Another Visit to the Sinthi Brahmo Samaj
Instructions to Vijaykrishna and Other Brahmos
Joyful Moments with Them
Sri Ramakrishna in Samadhi
The Brahmo devotees have again assembled at the Sinti Brahmo Samaj. It is 19 October 1884, the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartik, the day after the Kali Puja. This is the time for the Autumn Festival. A session of the Brahmo Samaj is being held again in the beautiful garden house of Beni Madhava Pal. The morning worship is over. The Paramahamsa Deva arrives at half past four. When his carriage stops in the middle of the garden, groups of devotees immediately encircle him. The pulpit of the Samaj has been set in the first room, before which is the vestibule. Thakur enters the vestibule and sits down. The devotees follow and sit around him. They include Vijay and Trailokya among others. A former member of the Brahmo Samaj, a sub-judge, is also present.
The Samaj house has been beautifully decorated for the great celebration, with multi-coloured flags strung about here and there. Some parts of the building and the ledges of the ventilators have been decorated with green foliage to give the illusion of beautiful and attractive trees. Outside, the blue autumnal sky casts its reflection in the clear water of the lake mentioned earlier. In the garden, on both sides of the red brick-dust pathways, are rows of flowering trees and fruit trees. Today again the devotees will hear Thakur chant the Vedas; he will chant the same verses which once emanated from the mouths of the Aryan rishis. The same message was heard by the twelve unlettered fishermen disciples from the mouth of Jesus – the supreme sannyasin in human form, his mind and soul fixed in Brahman, solicitous of the suffering of mankind, the gracious, loving Lord of the devotees, God-incarnate, overwhelmed with love for God. A similar chant issued from the Lord Sri Krishna in the form of the Srimad Bhagavad Gita on the holy field of Kurukshetra. These divine words Arjuna, the humble and sincere son of Kunti, heard in thundering sounds from the mouth of Guru Sat-chit-ananda, who had come down in human form and served as his charioteer:
kavià puräëamanuçäsitäram aëoraëéyaàsamanu- smaredyaù |
sarvasya dhätäramacintyarüpam ädityavarëaà tamasaù parastät ||
prayäëakäle manasä’calena bhaktyä yukto yoga-balena caiva |
bhruvormadhye präëamäveçya samyak sa taà paraà puruñamupaiti divyam ||
yadakñaraà vedavido vadanti viçanti yadyatayo vétarägäù |
yadicchanto brahmacaryaà caranti tatte padaà saìgraheëa pravakñye ||
[He who meditates on the Omniscient, the Ancient, the Ruler, smaller than an atom, the support of all, of inconceivable form and sun-like like effulgence beyond all darkness; he, with a steady mind at the time of death, with devotion and the strength of yoga, fixing his life-force between the eyebrows, reaches the Supreme Purusha.
To you I shall proclaim briefly, That which the knowers of the Veda call the Imperishable, into which ascetics, freed from passion, enter, and desiring which they lead lives of self-control.]
Bhagavad Gita 8:9–11
As Sri Ramakrishna sits down, he sees the beautifully decorated pulpit of the Samaj and bows to pay his homage. Since they talk of God from this platform, he feels that it is a holy spot. He sees that they talk of the Imperishable from here, so all holy places meet here. As on seeing a courtroom one thinks of lawsuits and a judge, on seeing where the story of the Lord is spoken, one is inspired with God.
Trailokya sings. Sri Ramakrishna says, “You sing ‘O Mother, make me mad’ so beautifully. Please sing it.”
O Mother, make me mad with Your love.
What need have I for knowledge or reason?
With the wine of Your love make me drunk,
You who steal the hearts of Your devotees!
Drown me in the ocean of Your love.
In this world, Your madhouse, some laugh, some weep, some dance in joy.
Jesus, Moses, Gauranga, – all are drunk with the wine of Your love.
When, O Mother, shall I join their blessed company?
In the heavens too is Your fair of madness: like guru, like disciples.
Who can understand this play of love?
O Mother, You who are mad with love, who are indeed the glory of the mad,
Make this, your beggar Premdas, rich with the treasure of love.
As Sri Ramakrishna hears the song, there is a change in his mood. He at once passes into samadhi – on seeing within himself the Great Essence beyond all essences, beyond the twenty-four cosmic principles, and beyond even mahat. It is as if all his organs of action and of sense, mind, intellect, and ego have vanished. His body is as motionless as a picture. Once, seeing such a state in Sri Krishna, Yudhisthira, the chief Pandava, wept, his soul completely merged in Sri Krishna. At that time Bhishma Deva, the pride of the dynasty of the Aryans, was lying on a bed of arrows meditating deeply on God in his last moments. The Kurukshetra battle had just ended. It was a day when one cried in spite of oneself. Not able to understand Sri Krishna’s state of samadhi, he wept. He was afraid that Sri Krishna had left his body.
Talk on spiritual matters – formless God of the Brahmo Samaj
After some time, Sri Ramakrishna comes back to partial consciousness and instructs the Brahmo devotees. His divine mood is so intense that he sounds intoxicated. It gradually diminishes. At last he returns to the normal state of consciousness.
