Sri Ramakrishna arrives at a Devotee’s House in Calcutta – Festivity at Girish Ghosh’s House
Sri Ramakrishna at Balaram’s house with his intimate disciples
Narendra, M., Jogin, Baburam, Ram, Bhavanath, Balaram and Chunilal
24 April, 1885, Friday, the 10th day of the bright fortnight of the month of Vaishakh. Sri Ramakrishna has come to Calcutta today. About one o’clock, M. sees him sleeping in Balaram’s drawing room. One or two devotees are also resting close to him.
Sitting beside him, M. gazes at the sleeping childlike figure. He says to himself, “What a wonder! He is such a great saint and even he is lying overcome by sleep like a common man. He, too, has assumed the nature of a human being.”
M. gently fans him. After some time, Sri Ramakrishna’s sleep breaks. He sits up, his clothes are disheveled. M. prostrates himself before him and takes the dust of his feet.
First evidence of Sri Ramakrishna’s illness – April 1885
Sri Ramakrishna (affectionately to M.) — How are you? I don’t know, brother, but there is a hard lump in my throat. I felt very uncomfortable early this morning. How can I be cured, brother? (Worried) They made some mango pickle and I ate some of it. (To M.) How is your wife doing? The other day she was looking rather ill. Give her something cold to drink.
M. — Something like coconut milk, Sir?
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, water sweetened with sugar candy will do her good.
M. — I moved back to my parents’ home on Sunday.
Sri Ramakrishna — Very nice! It will be more convenient at your father’s home. Your father and other relatives are there. You won’t have to bother so much about the household.
While talking, Thakur’s mouth becomes dry. Childlike as he is, he asks M., “I feel dryness in my mouth. Do you all feel the same way?”
M. — Jogin babu, does your mouth feel dry?
Jogindra — No. Perhaps he is feeling hot because of the heat.
Jogindra of Ariadaha is an intimate disciple of Thakur. Later, he renounced the world.
Thakur is sitting in disheveled clothes. Some of the devotees laugh.
Sri Ramakrishna — I am sitting like a mother ready to suckle a baby. (All laugh.) Well, my mouth is dry. Should I eat a pear, or a jamrul (a kind of juicy fruit similar to star apple)?
Baburam — Let me get a jamrul for you.
Sri Ramakrishna — You don’t need to go out in the hot sun.
M. is fanning him.
Sri Ramakrishna — Please don’t fan me anymore. You have been doing it for a long time.
M. — But Sir, I am not inconvenienced.
Sri Ramakrishna (tenderly) — Not feeling inconvenienced!
M. is a teacher in a nearby school. Finding a little time after class, he has come to meet Thakur at one o’clock. Now he rises to go back to his school. He takes the dust of Thakur’s feet.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — Are you going back now?
A Devotee — His school isn’t over yet. He has come here during school hours.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — He is like a housewife with seven or eight children. She remains busy night and day with her household chores. But now and then she finds time to come to serve her husband. (All laugh.)
At Balaram’s house in the company of intimate disciples
When M’s school closes at four o’clock, he comes to Balaram Babu’s house. He sees Thakur seated in the outer room with a smile on his face. Knowing that Thakur has arrived, the devotees arrive one by one. The Younger Naren and Ram are there, as is Narendra. M. salutes Thakur and sits down. Because of the lump in his throat, Balaram has sent Thakur soft corn flour pudding on a tray from inside the house.
Sri Ramakrishna (seeing the corn flour pudding, to Narendra) — Oh, this is tasty stuff! A real mouth-watering sweet. Eat, eat it! (All laugh.)
Time has come for Thakur to go to Girish’s house. Girish has arranged a festival to celebrate Thakur’s visit to his home. Thakur is coming down from Balaram’s second level room. He is accompanied by M. and a couple of other devotees. At the entrance porch they see a beggar from western India singing a song. Hearing the name of Rama, Thakur stops. He is facing south. In no time his mind turns inward. He stands there in this bhava for some time. He says to M., “A beautiful tune!” A devotee gives four pice to the beggar.
