Sri Ramakrishna in the Company of Devotees at Balaram’s House
Thakur’s description of his spiritual practices
Sri Ramakrishna is seated with the devotees in Balaram’s sitting room in Calcutta. Girish, M. and Balaram are present. One by one the Younger Naren, Paltu, Dwija, Purna, Mahendra Mukherji and a number of other devotees arrive. Trailokya Sanyal, Gopal Sen and several other devotees of the Brahmo Samaj show up, one after the other. Many women devotees have come. Seated behind a straw curtain, they have the darshan of Thakur. Mohini’s wife is there. She is nearly mad with grief for her dead son. She and many others stricken with sorrow have the faith that they will find peace by coming in contact with Thakur.
It is Sunday, 12 April 1885, the first of Vaishakh, the 13th day of the dark fortnight of Chaitra. The time is about three o’clock.
When he enters, M. sees Thakur sitting with the devotees. He is describing his own spiritual practices and a variety of states of mind. M. salutes Thakur and sits close to him at his bidding.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — At the time (of spiritual practices) when I meditated I used to see a real person sitting close to me with a trident in his hand. He threatened to strike me with the trident if I didn’t fix my mind at the lotus feet of God, to pierce my chest and kill me if my mind was not fixed on God.
Union of the Absolute and the phenomenal world – Purusha and Prakriti – Yoga of Discrimination
“Sometimes the Divine Mother would put me in such a state that my mind would descend from the Absolute to the phenomenal world. At other times it would rise from the phenomenal world to the Absolute.
“When my mind descended to the phenomenal world, I would meditate on Rama and Sita day and night. And I would constantly have the image of their forms before me. I used to go around holding Ramlala. Sometimes I would give him a bath and other times feed him. And yet other times I was absorbed in the mood of Radha and Krishna. I would see their forms constantly before me. And then again my mind would be filled with the mood of Gauranga – he represents the harmonization of the two ideals, Purusha and Prakriti. In this mood I always saw the form of Gauranga. Later, this state also changed. Leaving the phenomenal world, my mind would ascend to the Absolute. I found no distinction between the ordinary sajina plant and the sacred tulsi. I no longer liked seeing the forms of God. I said to them, ‘You, too, cause a feeling of separation’ – so I let the forms go. I removed all the paintings and images of the deities that were in my room. I began to meditate on the Indivisible Sat-chit-ananda, the Primal Purusha. I had the attitude of a handmaiden – the maid of Purusha.
“I have practiced all kinds of spiritual disciplines. There are three classes – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. In the sattvic practices, one calls upon Him with intense yearning, or simply repeats His sacred name without expecting any result. In rajasic disciplines one practices various kinds of exercises – purascharana, visits to places of pilgrimage, a certain duration of panchatapa, worship with sixteen articles, and so forth. The aspirant who practices tamasic sadhana takes recourse to the qualities of tamas. Such an aspirant calls out, ‘Victory to Kali! Why will You not grant me Your vision? I’ll cut my throat with a knife if You do not reveal Yourself to me!’ The last kind of discipline is not morally pure – it is like the practices prescribed in the Tantra.
“During this time (of sadhana), I used to have strange visions. I distinctly saw the communion of the Atman. A person resembling me entered my body and communed with each one of the six lotuses. The petals of the six lotuses were closed. As he communed with each of them, the lotuses bloomed, one after the other – they opened and turned upward. In this way all the lotuses – of the Muladhara, the Svadhisthana, the Anahata, the Vishuddha, the Ajna and the Sahasrara – opened. They were facing downward, but then they turned up. I perceived this phenomenon very clearly.”
Discipline of Dhyana Yoga – like an unwavering lamp flame in a windless place
“During the practice of spiritual disciplines when I meditated, I would think of the flame of a lamp set in a windless place – the flame did not flicker in the least.
“In deep meditation the awareness of the outside world completely vanishes. A hunter was aiming at a bird while a bridal procession was passing nearby. What lights, bands, carriages and horses were in the procession! They all passed close to him, but the hunter was quite unaware of them. He did not know that a bridegroom had passed that way in a procession.
“A man was fishing alone on the bank of a pond. After a long time the float moved – at times it even dipped down. Taking the fishing rod in his hand, he tried to pull it up. Just at that moment a wayfarer stopped and asked, ‘Sir, can you please tell me where Mr. Bannerji lives?’ The fisherman did not reply. Fishing rod in hand, he was now trying to pull in his catch. The stranger repeated his question loudly, ‘Sir, can you please tell me where such-and-such Bannerji lives?’ But our fisherman was unaware of the outside world – his hand was trembling and his eyes fixed on the float. The wayfarer left in a huff. When he had gone quite some distance, the fisherman’s float sank and he pulled the fish out onto dry land. Wiping his face with a hand towel, he shouted to the stranger, ‘Hey, brother! Listen.’ The wayfarer didn’t want to return, but he came back after hearing the fisherman shout for some time. He said, ‘But, sir, why are you calling me now?’ The fisherman replied, ‘What were you asking me?’ The wayfarer said, ‘I repeated my question so many times and now you ask me what I was saying.’ The fisherman said, ‘The float was bobbing, so I didn’t hear anything you said.’
“Such concentration is developed in meditation that a person sees nothing and hears nothing. He is not even aware of touch. A snake can wriggle over his body, but he does not know it – neither the one who is meditating, nor the snake, are aware of each other.
“The sense organs cease to function during deep meditation. The mind does not look outward. It is as if the door of the outermost room of the house is shut. There are five organs of sense – form, taste, smell, touch and speech – they are left outside.
