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Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees in Dakshineswar
With Vedantavagish, Ishan and other devotees in Dakshineswar
It is Saturday, 11 October, 1884. Sri Ramakrishna is lying on the smaller bedstead of his room in the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. It is about two o’clock. Priya Mukherji and M. are seated on the floor.
Having left the school at one o’clock, M. has just reached the Kali Temple, at about two.
Sri Ramakrishna — I went to Jadu Mallick’s house. Right away he asked me, ‘How much is the carriage fare?’ When somebody said, ‘Three rupees, two annas,’ he came to me and enquired about it. Next he secretly asked the coachman who was standing behind Shukul Thakur. The coachman said, ‘Three rupees, four annas.’ (General laughter.) Jadu ran to us again and asked, ‘How much did you say the fare was?’
“A broker visited Jadu. He said to him, ‘There is a parcel of four kathas of land in Burrabazar for sale. Would you like to purchase it?’ Jadu asked, ‘What is the price? Can you bring it down?’ I said, ‘You are not a serious buyer. You are just asking to while away time. Isn’t that true?’ He turned to me and laughed. This is the way with worldly people. They want people to come to them so they will be known in the marketplace.
“Jadu had been to Adhar’s house. I told him, ‘Adhar was delighted that you went to his house.’ Jadu said, ‘What? Really? Was he really very pleased?’
“A certain Mallick went to Jadu’s house. I could see from his eyes how clever and deceitful he was. Looking him straight in the eye, I said to him, ‘It’s not good to be too clever. The crow is a very clever bird, but it eats excreta of others and dies.’ I also saw that he was wretched and not well off. Speechless with wonder, Jadu’s mother asked me, ‘Baba (father), how did you know all this, that he had nothing?’ I knew it by looking at his face.”
Narayan arrives. He sits on the floor.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Priyanath) — Well, your Hari is a fine person.
Priyanath — He is all right, but not particularly good. He does have a childlike nature.
Narayan — He addresses his wife as mother.
Sri Ramakrishna — How is that possible? Even I can’t do that! He calls her mother! (To Priyanath) Do you know him? He is a very calm boy. And his mind is directed toward God.
Now Thakur takes up other topics of conversation.
“Do you know what Hem said? That God alone is the Reality and all else an illusion. (All laugh.) No, brother, he meant it. He told me that he would take me to his house and sing devotional songs. But he didn’t. Later he said, ‘If I take up drums and cymbals, what will people say?’ He became frightened that people might think he was crazy.”
The Ghoshpara ladies look on Haripada as Gopala – dispassion since youth and women
“Haripada has come under the influence of a Ghoshpara woman who doesn’t leave him alone. He said, ‘She takes me on her lap and feeds me, as if I were Gopala.’ I cautioned him that such a filial attitude brings about a downfall.
“You know, even if one has attained Bhagavan, one should keep a distance from women. And it is extremely harmful to frequent women of bad motives and be fed by them. They rob you of spirituality.
“You can safeguard your love of God only by being very cautious. Bhavanath, Rakhal and others once cooked their own food. They had just started eating when a baul came and sat with them, saying that he would also like to eat. I said, ‘There is not enough to eat, but if anything is left, we will keep it for you.’ This angered him and he left. On the Vijaya festival day people allow anybody to feed them with their own hands. It is not right. You must only eat from the hands of a pure devotee.
“You must be very cautious about women. Don’t listen to them when they display their Gopala bhava (motherly attitude toward a boy) to you. There is the proverb: ‘A woman can devour even the three worlds.’ When some women see an attractive young man, they set various kinds of snares to trap him. And this they call their Gopala bhava!
“They who have felt dispassion since their youth, they who wander about yearning for Bhagavan, they who have not entered family life, indeed belong to a separate class. They are pure aristocrats. In their deep dispassion they remain fifty cubits away from women lest the latter should bring a change in their attitude. If, however, they fall into the clutches of a woman, they no longer remain blue-blooded. Their attitude changes and they come down to a lower level of spirituality. They who have the right kind of dispassion from an early age belong to a higher spiritual ideal (‘abode’). They have an extremely pure attitude. They never allow a single stain to touch them.”
How to conquer the senses – practice of sadhana in the attitude of woman
“How can one conquer the senses? One should assume the feminine attitude. For a long time, I had the attitude of a maidservant of God. I used to dress myself like a woman and wore jewelry and a scarf on my head. I would perform arati with my head covered. Had I not, how could I have kept my wife with me for eight months? Both of us were the maid companions of the Divine Mother!
“I couldn’t say that I was a male. One day I was in an ecstatic state when she [the Holy Mother] asked me, ‘How do you think of me?’ I replied, ‘As the All-blissful Mother.’
“There is a sect which believes that whoever has breasts like a woman is a woman. Arjuna and Krishna did not have womanly breasts. Do you know the attitude in which Shiva is worshipped? The worship of the Shivalinga (the emblem of Shiva) is the worship of Mother’s genital organ and that of the Father. When a devotee worships it, he prays, ‘Lord, please grant that I am not born again. That I may not again have to pass through a mother’s womb after the union of semen and blood.’ ”
Sadhana in the company of women – Sri Ramakrishna prohibits it again and again
Sri Ramakrishna is talking of the feminine attitude. Priya Mukherji, M. and some other devotees are there. In the meantime a tutor from Tagore’s family comes in with a number of boys of Devendra Nath Tagore’s family.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — Sri Krishna has a peacock feather on his head. The feather bears the emblem of the female sex. It means that Sri Krishna is carrying Prakriti on his head.
