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Sri Ramakrishna and Keshab Chandra Sen in the Lily Cottage
In front of Keshab’s house – ‘he looks for you with a yearning heart as you come’
Keshab, Prasanna, Amrit, Umanath, Keshab’s Mother, Rakhal and M.
Wednesday, 28 November, 1883. It is the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Kartik. A devotee is pacing the footpath to the east of the Lily Cottage gate. He seems to be eagerly waiting for someone.
To the north of Lily Cottage is the Mangal Bari. A number of Brahmo devotees live there. Keshab lives in the Lily Cottage. His disease has worsened. Most people say, “It appears that there is not much chance of his recovering this time.”
Sri Ramakrishna is very fond of Keshab. He is coming to see him today from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. The devotee pacing outside is awaiting his arrival.
The Lily Cottage is situated on the western side of the Circular Road where he is walking. He has been waiting since 2 p.m. He sees many people on the road.
The Victoria College is situated on the eastern side of the road. A number of ladies from Keshab’s Brahmo Samaj and their daughters study there. One can see deep into the school building from the road. To the north there is a big garden house inhabited by an English gentleman. The devotee on the road has been observing for a long time that there seems to be some misfortune in the house. A little later, he sees a coachman and a groom in black livery bringing a hearse. These arrangements have been going on for the last one-and-a-half or two hours.
Somebody has parted from this mortal world, hence all the arrangements.
The devotee wonders, “Where does one go when one leaves the body?”
A number of carriages rattle southward. The devotee is keenly watching them to see if Thakur is in one.
It is almost five o’clock when Thakur arrives in a carriage. He is accompanied by Latu and one or two other devotees. M. and Rakhal are also present.
Keshab’s family members lead Thakur upstairs. There is a wooden cot on the verandah south of the drawing room. Thakur is invited to sit there.
Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi – he talks to the Divine Mother in ecstasy
Thakur has been sitting here for quite some time. He is impatiently awaiting Keshab. Keshab’s disciples tell him humbly that Keshab is resting for awhile, but it will not be long before he comes.
Keshab suffers from a serious disease. His disciples and the members of his family, therefore, are very careful. Thakur is becoming more and more eager to see Keshab.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab’s disciples) — Look, what is the need for him to come? Why can’t I go inside to see him?
Prasanna (humbly) — Sir, he will be here shortly.
Sri Ramakrishna — Go on, you’re making an unnecessary fuss! Let me go in.
Prasanna talks about Keshab to divert Sri Ramakrishna’s mind.
Prasanna — He is in a different state of mind. He talks to the Mother like you. The Mother speaks to him, and he listens, and laughs and cries.
“Keshab talks to the Mother of the Universe. Hearing Her, he sometimes laughs and sometimes weeps.”
Thakur is overwhelmed with emotion on hearing this. He passes quickly into samadhi.
It is winter, so Thakur is clad in a warm coat of green cashmere with a shawl over it. His body is erect, his eyes fixed, he is completely merged in samadhi. He remains in this state for a long time. His samadhi is not coming to an end.
It is evening. Thakur comes down to a somewhat the natural state. A lamp has been lighted in the adjacent parlour. They are all trying to take Thakur to that room. It is with great difficulty that they manage to do so.
There is a lot of furniture in the room: a couch, chairs, coat hanger and also a lamp. Thakur is made to sit on the couch.
As he sits down, he again loses outer-consciousness and merges in ecstasy.
Casting his glance on the couch, he mutters something like one intoxicated, “It was of some use before. What is the need for it now?”
(Looking at Rakhal, he says) “Rakhal, you have come!”
Vision of the Mother of the Universe and conversation with Her –immortality of the soul
What does Thakur behold as he talks? He says –
“O good! So You have come, Mother! How You show off in your Benarasi sari!
Mother, please don’t trouble. Come and sit down. Do sit.”
Thakur’s ecstasy continues. The room is well lighted. Brahmo devotees are all around him. Latu, Rakhal, M. and others are also seated near him. Thakur talks spontaneously in the state of bhava.