“I shall eat hemp” – the Gita and the eight occult powers – what is God-realization?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Mother, I don’t want the joy of the Causal. I shall eat siddhi.
“By siddhi, I mean the attainment of the Essence – not any of the eight occult powers. Krishna spoke of this to Arjuna. He said, ‘Brother, listen. If a person has even one of the eight occult powers, he cannot attain Me.’ Because with occult power comes pride, and when there is even a trace of pride, a person cannot reach God.
“There are beginners, those who are practicing, the spiritually mature, and the most perfect among the mature ones. He who has just begun spiritual practices belongs to first class. A beginner applies marks of sandalwood paste on his forehead, applies a sectarian mark on his body, and uses a rosary. He shows a lot of external signs like these. The practicing aspirant is more advanced. His tendency to show off is reduced. He has yearning for God and calls upon Him sincerely. He repeats His Name and prays to Him with a guileless heart. Who is a spiritually mature person? One who has a firm conviction that God exists and that He does everything. Such a person has seen God. And who is ‘the most perfect among the mature ones?’ One who has talked with God – not just seen Him, but talked to Him as a son to his father, or a mother to her child, or a friend to a friend, or as a lover to the beloved.
“It is one thing to have the faith that fire is in wood; it is another to make fire with that wood, to cook rice, and to feel filled and satisfied by eating it.
“There is no end to divine states. There is always a state higher than the one before.”
God of worldly men – yearning and realization – be firm
(In a deep spiritual mood) “These people are Brahmajnanis and believe in God without form. This is good.
(To Brahmo devotees) “Believe firmly in one – either in God with form or God without form. Only then will you realize Him, not otherwise. A man with firm faith in God with form will attain Him, as will one who has firm faith in the formless God. Whether you eat sweet bread straight or sideways, it will taste sweet both ways. (All laugh.)
“But you have to be steady and call upon Him with a yearning heart. Do you know what the God of a worldly man is like? Like children imitating a quarrel between a younger aunt and her elder, each saying, ‘I swear by God.’ It is also like a well-dressed gentleman, chewing betel leaf and holding a walking stick in his hand, who plucks a flower as he strolls in the garden and says to his companion, ‘What a beautiful flower God has made!’ But the feeling of such a worldly man is only momentary, like a drop of water on red-hot iron.
“You have to be firm in one ideal. Dive. Without diving deep, you cannot reach the gems at the bottom of the sea. It is of no help to swim on the surface.”
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna begins to sing in his sweet voice the same song that had charmed Keshab Sen and other devotees. All those present feel as if they are in heaven or in Vaikuntha (the abode of Lord Vishnu).
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.
Go seek, go seek, O mind, the blessed Vrindavan within your heart, the abode of the Lord of Love. Then in your heart the unceasing light of knowledge will ever shine.
Who is it that steers your boat over solid ground? It is your guru, says Kabir. Listen, and meditate on his holy feet.
In the company of Brahmo devotees – Brahmo Samaj and talk on the glory of God
Sri Ramakrishna: “Dive. Learn to love God. Forget yourself in intense love for Him. Look here, I have heard your worship. Why do you talk so much of the glory of God in your Brahmo Samaj? ‘O Lord! You have made the sky. You have made big oceans. You have created the moon, the sun, the stars, and so on.’ What is the need of all this?
“People are struck with wonder when they see a rich man’s garden: what beautiful trees, what flowers, what a lake. They stand speechless at the sight of the drawing room and beautiful pictures. But who looks for the owner of the garden? Only one or two people. If you look for God with a longing heart, you can see Him, you can know Him, you can talk to Him just as I am talking to you. I tell you truly, you can see Him.
“But for whom do I speak these words? Who believes them?”
Scriptures and revelation – the law of revelation
“Can one reach God by reading scriptures? By reading scriptures you might at most understand that He exists. But unless you yourself dive deep, you cannot see God. Only when you have dived deep and He lets you know Him are all your doubts removed. You may read a book a thousand times, you may chant a thousand verses, but you cannot comprehend God without earnestly diving into Him. By mere scholarship you may deceive man, but you can’t attain God.
“Of what use are scriptures or other holy books alone? Without His grace nothing can happen. Seek for God with a longing heart! By His grace you will see Him. He will talk to you.”
Brahmo Samaj and equality – is God partial?
The sub-judge: “Does He shower His grace more on one than another? If that is so, God is guilty of partiality.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What do you mean! Take the two words ghorata and sarata. Both have -ta as a suffix. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar also said what you are saying. He asked, ‘Sir, has God given more power to one than another?’ I replied, ‘He is present in every being as the all-pervading Spirit, so he is in everything. Just as He is in me, He is in an ant, too. But there is special manifestation of God’s power in some. If everybody is equal, why have we come to see you when we hear your name, Ishwar Vidyasagar? Have you two horns that we have come to see? That is not so. You are generous, you are learned. You are well-known because you have more of these qualities than others. You know, there are people who can defeat a hundred men single-handedly; others run away in fear of a single person.’
“If there is no special power, why would people consider Keshab so great?
“The Gita says: ‘If a person is considered great by many, whether it is because of his learning, his ability to sing and play musical instruments, his oratory, or anything else, know it for certain that he has within him a special power of God.’”
