Car Festival at Balaram’s House
Purna, the younger Naren, and Gopal’s Mother
Sri Ramakrishna is sitting in Balaram’s drawing room with the devotees. It is Monday, 13 July 1885, the first day of the bright fortnight of Ashada. It is nine o’clock.
Tomorrow the Car Festival will be celebrated. Balaram has invited Thakur for the celebration and brought him to his house. The image of Jagannath is worshiped there daily, and he has a small car which will be pulled on the verandah outside during the festival.
Thakur is talking with M. Close to them are Narayan, Tejchandra, Balaram, and many other devotees. They are talking about Purna. Purna is about fifteen years old. Thakur longs to see him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Well, by what road will he come to see me? Please arrange that Dwija and Purna meet.
“I bring together two people of the same nature and same age. It has a special meaning. They both make progress. Do you see what love Purna has?”
M.: “Yes, sir. I was going by tram when he saw me from the roof of his house. He came running to see me and greeted me so eagerly!”
Sri Ramakrishna (his eyes filled with tears): “Ah! Ah! Because he has found me to be the contact for spiritual illumination. Unless one has yearning for God, such conduct is not seen.”
Purna’s masculine nature – divine inclination – Narayana born as one’s son because of austerities
“These three have a masculine nature: Narendra, the younger Naren, and Purna. But not Bhavanath. He has a feminine nature.
“Because of his high state, Purna may quit his body soon. Why retain the body after God-realization? Or the spiritual feelings within him may surge up in a few days.
“He has a divine inclination, the nature of a god. Such people don’t have much fear of society. If a garland is put around his neck, sandal paste on his body, and incense burnt before him, he will go into samadhi. He will then know that God is within him, that Narayana Himself has come down in a human body. I’ve found this out.”
His earlier story – samadhi of a brahmin girl with good signs – Mother Goddess as daughter of Ranjit
“When this state of divine intoxication came to me the first time in Dakshineswar, a brahmin lady belonging to a respectable family came. She had very good signs. As soon as a garland was put around her neck and incense burnt before her, she went into samadhi. Soon she was all joy. Tears began to stream from her eyes. I bowed to her and said, ‘Mother, will I succeed?’ She replied, ‘Yes.’
“I want to see Purna again. But where is the opportunity? It seems that he is a part of the Divine. What a wonder! Not just a tiny part, but a full sixteenth! How intelligent he is! He is so good in studies. Therefore I have hit it right.
“Narayana (the Lord) takes birth as a person’s son by the power of spiritual practices. On the way to Kamarpukur, there is Ranjit Rai’s big lake. The Divine Mother took birth as Ranjit Rai’s daughter. Even now a fair is held there in the month of Chaitra. I’ve had a desire to go there – but not now.
“Ranjit Rai was a landlord there. By the power of his austerities, he obtained the Divine Mother as his daughter. He loved his daughter very much. She became so attached to him that she would almost never leave her father’s company. One day, he was attending to the affairs of his estate and was very busy. The girl, in her childlike nature, continually asked him, ‘Father, what is this and what is that?’ The father very sweetly replied, ‘Daughter, please leave me alone. I have lot of work to do.’ But the girl would not leave. At last he said absentmindedly, ‘Please, get out of here.’ On this pretext the girl left home. A peddler of conch-shell wares was just then passing by. She called out for him and took a pair of conch bangles. When he demanded to be paid for them, she said, ‘There is money in a box in that room. Go and take it from there.’ Then she left, never to be seen again. The bangle peddler went to the house and began to shout for money. Seeing that she was not at home, the inmates of the house came running. Ranjit Rai sent people in all directions to find her. The money owed the peddler was found in the box. Ranjit Rai was going around weeping when someone came and said, ‘There is something in the lake.’ They all went to the lake and saw a hand with a conch bangle raised out of the water. A moment later they could see it no more. Even now worship of the Divine Mother is performed during the festival on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Chaitra.
(To M.) “All this is true.”
