Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees on Navami Puja Day in Dakshineswar
Sri Ramakrishna with Narendra, Bhavanath and others in Dakshineswar
Monday, 29 September, 1884, the Navami Puja day. It is early morning. The mangalarati of Mother Kali has already been performed. The roshan chowki is playing the morning raga ragini (modes of Indian music) from the Nahabat. The gardeners with large wicker baskets in their hands and the brahmins with puja baskets, are going to gather flowers for the worship of the Mother of Universe. Sri Ramakrishna has been awake since before dawn. Bhavanath, Baburam, Niranjan and M. stayed here last night. They slept on the verandah of Thakur’s room. When they open their eyes, they see Thakur dancing with divine inebriation. He is uttering, “Victory, victory to Durga! Victory, victory to Durga!”
He is just a child! There is no dhoti around his waste. He dances, pacing the room and uttering the Divine Mother’s name.
After awhile he utters, “Sahajananda, Sahajananda.” Then he repeats the name of Govinda, “Govinda, you are my life, my life breath.”
The devotees are now awake. They watch Thakur intently in his ecstatic mood. Hazra is also there. He is sitting on the verandah to the southeast of Thakur’s room. And Latu is there. He renders personal service to Thakur. Rakhal is in Vrindavan these days. Narendra visits Sri Ramakrishna from time to time. He is to come today.
The devotees had slept on the small verandah to the north of Sri Ramakrishna’s room. It is winter, so they had closed the wicker door. When they have finished washing their faces, Thakur comes and sits on a mat on the northern verandah. Bhavanath and M. are seated close to him. Other devotees come in from time to time and take their seats.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Bhavanath) — You know, jivakotis do not have faith easily. On the other hand, Ishvarakotis need no proof for their belief, they have unshakable faith. Prahlada began to weep suddenly when he wrote the letter ‘K’ because it reminded him of Krishna. The nature of the jiva is beset with doubts. He says, “Yes, it is so, no doubt, but ….”
“Hazra will never believe that Brahman and His Shakti (Power) are inseparable, that the Power and the Being possessing the Power are not different from each other. I call God Brahman when He is inactive. But when He creates, preserves and dissolves, I call Him Shakti. But the substance is one, it is indivisible. Think of fire and you are immediately reminded of its power to burn. Similarly, when you think of burning power, you are reminded of fire. You cannot think of one without thinking of the other.
“Then I prayed, ‘Mother, Hazra tries to upset the belief of ‘this place’. Either give him the right understanding, or take him away from here.’ The very next day he came and said, ‘I agree with you [that Brahman and Shakti are inseparable]!’ He said, ‘Vibhu (the All-pervading Being) exists everywhere.’ ”
Bhavanath (laughing) — Did you really feel disturbed at this idea of Hazra?
Sri Ramakrishna — My state has changed. I can no longer carry out discussions and arguments with people. I am not in the state of mind to discuss and argue with Hazra. Hriday said to me in Jadu Mallick’s garden, ‘Uncle, don’t you want to keep me with you?’ I said, ‘No, I am not in that state of mind. I can no longer get into arguments with you.’
His earlier story – Sri Ramakrishna in Kamarpukur – the world full divine consciousness – childlike faith
“What is jnana and what is ajnana? It is ajnana (ignorance) when you think that the Lord is far away from you. When you know Him to be here [within you], that is jnana.
“When you have gained the right jnana (spiritual knowledge), everything seems to be full of divine consciousness. I used to talk to Shibu when he was very small, four or five years old. He was in the countryside [Kamarpukur]. There was thunder and lightening in the clouds. Shibu said, ‘Uncle, God is striking flints!’ (All laugh.) One day I saw him catching a grasshopper. The leaves of a nearby tree were shaking. He said to them, ‘Be still, I have to catch the grasshopper.’ The child was seeing divine consciousness in everything! The simple faith of a child! If you don’t have childlike faith, you can’t attain Bhagavan. Oh, what a state I was in! One day I was bitten in a meadow. I was afraid it might have been snake bite! What should I do? I had heard that if a snake bites a second time, it takes back its own poison. I began to look for it in the place I had been bitten, so that it might bite me again. Somebody asked me what I was doing. When I told him, he said it must bite in exactly the same place where it had bitten before. Hearing that, I got up. Perhaps it was a small scorpion that bit me.