“The body and the soul. The body has come and it will go. But the soul is immortal. It is just like the betel-nut. If the nut is ripe, its shell does not adhere to the nut. In the unripe state, it is very difficult to get the shell apart from the nut. When you have seen Her, when you have attained Her, body-consciousness vanishes – one feels that the soul is separate from the body.”
Keshab enters the room by the eastern door. They who had seen him in the Brahmo Samaj temple or in the Town Hall are struck dumb seeing him. He is a veritable skeleton covered with skin. He is not able to stand up. He holds the wall as he walks. It is with great difficulty that he sits down facing the couch.
In the meantime Thakur gets up from the couch and sits on the floor. Seeing Thakur, Keshab salutes him for a long time, lying prostrate on the ground. After the salutation, he sits up. Thakur is still in the state of ecstasy. What is he saying to himself? He is talking to the Divine Mother.
Brahman and Shakti Indivisible – God’s divine sport in man
Now Keshab raises his voice and says, “I have come, I have come.” He holds Sri Ramakrishna’s left hand and begins to stroke it gently. Thakur is intoxicated in bhava. He is saying many things spontaneously. All the devotees listen to him spellbound.
Sri Ramakrishna — As long as one retains one’s upadhis, one has the perception of plurality and of persons, as Keshab, Prasanna, Amrita and so on. When one has attained ultimate jnana, one is aware that it is one Consciousness behind many things.
“Moreover, when one has acquired ultimate jnana, one sees that the same Consciousness has differentiated into the world, its creatures and the twenty-four cosmic principles.
“Even so, there is a special manifestation of God’s power in some. Truly He has become all – but at certain places there is greater manifestation of His power, in others less.
“Vidyasagar asked, ‘So, has God given more of His power to one and less of it to the other?’ I said, ‘If it were not so, how could one person defeat fifty others? Besides, why should we have come to see you?’
“There is more power of God in that receptacle in which He manifests His lila (divine sport).
“The landlord can be found anywhere in his estate but he is often to be seen in the drawing room. The heart of the devotee is the Lord’s drawing room. He likes to enact His lila in the heart of a devotee. His power especially descends in the heart of a devotee.
“What are the signs of it? Wherever much work is done, there His power is especially manifested.
“The Adyashakti (Primeval Power) is not different from the Parabrahman (Supreme Brahman). You cannot think of the one without thinking of the other. For example, think of the gem and its lustre! If you do not hold a gem, you cannot think of its effulgence. Similarly, you cannot think of the gem without thinking of its brilliance. It is like the snake and its serpentine movement. Without thinking of the snake, you cannot think of its movement. Similarly, forgetting the wriggling movement of the snake, you cannot think of the snake.”
Brahmo Samaj and seeing God in man – the difference between the aspirant and the perfected
“Adyashakti (the Primordial Power of Brahman) has differentiated into the phenomenal world, living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. It is a case of involution and evolution.
“Why do I care so much for Rakhal, Narendra and the other young men? Hazra said, ‘Why do you go about thinking of these young men? When will you give your mind to God?’ (Keshab and others smile slightly.)
“This set me to thinking seriously about it. I said to the Divine Mother, ‘What is this, Mother? Hazra asks why I think so much of the young men.’ Then I asked Bholanath. Bholanath said, ‘One can find the same illustration in the Mahabharata. When a person comes down from samadhi, where can he rest his mind? He cannot help seeking the company of devotees endowed with the quality of sattva.’ This dictum of the Mahabharata at once relieved my mind. (All laugh.)
“Hazra is not to blame. When a person is a spiritual aspirant, he should give his whole mind to God, saying, ‘Not this, not this.’ It is different in the case of a perfected soul. After attaining God, one realizes the fact of involution and evolution. When the butter is taken out of the buttermilk, one realizes that the butter is not essentially different from the buttermilk, nor the buttermilk essentially different from the butter. One has full realization that God has become everything. Only at some places He manifests Himself in a greater degree than in others.
“When the ocean of ecstasy is agitated, even dry land is pole deep under water. Initially one must take the circuitous course of the river to reach the ocean. But when there is a flood, even dry land comes under pole-deep water. You can then row your boat straight to the ocean. You don’t have to go roundabout along the course of the river. When the harvest of paddy has been reaped, one need no longer go around the balk – one may walk straight over the field to any point.
