Sri Ramakrishna at a Devotee’s House in Calcutta
With his intimate disciples at Balaram Basu’s house
It is long past three o’clock. Being the month of Chaitra it is very hot. Sri Ramakrishna is seated in Balaram’s drawing room with one or two devotees; he is talking to M.
It is Monday, 6 April 1885; 25th of Chaitra, the seventh day of the dark fortnight. Thakur has come to Calcutta to a devotee’s house. He will meet with his intimate disciples and visit Devendra on Nimu Goswami street.
Telling the truth and Sri Ramakrishna – the Younger Naren, Baburam and Purna
Thakur remains intoxicated day and night with ecstatic love for God – constantly absorbed in spiritual mood or in samadhi. His mind is totally unaware of the external world. His only interest is that his intimate disciples know the Self. He is like a parent, anxious about his weak or disabled children, always thinking how they might grow into manhood. Or he is like a bird always engaged in nurturing its young.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — I had promised that I would come at three o’clock – that’s why I’m here. But it’s very hot.
M. — It is, sir. You have been quite inconvenienced.
The devotees fan Thakur.
Sri Ramakrishna — I have come to see the Younger Naren and Baburam. Why haven’t you brought Purna?
M. — He doesn’t want to come to a gathering of devotees. He is afraid you might talk well of him before others and that members of his family will hear about it.
Pundits and holy men impart different instructions – company of sadhus
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, that’s true. I won’t talk about him from now on. You are giving religious instruction to Purna. That is very good.
M. — Well, Vidyasagar’s book Selection says the same: love the Lord with body, mind and soul. If we instruct our students in this way, the proprietors of the school are displeased. What should we do then?
Sri Ramakrishna — There are many ideas written in books. But the authors of the books do not assimilate the ideas themselves. It is only by keeping the company of holy men that one can internalize them. It is only when a holy man with genuine renunciation instructs them that people listen. When a mere pundit writes a book or lectures, people do not assimilate much. If a doctor with a pot of treacle by his side says to a patient, ‘Don’t eat treacle,’ the patient doesn’t listen to him.
“Well, how do you find Purna? Does he sometimes go into ecstatic moods?”
M. — No, I haven’t found any outer signs of ecstasy in him. One day I told him what you had said.
Sri Ramakrishna — About what?
M. — What you had said – that an ‘ordinary receptacle’ can’t contain ecstasy. A ‘big receptacle’ can enter into a deep ecstatic mood, but it does not show outwardly. As, you said, the surface of a big lake remains undisturbed when an elephant enters it, but when the elephant goes into a small pond, it produces a lot of commotion and the water splashes over the edges of the pond.
Sri Ramakrishna — Outwardly Purna would not show signs of ecstasy. He is an unusual ‘receptacle’. All his signs are good. What do you say?
M. — He has beautiful, bright and prominent eyes.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is not enough that his eyes are bright. Spiritual eyes are different. Well, did you ask him what happened to him after meeting me?
M. — Yes, we did talk about that. For the last four or five days he has been saying that whenever he thinks about God and repeats His name, tears flow from his eyes and the hair on his body stands on end.
Sri Ramakrishna — What more is needed?
Thakur and M. are both silent. After awhile M. says, “There he stands.”
Sri Ramakrishna — Who?
M. — It is Purna. It appears that he is standing at the door of his house. If any of us passes that way, he comes running to salute us.
Sri Ramakrishna — Ah! Ah!
Thakur leans against a pillow to rest. M. had brought a twelve year old boy with him. He is a student at M.’s school. His name is Kshirode.
M. says, “This boy is very good. It makes him very happy to hear about God.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — He has the eyes of a deer.
The boy touches Thakur’s feet and prostrates to salute him. He gently strokes Thakur’s feet in a very devotional manner. Thakur talks about the devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — Rakhal is living at home now. He is not well; he has a boil. I hear that he is probably going to have a child.
Paltu and Binode are seated in front of him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Paltu, smiling) — What did you say to your father? (To M.) He spoke up to his father when his father told him not to come here. (To Paltu) What did you say to him?
Paltu — I said, ‘Yes I go to him. Is that wrong?’ (Thakur and M. laugh). If I have to, I’ll say this even more strongly.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling, to M.) — No. Should he go that far?