A Brahmo devotee (to the sub-judge): “Please accept what he says.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to the Brahmo devotee): “What kind of a man are you? Merely accepting without conviction! It is hypocrisy. I see you as a sham.”
The Brahmo devotee is very ashamed.
Brahmo Samaj – Keshab and detachment in family life – renunciation of world
The earlier story of his life – instructions to Keshab – spiritual practice in a solitary place – signs of spiritual knowledge
The sub-judge: “Sir, must one renounce the family?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “No, why should you have to renounce the family? You can renounce even while living in the family. But in the beginning you must live for some time in a solitary place. You must practice spiritual disciplines in solitude. You should find a place near your home where you can retire and go home only for a meal. Keshab Sen, Pratap, and others told me, ‘Sir, we have the same attitude as King Janaka.’ I said to them, ‘You cannot become King Janaka just by saying so. King Janaka practiced many austerities in a solitary place, standing on his head. You people must do something! Only then can you become a King Janaka.’ Someone may write English very fluently, but could he do that all of a sudden? He was the son of a poor man. He used to live in somebody’s house, cooking for him, and ate little. He learned to read and write with great difficulty. That is how he is able to write so fluently now.
“I said something else to Keshab Sen: ‘Without going into solitude, how can you get rid of a serious disease? You are a patient with delirium, living in a room in which there are pickled tamarind and a pitcher of water. How can you get rid of the disease?’ Look, just by talking of tamarind pickles, my mouth has begun to water! (All laugh.) You all know what happens when they are within reach. For men, women are the pickled tamarind. Desire for enjoyment is the pitcher of water. There is no end to the thirst for enjoyment. Because all such things are found in the patient’s room, how can the disease of delirium be cured there? You must live for a few days at a different place, where there are no tamarind pickles or pitchers of water. Later, after being cured, you can go back to the family without running any risk. After attaining God, if you live in the family, ‘lust and greed’ can do no harm. Then you can remain unattached like Janaka. But in the beginning you have to be careful. You have to live in solitude and carry out strict spiritual disciplines. When the ashvattha tree is a small plant, it has to be protected by a fence around it so that cows or goats won’t destroy it. However, when it has grown a thick trunk, no fence is necessary. Then, even if you tie an elephant to it, no harm can come to it. If you practice spiritual disciplines in a solitary place and develop love and devotion to the lotus feet of God and gain strength, then you can go home and live a family life. Then ‘lust and greed’ will not harm you at all.
“Make curds in a solitary corner, and churn them to bring out the butter. When the butter of knowledge and love for God is taken out of the milk of the mind, it will float unattached on the water of the world. But if you keep the immature mind, which is in the state of milk, in the water of the household, it will not float.
“To attain God while living a family life, hold onto His lotus feet with one hand and do your work with the other. Whenever you are free from work, hold His lotus feet with both hands, live in solitude, meditate on Him alone, and serve Him.”
The sub-judge (joyfully): “Sir, very beautiful words indeed! There is nothing other than this! What else could be required than to practice spiritual disciplines in solitude? But we forget this. We think we have become King Janaka already. (Sri Ramakrishna and all the others laugh.) That there is no need to leave family life, that one can attain God even while living in the family – hearing this, my mind is happy and at peace.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why should you have to renounce? If you have to fight, it is better to fight from within a fort. You have to fight against your senses and against hunger and thirst. It is good that all these are fought while living in the household. Moreover, in the Kaliyuga life depends on food. If you have nothing to eat, all talk of God will be knocked out of your brain. A person said to his wife, ‘I am going to leave the family.’ The wife was a somewhat sensible woman. She said, ‘Why do you have to wander about? When you don’t have to beg your bread from ten homes, go, but if you have to do that, it is better to be in one house.’
“Why do you have to renounce the home? It is convenient there. You don’t have to worry about food, and there is no harm in living with your wife. In a family, all your bodily needs are easily met. If you fall ill, you have people to nurse you.
“Janaka, Vyasa, and Vasishtha lived in the family after attaining spiritual knowledge. They wielded both swords – the one of knowledge and the other of action.”
The sub-judge: “Sir, how do you know when you have attained knowledge?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “When you have attained knowledge, you no longer see God at a distance. He is no longer ‘He’ – He becomes ‘this.’ Then He is seen in your own heart. God is in everybody. Whoever seeks Him finds Him.”
The sub-judge: “Sir, I am a sinner. How can I say that God is within me?”
Brahmo Samaj, Christianity and the doctrine of sin
Sri Ramakrishna: “You Brahmos harp on sin! Maybe it’s the view of Christianity also. Somebody gave me a book (the Bible). I asked someone to read me a little. It was all about one thing only – sin and sin. I have chanted His name – Ishvara or Rama or Hari. How can I be a sinner? You must have such faith as this! You must have faith in the power of God’s name!”
The sub-judge: “Sir, how do you have such faith?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Love Him. One of your Brahmo songs says, ‘Lord, can one ever know You without loving You, by only performing worship and sacrifice?’ Pray! Cry! Weep out loud to Him in solitude that you may gain such attraction for Him, such love for Him! People shed pitchers full of tears when their wives are ill, or they lose money, or for a job. Who weeps for God? Just tell me. I would like to know.”
