Sri Ramakrishna at the Cossipore Garden House with his Intimate Companions
At Cossipore Garden house with devotees
Sri Ramakrishna is lying on his bed in the second story room of the Cossipore Garden house. Sashi and Mani are in the room. Thakur asks Mani by a sign to fan him. He does so.
It is 5 or 6 o’clock in the afternoon on Monday, 12 April 1886; Sankranti of the month of Chaitra, the day of the worship of Vasanti Mahalakshmi; the eighth day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra, 31st Chaitra.
There is a fair in this residential neighbourhood celebrating the last day of the Bengali year with a special worship of Shiva. Thakur had sent a devotee to buy some articles there. He has returned.
Sri Ramakrishna — What have you brought?
The Devotee — Sugar drops worth a pice, a vegetable knife worth two pice and a spoon worth two pice.
Sri Ramakrishna — What about the [other] knife?
The Devotee — He would not sell it for two pice.
Sri Ramakrishna (excitedly) — Please go quickly and buy it.
M. is strolling around downstairs. Narendra and Tarak have returned from Calcutta. They visited Girish Ghosh’s house and other places.
Tarak — Today we ate a lot of meat and other heavy food.
Narendra — The mind has gone down a great deal. Let us practice some austerity.
(To M.) “What slavery to the body and the mind! We are just like porters. As if the body and the mind do not belong to me, but to someone else.”
It is getting dark. Light has been brought to the upper room, as well as to other parts of the house. Thakur is sitting on the bed facing north. He is contemplating the Mother of the Universe. After some time Fakir, who belongs to the family of Balaram’s priest, recites from the holy book the hymn, ‘Dissolver of sins,’ which addresses the Divine Mother. He is sitting in front of Thakur.
I suffered great distress in the womb of my mother before I was born.
But even after being born, I did not take refuge at Your feet, nor did I worship them.
Though born again and again, I didn’t take You as my refuge, nor did I serve You.
Formidable Goddess, pray excuse my sins.
Sashi, Mani and one or two other devotees are in the room.
The recitation of the hymn is over. Sri Ramakrishna bows down with folded hands in a mood of great devotion and reverence.
Mani is fanning him. Thakur says to him by a sign, “Please bring a stone bowl for me.” With his hand he indicates the shape of the bowl to Mani. Then he says, “It should hold a quarter litre of milk. And it should be white stone.”
Mani — Right, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — When I eat vegetable soup in other bowls, it smells of fish.
Does an Ishvarakoti bear the result of his actions? Is he bound by destiny? Yogavashishtha
The next day, Ram Naomi, Tuesday, 13 April 1886, the first of Vaishakh. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting on his bed in the second story room. It is between 8 and 9 in the morning. Mani had stayed the night. He took a dip in the Ganges in the morning, then came to Thakur and prostrated before him. Ram Dutta also came and saluted Thakur, then took his seat. Ram has brought a garland of flowers, which he offers to Thakur. Most of the devotees are downstairs; only one or two are present in Thakur’s room. Ram is talking to Thakur.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Ram) — How do you find me?
Ram — You have everything in you. Soon the conversation will be your illness.
Sri Ramakrishna smiles and asks Ram by a sign, “The topic will be my illness?”
Thakur’s slippers pinch his feet. Doctor Rajendra Dutta asks him for the measurement of his feet so he can get slippers made to fit. The measurement is taken.
Sri Ramakrishna asks Mani by a sign, “What about the stone bowl?” Mani rises at once. He wants to leave for Calcutta to buy one.
Sri Ramakrishna says, “Please don’t bother now. Leave it.”
Mani — Sir, these devotees are going to Calcutta. I can go with them.
