Thakur at the Dakshineswar Temple with M., Rakhal, Latu, Balaram, Adhar, Devotees from Shivapur, and Others
Conversation on the essence of yoga with the Shivapur devotees – kundalini and piercing of the six centres
Sri Ramakrishna is seated with the devotees at the Dakshineswar Temple after the midday meal. It is about two o’clock.
A group of bauls from Shivapur and devotees from Bhawanipur have arrived. Rakhal, Latu, and Harish are now living with Thakur. Balaram and M. are also in the room.
It is Sunday, 3 August 1884, the twelfth day of the bright fortnight, the second day of the Swing Festival. The previous day Thakur had visited Surendra’s house. Shashadhar and other devotees had met him there.
Thakur addresses the devotees of Shivapur
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “You cannot achieve union with God when the mind dwells on ‘lust and greed.’ The mind of an ordinary person remains in the centres of awareness located at the genital, anal, and naval regions. It takes a lot of effort in spiritual discipline for the kundalini to awaken. There are three nerves – ida, pingala, and sushumna. And in the sushumna are six lotuses, the lowest being the muladhara. Then there are svadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddha, and ajna. These are the six spiritual centres.
“When the kundalini awakens, after it has crossed the lotuses of muladhara, svadhisthana, and manipura, it reaches the anahata lotus located at the heart. It stays there. The mind is then withdrawn from the three lower centres of anus, sex organ, and navel; it attains a spiritual consciousness and sees a light. The aspirant is speechless with wonder and exclaims, ‘What is this! What is this!’
“Having pierced six centres, the kundalini reaches the lotus of sahasrara and unites with it. When the kundalini reaches there, the aspirant passes into samadhi.
“According to the Vedas, these centres are called bhumis or planes. There are seven planes. The heart is the fourth, and the lotus at anahata is twelve-petalled.
“The vishuddha centre is the fifth plane. When the mind reaches there, the heart yearns only to talk of God and to hear about Him. This centre is located in the throat. It has a sixteen-petalled lotus. The person whose mind has reached this centre feels great pain to hear any worldly talk, such as talk of ‘lust and greed.’ When he hears such talk, he gets up and leaves the place.
“After this comes the sixth plane, the ajna centre of two petals. When the kundalini reaches there, one has the vision of God’s form. But there is still a thin screen of separation. Like a lantern, the light can’t be touched because of a glass barrier.
“Then one reaches the seventh plane, the thousand-petalled lotus. When the kundalini reaches there, samadhi comes about. The Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute Shiva resides at the sahasrara. Here He unites with Shakti – it is the union of Shiva and Shakti.
“When the mind reaches the sahasrara, one becomes absorbed in samadhi. In this state all awareness of the external disappears, and the person cannot preserve his body. If milk is poured into his mouth, it runs out. If one remains in this state, one dies in twenty-one days. A ship cannot return after it has entered the ‘black waters.’
“But ishvarakotis, such as incarnations of God, can come down from this state of samadhi. Since they like to live with devotees and enjoy love for God, they can descend from this state. God keeps the ‘I of knowledge,’ the ‘I of devotion’ in them to teach mankind. Their state of mind is like the swift movement of a boat, racing up and down between the sixth and the seventh planes.
“Some people, of their own will, retain the ‘I of knowledge’ after attaining samadhi. But this ego is a mere appearance. It is just like a line drawn on the surface of water.
“Hanuman, having realized God both with form and without, retained the ‘I of a servant.’ Narada and others – Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, Sanatkumara – also retained the ‘I of a servant’ or the ‘I of a devotee’ after attaining the knowledge of Brahman. They are like big steamships which not only cross the ocean but also carry others to the opposite shore.”
Is Thakur thus describing his own state?
A paramahamsa – believers in the formless God and God with form – Thakur’s love for God after attaining knowledge of Brahman – union of the Absolute and the phenomenal
“A paramahamsa may believe either in God with form or the formless God. Trailanga Swami is an example of one who believed in the formless God. They care for their own good alone; they’re satisfied with their own realization.
