Sri Ramakrishna with Prankrishna, M. and other Devotees at Dakshineswar
Prankrishna, M., Ram, Girindra and Gopal with Sri Ramakrishna
It is 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, 5 April, 1884, the twenty fourth day of Chaitra. M. comes to the Dakshineswar Temple and sees Sri Ramakrishna sitting on the smaller cot in his room, smiling. A number of devotees, including Prankrishna Mukherji, are sitting on the floor.
Prankrishna is from the aristocratic Mukherji family of Janai. His home is in Shyampukur in Calcutta. He is the head of the auction house of McKenzie Lyal known as the Exchange. Though a householder, he is very interested in discussions of the Vedanta. He is devoted to the Paramahamsa Deva (Sri Ramakrishna) and often comes to see him. One day he took Sri Ramakrishna to his house and held a celebration in honour of his coming. He takes his daily morning bath at the Baghbazar ghat and when a boat is available, he goes directly to Dakshineswar to see Thakur. Today, too, he hired a boat. Hardly had it left the bank when the river became choppy. M. asked Prankrishna to let him off the boat. In spite of assurances of safety from Prankrishna and his friends, M. insisted. He said, “You must put me on land. I shall go to Dakshineswar on foot.” Prankrishna had to let him go.
Reaching Dakshineswar, M. finds Prankrishna and the others talking with Thakur on spiritual matters. They had arrived a few moments before M. He. salutes Thakur by touching his head on the ground and takes his seat.
Humanity and divinity of incarnation
Sri Ramakrishna (to Prankrishna) — But He is manifest more in the human being. If you say, ‘How can one who is subject to hunger, thirst and other human needs, and who maybe suffering from disease or sorrow, be an avatar,’ the reply is, ‘Even Brahman laments when bound by the five elements.’
“You see, Ramachandra wept in his suffering at Sita’s pangs of separation. And once He Incarnated Himself as a sow to kill Hiranyaksha (the demon). When Hiranyaksha had been killed, Narayana still did not want to go back to heaven. He stayed in the body of the sow and had a big litter. He was very happy living with the young ones. The gods exclaimed, ‘What does it mean? Bhagavan doesn’t want to return.’ So they all went to Shiva and humbly told him the situation. Shiva went to the sow and tried to persuade it to return, but it began to suckle its young ones. (Everybody laughs.) Then Shiva pierced the sow’s body with his trident. Narayana came out, laughing merrily, and went back to heaven.”
Prankrishna (to Thakur) — Sir, what is the Anahata sound?
Sri Ramakrishna — The Anahata sound goes on continuously by itself – it is the sound of Om! It originates in the Supreme Brahman. Only yogis can hear it, not those who are attached to the sense world. Yogis know that this sound rises from the navel and that it also originates in the Supreme Brahman, resting on the Ocean of Milk.
Keshab Sen’s question about the afterlife
Prankrishna — Sir, what is the afterlife like?
Sri Ramakrishna — Keshab Sen asked the same question. As long as a man lives in ignorance – in other words, as long as he doesn’t realize the Lord – he has to be born in this world. But when he has attained jnana, he does not have to come to the world any longer, to the earth or to any other world.
“The potter puts his pots out to dry in the sun. You must have noticed that some of the pots dry hard and others do not. When a cow or some other animal happens to walk over them, some of them break. If a hard pot breaks, the potter throws it away, for it is of no use. But when a soft one breaks, he collects its clay and again puts it on the wheel to make another pot. It means that until one has realized God, one has to go back into the hands of the ‘potter.’ In other words, one has to repeatedly return to this world.
“What is the use of sowing boiled paddy seed? It can never sprout into a plant. When a man has been baked (perfected) in the fire of jnana, he is not used for new creation – he attains salvation.”
Vedanta and ego – Vedanta and ‘awareness of a witness’ – jnana and vijnana
“According to the Puranas, the devotee is one entity and Bhagavan is another. I and you are separate entities. The body is only a small earthen bowl. Inside the body there is the mind, the intellect and the water of ego. Brahman is like the sun. He is reflected in the water. Thus the devotee sees the form of the Lord.