Give God the power of attorney – how long do you have duties toward family
Trailokya: “Sir, he has no time. He has to work for the British.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to the sub-judge): “Well, give God the power of attorney. If you give your burden to a good person, can he ever do you wrong? Give Him your entire burden with a sincere heart, and then be at peace. Do only the work He assigns to you.
“A kitten doesn’t have a calculating mind. It just cries, ‘Mew, mew.’ If its mother puts it in the kitchen, it lies there. It only mews for its mother. And when the mother puts it on a bed, it is the same: it just repeats, ‘Mew, mew.’”
The sub-judge: “We are householders. How long do we have to attend to worldly duties?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Of course you have duties to do – to bring up your children, to provide for your wife, and to save money for her when you are no more. If you don’t do these, you are a heartless fellow. Sukadeva and other sages had compassion. A person who has no compassion is not a human being.”
The sub-judge: “How long must one look after one’s children?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Till they reach adulthood. When a bird grows up and can look after itself, its mother forces it out of the nest with its beak. She doesn’t let it near.” (All laugh.)
The sub-judge: “What is one’s duty toward one’s wife?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “During your lifetime you must instruct her in religion and must provide for her. If she is chaste, you must make plans for her care when you are gone.
“However, when a person is overwhelmed with spiritual knowledge, he is left with no duties to perform. God takes charge when you are no longer able to do so. When a zemindar dies, leaving behind a minor son, a guardian takes the entire responsibility for the boy. It is a matter of law. You know that quite well.”
The sub-judge: “Yes, Sir.”
Vijay Goswami: “Ah, beautiful! God Himself takes up the burden of one who meditates on Him with a fixed mind, who is mad with ecstatic love for Him. A minor at once gets a guardian. Oh, when will such a state of mind come? Whoever experiences such a state is lucky indeed!”
Trailokya: “Sir, is it possible to gain true knowledge of God while living in the world? Can one really attain God?”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “Why not? You are already completely absorbed in Him! (All laugh.) You are already living in the world, and you have given your mind to Him. Why shouldn’t it be possible to realize God in the household? Certainly it is.”
Signs of a householder jnani – signs of God-realization – free in this very life
Trailokya: “What are the signs of a householder’s having attained knowledge of God?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Tears flow from his eyes, and the hair on his body stands on end at the name of God. No sooner does he hear the sweet name of God than the hair on his body stands on end and a stream of tears flows from the eyes.
“As long as there is attachment to worldly things, as long as there is attraction for ‘lust and greed,’ body-consciousness doesn’t leave you. The fewer the attachments, the nearer you are to knowledge of the Self, and to the same extent, body-consciousness becomes less. One attains knowledge of the Atman when attachment to the world has completely disappeared. Then one begins to feel that the soul is one and the body another. It is difficult to separate the kernel of a coconut from its shell with a knife until the water in it has dried up. When the water is dried up, you only have to strike and shake it and the kernel becomes detached. This is called a dry coconut.
“The signs of God-realization are that a man becomes like a dry coconut – he is rid of identification with the body. Pleasure and pain of the body are no longer his concern. He does not seek comforts for the body. He roams about as one liberated in this very life.
“Kali’s devotees are free in this very life. They are full of unending joy.
“When you see tears begin to flow and the hair on the body stand on end at the very name of God, know that attachment to ‘lust and greed’ has disappeared and that one has realized God. If a matchstick is dry, strike it just once, and it will light. If it is wet, you may strike it fifty times, but it won’t ignite. You’ve just wasted the wooden sticks. If your mind is immersed in the liquid of worldly pleasures and is wet with ‘lust and greed,’ inspiration for God-consciousness will not arise. You may try a thousand times, but all your efforts will be in vain. It is only when the liquid of attachment to worldly pleasures dries up that there is instantaneous inspiration for God.”
Yearning is the way – He is your very own Mother
Trailokya: “How do we dry up our craving for worldly pleasures?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Call on the Divine Mother with a longing heart. The liquid of worldly desire dries up on seeing Her; your attachment to ‘lust and greed’ will fully disappear. It happens at the very moment you realize that He is your own Mother. He is not your stepmother; He is your own Mother! Be earnest and even stubborn with Her! A boy holds onto his mother’s sari when he asks her for money to buy a kite. Perhaps the mother is busy talking to other women, and at first she refuses outright, saying, ‘No, your father doesn’t want me to give you any money. I’ll ask him when he comes. You might cause an accident by playing with a kite now.’ But when the boy starts crying and refuses to leave, the mother says to her friends, ‘Just wait a minute, sisters. Let me pacify this boy. I’ll be right back.’ Saying this, she opens her cash box with a key and throws a pice to the boy. You also must become stubborn with the Mother. She will certainly grant you Her vision. I said the same thing to some Sikhs. They had come to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. We talked in front of Mother Kali’s shrine, and they said, ‘God is all compassion.’ I said, ‘How is that?’ They answered, ‘Because, Sir, He is always looking after us. He gives us righteousness and wealth – everything. He gives us food.’ I said, ‘When somebody has children, doesn’t he take the responsibility of feeding them? Does somebody else from the neighborhood take up the duty?’”
