Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar Temple with Vijay, Kedar, Rakhal, Surendra, and Other Devotees on His Birthday
With Vijay and other devotees in the panchavati on his birthday
Sri Ramakrishna is sitting on the platform around the old banyan tree in the panchavati with Vijay, Kedar, Surendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal, and many other devotees. He is facing south. Some of the devotees are sitting on the platform; most of them are standing around below it. It is about one o’clock on Sunday, 25 May 1884; 13th of Jaishtha 1291 B.Y., the first day of the bright lunar fortnight.
Thakur’s birthday falls on the second day of the bright fortnight in the month of Phalgun but has not yet been celebrated because of the injury to his arm. Now that he is much better, the devotees will celebrate it today. Sahchari, an elderly, well-known kirtan singer, will sing.
Not finding Thakur in his room, M. goes to the panchavati and finds the devotees smiling and enjoying themselves. He does not see Thakur sitting under the tree on the platform though he is standing in front of him. He asks, “Where is he?” Hearing this, everybody laughs loudly. Suddenly seeing Thakur, he awkwardly bows down to pay his respects. He finds Kedar Chatterji and Vijay Goswami sitting on Thakur’s left on the platform. Sri Ramakrishna (smiling, to M.): “See how I have united them?”
Thakur had brought a madhavi creeper from Vrindavan and planted it in the panchavati in 1868. Since then it has grown quite large. Young boys are climbing on it and swinging from it. Thakur looks at them happily and says, “They are like young monkeys. They don’t give up even when they fall.” Surendra is standing below the platform. Thakur asks him affectionately, “Why don’t you come up here? You can dangle your feet from here.”
Surendra climbs up and sits down. Seeing Bhavanath dressed in a shirt, Surendra says, “Tell me, are you going to a foreign land?”
Thakur laughs and says, “Our ‘foreign land’ is God.” He talks to the devotees about various things.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Sometimes I used to throw away my dhoti and roam around naked. One day Sambhu said to me, ‘I see why you go around naked. It’s comfortable. I tried it once myself.’”
Surendra: “When I return from the office and take off my shirt and the long coat I say, ‘Divine Mother, how many bonds you have tied me with!’”
Surendra’s office – worldly life, the eight bonds, and the three gunas
Sri Ramakrishna: “Eight bonds bind man: shame, hatred, fear, pride of caste, suspicion, and secretiveness are all bonds.
This is the grief that weighs on my heart: though You, my Mother, are here and I am wide awake, thieves of passion rob my house.
Then he sings:
In the world’s bustling marketplace, O Shyama, You fly kites that soar on the wind of hope, held fast by maya’s string.
“‘Maya’s string’ means wife and son. By rubbing the string with the paste of sensuousness, the string has become hard. Sensuousness means ‘lust and greed.’
There follows another song:
One comes to this world to play dice. I came with great hopes.
But hope is in itself only a broken state.
First I got the piece marked five, and age after age the twelve, the eighteen, and the sixteen.
Divine Mother, last of all I got the unripe twelve piece, and I got ensnared by the five and six-mark pieces.
Six and two equal eight, six and four make ten. O Divine Mother, I have no control over these.
I won neither honour nor fame in this game, which I have been playing all through the night until dawn.
“The piece marked ‘five,’ that is the five elements. To get ensnared in the ‘fives’ and ‘sixes’ means to fall under the control of the five elements and the six passions. To play tricks with the six piece means not to fall under the control of the six enemies. To deceive the ‘three’ piece means to be beyond the three gunas.
“Sattva, rajas, and tamas, the three qualities of nature, have brought mankind under their control. They are like three brothers: if there is sattva, it can call on rajas; and if there is rajas, it can call on tamas. All three gunas are thieves. Tamas destroys, while rajas binds. Sattva, though it frees from the bonds, cannot take one to God.”
Vijay (smiling): “Sattva is also a thief, isn’t it?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It can’t take one to God, but it does show the way to Him.”
Bhavanath: “Oh, what wonderful words!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, it is a very lofty thought.”
The devotees are very happy hearing these words.
