Sri Ramakrishna’s Meeting with a Pundit
Visit to Ishan’s House
Today is the Car Festival, Wednesday, 25 June 1884, the second day of the bright fortnight of Ashada. At Ishan’s invitation, Sri Ramakrishna has arrived this morning at his house in the Thanthania district of Calcutta. Upon arrival Thakur has come to know that Pundit Shashadhar is staying nearby with the Chatterjis on College Street. He is very keen to meet the pundit, so it is decided that he will go to see him in the evening.
It is now about ten o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting with devotees in Ishan’s ground floor parlour with some brahmins from Bhattapada, one of them a Bhagavata pundit. Hazra and two devotees have come with Thakur. Ishan’s sons, one of them Shrish, and a devotee who worships Shakti and wears a vermilion mark on his forehead are also there. Thakur has a sense of humor. Seeing the vermilion mark, he laughs and says, “He is branded!”
After a while Narendra and M. arrive from their Calcutta homes. After saluting Thakur, they sit beside him. Thakur had told M. previously, “I’ll be going to Ishan’s house on a certain date. You go too, and bring Narendra with you.”
Thakur says to M., “The other day I wanted to go to visit your house. Where do you live?”
M.: “Sir, now I live at Telipada in Shyampukur, near the school.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Didn’t you go to school today?”
M.: “Sir, today the school is closed for the Car Festival.”
Since the death of Narendra’s father, there have been great problems in his family. Narendra is the eldest of several brothers and sisters. His father had been a lawyer but had not saved anything. Narendra is looking for a job to meet the family’s expenses. Thakur has asked Ishan and some other devotees to find him a job. Ishan is a superintendent in the Comptroller General’s office. Thakur worries whenever he hears of Narendra’s family problems.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra): “I have spoken to Ishan about you. He was at the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar one day. I spoke to him then. He knows many people.”
In addition to Thakur, Ishan has invited many friends for the occasion. Songs will be sung to the accompaniment of banya, tabla, and tanpura, and one member of the family has brought very fine flour for the pakhavaj. At about eleven, Ishan asks Narendra to sing.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ishan): “Just fine flour! Then it will be quite some time until our meal is ready.”
Ishan: “No sir, it won’t take too long.”
Some of the devotees laugh. A scholar well versed in the Bhagavata laughs as he recites an uncommon couplet, not written in any book. After reciting the couplet, he explains it:
“Poetry is more pleasing than philosophy. When poetry is recited or heard, schools of philosophy such as Vedanta, Samkhya, Nyaya, and Patanjala all seem dry. But music is more attractive than poetry. Even a heart made of stone melts on hearing music. Then again, if a beautiful woman passes by, the poetry is forgotten and the song loses its flavour. The whole mind goes to that woman. But when you’re hungry and craving food, then you want neither poetry nor song nor woman. The thought of food is all-consuming!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He is witty indeed.”
When the pakhavaj is tuned, Narendra begins to sing, and Thakur goes upstairs to the drawing room overlooking the road for a rest. M. and Shrish accompany him. Kshetra Nath Chatterji, Ishan’s father-in-law, built the room.
M. introduces Shrish, saying, “He is a learned man, very serene in temperament. He’s been my classmate since childhood. He’s a lawyer now.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “For such a person to be a lawyer!”
M.: “He took up the profession by mistake.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I know a lawyer named Ganesh. Sometimes he comes to the Dakshineswar Kali Temple with some other gentlemen. Panna also comes. He’s not handsome, but he sings well. He has great regard for me. He is a simple-hearted man.
(To Shrish) “What do you think is the essence of life?”
Shrish: “God exists and He alone does everything. Even so, what we conceive of His attributes isn’t right. How can a man conceive of Him? He’s infinite!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “How many trees are in a garden and how many branches each tree has – what is the use of such calculation? You’ve come to the garden to eat mangoes. Eat them and leave. It’s only to attain love and devotion to God that you’ve taken birth as a human being. Eat the mangoes and be satisfied.
