At the Dakshineswar Temple with Ratan and other Devotees
Sri Ramakrishna has but one thought and one word – that trick is the best trick
Sri Ramakrishna is sitting on the smaller cot in his room at the Kali Temple. He is smiling and talking with the devotees. They have all eaten. It must be one or two o’clock.
It is Sunday, 9 September 1883, the 7th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadra. Rakhal, M. and Ratan are sitting on the floor. Now and then Ramlal, Ram Chatterji and Hazra enter the room, sit for awhile and then leave. Ratan manages Jadu Mallick’s garden estate. He is devoted to Thakur and occasionally visits him. Thakur is talking to him now. Ratan says, “A theatrical performance by Nilkantha will be staged at Jadu Mallick’s Calcutta house.”
Ratan — You must come and see it. He has sent you word that a theatrical performance will be staged.
Sri Ramakrishna — That is good. I want to go. Oh, how full of love and devotion Nilkantha’s songs are!
A Devotee — Right, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna — When he sings, he is bathed in tears. (To Ratan) I wonder if I might stay the night there.
Ratan — That would be very nice.
Ram Chatterji and the other devotees ask about the incident of a theft of sandals at Jadu Mallick’s house.
Ratan — The golden sandals of the Deity were stolen from Jadu Mallick’s house. There is a great uproar in the house. They will use a charmed plate to detect the thief. Everybody will sit and the plate will move in the direction of the thief.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — How does the plate move? Does it move by itself?
Ratan — No. A person presses it with his hand.
A Devotee — It is a kind of ‘sleight of hand’ – it’s a trick.
Sri Ramakrishna — Only that cleverness by which God is realized is real cleverness – that trick is the best trick.
Tantrik spiritual discipline and Sri Ramakrishna’s filial attitude
The conversation goes on. In the meantime some Bengali gentlemen enter Thakur’s room, salute him and sit down. One of them is already acquainted with Thakur. These gentlemen practice the Tantrik disciplines of five ingredients. Thakur can tell what is in another’s mind, he knows what attitude one holds. He has also heard that one of them performs a sinful act in the name of religion: he is having an illicit affair with the widow of the brother of a big man. In the name of religion he practices the disciplines of the five ingredients with her.
Sri Ramakrishna practices the filial attitude. He considers every woman his mother; he even sees the form of the Mother of the Universe in a prostitute.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — Where is Achalananda? Kalikinkar came here the other day and also someone called Singhi. (To M. and others) Achalananda and his disciples have a different attitude from mine. I have the attitude of a child.
The visiting gentlemen remain silent.
His earlier story – Tantrik disciplines practiced by Achalananda
Sri Ramakrishna — I have the attitude of a child. Achalananda used to stay here at times. He would drink a lot of consecrated wine. Hearing that I had the attitude of a child, he insisted, ‘Why don’t you practice heroic disciplines with a woman? Don’t you believe in Shiva’s school of thought? Shiva authored the Tantra – it includes spiritual disciplines in all the different attitudes. The disciplines of the attitude of a ‘hero’ is also prescribed.’
“I replied, ‘I don’t know, my dear sir. I don’t like such things at all. I have the attitude of a child.’ ”
Duties of a father – Sri Ramakrishna denigrates occult powers and the five ingredients – the right use of money
“Achalananda didn’t support his children. He used to say to me, ‘God will look after the children, for such is His will.’ I would remain silent. But I say, who will bring up the children? By giving up his wife and children, perhaps he has found a way to earn money. People might think that he has renounced everything. In this way a lot of money might come his way.
“To practice spiritual disciplines to win a lawsuit, or to earn a lot of money – or to help somebody win a lawsuit, or to procure property! These are matters of very low intelligence!
“Money should be utilized to buy food and a home to live in; in the service of deities, sadhus and devotees; and to help a poor man one may meet. This is making the right use of money. Money is not meant to be used for enjoying luxuries, or to provide bodily comforts, or to earn name and fame.
“People practice the disciplines of the five ingredients of the Tantrik school to attain occult powers. But it is an act of very low intelligence! Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘Friend, even if you attain one of the eight occult powers, you will add to your power – but you will not attain Me by it.’ Occult powers don’t free you from maya. Maya begets egotism. What low intelligence! What use is it to take three glasses of wine from a contemptible place, or to win a lawsuit [with the use of occult powers]?”
What use is it to practice hatha yoga to increase the span of life?
“The body, money and so on are all ephemeral. Why worry so much about them? Look at the hatha yogis. Their only concern is how to add years to their lives. They don’t aim at realizing God. They practice hatha yoga exercises like neti and dhoti – they merely take milk through a tube and clean their stomachs.
“There was a goldsmith whose tongue turned up and stuck to his palate. He looked like the picture of a man in Jada samadhi. He became motionless. He remained like this for many days. People began to visit and worship him. After a number of years his tongue suddenly relaxed and he regained normal consciousness. Then he even resumed his goldsmith profession. (All laugh.)
