Sri Ramakrishna at Devotees’ Homes in Calcutta
Sri Ramakrishna at the home of a grief-stricken brahmin woman
Thakur arrives in Baghbazar, to an old brick house belonging to a grieving brahmin woman. Upon entering, there is a cowshed to the left. There is space on the roof for sitting. Here, people have formed rows, some standing, while others are seated. They are all eager to have a glimpse of Sri Ramakrishna.
The brahmin woman and her sister are widows. Their brothers also live in the house with their families. The brahmin woman has suffered inconsolable grief at the loss of her only daughter. She has been hard at work the whole day in preparation for Thakur’s setting his holy feet in her home. While Thakur was at Nanda Bose’s house, she had been going in and out of her house anxiously awaiting his arrival. Thakur had told her that he would come to her house after visiting Nanda Bose. Because he was delayed, she wondered if he would come at all.
Thakur sits with the devotees on the roof, where seating arrangements have been made. M., Narayan, Jogen Sen, Devendra and Jogin sit close to him on a mat. Soon the Younger Naren and many other devotees join them. The brahmin woman’s sister comes to the roof and offers salutations to Thakur, saying, “My sister has just gone to Nanda Bose’s house to find out why there is so much delay in your coming. She will return soon.”
Hearing a sound downstairs, she says, “It is my sister coming.” She looked for her, but the sister had not yet returned.
Thakur is smiling, sitting there surrounded by devotees.
M. (to Devendra) — What a wonderful sight! Young and old, men and women, all standing in rows, eager to see Sri Ramakrishna and hear his words.
Devendra (to Sri Ramakrishna) — M. says that this place is better than Nanda Bose’s. How great is their love and devotion for God!
Now the brahmin woman’s sister says, “Here comes sister!”
The brahmin woman comes and salutes Thakur. Then she is unable to decide what to say or do.
Beside herself with emotion, she says, “Oh my dear, I am not going to survive this joy. All of you, please tell me how I can save myself! When my Chandi [daughter] visited me, she was accompanied by armed men to guard her on the road. Even then I didn’t feel such joy as now. I don’t feel the least grief at Chandi’s death. I was afraid that he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] would not come and I had decided to throw everything I had prepared into the Ganges. And I wouldn’t speak to him any more. I would only go once where he visited and see him from a distance, then I would return home.”
“Let me go and tell everybody, ‘Come! Come! See my joy!’ Let me show Jogin how fortunate I am!”
Still overwhelmed with joy, the brahmin woman says, “Sir, a labourer paid a rupee for a lottery ticket and won a hundred thousand rupees. The moment he heard that he had won all that money, he died of joy. He really died. It is the same with me. Please bless me, friends, or I will surely die.”
Seeing her intense joy and ecstatic state, M. is fascinated. He goes to take the dust of her feet. “What are you doing?” she exclaims. Instead, she salutes M.
The brahmin woman is delighted to see the devotees in her home. She says, “I am glad to see all of you here. I have brought the Younger Naren. I said to him, ‘Without you, who would make us laugh?’ ” While she was talking, her sister came and said anxiously, “Come, sister. How can you keep standing there? Come downstairs. How can I manage by myself?”
The brahmin woman is absorbed in joy. She looks at Thakur and the devotees. How can she leave them and go downstairs?
After some conversation, full of devotion, she takes Thakur to another room and offers him sweets and other refreshments. The devotees also have refreshments on the roof.
It is about 8:00 p.m. and Thakur is ready to leave. One goes west through a room downstairs to a verandah in the courtyard. With the cowshed on the right, one comes to the main gate. When Thakur goes with the devotees through the verandah toward the main gate, the brahmin woman calls out, “I say, sister-in-law, come quickly and take the dust of his feet!” Both the brahmin woman’s sister-in-law and one of her brothers salute Sri Ramakrishna.
The brahmin woman says to Thakur, “This is one of my brothers. He is a fool!”
Sri Ramakrishna — No, no. They are all good people.
A person shows the path with a lantern, but some places are not sufficiently lit.
