he does not know that inside dwells He whose very nature is Consciousness.”
Dr. Sarkar stood up. He was about to take his leave. Sri Ramakrishna also stood up.
DR. SARKAR: “People call on God when they are faced with a crisis. Is it for the mere fun of it that they say, ‘O Lord! Thou, Thou!’? You speak of God because of that trouble in your throat. You have now fallen into the clutches of the cotton-carder. You had better speak to the carder. I am just quoting your own words.”
MASTER: “There is nothing for me to say.”
DR. SARKAR: “Why not? We lie in the lap of God. We feel free with Him. To whom should we speak about our illness if not to Him?”
MASTER: “Right you are. Once in a while I try to speak to Him about it, but I do not succeed.”
DR. SARKAR: “Why should you even speak to Him? Does He not know of it?”
MASTER (smiling): “A Mussulman, while saying his prayers, shouted: ‘O Allah! O Allah!’ Another person said to him: ‘You are calling on Allah. That’s all right. But why are you shouting like that? Don’t you know that He hears the sound of the anklets on the feet of an ant?’
Story of Vilwamangal
“When the mind is united with God, one sees Him very near, in one’s own heart. But you must remember one thing. The more you realize this unity, the farther your mind is withdrawn from worldly things. There is the story of Vilwamangal in the Bhaktamala. He used to visit a prostitute. One night he was very late in going to her house. He had been detained at home by the sraddha ceremony of his father and mother. In his hands he
was carrying the food offered in the ceremony, to feed his mistress. His whole soul was so set upon the woman that he was not at all conscious of his movements. He didn’t even know how he was walking. There was a yogi seated on the path, meditating on God with eyes closed. Vilwamangal stepped on him. The yogi became angry, and cried out: ‘What? Are you blind? I have been thinking of God, and you step on my body!’ ‘I beg your pardon,’ said Vilwamangal, ‘but may I ask you something? I have been unconscious, thinking of a prostitute, and you are conscious of the outer world though thinking of God. What kind of meditation is that?’ In the end Vilwamangal renounced the world and went away in order to worship God. He said to the prostitute: ‘You are my guru. You have taught me how one should yearn for God.’ He addressed the prostitute as his mother and gave her up.”
DR. SARKAR: “To address a woman as mother is the Tantrik form of worship.”
Stories of the Bhagavata scholars
MASTER: “Listen to a story. There was a king who used daily to hear the Bhagavata recited by a pundit. Every day, after explaining the sacred book, the pundit would say to the king, ‘O King, have you understood what I have said?’ And every day the king would reply, ‘You had better understand it first yourself.’ The pundit would return home and think: ‘Why does the king talk to me that way day after day? I explain the texts to him so clearly, and he says to me, “You had better understand it first yourself.” What does he mean?’ The pundit used to practise spiritual discipline. A few days later he came to realize that God alone is real and everything else-house, family, wealth, friends, name, and fame-illusory. Convinced of the unreality of the world, he renounced it. As he left home he asked a man to take this message to the king: ‘O King, I now understand.’
“Here is another story. A man needed a scholar of the Bhagavata to expound the sacred text to him every day. But it was very difficult to procure such a scholar. After he had searched a great deal, another man came to him and said, ‘Sir, I have found an excellent scholar of the Bhagavata.’ ‘Very well,’ said the man, ‘bring him here.’ The other man replied: ‘But there is a little hitch. The scholar has a few ploughs and bullocks; he is busy with them all day. He must look after the cultivation of his land. He hasn’t a moment’s leisure. Thereupon the man who required the scholar said: ‘I don’t want a Bhagavata scholar who is burdened with ploughs and bullocks. I want a man who has leisure and can tell me about God.’ (To Dr. Sarhar) Do you understand?”
Dr. Sarkar remained silent.
Uselessness of mere scholarship
MASTER: “Shall I tell you the truth? What will you gain by mere scholarship? The pundits hear many things and know many things-the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras. But of what avail is mere scholarship? Discrimination and renunciation are necessary. If a man has discrimination and renunciation, then one can listen to him. But of what use are the words of a man who looks on the world as the essential thing?
