Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees at Dakshineswar
It is the full moon day of the month of Agrahayana, the Sankranti, Friday 14 December, 1883, time about 9 a.m. Sri Ramakrishna is standing near the door of his room on the southeastern verandah. Ramlal stands nearby. Rakhal and Latu are also not far away. M. enters and salutes Thakur by touching his head to the ground.
Thakur says, “So you have come! It is a very auspicious day.” M. will stay with Thakur for a few days and practice sadhana (spiritual disciplines). Hasn’t Thakur said, “Do a little and somebody will come to tell you the way?”
Thakur had said to M., “It is not right for you to take meals daily from the guesthouse. It is intended for the sadhus and the poor. You should bring your own cook here.” Consequently, M. has brought a cook with him.
Where is his food to be cooked? M. drinks milk, so Thakur has asked Ramlal to arrange it with the milkman.
Ramlal is reading the Adhyatma Ramayana to Thakur. M. is seated beside Thakur.
“Ramachandra is returning to Ayodhya after marrying Sita. On the way he is accosted by Parashurama. Having heard that Rama has broken Shiva’s bow, Parashurama creates a great deal of trouble. Dasharatha is full of fear. Parashurama throws a bow to Rama and asks him to string it. Rama smiles, holds it with his left hand, strings it and then twangs it. Putting an arrow to the bow, he says to Parashurama, “Tell me, where I should shoot it.’ Parashurama’s arrogance crumbles. Realizing that Sri Rama is the Supreme Brahman, he chants a hymn of praise to him.”
Sri Ramakrishna goes into ecstasy hearing Parashurama’s hymn. Every now and then he utters “Rama,” “Rama” in a sweet voice.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ramlal) — Please read the story of Guhaka, the boatman.
When Ramachandra went to the forest to fulfill a pledge to his father, it startled Guhaka. Ramlal reads from the Bhaktamala –
“Guhaka began to shed tears and his voice cracked. Almost motionless, he gazed at Rama like a puppet.
“Slowly approaching Rama, he said, “Please come into my house.” Rama called him a friend and embraced him. Guhaka then surrendered himself to Rama, saying –
“ ‘It is good that you are my friend. I surrender my body and soul at your feet. You are my soul, my wealth, my kingdom, my love, my liberation and all meritorious deeds. I am dying of love for you. I dedicate myself at your feet.’
“Ramachandra is to spend fourteen years in the forest with matted hair and wearing the bark of trees for clothes. Hearing this, Guhaka matted his own hair and put on a cloth of bark; he ate nothing but fruits and root vegetables. After fourteen years, when Rama did not return from exile, Guhaka was preparing his own funeral pyre when Hanuman came and told him that Rama was coming. At Hanuman’s words, Guhaka was overjoyed. Soon Ramachandra and Sita arrived by the Pushpaka chariot.
“Ramachandra, the compassionate, the source of supreme joy, the gracious loving Lord of the devotees and the mine of all virtues, embraced his great and dear devotee Guhaka, who was thrilled with joy. The Lord and the servant remained in deep embrace while tears drenched their bodies. Blessed you are, Guhaka! There was the chant of ‘jai, jai’ (victory, victory) from the heavenly abode.”
Keshab Sen content with what comes to him without effort – the way – deep dispassion and renunciation of worldly life
Sri Ramakrishna is resting awhile after his meal. M. is seated nearby. Soon Dr. Shyam and some other people arrive.
Sri Ramakrishna sits up and begins to talk.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is not that one must always work. When God is realized, there is no duty to perform. When the fruit appears, the flower falls off by itself.
“There is no obligatory worship like sandhya for him who has realized God. Sandhya ends in the Gayatri. The recitation of the Gayatri is enough. Gayatri ends in Omkar. You don’t even have to chant the Gayatri mantra – just repeating Om is enough. How long are there such duties as sandhya? As long as, at the name of Hari or Rama, hairs of the body do not stand on end, or tears of joy flow. It is not right to worship for the sake of wealth, or for winning a lawsuit.”
A Particular Devotee — Everybody is trying to earn money. I see it. Hasn’t Keshab Sen given away his daughter in marriage to a prince?