“You’ve come to drink wine. What is the use in knowing how many maunds of wine are in the wine shop? Just a tumbler-full is enough for you.
“What is the need for you to know His infinite affairs?
“If you look for His attributes for millions of years, you will still not be able to know even a fraction of them.”
Thakur is silent for a while and then he resumes talking. A brahmin from Bhattapada is also there.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “There is nothing in worldly life. As things go, Ishan’s is better than most. If his family had not been good, if the boys had been womanizers, drug-addicts, drunkards, or disobedient, there would have been no end to his troubles. In his family everyone’s mind is turned towards God. It’s a truly religious household. It is rare. I have seen very few homes such as this. Usually there are endless misunderstandings, quarrels, and jealousy. Besides, there are disease, sorrow, and poverty. Seeing this, I said, ‘Mother, please turn my mind from the world.’ Just see what problems Narendra is facing! His father is dead, the members of his family don’t have food to eat, a job is so difficult to find. He’s trying hard, but he can’t find one. Just see how he is wandering around!
“M., you used to come to Dakshineswar so often. Why have your visits become so few? Maybe you’ve gotten too attached to your family. Is that why?
“This isn’t anybody’s fault. Everywhere there is ‘lust and greed.’ That’s why I pray, ‘Mother, if I ever have to take a human body again, don’t make me a worldly man!’ ”
The brahmin from Bhattapada: “But sir, household life has been praised in the holy books.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, but it is very difficult.”
Thakur changes the subject of conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “How wrong of us! They are singing – Narendra is singing – and we’ve all left the room.”
Bhakti Yoga, not Karma Yoga, is for the Kaliyuga
At about four o’clock, Thakur gets into the carriage. He is very delicate, so his body must be treated very carefully. It is difficult for him to walk on the road; he cannot walk even a short distance. When he gets into the carriage, he is absorbed in bhava samadhi. It is the rainy season and is drizzling. The sky is overcast and the road is muddy. The devotees walk behind the carriage. Being the day of the Car Festival, children are blowing horns made from palm leaves.
The carriage stops at the entrance to the house Shashadhar is visiting. Thakur is warmly received by the host and his relatives.
A staircase leads up to the drawing room. As he goes up, Sri Ramakrishna sees Shashadhar coming to welcome him. The pundit appears to be middle-aged. His complexion is fair and shining and he wears a rosary of rudraksha beads around his neck. Humbly and with great reverence, he salutes Thakur and leads him to the drawing room. Devotees follow and take their seats.
Everyone is keen to sit near Sri Ramakrishna and to listen to the nectar of his words. Narendra, Rakhal, Ram, M., and many other devotees are present. Hazra has also come with him from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple.
Looking at the pundit, Thakur goes into a semiconscious state. After a while, in the same state, he smiles at the pundit and says, “Very well, very well!” He adds, “What kind of lectures do you give?”
Shashadhar: “Sir, I try to explain the teachings of the scriptures.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “For the Kaliyuga the path of love and devotion as preached by Narada is enjoined. Where is the time to perform all those rituals mentioned in the scriptures? These days the decoction of ten medicinal roots does not help cure a fever. By the time such a decoction begins to show effect, the patient runs the risk of being carried off. ‘Fever mixture’ is the medicine for the present age. If you ask them to perform rituals, give them fish minus the head and tail. I tell people that they don’t have to perform the sandhya and other such elaborate acts. Recitation of the Gayatri is enough. If you have to talk of rituals at all, do so only to a few, like Ishan.”
Lecture to worldly men
“You may lecture a thousand times, and you’ll not be able to change worldly men. Can one drive a nail into a stone wall? The nail is what will bend. The wall will remain as it is. What can the blow of a sword do to a crocodile? The bitter gourd water pot of a wandering monk goes to the four principle places of pilgrimage in India, yet it remains as bitter as before. Your lectures to worldly men are not helping very much. You will understand this gradually. A calf can’t stand all at once. It falls to the ground and then stands up again. That is how it learns to stand up and walk.”