“All these things concern the body. They almost never relate one to the Lord. The brother of Shalagram (a dealer in tabasheer) knew eighty-two yoga postures. He would talk about his yoga samadhi, but in his mind he would secretly yearn for ‘lust and gold’. He saw a bank note worth many thousands of rupees belonging to Diwan Madan Bhatt lying somewhere. Tempted by greed, he swallowed it in the hope that he could take it out later [by some yogic procedure]. That note was recovered from him – and he was jailed for three years. In my guilelessness I had thought that he had made a lot of spiritual progress! I swear it!”
His earlier story – Mahendra Pal is returned his money – Bhagavati, the oil woman – his contempt for the Kartabhaja sect’s practicing sadhana with women as partners
“Mahendra Pal of Sinthi gave five rupees to Ramlal. When he left, Ramlal told me. I asked him why he had given the money. Ramlal replied, ‘It is meant to be used here.’ It occurred to me, ‘We owe the milkman. Good, we can pay off some of what we owe.’ My Divine Mother! I was lying on the bed that night and suddenly I got up. It felt like a cat was scratching inside my chest. I immediately went to Ramlal and asked him, ‘For whom did he give the money? Is it for your aunt?’ Ramlal replied, ‘No, it is meant for you.’ Then I said to him. ‘No, go and return the money immediately. If you don’t, I will have no peace.’
“Rising early in the morning, Ramlal went and returned the money. Then I was at peace.
“There was Bhagavati, the oil woman of the Kartabhaja sect, in the village (Kamarpukur). The men of the sect practice spiritual disciplines with women as their partners. The women cannot practice sadhana and bhajan without a man. This man is called ‘Ragakrishna’. The man asks thrice, ‘Have you attained Krishna?’ Each of the three times the woman says, ‘Yes, I have.’
“Bhagavati belonged to the shudra caste [a low caste], she was an oil woman. Everybody would take the dust of her feet and salute her. This enraged the landlord. I once saw him. He sent a wicked man to her. Seduced by him, she gave birth to a boy.
“Once a big man came to me. He said, ‘Sir, do something so that I may somehow win my lawsuit. I have come here because I have heard a lot about you.’ I said, ‘My dear sir, I am not that kind of person. You have made a mistake. You must go to Achalananda for this purpose.’
“He who has genuine love and devotion to God does not care for wealth, health and such things. He reflects that the austerities and repetition of God’s name are not for creature comforts, for name and fame, or for wealth. All these are ephemeral – just a matter of two days.”
The visiting gentlemen now rise, salute, and say, “May we leave?” They depart. Sri Ramakrishna smiles a little and says to M., “A thief never listens to religion.” (All laugh.)
Faith in oneself has its basis in one’s belief in God
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling, says to Mani) — Well, what do you think of Narendra?
Mani — Sir, he is fine.
Sri Ramakrishna — You see, his understanding matches his learning. And then he is good at singing and playing musical instruments. Besides that, he has perfect control over his senses. He says that he will not marry.
Mani — You said that he who thinks too much of sin becomes a sinner and can’t lift himself up. That I am the son of God – with this faith one makes quick progress in spiritual life.
His earlier story – faith of Krishnakishore – faith of Haladhari’s father
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, faith indeed!
“What faith Krishnakishore has! He used to say, ‘I have taken His name once, how can sin touch me? I have become pure and sinless.’ Haladhari said, ‘Ajamila went out to practice austerities to attain Narayana. Can one obtain His grace without austerity? What use is it just to say “Narayana” once?’ How angry Krishnakishore was to hear him say that! Krishnakishore had come to the garden to pick flowers. He didn’t even look at Haladhari’s face.
“Haladhari’s father was a great devotee. Taking his bath in waist deep water, he would recite a mantra ‘red-hued and four-faced’ and meditate on it. Then he would shed tears of ecstatic love.
“Once a sadhu came to the Ariadaha bathing ghat. We talked of going to see him. Haladhari said, ‘What use is it to see the cage made of the five gross elements?’ Later, when Krishnakishore heard this, he said, ‘What did he say? That it would be of no use to see a sadhu? He who repeats the name of Krishna, or he who repeats the name of Rama, develops a body made of Spirit. He sees everything permeated with divine consciousness. Krishna is the embodiment of Spirit and so is His Abode.’ He said, ‘If you take the name of Krishna or of Rama only once, you gain the fruit of a hundred evening services.’ While dying, one of his sons uttered the name of Rama. Krishnakishore said, ‘He uttered the name of Rama, so he has nothing to worry about.’ But sometimes he wept in grief for the loss of his son.
“When Krishnakishore felt thirsty in Vrindavan, he said to a cobbler, ‘Say the name of Shiva.’ Uttering ‘Shiva,’ he drew water for Krishnakishore. Such an orthodox brahmin and he took that water. What faith!
“One may perform worship, repetition of the Name, sandhya and other ritual practices, but they yield nothing unless one has faith in God. What do you say?”
Mani — True, sir.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — I have seen people coming to the Ganges ghat to take a bath and talking about nothing but worldly matters. A widowed aunt says, ‘Mother, they can’t celebrate Durga Puja without me. I even have to mould the image. I have to organize everything whenever there is a marriage in the family. Only then is it conducted properly. I have to arrange the flowerbed for the bride and the groom, and even supervise the catechu garden.’