“When Krishna danced with the gopis, he assumed the attitude of a woman (prakriti). That is why he is seen dressed as a woman in the rasa. If you don’t have the feminine attitude, you have no right to be in the company of women. Only when one assumes the feminine attitude, can one participate in rasa and enjoy women’s company. However, the sadhaka (aspirant) must be very cautious. He should remain far away from women. He should not associate frequently even with a woman of great devotion. When you are climbing up onto the roof, you must not sway. If you are unsteady, there is a danger of falling. The weak should hold onto a support when they climb.
“But it is different in the state of a siddha (man of spiritual perfection). There is no danger after one has attained Bhagavan’s vision. One becomes fearless to a great extent. Once you have reached the roof, you have reached the goal; you can dance there. But you must not dance on the steps. And he who has climbed up to the roof, no longer needs to renounce what he formerly renounced. The roof is made of bricks, lime and brick dust; the steps are made of the same material. After the vision of Bhagavan, one realizes that the body of the woman about whom he had to be so cautious is the body of Bhagavati (Mother of the Universe). Thereafter he worships her as the Mother and there is no great risk of falling.
“One mustn’t forget that when you have once touched the Grand-dame (in the game of hide and seek), you are free to do what you like.”
The yoga of dhyana (meditation) and Sri Ramakrishna – looking outwardly and inwardly
“When a man’s mind is turned outward, he sees the gross and his mind dwells in the annamaya kosha. Next is the subtle body. When the mind functions in the subtle body, it dwells in the manomaya kosha and vijnanamaya kosha. Next comes the karana (casual) body. When the mind goes to the causal body, there is only bliss – the mind dwells in the anandamaya kosha. It is the same as the semiconscious state of Chaitanya Deva.
“Next the mind is merged – it vanishes – in Mahakarana (the Great Cause). When the mind vanishes, there is no more news of it. This is the inmost state which Chaitanya Deva experienced.
“Do you know what that inmost state is? Sri Dayananda said, ‘Come into the inner apartment and shut the door!’ But not everybody can go inside the inner apartment.
“I used to correlate this with the flame of a lamp. I would think of the flame’s red colour as gross. The white inner part, I would think of as subtle. And the innermost black part, I named the karana (body of ecstasy).
“There are signs that one is meditating correctly. One of the signs is that a bird will sit on your head, thinking you are an inert object.”
His earlier story – first meeting with Keshab in 1864, Keshab in meditation – one can also meditate with eyes open
“I saw Keshab for the first time in Adi (Brahmo) Samaj. Several people were sitting on the dais. Keshab was in the middle. He was motionless, like a log of wood. I said to Mathur Babu, ‘Look at his float. The fish has eaten the bait!’ Because of his power of meditation, all that he desired (name and fame etc.), whatever power he had attained, was by God’s grace.
“One can also meditate with eyes open. And it is also possible while talking. Imagine the painful twinge of a toothache!”
The Tutor from the house of Tagore — Yes sir, I know it quite well. (Laughter.)
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — When you have a toothache, you attend to all your duties but your mind remains attached to the toothache. In similar fashion, you can meditate with your eyes open – and also while talking.
The Tutor — God’s name is the redeemer of the fallen, so I feel reassured. He is compassionate.
His earlier story – conversation with the Sikhs and Krishnadas
Sri Ramakrishna — The Sikhs also said that God was merciful. I asked them, ‘How is He merciful?’ They answered, ‘Why Maharaj, God has created us as human beings. He provides us with everything, and He protects us from danger at every step.’ I rejoined, ‘How is He great to create us, rear us and then feed us? If you have a son, will people from Vamanpara look after him?’
The Tutor — Sir, some people succeed spiritually in no time, while others do not. How do you explain that?
Dispassion of Lala Babu and Rani Bhavani – sattva guna results from samskaras
Sri Ramakrishna — You know, one succeeds spiritually to a large extent as the result of the samskaras of the previous life. But people think it takes place all of a sudden.
“Somebody drank a bottle of wine in the morning. He began to stagger and behave like a mad man. People were surprised that a bottle should turn one’s head so much. Then somebody said, ‘Let me tell you, he has been drinking the whole night.’
“Hanuman set fire to the golden city of Lanka. People were amazed that a monkey could burn the whole city. But later they said that it was the sigh of Sita and the wrath of Rama which burnt everything.
“And then look at Lala Babu, a very wealthy man. Unless one has good samskaras from a previous birth, can one have such dispassion as Lala Babu? And Rani Bhavani! Though a woman, she possessed such spiritual knowledge and love of God!”
Rajas in Krishnadas – for the good of the world
“In one’s last birth one is endowed with sattva guna and one’s mind is attached to Bhagavan. One feels a deep longing for Him and the mind rejects worldly experiences.
“Krishnadas Pal came here. I saw that he had rajas prominent in him. Since he was a Hindu, he took his shoes off outside. After a short conversation with him, I realized that there was not much substance in him. I asked him what he thought the duty of a man was. He said, ‘Doing good to the world.’ I said, ‘Who are you that you can do good to the world? Is the world so small that you can do good to it?’ ”
Thakur is overjoyed to see Narayan. He makes him sit beside him on the smaller cot and pats him affectionately. He gives him some sweets to eat and says lovingly, “Will you have some water?” Narayan is a student at M.’s school. At home he was beaten for visiting Thakur. Thakur says tenderly to him with a smile, “Get a long leather jacket made for yourself. Then you won’t feel the blows.”
Thakur says to Harish, “I would like to smoke the hubble-bubble.”