“What is the lesson of the Gitā? It is what you get by repeating the word ten times. As you repeat ‘Gitā’, ‘Gitā’, the word becomes reversed into ‘tagi’, ‘tagi’-which implies renunciation. He alone has understood the secret of the Gitā who has renounced his attachment to ‘woman and gold’ and has directed his entire love to God. It isn’t necessary to read the whole of the Gitā. The purpose of reading the book is served if one practises renunciation.”
DR. SARKAR: “A man once explained the meaning of Radha to me. He said to me: ‘Do you know the meaning of Radha? Reverse the word and it becomes “dhara.” That’s the meaning.’ (All laugh.) Well, let us stop here for today.”
Dr. Sarkar left. M. sat near Sri Ramakrishna and repeated the conversation he had had at Dr. Sarkar’s house.
M: “Dr. Sarkar was feeding the goldfish with cardamom shells and the sparrows with flour pellets. He said to me: ‘Did you notice? The fish didn’t see the cardamom shells and therefore went away. First of all we want knowledge, and then bhakti. Did you notice those sparrows? They too flew away when I threw the pellets of flour. They have no jnāna; therefore they have no bhakti.’ “
MASTER (smiling): “That knowledge means the knowledge of the physical world, the knowledge of ‘science’.”
M: “He said further: ‘Must I believe a thing simply because a Chaitanya or a Buddha or a Christ has said it? That would not be proper.’ A grandson has been born to him. He praised his daughter-in-law highly. He said, ‘I don’t notice her at all in the house; she is so quiet and bashful.’ “
MASTER: “He has been thinking of this place [meaning himself]. His faith is growing. Is it possible to get rid of egotism altogether? Such scholarship! Such fame! And he has so much money! But he doesn’t show disrespect for what I say.”
It was about five o’clock in the afternoon. The devotees were sitting quietly in the room. Many outsiders also were present. All sat in silence.
M. was seated very near Sri Ramakrishna, Now and then they exchanged a word or two in a low voice. The Master wanted to put on his coat. M. helped him.
MASTER (to M.): “You see, nowadays it is not necessary for me to meditate much. All at once I become aware of the Indivisible Brahman. Nowadays the vision of the Absolute is continuous with me.”
M. did not reply. The room was full of men, all silent.
Presently Sri Ramakrishna spoke.
MASTER: “Well, all these people are sitting here without uttering a word. Their eyes are fixed on me. They are neither talking nor singing. What do they see in me?”
M. said to the Master: “Sir, they have already heard many things you have said. Now they are seeing what they can never see anywhere else-a man always blissful, of childlike nature, free from egotism, and intoxicated with divine love. The other day you were pacing the outer room of Ishan’s house. We too were with you. A man came to me and said that he had never before seen such a happy person as you.”
M. became silent. The room was still. A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna spoke to M. in a whisper.
MASTER: “Well, how is the doctor coming along? Does he now receive well the ideas of this place?”
M: “How can an effective seed fail to sprout? It must germinate somehow or other. I feel like laughing when I remember what you said the other day.”
MASTER: “What was that?”
M: “You said that Jadu Mallick was so absent-minded that while taking his meals he didn’t know whether a particular dish was seasoned with salt or not. If anyone pointed out to him that a dish was not salted, he would say, in a surprised voice: ‘Yes? Yes? I see it is not salted.’ You told this to the doctor because he had said to you that he was always absent-minded. You meant that he became absent-minded thinking of worldly things and not because of contemplation of God.”
MASTER: “Will he not pay attention to what I say?”
M: “Of course he will. But he forgets many of your instructions because of his numerous duties. Today, too, he made a nice remark when he said, To look on a woman as mother is a spiritual discipline of the Tantra.'”
MASTER: “What did I say to that?”
M: “You told him about that Bhagavata scholar who owned bullocks and ploughs. (The Master smiles.) Further, you told him about the king who said to the pundit of the Bhagavata, ‘You had better understand it yourself first.’ (The Master smiles.)
“Then you told him about the Gitā, whose essence is the renunciation of ‘woman and gold’, renunciation of the attachment to ‘woman and gold’. You said to him, ‘How can a worldly man who has not renounced “woman and gold” teach others?’ Perhaps he didn’t understand the drift of your words. He changed the subject.”