“In the Vedanta, only Brahman is real; all else is maya, like a dream, a nonentity. The stick of I-ness lies on the ocean of Sachchidananda. (To M.) Listen to this carefully. If you take out this stick of ego, there remains only one ocean of Sachchidananda. But as long as there is the stick of ego in it, it looks split into two – one part of the water here, and the other part there. When one attains the knowledge of Brahman one goes into samadhi. Then this I-ness vanishes.
“For this reason, Shankaracharya preserved his ‘I of knowledge’ – to teach mankind.
(To Prankrishna) “But a jnani (man of spiritual knowledge) has certain characteristics. One may think that he has attained jnana, but what are the signs? He cannot harm anybody, he becomes childlike. When the philosopher’s stone touches a steel sword, its steel turns into gold. This gold cannot injure. Outwardly you may see anger and egoism in him, but in reality the jnani has none.
“From a distance a burnt piece of rope still looks like a rope. But if you go near it and blow on it, it blows away. There is only a semblance of anger and egoism in a jnani. In reality there is no anger, or egoism.
“The child has no attachment. It makes a doll house and if anybody touches it, it begins to cry loudly, jumping around in protest. Later, it breaks the doll house itself. Sometimes it obstinately says, ‘My father gave this cloth to me; I won’t give it to you.’ And next it forgets about the cloth when given a doll to play with; it leaves the cloth behind and goes away.
“All these are the signs of a jnani. Perhaps he is very rich – he has big pictures in his house, a horse driven carriage and so on. But he leaves all this behind and goes to Kashi.
“According to Vedanta, even the state of waking is not of any significance. A woodcutter was dreaming when somebody woke him up. Irritated, he cried out, ‘Why have you disturbed my sleep? I was a king and father of seven boys. The boys had already been educated and trained in weaponry. I was on my throne, ruling my kingdom. Why did you destroy my world of happiness?’ The man said, ‘But it was a dream, what does it matter?’ The woodcutter said, ‘Go on! You don’t understand. To be a king in a dream is as true for me as to be a woodcutter. If it is true to be a woodcutter, then it is also true to be a king in a dream.’ ”
Pranakrishna is always talking about jnana. That must be why Thakur is telling him about the state of a jnani. Now he talks of the state of a vijnani. Is he hinting at his own state?
Sri Ramakrishna — Reaching the Atman through the path of ‘neti, neti’ (not this, not this) is jnana. By reasoning ‘neti, neti,’ one goes into samadhi and attains the Atman.
“What is vijnana? You must know God in a special way. One person has heard of milk, another has seen it, and yet another has drunk it. He who has only heard of milk is an ajnani (a man of ignorance), he who has seen it is a jnani (a man of spiritual knowledge), and he who has drunk it has attained vijnana. That is to say, he has known God in a special way. When one sees the Lord and talks to Him as a near and dear one, it is vijnana.
“Initially one must start discriminating ‘neti, neti’! God is not the five vital elements, nor the senses. He is neither the mind, nor the intellect nor the ego. He is beyond all cosmic principles. If you are to climb a roof, you have to leave the steps behind one by one. The steps are not the roof. But when you have reached the roof, you perceive that the steps are made of the same material as the roof, namely bricks, lime and brick-dust. He who is the Supreme Brahman has become the universe and all its living beings. He has also become the twenty-four cosmic principles. That which is Atman has become the five vital elements. Then why is the earth so hard if it is made out of the Atman? All is possible by His will. Flesh and bones have resulted from blood and semen. How hard is sea foam!”
