Sri Ramakrishna in Cossipore Garden House with Devotees
Sri Ramakrishna in Cossipore garden house – Girish and M.
Moonlight bathes the Cossipore garden house, its garden paths and trees. On the eastern side of the house is a ghat of the reservoir. To the west of the reservoir is a two-storied house. From the ghat’s landing one can see light coming from a window of a second story room. One can see Sri Ramakrishna illuminated in it, sitting on his bed in the middle of the room. One or two devotees sit close to him, or go from this room to another. Thakur is ill and has been brought to the garden house for treatment. His devotees have gathered to nurse him. From the ghat, one also sees three lights of the lower story of the building. One light emanates from the southern room where the devotees stay. Another comes from the middle room, which is Holy Mother’s. She has also come to nurse Thakur. The third light comes from the kitchen, which is on the northern side of the house. From the southeastern corner of this two-storied house, a path leads east down the middle of the garden to the ghat of the reservoir. It is bordered, particularly on the south, by numerous fruit and flowering trees.
In the moonlight Girish, M., Latu and another couple of devotees can be seen seated on the landing steps of the reservoir. They are talking about Thakur. It is Friday, 16 April, 1886, the fourth day of Vaishakh, 1293 (B.Y.), the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra.
After awhile, Girish and M. stroll the garden path and talk.
M. — What a beautiful moonlit night! This phenomenon has been going on for millions of years.
Girish — How do you know?
M. — There is uniformity in nature and its ways don’t change. Western scientists see new planets with the help of a telescope. They have seen mountains on the moon.
Girish — It’s hard to understand. I don’t believe it.
M. — Why not? One can see correctly with the help of a telescope.
Girish — How do I know that they have seen it correctly? Maybe they see it this way because of the light which passes through something that maybe there between the earth and the moon.
The young devotees are always at the garden house to serve Thakur. Narendra, Rakhal, Niranjan, Sarat, Sashi, Baburam, Kali, Jogin, Latu and other devotees are living there. Those of the devotees who are family men come every day and sometimes stay at night. Other devotees come off and on. Today Narendra, Kali and Tarak have gone to the garden of Dakshineswar Kali Temple. Narendra will meditate there under the Panchavati tree and carry out spiritual practices. He is accompanied by one or two brother disciples.
Thakur in company of Girish and other devotees – his affection for devotees
Girish, Latu, M., Baburam, Niranjan and Rakhal
Girish, Latu and M. go upstairs and find Thakur sitting on his bed. Sashi and one or two other devotees are there to nurse him. Baburam, Niranjan and Rakhal join them one after the other.
It is a big room. Medicines and articles of daily use have been placed close to Thakur. The door to the room at the top of the stairs faces north. In front of this door, there is also a southern door in the room by which one goes to a small roof terrace. Standing on the terrace one sees the trees, the bushes and flowers, the moonlight, and the not very distant main road.
The devotees have to stay awake at night. They do so in turns. After hanging a mosquito net and putting Thakur to sleep, those who are to spend the night in the room sit or lie down on a mat spread toward the eastern edge of the room. Thakur often cannot sleep because of his suffering, so those who nurse him have to spend hours of the night sitting up.
Today Thakur is a little better. The devotees enter and offer him obeisance by prostrating on the floor. Then they take their seats in front of him.
Thakur asks M. to bring the light closer. He talks to Girish affectionately.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish) — Are you keeping well? (To Latu) Give him a smoke and fetch a betel leaf for him.
After some time, he says, “Bring some refreshments for him.”
Latu — I have given him a betel leaf. I am going to the shop to fetch snacks.
Thakur is sitting up. A devotee had brought many garlands of flowers to offer him. He had put them around Thakur’s neck one by one. Thakur has Lord Hari within his heart, so it is He who is being worshipped. The devotees look at him with wonder. Thakur takes two garlands from his neck and gives them to Girish.
Every now and then he asks, “Have the refreshments been brought?”
Mani is fanning Thakur. Kept close to him is a sandalwood fan, which had been offered to him by a devotee. Thakur has given that fan to Mani and it is with it that Mani is fanning him. Thakur takes another two garlands from his neck and gives them to Mani while he is fanning.
Latu talks to Thakur about a devotee. A child of this devotee, seven or eight years old, had died about a year and a half ago. A number of times the boy had seen Thakur joyfully singing devotional songs with his devotees.
Latu (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Last night, he [M.] wept bitterly when he saw the boy’s book. The mother has gone almost insane at the loss of her son. She thrashes her children and knocks them down. She quarrels with her husband because he sometimes stays here.