First love and then reasoning – karma falls off with God-realization – yoga and samadhi
“You cannot distinguish a devotee from a worldly person. That isn’t your fault. During the first burst of a storm, it is not possible to distinguish a tamarind tree from a mango tree.
“Before God-realization one cannot suddenly give up performance of rituals. How long, then, does one have to perform sandhya and such ritualistic worship? As long as tears do not flow and the hair does not stand on end at the sound of God’s name. If tears fill the eyes even once when saying ‘Om Rama,’ know for certain that your karmas are over. You will not have to perform sandhya and other rituals any more.
“The blossom falls off as soon as the fruit appears. Karma is the blossom, and love for God is the fruit. The daughter-in-law of the house can’t work much when she’s pregnant; her mother-in-law gradually frees her from work. During the last month she barely lets her work at all. When the infant is born, the mother only attends to it and not to any other work. The sandhya merges into Gayatri and then Gayatri into Om. Om then becomes merged in samadhi – as the sound of a bell ‘t-o-m.’ Following the trail of the sound ‘Om,’ the yogi becomes lost in the Supreme Brahman. Sandhya and such karmas disappear in samadhi. In this way the duties of the jnani fall off.”
Mere learning is of no use – spiritual practice, discrimination, and dispassion
While talking of samadhi, Sri Ramakrishna goes into an ecstatic mood. A divine light begins to shine from his beautiful face. He has no external consciousness. Not a sound comes from his mouth and his eyes are fixed. Surely he is having a vision of the Lord of the Universe. After a long time he returns to normal consciousness. Like a child, he says, “I’ll have some water.” Whenever he asks for water after samadhi, the devotees know that he is gradually returning to normal consciousness.
Still in ecstasy Thakur says to the Divine Mother, “Mother, the other day you showed me Ishwar Vidyasagar. After that I said, ‘Mother, I want to see another pundit.’ That is why You have brought me here.”
Glancing at Shashadhar, he says, “Son, gain a little more power. Practice spiritual disciplines for some time more. You have barely started climbing the tree before you wish for a bunch of fruit. Of course you do all this for the benefit of others.”
Saying this, Thakur salutes Shashadhar by bowing his head.
And he adds, “When I heard about you for the first time, I asked whether this pundit is just a learned man, or if he also has discrimination and non-attachment.”
One cannot become a religious teacher without receiving a commission from God
“A pundit without discrimination is no pundit at all.
“If one has received a commission from God, it is all right to teach others. When a person teaches after getting a commission, nobody can confound him.
“Getting only a single ray from the goddess of learning (Saraswati), one attains such strength that even the most learned become like earthworms before him.
“When you light a lamp, swarms of moths come to it by themselves: they don’t have to be called. Similarly, one who has received a commission from God doesn’t have to invite people by announcing that a lecture will be delivered at a certain time. No message needs to be sent. He has such attraction that people flock to him of their own accord. Then princes and gentlemen come in swarms. And they ask again and again, ‘What would you like? I have brought mangoes, sandesh (a Bengali sweet), money, a shawl, and so on. Will you accept them?’ I tell all those people, ‘Keep them. I don’t care for those things. I don’t want anything.’
“Does a magnet invite iron by saying, ‘Come near?’ It doesn’t have to say that; the iron rushes to the magnet because of the magnet’s attraction.
“Such a man may not be a pundit, but don’t think that he lacks knowledge. Can you acquire knowledge by just reading books? The knowledge of a person who has received a commission from God is inexhaustible. This knowledge flows from God and is never-ending.
“In the countryside, one person weighs paddy while another pushes heap after heap toward him. It’s the same thing with the person who has received a commission from God. The Divine Mother keeps on pushing heaps of knowledge toward him from behind. This knowledge never comes to an end. If the Divine Mother but once casts a glance, can there remain any lack of knowledge? That’s why I ask whether or not you have received a commission.”
Hazra: “Yes, surely he’s received a commission. Haven’t you, sir?”
The pundit: “No, I haven’t received such a commission.”
