With Devotees at the Cossipore Garden House
Narendra’s yearning for the Lord
Sri Ramakrishna is sitting in the second story room of the Cossipore garden house. He is telling M. that Ram Chatterji had come from the Dakshineswar Kali Temple to enquire after his health. He asks M. whether it is very cold at Dakshineswar.
It is Monday, 4 January 1886. 21st of Pausha, the 14th day of the dark fortnight, 4:00 p.m.
Narendra comes in and sits down. Thakur glances at him from time to time and smiles – it is as though he were beside himself with love and affection for Narendra. He tells Mani with a sign, “He wept.” Thakur remains quiet for awhile. Then he says by signs to Mani that Narendra had cried all the way from home.
Everyone is silent; then Narendra speaks –
Narendra — I am thinking of going there today.
Sri Ramakrishna — Where?
Narendra — To Dakshineswar. Tonight I will light a fire under the bel tree and meditate.
Sri Ramakrishna — No. Those people (the proprietors) will not allow it. The Panchavati is a nice place. Many sadhus have practiced the repetition of God’s name and meditation.
“But it is very cold there, and dark.”
Everyone is silent. Thakur continues.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra, smiling) — Won’t you study?
Narendra (looking at Thakur and Mani) — I wish I had some medicine that would make me forget everything that I have studied.
The Elder Gopal is there. He says, “I will go with him.” Kalipada Ghosh had brought a box of grapes for Thakur; it is lying beside him. He distributes the grapes to the devotees. First he gives some to Narendra, then to Hari. Then he pours them on the floor so the devotees may gather as many as they like.
Narendra’s yearning for the Lord and his intense dispassion
It is already evening. Narendra, sitting downstairs smoking, tells Mani privately how his soul is yearning for the Lord.
Narendra (to Mani) — I was meditating here last Saturday. Suddenly there was a strange sensation in my chest.
Mani — Waking of the Kundalini!
“Yesterday, Sunday, I went upstairs to see him [Sri Ramakrishna] and told him about it.
“I said, ‘Everyone else has attained realization; please give me some. Everyone else has attained it. Should I be the only one not to succeed?’ ”
Mani — What did he say to you?
Narendra — He said, ‘Please come here after settling your family affairs. You will get everything. What do you want?’
Sri Ramakrishna and the Vedanta – accept both the Absolute and the phenomenal
“I said, ‘I want to remain absorbed in samadhi for three or four days. I want only to rise now and then to eat a little food.’
“He said, ‘You are very small-minded! There is a state higher than this! Don’t you yourself sing, “You are all that is”?’ ”
Mani — Yes. He always says, ‘He Himself has become all that you see when you come down from samadhi – He Himself has become the universe and its living beings. A God-man can attain that state.’ He says, ‘If an ordinary human being attains samadhi, he cannot come down from it.’
Narendra — He said, ‘Go and settle things in your household. It is possible for you to attain a state higher than samadhi.’
“I went home this morning. Everybody began to scold me. They said, ‘Why are you roaming around creating confusion? Your law examination is very near and you don’t study. Instead you roam around aimlessly.’ ”
Mani — Did your mother say anything?
Narendra — No. She wanted to feed me. There was venison. I ate it, though I didn’t feel like it.
Mani — And then?
Narendra — I went to the home of my grandmother to study. When I began to read, I felt a peculiar pain, as if studies were something frightful. My chest began to palpitate wildly! I have never wept so bitterly!
“I threw the books away and ran out onto the road. My shoes fell off somewhere. I ran close to a haystack and got covered with hay. I kept running down the road to Cossipore.”
Narendra is silent for awhile. Then he continues.
Narendra — I have begun to feel worse since reading the Vivekachudamani. Shankaracharya says that three things – human birth, the desire for liberation, and the refuge of a great spiritual soul – come to one if he has done great spiritual practice and is very fortunate.
“I began to reflect: I have indeed achieved all three things. As a result of great austerities, I have been born as a human being; as a result of the same, I have developed the desire for liberation; and it is because of so much spiritual practice that I have been able to meet a great saint.”
Mani — Ah!
Narendra — I don’t like worldly life any more. I don’t like those who live a worldly life – except for one or two devotees…
Narendra suddenly stops talking. He has developed intense dispassion. His heart is pining for God. He continues –
Narendra (to Mani) — You have attained peace, while my soul is so troubled! You are indeed blessed.
Mani is silent. He does not reply. He reflects: Thakur said, ‘One must yearn for the Lord, only then does one attain His vision.’ Soon after dusk, Mani goes to the room upstairs. He finds Thakur asleep.
It is about 9:00 p.m. Niranjan and Sashi are sitting beside Thakur, who is now awake. Every now and then he talks of Narendra.