M.: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Narendra now believes this.”
“God appears in many ways, sometimes as a man and sometimes in other divine forms of consciousness. One must believe in divine forms. What do you say?”
M.: “Yes, sir.”
Gopal’s Mother has a motherly nature – she sees divine forms
Sri Ramakrishna: “The brahmin woman of Kamarhati (Gopal’s Mother) sees so many visions! She lives by herself in a lone house in a garden on the bank of the Ganges and repeats God’s name. Gopala sleeps close to her. (Saying this, Thakur gives a start.) Not in imagination but in fact. She saw that Gopala’s hands were red; he goes everywhere with her. She suckles him at her breast and talks to him. Narendra wept when he heard this!
“I also used to see many things. Now in ecstasy I don’t see that many visions. My feminine nature is decreasing. Instead I am imbibing a manly attitude. That’s why my spiritual feelings don’t show so much outwardly. They remain within.
“The younger Naren has a masculine nature. That’s why he becomes merged in meditation while repeating the name of God. He doesn’t show ecstasy. Nityagopal has a feminine nature. That’s why his body gets contorted in bhava. His body turns red with emotion.”
Renunciation of “lust and greed” – Purna and others
Binode, Dwija, Tarak, Mohit, Tejchandra, Narayan, Balaram, and Atul
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Well, people renounce bit by bit. What about them?
“Binode said, ‘I have to sleep with my wife. That makes me feel very bad.’ You see, it is bad to sleep together whether you have intercourse or not. There is touching of the bodies and the physical warmth.
“What a state Dwija is in! He only sways his body and keeps is eyes focused on my face. Is that a small thing? If his whole mind becomes fixed on me, he will have achieved everything.”
Is Sri Ramakrishna an incarnation of God?
“So what am I? It is He. I am the machine but He is the operator. It is God’s power alone in this [within himself]. That’s why so many people are increasingly attracted here. Just a touch is enough to awaken them. This attraction, this pull, is the attraction of God alone.
“Tarak (of Belgharia) was returning to his home after staying there (Dakshineswar). I noticed something shining like a flame coming out of this – and following him.
“A few days after that, Tarak returned (to Dakshineswar). Then He who is in this body put a foot on his chest in the state of samadhi.
“Well, are there any more boys like these youngsters?”
M.: “That boy Mohit is quite nice. He’s gone to see you once or twice. He’s preparing for two university examinations. And he has great attraction for God.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Maybe so. But he doesn’t have a high spiritual ideal. His physical signs aren’t so good. He has a puggish face. These other youngsters are of a different class.
“Taking up a body puts one in great trouble. And if one is cursed, he will have to be born another seven times. You have to live very cautiously! A person has to take up a new body if only one desire remains.”
Devotee: “And incarnations of God, when they come in a human body – do they have any desire?”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to completely rid myself of desire. When I saw a sadhu’s shawl, I wanted to wear one like it. Even now I have this desire. Maybe I’ll have to come again.”
Balaram (smiling): “Will you take up a human body just for a shawl?” (Everyone laughs.)
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “A person should nourish a spiritual desire. They say that when you die, you will think only of it. Sadhus keep one of the four centers of pilgrimage unvisited. Many keep the Jagannath region unvisited so that at the time of death, their thoughts will be in Jagannath.”
A person dressed in monastic robes enters the room and salutes. Privately he runs Thakur down, so Balaram laughs. Thakur knows the inner thoughts of people, so he says to Balaram, “Let him be. Let him say that I am a fraud.”
Tejchandra’s proposal to renounce the world
Thakur is talking to Tejchandra.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Tejchandra): “I have sent for you so many times! Why don’t you come? All right, so just practice meditation. If you do that, I’ll be happy. I look on you as my own. That’s why I send for you.”
Tejchandra: “Sir, I have to go to the office. There is a lot of work to do.”
M. (smiling): “There was a marriage in the family and he took ten days off from the office.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “So! And you say you don’t have time. And you say you want to renounce the world.”