“Those who believe in God with form, even after attaining the knowledge of Brahman, live with love for God in order to teach mankind. It is like pouring water from a full pitcher into others.
“All the spiritual practices they have performed to realize God, they tell others about to help them. People dig wells for water with great effort, using spades and baskets. Some of them throw the spades and other tools into the well itself after it is dug, thinking, What use are they now? But some put the tools on the edge of the well so they may be of benefit to others.
“There are some who eat mangoes and then secretly wipe their mouths. There are others who eat and also share the mangoes with others. They work for the benefit of mankind and to enjoy the bliss of God. ‘I want to eat sugar.’
Thakur in the joy of devotional song – chanting the name of Gauranga and of the Mother of the Universe
The devotees from Shivapur are singing to the accompaniment of a gopi yantra. In the first song was the line, “We are sinners, pray save us.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “It is the beginner’s attitude to repeat God’s name out of fear. Please sing songs about the realization of God, songs of joy. (To Rakhal) What a beautiful song they were singing the other day in Nabin Niyogi’s house, ‘Be intoxicated with the wine of Hari’s name.’
“It is not good to talk only of restlessness and worries. Rather, one should be happy and become intoxicated chanting His Name.”
The devotees from Shivapur: “Won’t you sing a song, sir?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What shall I sing? All right, I will when I feel like it.”
After a while Thakur begins to sing. His gaze turns upward.
O Bharati, give me a loincloth. I wish to go to Vraja disguised as a beggar.
He sings another song:
The wave of Gaur’s love has touched my body.
Come, O friend, and behold the fair one’s beauty!
See Gauranga, anointed with precious ornaments, glowing red!
At the very sight, one is overwhelmed with ecstasy.
Vrishabhanunandini is indeed a great mason and Bhangada a great artisan.
And still another:
Dive deep, dive deep, O my mind, into the ocean of beauty.
After chanting the name of Gauranga, he chants the name of the Divine Mother.
Thakur sings again:
Can everybody gain the treasure of Mother Shyama?
This foolish mind does not know how priceless this inherited treasure is.
Even with all his penance, indeed rare is Shiva’s vision of Her.
Only when the mind is intoxicated, can one attain the crimson feet of the Divine Mother.
The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight to the blue lotus flower of Mother Shyama’s feet.
And yet again:
What a machine Mother Shyama has built!
What a machine Mother Kali has made!
In this machine, three and a half cubits high, what pranks She plays!
She Herself residing within pulls the cord and makes it move.
The machine thinks it moves by itself, knowing not who its operator is.
But the machine who knows it is She will be a machine no more.
And Mother Shyama will Herself be tied with the cord of love.
Thakur in samadhi and his conversation with the Mother of the Universe – essence of ecstatic love
While singing this song, Thakur goes into samadhi. The devotees gaze at him in silence. After a while, coming down to a semi-conscious state, Sri Ramakrishna talks to the Divine Mother.
“Mother, please come down here from above (from the sahasrara). You torment me! Please sit quietly!
“Mother, as are one’s tendencies acquired in past births, so is one fated in this one. What can I say to them? Nothing is achieved without discrimination and dispassion.
“There are different kinds of dispassion. What is called ‘monkey renunciation’ is one of them. It is the dispassion a person feels after being tormented by the fire of the world. It doesn’t last long. Real dispassion is when a person possesses everything, lacks nothing, but it all appears to be unreal.
“This non-attachment doesn’t happen all of a sudden. It comes in its own time. It’s good to hear spiritual talk, because when the right time comes, then one will remember and think, ‘Oh, I heard about that.’
“And there is something else. When a person hears about spiritual matters, desire for worldly enjoyment slowly decreases. To get rid of intoxication, rice-water has to be taken little by little. One gradually overcomes the state of intoxication. There are very few people who are fit for spiritual knowledge. The Gita says, ‘Scarcely one out of thousands strives for perfection; of those who strive, even among the perfected, scarcely anyone truly knows Me.’