Can a householder attain vijnana? He needs to perform sadhana
“When one has attained vijnana, one may live in the family. Then one realizes very well that God has become the universe and its living beings, that He is not outside the world. When Ramachandra attained jnana, he said, ‘I shall not live in the household.’ Thereupon Dasharatha sent Vaishishtha to explain it to him. Vaishishtha said, ‘Rama! If there is no Lord in the household, you may renounce it.’ Rama was silent at this. He knew very well that there is nothing without the Lord. So he did not renounce the world. (To Prankrishna) The main thing is that you need the divine sight. You develop this sight when your mind becomes pure. Just consider the Kumari Puja (Thakur’s worship of an unmarried girl). This girl had excreta and urine inside her body. But I saw her as the very manifestation of Bhagavati. Take the case of the wife and son. A man loves both of them, but each with a different attitude. So it is said that it all depends on one’s mind. The attitude of the pure mind is very different from the impure. It is this pure mind with which one sees the Lord in the household. You need to practice sadhana (spiritual disciplines) for it.
“Practice of spiritual disciplines is needed. One has to know that one gets easily bound when one has physical relations with one’s wife. A woman naturally loves her husband, just as a man loves his wife. That is how both of them quickly fall spiritually.
“But there is a great advantage to family life. One may have physical relations with the wife when it is specially needed. (Smiling) Why are you laughing, M.?”
M. (to himself) — Since householders cannot renounce fully, all at once, Thakur is allowing this much. Isn’t one-hundred percent brahmacharya (celibacy) totally impossible while living in the family?
A Hatha Yogi (practitioner of Hatha Yoga) enters.
A Hatha Yogi has been living in the Panchavati for the last few days. He takes only milk and opium, and practices Hatha Yoga. He doesn’t eat rice and lentils. However, he hasn’t enough money for the milk and opium. When Thakur went to the Panchavati, he had a word with the Hatha Yogi. The Hatha Yogi said to Rakhal, “Please request the Paramahamsa to arrange it for me.” Thakur sent the message that he would see if the gentlemen from Calcutta would help when they visit him.
The Hatha Yogi (to Sri Ramakrishna) — What did you say to Rakhal?
Sri Ramakrishna — I told him that I would find out if any gentleman was willing to give some money. But nobody did. (To Prankrishna) It seems you don’t like these people.
Prankrishna doesn’t reply.
The Hatha Yogi leaves.
Thakur resumes the conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna and telling the truth – believe in God’s sport as a human being
Sri Ramakrishna (to Prankrishna and other devotees) — Besides, you must always be firm in telling the truth while leading a household life. You can, indeed, realize Bhagavan simply by being truthful. I am not so firm about telling the truth now as I used to be. Before, if I once said that I would take a bath, I would begin to doubt whether I had taken a full bath, even when I had stepped into the Ganges, recited the sacred words, and poured a little water on my head. If I said that I would go to a particular spot to ease myself, I would go only there. I went to Ram’s house in Calcutta and happened to say that I would not eat luchi (fried bread). When I was given food, I was very hungry. But since I had said that I would not take luchis, I just filled my stomach with sweetmeats. (All laugh.)
“Now I am not so particular about speaking the truth. Once I happened to say that I would go to ease myself, but felt no special need for it. What was I to do? I asked Ram. He said, ‘You need not go.’ Then I reasoned, ‘All is Narayana, Ram is Narayana too. Why should I not accept his word?’ The elephant maybe Narayana, but so is the mahout. When the mahout is asking me not to go near the elephant, then why should I not obey him? Thinking this way, I am now less strict about being truthful.”
His earlier story: Vaishnavcharan’s instruction – believe in God’s sport as a human being
“Now I find that I am undergoing a change. Many days ago Vaishnavcharan said that one attains purna (ultimate) jnana only when one sees God in man. Now I see that it is He who is moving about in all the different forms. Now He is in the form of a sadhu, now a deceitful person, and now a rascal. So I say, ‘Narayana in the form of a sadhu, Narayana as a deceitful person, Narayana as a rascal, and Narayana as a wicked person.’
“Now I ask myself, how can I feed everybody? I have the desire to feed everyone. So I make a person stay here and I feed him.”
Prankrishna (looking at M. and laughing) — He is a good man. (To Sri Ramakrishna) Sir, he forced us to land him from the boat.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — What happened?
Prankrishna — He was on the boat. Seeing a few waves on the river, he said, ‘Let me land.’ (To M.) How did you get here?
M. (laughing) — On foot.
Sri Ramakrishna begins to laugh.