The Younger Naren calls out loudly, “Bring the light here! Show the light here! You haven’t lit the path well enough.” (All laugh.)
At the cowshed, the brahmin woman says to Thakur, “This is my house for cows.” Thakur stops for awhile in front of the cowshed. The devotees are all around him. Mani prostrates before Thakur to salute him and takes the dust of his feet.
Thakur will now visit Ganu’s mother.
Sri Ramakrishna at the home of Ganu’s mother
Sri Ramakrishna is seated in the living room of Ganu’s mother’s house. It is on the ground floor. Next to the street, it is used as a concert room. Several young men now and then play music for Thakur’s entertainment.
It is half past eight in the evening. It is the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Ashada. The sky, the house and the main road are all bathed in moonlight. The devotees had come in with Thakur and taken their seats in the room.
The brahmin woman, who has accompanied them, first goes inside the house and then comes and stands at the door of the living room. A number of boys from the neighbourhood look at Thakur through its windows. When they hear of his arrival, people of the neighborhood, young and old, come eagerly to see the great saint.
Seeing more and more boys peeping in from the windows, the Younger Naren says, “I say, why are you all here? Go home, please.” But Sri Ramakrishna says affectionately, “No, no. Please stay.”
From time to time Thakur chants, “Hari Om! Hari Om!”
An asana has been placed over an ordinary cotton carpet. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting on it. Some young musicians who have brought their instruments are asked to sing some songs. When they can’t find comfortable seats, Thakur asks them to sit close to him on the cotton carpet.
He says, “Why don’t you sit here? Here, I am making room.” Saying this, he gathers up his asana. The boys sing –
O Keshab, wandering in the groves and glades, bestow Your grace on this distressed soul.
O Madhava, charmer of the mind, holding a magic flute.
(Say Haribol, Haribol, Haribol, O my mind)
You are the youth of Vraja, the tamer of Kalia and the dispeller of the fear of the distressed.
With eyes askance, the peacock feather aslant in the crest, the charmer of Radha’s heart.
The lifter of Mount Govardhan, bedecked with sylvan flowers, O Damodar, the destroyer of the pride of Kamsa.
O Shyam, sporting and dancing with the gopis!
(Say Haribol, Haribol, Haribol, O my mind)
Come, O mother Uma, my life…
Sri Ramakrishna — Oh, what a great song! What a nice violin! How well it was played!
One of the young men played the flute. Thakur points to him and the other young man with his finger and says, “They make a nice pair.”
The concert continued. Pleased with the music, Thakur says, “How nice! Beautiful indeed!”
Pointing to one young man, he says, “He can play all the instruments.”
Then he says to M., “They are all good people.”
When the song is over, Thakur says to the devotees, “You sing some songs, too.” The brahmin woman is standing near the door. She says, “None of them can sing – except perhaps Mahima Babu. But he won’t sing in front of him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna].”
The Young Man — Why? I even sing before my father.
The Younger Naren (laughing loudly) — But he has not advanced that far.
Everyone laughs. In a few minutes the brahmin woman comes and says, “Please come inside.” Sri Ramakrishna asks, ‘Why?”
The Brahmin Woman — Refreshments are to be served there. Kindly go inside.
Sri Ramakrishna — Why don’t you bring them here?
The Brahmin Woman — Ganu’s mother says, “If he once gives the dust of his feet in the house, it will turn into Kashi. Then even dying in the house will no longer be a problem for me.”
Sri Ramakrishna enters the inner apartments with the brahmin woman and the young men. The devotees pace up and down in the moonlight. M. and Binode talk to one another as they stroll the main path south of the house.
Secret message – ‘the three are indeed one’
Sri Ramakrishna is resting in the room to the west of the parlour in Balaram’s house. He would like to take a nap. It was already late in the evening when Thakur returned to Balaram’s house from the home of Ganu’s mother – it must have been about 10:45 p.m.
Thakur says, “Jogin, please massage my feet gently for awhile.”
Mani is seated close by.
While Jogin gently strokes his feet, Thakur says, “I am feeling hungry. I would like to have a little farina pudding.”