“At the beginning of meditation, sense objects appear before the mind. In deep meditation they cease to form any impression – they are left outside. During meditation, I used to have many different kinds of visions. I saw before me a heap of rupees, a shawl, a big tray full of sandesh and two females with big round nose rings. I asked my mind, ‘Oh my mind, what do you want? Do you want to enjoy them awhile?’ The mind said, ‘No, I don’t want anything. I want nothing but the lotus feet of God.’ I saw the inside and outside of the women, like one sees objects in a glass room. I saw inside their bodies: the intestines, blood, excreta, worms, phlegm, mucus, saliva and urine – all these.”
Eight occult powers and Sri Ramakrishna – profession of the guru and prostitution
At times Girish talks of curing disease by repeating Thakur’s name.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish and the other devotees) — Only people of small intellect pray for occult powers – to cure a disease, to win a lawsuit, to walk on water, all these kind of things. A pure devotee wants nothing but the lotus feet of God. One day Hriday said to me, ‘Uncle, ask the Divine Mother for some powers, for some occult powers.’ I have a childlike nature. While practicing japa in the Kali Temple I said to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, Hriday wants me to ask You for some occult powers.’ The Divine Mother at once showed me an old prostitute who came in front of me and sat on her heels with her back to me. She was a woman of about forty with large hips. She wore a black-bordered sari and noisily defecated. The Divine Mother showed me by this that all occult powers are like the excreta of an old prostitute. I then went to Hriday and scolded him, saying, ‘Why did you teach me such a prayer! It is because of you that I had this bad experience.’
“People with a little occult power gain name, fame and authority over others. Many of them want to be Gurus to attain recognition and have disciples and attendants. People may say, “Gurucharan’s brother is having a wonderful time these days. So many people visit him and he has several disciples and attendants. His home is filled with goods. Many people give him presents. And if he wants, since he has the power, he can feed a multitude!
“Being a guru is like practicing the profession of prostitution. One sells oneself for such trifling things as money, name, fame and creature comforts. The body, mind and soul, which are meant to realize God, should not be pulled down for insignificant things. Someone said, ‘Savi is on top of the world these days – she is so well off! She has rented a house and has so many things: cow dung cakes, a wooden cot, some cooking utensils, bedding, finely woven mats and pillows. Many men are under her spell and visit her often.’ In other words, Savi has taken to prostitution. That is why she has all these conveniences. Before, she was a maid in a respectable household. Now she has become a prostitute. She has ruined herself for such insignificant things.”
Temptations during the spiritual practices of Sri Ramakrishna – knowledge of Brahman and intellect of differentiation
Sri Ramakrishna and Islam
“During my spiritual practices, while meditating, I used to see many other kinds of visions. Once I was meditating under the bel tree. Sin, taking the form of a man, appeared before me and tried to tempt me in different ways. He had come in the form of a white soldier. He wanted to tempt me with money, name and fame, sexual pleasure and different kinds of powers. I began to call out to the Divine Mother – this is a great secret – She revealed Herself to me and I asked Her to kill him. I still remember that form of the Divine Mother, that world-enchanting form, the form of Krishnamayi. The whole universe seemed to move at Her glance.”
Thakur stops talking. Later on, however, he says, “I have so much else that I am not being allowed to talk about – it is as if someone is shutting my mouth.”
“Tulsi and the ordinary sajina plants appeared the same to me. My understanding of differentiation was taken away. I was meditating under the foot of a banyan tree. I was shown a Muslim with a beard who brought some cooked rice on a porcelain plate. He fed some of it to the malechhas and then gave a little to me. The Divine Mother revealed to me: There is only One, without a second – it is Sat-chit-ananda alone who has assumed different forms. God Himself has become the living beings and the phenomenal world – indeed everything. It is He who has become food.”
Sri Ramakrishna in a childlike mood, enters into ecstasy
(To Girish, M. and others) “I have the nature of a child. Hriday said to me, ‘Uncle, ask the Divine Mother for some occult powers.’ At once I went to the temple to ask for it. I was kept in such a state that I had to listen to the person who lived with me. A small child sees darkness all around if there is no one near; I was put in such a state. I felt my life draining away unless Hriday was near me. Just see, the same mood is coming over me now. As I am talking, I am feeling inspired by God.”
While speaking, Thakur goes into ecstasy. He loses all consciousness of time and place. He tries hard to control this divine mood. In ecstasy he says, “I still see you people. But I feel that you have been sitting here forever. I don’t remember when you came or where you are.”
Thakur remains still for a long time.
Returning somewhat to normal consciousness, he says, “I want some water.” Thakur generally says this at the end of his samadhi, to bring his mind to a lower plane of consciousness. Girish is a newcomer and doesn’t understand this. He starts to bring water. Thakur stops him, saying, “No, my dear, I am not able to drink water now.” Thakur and the devotees remain silent for some time. Then he talks.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — My dear sir, have I been wrong to talk of all these (secret) things?
What can M. say in reply? He remains silent. Thakur then says, “Mother, how can it be wrong? I say all this to instill faith in others.” After a long time, he says entreatingly to M., ‘Will you arrange a meeting with him?” (He refers to Purna)
M. (hesitatingly) — Sir, I will send word to him right now.
Sri Ramakrishna (eagerly) — The end (of the cord) is here.
Does Thakur mean that Purna is the last of his intimate disciples? There is almost no one after him.
His earlier story – Sri Ramakrishna’s mahabhava – Brahmani’s service to him
Addressing Girish, M. and the others, Thakur describes his own experience of mahabhava.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — The joy that one feels after that experience equals the pain of separation before it. Mahabhava – that is, divine ecstasy – disturbs the body and the mind violently. It is like a big elephant pushing its way into a straw cottage. The whole house is shaken. It may even fall to pieces.