The host: “He may not have received a commission, but he lectures out of a sense of duty.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What will his lectures achieve if he has no commission from God?
“Once a Brahmo preacher said in his lecture, ‘Brothers, I used to drink so much liquor! I used to do this, and I used to do that.’ Hearing it, people began to whisper among themselves, ‘What is this rascal saying? He used to drink liquor?’ His words caused confusion in the audience. A lecture benefits no one if the speaker lacks a good character.
“A high government official from Barisal said, ‘Sir, you begin to preach and I will get ready.’ I said, ‘Brother, listen to a story. In the countryside, there is a pond known as Haldarpukur. People used to defecate on its bank. In the morning people coming to the pond would shout abuses in plenty, but to no avail. The very next morning they would see the bank littered with faeces again. After some days the municipality sent a worker who placed a notice near the pond. What a wonder! The defecation on the banks stopped immediately!
“So I say, a lecture by a worthless person is of no use. When you have the badge of authority, then alone will people listen to you. Unless you receive God’s commission, you can’t teach others. He who is going to preach must have sufficient spiritual power. In Calcutta there are so many wrestlers like Hanumanpuri. You have to wrestle with them. These people (the congregation) are mere sheep!
“Chaitanya Deva was an incarnation of God. What is left of the work that even he did, just tell me! What good can come out of lectures by those who have not received a commission from God?”
How does one receive a commission?
Sri Ramakrishna: “So I say, become absorbed at God’s lotus feet.”
Saying this and intoxicated with the wine of divine love, Thakur begins to sing:
Dive deep, dive deep, O my mind, into the ocean of beauty, and to the deepest depths descend: there you will find the gem of Love.
“By drowning in this sea, one does not die. It is the ocean of immortality.”
Instruction to Narendra – God is the ocean of immortality
“I said to Narendra, ‘God is an ocean of nectar. Tell me if you will dive into it. Imagine a cup full of sugar syrup and you’re a fly. Where will you perch to drink the syrup?’ Narendra said, ‘I’ll sit on the edge of the bowl and stretch my neck to sip from there. If I were to go farther, I would drown.’ Then I said, ‘My son, this is the ocean of Sat-chit-ananda. There’s no fear of death in it. It’s the ocean of immortality.’ Only ignorant people say you shouldn’t overdo your love and devotion for God. Is there any limit to love for God? So I say to you, immerse yourself in the sea of Sat-chit-ananda.
“What worry can there be when you have realized God? Then you will not only receive His commission, but also teach mankind.”
Countless paths for God-realization – Bhakti Yoga is the path for this age
Sri Ramakrishna: “Look here, there are numberless paths to reach the ocean of immortality. Any path you take, it is enough if you can jump into this ocean. Imagine a reservoir of the nectar of immortality. If only a small drop of it somehow falls into your mouth, you become immortal. Whether you jump into it or go into it slowly by a staircase and take a drop of it from there, or if you are pushed into it, the result will be the same. You will become immortal by just tasting a drop of this nectar.
“There are innumerable paths. Among them are the path of knowledge, the path of action, and the path of love and devotion. You will attain God by any path if you have sincere longing for Him.
“There are three kinds of yogas: the yoga of knowledge, the yoga of action and the yoga of love and devotion.
“Jnana Yoga. In the path of knowledge the jnani wants to know Brahman, the Absolute. He says to himself, ‘Not this, not this.’ He reasons, ‘Only Brahman is real and the world unreal.’ He meditates on what is real and what is unreal. When his reasoning stops, he goes into samadhi and he gains the knowledge of the Absolute.
“Karma Yoga. The path of action is to keep the mind in God by doing work – this is what you are teaching. It is the practice of breath control, meditation, and concentration without attachment to results. If householders attend to their duties in life in an unattached manner with devotion for Him and surrender the result of their work to Him, it, too, is Karma Yoga. To perform worship, repetition of God’s name, and other such actions, surrendering the result to God, is also the path of action. The goal of this path is also God-realization.