Narayan: “One day Master Mahashay (M.) said that the world is a wilderness.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Please tell them that story. They will benefit from it. About the disciple becoming unconscious after he takes some medicine. The guru comes and says, ‘His life can be saved if someone takes this pill. He will live but the person who takes the pill will die.’
“And tell that other one, too – about the hatha yogi with a crooked body who thought his wife and other members of the family were his very own.”
Thakur partakes of the prasad of Sri Jagannath at noon. Service to Jagannath is performed regularly at Balaram’s house. That’s why Thakur says, “Balaram’s food is pure.” Thakur takes a little rest after the meal.
It is late afternoon. Thakur is sitting with the devotees in the same room. Chandra Babu of the Kartabhaja sect and the witty brahmin are also there. This brahmin is a joker – whatever he says makes people laugh.
Thakur talks for a long time about the Kartabhajas and their outlook on life and religion.
Thakur’s ecstasy – Atul and Tejchandra’s brother
It is six o’clock. Girish’s brother, Atul, and Tejchandra’s brother have come. Thakur is in an ecstatic state. After sometime he says, “Can one be unconscious by meditating on Consciousness? Can one go mad by meditating on God? He is the very nature of all knowledge. He is eternal, pure, knowledge itself.”
Are some of the visitors thinking that Thakur’s brain may have been deranged by excessive meditation on God?
Go forward – Krishnadhan’s humour
Thakur says to Krishnadhan, the witty brahmin, “You waste your time joking day and night about ordinary worldly things. Turn your mind towards God. A person who can keep account of salt can also account for sugar candy.”
Krishnadhan (smiling): “Please pull me that way.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What can I do? It all depends on your own effort. It is up to your own mind to do it.
“Giving up ordinary humour, go forward to God. You can go farther and farther. The brahmachari counseled the woodcutter to go forward. When he did, he found sandalwood, then a mine of silver, and then a gold mine. Going even farther, he found diamonds and jewels.”
Krishnadhan: “There is no end to this road.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Stop where you find peace.”
Thakur now talks about a newcomer.
“I didn’t find any substance in him. He seemed worthless, like a rotten apple.”
It is evening. A light has been brought in the room. Thakur meditates on the Mother of the Universe and chants Her name in a sweet voice. The devotees are sitting all around him.
The Car Festival is to be held tomorrow. Thakur will spend tonight in this house. Taking some refreshments in the inner apartments, he returns again to the large room. It is about 10 p.m. He says to M., “Please bring the hand towel from the other room.”
Thakur’s bed has been made in the small room. It is ten-thirty when he goes to bed.
It is summer. He says to M., “Please bring a fan.” He asks him to fan him. At twelve o’clock at night, Thakur wakes up. He says, “I feel chilly. I don’t need the fan anymore.”
Thakur with devotees in Balaram’s house on the day of the Car Festival
Today is the day of the Car Festival – Tuesday [14 July 1885]. Rising very early in the morning, Thakur dances by himself repeating the name of God in a sweet voice.
M. comes in and salutes him. The devotees arrive one by one, salute Thakur, and then sit near him. Thakur is very eager to see Purna. He talks to M. about Purna.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Did you give Purna any instructions when you saw him?”
M.: “Sir, I asked him to read the Chaitanya Charitamrita. He is familiar with it. And I told him that you had said, ‘Always hold on to the truth.’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Well, what did he say when you told him about me, saying, ‘He is God incarnate?’”
M.: “I asked him to come with me if he wanted to see a man like Chaitanya Deva.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What else?”
M.: “That you said that when an elephant goes into a small pond, the water is splashed around – that if a receptacle is shallow, his emotions overflow.
“About his giving up of fish, I asked, ‘Why this? It will cause a great uproar.’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That’s good. A person must contain emotions within.”