Difficult for the householders to give up worldly work – the pundit and practice of discrimination
Prankrishna (to Ramakrishna) — Sir, I am thinking about giving up work. When one is busy at work, one can think of nothing else. (Pointing at a gentleman companion) I am training him in my job. When I give it up, he will attend to it. I feel that I can’t engage in work any longer.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, it is very troublesome. It will be very nice if you can take to contemplation of God now. But though you say so, will you be able to give it up? Captain also said the same. Householders say so, but they cannot do it.
“So many pundits talk of jnana. They only talk of it, but they don’t put their words into practice. They are like vultures that soar high but their gaze remains fixed on the charnel pits. In other words, they remain attached to ‘lust and gold,’ to the world. When I hear of a pundit having discrimination and non-attachment, I am in awe of him. Otherwise, they are like dogs and goats to me.”
Prankrishna salutes Thakur and prepares to leave. He asks M whether he will accompany him. M replies, “No, you go ahead.” Prankrishna laughs and says, “And you must also leave!” (All laugh.)
M. strolls near the Panchavati and then takes his bath at the ghat where Sri Ramakrishna usually bathes. Then he goes for the darshan of Bhavatarini and Radhakanta and offers his obeisance. He says to himself, “I was told that the Lord is formless. Why, then, am I paying obeisance to deities? Sri Ramakrishna believes in gods and goddesses with form. Is that the reason I am doing this? I know nothing about the Lord, nor do I understand. When Thakur believes in them, I, an insignificant fellow, should also have faith.”
M. is having the darshan of Bhavatarini. He sees that She has a human head and a sword in Her two left hands. With Her two right hands She is granting assurance and fearlessness. On the one hand, She is so terrible, and on the other, the gracious and loving Mother of the devotees – the meeting point of both attitudes. The Mother, compassionate to the lowly, to the devotee, so affectionate! But it is also true that the Mother is terrible, the picture of death! Why two opposite attitudes in one person? Only She knows.
It is Thakur’s explanation that is coming to M.’s mind and he is thinking about it. It is said that Keshab Sen accepted Mother Kali in Thakur’s presence. Keshab would say, “Is this the Goddess who was Spirit and Consciousness manifesting Herself in a clay image?”
Sri Ramakrishna, the man in samadhi, is conscious of pots and pans
Now M. comes and sits close to Sri Ramakrishna. Seeing that he has taken his bath, Thakur gives him prasad of fruits and so forth. M. takes them to the semi-circular verandah. He leaves the brass pot of drinking water on the verandah and quickly comes in to sit close to Thakur again. Thakur says, “Did you bring the brass pot?”
M. — Sir, I’ll bring it immediately.
Sri Ramakrishna — Bah!
M. is embarrassed. He goes to the verandah and brings the brass pot into the room.
M.’s home is in Calcutta but, because of family problems, he lives in a rented house in Shyampukur. His place of work is nearby. His father, brothers and others live in the paternal house. Thakur wants him to live in his parental house because it is more convenient to meditate on the Lord in a joint family. Though Thakur has been saying this off and on, unfortunately M. has not returned to his parental house. Thakur raises this topic again today.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, are you going back home now?
M. — I am not the least inclined to go there.
Sri Ramakrishna — But, why? Your father has renovated the whole house.
M. — I have suffered so many troubles in that house. There is no way that I can go there.
Sri Ramakrishna — Who are you afraid of?
M. — Everyone!
Sri Ramakrishna (gravely) — This fear is as unsubstantial as being afraid of the boat!
The deities have been offered holy food. Arati is being performed as the cymbals and bells ring. The Kali Temple is filled with joy. Hearing the sound of arati the indigent, sadhus and fakirs all run toward the guesthouse. Some of them have a sal leaf plate and the others, a metal plate and a drinking pot. They all partake of the prasad (sacramental food). Today M., too, takes the prasad of Mother Bhavatarini (Kali).
Keshab Chandra Sen and the Navavidhan – the Navavidhan has some substance
Thakur is resting after his meal. In the meantime Ram, Girindra and many other devotees arrive. They offer him salutation by touching their heads on the ground, and then they take their seats.