Sri Ramakrishna — It is different with Keshab. To a true devotee, the Lord provides everything without any effort on his part. The real son of a king gets a monthly allowance automatically. I am not talking of pleaders and advocates who earn money by becoming slaves to others and working so hard. I say, ‘One should be the real son of the king.’ He who has no desire, who never asks for money, gets it automatically. The Gita says: ‘That which comes without effort.’
“The real brahmin is he who has no desire – he accepts food even from a dome. He does not ask for anything. Everything comes to him by itself.”
A Particular Devotee — Sir, how should a householder lead his life?
Sri Ramakrishna — He must live like a mudfish. He must develop love for the Lord by meditating on Him in a solitary place away from home. He can then live with his family without attachment to it. He lives in the mud but does not allow it to soil his body. Such a person leads a life of non-attachment in the world.
Sri Ramakrishna notices that Mani is all attention to his words.
Sri Ramakrishna (casting a glance at Mani) — One can realize the Lord when one has developed deep dispassion (vairagya). He who develops it feels that the world is a forest on fire – it is ever burning! He looks at his wife and son as a death well. When one has such dispassion, one leaves one’s home. But living with non-attachment alone is not enough. ‘Lust and greed’ constitute maya (illusion). If you recognize maya it will take flight, ashamed of itself. A person covered himself with a tiger skin to frighten others. He whom he was trying to frighten said, ‘I have recognized who you are! You are our own ‘Hare’.’ The man in the tiger skin laughed and went away to frighten somebody else.
“All women are forms of Shakti (Divine Energy). It is the Adyashakti (Primeval Power) that has become woman and appears to us in the form of women. The Adhyatma (Ramayana) says: Narada and other saints sang the praises of Rama, saying, ‘Oh Rama, you are the forms of all men and all the forms of women are the manifestations of Sita. You are Indra, Sita is Indrani; You are Shiva, Sita is Shivani; You are an aspect of man and Sita of woman!’ What more can I say? Where there is a male, you are that and where there is a female, it is Sita.”
(To the devotees) “One cannot renounce by a mere wish. One has to consider the prarabdha and the samskaras (tendencies of past life). A yogi said to a king, ‘Please come sit with me and meditate on Bhagavan.’ The king said, ‘Master, I will not be able to do so for long. I still have some desire for sensory enjoyments. If I stay in this forest, I might even create a kingdom here. I still have the desire for sensory enjoyments.’
“When he was a boy, Natabar Panja used to graze cattle in this garden. But he had great desire for sensory enjoyments. That is why he established a castor mill and is earning a lot of money from it. He does a lot of trading in castor oil in Alambazar.
“According to one sect, spiritual disciplines must be practiced in the company of women. I was taken to a group of women by people of the Kartabhaja sect. All the women came and sat near me. When I addressed them as mother, they said to each other, ‘Oh, he is only a beginner – he doesn’t yet know the ‘ghat’ (the way).’ In their sect he who is unripe is a beginner. Then he becomes an aspirant and lastly siddha of the siddhas (supremely perfect).
“A woman approached Vaishnavcharan and sat near him. When asked, Vaishnavcharan said, ‘She has the attitude of a child.’
“One easily experiences a downfall by thinking of a woman as one’s wife. Taking her as the Mother is a pure attitude.”
The devotees from Jhansa Ripade rise, saying, “We take our leave. We will see and pay homage to Mother Kali and the gods.”
Sri Ramakrishna and idol worship – yearning and God realization
Mani is strolling alone in the Panchavati and other areas of the Kali Temple. Thakur has said, “By practicing a little spiritual disciplines, one can realize God.” Is Mani thinking about that? And about deep dispassion? And that maya takes to its wings when she is recognized?
It is about half past three. Mani is again sitting in Sri Ramakrishna’s room. A teacher from the Broughton Institution has brought some students to visit Sri Ramakrishna. Thakur is talking with them. The teacher asks a question every now and then. The topic of conversation is idol worship.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the teacher) — What is wrong with idol worship? The Vedanta holds that wherever there are ‘existence, light and love,’ God manifests. Thus, there is nothing but God in all the objects we see.
“Just see how long little girls play with dolls. Till they get married and live with their husbands. When they get married, they put away their dolls and other toys in a wicker basket. When you have attained God, what is the use of worshipping the idol?”