Hearing about this sorrowful incident, Sri Ramakrishna is worried, but he doesn’t speak.
Girish — Arjuna, who received the instructions of the Gita, fainted when he heard of Abhimanyu’s loss. It is no wonder he is so distressed at the loss of his son.
How to attain the Lord in worldly life?
Refreshments have been brought for Girish: hot kichuris, luchis and sweets from Fagu’s shop in Baranagore. Thakur asks for refreshments to be placed in front of him and thus make them prasad (a holy offering). Then he gives the food to Girish with his own hands, saying, “Nice kichuris, these.”
Girish is sitting in front of Thakur. He is to be served water from an earthen pot at the southeastern corner of Thakur’s bed. It is summer, the month of Vaishakh. Thakur says, “Do have some nice cool water there.”
Thakur is very ill. He hasn’t even the strength to stand up.
What do the devotees see? Struck with wonder, they watch Thakur, who has no cloth around his waist – he is naked as a child – moving from his bed. He himself wants to give Girish water. The devotees stop breathing – that Thakur himself would pour water into Girish’s glass! Taking a little water from the glass in his hand, he wants to make sure that it is cool. He finds that it is not sufficiently cold. But, thinking that better water is not available, he gives the same water rather unwillingly to Girish.
Girish is eating, the devotees are seated around him. Mani is fanning Thakur.
Girish (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Deben Babu has decided to renounce the world.
Thakur cannot always speak. He finds it painful. Touching his lower lip with his finger, he indicates as if to ask, “How will his family [wife and children] manage? How will they live and eat?”
Girish — I don’t know what they intend to do.
Everybody is silent, but Girish continues talking as he eats the refreshments.
Girish — Well sir, which way is more difficult: to renounce the world painfully or to call upon Him while living in the household?
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — Don’t you know what the Gita says? One truly attains the Lord if one attends to worldly work in a detached spirit, if one lives the worldly life after knowing everything to be illusory.
“People who renounce the world painfully belong to an inferior class.
“Do you know what a householder jnani is like? It is as if he is in a glass house from where he can see inside as well as outside.”
Again everybody is silent.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — The kichuri is hot and it is very nice indeed.
M. (to Girish) — It is from Fagu’s shop. He is famous for it.
Sri Ramakrishna — Famous!
Girish (still eating, smiling) — Nice kichuri it is!
Sri Ramakrishna — Then only take the kichuri and don’t eat the luchi. (To M.) But kichuri is a rajasic food.
Girish begins to talk about other things while he is still eating.
Difference between the mind of a worldly man and a genuine renouncer
Girish (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Well sir, at times the mind rises so high – and then it falls so suddenly! Why is this?
Sri Ramakrishna — This does happen when one leads a worldly life. The mind is first up, then down. First you feel so strong – and then so weak. You see, it is because one has to live amidst ‘lust and greed’. In worldly life the devotee contemplates the Lord and repeats His name – but then he gives his mind to ‘lust and greed’. He is like a housefly. Sometimes it sits on sandesh, at other times on a festering wound – and even on excreta.
“It is different with tyagis (those who have renounced the world). Taking their mind from ‘lust and greed,’ they give it to the Lord and only sip the sweetness of Hari’s name. A genuine man of renunciation doesn’t like anything but the Lord. When he hears worldly talk, he gets up and leaves. He only listens to Godly matters. The genuine renouncer talks of nothing but the Lord.
“The bee sits only on flowers, for it drinks honey. It likes no other thing.”
Girish goes to the smaller terrace to wash his hands.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — God’s grace is essential. Only with God’s grace can one fix one’s mind fully on Him. He has eaten a lot of kichuris. Please go and tell him not to eat anything else today.
Avatar is beyond the injunctions of the Vedas – ritual worship and inebriation in love of God
Girish comes back to the room and sits in front of Thakur. He is chewing a betel leaf.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish) — Rakhal and others know very well what is right and what is wrong, what is real and what is unreal. If they lead a family life, they do so intentionally. Rakhal has a wife and a son has been born to him too, but he has understood that all this is illusory and perishable. Rakhal and others will not get attached to the world.
“They are like the mud fish. It lives in mud but its body is not stained by the mud.”
Girish — Sir, I do not understand all this. If you want, you can make everybody unattached and pure. You can transform everyone, whether one is worldly or a man of renunciation. I say that when the Malaya breeze blows, it transforms ordinary wood into sandalwood.