“After God-realization, one sees that God manifests Himself in all things. However, there is a greater degree of His manifestation in the human being. And He is manifested more in devotees endowed with the quality of sattva – people who have no desire whatever to enjoy ‘lust and gold’. (Everyone is silent.) When a person comes down from samadhi, where can he rest his mind? He seeks the association of pure devotees endowed with sattva guna who have given up the enjoyment of ‘lust and gold’. Otherwise, with what will he engage himself?”
Brahmo Samaj and the Motherhood of God – the Mother of the Universe
“He who is Brahman is indeed the Adyashakti. When He is inactive, I call Him Brahman, I call Him Purusha. When He creates, preserves, dissolves and performs such other actions, I call Him Shakti, I call Him Prakriti. Purusha and Prakriti. He who is Purusha is indeed Prakriti. Together they constitute the anandamaya (All-Blissful male aspect of God) and anandamayi (All-Blissful female aspect of God).
“He who is aware of manhood is also aware of womanhood. He who knows the father also knows the mother. (Keshab laughs.)
“One who has a sense of darkness also has a sense of light. One who knows the meaning of night also knows the meaning of day. One who has the feeling of joy also has the feeling of grief. Do you see this?”
Keshab (laughing) — Yes Sir, I do.
Sri Ramakrishna — What Mother do I mean? Why, the Mother of the Universe! She who has created the Universe is preserving it. She who is always protecting Her children and providing them what they want: dharma (righteousness), artha (wealth), kama (fulfillment of desires) and moksha (liberation). A true child cannot live apart from its mother. It is his mother who knows everything. The boy just eats, drinks and plays; he knows nothing.
Keshab — That is quite true.
His earlier story – Brahmo Samaj and describing glories of the Lord
Sri Ramakrishna comes down to the sense world as he talks. He laughs and talks with Keshab. The room is full of people. They listen to Thakur with full attention, fixing their eyes on him. They observe that neither Thakur nor Keshab say, “How do you do?” or “How do you feel?” No words are spoken except about God.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab) — Why do the Brahmos dwell so much on the glory of the Lord? ‘O God, You have created the moon, you have made the sun and the stars!’ What is the need of all this? Many people praise a garden when they see it. How many want to see the owner? What is greater, the garden or its owner?
“After drinking wine, who cares to enquire how much wine is in the wine shop? A single bottle suffices!”
His Earlier story – theft of jewelry in the shrine of Vishnu and Mathur Babu
‘When I met Narendra, I never asked him who his father was or how many houses his father owned.
“You know how it is? Human beings admire wealth. So they think that the Lord, too, admires wealth. They think that if they praise God’s riches, He will be pleased. Sambhu said to me, ‘Bless me so that I may die leaving all my wealth at His lotus feet.’ I told him, ‘It is wealth to you, but what can you give God? To Him all this is wood and dust!’
“When the jewelry in the shrine of Radhakanta was stolen, Mathur Babu and I went to the shrine of Radhakanta. Mathur Babu said, ‘Away with you, Bhagavan, you aren’t worth anything! They took all the jewelry from your body but you could do nothing about it!’ I asked him, ‘What are you saying? Your jewels are no more than lumps of clay to Him. He who has Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) as His Shakti (consort) is not always guarding the little offering of money that you make to Him. You should not speak in this way!’
“Does the Lord care for wealth? No, He is under the control of bhakti. What does He value? Not money but a feeling heart for Him, intense love, devotion, discrimination and dispassion for His sake.”
The form of God depends upon the worshipper – the trigunatita devotee
“One’s idea of God varies according to one’s nature. The devotee with the quality of tamas sees that the Divine Mother eats meat, so he sacrifices a goat for Her. The devotee of rajasic qualities prepares rice and different kinds of dishes to offer Her. The devotee with the quality of sattva does not like to make a show of his worship to the world. In fact, people don’t even know that he worships. In the absence of flowers, he offers worship with vilwa leaves and water of the Ganges. He just offers a handful of sugared puffed rice or batasas (sweet cakes) for the deity’s dinner. At times he may offer a little payas (rice with milk pudding).