Thakur forbids spiritual practice with women companions as in Ghoshpara again and again
And then addressing Narayan, he says, “The adopted mother of Haripada came here. I warned Haripada about her. She belongs to the Ghoshpara sect. I asked her, “Have you found your supporter [man]?” She said, “Yes, so and so Chakravarti.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — Oh! Nilkantha came that day. What a spiritual mood he was in! He said that he would come again and sing. Today they are dancing over there. Please go and have a look. (To Ramlal) There is no oil. (Peeps into the container) No, there is no oil in the container.
Union of Purusha and Prakriti – who were Radha and Krishna? Adyashakti
Vedantavagish, Dayananda Saraswati, Col. Olcott, Surendra and Narayan
Sri Ramakrishna is now pacing back and forth – from inside his room to the southern verandah. Next he goes to the western semi-circular verandah to have a glimpse of the Ganges.
Effect of good and bad environment: images, trees and young boys
After awhile he sits down on the smaller cot. It is three o’clock. The devotees come in and sit down again on the floor. Thakur sits silent on the smaller cot. From time to time he glances at the wall of the room where a number of pictures hang. To his right is the picture of Goddess Vinapani (Saraswati) and close by, the picture of Nitai and Gaur singing devotional songs with devotees. In front of Thakur, there are the pictures of Dhruva, Prahlada, and an image of Mother Kali. To his right on the wall is the image of Mother Rajarajeshvari, and on the back wall that of Jesus raising the drowning Peter. Suddenly Thakur says to M., “Look here, it is good to keep the picture of sadhus and sannyasins in the room. When you wake up in the morning, it is good to see the face of a sadhu or a sannyasin instead of other people. To have English pictures on the wall – pictures of rich men, or a king, or a queen, or a prince, or a European couple strolling together – give rise to rajas.”
“The company you keep makes your character. That is why even pictures influence you. After all, birds of a feather flock together. A paramahamsa keeps a few boys with him. He allows boys five or six years old to be near him. In the state of a paramahamsa, one likes the company of children. Children are not subject to the gunas – sattva, rajas, or tamas.
“When you see a tree, you are reminded of a hermitage where rishis practice austerities.”
A brahmin from Sinthi enters the room. He salutes Thakur. He has studied Vedanta in Kashi.
Sri Ramakrishna — How do you do? It’s been a long time since you have come to visit.
The Pundit (smiling) — Household duties, sir. And you know well that it is hard to find time.
The pundit sits down and talks to Thakur.
Sri Ramakrishna — You were in Kashi for a long time. Tell me what you saw there. Tell me something about Dayananda.
The Pundit — I did meet Dayananda. You also met him.
Sri Ramakrishna — I went to meet him in a garden on the other side of the Ganges. Keshab Sen was supposed to come that day and he was very eager to meet Keshab – like a chatak bird anxious for a drop of rainwater. He is a great scholar. He made fun of the Bengali language, calling it ‘Gauranga Bhasha’ (language of Gaur.) He believes in gods but Keshab didn’t. Dayananda said, ‘God has created so many things, can He not create gods as well?’ But he believed in the formless God too. When Captain repeated the name of Rama, Dayananda said, ‘You could just as well have repeated sandesh, sandesh.’
The Pundit — Religious scholars had long discussions with Dayananda in Kashi. At the end, all of them stood against him. The discussion rose to such a pitch that he had to flee to save himself. All of them shouted with one voice: ‘Despise what Dayananda said!’
Sri Ramakrishna and Theosophy – do Theosophists yearningly seek the Lord?
(The Pundit continues) “I also met Colonel Olcott. He says that each one is a great soul. And that there exist the regions of the moon, the sun and the stars – that the subtle body can go to these regions. He talked about such other things. Well sir, how do you find Theosophy?”
Sri Ramakrishna — Bhakti is the one thing needed – love for the Lord. Do they (the Theosophists) seek bhakti? If so, it is good. If their ideal is God-realization, it is good. Just by believing in the lunar, the solar and the stellar regions, and in great souls, does not mean that one is seeking the Lord. One should practice spiritual disciplines to gain bhakti for His lotus feet; one must call for Him with a longing heart.
Saying so, Sri Ramakrishna begins to sing a song of Ramprasad.
How can you, O my mind, know God, groping as you are like a mad man in a dark room?
He can be grasped only through ecstatic love; it is impossible to grasp Him otherwise.
The great yogi communes with God from age to age to attain ecstatic love.
As soon as love arises, He draws the soul as a magnet draws a piece of iron.
“God is not to be found in any religious text, philosophy, or in the Vedanta. You will not succeed unless you are restless for Him.”
Neither through the Vedas, the Tantras, nor the six systems of philosophy can you know Him.
He is adroit in the bliss of divine love and dwells within as everlasting joy.
“You need to have deep longing for God. Listen to this song.”
Can everybody have the vision of Radha?
Avatars also engage in sadhana to serve as examples to mankind – God-realization is possible only through sadhana
“Sadhana (spiritual disciplines) is essential. Can one see the Lord quickly, without any effort?
“Somebody asked, ‘Why can’t I have the vision of the Lord?’ The answer to his question came to my mind. ‘If you want to catch a big fish, I said to him, ‘you have to make arrangements for it. First prepare the bait and take the rod and line in your hand. At the smell of the bait, fish will come up from deep waters. The movement of the water will show that a big fish is coming.’
“If you want to eat butter, how will it help you to go on repeating, ‘There is butter in the milk.’ You will have to work hard churning the milk to get the butter. You can’t have the vision of the Lord just by repeating that the Lord exists. You have to practice sadhana.
“Even Bhagavati (the Mother of the Universe) practiced penance seated on five skulls to serve as an example to mankind. Sri Krishna was the Supreme Brahman Himself. He also performed austerities for the instruction of mankind after he found the Radhayantra.”