Thakur advises Vijay, Kedar, and others about ‘lust and greed’
Sri Ramakrishna: “‘Lust and greed’ are the cause of bondage. ‘Lust and greed’ mean worldliness. In fact it is ‘lust and greed’ that keep one from seeing God.”
“Just see. Whoever has given up the joy of a wife has renounced the joy of the world. God is very near to this person.”
Some of the devotees are standing, others are sitting, as they silently listen to these words.
(To Kedar, Vijay, and others) “He who has given up the pleasure of women has given up the pleasures of the world. This ‘lust and greed’ is truly the veil. You show off such big moustaches, and you are still immersed in it. Tell me truly. Search your mind and see if it isn’t so.”
Vijay: “Sir, it is true.”
Kedar remains silent. Thakur continues.
“I see everybody under the control of women. I went to Captain’s house. After visiting him, I was to go to Ram’s house. So I said to Captain, ‘Please give me the carriage fare.’ Captain asked his wife. She is like him. She just said, ‘What’s the matter, what’s the matter?’ At last Captain said, ‘They (Ram and others) will pay for it.’ And he has the Gita, the Bhagavata and the Vedanta within him! (All laugh.)
“A man puts all his money in the hands of his wife to manage and then says, ‘I have such a simple nature that I can’t keep two rupees with me.’
“A manager has a number of positions open in his office, but he doesn’t appoint a candidate. Someone said to the applicant, ‘Contact Golapi and you will get a job. Golapi is the manager’s mistress.’”
His earlier story – visit to the fort – women and the ‘sloping path’
“Men don’t understand how far down they have gone.
“When I went to the fort in a carriage, I thought we’d come by an ordinary path. Later I found out we’d come down four storeys. It was a sloping path. A person possessed by a ghost doesn’t know that he is possessed. He thinks he’s quite all right.”
Vijay (smiling): “If you bring an exorcist, he can get rid of the ghost.”
Sri Ramakrishna does not respond to this. He only says, “It is the Lord’s will.”
He continues to talk about women.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Whoever I ask says that his wife is good. No man has a bad wife. (All laugh.)
“Those who live amidst ‘lust and greed’ aren’t able to understand because of their inebriation. Chess players often don’t know if a move is right until the game has continued for some time. But onlookers from a distance can see and understand the game better.
“Woman is the embodiment of maya. In his hymn in praise of Rama, Narada said, ‘O Rama, all men that are, are parts of you; and all women are parts of Sita, the embodiment of maya. I ask for no other boon: only grant that I may have pure love for Your lotus feet and that I may not be enchanted by Your world-bewitching maya.’”
Advice to Girindra, Nagendra, and others
Surendra’s younger brother, Girindra, and his nephew, Nagendra, and others have arrived. Girindra works in an office; Nagendra is studying law.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Girindra): “I say to you not to get attached to worldly life. You see, Rakhal understands what is knowledge and what is ignorance. He can discriminate between the eternal and the transitory. Now I say to him, ‘Go home. You can come here off and on and stay a day or two.’
“Live amicably with one another. Only then will you feel good and be happy. A religious theatrical performance is good and brings joy to the audience when the musicians sing with one voice.
“Keeping most of your mind in God, attend to worldly work with the rest of it.
“A sadhu keeps seventy-five percent of his mind in God and twenty-five percent in worldly work. A sadhu is very alert about words of God. If you step on the tail of a snake, it reacts furiously. It feels more hurt in the tail.”
Sahchari sings in the panchavati – suddenly it is cloudy and stormy
Going to the jhautala, Thakur talks about the umbrella to Gopal of Sinthi. Gopal says to M., “He has asked me to put the umbrella in his room.” A kirtan has been arranged in the panchavati. When Thakur has come and taken his seat, Sahchari sings. Devotees are gathered, some sitting and others standing.
Yesterday was Saturday, the new moon day of the month of Jaishtha.
Now and then clouds cover the sky. Suddenly a storm arises. Thakur returns to his room with the devotees. It is decided that the kirtan will continue there.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Gopal of Sinthi): “Tell me, have you brought the umbrella?”
Gopal: “No, sir. I forgot it listening to the music.”