Thakur enters Bosepara Lane. Laughing, he says to M., “Well, you know what these people say? The rascals say, ‘The Paramahamsa’s battalion is coming!’ ” (All laugh.)
Difference between an avatar and a spiritually perfected man – discussion between Mahima and Girish
Thakur enters Girish’s parlour with the devotees. Girish has invited many devotees.. Most of them are already there. When Thakur arrives, they stand up. He sits down with a smile on his face. The devotees also sit down. Girish, Mahimacharan, Ram, Bhavanath and others are there. A number of devotees have accompanied Thakur, among them Baburam, Jogin, both the Narendras, Chunilal and Balaram.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahimacharan) — Talking about you to Girish, I said, ‘There is a very deep person. You are only knee deep.’ Now please prove that I was right. Argue with one another and do not compromise. (All laugh.)
Mahimacharan and Girish begin a discussion. Soon Ram says, “Stop, stop! Let’s have kirtan instead.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ram) — No, no. This, too, is important. They are Englishmen! Let me see what they say.
Mahimacharan believes that anybody can become Sri Krishna by practicing sadhana. Girish, on the other hand, believes that Sri Krishna was an avatar and however many spiritual disciplines a man may practice, he can never equal an avatar.
Mahimacharan — Do you know what I mean? It is like a bel tree becoming a mango tree if the obstructions are removed. And they can be removed by the practice of yoga.
Girish — You may say whatever you like but this cannot be done by means of yoga or anything else. Only Krishna can become Krishna. If anyone has all the attributes of another person, then he is none other than that person. If someone has the bhava of Radha, she is none other than Radha. So if I see all the attributes of Sri Krishna in somebody, then I will realize that I am seeing Sri Krishna himself.
Mahimacharan cannot carry out the discussion further. At the end he almost agrees with Girish.
Mahimacharan (to Girish) — Yes, both views are true. The path of jnana is by His will and the path of prema bhakti, too, is by His will. As he says, one may take different paths, but one reaches the same destination.
Sri Ramakrishna (aside to Mahima) — Why, is he not right that both views are true?
Mahima — Sir, what he says is right. Both views are correct.
Sri Ramakrishna — Did you notice how great his [Girish’s] faith is? He even forgot to drink water! Had you not agreed to his view, he would have torn your throat like a dog gulps meat. It is nice you had a discussion and have come to know each other. I have also learned a lot from it.
Sri Ramakrishna in the joy of kirtan
The kirtan singer has arrived with his musicians and is seated in the middle of the room. The kirtan begins with a sign from Thakur – he has granted his permission.
Ram (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Please tell us what song you would like to hear.
Sri Ramakrishna — What can I say? (After a short reflection) All right, let it be of love for God.
The musician sings of the attraction incited before the first acquaintance with the lover.
O my Gaur, the jewel among twice-born brahmins,
You chant ‘Radha, Radha’ as you weep and roll on the ground.
Gauranga is chanting Radha’s name with such gusto!
Lo! Ganges of tears flow from his red eyes.
He rolls on the ground again and again.
He utters Radha’s name and faints repeatedly,
His hair stands on end and his voice cracks.
Says Basu, ‘Why is Gaur so restless?’
The kirtan continues. Radha’s friends describe her state when she sees Sri Krishna for the first time on the bank of the Jamuna.
She comes outside her home a hundred times – now in, now out.
Out of tune with everything and breathing deeply, she looks at the kadamba grove.
(Why has Radha become like this?)
Has she neither fear of the elders nor of the wicked? Has she attained some god?
She is ever so restless; she cannot even hold her dress, or her headdress.
She sits, then stands up with a start and her jewels fall off.
She is a princess, young in age, and a virtuous wife as well.
What does she crave, what is in her mind? I don’t know her ways.
It seems she is trying to reach out to the moon.
Says Chandidas, very humbly, ‘She has fallen into Krishna’s trap.’
The kirtan continues. Radha’s sakhis (milkmaid friends) say to her –
Tell us, fair Radha, what is ailing you.
We see you distracted. Why are you tracing on the ground with your toenail?
Your golden countenance has turned pale, your finery has all fallen off.