Radha indeed is the Primeval Power and Prakriti – Purusha and Prakriti – Brahman and His Power are inseparable
“Sri Krishna is Purusha and Radha is Prakriti. She is the Chitshakti, the Primeval Power. Radha is Prakriti endowed with the three gunas. She embodies the qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. It is like peeling an onion. At first its skin is dark red, then lighter red, and inside it is white. The Vaishnava scripture talks of ‘Kam-Radha’, ‘Prem-Radha’ and ‘Nitya-Radha’. Chandravali was ‘Kam-Radha’, Srimati (another name of Radha) was ‘Prem-Radha’ and Nanda had the vision of ‘Nitya-Radha’ with Gopal (baby Krishna) in her lap.
“The Chitshakti and Brahman of Vedanta are identical – like water and its wetness. The moment you think of the wetness of water, you are reminded of water. And the moment you think of water, you must think of its wetness. Take the example of the snake and its wriggling movement. The moment you think of the serpentine movement, you are reminded of the snake. When do I call Him Brahman? When He is inactive and unattached to work. A man may put on clothes, yet he remains the same man as when he was naked. He was naked, now he is clothed. He may again take off his clothes. The snake has poison inside, but it does not affect the snake. It is poison only for him who is bitten by the snake. Brahman Himself is unattached to work.
“Prakriti shows its grandeur where there is name and form. Sita said to Hanuman, ‘Dear child, I, myself, am Rama in one form and Sita in another. I, myself, am Indra – and also Indrani in another form. I am Brahma in one form and Brahmani in the other. Similarly, I am Rudra in one form and Rudrani in another.’ All names and forms are the manifestation of the power of Chitshakti. Indeed, it manifests itself everywhere –in meditation as well as in the one who meditates. As long as I am conscious that I am meditating, I am in Her jurisdiction. (To M.) You must internalize all this. You must hear the Veda and the Purana and carry out what they instruct.
(To the Pundit) “It is good to associate with sadhus every now and then. Man always suffers from the disease of worldliness. The company of sadhus mitigates it to a large extent.”
Instruction to Vedantavagish: associate with sadhus; none is mine; attitude of a servant
“I and mine! Jnana (spiritual wisdom) is the belief: ‘Oh, Lord, it is You who do everything. Only You are my own. Besides, all these – home, family, near and dear ones, friends and the whole universe – all are Yours. Indeed, everything is Yours.’ And ajnana (nescience) is the belief: ‘I do all this; I am the doer. It is my home, my family, my sons, my friends and all worldly activities.’
“A guru was explaining to his disciple that only the Lord was his own and none else really belonged to him. The disciple said, ‘Sir, my mother and my wife have so much love for me. If they don’t see me, it is all darkness for them. Oh, how they love me!’ The guru said, ‘You are mistaken. Let me show you that none of these is yours. Take some of these pills with you. Swallow them when you go home and lie down. People will think that you are dead, but you will remain conscious of the external world. You will be able to see and hear everything. Then I will visit your home.’
“The disciple did as he was instructed. As soon as he reached home, he swallowed the pills and lay down. He appeared unconscious. His mother, his wife, and other members of the family began to wail. Just then his guru arrived in the guise of a physician. When they told him why they were grieving, he said, ‘There is medicine for it. It will bring him back to life and he will get up. But let me tell you that my medicine first has to be taken by one of his relatives before it is given to him. The person who swallows it will die first. You are all here: mother, wife and so on. I am very sure that one of you will take the pill and save the young man.’
“The disciple heard all this. First the physician called the mother who was wallowing in grief. He said, ‘Mother, no more wailing for you. Just take this medicine and your son will be saved. But you will die.’ The mother took the pills in her hand and began to think about it. After a great deal of reflection, she cried, ‘My son, I have other sons and daughters! I am wondering what will happen to them if I die! Who will look after them and feed them?’ Next the physician called the wife and gave her the medicine. The wife was also weeping bitterly. She took the medicine in her hand. She had heard that she would die if she took it. With tears in her eyes, she said, ‘I say, he has already met his destiny. Tell me, what will happen to my little children? Who will protect them? How can I take this medicine?’ By this time, the disciple had recovered from the effects of the medicine. He had understood that nobody was really his own. He immediately got up and left with his guru. The guru said to him, ‘There is none but the Lord who is your own.’
“So the right thing is to act upon that which endears Him to you, that which develops bhakti for His lotus feet. You see, this world is ephemeral. There is no real stuff in it.”
The householder cannot renounce completely – jnana cannot enter the inner apartments, but bhakti can
The Pundit (smiling) — Sir, I feel total dispassion (vairagya) when I come here and see you. I feel like going away and leaving the world.
Sri Ramakrishna — No, why renounce? You people should renounce the world mentally. Live in your household with a spirit of non-attachment.
“Surendra brought his bedding, intending to stay here from time to time. For one or two days, he did come and stay. Then his wife said to him, ‘You may go wherever you like during the day but at night you must not leave home.’ Surendra was helpless – he could not spend the night away from his home!’
“And look here, it is futile to just reason. Be restless for Him and learn to love Him. Reasoning and jnana are like men who can only enter the outer rooms. But bhakti is like women who can go into the inner apartments.
“You have to establish a specific kind of relationship with the Lord to attain Him. Sanaka and other rishis nurtured the shanta (peaceful) attitude, while Hanuman had the dasa (servant) attitude. Sridama, Sudama and the cowboys of Braja took up the sakhya attitude (of a friend), while Yashoda had the vatsalya (filial) attitude – she took the Lord as her son. Srimati (Radha) took up the madhura attitude (that of a sweetheart).