He looks at Mani and says –
“One attains God when one develops intense love for Him. A lot of yearning is necessary. When one has great yearning, the whole mind goes to Him.”
Childlike faith and God realization – Govinda, the husband – the boy Jatila
“There was a girl who became a widow at a very early age. She had never seen her husband’s face. Seeing the husbands of other girls, she asked her father one day, ‘Father, where is my husband?’ Her father replied, ‘Govinda is your husband. If you call Him, you will see Him.’ Hearing this, the girl went into her room and, shutting the door, she began to cry and call out, ‘Govinda! Please come. Let me see you. Why don’t you come?’ Hearing the cries of the little girl, Bhagavan could not hold Himself back – He appeared before the girl.
“A childlike faith is needed! Such as the yearning of a child to see its mother. Such longing heralds the dawn. It is followed by sunrise. One sees the Lord after such intense longing.
“Listen to the story of the boy Jatila. To get to school, he had to go on horseback through a forest. On the way, he would feel frightened. When he told his mother about it, she said: Why fear? You should call out, ‘Madhusudana.’ The boy asked, ‘Who is Madhusudana?’ The mother replied, ‘Madhusudana is your elder brother.’ After that, when he felt afraid going through the forest alone, he cried out, ‘Brother Madhusudana.’ When there was no reply, he called out, ‘Where are you, brother Madhusudana? Please come, I am so afraid!’ Bhagavan then could not hold Himself back. He came and said, ‘Here I am. What is there to fear?’ And he accompanied the boy to the passage leading to the school and said to Jatila, ‘I will come whenever you call Me. Don’t be afraid.’ Such childlike faith! Such yearning!
“A brahmin used to worship Bhagavan daily in his house. One day he had to go out on business. Before going he said to his young son, ‘Offer food to Bhagavan today. The deity must be fed.’ The boy did so. But Bhagavan sat still – He would neither talk nor eat. Having waited for some time, the boy saw that Bhagavan did not move. He was very sure that He would come, take his seat on his asana, and eat his meal. The boy said again and again, ‘Bhagavan, please come and eat. It is already very late. I cannot be here much longer.’ Bhagavan, however, did not say anything. The boy began to cry, saying, ‘Lord, my father asked me to feed you. Why don’t you come? Why don’t you eat here?’ He cried yearningly for some time. Then he saw Bhagavan come smiling to take His asana (seat) and eat the meal. After serving Him, the boy went out of the shrine. The members of his family said, ‘You have fed the Lord. Bring the offered food downstairs.’ The boy said, ‘Yes, yes. I have fed Him and Bhagavan has eaten everything.’ They said, ‘What are you saying?’ The boy said simply, ‘Why, Bhagavan has eaten the food!’ They all went to the shrine and were speechless with wonder!”
It will be a long time till evening. Sri Ramakrishna stands on the southern side of the Nahabat and talks to Mani. The Ganga flows in front of them. It is winter. Thakur is wearing a shawl.
Sri Ramakrishna — Will you sleep in the room in the Panchavati?
Mani — Will they not give me the upper floor room of the Nahabat?
Sri Ramakrishna will talk to the manager about Mani. He will indicate a room for him. Mani has liked the room on the upper floor of the Nahabat. He is poetic by temperament. By staying there, he would be able to enjoy the view of the sky, the Ganges, the moonlight, the flowering trees and so forth.
Sri Ramakrishna — Why wouldn’t they assign the room to you? I suggested the room in the Panchavati because so much repetition of Hari’s name and meditation have been practiced there.
To love the Lord is the end of life
Incense has been burnt in Sri Ramakrishna’s room. Thakur is seated on the smaller cot and meditating. Mani is seated on the floor. Rakhal, Latu and Ramlal are also in the room.
Thakur says to Mani, “The main thing is to develop bhakti for God, to love Him.” He asks Ramlal to sing. He sings in a sweet voice. Thakur sings the initial words of every song, letting him sing the rest.
As asked by Thakur, Ramlal sings ‘the sannyasa of Gauranga.’
What an exquisite bright form of Sri Gauranga – his eyes streaming with the tears of love – have I seen in Keshab Bharati’s hut!
Gauranga is dancing mad like an elephant. He sings and then rolls on the dust, tears steaming from his eyes.