Sri Ramakrishna and the earthquake
It is half past six in the morning. M. is going for a dip in the Ganges from Balaram’s house when he feels an earthquake. He immediately returns to Thakur’s room. Thakur is standing in the drawing room with the devotees talking about it. It was rather severe. Most of the devotees are frightened.
M.: “We should have gone downstairs.”
His earlier story – Sri Ramakrishna and the storm of Ashwin – 5 October 1864
Sri Ramakrishna: “This is the pitiable state of the house [body] one lives in. And yet people are so arrogant! (To M.) Do you remember the storm in the month of Ashwin?”
M.: “Yes, sir. I was very young then, nine or ten years old. I was alone in a room, and I called on God.”
Surprised, M. asks himself, Why has Thakur suddenly asked about the storm of Ashwin? Sitting alone in a room, I wept profusely and prayed to God. Does Thakur know everything about it? Is he reminding me of it? Has he been protecting me as my guru since my birth?
Sri Ramakrishna: “It was very late at Dakshineswar when the storm broke. Afterward some food was cooked, but it was very late. All the trees had been uprooted. You see, this is the fate of the house one lives in!
“But after gaining perfect knowledge, one feels that dying and killing are the same. When one dies nobody dies, and when one kills nobody is killed. The phenomenal belongs to the same reality as the Absolute. It is He Himself who is the Absolute in one form and the phenomenal in another. Even if the relative is destroyed, the Absolute exists. Water is water, whether it is moving or still.”
Thakur sits again in the drawing room with the devotees. Mahendra Mukherji, Hari, the younger Naren, and several other young devotees are there. Hari lives alone and studies Vedanta. He is twenty-three or twenty-four years old. He is not married. Thakur is very fond of him and often asks him to visit but since he likes solitude, he doesn’t come very often.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Hari): “Well, my dear, you have not been here for a long time.”
“In one form God is the Absolute and in another He is the phenomenal. What does Vedanta say? That Brahman is real and the world illusory. But as long as God keeps the feeling of I-ness in a devotee, the relative is real. When He takes it away, then whatever is remains. This cannot be explained in words. As long as He has kept I-ness in you, you have to accept everything. When the sheathes of the banana tree are peeled off, there is pulp inside. When there are sheathes, there is pulp – the pulp belongs to the sheathes and the sheathes belong to the pulp. When you speak of the existence of the Absolute, you comprehend that the phenomenal exists. And when you speak of the phenomenal, you understand that the Absolute also exists.
“God has become the world, its living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles. When He is inactive, He is called Brahman. When He creates, preserves, and dissolves, He is known as Shakti, or Power. Brahman and Shakti are not different from each other. Water is water whether it is still or in motion.
“You cannot get rid of the sense of ‘I.’ You can’t say that the world and its living beings are an illusion as long as you are conscious of your ‘I.’ When you throw away the rind and the seeds of a bel fruit, you can’t arrive at the full weight of the bel fruit.
“The bricks, lime, and brick-dust with which the roof is made also make the stairs. It is only because of the reality of what is known as Brahman that this universe and its creatures have come into existence.
“The devotee, the vijnani, accepts both God with form and the formless God. He accepts both form and formlessness. It is by the cooling effect of love for God that some of the water turns into ice. But when the sun of spiritual knowledge rises, that ice melts into the same water as it was before.”
When reasoning stops, the mind is annihilated and there is the knowledge of Brahman
“As long as a person reasons with the mind, the Absolute cannot be reached. As long as you reason with the mind, the world cannot be done away with. None of the senses of sight, taste, smell, touch, and speech can be got rid off. When reasoning stops, you attain the knowledge of Brahman. You cannot know the Atman through this mind – Atman is known only through Atman. Pure mind, pure intellect, and pure Atman are one and the same.
“Just see how much you need to be able to see an object. You need eyes, light, and also the mind – all these are needed. If one of these three is missing, you can’t see an object. As long as the mind is working, how can you say there is no world, that there is no ‘I’?