The topic of conversation turns to Keshab Chandra Sen’s Navavidhan.
Ram (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Sir, it doesn’t seem to me that the Navavidhan has done much good. If Keshab Babu had been genuine, why would his devotees come to their present plight? According to me there is no substance in him. It is like sounding some broken pieces of earthenware and then locking the door – people would think that there is a lot of money inside. But actually there are only broken pieces of baked clay. Outsiders don’t know what is inside.
Sri Ramakrishna — There is definitely some substance in him. If not, why would so many people honour him? Why don’t people see the greatness of Shivanath? Unless the Lord wills, greatness is not honoured.
“Yet, unless a person renounces the world, he can accomplish nothing wonderful and people do not accept him. People say, ‘He is a householder, he enjoys ‘lust and gold’ secretly while he tells us that the Lord is the only reality and the world is transitory like a dream.’ Unless one has renounced the world completely, his word is not accepted by everybody, even though some worldly people may accept it. Keshab lived a householder life, so he was also interested in his family. Worldly people have to be protected. He lectured a great deal, but he also made full provision for his household. What a son-in-law he had! I entered his house and saw big cots! When you live a householder’s life, such luxuries come automatically. What is the world if not a place for sense enjoyment?” ”
Ram — Keshab got those cots when his ancestor’s property was divided. It was his share. Sir, you may say anything, but Vijay Babu told me that Keshab Sen said to him, ‘I am a portion of Christ, of Gauranga (Chaitanya Deva). And you should say that you are Advaita.’ And do you know what he said? That you also belong to the Navavidhan. (Thakur and others laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — I don’t know, brother. I don’t even know the meaning of Navavidhan! (All laugh.)
Ram — Keshab’s disciples say that he has harmonized jnana and bhakti.
Sri Ramakrishna (surprised) — How is that, brother! Then what does the Adhyatma (Ramayana) contain? Narada began to sing a hymn of praise to Ramachandra, ‘O Rama! You are the same Supreme Brahman that the Vedas talk of. You have been living with us as a human being and, though you look like a man, in reality you are not a human being. You are that Supreme Brahman.’ Ramachandra said, ‘Narada, I am extremely pleased with you. Please ask for a boon.’ Narada said, ‘Rama, what boon can I ask? Grant that I may have pure bhakti for your lotus feet. And may you not enchant me with your world-bewitching maya.’ The Adhyatma (Ramayana) contains only jnana and bhakti.
Now the conversation turns on Amrita, a disciple of Keshab.
Ram — Amrita Babu has become quite a different person.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, I saw him rather sick the other day.
Ram — Sir, let me tell you about his lecture. The moment the drum is sounded, they all say, ‘Victory to Keshab.’ Didn’t you say that ‘dal’ is formed in small shallow pits of stagnant water? One day Amrita Babu said in his lecture, ‘The holy man [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] says that sects are formed in small pits. But brother, one needs the sects, one definitely needs them. I tell you the truth: they are indeed needed.’ (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna — What is this? Shame! Shame! Shame! What a lecture!
Now the topic of discussion is that some people like to praise their leader.
Sri Ramakrishna — The musical play of Nimai Sannyasa (the renunciation of Sri Chaitanya) was to be enacted at Keshab’s house. I was invited to it. That day I heard somebody call Keshab and Pratap ‘Gaur and Nitai’. Prasanna then asked me what I was. I noticed that Keshab was looking at me to see what I would reply. I replied, ‘I am the servant of the servants of your servant, I am the dust of dust.’ Keshab laughed and said, ‘He can never be caught.’
Ram — Keshab sometimes used to say that you were John the Baptist.
A Devotee — And sometimes he would say that you are the Chaitanya Deva of the nineteenth century.
Sri Ramakrishna — What does that mean?
The Devotee — It means that Chaitanya Deva has incarnated again in the nineteenth century. And you are he.
Sri Ramakrishna (indifferently) — Leave it alone. But tell me now how my hand can be set right. My only care now is to see that my hand is cured.