Mani buys a white stone bowl from a shop in the new market at the Jorashanko crossing. It is already midday when he returns to the Cossipore Garden House. He comes to Thakur to salute him and places the bowl before him. Thakur looks at the white stone bowl and holds it in his hand. Dr. Rajendra Dutta, Dr. Sreenath, Rakhal Haldar and several other devotees come in. Dr. Sreenath holds a copy of the Gita in his hand. Rakhal, Sashi, the Younger Naren and the other devotees are in the room. The doctors hear the news of Thakur’s illness.
Dr. Sreenath (to his friends) — We are all subject to prakriti. Nobody can evade the fruit of his actions! One has to reap the prarabdha!
Sri Ramakrishna — Why, when one repeats God’s Name, meditates on Him and surrenders to Him…
Dr. Sreenath — Sir, where will the effect of prarabdha go – the effect of one’s actions of so many earlier births?
Sri Ramakrishna — Certainly one must, to some extent, reap the fruit of one’s actions. But by virtue of the repetition of God’s Name, a lot of the bondage of actions is dispelled. Maybe one had to be born blind in seven births because of his actions of previous births. But after a dip in the Ganges, which brings liberation, maybe this fellow remained blind for the rest of his life, but he was not born another six times.
Dr. Sreenath — But, sir, the holy books say that there is no way to free oneself from the result of one’s actions. (Dr. Sreenath was ready to argue.)
Mani remains silent. He says to Rakhal, “Please talk to him about this.”
After awhile the doctors leave. Thakur talks to Rakhal Haldar.
Haldar — Dr. Sreenath studies the Vedanta. He reads the Yogavashishtha.
Sri Ramakrishna — It is not good to live as a householder and still hold the view that ‘everything is like a dream’.
A Devotee — Kalidasa says, ‘That fellow, too, discusses the Vedanta, but he has lost all his wealth in a law suit.’
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — To say that it is all maya and then to sue in a court of law? (To Rakhal) Mukherji of Janai also used to talk big, but later he understood. If I were well, I would talk to him [Dr. Sreenath] a little longer. Can one attain divine knowledge just by repeating ‘knowledge, knowledge’?
Sri Ramakrishna’s hair stands on end when he notices those who have conquered lust
Haldar — I have heard so many things about divine knowledge, but now all I need is a little love and devotion for God. The other day I came to you with a question. You have answered it.
Sri Ramakrishna (eagerly) — What was it?
Haldar — Sir, when this young man arrived, you said that he had mastered his senses.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, my dear. Worldly thoughts have not entered into him at all. He says he doesn’t know what lust is.
(To Mani) “Touch me. The hair of my body is standing on end.”
Reminded of such a pure state devoid of the least trace of lust, the hair on Thakur’s body stands on end. God is present where there is no lust. Is Thakur being inspired by God-consciousness thinking of this?
Rakhal Haldar takes his leave.
Sri Ramakrishna is still sitting with the devotees. A crazy woman creates a row, insisting on seeing him. This woman entertains the attitude of a lover. She often visits the garden house and suddenly rushes up to Thakur’s room. Even when the devotees beat her, she doesn’t stop.
Sashi — I will push her out if the ‘crazy woman’ comes again.
Sri Ramakrishna (in a voice full of compassion) — No, my dear. Let her come. She will leave by herself.
Rakhal — Before, I would feel jealous when I saw so many other people visiting him. But he was kind enough to make me realize that my guru was the Guru of the whole world. Has he incarnated just for our sake?
Sashi — No, not at all, but why bother him when he is sick? She causes such a row!
Rakhal — Well, everyone creates some kind of row. Have all the visitors who have come to him attained perfection before coming? We do not harm them. Narendra and others – what were they like when they first came? How many arguments Narendra used to raise!
Sashi — Whatever Narendra said, he carried out in action.
Rakhal — How much Dr. Sarkar argued! On test, no one is without guilt.
Sri Ramakrishna (affectionately, to Rakhal) — Will you eat something?
Rakhal — I won’t eat now.
Sri Ramakrishna is asking Mani with a sign whether he will eat here today.
Rakhal — Why don’t you? He is asking you to.