M. — I agree, sir. He should not go that far. (Thakur laughs.)
Sri Ramakrishna (to Binode) — How are you? Why haven’t you come [to Dakshineswar]?
Binode — Sir, I almost went, but I was afraid. I have not been well.
Sri Ramakrishna — You must come. The breeze there is bracing. It would help you recover.
The Younger Naren has arrived. Thakur is going out to wash. The Younger Naren carries some water and a hand towel for him. M. is with them.
The Younger Naren washes Thakur’s feet in the northern corner of the western verandah [of Balaram’s house]. M. stands near him.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is very hot.
M. — Yes, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — How do you live in such a small room? Isn’t it hot on the upper floor?
M. — Yes, sir. It is very hot.
Sri Ramakrishna — Besides, your wife has some disease of the brain. She should be kept in a cool place.
M. — Yes, sir. I have told her to sleep downstairs.
Thakur comes again to the drawing room and sits down. He says to M., “Why didn’t you come [to Dakshineswar] last Sunday?”
M. — Sir, there was nobody else at home. My wife is suffering from the disease of the brain and there was nobody to look after her in my absence.
Now Thakur goes to Devendra’s house on Nimu Goswami Street. He is accompanied by the Younger Naren, M. and one or two other devotees. He is talking about Purna; he is anxious about him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — He is a great ‘receptacle’. Were it not so, could he have made me do japa for his welfare? But Purna doesn’t know anything about that.
M. and the other devotees are speechless with wonder to hear that Thakur should have performed japa of the bija mantra for Purna.
Sri Ramakrishna — It would have been nice if you had brought him here with you today. Why didn’t you?
Seeing the Younger Naren laugh, Thakur and the devotees also begin to laugh. Thakur points to him in a happy mood and says to M., “Look. Just see how naive he looks when he laughs, as if he knows nothing. He has no desire in his mind for anything; he does not want any of these three – property, wife, or money. One does not realize God unless ‘lust and greed’ have vanished from the mind.”
Thakur is proceeding toward Devendra’s house. Once he told Devendra in Dakshineswar that he was thinking of visiting him at his house. Devendra had said, “I came today specifically to ask you to. Kindly come this very Sunday.” Thakur had said, “But you are not earning much. Don’t invite many people. And it is so costly to hire a carriage.” Devendra had laughed and replied, “What does it matter if my income is small? ‘One must eat ghee even though one has to borrow. One must, however, definitely eat ghee.’ ” Hearing this, Thakur began to laugh. He couldn’t control his laughter.
When he reaches the house, Thakur says, “Devendra, please don’t prepare anything special for me to eat – just an ordinary meal will do. I am not feeling very well today.”
In Devendra’s house with devotees
Sri Ramakrishna is seated in the drawing room on the ground floor of Devendra’s house. The devotees sit around him. It is already dusk. A lamp has been lit in the room. The Younger Naren, Ram, M., Girish, Devendra, Akshay, Upendra and other devotees are sitting close to him. Thakur is looking at a young devotee and is beaming with joy. While instructing him, Thakur says to the other devotees, “He has no desire for any of the three things which bind one to the world – property, money, or wife. When one keeps one’s mind on these three, one cannot establish union with God. And he had a vision, too.” (To the devotee) “Tell me, what did you see?”
Renouncing ‘lust and greed’ and joy of Brahman
The Devotee (smiling) — I saw many pots of excreta. Some people were sitting on them and some sat a little away.
Sri Ramakrishna — He has seen the plight of worldly people who are forgetful of God. That is why he is developing renunciation for these things. Need one whose mind is freed from the attachment to ‘lust and greed’ worry about anything?
“Oh, how strange! I had to perform so much repetition of the Name and meditation to get rid of these desires. How is it that he has absolutely freed his mind from desire so quickly? Is it so easy to get rid of lust? Oh, what a sensation I felt in my chest even six months after starting my spiritual practices! I would lie under a tree and weep. I cried to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother! If I experience the feeling of lust, I will cut my throat with a knife!’
(To the devotees) “If the mind is free from ‘lust and greed,’ what else remains to be attained? Then one enjoys only the joy of Brahman.”