“And one day I heard Ramlal say that autumn dew was good for one’s health. So, coming by carriage from Calcutta, I stuck my head out of the window to be exposed to the dew. I fell ill after this.” (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna and medicine
Thakur now goes into his room and takes his seat. Both of his feet are somewhat swollen. He asks the devotees to see whether a depression is formed on the skin when it is pressed. A small depression did form, but everybody told him that it was nothing.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Bhavanath) — Please ask Mahendra of Sinthi to come and see me. I will feel reassured if he says it is nothing.
Bhavanath (smiling) — You have great faith in medicine. We don’t have so much.
Sri Ramakrishna — God makes the medicine and He Himself is the physician. Dr. Gangaprasad asked me not to drink water at night. I stuck to it as if it were an injunction of the Vedas. I look upon him as Dhanavantri himself.
Sri Ramakrishna with Narendra, Bhavanath and others – he goes into samadhi
Hazra comes and takes his seat. After some casual conversation, Thakur says to him, “Look here, yesterday there were so many people at Ram’s house – Vijay, Kedar and many others. Why do I feel such strong emotion when I see Narendra? I saw Kedar as the ‘abode’ [realm] of karanananda (joy of divine inebriation).”
Yesterday Thakur had gone to Calcutta on the Mahashtami day for the darshan of the image of deity. He first visited Ram’s house and later went to Adhar’s for the darshan of the deity. A number of devotees had gathered there. When Thakur saw Narendra, he went into samadhi. He stretched his foot toward Narendra’s knee and went into samadhi standing there.
In the meantime Narendra enters the room. Sri Ramakrishna is beside himself with joy. Having saluted him, Narendra talks with Bhavanath and others. M. is also there. A long mat covers the floor of the room. While talking, Narendra lies on the mat, flat on his stomach. Looking at Narendra, Thakur suddenly goes into samadhi. He sits on Narendra’s back in this state of samadhi.
Bhavanath sings –
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive me of bliss.
My mind knows nothing but Thy lotus feet.
Thakur comes out of his samadhi and sings –
You are the river of nectar, O Mother Shyama! Who can fathom your various moods?
Thakur sings another song –
Chant, chant, O my mind, the hallowed name of Durga,
Obeisance to You, Gauri. Obeisance to You, Narayani
Only when You shower Your compassion on this sorrowing servant of Yours, shall I know Your greatness.
You, Yourself, are the dusk, the daytime and the night.
Sometimes You become man and sometimes a charming lady.
You hold the bow when You are Rama and the flute as Krishna.
With Your disheveled hair, You have captivated the heart of Shiva.
O Mother, You are the ten great powers. You, Yourself, are the ten avatars.
In what form are You incarnating to liberate me this time?
O Mother, Yashoda worshipped You with hibiscus flowers and vilwa leaves.
By placing Krishna in her lap, You fulfilled her heart’s desire.
Where else do I live, O Mother, than in groves?
May my heart remain tied to Your red feet night and day!
I may die anywhere, I may die of any calamity, I must call out the hallowed name of Durga in my last moments.
If you ask me to go away, pray tell me, to whom shall I go?
O Mother! Who else has this nectar sweet name, Tara?
You may ask me to leave You, but I shall never do it.
O Mother! I will cling to Your feet and tinkle as the little bells of Your anklet.
When You sit with Shiva I shall tinkle at Your feet: Victory to Shiva, victory to Shiva.
If Your feet are scratched when I write Your name on them,
I shall write it on the ground so that You may place Your feet on it.
Mother, if You fly in the sky, becoming a kite, I shall live as a fish in water.
Pray, lift me from there with Your claws.