The umbrella is lying in the panchavati. Gopal hurriedly goes out to get it.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I am not as absent-minded as that.
“Rakhal gave the date of an invitation as the eleventh, though the actual date was the thirteenth.
“And Gopal – he belongs to a herd of cows. (All laugh.)
“You know the story about the goldsmiths. One of them says Keshab, another says Gopal, the third says Hari, and another Hara. The meaning of Gopal is a ‘herd of cows.’ (All laugh.)
(Referring to Gopal, Surendra says merrily) “Where is Krishna?”
Thakur enjoys devotional singing with Vijay and other devotees – Sahchari sings of Gauranga’s sannyasa
A woman kirtan singer sings of Gauranga’s sannyasa, adding improvisations now and then:
A sannyasin will not look at a woman, for it is against the sannyasin’s rule.
The sannyasi, come to remove the sorrows of all created beings, will not look at a woman.
Otherwise, the coming of Gauranga as God’s incarnation would be in vain.
Listening to these words of Gauranga’s renunciation, Thakur stands up and goes into samadhi. The devotees immediately put garlands around his neck. Bhavanath and Rakhal hold Thakur to keep him from falling. Thakur faces north. Vijay, Kedar, Ram, M., Manomohan, Latu, and other devotees stand in a circle around him.
Is Gauranga himself celebrating a festival of singing the Lord’s name with devotees?
Sri Krishna is indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; He is also the universe and all its creatures; He is finite as well as the all-pervading Spirit in the form of the universe
Thakur is slowly coming out of samadhi. He now talks with Sat-chit-ananda Krishna. Now and then he says the word Krishna, but sometimes is unable to pronounce it. He says, “Krishna, Krishna, Krishna. Sat-chit-ananda.” I can’t see Your form these days. Now I see You both within and without. You are the living beings, the universe, the twenty-four cosmic principles. You are everything. You are the mind, the intellect, everything. The salutation hymn to the Guru says:
Salutations to the Guru who makes it possible to realize Him who pervades this entire universe of the moving and the unmoving.
“You are indivisible. Yet You pervade this entire universe of the moving and the unmoving. You are the container and also the contained. Krishna is life, Krishna is mind, Krishna is intellect, and Krishna is the Self. O Govinda, my life breath, my life.”
Vijay is also in an ecstatic mood. Thakur says to him, “What, dear sir, have you too become unconscious?”
Vijay (humbly): “No, sir.”
The singer continues, singing “The intense love for God that makes one blind!” As soon as she adds an improvised line, “O friend of my life, I keep You within my heart,” Thakur again goes into samadhi. His injured arm rests on Bhavanath’s shoulder.
When Sri Ramakrishna returns a little to normal consciousness, the singer adds another improvised line, “Why so much pain for one who has renounced everything for You?”
Thakur salutes her. He is seated while he listens to the music and occasionally goes into ecstasy. Now the musician stops singing, and Thakur speaks.
Forgetting the body and the world in ecstatic love – Thakur dances with the devotees and goes into samadhi
Sri Ramakrishna (to Vijay and other devotees): “What is ecstatic love? He who has developed intense love for God, like Chaitanya, forgets the world. He also forgets the body, which is so dear to all.”
What happens when one has ecstatic love for God is explained by Thakur through a song:
When will dawn that day when tears stream from my eyes as I repeat Lord Hari’s name?
When will dawn that day when worldly desires disappear from my heart?
When will dawn that day when my body thrills and my hair stands on end?
When will dawn that day?
Sri Ramakrishna again goes into samadhi, while dancing. He then stands motionless like a picture. Kedar sings a hymn to break his samadhi:
I bow to Brahman-Consciousness, the primal seed of the universe, abiding in the lotus of the heart,
Who, without attributes, rests in undifferentiated repose, known only to Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh,
Who is attained only by yogis in the depth of meditation,
Who removes the fear of life and death and is the essence of Knowledge and Truth.
Gradually the samadhi breaks. Thakur sits down and chants: “Om Sat-chit-ananda! Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Yogamaya! Scripture, devotee, and God in one.”
Thakur takes the dust of the place where the kirtan was sung and the devotees danced.