A Tantrik devotee: “Manuñyäëäà sahasreñu kaçcid yatati siddhaye.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The more the attachment to the world disappears, the more knowledge one will gain. Attachment means attachment to ‘lust and greed.’”
Company of holy men, faith, single-minded devotion, love for God, bhava, mahabhava, and prema
“Not everyone experiences ecstatic love. Gauranga did. An ordinary human being can experience ecstasy – this far and no farther. Only ishvarakotis – for example, incarnations of God – attain ecstatic love. When one attains this intense love for God, not only does he feel that the world is an illusion, but he forgets the body, which is so dear to everyone.
“A Persian book (by Hafiz) says: Under the skin there is flesh; under the flesh there is bone; within the bone there is marrow; and within that there are many other things – but underlying all these is ecstatic love.
“A person becomes soft and tender-hearted through ecstatic love. In this intense love for God, Krishna’s body is bent three times.
“Such intense love acts as a cord to bind Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute. Then whenever you want to see Him, you only have to pull the cord. Whenever He is called, He appears.
“When love for God matures, one experiences ecstasy. In the state of ecstasy, one becomes speechless contemplating Sat-chit-ananda. An ordinary human being can only go that far. But when ecstasy matures, one experiences maha-bhava, prema. It is like the difference between an unripe mango and a ripe one.
“Pure love of God alone is the essential thing. Everything else is illusion.
“When Narada recited a hymn of praise, Rama told him to ask for a boon. Narada asked for pure love for God. And he added, ‘Rama, may I never be enchanted by your world-bewitching maya.’ Rama said, ‘That’s all right. Ask for another boon.’ Narada replied, ‘I want nothing else, only love and devotion.’
“How can you develop such love for God? Initially, you have to associate with the holy. By keeping their company, faith in God comes. With faith, single-minded devotion develops. Then you don’t want to hear anything but talk about God. And you’ll wish to work for Him alone.
“Single-minded devotion is followed by love for God. Then ecstasy, mahabhava, and prema – and then one attains the goal.
“Only incarnations of God and the like attain mahabhava and prema. The knowledge of worldly people and devotees is not like the knowledge of an incarnation of God. The knowledge of the worldly can be likened to the light of a lamp; it only lights the inside of the room. This knowledge only helps a person in eating and drinking and running household affairs – looking after the body, bringing up children, and so forth.
“The knowledge of a devotee is like the light of the moon. He can see both the inside and the outside of a room with its light – but not a very small object lying at a distance. On the other hand, the knowledge of incarnations is like the light of the sun. They can see inside, outside, the small, and the large, everything.
“The mind of worldly people is like turbid water; it can only be cleaned by pouring a cleansing agent in it. Discrimination and non-attachment are cleansing agents.”
Now Thakur talks to the devotees of Shivapur.
The need for hearing about God – ‘the proper time’ – normal state of Thakur
Sri Ramakrishna: “Ask if you have any questions.”
A devotee: “Sir, we have listened to everything.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s good to hear – but nothing happens before the proper time.
“How can quinine help a patient who is running a high fever? It should be administered after the fever mixture has been given and the bowels have moved – when the fever has subsided. But, of course, some people are cured naturally; they get well even without taking quinine.
“When going to bed, a child said, ‘Mother, please wake me up when I need to go to the bathroom.’ His mother said, ‘Child, I won’t have to wake you. The urge itself will wake you up.’
“I see some people coming here with devotees in a boat. They don’t like to hear about God. They poke their friend, asking, ‘When are you leaving? When are you going?’ When the friend doesn’t rise, however much pressed, they say, ‘All right, I’ll go and wait for you in the boat.’
“Those who are born as human beings for the first time need to enjoy the things of the world. Spiritual awakening does not come until a lot of work has been done.”