Sashi had just begun visiting Thakur. He was a first year B.A. student at Vidyasagar’s college. Thakur now talks about him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — As for that young man who visits, I see that for some time his mind will be attracted by money. However, I also see others who are not at all interested in it. Some of the young men will not marry.
The devotees listen to him without saying a word.
Who can recognize an incarnation of God?
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — Unless you have rid your mind completely of ‘lust and greed,’ you cannot recognize an incarnation of God. Somebody asked an eggplant merchant to evaluate a diamond. He said, ‘I can give you ten seers of eggplants for it – nothing more than that.’ (All laugh.) The Younger Naren laughs loudly.
Thakur notices that the Younger Naren has understood the essence of these words.
Sri Ramakrishna — What a subtle mind he has! The Naked One could understand just as quickly – whether it was the Gita, or the Bhagavata, or some other scripture.
Dispassion from childhood is wonderful indeed – how can a prostitute be redeemed?
Sri Ramakrishna — It is indeed wonderful for one to renounce ‘lust and greed’ from one’s childhood. Very few people develop such renunciation. And without it one is like a mango pecked by a kite – the fruit can’t be used in the service of the deity. Even eating it yourself is risky.
“If a man who has committed many sins earlier in his life repeats the name of God in his old age, it is better than doing nothing.
“The mother of a certain Mallick comes from a very big family. She asked me whether a prostitute could be redeemed. She had herself led that kind of life in her earlier days – that’s why she asked me. I said to her: Yes, she can be redeemed if she weeps with a sincere heart and intense longing and repents, vowing, ‘I shall not repeat it.’ Just repeating the Lord’s name will not be of any help. One has to weep with a sincere heart.”
Thakur in the joy of devotional songs and in samadhi at Devendra’s house
The singing of devotional songs is going on, accompanied by drum and cymbals. The musician sings –
O! What a wonderful sight have I seen in Keshab Bharati’s cottage!
O brother! A beautiful light glows on the face of Gauranga and he sheds a hundred streams of tears of love for God.
Gaur, surcharged with divine love, mad like an intoxicated elephant, sometimes dances and sings, and at other times rolls in the dust. His eyes are flooded with tears.
He is weeping and uttering Hari. And he is rending the mortal world and heaven with his thunderous voice. And then, taking a straw between his teeth and folding his hands, he begs for liberation from slavery.
Shaving off his curly hair, he dons the cloth of a yogi. One’s heart begins to melt on seeing the gush of his loving devotion for God.
Having been smitten by human sorrow, he has renounced his all and has come to dole out ecstatic love for God.
Premdas wishes only that he could become the slave of Sri Chaitanya’s feet and move from door to door.
While listening to the song, Thakur becomes absorbed in ecstasy. The musician is describing the state of the gopis of Vraja who are suffering the pangs of separation from Sri Krishna.
O madhavi, give me my Madhava. Give, do give; give me my Madhava.
Give me my Madhava and make me your slave forever.
Just as water is life for fish, Madhava is my life breath.
You have hidden him away. Knowing us to be helpless and innocent, you have hidden him from us.
I cannot live, O madhavi! without Madhava. I cannot do without the sight of my Madhava.
Now and then Sri Ramakrishna adds his own lines during the song, “How far is Mathura where dwells the beloved of my soul?”
Thakur goes into samadhi. His body is motionless. For a long time he remains in this state.
Now he returns to normal consciousness to some extent. He is, however, still absorbed in ecstasy. In this state he talks about the devotees and speaks to the Divine Mother now and then.
(To Girish) “You may go on using abusive language and vulgar words for a little longer. Let it continue. It is good that all this comes out of you. For people suffering from blood poisoning, the more it comes out, the better.
“There is noise when one is getting rid of upashis. Firewood crackles when it burns. When it is totally burnt, it makes no sound.
“You will become more and more pure every day. You will rise higher and higher every day. People will be wonderstruck to see you. I may not be able to come here frequently. Be that as it may, you will attain by yourself.”
The ecstasy of Sri Ramakrishna is becoming more and more intense. He again talks to the Divine Mother, “Mother, what is heroic in making a good man even better? Mother, what will You accomplish in killing an already dead man? Your greatness lies in killing one who is standing erect.”