Hurt by Your claws, O All-Blissful Mother, when I quit this mortal frame,
Kindly grant me, then, both of Your red feet.
O Mother Kali, the beloved of Kala (the Absolute), take me across.
You have made a boat with Your two feet to liberate me.
You are Yourself heaven, the mortal world, and the nether world.
Hari, Brahma and the twelve Gopalas have all sprung from You.
The one who treads the path uttering, ‘Durga, Durga,’ Shiva protects, holding his trident in hand.
Sri Ramakrishna in the company of Narendra, Bhavanath and others – he goes into samadhi and dances
Hazra, seated on the northeastern verandah, is counting the beads of his rosary. Thakur comes and sits in front of him. He takes Hazra’s rosary in his own hands. M. and Bhavanath are there with him. It is about ten o’ clock.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Hazra) — Look, I cannot tell the beads of the rosary. No, no, perhaps I can. I can do it by holding the rosary in my left hand. But I cannot repeat the name of God.
Having said so, Thakur tries to repeat the Name on the rosary. But as soon as he starts, he passes into samadhi!
Thakur remains in samadhi for a long time, still holding the rosary. The devotees watch him, speechless with wonder. Hazra remains seated and also watches him wonder-struck. Thakur gains external consciousness after a long time. He exclaims, “I am feeling hungry.” He often says this to bring his mind to the normal plane.
M. goes out to bring something for him to eat, but Thakur says, “No brother, I will first go to the Kali Temple.”
Sri Ramakrishna performs Kali Puja on the Navami puja day
Thakur goes south toward the Kali Temple via the brick courtyard. On the way he pays obeisance to Shiva in the twelve temples. The Radhakanta temple is to his left. He then goes there and offers his obeisance. Reaching the Kali Temple, he salutes the Mother. He takes a seat and offers flowers at Her lotus feet. He also offers flowers to his own head. When leaving, he says to Bhavanath, “Take these articles with you – the green coconut offered to the Mother and the holy charanamrita.” Thakur then returns to his room with M. and Bhavanath. As soon as he reaches his room, he offers obeisance to Hazra. ‘What are you doing, sir?’ Hazra cries out as he rises. He asks, “What is this?”
Sri Ramakrishna says, “Why, is something wrong?”
Hazra often argues with Thakur that the Lord indeed exists in everybody and that everybody can attain Brahmajnana by the practice of spiritual disciplines.
It is mealtime. The bells for the arati and food offering to the deities have rung. All the brahmins, Vaishnavas and indigents go toward the guesthouse to have Mother’s prasad and that of Radhakanta. The devotees will also partake of the Mother’s prasad, seated where the brahmin employees of the guesthouse sit for their meals. Thakur says, “Everyone must go and eat there. What do you say? (To Narendra) No. You eat here.”
“All right, Narendra and I will eat here.” Bhavanath, Baburam, M. and the others leave for the guesthouse.
After taking some prasad, Thakur rests awhile – though not for long. The devotees are talking on the verandah. Thakur joins them and is happy in their company. It is two o’clock. They are all seated on the northeastern verandah. Suddenly Bhavanath appears from the southeastern verandah in the garb of a brahmachari. He is in ochre cloth, kamandala in hand, and is smiling. Thakur and all the devotees laugh.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — This shows the state of his mind. That is why he is robed this way.
Narendra — He is in the garb of a brahmachari. I would like to put on the garb of a vamachari (practitioner of Tantrik rituals). (Laughter.)
Hazra — You have to procure the five ingredients: wine, meat, fish, posture and intercourse, and the mystic circle [of Bhairavis].
Sri Ramakrishna does not comment on vamachara. He does not encourage this practice. In fact, he laughed it away. He begins to dance like one intoxicated. He sings –
I shall not be distracted even if You make me forget. The reason? I have had the vision of Your red feet.
His earlier story – Rajnarayan’s Chandi – Nakur Acharya’s song
Thakur says, “Oh, how beautiful is Rajnarayan’s singing of the Chandi! He sings and dances in the same way. And the songs of Nakur Acharya in our village! Ah, what dance! What music!”