“Bhakti Yoga. The path of devotion, Bhakti Yoga, is in fixing the mind on God by repeating His name and singing His glories. Bhakti Yoga is the easy path for the Kaliyuga. It is indeed the path for the present age.
“Karma Yoga. The path of action is very difficult. In the first place, as I told you earlier, you do not have the time for it these days. Where is the time to perform all the rituals enjoined in the scriptures? Life is short in the Kaliyuga And then it is extremely difficult to work without expectation of reward, to work unattached. One cannot be truly detached without having first realized God. Attachment to results come, one knows not from where.
“The path of knowledge is also very difficult in this age. In the first place, human life is dependent on food. Second, life is short. Third, it is not possible to rid oneself of body consciousness. Spiritual knowledge is impossible without freedom from body-consciousness. The follower of the path of knowledge says, ‘I am Brahman; I am not this body, I am beyond hunger, thirst, disease, grief, birth, death, pleasure, pain, and the like.’ If you are aware of disease, grief, pleasure, pain, then how can you be a man of knowledge? When your hand is torn by thorns, you bleed profusely and suffer pain; yet you say, ‘No, my hand is not scratched and torn. Nothing has happened to me.’”
The paths of knowledge and action are not the religion of this age
“That is why, for this age, the path of love and devotion is best. One can approach God more easily through it than by any other path. One can reach God by way of knowledge or action and by other paths too, but all these are very difficult.
“Bhakti Yoga is the religion for this age. This does not mean that a lover of God reaches one goal and the followers of the path of knowledge and action reach another. It means that those who want the knowledge of the Absolute will attain it, even if they adopt and tread the path of love and devotion. Remember that the gracious loving Lord of the devotees grants the knowledge of Brahman if He so wishes.”
Does a devotee attain knowledge of the Absolute?
How does he perform actions and prayer?
“The devotee wants to see God with form. He wants to talk to Him. Usually he doesn’t want the knowledge of the Absolute. Even so, God’s will is the law. If He wills, He can bestow on the devotee all spiritual wealth. He gives not only love and devotion, but divine knowledge as well. If one can get to Calcutta, one can also see Fort Maidan, the Asiatic Society’s Museum – everything.
“Now the question is how to reach Calcutta.
“If you reach the Mother of the Universe, you will get love and devotion as well as spiritual knowledge. In bhava samadhi, you see God with form; in nirvikalpa samadhi, you see akhanda Sat-chit-ananda (indivisible, absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss). Then your ‘I-ness’ – name and form – do not exist.
“The devotee says, ‘Mother, I am afraid of performing work with a motive. In such work there is desire, and the action will yield some fruit. It is very difficult to work with detachment. By doing work with motive, I will forget You. Therefore, I do not want to do it. Until I attain You, may my work decrease. What little I have to do, may I do without attachment, and may I gain greater love and devotion for You. Until I attain You, may my mind not engage itself in any new work. I shall work only when You command me; otherwise not.’’’
Pilgrimage and Sri Ramakrishna – three classes of religious teachers
The pundit: “Sir, how far did you go on your pilgrimage?”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “I saw a few places. Hazra went farther and higher; he went to Hrishikesh. (All laugh.) I didn’t go that far, or that high. Kites and vultures soar very high, but their eyes remain fixed on the charnel pits where carcasses of dead animals are thrown. (All laugh.) Do you know what I mean by charnel pits? ‘Lust and greed.’
“If you can cultivate love and devotion for God sitting here, what is the need to go on pilgrimage? When I went to Kashi, I saw that the trees were the same, the tamarind leaves were also the same.
“If you do not develop love for God at places of pilgrimage, your visit to those places has been of no use. Love for God alone is the essential thing, the only thing needed. Do you know what I mean by kites and vultures? Many people come here and they talk big and say, ‘We have performed many of the rites and duties enjoined by the holy books.’ But their minds remain attached to the world. They are busy with money, name and honour, comfort, and so on.’’