“And then there are the trigunatita devotees [who are beyond the three qualities of nature]. They are like children. Their worship consists purely of chanting His name. Yes, the name of God alone and nothing else.”
Conversation with Keshab – treatment of the Atman in the Lord’s hospital
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing, to Keshab) — You are ill. Well, there is a reason for it. The intense devotional feeling within you has disturbed your body. When one is emotionally surcharged, one doesn’t understand what happens. Much later, you see that it has wreaked havoc on the body. I have noticed that when a big steamer is sailing in the Ganges, one is not aware of it. But lo! After awhile, one sees that waves of water are splashing against the bank, causing great commotion! Sometimes the water may break the bank, washing off portions of it.
“An elephant entering a hut soon makes it totter to its foundations and at last pulls it down. The elephant of bhava has entered the cottage of your body and is creating havoc there.
“Do you know how it happens? When a house catches fire, many things are burned and there is much noise and confusion. The fire of spiritual wisdom first burns up lust, anger and other such enemies. Later it destroys the sense of I-ness. Lastly, it brings about a great turmoil [in the body].
“You maybe thinking it is all over. But it isn’t – as long as the least trace of disease remains uncured, He does not release you. If your name has been entered as a patient in the hospital books, you cannot get away. The physician in charge (Doctor Sahib) doesn’t allow you to leave the hospital while the least trace of disease remains. Why did you get your name entered in the hospital books?” (All laugh.)
Hearing of the hospital, Keshab laughs again and again – he is not able to control his laughter. He stops for awhile but laughs again. Thakur continues talking.
His Earlier Story: Sri Ramakrishna’s illness – treatment by Kaviraj Rama
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab) — Hriday used to say, ‘I have never witnessed such bhava (fervour) and such illness, too.’ I was at the time very ill with diarrhea of a rather severe type. And it seemed like myriads of ants were eating into my brain. But the words I spoke night and day were all concerning the Lord. Rama Kaviraj (a Hindu physician) of Natagore came to treat me. He saw me sitting and talking to people and he said, ‘Has this man gone totally out of his wits that he goes on talking like that with a body made of mere skin and a couple of bones?’
(To Keshab) “Everything is ordained by Her will. Thou doest Thy will alone, O Mother Divine.
“Thou doest Thy will alone, O Mother Divine. O Tara, Thou art free to will.
Thou doest Thine Own work, Mother. But (foolish) man takes all credit to himself, saying, ‘It is I who have done it.’ ”
“The gardener clears the soil round the roots of the Basra rose to give it the benefit of the night dew. The dew adds freshness and strength to the plant. I think that He is digging round about you to the very roots. (Thakur and Keshab laugh.) It seems that when you come next time, your work will be greater and more abiding than ever.”
Sri Ramakrishna wept for Keshab and vowed to offer a green coconut and sugar to Mother Siddheshwari
“Whenever I hear that you are ill, my heart is sorely troubled. The last time you were unwell, I wept during the last part of the night and prayed, ‘Mother, if something untoward happens to Keshab, with whom shall I talk?’ Then I went to Calcutta and presented offerings of green coconut and sugar to Mother Siddheshwari. I prayed to the Mother for your welfare.
Everyone look with wonder and amazement on Thakur’s unspeakable love and anxiety for Keshab.
Sri Ramakrishna — This time, however, I have not felt it so much. I must tell you the truth.
“But I did feel a little worried for two or three days.”
The venerable mother of Keshab comes to the eastern door, by which Keshab had entered the drawing room. Umanath says to Sri Ramakrishna, who is seated near the door, “Here is mother bowing down to you.”
Sri Ramakrishna smiles. Umanath says, “The mother asks you to bless him so that he may get well soon.” Sri Ramakrishna says, “Offer your prayers to the Divine Mother who is Bliss everlasting. It is only She who removes all troubles.”
He says to Keshab –
“It would be better for you not to stay in the inner apartments for long hours. With children around you, you run the risk of sinking in the sea of ignorance. You will feel better if you only talk about the Lord.”