Stabilizing himself a little, Thakur suddenly speaks somewhat loudly to the Divine Mother, “I have come from Dakshineswar. I am coming back, Mother.”
It is like a child replying to his mother’s call from a distance. Thakur is again motionless. He sits still in samadhi. The devotees gaze at him fixedly without saying a word.
Sri Ramakrishna in the company of devotees at Devendra’s house
Sri Ramakrishna is talking happily with the devotees. Being the month of Chaitra, it is very hot. Devendra has made some ice cream. He is serving it to Thakur and the devotees. The devotees thoroughly enjoy the ice cream. Mani says in a whisper, “Encore! Encore!” Everybody laughs. At the sight of the ice cream, Thakur is as happy as a child.
Sri Ramakrishna — The devotional songs were nicely sung. How beautifully they described the state of the gopis, ‘O madhavi, give me my Madhava.’ This is the state of the gopis intoxicated with ecstatic love. How wonderful! They are mad for Krishna!
A devotee points at another and says, “He has the attitude of a female friend, the attitude of a gopi.”
Sri Ramakrishna — What are you talking about?
Thakur now speaks of Surendra.
Ram — I sent him word, but he didn’t come.
Sri Ramakrishna — He is so busy working, he can’t come.
A Particular Devotee — Ram Babu has been writing about you.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — What is he writing?
Sri Ramakrishna — Very good. It will bring Ram name and fame.
Girish (smiling) — He has written it as your disciple.
Sri Ramakrishna — I have no disciple, or anything like that. I am the servant of the servant of Rama.
Some people of the neighbourhood have arrived, but Thakur is not pleased to see them. He says, “What kind of place is this? I find no one spiritual here.”
Devendra now takes Thakur inside his house. Refreshments are ready to be served. Thakur goes in. However, he returns with a smile on his face and takes a seat in the sitting room. The devotees are sitting close by. Upendra and Akshay, seated on either side of Thakur, are gently stroking his feet. Thakur talks about the ladies of Devendra’s family. He says, “Nice ladies. They are from the countryside, so they are full of love and devotion for God.”
Thakur is rejoicing in the company of the Self. He sings happily. What is his state of mind as he sings? He has entered into a joyous mood, so he sings many songs.
Unless you are simple, you cannot recognize the Simple One.
O wandering sannyasin, stop for awhile. Hold your begging bowl and stop. Let me see your illumined face.
Girish salutes Thakur and leaves. Thakur returns his salute with a namaskar.
Devendra and other devotees take Thakur to the carriage.
Returning, Devendra sees a person from his neighbourhood sleeping on a wooden cot in the courtyard south of his living room. He calls out, “Rise. Please get up.” Rubbing his eyes, the fellow gets up and asks, “Has the Paramahamsa arrived?” Everybody bursts into laughter. This fellow came to meet Thakur even before he had arrived. Feeling hot, he lay on a mat-covered bench in the open courtyard. Thakur proceeds toward Dakshineswar. He says happily to M., “We ate plenty of ice cream! Please bring four or five cones for me when you visit.” And he adds, “My mind is being attracted by some of these young men now – the Younger Naren, Purna, and your relative.”
M. — Do you mean Dwija?
Sri Ramakrishna — Dwija is, of course, one of them. My mind is now going to the elder brother.
M. — Oh!
Thakur goes happily along in the carriage.
 With all thy soul love God above, And as thyself thy neighbour love
 A mystic word or words of great power to be recited silently within
 Later Swami Ramakrishnananda
 Nangta; Totapuri
 A Vaishnava expression meaning extreme humility, in that the cow, which chews straw, is the humblest of creatures
 An appellation of Sri Krishna
 A spring creeper with fragrant flowers
 M.’s brother-in-law
 Limiting adjuncts
 Fried bread
 The attitude of a lover
 One who follows the path of Knowledge
 Upendranath Mukherji is a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna
 Akshay Kumar Sen is poet devotee of Sri Ramakrishna. He authored Sri Ramakrishna Punthi (Life of Sri Ramakrishna in verses), and thus immortalized himself. His birthplace is Maynapur village at Bankura district.
 Sahaja, meaning God
 A mendicant ascetic
 A Muslim saint