“When the mind is destroyed, when there is no intention and conceptualization one attains samadhi, one gains the knowledge of Brahman. But in do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti – the seven notes of the scale – one cannot remain for long at ti, the highest musical note.”
Advice to the younger Naren – conversation with God after attaining His vision
Glancing at the younger Naren, Thakur says, “What use is it to only know that God exists? You have not reached the end when you have seen God. You have to bring Him to your house. You have to talk to Him.
“Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and some have drunk it. Only a few have seen the king. Only one or two can bring him to their house and entertain him.”
Thakur goes for a dip in the Ganges.
His earlier story – Thakur has a vision of Shiva and the golden Annapurna in the holy pilgrim city of Kashi – sees the universe in the form of a shalagram
It is ten o’clock. Thakur is talking with the devotees when M. returns from bathing in the Ganges. He salutes Thakur, and then sits beside him.
Thakur, full of divine emotion, talks about many things. During the conversation, he discusses some of his most secret visions.
Sri Ramakrishna: “When I went to Kashi with Mathur Babu, our boat passed close to the Manikarnika Ghat. Suddenly I had a vision of Shiva. I went to the edge of the boat and stood there and went into samadhi. In fear that I would fall into the river, the boatman shouted to Hriday, ‘Hold him, hold him.’ I saw Shiva standing at that ghat in the most profound mood. At first I saw Him standing at a distance, then I saw Him approaching me. After that, He merged into me.
“In a state of ecstasy I saw a sannyasin leading me by the hand. We entered a temple, and I had a vision of the golden Annapurna.
“God Himself has become everything. He is more manifest in some forms, however.
(To M. and others) “Perhaps you don’t recognize the spiritual meaning of a shalagram. Englishmen don’t. It doesn’t matter if you believe in it or not. A shalagram with good signs – the mark of a disc in the shape of a cow’s face, and some other signs.”
M.: “Sir, like a man with good physical signs has a greater manifestation of God in him.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “At first Narendra called them [Ramakrishna’s visions] hallucinations of the mind. Now, he accepts everything.”
While talking about visions of God, Thakur passes into bhava samadhi. The devotees watch him silently. After a long time, he regains consciousness and begins to talk.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “What did I see? That the universe is a shalagram. I saw your two eyes in it.”
M. and the other devotees listen in amazement to this wonderful and unheard of vision. Just then another young devotee, Sarada, enters the room, salutes Thakur, and sits down.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Sarada): “Why don’t you come to Dakshineswar? When I go to Calcutta, why don’t you come to see me?”
Sarada: “I don’t hear about your visits.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I’ll let you know the next time. (Laughing, to M.) Make a list of these boys.” (M. and other devotees laugh.)
News of Purna – Thakur is very happy to see Narendra
Sarada: “My family wants me to marry. He (M.) has reprimanded us so many times about marriage.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why marry now? (To M.) Sarada is now in a very good state of mind. He used to seem hesitant, like a fish pulling the float of a fishing line. Now his face looks happy.”
Thakur says to a devotee, “Will you please fetch Purna?”
Narendra enters. Thakur asks that refreshments be served him. He is very happy to see Narendra. He seemed to feel that he was serving the Lord Himself by feeding Narendra. Thakur is stroking his body affectionately, gently massaging his hands and feet. Gopal’s Mother (the brahmin woman of Kamarhati) enters the room. Thakur had asked Balaram to send a man to Kamarhati to bring her. That is why she has come. As she enters the room, she says, “I am shedding tears of joy.” Then she prostrates before Thakur in salutation.
Sri Ramakrishna: “What are you doing? You call me Gopala and then you salute me.
“Please go inside and cook a dish. Put a lot of ghee and spices in it so we can smell it from here.” (All laugh.)
Gopal’s Mother: “What will these people [the members of the family] say?”
Is Gopal’s Mother thinking to herself that she was a newcomer and the family members could take offense?
Before going in, she says to Narendra in a touching tone of voice, “Child, have I achieved or does something remain to achieve?”