The sub-judge: “So is He not compassionate, sir?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why should He not be? I only told them that He is our very own. We can force Him! To our nearest and dearest, we can even say, ‘You rascal, are you going to give it to me?’”
Ego and the sub-judge
Sri Ramakrishna (to the sub-judge): “Well, do you think pride and ego come from knowledge or from ignorance? Pride is characteristic of the tamoguna and comes from ignorance. It becomes a veil through which one cannot see God. All troubles cease when the ego vanishes. Pride is of no use. Neither this body nor wealth is going to last. A drunkard was looking at an image of Durga. Seeing her decoration and adornments he said, ‘Mother, You may decorate Yourself as much as You like, but after two or three days, they will pull You out and throw You into the Ganges!’ So I tell everybody – whether a judge or anybody else – all this is for two days only. So give up pride and ego.’’
The Brahmo Samaj and equality – people have different natures
“The characteristics of sattva, rajas, and tamas are quite different. The signs of the tamoguna are pride, sloth, gluttony, lust, anger, and so on. A rajoguni has a tendency to involve himself more and more in work and to dress well. He keeps his house clean and tidy. He also keeps a photo of the queen in the drawing room. When he meditates on God, he puts on a pure silk cloth and a string of rudraksha and gold beads. When someone comes to see the shrine, he guides the visitor, saying, ‘Come this way, there is more: see the white marble floor, see the assembly hall with sixteen openings.’ And he makes a show of his charity. A sattvaguna person is very calm and quiet. Any clothes do for him. He earns only enough to live on and would never flatter anybody for money. His house remains in want of repair, he doesn’t worry about his children’s clothing, he makes no effort for name or fame. He meditates and gives away in charity secretly, so that nobody comes to know of it. He meditates inside a mosquito net so people think that he did not sleep at night and is sleeping late into the morning. Sattvaguna is the last step of the staircase. After it comes the roof. After sattvaguna is acquired, God-realization is not far off. Just a little more progress and He is attained. (To the sub-judge) You said that all people are equal. Just see how many different natures there are!
“And then there are many other kinds of human being: the ever-free, the liberated, aspirants, and the bound. There are so many different types! Narada and Sukadeva are ever-free. They are like a steamboat which not only crosses over but also carries big animals, even an elephant. They are like the superintendent of an estate. Having governed one part, he goes to govern another. Then there are seekers after liberation who try earnestly with all their hearts and souls to free themselves from the net of the world. Only one or two of them escape from the net. They become the liberated. The ever-free are like clever fish: they never become entangled in the net of the world. As for the bound souls, worldly people, they never even become aware that they are in the mesh of the net and bound by it. Such people, when they hear talk about God, leave the place, saying, ‘The name of God is taken at the time of death. Why now?’ And when he is lying on his deathbed, the worldly man says to his wife and children, ‘Why is the lamp burning so brightly? Lower the wick a little. Too much oil is being consumed.’ Thinking of his children and wife he weeps, saying, ‘Alas, what will happen to them when I am gone?’ The bound person repeats those very actions that made him suffer so much in the first place. He is like a camel which bleeds profusely when it eats thorny bushes, but it doesn’t give up eating them. His son has died, leaving him in grief, but he produces more children year after year. Everything he has is spent on his daughter’s marriage, but he goes on begetting daughters every year. He says, ‘I can’t help it. It is my fate.’ If he goes on pilgrimage, he doesn’t find time to meditate on God. He tires himself out just carrying the luggage of his wife and children. In the temple all he does is get holy water for his son to drink and make him bow to the Deity and so on. A bound soul takes up service under others to earn a living for himself, his wife, and his children. He earns money by telling lies, cheating, and flattery. Such a person looks down on those who call upon God and meditate on Him, saying they are mad. (To the sub-judge) There are so many kinds of men, you see! You said men were equal. But how many varieties there are! Some have more power, some less.”
A bound soul does not take the name of the Lord at the time of death
“A bound soul, attached to worldliness, talks only of the world at the time of death. What use is it to superficially count the beads or take a bath in the Ganges or visit holy places? If within oneself is attachment for the world, only the world comes before the eyes at the time of death. What nonsense such a person talks on his deathbed. Perhaps he cries out in delirium, ‘Turmeric powder! Five-spiced blend! Cassia leaf!’ A parrot might normally repeat ‘Radha Krishna’ but when a cat seizes it, the only sound that comes out of it is ‘Kaa! Kaa!’ The Gita says the same thing, that you will carry with you to your next life what you think at the time of your death. King Bharata left his body repeating, ‘Deer, deer.’ So he was reborn as a deer. If you think of God at the time of death, you attain Him, and then you don’t have to return to this world.
The Brahmo devotee: “Sir, say one has meditated on God at other times, but not at the time of death. Does it mean that he will have to come to this world of pleasure and pain again? Why would that be so if he had meditated on God earlier?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A man might meditate on God but have no faith in Him. Time and again he forgets Him and becomes attached to the world. It’s like washing an elephant. It soils itself again with mud and dust. The mind is like a mad elephant. But if the elephant is taken to its stable soon after the bath, it can’t rub mud and dust on its body. If a person thinks of God at the time of death, the mind is purified. Such a mind does not get another chance to become attached to ‘lust and greed.’