Sri Ramakrishna was thinking about the welfare of his devotees. Purna and Manindra were two of his young devotees. He sent Manindra to talk to Purna.
It was evening. A lamp was burning in Sri Ramakrishna’s room. The devotees and visitors were sitting at a distance. The Master was introspective. Those in the room were also thinking of God and sat in silence.
A few minutes afterwards Narendra entered the room with a friend, whom he introduced to the Master as an author. Sri Ramakrishna talked with him about the metaphysical significance of Radha and Krishna. The author said that Radha and Krishna were the Supreme Brahman. Vishnu, Śiva, Durga, and the other deities had sprung from them.
Different aspects of Radha
MASTER: “That is good. There are different aspects of Radha. In Her seductive aspect She was Chandravali. In Her aspect of love She participated in Sri Krishna’s lila at Vrindāvan. Nandaghosh, Krishna’s foster-father, had the vision of the Eternal Radha.
“First is the seductive Radha, then the Radha of love. If you go farther, you will see the Eternal Radha. It is like taking off the layers of an onion one by one. First the red layers, then the pink, then the white. Afterwards you don’t find any more layers. Such is the nature of the Eternal Radha, Radha the Absolute. There the discrimination following the process of ‘Not this, not this’ comes to an end.
‘There are two aspects of Radha-Krishna: the Absolute and the Relative. They are like the sun and its rays. The Absolute may be likened to the sun, and the Relative to the rays.
“A genuine bhakta dwells sometimes on the Absolute and sometimes on the Relative. Both the Absolute and the Relative belong to one and the same Reality. It is all one-neither two nor many.”
AUTHOR: “Sir, why do they speak of the ‘Krishna of Vrindāvan’ and the ‘Krishna of Mathura’?”
MASTER: “That is the view of the goswamis. But the scholars of upper India think differently. According to these scholars there is only Krishna, and no Radha. The Krishna of Dwaraka is not associated with Radha.”
AUTHOR: “Sir, Radha and Krishna are themselves the Supreme Brahman.”
MASTER: “That is good. But you must remember that everything is possible for God. He is formless, and again He assumes forms. He is the individual and He is the universe. He is Brahman and He is Śakti. There is no end to Him, no limit. Nothing is impossible for Him. No matter how high the kites and vultures soar, they can never strike against the ceiling of the sky.
Brahman is indescribable
If you ask me what Brahman is like, all I can say is that It cannot be described in words. Even when one has realized Brahman, one cannot describe It. If someone asks you what
ghee is like, your answer will be, ‘Ghee is like ghee.’ The only analogy for Brahman is Brahman. Nothing exists besides It.”
Saturday, October 31, 1885
Hariballav Bose, a cousin of Balarām, came to see Sri Ramakrishna. He saluted the Master respectfully.
Hariballav was the government pleader at Cuttack. He did not approve of Balarām’s visiting the Master, especially with the ladies of the family: Balarām had said to his cousin: “You had better meet him first. Then you can say whatever you like.”
Presently the Master and Hariballav became engaged in conversation.
MASTER: “Can you tell me how I shall get well? Do you think this is a serious illness?”
HARIBALLAV: “Sir, the doctors can tell you better than I about that.”
MASTER: “When the women take the dust of my feet, I say to myself that they are saluting God, who dwells inside me. I look at it in that way.”
HARIBALLAV: “You are a holy man. All should take the dust of your feet. What harm is there in that?”
MASTER: “You may speak that way about sages like Dhruva, Prahlada, Nārada, or Kapila; but who am I? Please come again.”
HARIBALLAV: “I shall certainly come, because you attract me. You don’t have to urge me.”
Hariballav was about to depart. He saluted Sri Ramakrishna and was going to take the dust of the Master’s feet, when Sri Ramakrishna moved his feet away. But Hariballav persisted; he took the dust of Sri Ramakrishna’s feet against the latter’s wish.
When he stood up, the Master stood up too, to show him courtesy. The Master said to him: “Balarām feels unhappy because I don’t go to his house. I thought of visiting you all there one day, but then I was afraid you might say to Balarām, ‘Who asked him to come here?'”