A sadhu has arrived in the Panchavati. He is a hot-headed man. He uses foul language with anybody and everybody, and hurls curses. He comes in wearing wooden sandals.
He asks, “Can I get fire here?” Sri Ramakrishna folds his hands to salute the sadhu and remains standing in this posture till he leaves.
When the sadhu has gone, Bhavanath says, “How devoted you are to sadhus!”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — You see, he too is Narayana, though a man of tamas. This is how one should treat people of tamasic nature. Besides, he is a sadhu!
Sri Ramakrishna and game of golakdham – ‘the right person is victorious everywhere’
The devotees are playing the game of golakdham. Hazra is also playing. Thakur comes in and stands there looking at them. The pawns of M. and Kishori reach ‘heaven’. Sri Ramakrishna pays obeisance to both of them. He adds, “Both of you brothers are blessed.” (Aside to M.) “Don’t play this game any more.” Thakur continues to watch the game as Hazra’s pawn reaches ‘hell’. Sri Ramakrishna says, “What is the matter with Hazra? Yet again!”
In other words, Hazra’s pawn has again entered ‘hell’. Everyone giggles and laughs.
When all seven dice fall straight, Latu’s pawn is completely out of the ‘samsar’ (the world). Latu begins to dance with joy. Thakur says, “Just see how happy Latu is!” He would have been very sad if that hadn’t happened. (Alone to the devotees) It has its own significance. Hazra has the conceit that he will win here – but the law of the Lord is such that He does not insult a righteous person. The righteous man is victorious everywhere!”
Sadhana with women not for Narendra and his like – vamachara criticized
His earlier story – visit to holy places – mystic circle of Bhairavi in Kashi – Sri Ramakrishna in the attitude of a child
Sri Ramakrishna is seated on the smaller cot in his room. Narendra, Bhavanath, Baburam and M. are sitting on the floor. Narendra refers to the Tantrik sects of Ghoshpara, Panchanami and others. Thakur describes their practices and condemns them. He says, “They can’t follow spiritual practices correctly. They just satisfy sensual desires in the name of religion.”
(To Narendra) “You need not listen to their practices.”
“The Bhairavas and Bhairavis are like them. Once when I went to Kashi, they took me to a Bhairavi mystic circle – every Bhairava was with a Bhairavi. I was asked to drink wine. I said, ‘Mother, I cannot touch wine.’ Then they began to drink. I thought perhaps they would begin japa and meditation. But they didn’t. Instead they began to dance. I began to fear that they might fall into the Ganges. Their circle was made on the bank of the Ganges.
“Great respect is shown to husband and wife if they take up the role of Bhairava and Bhairavi.
(To Narendra and other devotees) “Do you know what my attitude is? I have a filial nature, the attitude of a son toward his mother. Regarding a woman as mother is a very pure attitude. There is no danger in it. Considering a woman as sister is not inferior. But looking on a woman as one’s mistress, the attitude of a ‘hero,’ is beset with difficulties. Tarak’s father used to practice this rite. It is a very difficult path. It is impossible to maintain the correct spirit in this path.
“There are different ways to reach the Lord. As many faiths, so many paths. It’s like going to the Kali temple on different roads. Even so, some paths are pure, while others are dirty. One must take a pure path.
“I have seen so many faiths, so many paths. Now I don’t like them anymore – they just argue with each other. However, you who are with me are my own. I tell you, I have reached the conclusion that He is the whole, while I am a part of Him; He is the Master, I am His servant; and sometimes I feel that I am He and He is me.”
The devotees listen to Thakur in deep silence.
Sri Ramakrishna and love of mankind
Bhavanath (humbly) — When you don’t get along well with a person, your mind becomes disturbed. Then you can’t love everybody.
Sri Ramakrishna — First talk it out with that person. Try to make up with him. If you fail in your efforts, don’t worry. Take refuge in God and meditate on Him. There is no need to give up God and feel depressed because of other people.
Bhavanath — Christ and Chaitanya both said to love everyone.