“Oh, God! You are the Lord, I am your servant. This bhava is the dasa (servant) attitude. It is a very good attitude for a spiritual aspirant.”
Pundit — Yes, Sir.
Instructions to Ishan – Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga – signs of jnana
The Pundit from Sinthi has gone. Twilight is fast approaching. Music for the arati begins in the Kali Temple. Thakur bows before the pictures of the deities. He sits on the smaller cot, preoccupied with some thought. A number of devotees come in again and sit on the floor. There is silence in the room.
An hour has elapsed when Ishan Mukherji and Kishori arrive. They salute Thakur and take their seats. Ishan is very fond of rituals like purashcharana described in the holy books. He is a Karma Yogi. Thakur now talks.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is no use repeating, ‘Jnana, jnana.’ There are two signs that mark the attainment of spiritual knowledge. One is anuraga, that is, love for God. You may reason and discuss, but if you have no love for the Lord, no devotion for Him, it is all futile. The second sign is the awakening of the Kundalini power. As long as the Kundalini lies dormant, one does not gain jnana. You may read book after book and reason them out but have no restlessness for God. That is not a sign of jnana.
“When the Kundalini power awakens, one experiences bhava (ecstasy), bhakti and prema (intense love for God). This is called Bhakti Yoga.
“Karma Yoga is an extremely difficult path. By practicing Karma Yoga, one gains many occult powers – power to perform miracles.”
Ishan — I am going to meet Hazra Mahashay.
Thakur remains silent. After awhile Ishan returns to the room, accompanied by Hazra. Thakur is still seated silently. After awhile Hazra says to Ishan, “Let’s go. He is going to meditate.” Both Ishan and Hazra leave.
Thakur is still seated silently. Shortly he begins to meditate. He counts japa on his fingers, then he touches his fingertips first to the top of his head, then to his forehead, his throat, his heart and lastly his navel.
Is he meditating on the Primeval Power through the six spiritual centres? Is this the communion with God talked about in the Shiva Samhita and other holy texts?
The path of nivritti – karma falls off after God-realization
Instructions to Ishan: arise and awake – path of Karma Yoga is extremely difficult
Ishan goes to the Kali Temple with Hazra. Thakur has been meditating. It is about 7.30 p.m. Just then Adhar comes in.
After awhile Thakur goes for the darshan of Mother Kali. After Her darshan he picks up some flowers offered at the feet of the deity and brings them to touch his forehead. Next he pays obeisance to the Mother, circumambulates round Her and fans Her with the chamara. He is filled with divine emotion. Coming out of the shrine, he sees Ishan performing sandhya with koshakushi.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ishan) — Are you still here? Have you been performing evening worship? Listen to this song.
Filled with divine emotion Sri Ramakrishna sits beside Ishan and sings in a sweet voice –
What need of going to the Ganges, Prabhas, Kashi, Kanchi if the lips can utter ‘Kali, Kali’ when my life ebbs away?
He who utters Kali in all the three sandhyas needs no daily ritualistic worship.
Worship itself follows his footsteps but can never overtake him.
Charity, kindness and vows no longer appeal to him.
For Madan, the poet, all worship means the red feet of the Blissful Mother.
Who can know the qualities of the holy name of Kali,
The praises of which are sung by the God of gods, Mahadeva Himself?
“How long does one have to perform evening worship and other rituals? As long as one does not develop bhakti for His lotus feet, as long as the eyes do not fill with tears while repeating His name, and as long as the hair of one’s body does not stand on end.”
Says Ramprasad: Knowing the truth that Kali is the Supreme Brahman, I bowed before both bhakti and salvation and gave up all ideas of what dharma and adharma are.
“The blossom falls off as soon as the fruit appears. When one develops bhakti, when one attains the Lord, sandhya and other rituals fall off.
“When the daughter-in-law of the house is pregnant, the mother-in-law gradually frees her from work. When she has been pregnant for nine months, her mother-in-law does not allow her to work at all. When the infant is born, the mother only attends to it, taking it in her lap. She doesn’t have to attend to any other work. Similarly, when one has attained the Lord, one gives up rituals like sandhya.
“By leisurely playing the drum at a slow beat, you cannot attain much. A deep dispassion (vairagya) is needed. Stretching the year to fourteen months is futile. It seems you have no firm determination, no grit. You are like flattened rice soaked in milk. Be up and doing! Gird your loins!
“That is why I don’t like the song, ‘Fasten thyself to Hari, O Brother. You will sooner or later succeed.’ I don’t like this ‘you will sooner or later succeed’. I want deep dispassion. I say the same to Hazra.”
Sri Ramakrishna and principle of yoga – ‘lust and greed’ are impediments to yoga
“You ask me why you don’t develop deep dispassion. There is a reason for it. You have a strong desire for sense enjoyments, your mind is filled with pravritti. I say the same to Hazra. In the countryside before they bring water to the fields, they make mud ridges on all four sides of the field so that water can’t flow out. They are mud ridges, but they have water outlets here and there. There are holes. Water is brought with full force to the field, but it goes out through the holes. Our desires are like these holes, outlets. You maybe practicing japa (repetition of God’s name) and austerities, but at the back of your mind, you have desires for sense enjoyments. From the outlets of desire, everything leaks out.
“One catches fish with a bamboo trap. Ordinarily bamboo is straight, but when bent to the ground, it acts as a fish trap. Desire for sense enjoyments is the fish, so the mind remains bent toward the world. If there is no desire, the mind naturally orients itself upwards, toward the Lord.