HARIBALLAV: “Who has been telling you things? Please don’t let such a thought enter your mind.”
MASTER (to M.): “He is a devotee of God; why else would he have forcibly taken the dust of my feet? I told you the other day that in samādhi I had seen Dr. Sarkar and another person. He is the other person. So he has come.”
M: “Yes, sir. Undoubtedly he is a bhakta.”
MASTER: “How guileless he is!”
M. went to Dr.Sarkar’s house to report Sri Ramakrishna’s condition. The doctor talked to M. about Sri Ramakrishna, Mahimacharan, and the other devotees.
DOCTOR: “Mahimacharan didn’t bring the book he promised to show me. He said he had forgotten all about it. It is quite possible. I am forgetful too.”
M: “He has read a great deal.”
DOCTOR: “Then why is he in such a plight?”
Referring to the Master, the doctor said: “What will a man accomplish with mere bhakti? He needs jnāna too.”
M. explains Master’s conceptions of jnāna and bhakti
M: “Why, the Master says that bhakti comes after jnāna. But his conception of jnāna and bhakti is quite different from yours. When he says that one obtains bhakti after jnāna, he means that first comes the Knowledge of Reality and then bhakti; first the Knowledge of Brahman and then bhakti; first the Knowledge of God and then love for Him. When you speak of jnāna you mean the knowledge obtained through the senses. The jnāna Sri Ramakrishna speaks of cannot be verified by our standards. The Knowledge of Reality cannot be tested by the knowledge obtained through the senses. But your jnāna, the knowledge through the senses, can be verified.”
The doctor remained silent. Then he referred to the subject of Divine Incarnation.
DOCTOR: “What is this idea of Divine Incarnation? What is this taking the dust of a man’s feet?”
M: “Why, you say that during your experiments in the laboratory you go into ecstasy when you think of God’s creation. Further, you feel the same emotion when you think of man. If that is so, why shouldn’t we bow our heads before God? God dwells in the heart of man.
“According to Hinduism God dwells in all beings. You have not studied this subject much. Since God dwells in all beings, what is wrong in saluting a man?
“Sri Ramakrishna says that there is a greater manifestation of God in certain things than in others, as the sun is reflected better by water and by a mirror than by other objects. Water exists everywhere, but is most apparent in a river or lake. We bow down to God and not to man. God is God-not, man is God.
“God cannot be known through reasoning. All depends on faith. Of course, I am repeating to you what Sri Ramakrishna says.”
Dr. Sarkar presented M. with one of his books, The Physiological Basis of Psychology. He wrote on the first page “As a token of brotherly regards.”
It was about eleven o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room with the devotees. He was talking to a Christian devotee named Misra. Misra was born of a Christian family in northwestern India and belonged to the Quaker sect. He was thirty-five years old. Though clad in European dress he wore the ochre cloth of a sannyāsi under his foreign clothes. Two of his brothers had died on the day fixed for the marriage of one of them, and on that very day Misra had renounced the world.
MISRA: ” ‘It is Rāma alone who dwells in all beings.'”
Sri Ramkarishna said to the younger Naren, within Misra’s hearing: “Rāma is one, but He has a thousand names. He who is called ‘God’ by the Christians is addressed by the Hindus as Rāma, Krishna, Isvara, and by other names. A lake has many ghats. The Hindus drink water at one ghat and call it ‘jal’; the Christians at another, and call it ‘water’; the Mussulmans at a third, and call it ‘pani’. Likewise, He who is God to the Christians is Allah to the Mussulmans.”
MISRA: “Jesus is not the son of Mary. He is God Himself. (To the devotees) Now he (pointing to Sri Ramakrishna) is as you see him-again, he is God Himself. You are not able to recognize him. I have seen him before, in visions, though I see him now directly with my eyes. I saw a garden where he was seated on a raised seat. Another person was seated on the ground, but he was not so far advanced.
“There are four door-keepers of God in this country: Tukaram in Bombay, Robert Michael in Kashmir, himself [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] in this part of the country, and another person in eastern Bengal.”
