According to the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Girish Ghosh declares that even the feces of Sri Ramakrishna, whom he considered an incarnation, were very pure. To this, Dr. Sarkar replies that he is never bothered by the human feces and it is same to him whatever be its source. With his expertise in medicine, he could truly see it as just a material. We often categorize the objects into “pure” and “impure” and steadfastly hold on to this fictitious dichotomy. We ought to be aware of this demarcation as far as their utility is concerned, but without forgetting the substratum underlying this duality. Sometimes this compartmentalization takes a morbid turn of respecting a reverential person at the cost of hurting an ordinary person. It is also not uncommon amongst devotees to treat someone, who has not followed their own methods of devotion or does not cherish their ideals, as someone who needs to redeemed although this person may be more spiritually elevated than themselves due to his/her having followed a “secular” path sincerely. It could be argued that Dr. Sarkar, through his dedication in material research, had come to some state of equanimity that was perhaps absent in many other devotees, nevertheless he was and will be treated as a “kid” amongst the “adults” for having taken the unconventional path of science to reach that state. An illustration in Sri Ramakrishna’s life:
“Once a god intoxicated saint came to Kali temple. One day he did not get any food; and even though feeling hungry, he did not ask anybody for it; but seeing the dog eating the remnants of food thrown away in a corner after a feast, he, embracing the dog, said, “Brother, how is it that you eat alone without giving me a share?” So saying, he began to eat along with the dog. Having finished his meal in this strange company, the sage entered the temple of Mother Kali and prayed with such earnestness of devotion, it sent a thrill through the temple. After finishing his prayers, when he was going away, the Master (Sri Ramakrishna) asked his nephew Hriday, to talk with him.
When Hriday followed him for some distance, the sage turned around and said, “Why do you follow me?” Hriday replied, “Sir, give me some instruction”. The sage said, “When the water of this dirty ditch and the Holy Ganges yonder appear as one in your sight, and when the sound of the flageolet (musical instrument) and the noise of the crowd will have no distinction to your ear, then you will reach the state of true Knowledge. A Siddha (established in wisdom) roams in various disguises – as a child, as an unclean spirit, or even as a mad man.”
Swami Yogatmanandaji’s answers for the question, “Why did Sri Ramakrishna spend so much time with Dr. Sarkar?”, were: Sri Ramakrishna saw a potential for growth in him and if a famous person like Dr. Sarkar takes up spirituality, it will inspire other ordinary men to follow the same. While those could be very valid reasons, I think what He saw in Dr. Sarkar was sincerity and great hunger to transform. That is what, we, the “devotees”, need too.
Irrespective of what Swami Yogatmananda might have said in the class, here are a few points I feel worth mentioning regarding this 'In defense of Dr Sarkar' post.
Actually no one present in that room is saying that Dr Sarkar is not a religious or spiritual person or not a devotee. Being devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, they all seem to in fact love and respect Dr Sarkar, in spite of difference in opinion about God incarnating as a man. No one is in an offensive mode against Dr Sarkar. I do not see he needs any defense.
Let us remember that Girish and Dr Sarkar have a lot of mutual love and respect; that is why, the Dr ready to leave, took his seat again as he saw Girish entering the room.
Girish is a poet – uses a great deal of analogies and figure of speech in the discussion.
When Dr Sarkar says he is 'not bothered by human feces' he is actually missing the point. It is of course, worth much admiration that he does not consider anyone less in dignity. He takes dust of everyone's feet, I do not think this action of his is same as 'taking the dust of the feet of a person by a devotee seeing God in that person or treating the person as symbol of God'. The latter is an act symbolizing surrender to and seeking blessing. from God.Other is taking human as human – not as symbol of God.
Dr Sarkar, as part of his medical duty and ethics associated with it, does not feel the repugnance of excreta; but I do not think he would love to keep it in his drawing room, much less on his bed. As Brahman/God feces are no different from flowers; but as names-forms-qualities-functions, they are different. At the level of absolute everything is SAME; at the level of relative everything is different from every other thing. The problem comes when we superimpose the sameness of the absolute level on the relative level. All human beings (and for that matter -all beings too) are equal as God; but as Sri Ramakrishna has explained at many other places 'there is a difference in the expression'. Somewhere there is more light of the divinity, somewhere less. Otherwise why call Mother Teresa a saint and Hitler as terribly evil man? Sri Ramakrishna says to Vidyasagar 'if every one is given the same power by God, then why do we come to see you?' If all people are same, why Dr is spending so many hours in the company of Sri Ramakrishna? r Girish could see that everything of Sri Ramakrishna, his every act, is an illuminating expression of divine and that is called Avatar. Dr did 'feel' it, but could not reconcile the feeling with his reason. Girish was certainly no less rational/scientific in approach than Dr. Just as it is not right to brand the Dr as 'not a devotee' just because he did not understand Samadhi, it is not right to brand Girish as 'not rational' just because he does not have a 'formal training' in science.
Swami Yogatmananda's answer about Girish's 'potential', I think automatically includes his sincerity and other qualities. Otherwise, everybody is potentially divine.
I am afraid, the comment has become longer than the blogpost.:)
I do know that Dr. Sarkar (in one of the previous classes) wanted to be part of this devotee community and he was very much welcomed into it: so there is no antagonism between them is known. Anyway, the point I was making was that the tone of the whole discussion was, "Now how do we make this Dr. see the "truth"?". Whether that was the actual purport of the discussion that happened there is debatable, but to me it certainly appeared to have been presented that way either in the book or in the class (perhaps it is only me who is seeing it that way).
I did expect that the difference in the simplistic materialistic attitude of Dr. Sarkar and a more profound devotional attitude of Girish towards the same "material" objects will be mentioned by someone as a comment to this post and I am glad that you brought it up. I could not add this myself to the original post because of the 500-word limit. Having said that, it is presumptuous to think that Dr. Sarkar would or should see "feces" something differently than what it is: it is definitely not something decorative to keep on bed or in home (the illustration of dining with dogs was just an analogy, I am not suggesting that Dr.Sarkar is at that state of mind). In fact Dr. Sarkar is perhaps behaving appropriately as far as materialistic attitude goes: no repugnance or like for it. Taking a similar liberty of presumption as done in the above comment, we can also say it is highly doubtful if Girish himself would have followed his own words to actually take Sri Ramakrishna's "feces" as something that reverential that he is trying to make them to be: would he put them in his altar for worship? Anyway this point is a digression and irrelevant.
I agree with the rest of the comment completely: behaving in the world appropriately according to what each entity is. I mentioned the same in the original post that such compartmentalization is actually the practical utility of dealing with objects in the world. I wanted to add this example there in the post, but again 500-word limit did not allow me to: Sri Ramakrishna himself said all water is same, but we use some for worship, other for washing. So we respect some people more than others naturally due to some noble qualities seen in such people. The only caution I gave to this "compartmentalization" is to be careful of not hurting other "not-so-respectful" ones. I have seen numerous instances of devotees and monks, who in their exuberance of showing respect for a reverential person, inadvertently disrespect an ordinary person. Such actions or attitude are/is easy to be missed if one is not careful in discernment. I would even say it is better to have a simplistic materialistic attitude like Dr. Sarkar and respect all humans than be a so-called devotee and mistreat some people in trying to revere an exalted being.
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