“Do you know how it is? Like the needles of a scale. Because of the weight of ‘lust and greed,’ the upper needle does not align itself with the lower needle. Thus one strays from the path of yoga. Haven’t you seen the flame of a lamp? It flickers by just a puff of air. The state of yoga is like the flame of the lamp where there is no wind.
“Our mind is spread out in different directions. A part of it has reached Dacca, a part Delhi and another part Coochbehar. You have to collect this mind and concentrate it to a point. If you want a cloth worth sixteen annas, you have to pay this amount to the cloth merchant. Even if there is a slight obstacle, yoga is not possible. If the telegraph wire is broken, howsoever small the break maybe, it will not convey your message.”
Trailokya and the power of faith – work without expectation of reward – compel yourself to say: You are My Mother
“You are living a householder’s life. What harm is there in that? But one has to surrender the fruit of one’s actions completely to the Lord. One must not expect any reward whatsoever.
“Even so, the fact is that the desire for bhakti is not to be counted as desire. It is all right to desire bhakti and to pray for it.
“You have to employ the tamas of bhakti. You must force the Mother.”
The lawsuit between the Mother and the son shall gain great momentum, says Ramprasad.
I shall only lie restfully when the Mother, having pardoned me, raises me in Her arms.
“Trailokya once said, ‘As I have taken birth in her family, I have a right to her property.’
“I say, you have your own Mother. She is no artificial Mother, She is not even a godmother. Whom can you force, if not Her? Just say –
Mother, am I a prematurely born child of weak constitution? I am not afraid of Your red angry eyes!
This time I am going to file a suit in the court of Srinath (Shiva) and I will be awarded the decree on just one point.
“She is your own Mother. Compel Her! If you are a part of someone, you are also attracted by him. Because I am a part of the Divine Mother, She attracts me. He who is a genuine worshipper of Shiva receives a portion of Shiva. Some of Shiva’s characteristics enter into him. He who is a genuine Vaishnava is endowed with some of elements of Narayana. Besides, you have no worldly duties now. Take to meditation for some days. You have seen that there is no real substance in the world.”
Thakur sings in his sweet, melodious voice –
O my mind, just think it over. Nobody really belongs to anyone in the world. There is mere illusion in the world.
Don’t forget the Dakshina Mother Kali by getting ensnared in Her maya.
It is just for two or three days that people call you the lord, the master.
They will cease to call you the master when the Master in the form of death arrives.
Just think it over. Will your friends and relatives accompany you when you are dying?
This beloved wife of yours will sprinkle Ganges water on you to evade evil.
Arbitration, leadership, desire to build hospitals and dispensaries, desire to have fame and learning – all these mark the early stages of life – God-realization after giving up the pacifier
“What are you doing as the leader, arbitrator and such things? I hear that they select you as their arbitrator to settle their disputes and quarrels. You have been doing this for a long time. Let them who care to do it, do it. Now give more and more of your mind to God’s lotus feet. They say, ‘Ravana died in Lanka while Behula wept her heart out!’
“The same was said by Sambhu. He said, ‘I will found hospitals and dispensaries.’ He was a devotee. So I said to him, ‘Will you ask Bhagavan for hospitals and dispensaries when you have His vision?’
“Keshab Sen asked me, ‘Why can’t I see the Lord?’ I replied, ‘You are busy with name and fame, scholarship and so on. That’s why you don’t see Him.’ As long as the infant continues to suck on the pacifier, the mother does not come to him. After awhile the infant throws away the pacifier and cries aloud. The mother then takes down the rice pot from the fire and comes to it.
“You are engaged in arbitration. The Mother says to Herself, ‘My son is doing fine as a leader. Let him enjoy himself.’ ”
All this time Ishan has been holding Thakur’s feet. He says humbly to him, still holding his feet, “It is not that I have been doing all this willfully.”
Mahamaya at the root of all desires – that’s why one takes to karmakanda
Sri Ramakrishna — I know, it is the Mother’s game. Her sport indeed! Mahamaya wants to keep everybody bound to the world. You know how it is? “Many boats float on the ocean of the world. How many of them sink!” Again, “Out of a hundred-thousand kites, only one or two have their strings cut through and are thus set free; oh, how then You laugh and clap Your hands!” Similarly, out of a million people, only one or two attain liberation. All the rest remain bound by the Mother’s will.
“Haven’t you seen the game of hide and seek? It is the Grand-dame’s will that the game should continue. If everybody were to touch the Grand-dame, the game would not continue. So the Grand-dame does not want everybody to touch her.
“You see, in large shops big sacks of rice are placed as high as the roof. Besides rice, lentils are also stored there. To save them from mice, the shopkeeper puts some sweetened puffed rice in a straw basket. They taste sweet and have their own smell, so all the mice busy themselves eating from the basket, not knowing about the big sacks. Similarly, man is enchanted with ‘lust and greed’ and does not seek the Lord.”
Sri Ramakrishna has no desire other than devotion to God
Sri Ramakrishna — Rama said to Narada, ‘Please ask me for a boon.’ Narada said, ‘Rama, there is nothing that I need. What boon can I ask for? But if you grant me a boon, please grant that I may have pure love for your lotus feet. And that I may never be deluded by your world-bewitching maya.’ Rama said, ‘Narada, ask for some other boon.’ Narada again said, ‘No, Rama! I don’t want anything else. Only grant that I may have pure love for your lotus feet.’
“I prayed to the Divine Mother, saying –
Mother, I don’t ask for worldly esteem,
I don’t ask for the eight occult powers, Mother.
And, O Mother, I don’t want a hundred powers!
Nor do I ask for creature comforts, Mother.