It is the Car Festival day. The offering of food and worship of Lord Jagannath had been somewhat delayed. Now, after the worship, Thakur is to be served. He goes to the inner apartments, where the women devotees are eagerly awaiting him – to see him and pay their obeisance.
Thakur had many women devotees, but he did not talk much about them to the men devotees. If someone went to visit women devotees, he would say, “Don’t go to her very often. You may have a fall.” Sometimes he would say, “Even if a woman rolls on the ground with love for God, you shouldn’t visit her frequently.” Let men and women devotees live separately. This will be good for both of them. And he would say further, “It isn’t good for women devotees to practice motherly feelings for men. Such an attitude could change and bring about a downfall.”
Car Festival at Balaram’s house – in the joy of devotional songs, with Narendra and other devotees
It is one o’clock. After the midday meal, Thakur comes in and sits with the devotees in the drawing room. One of them has brought Purna. Thakur says to M. joyfully, “Here he is! Purna has arrived!” Narendra, the younger Naren, Narayan, Haripada, and others sit near Thakur and talk with him.
Free will and the younger Naren – Narendra sings
The younger Naren: “Sir, do we have free will?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just try to find your ‘I.’ When you are searching for ‘I,’ you find Him. ‘I am the instrument, You are the operator.’ You know, a puppet goes into a shop with a letter in its hand. God alone is the doer. Work as though you are a doer, but know that you are not.
“As long as there is any adjunct, or a limiting quality to your identity, you are in ignorance. To think that you are learned, or a jnani, or wealthy, or respectable, or father, or guru – all these come from ignorance. ‘I am the instrument and You are the operator,’ is knowledge. Then all marks of identity are obliterated. When firewood has been fully burnt, it produces no sound. It gives no heat. Then it is all cool. Peace, peace, peace.’
(To Narendra) “Please sing a little.”
Narendra: “I have to go home. I have lot of work to do.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, child. Why should you listen to us? One listens carefully to those who have gold in their ears. Who listens to one who only has a torn cloth? (All laugh.)
“You can go to the garden house of the Guhas. When I ask where you are, I often hear that you are at the garden house of the Guhas. I wouldn’t have mentioned this, but you forced it out of me.”
Narendra is silent for a few minutes. Then he says, “There are no instruments. Shall I just sing?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “My child, this is the situation here. Sing if you’d like to. This is how Balaram has arranged it.
“Balaram says, ‘Please come in a boat. But if that’s not possible, you may hire a carriage.’ (All laugh.) He has given us a feast, so he will make us dance in the afternoon. (Laughter.) One day he hired a carriage for me for twelve annas. I asked, ‘Will he take me to Dakshineswar for twelve annas?’ He said, ‘That’s enough.’ On the way one side of the carriage fell apart and dropped off. (All laugh.) And the horse would suddenly stop just anywhere and it wasn’t possible to make it move. A number of times the coachman whipped it and it ran a little. (Loud laughter.) So now this evening Ram will play the drum and we will dance. But Ram has no sense of rhythm! (All laugh.) Balaram’s attitude is: sing, dance, and make yourself happy.” (All laugh.)
Other devotees are gradually coming back from their homes, having eaten and rested.
Seeing Mahendra Mukherji saluting him from a distance, Thakur bows to him and also offers him a salaam. He says to a young devotee sitting near him, “Tell him that I salaamed. He harps on Olcott, Olcott all the time.” Many of the householder devotees have brought their wives and other women relatives with them. They wanted to have the darshan of Thakur and watch the kirtan singing in front of the chariot. Ram, Girish, and other devotees arrive one by one. A number of youngster devotees have also come.
Now Narendra sings:
When will dawn that day when tears stream from my eyes as I repeat Lord Hari’s name?
He sings again:
In dense darkness, O Mother, Your formless beauty sparkles. And so the yogi meditates in a dark mountain cave.
In the lap of infinite darkness, on the waves of the great silence, eternal peace and joy float without end.