The difficult vow of the sannyasin – sannyasins and instruction to mankind
Thakur is sitting on the semicircular verandah overlooking the Ganges. Vijay, Bhavanath, M., Kedar, and other devotees are with him. Now and then he repeats, “Ah, Krishna Chaitanya.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Vijay and other devotees): “The Lord’s name has been chanted so much in this room; devotional songs have been sung with so much zest.”
Bhavanath: “And there have been talks on renunciation.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Ah, what feeling!” He begins to sing:
Gaur is dispensing the nectar of love, pouring out pitcher after pitcher of divine ecstasy, love never ceasing.
The sweet Nitai summons them all; the beloved Gaur, too, bids them come.
Shantipur is near drowning, flooded with love!
(To Vijay and others): “The song says this beautifully: the sannyasin must not look at a woman, for this is his rule. What a high ideal!”
Vijay: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Others learn from a sannyasin’s example. That’s why there is such a strict rule of conduct. A sannyasin should not even look at a picture of a woman. Such a strict rule!
“A black goat is sacrificed as an offering to the Divine Mother. But if it has the slightest blemish, it is rejected. The sannyasin, of course, must not have intercourse with women, but he must not even talk to them.”
Vijay: “The younger Haridas spoke to a woman devotee. Chaitanya Deva gave him up.”
His earlier story – Marwari’s offering of money to Sri Ramakrishna and Mathur’s offering him a piece of land
Sri Ramakrishna: “‘Lust and greed’ for a sannyasin is like the odour of a goat in the body of a beautiful woman. Her beauty is useless if she smells like that.
“A Marwari wanted to put some money in my name. Mathur also wanted to transfer some land to my name. I could accept neither.
“The rules of conduct for a sannyasin are very difficult indeed. When one puts on the guise of a sannyasin or sadhu, one has to conduct himself exactly like a sadhu or a sannyasin. It’s like in the theatre: the person who plays the king acts like a king, and the one who takes the role of his minister acts just like a minister.
“Once an impersonator was acting like a sannyasin who had renounced. Gentlemen offered him a small bag of money, but he said no and went away. He didn’t even touch the money. But a little later, he came back, washed and dressed in his own clothes. Then he said, ‘Let me have what you were offering me.’ When he dressed like a sadhu, he couldn’t touch money. Now he would accept even four annas.
“But in the state of a paramahamsa one becomes like a child. A five-year-old does not distinguish between a man and a woman. Even so, the paramahamsa has to be careful to set a good example.”
Why was Keshab Sen not able to teach people?
Keshab Sen was associated with ‘lust and greed.’ It hindered his teaching of humanity. That is what Thakur is saying.
Sri Ramakrishna: “He (Keshab) – do you understand?”
Vijay: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He (Keshab Sen) tried to take care of both the worldly and the spiritual. So he couldn’t achieve very much.”
Why did Chaitanya Deva renounce the world?
Vijay: “Chaitanya Deva said to Nityananda, ‘Nitai, if I hadn’t renounced the world, people would not be helped. They would all want to live a worldly life. Nobody would try to give his whole mind to the lotus feet of God by renouncing ‘lust and greed.’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Chaitanya Deva renounced the world to set an example.
“A sadhu renounces ‘lust and greed’ for his own good. And then even when he has become detached, he must not allow a woman or gold near him, to set an example. A man of renunciation, the sannyasin, is a world teacher. Just seeing him gives spiritual awakening.”
It is almost evening. The devotees are gradually leaving, after offering their salutations. Vijay says to Kedar, “This morning while I was meditating, I saw you. I wanted to touch your body but I found no body there.”
. The Tantric scriptures list eight bonds or fetters: shame (lajja), hatred or contempt (ghrana), fear (bhaya), pride of caste, rank or race (jati), hesitation or suspicion (shanka), secretiveness (jugupsa), pride of family, ancestry, or lineage (kula), and pride of good conduct, character or piety (shila).
. For the complete song refer to Volume I, Section II, Chapter V.
. For the complete song refer to Volume I, Section II, Chapter V.
. Later Swami Advaitananda.
. Vishveshvara Tantra 2.
. Prema, intense love for God.
. A town in Nadia District.
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