Thakur is going to the jhautala. He speaks to M. on the semicircular verandah.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Well, what do you think of my state of mind?”
M. (smiling): “Sir, outwardly you are very simple, but within you are deep. It is very difficult to understand you.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Yes. Just as people see only the surface of a floor. They don’t know what lies below its surface.”
At the bathing landing of the chandni, Balaram and other devotees are getting on a boat bound for Calcutta. It is four o’clock. It is ebb tide, and a southern breeze decorates the surface of the Ganges with a necklace of ripples.
Balaram’s boat sails toward Baghbazar. M. watches it for a long time, until it disappears from view. Then he returns to Thakur.
Sri Ramakrishna comes down from the western verandah, on his way to the jhautala. There are beautiful clouds in the northwest. Thakur says, “Is it going to rain? Please bring the umbrella.” M. brings it. Latu accompanies him.
Thakur has reached the panchavati. He says to Latu, “Why are you looking so unwell?”
Latu: “I can hardly eat anything.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Is that the only reason? The weather isn’t good. And maybe you meditate too much.”
Thakur now talks to M.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “You must do this. Please ask Baburam to come and stay here for a day or two when Rakhal goes away. Otherwise, I shall feel unhappy.”
M.: “As you wish. I’ll tell him.”
One can realize God when one is simple and guileless at heart. Thakur asks if Baburam is simple at heart.
Sri Ramakrishna beholds a beautiful sight in the jhautala and panchavati
Thakur is returning from the jhautala, passing along its southern side. M. and Latu stand under the panchavati to the north and watch him.
Behind Thakur, newly arisen clouds beautify the sky, their reflection darkening the water of the Ganges.
Thakur approaches, as if the Lord Himself had assumed a human form and come to the mortal world for the welfare of the devotees. He strolls on the bank of the Ganges, the destroyer of all sins, having emerged from Lord Hari’s lotus feet. It is as if the Lord Himself is present. Is that why the trees, creepers, bushes, garden paths, shrines, images of the gods, attendants, door-keepers, and every particle of dust feel so sweet?
Nabai Chaitanya, Narendra, Baburam, Latu, Mani, Rakhal, Niranjan, and Adhar
Thakur comes into his room and sits down. Balaram has brought some mangoes, and Thakur says to Ram Chatterji, “Please take some mangoes for your son.” Nabai Chaitanya is also in the room, dressed in a red dhoti.
Thakur is speaking with Hazra on the long northern verandah. The topic of their conversation is the harital ash that a brahmachari has given to Thakur.
Sri Ramakrishna: “The medicine the brahmachari gave me suits me very much. The man is correct.”
Hazra: “But the poor fellow has gotten caught up in worldly life. What can he do? Nabai Chaitanya has come from Konnagar. But even though he’s a householder, he’s dressed himself in a red dhoti.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What can I say? I see that God Himself has taken the forms of everyone. So, I’m not able to say anything critical to anyone.”
Thakur comes back into his room and then talks with Hazra about Narendra.
Hazra: “Narendra has gotten entangled in a lawsuit again.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He doesn’t believe in Shakti. When a person has taken a human body, he must accept Shakti.”
Hazra: “He says, ‘If I accept it, everyone will accept it. So how can I?’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s not good to go that far. He has now come under the jurisdiction of Shakti. Even a judge has to stand in the witness box if he gives evidence.
(To M.) “Have you seen Narendra?”
M.: “Not recently, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Do meet him and bring him here in a carriage.”
(To Hazra) “Well, what is his relation with this place [meaning himself]?”
Hazra: “He will receive help from you.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “And Bhavanath? Would he come here so often if he didn’t have good tendencies?
“And Harish and Latu – they’re always meditating. What do you think about that?”
Hazra: “What is the sense in only meditating? It would be better if they rendered you personal service.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That will come about. Perhaps some others will come to take their place.”