The brahmin woman has also accompanied Thakur to Balaram’s house. Her brother can play the banya and the tabla beautifully. Seeing her again, Thakur says, “The next time Naren or any other singer comes, we will invite her brother to come too.”
Thakur takes a little farina pudding. Gradually Jogin and the other devotees leave the room. Mani is gently stroking his feet. Thakur talks with him.
Sri Ramakrishna — Oh, how happy they were (the brahmin woman and her relatives).
Mani — How wonderful! The same thing happened at the time of Jesus Christ. They, too, were devotees, and sisters – Martha and Mary.
Sri Ramakrishna (eagerly) — What is their story? Please tell me.
Mani — Jesus Christ had gone to their house just as you did, with his devotees. One of the sisters was filled with the joy of ecstasy to see him – as the song of Gaur says:
Drowned forever, never to return, my eyes sank in the ocean’s depths.
Forgetting to swim in the sea of Gaur’s beauty, my mind went to the bottom of the sea.
“The other sister was preparing the food all by herself. Becoming fretful over how much she had to do, she came to Christ and complained to him, ‘Lord, just look at this. How unfair of my elder sister! She is sitting here alone quietly and I am having to do all the work all by myself.’
“Jesus said, ‘Blessed is your sister to have attained the one thing needful in life (that is, ecstatic love of God).’ ”
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, what do you feel when you see all this?
Mani — I feel that the three persons are indeed one – Jesus Christ, Chaitanyadeva and you – are one person.
Sri Ramakrishna — Of course, one. What is there except one? It is He alone who dwells in this body.
After saying this, Sri Ramakrishna points to his own body – as if to say that the Lord has incarnated Himself and is dwelling in his body.
M. — You explained the other day how God incarnates on earth.
Sri Ramakrishna — Tell me what I said.
Mani — You said, for instance, that there is a vast open and desolate field. In front of it is a wall that one cannot see through. But there is a small round hole in this wall. Through it, one can see a little of the infinite expanse of the field.
Sri Ramakrishna — Tell me, what is this ‘hole’?
Mani — You are that ‘hole’. Through you, one can see everything – one can see that vast infinite expanse.
Sri Ramakrishna, very pleased, pats Mani and says, “It is very good that you have understood.”
Mani — As a matter of fact, it is particularly difficult to understand. We are unable to comprehend how God, Perfect Brahman, can dwell in such a small body.
Sri Ramakrishna — ‘I say, no one has recognized Him who roams from home to home in the guise of a mad man.’
Mani — And you were talking of Jesus.
Sri Ramakrishna — What did I say?
Mani — You had passed into bhava samadhi when you saw the picture of Jesus at Jadu Mallick’s garden house. You saw Jesus come out of the picture and enter into you.
Thakur remains silent for awhile. Then he says more to Mani, “Perhaps there is a meaning in the disease that I have contracted in my throat – that I should not make myself appear light before all, so that I would not go to all sorts of places and sing and dance.”
Thakur talks about Dwija. He asks, “Didn’t Dwija come today?”
Mani — I asked him to come. He was supposed to. I don’t know why he hasn’t.
Sri Ramakrishna — He has great love for me. Well, he must belong to the intimate circle of devotees here, mustn’t he?
Mani — Yes, sir, it must be. Otherwise, how could he have so much love?
Mani enters the mosquito net and fans Thakur.
Turning a little toward him, Thakur continues talking. The topic is that God incarnates in the human body to enact His divine sport.
Sri Ramakrishna — That is your spiritual ideal. At one time I didn’t see divine forms. That state passed, and now I don’t have visions often.
Mani — I like His play as a human being the best of all, His divine sport.
Sri Ramakrishna — That alone is enough to succeed. And you see [His play in] me?
Is Sri Ramakrishna saying that the Lord has incarnated Himself as a human being in his person and is enacting His divine sport?
 Golap-ma (Golap Sundari Devi), a companion and friend of Holy Mother
 Yogin-ma (Yogindra Mohini Biswas), Holy Mother’s confidant and friend
 A semi-circular percussion instrument played along with tabla