“The burning fire that one feels when one is separated from God is not ordinary. When Rupa and Sanatana sat under a tree in that state, the leaves of the tree became scorched. I lay unconscious for three days in that state. I could not move. I lay in one spot. When consciousness returned, she (the Brahmani) held me and took me for a bath. But I could not stand the touch of her hand on my body, so my body was covered completely with a heavy sheet. Then the Brahmani held me with her hand on the sheet and led me. The earth that had stuck to my body when I lay on the ground was baked.
“In that state I felt as though a ploughshare were sticking through my spine. I cried out, ‘I am dying, I am dying!’ But afterwards I was filled with great joy.”
The devotees listen to this description of Mahabhava in amazement.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish) — You people don’t have to go that far. My ecstasy serves only as an example. You involve yourself with so many things, but I have only one interest. I enjoy nothing but God. It is His will. (Smiling) There are trees with only one branch, just as there are other trees with five branches. (All laugh.)
“My experiences are only for illustration. As for you, live in the world – but without attachment. Some mud will stick to your body, but you must wipe it off as a mudfish wipes off mud. You will swim in muddy waters – even then your body should not be stained.”
Girish (smiling) — You, too, have married. (Laughter.)
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — I married for the sake of samskara, but how could I live a worldly life? They put the sacred thread around my neck, but it dropped off. I couldn’t keep it on. According to one school of thought, Sukadeva also married. He had a daughter, too – all for the sake of samskara. (All laugh.)
“The world is nothing but ‘lust and greed’ – they make one forget God.”
Girish — How can one free oneself from ‘lust and greed’?
Sri Ramakrishna — Pray to Him with intense longing, pray that you develop the faculty of discrimination. God is the only Reality and all else is transitory – this is discrimination. One must purify water by passing it through a fine sieve. The dirt in the water remains on one side and the clean water passes to the other side of the sieve. Apply the sieve of discrimination to the world. Know Him and live a family life. It will then be the world of spirituality.
“Just see what bewitching power women have, the ones who are manifestations of ignorance, who tend to take one away from God. They make worthless fools of men. When I see a man and a woman sitting together, I say to myself, ‘Oh, they are doomed!’ (Glancing at M.) Haru was such a good-looking boy, but a witch possessed him. ‘Oh Haru, where are you? Where have you gone? I say, where is Haru!’ People saw him sitting quietly under a banyan tree – he had lost his beauty, his strength and his joy. The witch who lives in the banyan tree had cast her spell on him.
“If a wife says, ‘Go there for awhile,’ the fellow immediately rises to take leave. And if she says, ‘Sit down,’ he at once takes his seat.
“A certain job-seeker became frustrated, continually visiting the manager of an office for a job and not getting it. The manager said to him, ‘There is no vacancy now, but come from time to time and enquire about it.’ In this way a number of days passed and the candidate became thoroughly disappointed. He shared his frustration with a friend. The friend said, ‘How dumb you are! Why do you wear out your shoes visiting him again and again? You must contact Golap and you’ll get a job in no time.’ The candidate said, ‘All right, I will go see her right now.’ Golap was the manager’s mistress. The candidate met her and said, ‘Mother, unless you help me, I won’t get a job. I am in great distress. I am a brahmin’s son, where else shall I go? Mother, I have been without work for so many days! My children are starving without food. Just a word from you and I will get a job.’ Golap asked the brahmin’s son, ‘Child, whom should I talk to?’ She began to think, ‘Ah, the poor brahmin. He is in great trouble.’ The candidate said, ‘Just say a word for me to the manager. Surely I will get a job then.’ Golap said, ‘I will speak to the manager this very day and arrange everything.’ The next morning a person came to the candidate’s house and said, “Please come to the manager’s office. He has recommended you to his English boss, saying, ‘He is a very competent person and has been appointed to the job. He will contribute a great deal to the business.’ ”
“Everybody is deluded by ‘lust and greed’. But I don’t like all that. Truly, I swear that I know about nothing but God.”
Speaking truth is austerity for the age of Kali – Ishvarakoti and jivakoti
A Devotee — A new cult by the name of ‘Nava Hullol’ has been started. Lalit Chatterji is one of its members.
Sri Ramakrishna — There are so many views. Every belief is a path to reach God. But everybody thinks that only his belief is right, that only his watch is giving the right time.
Girish (to M.) — What does Pope say? ‘It is with our judgments etc.’
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — I say, what does it mean?
M. — Everybody thinks that his watch gives the right time. But watches of different people seldom say the same.
Sri Ramakrishna — Even so, howsoever the watches may give incorrect time, the sun always moves correctly. One should match the time of the watch with the sun.
A Devotee — A certain devotee frequently tells lies.
Sri Ramakrishna — Speaking the truth is the austerity for the age of Kali. The other [ancient] austerities are not easy to practice in this age. By sticking to truth, one attains God. Tulsidas says –
Telling the truth, taking refuge in Him, and considering other men’s wives as your mothers,
If these do not take you to Lord Hari, think of Tulsi as a liar.
“Keshab Sen agreed to pay the debt of his father. Anyone else would never have accepted it, for there was no record in writing. I went to Devendra’s Samaj in Jorashanko and saw Keshab seated on the dais meditating. He was very young then. I told Mathur Babu that only the ‘float’ of this young man, out of all those meditating, had dipped under water. The ‘fish’ approached the ‘bait’ and circled around it.
“A person – I shall not name him – gave a false statement in court for ten thousand rupees. He asked me to make an offering to Mother Kali to win his lawsuit. Childish as I was, I made the offering to Her. He had just said to me, ‘Father, make this offering to the Mother.’ ”
The Devotee — What a mean fellow indeed!