“People have no faith in God. That’s why they suffer so much from the consequences of actions. People say that when you take a dip in the Ganges, your sins leave you and perch themselves on a tree at the bank of the river. As soon as you return to the bank after the bath, all your sins fly back again to sit firmly on your shoulders. (All laugh.) You must prepare beforehand, so that your mind is in God at the time of death. The way is in constant practice. Then you will remember God in your last moments.”
The Brahmo devotee: “We’ve had a nice conversation. Very nice indeed!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Oh, I’ve just been talking at random. But do you know my inner state of mind? ‘I am the instrument and He is the operator; I am the dwelling and He is the dweller; I am the engine, He is the engineer; I am the chariot, He is the charioteer. I move as He makes me move; I do as He makes me do.’”
Sri Ramakrishna joyfully singing God’s name
Trailokya sings again, accompanied by drum and cymbal. Sri Ramakrishna is dancing, mad with love for God. He has gone into samadhi a number of times while dancing. Now he stands in samadhi – his body motionless, eyes fixed, face smiling, leaning on the shoulder of a dear devotee. When he comes down a little from that state, he dances like an intoxicated elephant. Regaining external consciousness, he adds his own lines to the song:
Mother, dance around Your devotees,
Dancing Yourself, make them dance too.
O, my Mother, dance in the lotus of my heart.
O Brahmamayi, whose essence is Brahman,
Dance in Your world-bewitching form!
It is a rare sight, the dance of this divine child maddened with love, his soul merged in the Divine Mother. Brahmo devotees dance around him like iron filings around a magnet. They all chant the name of Brahman in a frenzy of love. Then they chant the sweet name of Brahman, the name of Mother. Many of them weep like children as they repeat, “Mother, Mother!”
When the singing ends, they all take seats. The evening worship of the Samaj has not yet been performed. In the joy of singing, all rules had been brushed aside. The plans had been for Vijaykrishna Goswami to take the pulpit after dusk. It is about 8 p.m.
Everyone is now seated, Sri Ramakrishna also has taken his seat. Vijay is sitting in front of him. A message comes that Vijay’s old mother-in-law and some other women devotees would like to see Sri Ramakrishna and talk to him, so Thakur goes into another room to meet them.
He returns in a little while and says to Vijay, “What great and loving devotion your mother-in-law has for God! She says, ‘I will not talk about worldly things now – there, one wave disappears as another wave arrives.’ I said, ‘What does it matter to you? You already have knowledge.’ At this, your mother-in-law said, ‘What knowledge do I have? I have not yet gone beyond vidyamaya (the power of knowledge) and avidyamaya (power of nescience). It is not enough to go beyond avidya. You have to go beyond vidya too. Then alone will you gain spiritual knowledge. You say so yourself.’”
While they are talking, Beni Pal enters.
Beni Pal (to Vijay): “Sir, please rise. It is already very late. Please start the worship.”
Vijay: “Sir, what is the need of worship now? You have provided the rice pudding first – and then the lentils and other dishes.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “As is the devotee, so is the provision made by him. The sattvic devotee provides the rice pudding, the rajasic one offers fifty dishes to the deity, while the tamasic devotee sacrifices a goat or some other animal.”
Vijay ponders whether or not he should go up to the podium for worship.
Lectures in the Brahmo Samaj – duties of a religious teacher – God alone is the Guru
[Instructions to Vijay]
Vijay: “If you will bless me, I will speak from the pulpit.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s all right if there is no pride. ‘I am lecturing, you listen’ – it is all right if you don’t have this attitude of ego. What are pride and ego? Do they result from knowledge or from ignorance? Only the person who has no pride can attain knowledge. Rainwater flows down from a higher level; it stands at a lower level.
“As long as you have egotism, you cannot gain knowledge. You also can’t attain liberation. You will have to come again and again to this world. A calf bellows ‘hamba hamba’ (‘I, I’), so it has to undergo so much suffering! The butcher cuts it up; its skin is used to make shoes and drums. How much beating a drum takes! There is no end to its suffering! Last of all, strings are made with its intestines for the carder’s bow. When the sound ‘tuhun tuhun’ (‘you, you’) is uttered by the carder’s string, only then is it freed. It no longer says, ‘I, I,’ only ‘you, you.’ In other words, ‘God, You are the doer; I do nothing. You are the operator; I am the machine. Indeed, You are all.’”
Sri Ramakrishna and being a guru
“Guru, father, and doer – these three words prick my body like thorns. I am His son, His eternal child. How can I be a father? God is the doer; I do nothing. He is the operator; I am the machine.
“If anyone calls me guru, I say to him, ‘What guru? Away with you, rascal!’ There is no guru other than Sat-chit-ananda (Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute). Except for Him, there is no shelter. He alone is the pilot that takes one across the sea of the world.