Both of your eyes are red, your lotus-like face has withered.
O sakhi, why so? Our heart will break if you don’t tell.
Hearing this, young Radha replies: I wish to gaze upon the face of the son of Jadu (Krishna).
The musician sings again. Hearing the sound of the flute ringing, Srimati (Radha) becomes like one mad. Srimati says to her milkmaid friends –
O friend! Who lives in the Kadamba forest? Whose music do I hear?
How has it penetrated through my ears to the heart?
Entering my heart, it has made me forget my duties. I have gone crazy.
My heart is restless, I can hardly breathe, and tears stream down my face.
I wonder who is playing the music.
Without seeing him, my heart is pierced in two and I cannot stay at home.
My soul is yearning for him, I long for his vision.
Says Uddhava Das, ‘You will be revived only when you behold him.’
The music continues. Radha’s soul is yearning for Krishna’s sight. Srimati (Radha) says –
I heard a wondrous sound coming out of the Kadamba grove.
The next day, hearing about him from a minstrel, I was thrilled to my heart.
Another day, O my beloved friend, you uttered the sweet name of Krishna, sweetest of all names.
(Ah! Honey sweet, indeed, is the name of Krishna.)
I heard his virtues being chanted by wise men.
I am a weak and simple girl of the family, having, alas, to bear the sternness of elders.
He is such a lover! His love grows and grows. How can I contain myself?
The more I reflect, the more I am convinced that I cannot survive.
Says Uddhava Das, ‘May somebody tell you how to meet that lover (Krishna).’
Hearing, “Ah! Honey sweet, indeed, is the name of Krishna,” Thakur cannot contain himself. He loses all external consciousness and merges in samadhi. The Younger Naren stands on his right. As he regains a little awareness, he utters, “Krishna, Krishna,” in a sweet voice. His eyes are filled with tears. Slowly he returns to his seat.
The musicians sing again. Vishakha runs out to get a picture of Sri Krishna and places it before Radha. It is a picture of the world-bewitching form. Seeing the picture, Radha says, “I am in this plight since I saw him on the bank of Jamuna. I see the same person in the picture.”
The kirtan continues. Radha chants –
He whom I saw on the bank of the Jamuna, I see in this picture.
He whose name Vishakha spoke is written on the picture.
He whose flute sends out its music is surely the jewel among the joyous.
He whose qualities were narrated by the minstrel, full of ecstatic love, has stolen my heart.
But for him none else is mine.
So saying, Radha fell into a swoon. Her friends raise her up.
Restored to her senses, she says, “Show me him whom I just saw.”
And the friends assure her. So says Ghanashyam Das.
Thakur stands up again. The devotees join him in singing the kirtan.
Behold, the two brothers who shed tears on chanting Hari’s name have come.
They who weep and make others weep, they who ask for prema (ecstatic love) even after receiving blows,
They who are Kanai and Balai of Braja, they who would steal butter in Braja,
They who are indifferent to caste, they who embrace even the lowest of the lowly,
They who are themselves inebriated and who inebriate others,
They who chant Hari’s name though they are none other than Hari Himself,
They who redeemed Jagai and Madhai, they who don’t distinguish between a friend and a stranger,
These two brothers, Gaur and Nitai, have come to redeem humanity.
Behold, the whole of Nadia is shaking under the waves of the divine love of Gaur!
Thakur again goes into samadhi. Gaining outer consciousness, he sits down again.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — I don’t remember which way I was facing.
Narendra and Sri Ramakrishna – conversation about Hazra – Narayana in the form of a deceitful person
Sri Ramakrishna resumes the conversation after he comes down from ecstasy.
Narendra (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Hazra has now become a good man.
Sri Ramakrishna — You don’t know. There are people who hide a brick under their armpit to strike others and repeat Rama on their lips.
Narendra — No sir, I asked him all about everything. He has denied it.
Sri Ramakrishna — He has single-minded devotion. He performs some japa and austerities. But he is a man who doesn’t pay fare to the coachman.
Narendra — No sir, he says he paid…
Sri Ramakrishna — Where did he get the money?
