Sri Ramakrishna in Worship Hall of Surendra’s House
Sri Ramakrishna celebrates worship of Mother Annapurna with the devotees at Surendra’s house
It is 6.00 p.m. Sri Ramakrishna has graced the assembly of the devotees with his presence in the courtyard of Surendra’s house.
One climbs east from the courtyard to reach the worship hall. There a beautiful image of the Mother has been installed. Around Her neck is a garland of flowers, and hibiscus and vilwa leaves have been offered at Her feet. The Mother’s image illumines the worship hall.
Today the worship of Mother Annapurna is to be celebrated. It is Sunday, 15 April, 1883, the eighth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (the third of Vaishakh 1290 B.Y.) Surendra has invoked the Mother, so has invited Sri Ramakrishna. Accompanied by devotees, he arrives at the worship hall and pays his respect to the deity. He stands there, gazing at the Mother, telling the mula mantra on his fingers. The devotees also pay their obeisance and have darshan of the deity. They stand close to the Lord (Sri Ramakrishna).
Thakur now comes down to the courtyard with the devotees. It is covered with cotton carpets, over which are laid white linen sheets and bolsters. On one side a number of Vaishnava devotees are seated with their drums and cymbals, prepared to sing devotional songs. The devotees sit around Thakur.
Thakur is invited to lean against a bolster, but he does not do so. Instead, he pushes the bolster a little away before sitting down.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — To lean against a bolster! Do you know how difficult it is to give up vanity? You may think you are not prey to vanity, but it enters in no time from somewhere.
“Even when the goat’s head is severed, its limbs continue to shake. Suppose you had a fearful dream. After you wake up, even quite wide-awake, you still have palpitations of the heart. Vanity is just like this. Even if you forcibly push it away, it returns. Guests often put on long faces and complain, ‘Oh, we have not been treated hospitably.’ ”
Kedar — ‘Be humbler than a blade of grass, be patient and forbearing like a tree.’
Sri Ramakrishna — I am the dust of the dust of the feet of the devotees.
Vaidyanath arrives. He is well educated and an advocate in the High Court of Calcutta. He salutes Thakur, folding his hands, and takes a seat on one side.
Surendra (to Sri Ramakrishna) — He is related to me.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, I see. He has a very agreeable nature.
Surendra — He has come to ask you something.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Vaidyanath) — Whatever you see is all His power. Without His power, nobody can do anything. Yet God’s power is not equally manifest everywhere. Vidyasagar asked me, ‘Has God given more power to some?’ I replied, ‘If there was not unequal power, why should we have come to see you? Have you grown two horns?’ Yet this is certain: God is present in all as the all-pervading power – but there is a special manifestation of His power in some.
Free will or God’s will
Vaidyanath — Sir, I have a doubt about what they call free will. Sometimes I wonder if it is true that I can do a good act as well as a bad one. Do we really have free will?
Sri Ramakrishna — Everything is under the Lord’s control – it is all His lila (divine sport). He has created a variety of things: small, big, powerful, weak, good and bad. Whether a man is good or bad is all His maya, His sport. Don’t you see that all the trees in the garden are not alike?
“Till one has realized God, one entertains the feeling that one is free to act. This illusion is also created by Him. If man did not feel that he had free will, there would be much more sin. If sin entailed no punishment, one would have no fear of it.
“Do you know how one feels when one has realized the Lord? It is like this: I am a machine, You are the operator; I am the home, You are the mistress of the home. I am a chariot and You are the charioteer. I move the way You make me move. I speak the way You make me speak.”
Is it possible to realize the Lord in a day? Company of the holy is essential
Sri Ramakrishna (to Vaidyanath) — It is not right to argue. What do you think?
Vaidyanath — Yes sir, the inclination to argue disappears only when one attains jnana.
Sri Ramakrishna — Thank you! (Since Thakur says it in English, they all laugh.) You will succeed. When a person talks of the Lord, people don’t believe him. If some spiritually advanced person says that he has seen the Lord, even then ordinary people don’t believe him. They say, ‘If he has seen the Lord, he should show us too.’ But can one learn the science of examining the pulse in one day? One must accompany an Ayurvedic physician for a long time. Only then can he distinguish between the various humors of kapha, vayu and pitta. One must keep the company of him who practices the art of examining the pulse. (All laugh.)
“Can everybody tell the grade of yarn – what particular grade it is? You have to be a dealer in yarn. Or you have to work for some days with a dealer of yarn before you can tell whether the grade of the yarn is forty or forty-one.”
Sri Ramakrishna enjoys kirtan with devotees – he passes into samadhi
They are now going to start the kirtan. Drums are playing, Goshtha being one of the drummers. Singing has not yet begun, but the soft sound of the drum brings to mind Gauranga’s group of devotees singing the name of the Lord. Sri Ramakrishna is becoming absorbed in ecstasy. Every now and then he glances at the drummer and exclaims, ‘Ah! Ah! What joy! My hair stands on end!’
The singers ask which song should they sing. Sri Ramakrishna asks humbly, ‘Please sing something about Gauranga.’
The kirtan begins. First they sing Gaur Chandrika. It is followed by another song.
The beauty of Gauranga’s face, filled with divine love, is brighter than the brightest gold.