(To Vijay) “It is very difficult to be a spiritual teacher. It is harmful for him to see a dozen men accept him as guru. Crossing one leg over the other and saying, ‘Listen to what I say,’ is a very bad attitude. Such a person gets that way with the respect of only a dozen people. People will at most say, ‘Ah, how well Vijay Babu speaks! He is a great man of knowledge!’ I say, ‘Don’t think this way.’ As for me, I say to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, You are the mechanic, I am Your instrument. I work as You make me work; I speak as You make me speak.’”
Vijay (humbly): “I shall go up to the podium and speak only if you give me permission.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “What can I say? The moon is everybody’s uncle. Why don’t you ask Him? If you are sincere, there is nothing to be afraid of.”
When Vijay requested Sri Ramakrishna yet again, he said, “Yes. Go. Follow the rules. It’s okay if you have sincere love for God.”
Vijay goes to the podium and offers worship according to the Brahmo custom. He repeats, “Mother, Mother” during his prayer. Everyone is moved.
After worship, preparations are made to serve the devotees. All the cotton carpets and the thick wool ones are removed, and leaf plates are put on the floor. The devotees sit down to eat. Sri Ramakrishna is also given a seat. Full of joy, he sits down and offers to God tasty luchis, kichouris, papad, various kinds of sweets, curd, and the rice pudding brought by Beni Pal. And then he partakes of the prasad.
Mother Kali and Brahman are one when one gains the highest knowledge
After the meal, everyone prepares to return home; they all chew betel leaves. Before leaving, Sri Ramakrishna sits in a corner and talks to Vijay. M. is present.
Brahmo Samaj and the Motherhood of God
Sri Ramakrishna: “You prayed to God addressing Him, ‘Mother, Mother.’ This is very good. They say that one is attracted more by mother than by father. You can force your mother, but you can’t force your father. Carts full of money were being brought from the estate of Trailokya’s mother with many men in red turbans guarding it with sticks in their hands. Trailokya was waiting on the side of the road with his people. He forcibly took the whole treasure. You can use a great deal of force when it concerns your mother’s treasure. Don’t they say that a mother can’t go to law against her son?”
Vijay: “If Brahman is the Divine Mother, is He with form or without form?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Brahman is the same as Kali, the Primal Power. When inactive, I call It Brahman. When creating, preserving, and dissolving, I call It Shakti (Power). Still water is an illustration of Brahman. When in motion, that same water is like Shakti, or Kali. Kali is She who communes with Mahakala, Brahman. Kali is with form, and again She is without form. If you believe in the Formless, then meditate on Kali as being formless. Be firm in one ideal. She Herself will make you understand what She is. When you reach Shyampukur, you will also know Telepada. Then you will know that He is not only Existence, but He also speaks to you the way I am speaking to you. Have faith. It will all become clear. And there is one other thing. If you believe in the Formless, be firm in your belief, but don’t be dogmatic, don’t emphasize that God can be only this and not that. Say, ‘I believe that God is formless. What else God is, only He knows. I don’t know, and I can’t understand.’ Can a person with an ounce of intelligence know the nature of God? Can a one-seer container hold four seers of milk? If He, in His grace, grants His vision and makes one understand, then alone can one understand, not otherwise. That which is Brahman is also Shakti, the Divine Mother.”
It is He that I worship as Mother.
Says Ramprasad, shall I give away this secret in the teeming marketplace?
Why not guess, O mind, who that being is, from the hints that have been dropped?
“And then Ramprasad also says:
Knowing now the secret that Kali is one with the highest Brahman,
I’ve cast off both righteousness and unrighteousness for evermore.
“Adharma, unrighteousness, means engaging in unrighteous acts. Dharma, righteousness, means duties prescribed by the scriptures – so much charity, so much feeding of brahmins.”
Vijay: “What remains after one has given up both dharma and adharma?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Pure love of God. I said to the Divine Mother: Here is your dharma and here is your adharma; take them both, and give me pure love. Here is your virtue and here is your vice; take them both, and grant me pure love for you. Here is your knowledge, and here is your ignorance; take them both, and grant me pure love for you.
“Just see, I didn’t ask for knowledge, nor did I ask for worldly fame. When one has given up dharma and adharma, that which remains is pure love – unalloyed love, untainted by desires, love for God that wells up unbidden out of the depths of the immortal soul.”
Brahmo Samaj and the Brahman of Vedanta – the Primal Power
A Brahmo devotee: “Is God different from His power?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “After one has attained the highest knowledge, both God and His Power are realized as one and the same, like a jewel and its lustre are inseparable. As soon as the brilliance of a jewel comes to the mind, one thinks of the jewel. Just like milk is inseparable from its whiteness – think of one and you think of the other. But this oneness does not come about until one has attained the highest knowledge. Having attained the highest knowledge, one goes into samadhi and then goes beyond the twenty-four cosmic principles, including the ego. How one feels in samadhi cannot be described in words. Coming down a little, one can give only a hint of it. When I repeat ‘Om, Om’ after samadhi, I have already come down a hundred cubits. Brahman is beyond the Vedic doctrine. One cannot speak of It. There is no ‘I’ or ‘you’ there.