The pundit: “Yes, sir. Going on pilgrimage is like searching for diamonds and jewels while throwing away Vishnu’s own gem.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “And you must also know that, though you may preach a thousand things, they will be of no use unless it is the right time. When going to bed, a child says to his mother, ‘Mother, please wake me up when I have to go to the bathroom.’ The mother replies, ‘Child, its pressure itself will wake you up. You don’t have to worry about that.’ (Laughter.)
“Similarly, longing for God comes in its own time.”
Preach only to the competent – is God merciful?
“There are three classes of physicians.
“One class feels the pulse of the patient, prescribes medicine for him, and leaves him, saying, ‘Take this medicine.’ Such physicians are the lowest class. Similarly, some religious teachers give instructions, but they don’t check to see whether or not their teachings have done any good. They don’t bother to find out.
“Another class of physician arranges for the medicine and asks the patient to take it. If the patient does not want to take it, they reason with him in many ways. These are physicians of the mediocre class. Likewise, there are mediocre-class religious teachers. They preach and also explain to people in many ways so that their advice is followed.
“And then there is the highest class of physician. If gentle persuasion fails to make the patient understand, such physicians even use force. If need be, they put their knees on the patient’s chest and force the medicine down his throat. In the same way, there is a highest class of religious teacher. Such teachers also use force to direct their disciples to God.”
The pundit: “Sir, if there are religious teachers of the highest class, why do you say that one doesn’t gain knowledge till the right time?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That’s right. But think: if the medicine doesn’t reach the stomach, if it is vomited, what can the physician do? Then even the physician of the highest class is helpless.
“You should instruct only after judging the listener. You people instruct without having examined the receptacle. When a boy comes to me, I ask him about his family. Suppose his father is dead and he has left some debts. How can the boy give his mind to God? Do you hear what I am saying, brother?”
The pundit: “Yes sir, I am listening to everything.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Once a group of Sikh soldiers came to the temple at Dakshineswar. I met them in front of Mother Kali’s shrine. One of them said, ‘God is very kind.’ I said, ‘Are you sure? How do you know?’ He said, ‘Why Maharaj, God gives us food. He cares so much for us!’ I said, ‘What is that to wonder at? God is the father of all. If a father doesn’t look after his son, who else will? Will people of the neighbourhood do it?’”
Narendra: “So shouldn’t God be called merciful?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Am I stopping you from calling Him merciful? What I mean is that God is our own. He’s not a stranger.”
Pundit: “Precious words!”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra): “I was listening to your song, but I didn’t enjoy it. I got up and left. I said to myself, ‘His mind is now set on finding a job, so his singing is dull.’”
Narendra felt ashamed. He blushed and remained silent.
Thakur asks for a drink of water. A glass of water had already been placed close to him, but he doesn’t drink it. He asks for another glass. It was later heard that a very sensual person had touched the first glass.
The pundit (to Hazra): “You live with him day and night. You must be supremely happy.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It is a great day for me today. I have seen the moon on the second day of the bright fortnight. (All laugh.) Do you understand why I said the moon of the second day of the bright fortnight? Sita said to Ravana, ‘Ravana, you are the full moon, and my Ramachandra is the crescent moon of the second day of the bright fortnight.’ Ravana did not understand, so he was very happy. But by this, Sita meant that Ravana had reached the limit of his power and that now he would wane every day like the full moon. Ramachandra, being the moon of the second lunar day, would shine brighter and brighter day by day.”
Thakur rises. The pundit salutes him reverently, as do his friends and companions. Thakur and his disciples say goodbye.
Return to Ishan’s house
Thakur returns to Ishan’s house with the devotees. It is not yet dusk. They come and sit in Ishan’s ground floor parlour. Some of the devotees, including a Bhagavata pundit and Ishan’s sons, are already there
Sri Ramakrishna: “I said to Shashadhar, ‘You want the cluster of fruit before you even climb the tree! Practice spiritual disciplines a little more. Then you can teach others.’”
Ishan: “Everybody thinks that he can teach. A glowworm thinks it is illumining the world. Somebody said, ‘O glowworm, what light can you give? You only make the darkness more evident.’”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling a little): “But he is not just a scholar. He also has some discrimination and dispassion.”