Sri Ramakrishna — Love you must, for God abides in all. But when you come across a wicked person, salute him from a distance. Chaitanya Deva did the same thing. He would restrain his spiritual feelings in the presence of those of a different nature. At Srivas’s home, he forced Srivas’s mother-in-law out of the room, dragging her by the hair.
Bhavanath — She was turned out by somebody else.
Sri Ramakrishna — Could anybody do it without his [Chaitanya Deva’s] consent? What else to do if the two minds don’t agree? Should one keep worrying about it the whole night? The mind, which should be given to God, should not be wasted in futile things. I say, ‘Mother, I want none – neither Narendra, nor Bhavanath, nor Rakhal. Only You do I want. What use is a man to me?”
When Mother Chandi arrives in the house, I will hear any number of hymns in Her praise.
And any number of ascetics, yogis and sadhus with matted locks will come as well.
“Having attained Her, I shall have attained everything. Coins are clods of earth, and clods of earth are coins. Gold is clay and clay is gold – saying this, I gave them all up. I threw them into the Ganges. Then I began to fear that Mother Lakshmi might be angry with me because I had disregarded her glory. Lest She should stop giving me food, I said, ‘Mother, I only want You and nothing else.’ Having attained Her, I shall attain all.”
Bhavanath (smiling) — This is astute calculation!
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — Yes, only that much calculation!
“Bhagavan appeared before a certain person and said, ‘I am very pleased with your penance. Ask me for a boon.’ The aspirant said, ‘Bhagavan, if you are granting me a boon, then please grant that I may eat on a gold plate with my grandson.’ So much was accomplished in one boon! He became wealthy, begot a son, and then a grandson.”
Lord is the refuge – Sri Ramakrishna’s devotion to his mother – in the joy of devotional songs
The devotees are in the room while Hazra is seated on the verandah.
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you know what Hazra wants? He needs some money. His family is in distress. He is in debt. That is why he practices japa and meditation – to get some money.
A Devotee — Can’t God fulfill a devotee’s desire?
Sri Ramakrishna — If it is God’s will. But the Lord doesn’t take all the burden of a person unless he is intoxicated by intense love for Him. Someone holds a child by the hand and makes him sit for his meal at a feast. Who does so in the case of old people? When one meditates on Him and cannot take care of himself, the Lord then takes responsibility for him.
“He [Hazra] does not enquire about his family. Hazra’s son said to Ramlal, ‘Ask my father to come home. We shall not ask him for anything.’ Hearing this, I began to weep.”
Life of Sri Ramakrishna spoken with his own holy lips – visit to Vrindavan
“Hazra’s mother said to Ramlal, ‘Ask Pratap to come home and ask your uncle [Sri Ramakrishna] in my name to send Pratap.’ I asked him to go, but he didn’t listen.
“How great is one’s mother! How long Chaitanya Deva had to implore his mother before he was allowed to leave family life. Sachi [Chaitanya Deva’s mother] said, ‘I will cut Keshab Bharati asunder!’ Chaitanya Deva had to beseech her to give her approval for his sannyasa. He said, ‘Mother, if you don’t approve of it, I won’t go. But if you keep me at home, I shall not survive. Besides, mother, you will be able to see me whenever you remember me. I shall not be far from you. And I will come to see you every now and then.’ It was only then that Sachi permitted him to leave.
“As long as his mother was alive, Narada could not leave her to practice austerities. He had to take care of her, you see. It was only after her death that Narada went away to practice spiritual disciplines in order to realize Hari.
“When I was at Vrindavan I did not want to return. It was arranged for me to stay with Gangama. She would have her bedding on one side of the room, and mine would be on the other. I resolved not to return to Calcutta. ‘How long must I eat Kaivarta’s [proprietors of Dakshineswar temple, who belong to the low caste of fishermen] food?’ I asked myself. But Hriday said, ‘No, you must return to Calcutta.’ He pulled me one way and Gangama dragged me the other. I had a great desire to stay on with her. Suddenly, however, the thought of my mother came to me. My whole attitude changed immediately. ‘My mother is old now,’ I said to myself. ‘If I keep worrying about her, how can I meditate on the Lord? I would rather return to her. There I will meditate on the Lord with a free mind.’