The topic turns on Trailokya’s songs. Trailokya sings the name of the Lord and devotional songs in Keshab’s Samaj (society).
Sri Ramakrishna — Ah, how beautifully Trailokya sings!
Ram — How? Are all his songs all right?
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, all right. Otherwise, why do his songs attract my mind so much?
Ram — He has composed all the songs in the bhava (attitude) he has borrowed from you. Keshab Sen used to describe these very attitudes at the time of performing worship. Trailokya Babu would then compose songs in the same mood. Just take this song –
It is a fair of joy in the mart of love.
How Hari is sporting merrily with the devotees!
“You enjoy yourself in the company of devotees. Noticing this, he has composed all his songs in the same mood.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — Please don’t torment me anymore. Why do you want to involve me in that? (Laughter.)
Girindra — The Brahmo devotees say that the Paramahamsa Deva lacks the faculty of organization.
Sri Ramakrishna — What does that mean?
M. — That you don’t know how to form and run an organization. That you are not intelligent enough. That’s what they say. (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ram) — Now please tell me why my hand broke? Please stand up and lecture on this topic. (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna instructs the Brahmos, the Vaishnavas and the Shaktas on sectarianism
“The Brahmos insist that God is formless. Let them say so. It is enough to call on Him sincerely. If you are sincere, He, being antaryami, will surely make you know, make you understand, what His real nature is.
“Yet it is not good to say that only what you know of Him is right and others are wrong. That since we take Him as formless, He is formless and can’t have form. Or that He has a form and so cannot be formless. Can a man reach the end of God?
“In the same way, the Vaishnavas and Shaktas are opposed to each other. The Vaishnavas say, ‘He is our Keshab [Sri Krishna].’ The Shaktas say, ‘He is our Bhagavati, the only giver of liberation.’
‘I took Vaishnavcharan to Mathur Babu. Vaishnavcharan is a man of discrimination and great learning. But he is a rigid Vaishnava. On the other hand, Mathur Babu is a devotee of Bhagavati. They were having a nice conversation when Vaishnavcharan said, ‘Only Keshab [Krishna] grants liberation.’ No sooner did Mathur Babu hear these words than his face flushed with anger. He said, ‘My foot!’ (All laugh.) Was he (Mathur) not a Shakta (worshipper of Shakti)? It was natural for him to react that way. In the meantime I tried to distract Vaishnavcharan by stroking his body.
“I see that all those who harp on religion are actually quarrelling among themselves. The Hindus, the Mohammedans, the Brahmos, the Shaktas, the Vaishnavas, the Shaivites are all quarreling with each other. They haven’t gained the intelligence to understand that He who is called Krishna is Shiva, and also the Primeval Power. He is the same Being who is known as Christ or Allah. There is but one Rama, and He is known by a thousand names.
“There is one Substance; it is called by different names. Everybody is asking for the same one Substance. Yet there is a difference of place, person and name. A pond has a number of ghats. The Hindus draw water from one ghat and, filling their brass pots, they call it jal. The Mohammedans take water from the other ghat and, filling their skin bags, they call it pani. While the Christians take water from a third ghat and call it water. (All laugh.)
“When a person says that this substance is not jal but pani, or it is not pani but water, or not water but jal, it becomes ridiculous. That is the reason why there are different groups, ill will and quarrels. Resorting to fights with staves, and scuffling and killing in the name of religion is not good. Everybody is going toward God. When one is sincere and yearns for Him, one attains Him.
(To Mani) “Listen to this. The Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, all these religious texts seek Him alone and none else. Whom the Vedas call Sachchidananda Brahman, the Tantras call Sachchidananda Shiva and the Puranas call Sachchidananda Krishna.”
Sri Ramakrishna has heard that Ram sometimes cooks his own meal in his home.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani) — Do you cook for yourself sometimes?
Mani — No, Sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — Look here. Put a little cow’s ghee (clarified butter) in your meals. You will feel your body and mind becoming very pure.