Sri Ramakrishna — Unless there is substance inside, it cannot turn into sandalwood. The cotton tree and a few others do not turn into sandalwood.
Girish — I never heard of that.
Sri Ramakrishna — This is the law.
Girish — Nothing in you is according to law!
The devotees sit silent as they listen to him. At times the fan in M.’s hand ceases to move.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, it is possible. When the river of bhakti overflows, there is pole deep water in the fields.
“When a man is inebriated with God’s love, he does not accept injunctions of the Vedas. He plucks durva grass and doesn’t pick it up from the earth. He picks whatever comes in his hands. While gathering tulsi leaves, he wantonly breaks its branches! Ah, what states of mind I have passed through!”
(To M.) “Nothing more is needed after one has attained bhakti!”
M— True, sir.
Sita and Radha – different attitudes toward God in incarnations of Rama and Krishna
Sri Ramakrishna — One should adopt one particular attitude toward God. God in His incarnation as Rama demonstrated the attitudes of shanta, dasya, vatsalya and sakhya. In the incarnation as Krishna, you have all these attitudes, as well as madhura.
“Radha cherished the madhura bhava toward Krishna, a romantic attitude. Sita had a pure and chaste attitude, without the least trace of an illicit nature.
“It is all God’s lila (divine sport), with different attitudes at different times.”
An insane woman used to accompany Vijay to the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar. She would sing songs on Sri Krishna and Brahman for Thakur. Everyone called her Pagli [meaning crazy woman]. Now she occasionally visits the Cossipore garden house and creates trouble by wishing to meet with Thakur. The devotees have to be very careful about her.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish and other devotees) — Pagli cherishes the madhura bhava toward me. Once she went to Dakshineswar and suddenly started weeping. I asked her why she was crying. She replied, ‘I have a headache.’ (All laugh.)
“She went there again another day. I had just sat down to eat. She blurted out, ‘Won’t you be kind to me?’ I went on eating in a light mood. She then said, ‘Why do you push me out of your mind?’ I asked, ‘What is your bhava?’ She replied, ‘Madhura bhava.’ I said, ‘I look upon all women as manifestations of the Divine Mother. All women are my mothers.’ She then said, ‘I don’t know all that.’ Then I called out to Ramlal and said, ‘Oh, Ramlal! Just listen to what she is saying – about my pushing her out of my mind.’ She still has that attitude.”
Girish — Blessed is Pagli! Even if she goes mad, or receives a beating from the devotees, she thinks of you twenty-four hours a day! She may cherish any bhava toward you, but she can never come to grief!
“Sir, what can I say! Oh, what I was and what I have become by meditating on you! I was so lethargic. Now that laziness has turned into resignation at the feet of the Lord. I used to be a sinner, now I have become humble. What else should I say!”
The devotees remain silent. Rakhal feels sorrow as he mentions about Pagli. He says, “I am sorry. She creates a row and suffers so much for it.”
Niranjan (to Rakhal) — You have a wife. That’s why you feel that way for her. As for us, we could kill her.
Rakhal (irritated) — How brave of you! And you talk like this before him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna]!
Instructions to Girish – attachment for money – its right use – earnings of a physician
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish) — ‘Lust and greed’ constitute worldly life. Many people think of money as if it were the blood in the body! But if you try too hard for it, you can perhaps one day lose it altogether.
“In my native village they make mud ridges around the fields. You know what these ridges are. Some make them with great care on all four sides of the field. Such ridges can be washed away by an overflow of rain water. But those who keep one end of the enclosure open can control flooding by building up that side with a mixture of sod [mud and grass], so that the water seeps out slowly. This allows a deposit of rich soil, which in turn yields a big paddy!”
Right use of money
“They who make the right use of money, that is, spend it on the service of the deities, of sadhus and devotees, and in giving it away in charity, succeed. Only they really achieve their goal.
“I cannot eat food brought by a physician or a Kaviraj. People who make money on other people’s suffering earn, not money, but blood and puss!”
Saying so, Thakur names two physicians.
Girish — Rajendra Dutta has a very open hand and a charitable disposition. He does not accept a penny from anybody. He engages himself in charity and meditation.
 Steps and landing of a reservoir or river, made of brick
 It was M.’s son who had died
 Kind of pancake made of flour and pulses
 Fried bread
 Attitude of peace and serenity as practiced by rishis of yore
 Attitude of a servant toward his master
 Attitude of a mother toward her child
 Of friendship
 Attitude of a lover