Different instructions to Mani – Sri Ramakrishna’s simple and natural state
Hazra goes back to his room. There is still time before evening worship, and Thakur sits in his room, talking privately with Mani.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “Tell me, are people attracted by what I say in ecstasy?”
Mani: “Yes sir, a lot.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What do they think of it? Do they feel anything when they see the state of ecstasy?”
Mani: “We feel that there is knowledge, intense love for God, and dispassion all in the same person. And on top of that, simplicity and guilelessness. So many ships have sailed through the depths of your consciousness, but you are natural and so simple! Not many people can understand it, but a few are attracted by that state alone.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “According to the Ghoshpara sect, God is called ‘sahaja,’ or ‘simple.’ They say you can’t recognize the Simple without being simple yourself.”
Sri Ramakrishna and pride and egoism – “I am an instrument and You are the operator”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “Well, do I have any ego?”
Mani: “Yes, you have a little. To preserve your body and to enjoy love for God – and for the devotees, to impart spiritual knowledge to them. You have kept it by praying for it.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I haven’t kept it. It is God who has kept it in me. Tell me, what happens when I’m in the state of ecstasy?”
Mani: “You said earlier that when the mind rises to the sixth plane, you see forms of god. Later, when you speak, your mind comes down to the fifth plane.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It is God who does all this. I know nothing.”
Mani: “That is why you attract people so much.”
Why so many scriptures? – all religions are true – Sri Ramakrishna and the reconciliation of contradictory scriptures
Mani: “Sir, there are different opinions in the scriptures. According to one Purana, Krishna is considered pure consciousness and Radha the power of consciousness. According to another Purana, Krishna is said to be Kali, the Primordial Energy.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The Devi Purana says this. According to it, Kali Herself has become Krishna.
“That might be true! God is infinite, and so are the paths to reach Him.”
Mani sits silently for a while after hearing this.
Mani: “Now I understand. It’s like what you say about climbing to the roof. The aim is to reach the roof by any way we can – by rope, bamboo, or any other means.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It is God’s grace that you have understood this much. It’s not possible to become free from doubt without His grace.
“The important thing is somehow to develop love for God. What is the use of knowing different paths? If you can gain love for Him by treading one particular path, you have achieved everything. It is only by developing love for Him that you can attain Him. Later, if there is a need, God will make you understand everything. He will show the other paths. It’s enough just to develop love for God. What is the need to reason and discuss various ideas? You have come to eat mangoes. Eat them. What need is there to count how many branches and leaves there are? Hanuman’s attitude is, ‘I don’t know the date, the day of the week, or the position of the stars. I only contemplate Rama.’”
Renunciation of the world and God-realization – should the devotee save, or be ‘satisfied with whatever comes of its own accord’?
Mani: “I now desire for my work and duties to be reduced to a large extent so I can give a lot of my mind to God.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Ah! What else can be needed! But a man of knowledge can live unattached in the household.”
Mani: “But sir, a special power is needed to live unattached.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, that’s true. But perhaps you wanted a worldly life. Krishna dwelt in Radha’s heart, but when she wanted, his divine sport was enacted in human form.
“Now pray that all this work and duties may be reduced.
“Besides, renunciation from the heart is enough.”
Mani: “Mental renunciation is for those who can’t renounce outwardly. For people of a high class, there is complete renunciation – renunciation in the heart as well as external renunciation.”
Thakur is silent. Then he continues the discussion.
Sri Ramakrishna: “How did you like what I said about renunciation?”
Mani: “Yes, I did like it, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What does dispassion mean? Let me hear it from you.”
Mani: “It not only means renunciation of worldly life. It means love for God together with dispassion for the world.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, you are right.
“You do need money in worldly life, but you mustn’t be anxious and worry too much about it. You must be content with whatever comes of its own accord – this is very good. Don’t worry too much about saving for the future. Those who surrender their mind and soul to God, those who are His devotees and have taken refuge in Him, don’t worry too much about saving. As they earn, so they spend – from one side it comes, and out the other it’s spent. This is what is called accepting what comes of its own accord. It is mentioned in the Gita.”