MASTER: “Do you see visions?”
MISRA: “Sir, even when I lived at home I used to see light. Then I had a vision of Jesus. How can I describe that beauty? How insignificant is the beauty of a woman compared with that beauty!”
After a while Misra took off his trousers and showed the devotees the Gerruā loin-cloth that he wore underneath.
Presently Sri Ramakrishna went out on the porch. Returning to the room, he said to the devotees, “I saw him [meaning Misra] standing in a heroic posture.” As he uttered these words he went into samādhi. He stood facing the west.
Regaining partial consciousness, he fixed his gaze on Misra and began to laugh. Still in an ecstatic mood, he shook hands with him and laughed again. Taking him by the hands, he said, “You will get what you are seeking.”
MISRA (with folded hands): “Since that day I have surrendered to you my mind, soul, and body.”
Sri Ramakrishna was laughing, still in an ecstatic mood.
The Master resumed his seat. Misra was describing his worldly life to the devotees. He told them how his two brothers were killed when the canopy came down at the time of the marriage.
Sri Ramakrishna asked the devotees to take care of Misra.
Dr.Sarkar arrived. At the sight of him Sri Ramakrishna went into samādhi. When his ecstasy abated a little, he said, “First the bliss of divine inebriation and then the Bliss of Satchidananda, the Cause of the cause.”
MASTER: “I am not unconscious.”
The doctor realized that the Master was inebriated with divine bliss. Therefore he said, “No, no! You are quite conscious.”
Sri Ramakrishna smiled and said:
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss, As I repeat my Mother Kāli’s name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk! First my guru gives molasses for the making of the Wine; My longing is the ferment to transform it.
Knowledge, the maker of the Wine, prepares it for me then; And when it is done, my mind imbibes it from the bottle of the mantra,
Taking the Mother’s name to make it pure.
Drink of this Wine, says Ramprasad, and the four fruits of life are yours.
Master blesses Dr. Sarkar
As the doctor listened to the words, he too became almost ecstatic. Sri Ramakrishna again went into a deep spiritual mood and placed his foot on the doctor’s lap. A few minutes later he became conscious of the outer world and withdrew his foot. He said to the doctor: “Ah, what a splendid thing you said the other day! ‘We lie in the lap of God. To whom shall we speak about our illness if not to Him?’ If I must pray, I shall certainly pray to Him.” As Sri Ramakrishna said these words, his eyes filled with tears. Again he went into ecstasy and said to the doctor, “You are very pure; otherwise I could not have put my foot on your lap.” Continuing, he said: “‘He alone has peace who has tasted the
Bliss of Rāma.’ What is this world? What is there in it? What is there in money, wealth, honour, or creature comforts? ‘O mind, know Rāma! Whom else should you know?’ “
The devotees were worried to see the Master’s repeated ecstasies in this state of ill health. He said, “I shall be quiet if someone sings that song- ‘The Wine of Heavenly Bliss’.”
Narendra was sent for from another room. He sang in his sweet voice:
Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!
Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari’s sweet name!
Fill the arching heavens with your deep lion roar,
Singing Hari’s sweet name! With both your arms upraised,
Dance in the name of Hari and give His name to all!
Swim day and night in the sea of the bliss of Hari’s love;
Slay desire with His name, and blessed be your life!
MASTER: “And that one-‘Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness’.”
Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness waves of ecstatic love arise:
Rapture divine! Play of God’s Bliss! Oh, how enthralling! . .
Narendra sang again:
Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari,
The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through.
How peerless is the light that in Him shines!
How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form!
How dear is He to all His devotees!
Ever more beauteous in fresh-blossoming love
That shames the splendour of a million moons,
Like lightning gleams the glory of His form,
Raising erect the hair for very joy.
Worship His feet in the lotus of your heart;
With mind serene and eyes made radiant
With heavenly love, behold that matchless sight.
Caught in the spell of His love’s ecstasy,
Immerse yourself for evermore, O mind,
In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss.
Dr. Sarkar listened to the songs attentively. When the singing was over, he said, ‘That’s a nice one- ‘Upon the Sea of Blissful Awareness’.”