Sri Ramakrishna — But he had so much faith in me that he believed the Divine Mother would grant his prayer if I made the offering.
Referring to Lalit Babu’s talk, Sri Ramakrishna says:
“Is it possible to get rid of one’s pride? There are only a few people who are without pride. Balaram is one of them. (Pointing to a devotee) And this person too. Had they been anybody else, they would have parted their hair on one side and shown other traits of tamas, puffed up with the ego of learning. The fat brahmin still has a little pride. (To M.) Isn’t Mahima Chakravarty very learned?”
M. — Yes, sir. He has read many books.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — I wish he would have a conversation with Girish Ghosh. We could then observe a discussion.
Girish (smiling) — Didn’t he seem to say that anybody can become Sri Krishna by practicing spiritual disciplines?
Sri Ramakrishna — Not exactly. But something like that.
The Devotee — Sir, can everybody become like Sri Krishna?
Sri Ramakrishna — Incarnations of God or those born with some of their characteristics are called Ishvarakotis. Ordinary men are called jivas, or jivakotis. The latter can attain God by practicing spiritual disciplines, but they don’t return to normal consciousness after attaining samadhi.
“The Ishvarakoti is like the son of a king. He has the keys to all seven stories of the palace – he can climb to all seven floors and come down at his will. A jivakoti is like a junior official. He can only go to a small area in the seven-storied palace – that is all.
Harmony of jnana and bhakti
“Janaka was a jnani – he attained divine knowledge by practicing spiritual disciplines. Sukadeva, however, was the very embodiment of divine knowledge.”
Girish — Ah!
Sri Ramakrishna — Sukadeva did not attain divine knowledge by practicing austerities. Narada, like Sukadeva, had the knowledge of Brahman, but he retained love and devotion for God in order to teach mankind. Sometimes Prahlada was in the mood of ‘Soham,’ and at other times he thought of himself as a servant, or as a child, of God. Hanuman was also like that.
“All cannot attain such a lofty state just by wishing it. Some bamboos are hollower than others; some are more solid inside.”
‘Lust and greed’ and intense dispassion
A Devotee — If all your experiences are just examples for us, what should we do?
Sri Ramakrishna — Intense dispassion is essential to attain God. You must renounce immediately what you think is an obstacle in your way to God. You cannot pass over it, saying, ‘It can be dealt with later.’ ‘Lust and greed’ are hurdles on the way. You must take your mind off them.
“It will not do to lack enthusiasm or diligence. A person with a small towel on his shoulder was going for a bath. His wife said, ‘You are worthless. You are getting old and yet you have not been able to give up anything. You cannot live without me even for a day. Look at such-and-such person. What a man of renunciation he is!’
Husband — Why, what has he given up?
Wife — He has sixteen wives and he is renouncing them one by one. You will never be able to renounce.
Husband — Renouncing one by one! Oh, silly woman, he will not be able to renounce. If a man genuinely wants to renounce, does he do it bit by bit?
Wife (smiling) — Even so, he is better than you.
Husband — Silly woman, you don’t understand. He cannot renounce. But I can. See? I am leaving.
“This is intense dispassion. No sooner does one attain discrimination than one renounces. He left with just a hand towel on his shoulder. He didn’t come back to settle household affairs. He did not turn back even once to look at his home.
“A person who wishes to renounce must have great will power. He must be reckless, like a dacoit. A dacoit shouts, ‘Kill, loot, murder!’ before he commits a robbery.
“What should you do? Cultivate love and devotion for God and so pass your days.
“Unable to find Krishna, Yashoda became nearly insane with grief and went to see Radha. Seeing her grief, Radha appeared before her in the form of the Primal Power. She said, ‘Mother, ask me for a boon.’ Yashoda replied, ‘What boon can I ask? Just grant that I may serve Krishna in body, mind and speech, that I may behold His devotees with these eyes, and go with these feet wherever He is enacting His divine sport, and that I may serve Him and His devotees with these hands. Let all my sense organs be engaged in the service of Him alone.”
Thakur controls his ecstasy with great difficulty. He takes a little water and then again begins to talk of Yashoda. Mahendra Mukherji enters. He and his younger brother, Priya Mukherji, have only recently started visiting Thakur. Mahendra has a flour mill and other businesses. His brother is an engineer. Both have assistants to look after their work, so they have a great deal of leisure. Mahendra must be thirty-six or thirty-seven, and his brother about two years younger. Their home is in Kedeti village and they also have a house at Baghbazar in Calcutta. A young devotee named Hari accompanies them on their visits to Thakur. He is married, but he has great love and devotion for Thakur. Mahendra has not been to Dakshineswar for quite some time, nor has Hari. Mahendra is fair in complexion, medium in build, and always has a smile on his face. He prostrates before Thakur. Hari also offers his salutations.
Sri Ramakrishna — Hello! Why haven’t you come to Dakshineswar for such a long time?
Mahendra — Sir, I was away in Kedeti – away from Calcutta.
Sri Ramakrishna — Why? You have no children. You don’t have to work for anybody. Still you have no leisure. It is disgusting!
The devotees remain silent. Mahendra is somewhat embarrassed.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahendra) — Why do I say this to you? You are guileless and generous at heart. And you have love and devotion for God.
Mahendra — Sir, it is for my benefit that you have said it.
Sadhus looking for money – the attachment for children
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — You don’t have to put anything in the collection plate for the performance here. That is why Jadu’s mother says, ‘All other sadhus only ask for something. But it is different with you, sir.’ Worldly people are annoyed if they have to spend money.