Mani — How can we blame them for it? How else will they pass the time?
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) —People have a shrine on the roof of the house where they worship Narayana. Women prepare flower offerings and grind sandal paste in the shrine, but they don’t talk a word about God. They talk about such things as what is to be cooked today, whether they could get the right stuff in the market, such-and-such a dish was tasty yesterday, that boy is a cousin, what job one has, and ‘Don’t ask how I am doing. My Hari is not here.’
“Imagine, they talk of all these worldly things in the shrine even at the time of worship!”
Mani — Sir, generally speaking, that is so. As you say, he who has love for God doesn’t have to perform worship and sandhya for long.
What is God’s Spirit Form? After Brahmajnana comes vijnana – God alone is the substance
Mani — Sir, if it is God Himself who has become everything, then why are there so many different feelings?
Sri Ramakrishna — He dwells in all beings as the All-pervasive Being. But there is a special manifestation of His power in some. In some, there is more power of knowledge; in others, more power of ignorance. Moreover, some have more of His Power than others. Haven’t you noticed that there are gamblers and swindlers? And there are also people as ferocious as tigers. I say that the swindler is Narayana, and so is the tiger.
Mani (smiling) — Yes, sir. We must salute them from a distance. If you were to come near the tiger Narayana and embrace it, it would devour you.
Sri Ramakrishna — God and His Power – nothing else exists except Brahman and His Power. While singing a hymn of praise to Ramachandra, Narada said, ‘Oh Rama, you yourself are Shiva and Sita is Bhagavati; You are Brahma and Sita is Brahmani; you are Indra and Sita is Indrani. You are Narayana [Vishnu] and Sita is Lakshmi. You are the symbol of all that is masculine, and Sita of all that is feminine.’
Mani — And what is God’s Spirit form like?
Sri Ramakrishna reflects for awhile and then says in a whisper, “Do you know what it’s like? It’s like water. You can know it only if you practice spiritual disciplines.”
“You must believe in God’s form. When you attain the knowledge of the Absolute, you realize that there is nothing separate – Brahman and His Power are one, like fire and its power to burn. The moment you think of fire, its burning power comes to mind. And the moment you think of the burning power, you think of the fire. It is like milk and its whiteness, water and its wetness.
“But there is something beyond knowledge of the Absolute. After jnana, comes vijnana. He who is aware of knowledge is also aware of ignorance. Vaishishtha was smitten with grief at the death of his hundred sons. When Lakshmana asked Rama about it, Rama said, ‘Brother, go beyond knowledge and ignorance.’ He who has knowledge also has ignorance. If a thorn pricks your foot, you have to use another thorn to take out the first. Having done that, you throw both thorns away.”
Mani — Should one throw away both knowledge and ignorance?
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes, that is why vijnana is necessary.
“Just see, he who is aware of light is also aware of darkness. He who knows happiness also knows sorrow. He who is aware of virtue is also aware of vice. He who knows good also knows bad. He who knows what purity is, also knows impurity. He who is conscious of ‘I’ is also conscious of ‘you’.
“Vijnana means knowing God in a special way. The awareness, the belief, that there is fire in wood is knowledge. To cook rice on the fire, eat it and be strong is called vijnana. To have the inner experience of the real nature of Atman is knowledge. To talk with Him, to enjoy yourself with Him – in the attitude of a son, a friend, a servant, or a lover – this is vijnana. Being able to see that God has become the universe and its creatures is known as vijnana.
“According to one school of thought, God cannot be seen. Is God outside you, that you can see Him? One can only see oneself. When a ship enters the ‘black waters’, it does not return. It does not come back to report what it experienced.”
Mani — As you say, when one climbs to the top of the monument, one loses sight of everything below: carriage and horse, men and women, houses, rooms, doors, shops, offices and the rest.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, these days I don’t visit the Kali Temple. Am I committing an offence? Narendra used to say, ‘He still visits the Kali Temple!’
Mani — Sir, you have new and different states of mind every day. How can you commit an offence?
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, someone told Sen about Hriday: ‘Hriday is very ill. Please bring two pieces of dhoti and two long shirts for him. We shall send them to his village (Seor).’ Sen brought just two rupees. Now tell me what that means. He has so much money and he only brought this sum. Do say something.
Mani — Sir, those who seek to realize God, who aim at attaining knowledge, cannot act in this [miserly] way.
Sri Ramakrishna — God alone is the Substance; all else is meaningless.
 Sä cäturé cäturé
 The use of meat, fish, wine, money and sexual intercourse
 Cleaning of nose with water
 A method of cleaning entrails with water
 Hard substance extracted from bamboo joints and used medicinally; sugar of bamboo
 Referring to Holy Mother
 Ideal of love
 A name of Vishnu
 Worship and meditation performed at dawn, noon, and sunset by orthodox Hindus
 Worship and meditation performed at dawn, noon, and sunset by orthodox Hindus
 Vidya Shakti
 Avidya Shakti