Putting on the form of the Formless One, in darkness draped, O Mother, who are You seated alone in boundless bliss?
At the lotus of Your fear-dispelling feet flashes the lightning of love, while loud and earth-shaking laughter issues from Your dazzling face.
Balaram has arranged for a kirtan by Vaishnav-charan and Banwari. Now Vaishnavcharan sings.
O my tongue, always repeat the name of Durga.
Who else can save you from danger but She?
After listening to the song for some time, Thakur passes into samadhi. He is standing, held by the younger Naren. His face is lit with a smile. Gradually he becomes absolutely still. The roomful of devotees watches him silently, while the women observe him from behind a bamboo screen. It is as if Lord Narayana Himself has come down in human form for the devotees – come down to teach them how to love God.
After a long time chanting God’s name, his samadhi ends. When he sits down, Vaishnavcharan again begins to sing:
O my vina, sing Hari, Hari!
O my vina, the day passes in vain without worshiping Lord Hari.
Banwari, another singer, sings of God’s form and beauty. During the song, he repeats, “Ah! Ah!” and prostrates. Some listeners laugh, others feel irritated.
It is afternoon. In the meantime, the small car of Sri Jagannath, decorated with flags and bunting, has been brought to the verandah. Lord Jagannath, Subhadra, and Balaram have been adorned with sandal paste and decorated with jewelry and garlands of flowers. Leaving Banwari’s kirtan, Thakur comes to the front of the car on the verandah. Devotees accompany him. Holding the rope, he pulls the car a little and then sings and dances ahead of it with the devotees. Improvising, he sings:
Behold, the brothers have come! The two who shed tears while chanting Hari’s name,
They, who receiving the world’s blows, offer Hari’s love.
The song concludes:
Behold, the whole of Nadia trembles under the waves of Gauranga’s love!
There is singing and dancing on the verandah as the car is drawn. Hearing the loud music of the kirtan and the sound of the drums, a number of neighbors come to the verandah. Thakur is intoxicated with the name of the Lord. The devotees dance with him in an ecstasy of love.
Narendra’s song – Thakur’s ecstatic dance
After the kirtan and dancing before the car, Sri Ramakrishna returns to the room and sits down. Mani and other devotees stroke his feet.
Full of divine feeling, Narendra sings again accompanied by a tanpura:
Come, come, O Mother, my heart’s delight and doll of my soul;
So that I can constantly see You, come sit in the lotus of my heart.
Again he sings:
Mother! You are Tara, though You have assumed the three gunas, You are even beyond the Limitless.
I know You are merciful to the lowly, the one who frees from all distress.
You are sandhya, You are Gayatri, You are the support of the Universe, O Mother!
You are the redeemer of yearning souls, always stealing the heart of Shiva.
In all bodies You dwell, in all worshipful beings, in that with form and without.
He sings another song:
I have made You the pole-star of my life.
Never shall I lose my way on this sea of the world.
A devotee asks Narendra if he will sing the song “O Mother, ruler of the heart! You are awake within….”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Away with you! Are you going to sing such songs now? Sing a song of joy – ‘Shyama, the river of nectar.’”
Who can fathom Your various moods?
O Mother Shyama, You are the river of nectar.
Mother! Cupid flees before. Your playful glance…
Narendra becomes intoxicated with ecstasy and sings again and again:
O Brahman Absolute, the Eternal One, my Mother!
Do dance sometimes on the lotus of the heart of Kamala also.
Thakur dances, intoxicated with ecstatic love, singing, “O Brahman Absolute, the Eternal One, my Mother.” After dancing for a long time, he returns to his seat. He is very happy to see Narendra singing with such absorption in ecstasy, with tears in his eyes.
It must be around 9 p.m. Thakur is still sitting with the devotees.
He listens again to Vaishnavcharan’s songs:
Like Krishna’s, the complexion of the handsome Sri Gauranga, the dancing lover of God, is of golden hue.