“A theatrical performance was being given at a certain place. One fellow was very keen to see it. Peeping through the crowd, he saw people paying for it in a collection plate. He quietly stole away. Another performance was being staged somewhere else. He went there and, after inquiry, found that no collection would be taken. Soon a big crowd gathered. He pushed people with both hands and his elbows to enter. He found himself a good seat and, twirling his moustaches, sat down to listen. (Laughter.)
“And you have no children to distract your mind. A Deputy Magistrate was getting a salary of eight hundred rupees a month. He went to Keshab Sen’s house to see a play (Nava Vrindavan). I was there. Rakhal and many other devotees had gone with me and were sitting close to me. Rakhal left his seat for a few minutes and the Deputy Magistrate came, sat down, and made his young child sit on Rakhal’s seat. I said, ‘Please don’t take this seat.’ My state of mind was such that I would obey anybody who was sitting close to me. That is why I had seated Rakhal beside me. All through the play the Deputy talked to his son. The rascal did not look at the play even once. I have heard, too, that he is a slave to his wife. When she wants him to stand, he stands up; and when she asks him to sit, he sits down. And he didn’t see the performance for that snub-nosed monkey of a son! Do you meditate?”
Mahendra — Yes sir, I meditate a little.
Sri Ramakrishna — You will visit Dakshineswar some time, won’t you?
Mahendra (smiling) — Sir, you know very well where I have knots. Please straighten them out.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — First make a visit; then I can press you and see where you have developed the knots. Why don’t you visit?
Mahendra — I can’t come because of the great pressure of work. Besides, I have to visit my Kedeti house [in the countryside] sometimes.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahendra, pointing his finger at the devotees) — Don’t these people have homes? Have they no work? How do they make it?
Bondage of wife
Sri Ramakrishna (to Hari) — Why don’t you come to Dakshineswar? Is it because your wife has returned to live with you?
Hari — No, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — Then why have you forgotten?
Hari — Sir, I fell ill.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — He has gotten thin, but his love and devotion to God hasn’t diminished. Who can even fathom the depth of his devotion! But it is of a somewhat troublesome nature! (Laughter.)
Thakur calls a devotee’s wife by the name of ‘Habi’s mother’. The brother of Habi’s mother has arrived. He is a college student and is about twenty. He has to leave to play cricket, so he rises. His younger brother is also a devotee of Thakur. He leaves with him. In a little while, Dwija returns. Thakur asks him, “Didn’t you go with them?”
A certain devotee says, “Perhaps he has returned because he wants to hear the music.”
Today Trailokya, a Brahmo devotee, is to sing devotional songs. Paltu arrives. Thakur says, “Look, Paltu has arrived.”
Purna, another young devotee, has also arrived. Thakur has been able to get him here only after great difficulty. The members of his family strongly object to his visiting Thakur. He studies in class five in the school where M. teaches. The boy prostrates before Thakur. The latter makes him sit beside him and talks to him in whispers. Only M. is seated near them. The other devotees are talking of different things. Girish, sitting on the other side of the room, is reading a biography of Keshab.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Purna) — Come nearer.
Girish (to M.) — Who is this boy?
M. (irritated) — He is a boy, what else?
Girish (smiling) — I need no ghost to tell me that!
M. is afraid that others will know who he is, which might create a row in Purna’s house and M. himself might get blamed. This is also the reason Thakur is talking to the boy in whispers.
Sri Ramakrishna — Did you practice all that I told you to?
The Boy — Yes, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you see anything in your dreams – a flame, the light of a torch, a married woman, a cremation ground? It is good to see these things.
The Boy — I dreamed about you. You were seated and you said something.
Sri Ramakrishna — What was I saying? Please tell me some of it.
The Boy — I don’t remember now.
Sri Ramakrishna — Never mind. But it’s very good. You will make progress spiritually. You do feel attracted to me, don’t you?
After awhile Thakur says, “Won’t you go there?” (to Dakshineswar)? The boy says, “I can’t say if I will or not.”
Sri Ramakrishna — Why? Don’t you have a relative living there?
The Boy — Yes, sir, I have. But it wouldn’t be convenient for me to go there.
Girish is reading Keshab Sen’s biography written by Trailokya of the Brahmo Samaj. The book says, “The Paramahamsa Deva was initially very averse to the world, but he has changed his mind since meeting Keshab. The Paramahamsa now says that it is possible to lead a spiritual life in the household too.” Some devotees who read this have brought it to Thakur’s notice. They want to discuss it with Trailokya. All the passages from the book have been read out to Thakur.
Thakur’s state – giving up company of devotees
Seeing the book in Girish’s hands, Thakur says to Girish, M., Ram and the other devotees, “These people are busy living a worldly life, so they are harping on ‘world’. They are living in ‘lust and greed’. When one has realized God, one doesn’t talk like this. After attaining the bliss of God, the world becomes like the droppings of a crow. I had brushed it all away in the beginning. I had not only given up the company of worldly people, but at times I even kept myself away from devotees. I noticed that the devotees were dying one by one, and my heart began to writhe with pain. But now I do live in the company of a few devotees.”
Thakur enjoys devotional songs in company of devotees
Girish has gone home. He will return.
Trailokya arrives with Jaygopal Sen. They offer salutations to Thakur and sit down. Thakur makes polite enquiries of them. The Younger Naren arrives and salutes Thakur by prostrating on the ground. Thakur asks him, “Why didn’t you come this Saturday?” Trailokya is going to sing now.
Sri Ramakrishna — Ah, that day you sang the song of the All-Blissful Mother! What a nice song! The songs of other people seem insipid to me. That day I didn’t even like Narendra’s singing. Please sing the same song again.
Trailokya sings: Victory to Sachi’s son!