Thakur is sitting with the devotees naked, like a child of five. Just now the crazy woman climbs up the stairs and stands at the door.
Mani (in a whisper to Sashi) — Ask her to bow to him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] and leave. There is no need to say anything more.
Sashi sends the crazy woman downstairs.
It is the first day of the new year. A number of women devotees have arrived. They offer salutations to Thakur and the Holy Mother and receive their blessings. The wives of Balaram and of Manomohan and the Brahmin woman of Baghbazar are among them. Some of them have brought their children.
The women devotees come to the second story room to pay their respects to Thakur. Some of them offer flowers and vermilion powder at the lotus feet of Thakur. Two girls, nine or ten years old, sing a hymn to Sri Ramakrishna –
I want to attain peace. But where can I find it?
Where have I come from and to where am I floating away?
I go and come back time and again; I cry and laugh so much.
O brother, I am always asking myself where I should go.
O my vina, chant the name of Lord Hari.
Look, O young lady! He is coming before you, He who has slanting eyes and holds a flute in his hand.
O my tongue! Ever repeat the name of Durga.
Who but She will save you during trials and tribulations?
Sri Ramakrishna says by signs, “O my Mother! How beautifully she sings!”
The brahmin woman has the nature of a child. Thakur laughs and says to Rakhal by a sign, “Why don’t you ask her to sing?” The brahmin woman sings. The devotees smile.
O Hari! I shall play with You today.
I have found you alone today in the Nidhu grove [at Vrindavan].
The two girls go downstairs.
It is evening. Mani and a couple of devotees are sitting near Thakur. Narendra enters the room. As Sri Ramakrishna rightly says, Narendra appears as if he is carrying an unsheathed sword when he moves about.
Hard disciplines for the monk and Narendra
Narendra comes in and sits beside Thakur. He expresses his aversion to women within Thakur’s hearing. He says that keeping the company of women is a serious obstacle to God-realization.
Sri Ramakrishna doesn’t say anything; he just listens to Narendra.
Narendra continues, “I want peace. I don’t even care for God.” Sri Ramakrishna stares at him without saying a word. Narendra chants, “Brahman is Truth, Knowledge, the Infinite.”
It is 8:00 p.m. Thakur is sitting on his bed. A couple of devotees are sitting in front of him. Surendra has come to see him after completing his office work. He brings four oranges and two flower garlands. First he gazes at Thakur and then at the devotees. He tells them what is in his heart.
Surendra (glancing at Mani and the others) — I have come from the office after finishing my work. I said to myself, ‘I shouldn’t stand on two boats at the same time. I had better finish my work before going there.’ Today is the first day of the year and it is also Tuesday. Yet I didn’t go to Kalighat. I thought, it would be enough to see him who is Kali Herself and who has rightly known Kali.’
Sri Ramakrishna smiles a little.
Surendra — I have been told that one should take flowers and fruits when one visits the guru or a sadhu. That is why I have brought these things. I have spent money for you; God alone sees into one’s mind. There are some who feel uncomfortable when they have to spend even a pice for the sake of God. And there are some who do not mind spending a thousand rupees. God sees the devotion in a devotee’s heart and accepts the offering.
Thakur nods his agreement that Surendra is right. Surendra adds, “I couldn’t come to see you yesterday, the last day of the year. But I decorated your picture with flowers.”
Sri Ramakrishna tells Mani by a sign, “Oh, what love and devotion!”
Surendra — I bought these two garlands for you on my way here. They cost four annas.
Almost all the devotees have left. Thakur asks Mani to gently massage his feet and to fan him.
 Large knife fixed at right angle on a piece of wood used to cut vegetables and fish
 Apradha bhanjan
 These slippers are worshipped in the Belur Math now
 Stored-up karma from past lives which has begun to bear fruit in the present life
 An ordinary human being
 Madhura bhava
 Meaning Sri Krishna
 An auspicious day for worshipping the Divine Mother
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