Conversation with Amrita, Trailokya, and Other Brahmos at the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar
Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi
It is the fifth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun, Thursday, 19 Chaitra (29 March 1883). After his midday meal, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna is resting in his room at the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. The Ganges is flowing west in front of the temple. Its flood tide started at two o’clock. A few devotees have arrived. Among them are the Brahmo devotee Amrita and the singer Trailokya, whose sweet songs of the glories of divine play have charmed the minds of young and old many times in Keshab’s Brahmo Samaj.
Rakhal is not well. Sri Ramakrishna tells the devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Look, Rakhal isn’t well. Would soda water be of any help? I don’t know what will happen. Rakhal, take some of Jagannath’s prasad.”
As he speaks, Sri Ramakrishna goes into an extraordinary state. Perhaps he is seeing the Lord Himself taking the form of a boy in the body of Rakhal, who is sitting in front of him. This young devotee, pure in spirit, has renounced ‘lust and greed.’ Sri Ramakrishna, who himself remains inebriated day and night with the love of God, looks at him lovingly. The attitude of parent and child, is natural to him, so perhaps he is looking upon this young boy, Rakhal, with the attitude of a mother toward her child. He begins to chant ‘Govinda, Govinda’ tenderly. He seems to be feeling the same emotion Yashoda felt when she saw Baby Krishna.
The devotees watch this amazing scene. Suddenly everything becomes very still. Uttering the name “Govinda,” Sri Ramakrishna goes into samadhi. His body becomes as motionless as a picture, his sense organs seem to have ceased working, and his eyes are fixed on the tip of his nose. It is impossible to know if he is breathing. Only his body seems to be left on earth, the bird of his soul having soared into the sky of God-consciousness.
Where is he who was worrying with a mother’s tenderness over her child? Is this amazing transformation of feeling known as samadhi?
Just then, dressed in the ochre cloth of a monk, an unknown Bengali enters the room and sits on the floor.
karmendriyäëi saàyamya ya äste manasä smaran |
indriyärthän vimüòhätmä mithyäcäraù sa ucyate ||
[He who sits, restraining the organs of action while letting his mind dwell on sense objects, deludes himself; he is called a hypocrite.]
Bhagavad Gita 3:6
The gerua cloth and sannyas –untruth is not good even in acting
Sri Ramakrishna’s samadhi is gradually coming to an end. He talks in a state of ecstasy, as if to himself.
Sri Ramakrishna (at the sight of the gerua cloth): “Why this gerua? What can be achieved by merely wearing the cloth? (Laughter.) Somebody said, ‘Giving up the Chandi, I have taken to the drum.’ He used to sing the hymns of the Chandi, now he beats the drum. (All laugh.)
“Dispassion is of three or four kinds. Having become burnt by the fire of the world, one puts on gerua. Such dispassion does not last long. Or perhaps a man is out of work, so he puts on the ochre cloth and leaves for Kashi. After three months his family gets a letter, ‘I have a job now. I shall return home in a few days. Please don’t worry.’ And then there is the man who has everything, who lacks nothing, but does not enjoy anything. He weeps only for God. This kind of dispassion is genuine dispassion.
“Any untruth is bad. Even false garb is not good. If one’s dress does not correspond to one’s mind, it gradually brings complete ruin. By speaking lies or practicing falsehood, one gradually loses the fear of it. It is better to wear white clothes. When there is attachment in the mind and lapse of the ideal within while wearing gerua – this is dreadful!”
Visit to Keshab’s house and watching the Nava Vrindavan
“The point is that even while acting in a play, virtuous people should not use false words or do anything that’s not true. I went to Keshab Sen’s house to watch the play Nava Vrindavan. A person brought something on the stage called a cross, and then he began to sprinkle water, saying, ‘It is the water of peace.’ I also saw a man staggering around acting intoxicated.”
A Brahmo devotee: “It was Ku-Babu.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s not good for a devotee to even play such a part. Keeping the mind on such matters for any length of time brings harm. The mind is like a fresh white cloth. It takes on the colour it’s dipped in. By keeping the mind in falsehood for any length of time, it will take on the colour of falsehood.
“Another day I went to see the play Nimai Sannyasa at Keshab’s house. Some flattering disciples of Keshab spoiled the whole drama. One of them said to him, ‘You are the Chaitanya of Kali.’ Keshab looked at me and said with a smile, ‘And what about him?’ I said, ‘I am the servant of your servants, the dust of your dust.’ Keshab has a desire for name and fame.”
Narendra and others are ever-perfect – they have inborn love and devotion
(To Amrita and Trailokya): “Narendra, Rakhal, and these youngsters are ever-perfect. They are devotees of God in every birth. Ordinary devotees attain a little devotion after practicing spiritual disciplines and austerities, but these boys have felt love for God since their birth. They are like the natural image of Shiva which comes from the earth and is not made by man.
“The ever-perfect are a class by themselves. Not every bird has a crooked beak. They are never attached to the world. There is the example of Prahlada.
“Ordinary people practice spiritual disciplines and have love for God, but they are also attached to the world, they are enchanted by ‘lust and greed.’ They are like a fly that sits on a flower, on sandesh, and also on filth. (All are still and silent.)
“The ever-perfect are like bees, which sit only on flowers to sip honey. The ever-perfect drink the nectar of the Divine; they never seek worldly pleasures.
“The love and devotion of the ever-perfect is not like the ordinary devotion acquired by practicing spiritual disciplines. Performing so much repetition of the name and so much meditation is worshiping in a prescribed manner, is ritualistic devotion. It’s like going around a rice field along the outside ridge to reach the other side. Or it’s like going to a village in a roundabout way along the banks of a winding river.
“When raga bhakti, prema bhakti, or love for God as one’s near and dear one develops, one doesn’t have to practice rituals any more. It’s like crossing a rice field after the harvest. One doesn’t have to walk along the ridge of the field, but can go straight across.
“When a river floods, you don’t have to walk along its winding banks; when the field is pole-deep with water, you can go straight across it in a boat.
“You cannot realize God without that kind of passionate love, intense devotion.”
The essence of samadhi – savikalpa and nirvikalpa
Amrita: “Sir, what do you experience in the state of samadhi?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Haven’t you heard about the cockroach becoming a beetle by meditating on a beetle? Do you know how I feel? Like a fish released from a pot into the Ganges.”
Amrita: “Isn’t there the least trace of ego left then?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, usually a little ego remains. However much you may grind a little piece of gold on a grindstone, a small grain of it remains. Another example is a big fire and its spark. Outer consciousness disappears, but usually a bit of ‘I-ness’ remains for enjoyment. Enjoyment is only possible when there is ‘I’ and ‘you.’ But sometimes He effaces even this ‘I-ness.’ This is called jada samadhi – nirvikalpa samadhi. What this experience is cannot be described in words. A salt doll went to measure the depth of the sea, but it only went in a little way before it was dissolved. It became just like the sea. Then who was there to come back and give an account of how deep the sea is?”
. Vatsalya bhava.
. The play depicting the sannyas of Sri Chaitanya.
. A Bengali sweet.
. Loving devotion for God.
. Ecstatic love.