At the sight of the doctor’s joy, Sri Ramakrishna said: “The son said to the father, ‘Father, you taste a little wine, and after that, if you ask me to give up drinking, I shall do so.’ After drinking the wine, the father said: ‘Son, you may give it up. I have no objection. But I am certainly not going to give it up myself!’ (The doctor and the others laugh.)
“The other day the Divine Mother showed me two men in a vision. He [meaning the doctor] is one. She also revealed to me that he will have much knowledge; but it is dry knowledge. (Smiling, to the doctor) But you will soften.”
Dr. Sarkar remained silent.
Friday, November 6, 1885
It was the day of the Kāli Puja, the worship of the Divine Mother, Sri Ramakrishna’s Chosen Ideal. At about nine o’clock in the morning the Master, clad in a new cloth, stood in the south room on the second floor of his temporary residence at Syampukur. He had asked M. to offer worship to Siddhesvari at Thanthania, in the central part of Calcutta, with flowers, green coconut, sugar, and other sweets. After bathing in the Ganges, M. had offered the worship and come barefoot to Syampukur. He had brought the Prasad with him. Sri Ramakrishna took off his shoes and with great reverence ate a little of the Prasad and placed a little on his head.
At the Master’s request M. had purchased two books of songs by Ramprasad and Kamlakanta for Dr. Sarkar.
M: “Here are the books of songs by Ramprasad and Kamlakanta.”
MASTER: “Force songs like these on the doctor:
How are you trying, O my mind, to know the nature of God?
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kāli is?
O mind, you do not know how to farm!
Fallow lies the field of your life.. .
Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kāli, the Wish-fulfilling
Tree. . . .”
M: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna was pacing the room with M. He had put on his slippers. In spite of his painful illness his face beamed with joy.
MASTER: “And this song is also very good: ‘This world is a framework of illusion.’ “
M: “Yes, sir.”
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna gave a start. He put aside his slippers and stood still. He was in deep samādhi. It was the day of the Divine Mother’s worship. Was that why he frequently went into samādhi? After a long while he sighed and restrained his emotion as if with great difficulty.
It was about ten o’clock. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his bed, leaning against the pillow. The devotees sat around him. Ram, Rākhāl, Niranjan, Kalipada, M., and many others were present. Sri Ramakrishna was talking about his nephew Hriday.
MASTER: “Hriday is even now clamouring for land. He said to me one day while he was living with me at Dakshineswar, ‘Give me a shawl, or I will sue you.’ The Divine Mother removed him from Dakshineswar. He pestered the visitors for money. If he had stayed with me all these people could not have come. That is why the Mother removed him. R-also began to act that way. He became querulous. When he was asked to accompany me in a carriage he would hold back. He would be annoyed if the other youngsters came to me. If I went to Calcutta to see them, he would say: ‘Why should you bother about them? Will they renounce the world?’ If I wanted to offer refreshments to the other young boys, I would be afraid of R-and say to him, ‘Take some yourself and then give it to them.’ I came to know that he would not stay with me. Thereupon I Said to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, don’t remove him altogether, like Hriday.’ Then I came to know that he was going to Vrindāvan. If R-had stayed with me at that time, all these youngsters could not have mixed with me. He left for Vrindāvan and these young boys began to visit me frequently.”
R- (humbly): “Sir, that wasn’t really in my mind.”
RAM (to R-): “Do you think you understand your mind as well as he understands it?”
R- remained silent.
MASTER (to R-): “Why should you feel that way? I love you more than a father loves his son. . . . Now please keep quiet. . . You no longer have that attitude.”
After a time the devotees went to another room. Sri Ramakrishna sent for R- and said to him, “Did you mind what I said?”
R-: “No, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: “It is the day of the Kāli Puja. It is good to make some arrangements for the worship. Please speak to the devotees about it.”
M. went to the drawing-room and told the devotees what the Master had said. Kalipada and others busied themselves with the arrangements.
About two o’clock in the afternoon Dr. Sarkar arrived, accompanied by Professor Nilmani. The doctor listened to the report of the illness and prescribed medicine. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, “These two books have been purchased for you.” M. handed him the books.