Only grant, O Mother, that I may gain pure love for Your lotus feet.
“The Adhyatma (Ramayana) says this: Lakshmana asked Rama, ‘Rama, you live in so many bhavas (spiritual states) and aspects. On which aspect should I meditate?’ Rama said, ‘Brother! Know it for certain that wherever you find urjita (ecstatic, deep) bhakti, my presence is there.’ In urjita bhakti one laughs, weeps, dances and sings. If you see such bhakti developed in a person, know for certain that the Lord has manifested in him. Chaitanya Deva reached that state.
The devotees listen to Thakur, speechless with wonder. They hear all these words as if there was a celestial message from above. Some of them say to themselves, “Sri Ramakrishna says, ‘One laughs, weeps, dances and sings in ecstatic love.’ But it is not that only Chaitanya Deva had reached this state. Thakur also has this very state. Does it mean then that the Lord Himself has manifested here at this spot?”
Thakur continues to shower his nectarine words – words relating to the path of nivritti. He continues what he has been telling Ishan in his deep serious voice.
Ishan must beware of sycophants – Sri Ramakrishna and doing good to the world
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ishan) — Don’t let flatterers deceive you. Flatterers gather around a worldly man.
“Vultures gather where they find the carcass of a dead cow.”
The worldly teach observance of rituals but the all-renouncing ones instruct contemplation on the lotus feet of the Lord
“There is no real substance in worldly people. They are like a heap of cow dung. Flatterers come to them and say, ‘You are so generous and wise. You are so devout.’ These are not just words, but bamboo sticks thrust at them. What folly! So many householders keep the company of brahmins and pundits day and night just to hear their flattery!
“Worldly men are slaves of these three: They are the slaves to their wives, to money, and to their masters. What real substance do they have in themselves? A certain person, I shall not name, earns eight hundred rupees a month. But he is a slave to his wife. He rises when she orders him to rise, and he sits down at her bidding.
“What is the use of being a leader, or an arbitrator? You have engaged yourself in enough acts of kindness and welfare work. It is quite another class of people who engage in such activities. It is the time for you to give your mind to the lotus feet of the Lord. Attaining Him, nothing remains to be attained. God comes first. Acts of kindness, welfare work, doing good to the world, emancipating mankind – all these are secondary. Why worry about them?”
“Ravana died in Lanka while Behula wept her heart out!
“It is the same with you. It would be nice if an all-renouncing person imparts to you spiritual instructions. But it would not be right to take the advice of a worldly man, whether he be a brahmin, a pundit, or anybody else.”
Ishan be inebriated – this is the Mother’s instruction
“Be inebriated! Be mad in the ecstatic love of the Lord! Let people say that Ishan has gone mad and that he cannot attend to anything now. When you become inebriated in this way, they will not approach you for leadership, or arbitration. Throw away your koshakushi (utensils for ritualistic worship). Live up to the name of Ishan (an appellation of Shiva).”
Ishan — “O Mother, make me mad with Thy love. What need have I of knowledge or reason?”
Sri Ramakrishna — Madness – or otherwise? Shivanath said, ‘Too much contemplation on the Lord makes one lose one’s head.’ I rejoined, ‘What do you mean? Can one ever become unconscious by thinking of Consciousness? He is the nature of Eternity, Purity and Consciousness, through whose power of perception one perceives everything and through whose Consciousness all is made conscious.’ He said that it happened to Mr. Kirni – too much contemplation had made him go insane. This is possible since these people dwell on worldly matters. A line in a song says, ‘Such thoughts have filled the body and driven out jnana.’ The jnana that is talked of here means the knowledge of the external.
With his hands touching the feet of Sri Ramakrishna, Ishan sits there listening to all his words. He casts his glance now and then on the stone image of Kali in the middle of the temple. In the light of the earthen lamps, the Mother is as if smiling, manifesting Herself within the image. She seems happy to be hearing the Veda-like mantra of Sri Ramakrishna in a physical form.
Ishan (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Everything that you have said with your holy lips is coming from there.
Sri Ramakrishna — I am an instrument, She is the Being who uses the instrument; I am the house and She the dweller; I am the chariot while She is the charioteer; I move the way She drives me; I speak the way She makes me speak.
“In the Kaliyuga (age of Kali) one does not hear celestial voices from above. But She certainly talks through the lips of a child, or a mad person.
“No person can become a guru. Everything happens by the will of the Lord. When His grace dawns, the vilest sin, a long-lasting sin, or long-lasting ignorance is dispelled in a moment.
“When a light is suddenly brought into a room that was dark for a thousand years, does the darkness vanish little by little, or does it disappear instantly? Surely, the moment the light is brought in, all darkness is dispelled.
“What can a man do? He can talk a great deal – but eventually everything rests with the Lord. It is like the lawyer, who says, ‘I have said all I have to say. The rest is in the hands of the judge.’
“Brahman is inactive. When, however, He creates, preserves and dissolves, or performs any activity, He is called Adyashakti (Primeval Power). We have to please this Adyashakti. Don’t you know what the Chandi says? The gods sang a hymn in praise of Adyashakti, for it is only when She is pleased that Hari will wake up from His slumber of yoga.”
Ishan — Yes, sir. Brahma and other gods sang this hymn of praise at the time of the slaying of Madhu and Kaitabha (the two demons).
Mother, You are the mystic words ‘Svaha’ and ‘Vashat’ uttered while performing homa and yajna. You are Svadha, the mystic word, uttered during observance of shraddha.
You are the inmost Self of the mantra. You are the nectar of immortality. O Everlasting One, You are the three lengths of time for pronouncing a vowel sound.