The Bhagavata pundit from Bhattapada is sitting there. He is between seventy and seventy-five years old. He is watching Thakur.
The Bhagavata pundit (to Sri Ramakrishna): “You are a great soul.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You can say that about Narada, Prahlada, or Sukadeva. I am like your child.
“But you can say so from the point of view that the devotee of God is greater than God because the devotee carries God in his heart: ‘The devotee thinks of Me as small and of himself as great.’ (They all feel joy.) Yashoda wanted to bind Krishna to her with a rope. She thought that if she didn’t look after him, no one else would. Sometimes God is the magnet and the devotee a needle. By His power of attraction, He pulls the devotee. But sometimes the devotee becomes the magnet and God the needle. The devotee’s attraction is so strong that, enchanted by his ecstatic love, God Himself comes to him.”
Thakur is about to return to Dakshineswar. He goes to the southern verandah of the parlour. Ishan and the other devotees stand there with him. Thakur imparts many instructions to Ishan during their conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ishan): “The devotee who calls upon God while living in the household is brave and a real hero. God says: ‘He who has renounced the world will naturally call upon Me and serve Me. There is no bravery in that. If he does not call upon Me, others will say, “Shame on him!” But the man who, while living in the midst of worldly duties, calls upon Me and looks after Me – after having pushed away a twenty-maund stone, as it were – he is really blessed! He is brave, a hero indeed!’”
Bhagavata pundit: “The holy books say the same thing. There is the story of the pious hunter and the chaste wife. An ascetic thought that he had attained a very high state because he had burned a crow and a crane to ashes [with a glance]. He went to the house of a chaste wife. She had so much love for her husband that she served him day and night. When the husband came home, she would give him water to wash his feet; she would even dry his feet with her hair. The ascetic had come as a guest. When there was delay in getting alms from her, he shouted, ‘You will come to no good!’ The chaste woman at once replied, ‘This is not like burning a crow or a crane to ashes. Wait a little, holy man. Let me finish my service to my husband. Then I’ll attend to you.’
“The same ascetic went to a pious hunter to attain the knowledge of the Absolute. The hunter used to sell meat, but he would render service to his parents day and night, looking upon them as God embodied. The ascetic was wonderstruck when he saw him. He thought, ‘This butcher sells meat and is a worldly man. What knowledge of Brahman can he impart to me?’ But the butcher was a knower of the Absolute.”
Thakur is about to enter a carriage. He is standing near the door of Ishan’s father-in-law’s house. Ishan and the devotees stand close, waiting to say goodbye. Thakur again instructs Ishan during the course of conversation.
“Live in the world like an ant. In the world is both the True and the transitory, all mixed up, just as sugar is mixed with sand. Be an ant and take only the sugar.
“Water and milk are mixed together, and so are spiritual joy and worldly pleasures. Like a swan, you must take only the milk and leave the water.
“And be like the waterfowl. When water touches its body, it flutters its wings and shakes it off. Or become like a mud fish. It lives in mud, but look at its body: it is clean and shines brightly.
Thakur departs for Dakshineswar in a carriage.
. Ratha Yatra.
. A semi-circular instrument.
. A stringed musical instrument.
. A barrel-shaped drum with membranes placed over each end; the left end is the bass and it is smeared with varying amounts of moist flour, dough, to vary the pitch. It has a strap that goes around the neck of the drummer to hold it while standing.
. Kavyam darshanam hanti, kavyen giten hanyate,
Gitancha istrivilasen, sarve hanti bubhukshuta.
Upon obtaining this couplet it was later included in the footnote.
. An Indian measurement of weight.
. Dashamul pachan, a traditional Hindu prescription.
. Divine service three times a day.
. A short text from the Vedas, the repetition of which leads to meditation on God.
. Kamarpukur village, where Sri Ramakrishna was born and brought up.
. A kind of ecstasy attained by following the path of love and devotion for God.
. One ton.
. Dharma Vyadha.
. Nitya; the Absolute; the Eternal.