The doctor wanted to hear some songs. At the Master’s bidding, M. and another devotee sang:
How are you trying O my mind, to know the nature of God?
You are groping like a madman locked in a dark room. . .
Then they sang:
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kāli is? Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her.
It is She, the scriptures say, that is the Inner Self Of the yogi, who in Self discovers all his joy;
She that, of Her own sweet will, inhabits every living thing. The macrocosm and microcosm rest in the Mother’s womb; Now do you see how vast it is? In the Muladhara
The yogi meditates on Her, and in the Sahasrara: Who but Śiva has beheld Her as She really is?
Within the lotus wilderness She sports beside Her Mate, the Swan.
When man aspires to understand Her, Ramprasad must smile; To think of knowing Her, he says, is quite as laughable
As to imagine one can swim across the boundless sea.
But while my mind has understood, alas! my heart has not; Though but a dwarf, it still would strive to make a captive of the moon.
Again they sang:
O mind, you do not know how to farm!
Fallow lies the field of your life.
If you had only worked it well,
How rich a harvest you might reap! . . .
Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kāli, the Wish-fulfilling
And there beneath It gather the four fruits of life. . . .
Dr. Sarkar said to Girish, “That song of yours is very nice-the one about the vina, in the Life of Buddha.” At a hint from the Master, Girish and Kalipada sang together:
Behold my vina, my dearly beloved, My lute of sweetest tone;
If tenderly you play on it,
The strings will waken, at your touch,
To rarest melodies. . .
We moan for rest, alas! but rest can never find;
We know not whence we come, nor where we float away.
Time and again we tread this round of smiles and tears;
In vain we pine to know whither our pathway leads,
And why we play this empty play. . . .
They sang again:
Hold me fast, O Nitai! I feel as if I shall pass away! Bestowing Hari’s name on men,
I raised high waves in the river of my love,
And now upon its raging stream I am carried helplessly. With grief my heart is laden down;
Alas! Nitai, to whom shall I speak of it?
Behold, I am swiftly borne away by the current of man’s deep woe.
Then they sang:
Jagai! Madhai! Oh come and dance,
Chanting Hari’s name with fervour! . . .
Come one and all! Take Radha’s love!
The high tide of her love flows by;
It will not last for very long.
Oh, come then! Come ye, one and all! . . .
Listening to these songs, two or three of the devotees-among them, Manindra and Lātu, went into a spiritual mood. Lātu was seated by Niranjan’s side. When the singing was over, the Master spoke with the doctor. The previous day Dr. Pratap Mazumdar had prescribed nux vomica for the Master. Dr. Sarkar was annoyed to hear of it.
DOCTOR: “To give him nux vomica! Why, I am not dead yet”
MASTER (smiling): “Why should you die? God forbid! May your avidyā die.”
DOCTOR: “I never have any avidyā!”
Dr. Sarkar understood avidyā to mean “Mistress”.
MASTER (smiling): “Oh, no! I don’t mean that! In the case of a sannyāsi, his mother, Avidyā, Ignorance, dies giving birth to a child, Viveka, Discrimination.”
Hariballav arrived. Sri Ramakrishna said, “I feel very happy when I see you.” Hariballav was a man of very humble nature; he sat on the bare floor and not on the mat. He began to fan the Master. He was the government lawyer at Cuttack. Professor Nilmani sat near them. Sri Ramakrishna did not want to offend him; casting his glance on the professor, he said, “Oh, what a grand day it is for me!”
A few minutes later Dr. Sarkar and Professor Nilmani took their leave. Hariballav also departed, saying that he would come again.
Worship of Kāli
It is the dark night of the new moon. At seven o’clock the devotees make arrangements for the worship of Kāli in Sri Ramakrishna’s room on the second floor. Flowers, sandal-paste, vilwa-leaves, red hibiscus, rice pudding, and various sweets and other articles of worship are placed in front of the Master. The devotees are sitting around him. There are present, among others, Sarat, Śaśi, Ram, Girish, Chunilal, M., Rākhāl, Niranjan, and the younger Naren.