And You are eternal and unutterable. You are especially manifest in the half matra (consonant).
O Goddess, You are Savitri, the Primeval Mother. You created the universe, and it is supported by You. You are sustaining it and ultimately You will devour it.
You, the embodiment of the universe, are the creator while creating it, the preserver in sustaining it, and at the end, You are the destroyer during its dissolution.
Sri Ramakrishna and karmakanda – karmakanda is hard, so the path of Bhakti Yoga is more suitable
The devotees are seated all around Sri Ramakrishna in front of the Kali Temple. Speechless with wonder, they have been listening to the words issuing from the holy lips of Thakur.
Now Thakur rises. He comes to the platform before the temple and offers obeisance by prostrating himself to the Mother. All devotees immediately come to him and lie on the ground at his feet. They all seek the dust of his feet. When they have made salutations at his feet, Thakur comes down from the platform and, accompanied by M., talks to him as he goes toward his room.
Sri Ramakrishna (singing, to M.) —
Says Ramprasad: Knowing the truth that Kali is the Supreme Brahman, I bowed before both bhakti and salvation and gave up all idea of what is dharma and what is non-dharma.
“Do you know what dharma and non-dharma are? Dharma means ritualistic religion. For example, giving away in charity, performing shraddha, feeding the indigent and so on.
“This kind of dharma is known as karmakanda. It is an extremely difficult path. It is very difficult to perform nishkama karma. So one is asked to pursue the path of bhakti.
“Somebody observed shraddha in his house. A number of people were partaking of the feast. A butcher was taking a cow to slaughter. The cow was so hard to control that the butcher was completely out of breath. It occurred to him, ‘Why not eat with these people partaking of the shraddha feast? After eating, I can force the cow away.’ He did so – but when he slaughtered the cow, the fellow who had arranged that shraddha feast incurred the sin of slaughtering a cow.
“So I say, the path of bhakti is better than karmakanda.”
Thakur enters his room accompanied by M. He is humming a tune. What he had just been saying about the path of nivritti (non-worldliness) is expressed in the tune. Thakur is humming the lines –
At the end, Mother, may I just have a garland of bones and a pot of hemp.
Thakur sits on the smaller cot. Adhar, Kishori and other devotees enter and sit on the floor.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — I saw Ishan. There was no marked spiritual progress in him. What do you think? He performed purashcharana for five months. It would have brought a lot of change in any other person.
Adhar — It was not right to have said all those things to him in our presence.
Sri Ramakrishna — What are you saying? He is a man of great japa! How can words affect him?
After awhile Thakur says to Adhar, “Ishan is a very benevolent person. Besides, he performs so much japa and austerities.”
Thakur is silent for awhile. The devotees, sitting on the floor, look at him intently.
Suddenly Thakur refers to Adhar, “You have both, yoga and bhoga.”
 A measure of unit equivalent to 320 sq. cubits
 Baby Krishna
 Mendicant minstrels of Vaishnava sect
 Motherhood (or Shakti) and Fatherhood (or Brahman)
 Female principle of God
 Festival of dancing of Krishna with Radha and the gopis
 Meaning people from another part of town; it is an another locality
 Lala Babu, the pride of Bengal, was Krishna Chandra Singh of Pikepara. He developed dispassion (vairagya) in his youth. He had an estate yielding seven lakhs of rupees annually. At the age of thirty, he renounced all his possessions and went to live in Mathura. In his fortieth year, he took to the life of holy begging. He died at the age of forty-two. His wife, Rani Katyayani, was childless. His guru was Krishnadas Babaji, the translator of Bhaktamala into Bengali.
 Tendencies inherited from one’s past births
 Qualities that lead Godward
 Qualities that cause action, which in turn pull the mind away from God
Dayananda Saraswati (1824 -1883). He was in Ananda Bagh in Kashi in 1869 holding discussions. From December 1872 to March 1873, he stayed in Tagore’s Pramod garden house in Nainal Bagan in Calcutta. It was then Sri Ramakrishna, Keshab and Captain met him. Perhaps Captain also met Thakur during that time.
 For complete song, refer Section XII, Chapter 3 of this volume
 It is the mystic diagram symbolizing Radha
 Male aspect of God
 Female aspect of God
 Power of Divine Consciousness
 Kam-Radha is amorous love; Prem-Radha is pure and ecstatic love and Nitya-Radha, everlasting love. Nanda was the foster father of Sri Krishna.
 Indrani, Brahmani and Rudrani are the consorts of Indra, Brahma and Rudra
 The methodical increase and decrease of the repetition of the holy mantra.
 To see and pay homage
 A fan made of the white hair from the tail of the deer called Chamari
 A kosha is small water container, kushi a small spoon for taking out water from it. Both are usually made of copper and are used in worship.
 At dawn, noon and twilight hour
 Equivalent to one Rupee
 Bestower of happiness and bliss
 Behula was unrelated to Ravana and lived many years later. This saying shows how man gives way to totally irrelevant matters.
 Work; activity
 Behula was unrelated to Ravana and lived many years later. This saying shows how man gives way to totally irrelevant matters
 Svaha and Vashat are mystic syllables uttered while offering oblations gods
 Sacrificial fire
 Svadha is a mystic syllable uttered while offering oblations to ancestors
 A religious ceremony in which meals are offered to the deceased ancestors
 The presiding deity of Om
 Ritualistic work and rites
 Respectful offering and well wishing to departed ancestors
 Work without the expectation of any reward
 Hemp and a necklace of bones are characteristics of Shiva, the embodiment of renunciation
 Communion with God
 Desire of sense enjoyments
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