His smile, which illumines the whole world, surpasses even the charm of a million moons shining in the autumn sky.
The kirtan sings of the beauty of Gauranga. The musicians add lines –
Friend, did you see the full moon?
It does not wane, it does not stain.
It illumines the devotee’s heart.
The musician then sings: “His face is bathed in the nectar of a million moons.” Hearing this line Thakur passes into samadhi.
The song goes on. After awhile Thakur regains outer consciousness. He suddenly stands up. Full of emotion and intoxicated with divine love like the gopis (milkmaids) of Vrindavan, he describes Krishna’s beauty and joins the musician:
Friend, is it his beauty or because of some fault of my own?
In the three worlds, I see nothing but Krishna!
Thakur sings as he dances. The devotees watch him in amazement. The singer then sings:
The gopi is speaking –
O flute, please stop. Can’t you go to sleep?
He sings further –
How can it sleep?
It is lying on such a delicate and beautiful twig.
It is drinking the nectar from the Lord’s lips and is being played with his fingers.
Sri Ramakrishna now takes his seat. The musician sings: Radha says, “Eyes gone, ears gone, nose gone; all my senses have departed! O, why have I been left alone?”
The last song is about the meeting of Radha and Krishna.
Radha is making a garland of flowers to place around the neck of Shyam.
While she is doing so, she sees Shyam, the treasure of all good qualities.
Song – Radha meets Sri Krishna
The lovelorn Radha lies in the Nidhu grove of Vrindavan absorbed in the thoughts of Krishna.
No simile can describe the beauty of these two lovers, nor is there any limit to their love.
The one half shines like bright gold, the other half like blue sapphire.
A garland of wildflowers dangles from one side of the neck and from the other swing precious pearls.
A makar kundal (an ornamented earring) adorns half the ear; on the other half is rattan chabhi (an ornament).
On one half of the forehead is the glow of the moon and on the other half that of the sun.
On half of the forehead waves the peacock feather and on the other half the braid.
And gleams there the golden lotus, too, and the serpent ready to disgorge a jewel.
The kirtan ends. Thakur utters the mantra, “Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan (the Lord, the devotee and His Word are one).” He prostrates himself again and again. He bows to the devotees all around him. Next he takes the dust of the ground where the kirtan was sung.
Sri Ramakrishna and God with form and without form
It is about 9.30 in the evening. Mother Annapurna’s presence has illuminated the worship hall. Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees stand in front of Her. Surendra, Rakhal, Kedar, M., Ram, Manomohan and other devotees are present. They have all taken prasad with Thakur. Surendra fed them to their heart’s content. Now Sri Ramakrishna is to return to Dakshineswar. The devotees also must go home. They have all gathered in the worship hall.
Surendra (to Sri Ramakrishna) — Today we have not repeated the Mother’s name even once.
Sri Ramakrishna (pointing at the deity) — Ah, how beautiful the hall looks, as if the Mother Herself has illumined it! How much joy is there in having Her darshan in this manner! All sensuous desires, all sorrows, flee. Can one have the vision of the Formless God as well? Surely one can. But it is not possible if you have the least worldliness. The rishis meditated on the Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute after giving up everything worldly.
“The Brahmajnanis sing about Him as the unchanging and unmoving entity. I don’t like it. One who sings like this apparently does not enjoy God’s sweetness. When you are deluded by treacle, you don’t think of syrup made with sugar candy.
“Just see, how you people are having visions with your physical eyes and enjoying the sight. They who talk of the Formless One get nothing – neither within nor without.”
Sri Ramakrishna now sings the Mother’s name.
O Mother, ever blissful as You are,
Do not deprive me of bliss.
My mind knows nothing but Your lotus feet.
The king of Death scolds me.
Tell me, Mother, what I shall say to him?
My only desire was to cross the sea of the world with the name of ‘Bhavani’ on my lips.
I did not even dream, O Mother,
That You would drown me in this shoreless, fathomless sea!
I swim night and day in the name of Durga.
Even so, there is no end to my sorrow.
If I die this time, O the Beloved of Shiva!
Nobody will ever repeat Your name, O Durga.
And then he sings.
Let us utter, utter the name of Durga.
He who treads his path saying, ‘Durga, Durga, Durga,’ is protected by Her with the trident in Her hand.
You are the day, You are the evening, You are the night.
At one time, You art Purusha and at another the Eternal Female.
You ask me to leave You, but that I shall never do;
I shall be the ankle-bells ringing on Your feet;
I shall be the fish in the water and You will catch me in Your claws,
When You soar high in the sky like a kite,
O Mother Brahmamayi,
My life shall be rent asunder at one cruel scratch of Your claw.
Do You, then, give me Your two red feet as refuge.
Sri Ramakrishna pays his obeisance again to the image of the deity. As he goes downstairs, he calls out, “Rakhal, are my shoes there?”
Sri Ramakrishna enters the carriage. Surendra salutes him. The other devotees also pay salute him. The street is still lighted by the moon. Thakur’s carriage moves toward Dakshineswar.
 Divine Mother the giver of food
 An esoteric word or words uttered inwardly at prayer
 Phlegm, wind and bile
 Referring to the members of Brahmo Samaj
 The male aspect of God
 The All Blissful Mother