Sri Ramakrishna asks a devotee to bring some incense. A few minutes later he offers all the articles to the Divine Mother. M. is seated close to him. Looking at M., he says to the devotees, “Meditate a little.” The devotees close their eyes.
Presently Girish offers a garland of flowers at Sri Ramakrishna’s feet. M. offers flowers and sandal-paste. Rākhāl, Ram, and the other devotees follow him.
Niranjan offers a flower at Sri Ramakrishna’s feet, crying: “Brahmamayi! Brahmamayi!” and prostrates himself before him, touching the Master’s feet with his head. The devotees cry out, “Jai Ma!”, “Hail to the Mother!”
Manifestation of the Divine Mother through the Master
In the twinkling of an eye Sri Ramakrishna goes into deep samādhi. An amazing transformation takes place in the Master before the very eyes of the devotees. His face shines with a heavenly light. His two hands are raised in the posture of granting boons and giving assurance to the devotees; it is the posture one sees in images of the Divine Mother. His body is motionless; he has no consciousness of the outer world. He sits facing the north. Is the Divine Mother of the Universe manifesting Herself through his person? Speechless with wonder, the devotees look intently at Sri Ramakrishna, who appears to them to be the embodiment of the Divine Mother Herself.
The devotees begin to sing hymns, one of them leading and the rest following in chorus.
Who is this Woman with the thick black hair,
Shining amidst the assembly of the gods?
Who is She, whose feet are like crimson lotuses
Planted on Śiva’s chest?
Who is She, whose toe-nails shine like the full moon,
Whose legs burn with the brightness of the sun?
Who is She, who now speaks soft and smiles on us,
And now fills all the quarters of the sky
With shouts of terrible laughter?
O Mother, Saviour of the helpless, Thou the Slayer of sin!
In Thee do the three Gunās dwell-sattva, rajas, and tamas;
Thou dost create the world;
Thou dost sustain it and destroy it;
Binding Thyself with attributes, Thou yet transcendest them;
For Thou, O Mother, art the All. . . .
O Syama, Thou who dost sit upon a corpse!
I beg Thee, hear my heart’s most fervent prayer:
As my last breath forsakes this mortal flesh,
Reveal Thyself within my heart!
Then, in my mind, from forest and from grove
I shall gather Thee red hibiscus flowers,
And, scenting them with the sandal-paste of Love,
Shall lay them at Thy Lotus Feet.
M. sings with the other devotees:
O Mother, all is done after Thine own sweet will;
Thou art in truth self-willed, Redeemer of mankind!
Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs. . .
They sing again:
All things are possible, O Mother, through Thy grace;
Obstacles mountain high Thou makest to melt away.
Thou Home of Bliss! To all Thou givest peace and joy;
Why then should I be made to suffer fruitlessly,
Brooding on the success or failure of my deeds?
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss!
My mind knows nothing but Thy Lotus Feet.
The King of Death scowls at me terribly;
Tell me, Mother, what shall I say to him? . . .
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave. .
Gradually Sri Ramakrishna came back to the consciousness of the outer world. He asked the devotees to sing “O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine”. They sang:
O Mother Syama, full of the waves of drunkenness divine! Who knows how Thou dost sport in the world?
Thy fun and frolic and Thy glances put to shame the god of love. . . .
When this song was over, Sri Ramakrishna asked the devotees to sing “Behold my Mother playing with Śiva”. The devotees sang:
Behold my Mother playing with Śiva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!
Drunk with a draught of celestial wine, She reels, and yet She does not fall. . .
Master in deep ecstasy
Sri Ramakrishna tasted a little Pudding to make the devotees happy, but immediately went into deep ecstasy.
A few minutes later the devotees prostrated themselves before the Master and went into the drawing-room. There they enjoyed the Prasad.
It was nine o’clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna sent word to the devotees, asking them to go to Surendra’s house to participate in the worship of Kāli.
They arrived at Surendra’s house on Simla Street and were received very cordially. Surendra conducted them to the drawing-room on the second floor. The house was filled with a festive atmosphere and a veritable mart of joy was created with the songs and music of the devotees. It was very late at night when they returned to their homes after enjoying the sumptuous feast given by Surendra, the Master’s beloved disciple.