Having spoken so solemnly, Sri Ramakrishna laughs like a child. He says to Keshab, “Here, let me examine your hand.” He feels the weight of Keshab’s hand, like boys do. At last he says, “No, your hand is light enough. It is only the hands of those who think evil and do evil that are not.” (All laugh.)
Umanath again addresses Sri Ramakrishna from the door: “Mother requests you to bless Keshab.”
Sri Ramakrishna (gravely) — What power do I have? She alone can bless. Thou doest Thine Own work, Mother. But (foolish) man takes all the credit to himself, saying, ‘It is I who have done it.’
“It is on two different occasions that the Lord smiles. One is when two brothers divide a field between themselves. They measure it with a rope and say, ‘This side is mine and that is yours.’ The Lord laughs, thinking: The universe is Mine. These fellows take little parts of it and say, ‘This side is mine and that is yours.’
“The Lord laughs a second time. The son is suffering from a serious disease. His mother is weeping. The physician comes and says, ‘Fear not, mother, I shall cure him.’ The physician doesn’t know that nobody has the power to save when the Lord slays.” (Everybody is agape with wonder.)
Just at this moment, Keshab begins to cough – he coughs for a long time. It doesn’t stop. Everybody feels sad hearing him coughing. After a long time, the cough stops for awhile. Keshab is not able to stay in the room any longer. He prostrates himself to salute Sri Ramakrishna, his head touching the ground. Then, with great difficulty, holding to the wall, he slowly goes back to his room by the same door.
Brahmo Samaj and Vedic gods – only a man of mean intelligence wants to be a guru
Amrita – Keshab’s elder son – Dayananda Saraswati
Sri Ramakrishna will depart after taking some sweetmeats. Keshab’s elder son comes and sits by his side.
Amrita says, “This is Keshab’s eldest son. Please bless him by placing your hand on his head.” “It is not given to me to bless,” Sri Ramakrishna says with a smile as he gently strokes the boy’s body.
Amrita (smiling) — Well, then you may stroke his body. (All laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna talks to Amrita and other Brahmo devotees about Keshab.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Amrita and others) — It is not given to me to say of a person, ‘Let him be healed.’ I do not even ask the Divine Mother to grant me this power. I only ask the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, pray grant me pure bhakti.’
“How great Keshab is – honoured alike by men of the world who seek wealth and by holy men. I once met Dayananda in the garden house. He frequently left his room, saying, ‘Keshab Sen, Keshab Sen.’ He was asking everybody if Keshab had come. Perhaps Keshab was expected that day.
“Dayananda used to call the Bengali language Gauranga Bhasha (language of Gaur).
“I suppose he [Keshab] did not believe in the Vedic deities and the efficacy of the homa (sacrificial fire), so Dayananda said, ‘God has made so many things, couldn’t He make deities?”
Thakur speaks highly of Keshab before his disciples.
Sri Ramakrishna — Keshab is not a man of low intelligence. Very often he has said to many [of his disciples], ‘If you have any doubts, go to him [Sri Ramakrishna].’ It is my way also to say, ‘Let Keshab increase a million-fold.’ What shall I do with fame?
“Yes, Keshab is great – honoured alike by men of the world and by holy men who seek God alone.”
Sri Ramakrishna will take some sweet snacks before he leaves by cab. The Brahmo devotees accompany him to the cab.
Coming down the steps, Thakur sees that there is no light downstairs. He says to Amrita and other devotees, ‘All these places should be well lighted. Such an omission leads to poverty. See that such an omission does not take place again.”
With two or three devotees, Thakur sets out in a cab to return to the Kali Temple.
 A song by Jaydeva
 Adjuncts; semblances
 Involved, the totality of creation lies dormant in its potential state;
evolved, it is differentiated into all that is. M. says in his Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Part I: You go backwards to the Supreme Being and your personality becomes lost in His personality. You then retrace your steps. You get back your ego (personality) and come back to the point where you started only to see that the world and your ego or self were involved in the same Supreme Being.
 Male aspect of God
 Female aspect of God
 Beyond the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas
 The false ego that says ‘I am the doer.’
 A superior quality rose
 Sincere love unmixed with worldly desires of any kind, e.g., the weal of the body, pleasure, money, fame etc.
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