Narendra — Perhaps he got it from Ramlal – or some other person.
Sri Ramakrishna — Did you ask him about all these things?
“I prayed to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, if Hazra is a deceitful person, please remove him from here.’ And I told Hazra about it. After a few days he came and said to me, ‘See, I am still living here.’ (Thakur and the others all laugh.) But later he did leave.
“Hazra’s mother sent me a message through Ramlal, ‘Will Ramlal’s uncle [Sri Ramakrishna] please send Hazra back home? I have cried so much that I have gone blind.’ I tried to persuade Hazra in various ways. I said, ‘Your mother is old. Go and see her once.’ But he did not. At last his mother cried herself to death.”
Narendra — This time he will go to his village.
Sri Ramakrishna — He will go now, the mean fellow! Go away, you don’t understand. Gopal told me that Hazra was in Sinthi for a number of days. They used to provide him with rice, ghee and other provisions. He would say, ‘Do I eat such inferior rice and ghee?’ He went to Bhatpara with Ishan and asked Ishan to fetch water for his toilet. This annoyed the brahmins.
Narendra — I asked him about that too. He said that Ishan Babu had offered to do it himself. Besides, so many brahmins of Bhatpara honoured him.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — That is the result of his japa and austerities.
“And, you know what? It depends on physical traits. A dwarfish stature and dents here and there on the body are bad signs. Such a person takes a long time to attain jnana.”
Bhavanath — Stop this, Sir. Let’s not continue such talk.
Sri Ramakrishna — No, it is not that. (To Narendra) You say that you can read a man’s character. That’s why I am telling you about it. What do I think of Hazra and others like him? I believe that just as there is Narayana in the form of holy men, so there is also Narayana in the form of the deceitful person, or Narayana in the form of a rogue. (To Mahima) What do you say? Is everybody Narayana (God)?
Mahimacharan — Yes sir, all are Narayana.
Sri Ramakrishna and the ecstatic love of the gopis
Girish (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Sir, what is meant by ekangi prema?
Sri Ramakrishna — Ekangi is one-sided love. For instance, water doesn’t care for the swan, but the swan loves water. Besides, there are sadharani, samanjasa and samartha kinds of love. Sadharani prema is that in which the lover desires his own happiness irrespective of whether or not it makes the other person happy. This is like the bhava of Chandravali.
“As for samanjasa love, you want to make your counterpart as well as yourself happy. This is a superior kind of love.
“But the highest love of all is samartha. It is like Radha’s love. She was happy only if Krishna was happy. In this kind of love one feels that the other person must be happy, whether or not oneself is happy.
“This bhava of the gopis is the highest kind of love.
“Do you know who the gopis were? When Ramachandra was roaming in the forest, there were six thousand rishis seated there on whom Ramachandra cast his loving glance. They began to yearn to meet him. In some Puranas it is stated that those very rishis became the gopis.”
A Devotee — Sir, who is an intimate disciple?
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you know how it is? There are inner pillars and outer pillars in the natmandir. They who remain ever close to their master are the intimate disciples.
Harmony between Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga – Rama and Bharadvaja – Thakur’s earlier story: his extraordinary vision goes beyond God with form – the Holy Mother in Dakshineswar
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahimacharan) — The jnani neither wants God with form nor His avatar. While wandering in the forest, Ramachandra came across a number of rishis. They received Rama in their ashrama with great respect. They said, ‘Rama, our lives are blessed to see you today. But we know you as Dasharatha’s son. Bharadvaja and the other rishis say that you are an avatar. But we do not hold this view. We only meditate on that very Akhanda Sachchidananda.’ Rama was happy and smiled at this.
“Oh, what a state I was in! My mind merged into the Absolute. I was in this state for so many days! I forsook all bhakti and devotees and became inert. I saw that my own head was formless and that my soul was about to leave my body. I was wondering whether I should get Ramlal’s aunt [the Holy Mother] here.
“I asked for all the pictures and portraits in my room to be removed. Later, when I regained outer consciousness, when my mind came down to a lower level, I began to feel very uneasy and restless. At last I said to myself, ‘How shall I live?’ Then my mind was directed to bhakti and the company of devotees.