He calls on Hari weeping, piercing the mortal world and heaven with his thundering voice.
Then he repeatedly prays for liberation of the slave, with a straw under his teeth and his two palms joined together.
He wears the robe of a yogi after having his locks of hair shaved.
One cries with one’s heart seeing him so surged with bhakti and prema (ecstatic love).
Having renounced all, he has come to distribute prema, overwhelmed as he is by the sorrows of mankind.
Premdas wishes to wander from door to door like a slave at the feet of Sri Chaitanya.
Ramlal sings again: Sachi weeps and says, “Nimai! How can I live without you?” Thakur says, “Please sing that song.”
- I am not hesitant to grant liberation. I hesitate to grant pure love… [See Section V for complete song.]
- Can everybody have the vision of Radha? Can one have the love she had?
It is extremely rare indeed. No adoration, no sadhana – how can one attain the treasure?
Unique are the raindrops that fall on the new moon of the month during the Libra zodiac sign in swati nakshatra. Does it rain like that at any other time?
Thakur again says to Ramlal, “Please sing that song: Gaur and Nitai, you two brothers…” Thakur adds lines to the song along with Ramlal.
O Lord, Gaur and Nitai, you two brothers are so full of compassion.
I went to Kashi but Vishveshvara told me that I had come to Sachi Devi’s house in Nadia. O Lord, I have recognized you.
I have been to several places. But nowhere have I seen a compassionate one like you.
You were Kanai and Balai in Braja. Now hiding these forms you are Gaur and Nitai in Nadia.
In Braja you played hide and seek; in Nadia your sport is to roll in the dust uttering, ‘Hari, Hari,’ intoxicated with love.
Your sport in Braja was full of action. In Nadia it is only repeating the name of Hari.
O Gauranga, the compassionate one, the whole of your body is covered. Only your two slanting eyes have been spared.
O the saviour of the fallen, hearing your redeeming name, I feel so assured in my mind.
I have reached you with great hopes. O the compassionate one, Lord Gauranga, give me shelter under your feet.
Jagai and Madhai have been liberated. O Lord, the redeemer of the holy, I need your assurance.
You even raise the chandala up in your arms and utter Haribol to him with so much compassion, you Lord of the indigent.
Sri Ramakrishna’s devotees practice sadhana in solitude
Mani is alone in the upper story room of the Nahabat. It is quite late at night. Today is the full moon day of Agrahayana. The sky, the Ganges, the Kali Temple, the spires of the shrine, the garden paths and the Panchavati seem to be swimming in moonlight. Mani, all alone, is meditating on Sri Ramakrishna.
At about 3 a.m. he rises. He goes toward the Panchavati to the north. Sri Ramakrishna has talked to him about the Panchavati. Mani doesn’t like to stay in the Nahabat anymore. He has made up his mind to live in the Panchavati room.
Stillness reigns everywhere. There was a flood tide of the river at 11 p.m. He had heard the repeated sound of the tide. Now he proceeds toward the Panchavati. He hears a sound from far off, as if somebody is wailing from the Panchavati grove in pain, “Where are you, brother Madhusudana?”
It is full moon. The rays of the moon stream down through the branches of the banana trees.
He proceeds further and sees from a distance that one of Sri Ramakrishna’s devotees is seated in the middle of the Panchavati. It is he who has been calling aloud from that solitary spot, “Where are you, brother Madhusudana?” Mani watches him silently.
 Eighth month of the Hindu calendar
 The last day of the month
 It is the chariot of Kubera that is capable of flying through the air at great speed
 Worship and meditation performed at dawn, noon, and sunset by orthodox Hindus
 A Vedic mantra (sacred text) which brahmins and other twice-born Hindus repeat everyday while meditating on the Supreme Being. “May we meditate on the effulgent Light of Him who is worshipful and who has given birth to all worlds. May He direct the rays of our intelligence toward the path of good.
 The Vedic symbol for the Supreme Being
 Gita 4:22
 A caste of Hindus whose duty is to cremate the dead
 Karma which is stored up and begun to bear fruit
 Religious practice, prescribed in the Tantra, to be performed by a man in collaboration with a woman.
 A particular conjunction of stars
 To chant the name of Lord Hari