Thakur leaves to wash. Women devotees are sitting behind a screen, eagerly awaiting him. He will go see them so they can have his darshan. Trailokya’s song continues.
Returning from the room, Thakur says to Trailokya, “Please sing for awhile the song about the All-Blissful Mother.” Trailokya sings –
Divine Mother, how great is Your love for Your human children!
O Mother! Streams of the tears of ecstatic love flow from our eyes as soon as we remember You.
I have been guilty of transgressing Your laws since I was born.
Even so, You cast a loving glance from Your beautiful face and call upon me with such sweet words.
As I remember You, tears of ecstatic love begin to flow from my eyes.
Mother, I can no longer bear the burden of your ecstatic love!
My soul, having pierced my heart, cries to feel Your affection and love.
Mother, please accept me under the shelter of Your holy feet!
Listening to the song, the Younger Naren becomes merged in deep meditation. He sits there like a log of wood. Thakur says to M., “Just see what deep meditation he has plunged into! He has absolutely lost outer consciousness.”
The song ends. Thakur asks Trailokya to sing, ‘O Mother, make me mad with Thy love. What need is there for knowledge or reason?’
Ram says, “Let us repeat the name of Hari.” Trailokya sings –
O my mind, utter the name of Hari just once, do repeat His name.
Repeat the name of Hari. Let us go beyond the sea of this world.
M. says in a whisper, “O Lord, Gaur and Nitai, you two brothers…”
Thakur, too, asks for this song to be sung. Trailokya and the devotees all sing together –
O Lord, Gaur and Nitai, you two brothers are so full of compassion.
Thakur joins them in singing. As soon as the song ends, he sings another song –
Behold the two brothers who shed tears on chanting Hari’s name have come.
They who ask for prema (ecstatic love) even after receiving blows, these two brothers have come.
They who are Kanai and Balai of Vraja, these two brothers have come.
They who embrace even the pariah, these two brothers have come.
Just after this song is over, Thakur sings another song –
Behold, the whole of Nadia is shaking under the waves of the divine love of Gaur!
Thakur then adds –
Who are they passing, chanting ‘Haribol, Haribol’ with their lips?
O Madhai, please go and find out.
It seems Gaur and Nitai are going.
They who have golden anklets on their feet,
They who have shaven heads and rags on their bodies,
O Brother, they almost look mad!
The Younger Naren takes his leave.
Sri Ramakrishna — You must show great devotion to your parents. But if they are an obstacle on the way to God, don’t obey them. Have determination and say, ‘Oh, you rascal!’
The Younger Naren — Truly, I am not in the least afraid of them.
Girish returns. Thakur introduces him to Trailokya, saying, “Please talk to each other for awhile.” After they had had a little talk, he says to Trailokya, “Sing that song once again.” Trailokya sings –
Victory to Sachi’s son, Gaur, a mine of qualities, the love jewel, the sea of the joy of ecstasy.
What a lovely and charming form of golden hue! The joy of the eyes reflecting a beauty even greater than the stalk of a water lily.
His long arms reaching below his knees. The two delicate hands stretched out in love.
Face, like a beautiful lotus, drowned in the essence of love.
The locks of his hair waving in the air. Beautiful cheeks surcharged with the love of Hari. Unmatched attraction.
Merged in mahabhava, saturated with the nectar of Hari. And the hair of the body in horripilation with love.
Like a mad elephant, of golden complexion, all limbs surcharged with emotion, full of the love of God.
Always singing the praises of Hari, a hero of the nectar of love. He brings the light of joy in holy hearts; He is the sea of devotion for Chaitanya.
O, addressing the pariah as a brother, he embraces him with love, his eyes watering.
‘Where is Hari, the treasure of my heart?’ So saying, he weeps. He perspires and trembles and gives out thunderous cries.
The hair on his body stands on end. His lotus-like body looks so beautiful, having rolled in the dust.
It is the home of the nectar of Hari’s sport. He is the spring of the nectar of bhakti, a friend of the helpless, Gaur of Bengal.
Blessed you are, Sri Chaitanya, the moon of love.
Hearing that Gauranga laughs, weeps, dances and sings, Thakur stands up, absorbed in ecstasy. He is completely unconscious of the external world.
Partially returning to normal consciousness, he says most humbly to Trailokya, “Please sing that song once: ‘Oh, what have I seen…’ ”
Trailokya sings –
What an exquisite bright form of Sri Gauranga – his eyes streaming with the tears of love – have I seen in Keshab Bharati’s hut!
The song ends. It is already twilight. Thakur is now seated with the devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ram) — There are no musical instruments here. The song becomes lively when sung in accompaniment with a good musical instrument. (Smiling) Do you know how Balaram arranges a festival? Like a miserly brahmin whose cow should eat a little but yield milk in torrents! (All laugh.) Balaram has this kind of attitude: sing your own songs and play your own instruments. (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna and spiritual life – take to worldly pursuits after God-realization
It is already dusk. Lights have been lit in Balaram’s parlour and on the verandah. Sri Ramakrishna salutes the Mother of the Universe, repeats the mulamantra and chants Her Name. He is surrounded by devotees listening to the sweet name of God chanted by him. Girish, M., Balaram, Trailokya and many other devotees are still there. They want to discuss with Trailokya the section in the book ‘Biography of Keshab’ which talks of the change in the attitude of Thakur. Girish initiates the conversation.
Girish says to Trailokya, “You have written about the change in attitude of Sri Ramakrishna concerning worldly life. It is not really correct.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Trailokya and the devotees) — Having enjoyed ‘this’ joy, one doesn’t like the ‘other’ joy. Having tasted divine bliss, the joy of the world appears to be tasteless. If a man gets a shawl, he doesn’t care for broadcloth.