“At that time I went about asking people what had happened to me. Bholanath said to me, ‘The Mahabharata talks of it: where would a man in samadhi occupy his mind after coming down from it? He needs bhakti and the company of devotees – otherwise, where would he rest his mind?’ ”
Can one return from the state of samadhi – life of Thakur spoken with his own holy lips – Koar Singh
Mahimacharan (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Sir, can one return to the normal plane from samadhi?
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahima) — I will tell you when you are alone. You are the only one who deserves to know.
“Koar Singh asked me the same question. There is a great difference between Ishvara (the Lord) and jiva (the embodied soul). A jiva can at most attain samadhi by practicing sadhana (spiritual disciplines) and bhajan (singing of devotional songs). But when the Lord incarnates Himself as a human being, He can return to the normal plane even after samadhi. The jiva, you may say, belongs to the class of a king’s officer. He can go only to the outer court of the king’s palace. The king’s palace is a seven-storied building. His son can move up and down all the seven stories; he can also come out of the palace. Everybody says that no one returns after samadhi. Then what about Shankaracharya, Ramanuja and other sages? They retained their ‘I of knowledge’ after coming down from samadhi.”
Mahimacharan — That is so. Otherwise, how could they have written holy books?
Sri Ramakrishna — And then there were Prahlada, Narada and Hanuman. They, too, retained bhakti after the samadhi.
Mahimacharan — True, sir.
Jnana and philosophical discussions – jnana after samadhi – ‘I of knowledge’
Sri Ramakrishna — Indulging in philosophical discussions, some people feel that they have become very great. Perhaps they have studied a little Vedanta. When you have attained true knowledge, your I-ness disappears. In other words, you attain samadhi, you become one with Him and lose all your egotism. Without attaining samadhi, you do not develop true knowledge. You become one with Him on attaining samadhi. Then your ego vanishes.
“Do you know what it is like? Just as at midday when the sun shines directly overhead, a man does not see his shadow anywhere around him. When you have gained true knowledge, attained samadhi, the shadow of egotism disappears.
“If, after attaining true knowledge, one’s I-ness persists, know it to be either the ‘I of knowledge,’ or the ‘I of devotion,’ or the ‘I of a servant.’ This is not the ‘I of ignorance.’
“Besides, there are two paths, one of jnana and the other of bhakti. Go by either path and you will reach Him. The jnani looks at Him in one way, the devotee in another. The God of the jnani is all splendour, while that of the devotee is all sweetness.”
Sri Ramakrishna and narration of destruction of demons in Markanday Chandi – its significance
Bhavanath, seated close to Sri Ramakrishna, listens to all his words. Bhavanath is a great follower of Narendra and used to visit the Brahmo Samaj regularly.
Bhavanath (to Sri Ramakrishna) — I have a question to ask. I don’t understand the Chandi. In the Chandi, the Goddess slaughters everybody, one after the other. What does it mean?
Sri Ramakrishna — It is all Her sport. I also used to think about it the same way. Then I saw that it was all maya (illusion). Her creation is, indeed, maya – and so is Her destruction.
Leaf plates have been laid on the terrace to the west of the room. Girish escorts Thakur and the other devotees to the terrace. It is the tenth day of the bright fortnight of Vaishakh. The whole creation seems to be smiling. The terrace is flooded with moonlight. With Sri Ramakrishna seated in front of them, the devotees joyfully eat prasad.
Thakur seems mad, calling Narendra’s name. Narendra is seated in the front row with other devotees. Every now and then Thakur enquires about him. Before he is halfway through the meal, he suddenly takes some curd and watermelon juice from his plate and carries it to Narendra. “Narendra, just eat this little bit,” he says. Like a child, Thakur returns to his seat to finish eating.
 Author of the song
 Author of the song
 One of the milkmaids in Braja
 Divine incarnation
 Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute
 Bholanath Mukherji was then a clerk in Rasmani’s temple. Later he became the treasurer of the temple.
 A police officer
 Sacramental food