“As long as there is I’ and ‘you’, as long as there is the knowledge, ‘I pray or I meditate,’ so long does the feeling of ‘You (the Lord) listen to my prayer’ exist. Then one thinks of God as a person. ‘You are the Master, I am Your servant; You are the whole, I am Your part; You are the Mother, I am Your son’ – this awareness remains within. There is a feeling of difference: I am one, and You are another. This feeling of duality, He Himself gives us. That is why one is aware of being a male or a female. Or why one feels that here is light and there is darkness, and so on. As long as there is awareness of difference, one has to believe in Shakti, the Personal God. He Himself has kept this ‘I-ness’ in us. Reason a thousand times, but this ‘I’ does not leave you. And as long as it exists, He manifests as a person.
“As long as there is ‘I’, as long as you are conscious of duality, you cannot insist that Brahman is without attributes. You must accept Brahman with attributes. This very Brahman with attributes has been called Kali or Primal Power in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras.”
Vijay: “How can we have a vision of this Primal Power? Or how can we have the knowledge of Brahman without attributes?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Pray to Him with a yearning heart and weep. This will purify your mind. In clear water you can see the reflection of the sun. In the mirror of the ‘I,’ the devotee sees Brahman with attributes, the Primal Power. But the mirror must be perfectly clean. If there is any dirt, it will not catch the correct reflection.
“As long as there is ‘I,’ you see the sun in the water of ‘I.’ There is no other way to see the sun. And as long as you have no means to see the real sun and you see only the reflected sun, that reflected sun is the real sun to you – one hundred percent real. As long as the ‘I’ is real, the reflected sun is also real – one hundred percent real. This reflected sun is the Primal Power.
“If you want to attain the knowledge of Brahman, proceed toward the real sun through the reflection. Pray to Brahman with attributes, who listens to your prayers. He Himself will grant you the knowledge of Brahman. This is because He who is Brahman with attributes is Himself Brahman without attributes. He who is Shakti is Himself Brahman. One realizes that there is no duality after attaining the ultimate knowledge.
“The Divine Mother grants knowledge of Brahman too. But usually a real lover of God doesn’t want it.
“And there is another path, the path of knowledge – a very difficult path indeed. You members of the Brahmo Samaj are not followers of the path of knowledge, you are lovers of God. Those who follow the path of knowledge believe that Brahman is real and the world an illusion, like a dream. I, you, and everything else are like a dream.”
Ill-will and the Brahmo Samaj
“God is the inner controller. Pray to Him longingly with a pure mind. He will make you understand everything. Give up egotism and take refuge in Him. You will get everything.
Dwell, O my mind, within yourself,
And enter no one else’s house.
If you search within yourself,
You will find there all you seek:
God Himself, the philosopher’s stone, is the supreme wealth
That can give you all you want.
At the outer court of the wish fulfilling gem, so many gems lie strewn!
“When you mix with other people, you should be affectionate to them all, be one with them, have no grudge against anyone, whether a person believes in God with form and does not believe in the formless or accepts the formless and does not believe in God with form. ‘So-and-so is a Hindu, so-and-so is a Muslim or a Christian’ – do not say this; do not turn away or show contempt. God has given them a different understanding. Know that people have different natures. Know this and mix in their company as much as possible, and love them. Then retire to your chamber and enjoy peace and happiness.
Lighting the lamp of knowledge in the chamber of your heart, see the face of the Mother, the embodiment of Brahman.
“You will be able to see your true Self only within your own chamber. When the cowherd boys come out to graze their cows, all the cows mix together in the field and form a single herd. When they return home at dusk, they again separate. Each remains by itself in its stall.”
Sannyasins should not accumulate – Beni Pal’s good use of wealth
After 10:00 p.m. Sri Ramakrishna enters the carriage to return to the Kali temple in Dakshineswar. He is accompanied by one or two devotees. It is very dark. The carriage is waiting under a tree. Beni Pal comes with some luchis and sweets for Ramlal.
Beni Pal: “Sir, Ramlal wasn’t able to come. With your permission I’d like to send some food to him.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Babu Beni Pal, please don’t send all this with me! It is harmful to me! I can’t carry anything with me, I must not accumulate. Please don’t be offended.”
Beni Pal: “As you please. But please bless me.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It has been a very enjoyable day. He is a real man who holds his wealth as his slave. Those who don’t know the right use of money are not men, though they are born as human beings. They only have the looks of a man, but the conduct of a beast. Blessed you are. You have given joy to so many devotees.”
. Refer Section III of this Volume, 28 October 1882.
. Sri Chaitanya.
. The second category in the evolution of the universe; the cosmic mind.
. Siddhi, the word for “occult power” also means “hemp.” Sri Ramakrishna is making a play on words
. The siddha of the siddhas.
. Sri Ramakrishna actually used this word in English.
. The two words ghora (“horse”) and sara (“clay plate”) both have the suffix .-ta. The power of a horse is different from that of a clay plate. Because they both end in -ta, they don’t become equal. The horse has more power than the clay plate.
. Tehsildar, a sub-divisional revenue officer.
. Abhyasa yoga.
. The village of Shyampukur neighbours Telepada.
. Amla bhakti.
. Nishkama bhakti.
. Ahehtuki bhakti.
. Purna jnana.