Trailokya — I referred to people who wanted to lead a family life. I didn’t say anything about renouncers.
Sri Ramakrishna — What are you talking about? People who harp on ‘worldly duties,’ if once taste the bliss of God do not like anything else. Their duties are reduced. Gradually, as they derive more bliss from spiritual life, they simply cannot perform their worldly duties. They seek that divine bliss alone. What are worldly pleasures and sexual joy compared to the bliss of God? Having once tasted the bliss of God, one runs after it madly – whether one can preserve one’s worldly life or not.
“The chatak bird is dying of thirst. The seven oceans and all the rivers and reservoirs are full of water, but it does not drink from them. Its parched throat is almost cracking from thirst, yet it does not drink! It sits with its mouth wide open waiting just for the rainwater of the Svati constellation of stars. All waters are dry except the water of the Svati constellation.”
Two annas of wine and saving both sides
“He says, ‘I shall hold to both God and the world.’ Taking a small quantity of wine, a man may be pleasantly intoxicated and also conscious of the world. But can he be both after getting well drunk?
“One likes nothing else after experiencing the bliss of God. Any matter relating to ‘lust and greed’ then falls like a stone on the chest. (Thakur chants to the tune of the kirtan) ‘It is different with others, but I like nothing else.’ When one becomes mad with love for God, he is not attracted by money and the rest.”
Trailokya — One certainly requires money to live in the world. One even has to hoard. There are so many things to spend money on – charity…
Sri Ramakrishna — What do you mean? That you have to accumulate money first, and then seek God? And you talk of charity and compassion! One spends thousands of rupees on the marriage of one’s daughter – while his neighbours may be starving. How difficult he finds it to give them two fistfuls of rice! He calculates so much before giving them anything. He says to himself, ‘People may be starving, but what can I do? Let the rascals live or die. What I care about is whether the members of my family are living comfortably.’ One merely talks of compassion for all living beings!
Trailokya — There have been good householders too – for instance, Pundarika Vidyanidhi, the devotee of Chaitanyadeva. He lived the life of a householder.
Sri Ramakrishna — He was intoxicated up to his neck with the wine of divine love. Had he drunk a little more, he would not have been able to lead the life of a householder.
Trailokya doesn’t say anything in reply. M. says aside to Girish, “So, what he has written is not correct.”
Girish (to Trailokya) — Then it is not true, what you have written.
Trailokya — Why so? One can practice spiritual life in the household. Doesn’t he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] say that?
Sri Ramakrishna — Spiritual life in the household is possible. But one should first attain the knowledge of God before entering family life – one should first realize God before living as a householder. Then ‘even though one may swim in the black waters of lamp-black, the body will not be stained.’ One can then live like a mudfish. The household life which one leads after God-realization is a world of spirituality. There is no ‘lust and greed’ in it – only devotion, devotee and God. I, too, have a wife. I also have a few utensils in my room. I, too, feed a few vagabonds. And when devotees like Habi’s mother come to visit, I also worry about them.
Sri Ramakrishna and avatarhood
A Devotee (to Trailokya) — I read in your book that you do not believe in divine incarnations. You said this with reference to Chaitanyadeva.
Trailokya — Chaitanyadeva himself protested against the idea of divine incarnation. When Advaita and the other devotees in Puri sang a song saying, ‘He indeed is God,’ Chaitanyadeva shut the door of his room. God has infinite glories. As he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] says, the devotee is the living room of God. Does it mean that if the living room is well decorated, there is no splendour anywhere else?
Girish — He says that ecstatic love alone is the essence of God. We need the person who is the conduit of this ecstatic love. He says that cow’s milk flows through the udder, so we need the udder. No other parts of the cow’s body are important to us – its forefeet, its legs, its horns, and so on.
Trailokya — The milk of God’s ecstatic love is channeled through various conduits. He has infinite powers.
Girish — Can any other power match His ecstatic love?
Trailokya — It is possible if He who has the power wants it. Everything has sprung out of His power.
Girish — All may be His power, but there is also the power of nescience, or ignorance.
Trailokya — What is ignorance? Does such a thing as ignorance exist? It is merely a negation. For example, darkness is the negation of light. God’s ecstatic love is invaluable – just a drop of it is like an ocean for us. But if you say that ecstatic love is the last word about God, it would mean that He can be limited.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Trailokya and the other devotees) — Yes, yes. That is true, of course. But if I take even a small quantity of wine, I become intoxicated. What need is there to find out how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? What need is there for us to find out about the infinite powers of God?
Girish (to Trailokya) — Do you believe in the incarnation of God?
Trailokya — God incarnates Himself in his devotee. Infinite power does not manifest, it is simply impossible. It cannot manifest itself in any person.
Girish — We can serve our children as ‘Brahma Gopala’. Why can’t we worship a spiritually elevated personality by calling him God?
Sri Ramakrishna (to Trailokya) — Why do you bother yourself with infinity? Do I need to touch your whole body to touch you? If you wish to take a dip in the Ganges, do you have to touch the water of the Ganges from Hardwar to Gangasagar? ‘All troubles cease when the ego dies’. As long as one retains the feeling of ‘I’, so long one is conscious of differentiation. Nobody can know, nobody can express by word of mouth, what remains after the ego vanishes. Only that which exists remains. One cannot tell by word of mouth that this much power is manifested in this man and the remainder in another. Imagine the ocean of Sat-chit-ananda in which an earthen pot of ego is immersed. As long as there is the earthen pot, so long is the water divided into two parts – the water inside the pot and the water outside. The moment the pot breaks, it is all one stretch of water. One cannot even say this. Who remains to tell?