The father is dharma, he is the heaven and he is the supreme austerity
They have been talking quite a long time about Ram’s household life. Ram’s father is a staunch Vaishnava and Sridhar (Sri Krishna) is worshipped in his house daily. His father married a second time when Ram was very young. The father and stepmother lived with Ram, but Ram was not happy living with his stepmother. She is now forty. Ram is sometimes cross with his father because of his stepmother. This is the topic of conversation today.
Ram — My father is not the good man he was.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — Do you hear? His father is not good – but he is.
Ram — There is no peace when she (the stepmother) comes to the house! Something unfortunate is bound to happen. Our household is breaking apart. I say it would be better for her to go live with her parents.
Girindra (to Ram) — Why don’t you keep your wife at her father’s house in the same way? (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — Are they like pots and pans, that the pot be here and its lid somewhere else? Shiva here and Shakti there?
Ram — Sir, we are living happily indeed. But when she comes to the house, family life falls apart.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, you can build a house for them elsewhere. This is another way. Give them their monthly expenses. Parents are big gurus. Rakhal once asked me whether he could eat from the same plate his father had used. I said, ‘What are you saying? What has happened to you that you can’t eat from your father’s plate?’
“But this is the fact: they who are real devotees do not give their leftover food to anyone – not even to dogs.”
Worship the guru as your Ideal Deity – the guru not to be given up even if he is immoral
Girindra — Sir, what if the parents are guilty of some grave offense, that they have committed a serious sin?
Sri Ramakrishna — Let them! The mother, even if she is of easy virtue, should not be forsaken. When the woman guru of a certain family became immoral, it was said that her son be made the guru. I said, ‘But why? You want to give up the yam and take the shoot. Even if she has gone wrong, what does it matter? You must take her as the guru.’ ‘Even though my guru visits the tavern, he is still my ever-blissful guru.’
Chaitanya Deva and his mother – a man’s debts – his duties
“Are parents such insignificant persons? No spiritual or other effort can be achieved if they are not pleased. Chaitanya Deva was intoxicated with love for God. Yet before embracing sannyasa, he implored his mother for many days. He said, ‘Mother, I will come every now and then to see you.’
(To M., reprimanding him) “And I tell you, your parents have reared you. And you have so many children. Yet you have left home with your wife and children. ‘Leaving behind the father and mother, the baul becomes a Vaishnava and comes away with his wife and son.’ Your father is well provided for. Were it not so, I would say, ‘Shame on you!’ (Everybody in the room is silent.)
“There are certain debts a man must pay: the debt to the deity, to the rishi, to the father, to the mother and also to the wife. Till you pay back the debt to your parents, you can achieve nothing.
“You have to pay back the debt to the wife too. Harish has left his wife to live here. Had there been no provision for her, I would have called him wicked and a rascal.
“When you have attained jnana, you look on your wife as the embodiment of Bhagavati (Divine Mother). The Chandi says, ‘The Divine Power dwells in all elements in the form of the Mother.’ She Herself has become your mother.
“All women you see are the manifestation of the Divine Mother. So I cannot scold Brinde [the maidservant]. Some people recite verse after verse from the scriptures and talk big, but they act quite the opposite. Ramprasanna is arranging for milk and opium for that Hatha Yogi. He said, ‘Manu talks of service to the sadhus.’ On the other hand, his old mother hasn’t enough to eat. She has to go to the bazaar herself. When I see this, I feel so annoyed.”
Who is free from all debts? Sannyasi and his duties
“But then this is also specifically true. If a person feels intoxicated with God’s love, there is no father, no mother, and no wife for him. He may have so much love for the Lord that he may appear to be mad! Such a person has no duties. He is freed from all his debts. What is intoxication with love for God like? In that state one forgets the world. One even forgets one’s body that is so dear. Chaitanya Deva had this state. He jumped into the sea unaware that it was a sea. He would fall hard on the ground again and again. He lost hunger, thirst and sleep. He was not at all conscious of his body.”