Conversation about Haripada, Rakhal, Baburam, Adhar, and others
Thakur is talking about Haripada, who had visited him the other day.
Mani (smiling): “Haripada knows how to relate stories of the gods. He chants the life of Prahlada and the story of Sri Krishna’s birth very melodiously.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Really! The other day, I looked into his eyes. They were unsettled. I asked him if he practiced a lot of meditation, but he sat with his head down. I said to him, ‘You mustn’t practice to extremes.’”
It is evening. Thakur chants the name of the Divine Mother and meditates upon Her.
After some time, evening worship with the waving of lights starts in the shrines. It is the twelfth day of the bright fortnight of Shravana and the second day of the Cradle Festival. The moon is shining, bathing the temple, the surrounding courtyard, and the garden in its light. It is eight in the evening. Thakur is seated in his room with Rakhal and M.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Baburam says, ‘Worldly life – it’s dreadful!’”
M.: “What is he saying? What does Baburam know of household life?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, undoubtedly that’s true. Have you seen Niranjan? He is completely guileless.”
M.: “Yes, sir. He is very attractive. And how expressive his eyes are!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Not only his eyes – every-thing. He told me that they were going to get him married. To that, he said, ‘Why do you want to drown me?’ (Laughing) But people say what pleasure they have, sitting in the company of their wives after a hard day’s work.”
M.: “Certainly they do, those who are so inclined. (Smiling, to Rakhal) We are being examined with a leading question.”
M.: “Sir, there are different kinds of parents. A spiritually illumined father doesn’t give his sons in marriage. If he does, he must be well liberated indeed!” (Thakur laughs.)
Adhar and M. visit the Kali temple – Adhar talks about the sacred Chandranath and visit to Sitakunda
Adhar Sen arrives from Calcutta and salutes Thakur by prostrating. After sitting for a short time, he goes to the Kali Temple for Kali’s darshan. M. visits Kali with him. Then he comes to the portico of the temple and then goes and sits on the bank of the Ganges. The river sparkles in the moonlight as the flood tide has just begun to rise.
Seated alone, M. meditates on the wonderful life of Thakur, his amazing state of samadhi and repeated ecstasies, and his intense love for God; his unceasing talk about God, his genuine love for the devotees, his childlike nature – he thinks of all these things. He says to himself, Who is he? Has God Himself come down in a human body for the sake of His devotees?
Adhar and M. return to Thakur’s room. Adhar had been in Chattigram on a business trip. He is talking now about his visit to sacred Chandranath and the Sitakunda.
Adhar: “I saw tongues of fire burning in the water of Sitakunda.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “How does that happen?”
Adhar: “There is phosphorous in the water.”
Ram Chatterji comes into the room. Thakur praises him to Adhar, saying, “As Ram is here, we don’t have to worry. He finds Harish, Latu, and others at mealtime. Sometimes they are sitting alone in different places meditating. It is Ram who finds them and takes them to eat.”
. Jhulan Yatra.
. Svadhishthana, muladhara, and manipura chakras.
. Eternally free and perfect souls.
. Vatsalya bhava.
. Madhura bhava.
. Dasi bhava.
. A single-stringed musical instrument.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section XVI, Chapter I.
. For the complete song refer to Section XXI, Chapter VI.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section II, Chapter VII.
. The devotee quotes in Sanskrit the first half of a verse from the Bhagavad Gita, 7:3, which states that out of many thousands of men, perhaps only one endeavours for perfection.
. Tribhanga: Krishna playing the flute, bent at neck, waist, and knees.
. Nirmali: a rare kind of nut that precipitates dirt in water.
. Yellow orpiment, a compound of sulfur and arsenic.
. A householder traditionally wears white.
. Yadåcchäläbha, Bhagavad Gita 4:22.
. A wife.
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