(To Narendra) “You, too, please ask Hazra to go home. The other day he said he would go and stay there for three days. But he did nothing about it.
(To the devotees) “Today we talked of Ghoshpara and such Tantrik ways. Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Let us now utter the name of Lord Hari. Let there be some cheese pudding after the dish of lentils.”
Narendra sings –
O my mind! Rest assured that there is the stainless Primal Purusha.
He is the beginningless Truth and cause of all causes. He pervades the moving and the unmoving world as prana (vital breath).
He is ever living, resplendent, the haven of all. The man of faith alone beholds Him.
He is beyond the senses, the eternal, the essence of consciousness and dwells in the cave of the hearts of all.
He is adorned by the different qualities of jnana and prema. Man is rid of all grief by meditating on Him.
He has numberless qualities, He is of ever-serene countenance. None can reach His depths.
But He reveals Himself by His grace to those who take shelter at His feet, knowing them to be humble and helpless by His grace.
Ever-forgiving and the source of all good, He is ever the giver of help in the sea of sorrows.
He is ever just and He bestows fruit in accordance with our good and bad deeds.
He is the most loving, the ocean of mercy and the treasure house of grace. By hearing of His glories one’s eyes are filled with tears.
Behold Him and be blessed. He is the haven of all hungry hearts.
Wonderful is His nature, of peerless beauty without stain, which no human speech can describe.
O, my brother! Become a beggar at His door and worship Him alone day and night.
Song 2 –
The full moon of divine love rises on the firmament of divine wisdom.
Thakur is dancing round and round. The others are also singing and dancing. It is a mart of joy. The song ended, Thakur begins to sing again.
Song 3 –
The Mother is always lost in the ecstasy of joy in the company of Shiva. Though drunk with nectar, She reels but does not fall.
Erect, She stands on Shiva’s bosom, and the earth trembles under Her steps.
More than mad, both are indifferent to fear and shame.
Thakur is very happy seeing that M. has joined in the music. When the song ends, Thakur says to M. with a smile, “It has been so nice. Had there been a drummer, it would have been much more intense. It would have sounded: Tak tak ta dhina, dak dak da dhina.”
The singing of devotional songs ends at dusk.
 The third day of Durga Puja
 Waving of lights before the deity at dawn
 Symphony of sanai and other musical instruments
 The spontaneous joy of ecstasy
 Ordinary human beings
 Thakur referred himself to ‘this place’
 At that time Hriday was not allowed to enter the temple garden. He had displeased the proprietor of the garden. Hriday wanted Thakur to request the proprietor to hire him again. Hriday rendered a lot of personal service to Thakur, but he would utter harsh words to him at the same time. Thakur tolerated him a great deal. Hriday would now and then reprimand him too.
 Shivaram, nephew of Thakur
 The name of the physician of heaven
 For complete song, see Section IV, Chapter III of this volume
 One who is the source of all good; an appellation of Goddess Durga
 Part of heaven which is the abode of Narayana
 A name of Goddess Durga
 Practice of Tantrik rituals in collaboration with a woman
 A kind of indoor game in which each player tries to get into heaven and on a false step falls into hell.
 Kishori was initiated by Sri Ramakrishna. He left his mortal frame exactly one year before M. He was a beloved of the sannyasin disciples of Thakur. Especially Swami Subodhananda and Swami Shivananda loved him. During his last years, he lived alone.
 A female aspirant of the Tantrik sect
 A male aspirant of the Tantrik sect
 Persons who meditate on Me, worship Me in all beings, never harbouring any other thought, to them thus ever zealously engaged, I carry what they lack and preserve what they already have. (Gita 9:22)
 The guru of Chaitanya Deva who initiated him into sannyasa
 A great woman saint of Vrindavan
 For complete song refer Section I, Chapter II of this volume