After this discussion, Thakur has a sweet conversation with Trailokya.
Sri Ramakrishna — Are you having a good time?
Trailokya — Well, the moment I get up from here, I’ll become the same old self. Right now I am feeling very inspired.
Sri Ramakrishna — There is no danger of thorns, if one is wearing shoes. One has no fear of ‘lust and greed’ when one knows that ‘God is the only Reality and all else ephemeral.’
Balaram takes Trailokya to another room when he is asked to serve the latter some refreshments. Sri Ramakrishna describes to the devotees the state of mind of Trailokya and people of his views. It is 9:00 p.m.
Who can recognize an incarnation of God?
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girish, Mani and other devotees) — Do you know what these people are like? A frog in a small well who has never seen dry land. It only knows its own small well. It will never believe that there is dry land. He has not tasted the bliss of God, so he goes on harping about the world.
(To Girish) “Why do you waste your breath on these people? They are living both a worldly and a spiritual life. Unless one has tasted the bliss of God, one cannot understand that bliss. Can one explain sex pleasure to a boy of five? Worldly people talk about God only from hearsay. Children, hearing their two old aunts quarrelling, learn to say, ‘I believe in God,’ ‘I swear by God …’
“Let it be. It is not their fault. Can everybody conceive of Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute? Only twelve rishis were able to recognize Ramachandra as an incarnation of God – others could not understand. Some took him as an ordinary human being, others as a sadhu. Only a few knew him as an avatar.
“A person values an article according to his own wealth. A gentleman asked his servant to take a diamond to the market. ‘When you come back,’ he said, ‘tell me how much each trader is willing to pay for it. First take it to an egg-plant seller.’ The servant went to a trader in egg-plants. He examined it to evaluate it and said, ‘Brother, I can give you nine seers of egg-plants for it.’ The servant said, ‘Brother, make it a little more. Give me ten seers of egg-plant.’ The egg-plant seller said, ‘I have already offered more than the market rate. You may give it to me if the price suits you.’ The servant laughed. He returned the diamond to his master and told him, ‘The egg-plant seller will not give more than nine seers of egg-plants, not one more. He said that he had already offered more than the market rate.’
“The gentleman laughed and said, ‘Well, take the diamond now to a cloth merchant. This fellow deals in egg-plant. What does he know? The cloth merchant is wealthier. Let’s see what he says.’ The servant went to the cloth merchant and said, ‘Sir, would you care to buy this diamond? How much would you pay for it?’ The cloth merchant said, ‘Well, you have brought something very nice. It can be made into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Brother, I can pay nine hundred rupees for it.’ The servant said, ‘If you give a little higher quote, I can give it to you. Let it be a thousand rupees, if not more.’ The cloth merchant said, ‘Brother, don’t bargain any more. I have already quoted higher than the market price. I can’t pay a rupee higher than nine hundred rupees.’ The servant returned to the master and said, laughing, ‘The cloth merchant could not give a rupee more than nine hundred. He even said that he has already offered more than the market rate.’ The master laughed and said, ‘Now take it to a jeweler. Let us see what he says.’ The servant went to a jeweler and the moment the jeweler glanced at it, he said, ‘I can offer a hundred thousand rupees.’ ”
Godmen and ordinary human beings
“These people talk of practicing religion while leading a worldly life. It is like a person who has shut himself in a room – with all the doors and windows closed – with just a small hole for a little light to come in from the roof. Can one see the sun with a roof overhead? What will he do with only a little light? ‘Lust and greed’ constitute the roof. Can one see the sun unless the roof is removed? Worldly people have, as it were, shut themselves inside a room.
“Incarnations of God are Ishvarakotis. They walk freely in the open – they are never bound to the world, they never imprison themselves. Theirs is not a gross ‘I’ – like that of worldly people. The ‘I’ of worldly people is bound – it is bound within the four walls, with a roof overhead. They can see nothing outside. The ‘I’ of an incarnation of God is the subtle ‘I’. One can always see God through this ‘I’. It is as if a person is standing within a four-walled enclosure. There is a limitless field on all sides. If there is a hole in the wall, one can see everything on the other side. If the hole is big enough one can even go out and return through it. The ‘I’ of the avatar is like this wall with a hole. Even while he remains on this side of the wall, he can see a limitless space beyond it. It means that he can always live in communion with God, even when he is in a human body. And then when he wills, he can merge into samadhi, having gone out of the big hole in the wall. If the hole is big enough, he can even visit and revisit. He can come down to the worldly plane even after passing into samadhi.”
The devotees sit speechless listening to Thakur describe avatarhood.
 M.’s wife
 Image of baby Rama made of eight metals
 The performance of japa a certain number of times each day, methodically increasing and decreasing the amount
 Practicing japa and meditation seated within five fires
 Nätmanamavasädayet (Gita 6:5)
 Used as fuel to cook food
 She was in the form of a young daughter of Balaram Bose
 A non-Hindu
 Both were two great disciples of Chaitanya
 A Brahmin woman who was one of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual preceptors
 Marriage is one of the ten samskaras, or purification rites in Hindu religion
 Eternally free and perfect souls
 It is our judgments as with our watches. None goes just alike, yet each believes his own.
 I am He
 The Eternal Divine Mother
 Seeing, experiencing; paying respect to a holy place or person by a ceremonial visit; also the blessing or purification felt in the presence of holiness.
 For complete song see Volume I, Section XII
 Gauranga and Nityananda
 An esoteric word or words of great power repeated during prayer and meditation
 The fifteenth of the twenty-seven zodiacal stars according to Hindu astronomy
 Bhakti, bhakta and Bhagavan
 A name of God; baby Krishna