Sri Ramakrishna — How wonderful Narendra’s state of mind is! You see, in the beginning this same Narendra did not accept God with form. Do you see how his heart is pining for the Lord now? Someone asked his guru, ‘How can one realize God?’ The guru said, ‘Come with me, I’ll show you in what state He can be attained.’ Saying this, he took the disciple to a pond where he immersed him and held his head under water. After some time he released the disciple and asked him, ‘How did you feel?’ The disciple said, ‘I felt I was going to die!’ It is like this with Narendra.
“When one’s heart pines for God, know that God-realization is not far away. At dawn – when the eastern sky is red – one knows that the sun is soon going to rise.”
Thakur’s condition is worse today. He is suffering so much – yet he talks of all these things about Narendra, though mostly in signs.
Narendra has gone to Dakshineswar tonight. It is pitch dark – the beginning of the Amavasya. One or two devotees have gone with him. Mani is staying for the night at the garden house. He dreams that he is seated among sannyasins.
Intense dispassion of the devotees – living in the world and suffering in hell
The next day is Tuesday, 5 January, 22nd day of Pausha. The Amavasya lingers for a long time. It is four o’clock. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting on his bed. He is talking to Mani alone.
Sri Ramakrishna — If Kshirode goes on pilgrimage to Gangasagar, please buy him a blanket.
M. — Yes, sir.
Thakur is quiet for awhile. He resumes the conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, can you tell me what is happening to these young men? One is running to Sri Puri, while the other is going on pilgrimage to Gangasagar.
“They are all renouncing their homes and coming here. Look at Narendra. When such intense dispassion develops, the world appears to be a deep well and one’s relatives as venomous snakes.”
Mani — Sir, there is so much suffering in the world.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is the suffering of hell – from the moment of one’s very birth! Don’t you see what trouble it is to have a wife and children?
Mani — Yes, sir. And you also said that those people (who have not entered family life) owe nothing to the world and expect nothing from it. Others remain entangled in the world to satisfy their expectations and carry out their obligations.
Sri Ramakrishna — Have you observed Niranjan? His attitude is, ‘Take what is yours, and give me what is mine’ – that’s all. He has no further relationship with the world. He has no attachment to it.
“Indeed ‘lust and greed’ is worldly life. Just see, if one has money, one wishes to keep it.”
Mani bursts out laughing. Thakur laughs too.
Mani — One calculates so much before taking the money out. (Both of them laugh.) But you said at Dakshineswar that one lives in the world very differently if one has gone beyond the three gunas [sattva, rajas and tamas].
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, one becomes like a child.
Mani — True, sir. But it is exceedingly difficult. It requires a great deal of will power.
Thakur is silent for awhile.
Mani — Yesterday when they had gone (to Dakshineswar) to meditate, I had a dream.
Sri Ramakrishna — What did you dream?
Mani — I dreamt that Narendra and some others had become sannyasins. They were sitting around a fire. I, too, was seated with them. They were puffing tobacco smoke. I said that it smelled like Indian hemp.
Who is a sannyasin? Thakur’s pain and the state of a child
Sri Ramakrishna — It is enough if one renounces in the mind. That too makes one a sannyasin.
Thakur doesn’t say any more. Then he talks about other things.
Sri Ramakrishna — But one has to set fire to one’s desires. Only then can one succeed.
Mani — You said to the pundit of the Marwaris from Burrabazar that you had the desire for love and devotion to God. Perhaps the desire for bhakti is not to be counted as a desire.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is like hinche leaves, which are not counted as greens. Hinche controls an excess of bile.
“Well, there was so much joy and ecstasy before. Where has all that gone?”
Mani — I feel that you have attained the state of trigunatita, spoken of in the Gita. Sattva, rajas and tamas are performing their functions, but you, yourself, are unattached. You are not even attached to the sattva guna.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, I have been kept in the state of a child.
“Well, will my body survive this illness?”
Thakur and Mani remain silent. Narendra comes up from downstairs. He is going home and will return after settling family affairs.
Since the death of his father, Narendra’s mother and brothers have been in great difficulties. At times they don’t have enough to eat. Narendra is their only hope. He has to take a job and provide them food. But he has not been able to take his law examination because he is in a state of intense dispassion. He is going to Calcutta today to make arrangements for his family. A friend of his will lend him hundred rupees. That will take care of their rations for three months.
Narendra — I am leaving for home now. (To Mani) I am going by way of Mahima Chakravarty’s home. Would you like to come with me?
Mani doesn’t want to go. Thakur looks at him and asks Narendra, “Why?”
Narendra — I am going that way. I will visit him and chat for awhile.
Thakur looks intently at Narendra.
Narendra — A friend who comes here has said he would lend me hundred rupees. I am going to arrange for the needs of my family for three months with this amount.
Thakur is silent. He looks at Mani.
Mani (to Narendra) — No, you go on. I will go later.
 Vairagya; non-attachment to things of the world
 A spiritual column of nerves on the left of the spinal cord
 A spiritual column of nerves on the right of the spinal cord
 The darkest night of the month
 Beyond the three gunas
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