The Elder Gopal on pilgrimage – Sri Ramakrishna is present, so why go on pilgrimage? Adhar’s invitation – Ram’s vanity – Sri Ramakrishna meditates
Thakur suddenly says, “Ha, Chaitanya!” (To the devotees) Was Chaitanya He who is Indivisible Chaitanya (Consciousness)? Vaishnavcharan used to say, “Gauranga is a bubble of the same Indivisible Consciousness.”
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you intend to go on pilgrimage?
The Elder Gopal — Yes sir, I may visit some places.
Ram (to the Elder Gopal) — He says that one becomes a kutichaka after being a vahudaka. The sadhu who visits many holy places is a vahudaka. One who doesn’t desire to move around, who settles down peacefully at one place on an asana is known as a kutichaka.
“And he also says this: A bird was sitting on the mast of a ship. It did not know when the ship came out of the holy Ganges and entered the black waters of the ocean. When it became aware of the ocean, it wanted to know where land was. Flying to the north and finding no shore, it returned. Having rested for awhile, it flew south, but found no shore there either. Out of breath, it returned. Then it flew to the west and to the east after resting awhile on the same mast. When it found land or shore nowhere, it perched peacefully on the mast.’ ”
Sri Ramakrishna (to the Elder Gopal) — As long as one thinks that the Lord is somewhere ‘there’, one is ignorant. But when one thinks that God is definitely ‘here’, that is jnana.
“Somebody wanted a smoke. He went to his neighbour’s home to get a light. It was quite late at night, so the neighbours were all asleep. When he had knocked for a long time, somebody came downstairs to open the door. Seeing the caller, he asked, ‘What is the matter?’ The former said, ‘Nothing more than this: I am addicted to smoking, you already know about that. So I have come for a light.’ Then the man said, ‘You are a fine man indeed! You have taken the trouble to come here and knocked so long. But you have a lantern in your hand!’ (All laugh.)
“What one desires is already with a man. Yet, he wanders from place to place!”
Is Thakur hinting that he is present there? Why then go on pilgrimage?
Ram — Sir, I now understand why the guru asks some disciples to visit all the four dhams. When he goes from place to place and sees that what he sees ‘here’ is what he sees ‘there,’ he returns to his guru. All this is done so that the disciple may have firm faith in the words of the guru.
When the conversation stops for awhile, Sri Ramakrishna praises Ram.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — Oh, what qualities Ram has! How he serves devotees and looks after them! (To Ram) Adhar told me that you were very hospitable to him.
Adhar’s house is in Sobhabazar. He is a great devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. The Chandi was sung at his house. Thakur and a number of devotees were present, but Adhar had forgotten to invite Ram. Ram is a very proud man. He told some friends of his displeasure at this negligence. So Adhar went to Ram’s house to apologize.
Ram — Adhar is not to be blamed. I have learned that it was Rakhal’s mistake – Rakhal was given the responsibility.
Sri Ramakrishna — You must not find fault with Rakhal. You can bring up mother’s milk by pressing his throat [meaning a fairly young and immature person].
Ram — Sir, they say that the Chandi was sung there.
Sri Ramakrishna — Adhar didn’t know about that. Just see, the other day he accompanied me to Jadu Mallick’s house. When we were leaving, I asked him why he had not offered pranami (offering of money to the deity) to Mother Simhavahini. He replied, ‘Sir, I didn’t know that I was supposed to offer pranami.”
“And even if one is not invited, what is wrong with going to the place where Hari’s name is sung? One should go even uninvited where the name of Hari is being chanted. There is no need for an invitation.”
 According to Hindu mythology, the Lord rests on the Ocean of Milk (ocean of Great Cause) after the end of each creation
 Benares; a holy place of the Hindus
 Namely earth, water, fire, air and ether
 Ram Chatterji, the attendant of Sri Radhakanta in the temple
 Act of seeing in order to pay homage
 The word has two meanings: ‘sedge’ and ‘sect’
 Some days ago Sri Ramakrishna fell down and broke his hand. A bandage was tied around his hand for several days. The hand is bandaged even now
 God as the Inner Controller
 Ramprasanna is a devotee from Ariadaha and the son of Krishnakishore
 Places of pilgrimage
 The Goddess seated upon a lion