O Hari, how shall I know You now?
O Bankura, living in Mathura, clad in royal splendour and riding elephants,
Have you forgotten the grazing of cows? Have you forgotten us?
Do you remember how you stole butter in Vraja?
It is now 10 or 11 p.m. The devotees are saluting Thakur in preparation to leave.
Sri Ramakrishna: “All right, you can go home now. (Pointing to Narendra and the younger Naren) It would be good if they both stay. (To Girish) Are you going to have your dinner at home? Wait awhile. What about a smoke? Oh, Balaram’s servant is just like that. Ask for a smoke and he won’t prepare it. (Everybody laughs.) But don’t leave without having a smoke.”
A friend wearing glasses had come with Girish. He has left after seeing and hearing everything. Thakur says to Girish, “I tell you, and also Haripal, don’t force anybody to come here. Nothing happens before its time.”
A devotee salutes Thakur. A little boy is with him. Thakur says affectionately, “You may now go. And this child with you.” Narendra, the younger Naren, and one or two devotees will go home a little later.
Sri Ramakrishna at early dawn – sweet dancing and chanting of God’s name
Sri Ramakrishna is lying on the bed in the small room to the west of the drawing room. It is 4 a.m. To the south of the room is a verandah where M. is sitting on a stool.
After a while Thakur comes out on the verandah. M. salutes him by prostrating. It is Wednesday, 15 July 1885, the 32nd day of Ashada, Sankranti.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I got up once before. Well, should I return in the morning?”
M.: “Yes, sir. The water is less choppy in the morning.”
It is morning. The devotees have not yet assembled. After washing, Thakur sweetly chants the divine name. M. is near him. After some time, Gopal’s Mother comes in and stands close to him. One or two other lady devotees are watching from the door of the inner apartments. It is as if the gopis of Vrindavan are watching Sri Krishna. Or the women devotees of Navadvip, intoxicated with ecstatic love, are looking at Sri Gauranga from behind a screen.
After chanting Rama’s name, Thakur chants the name of Krishna: “Krishna! Krishna! Gopi Krishna! Gopi! Gopi! Krishna, the life breath of the cowherd boys. Krishna, the boy of Nanda! Govinda! Govinda!”
Now he chants the name of Gauranga:
“Sri Krishna Chaitanya Prabhu Nityananda! Hare Krishna! Hare Rama! Radha Govinda!”
Then he repeats: “The Imperceptible Pure One.” Saying this, he weeps. Watching him weep and hearing his touching voice, the devotees standing close also begin to cry. He weeps and says, “O, the Pure One! O my dear, come and eat. When shall I make my life blessed by feeding You? You have come, assuming a body, for my sake.”
He is expressing his pain before Jagannath, the Lord of the Universe, the friend of the lowly, the friend of the world. “I am not separate from the world; my Master, be merciful to me.”
Becoming intoxicated with ecstatic love, he sings:
Live joyfully chanting the name of Jagannath of Orissa.
Now he dances, singing the name of Narayana: “The Lord Narayana! The Lord Narayana! Narayana! Narayana!”
Dancing, he sings again:
O gopi friend! I have not yet found Him whose love has driven me mad.
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – all three are mad.
These three mad gods have conspired to break Navadvip.
And in the fields of Vrindavan I have seen another who is mad.
He has clad Radha in royal robes and assumed for Himself the role of a guard.
Now Thakur sits in the small room with the devotees. He is naked, like a five-year-old child. M., Balaram and one or two other devotees are sitting with him.
When does one see God’s form? – secrets – seeing Narayana in pure youngsters – Ramlal, Niranjan, Purna, Narendra, Tarak of Belgharia, and the younger Naren
Sri Ramakrishna: “You can see the form of God. You can have this vision when you get rid of all adjuncts of your own identity and reasoning stops. Then a person goes into speechless samadhi. How much people talk in the theatre – of this thing and that. But as soon as the curtain rises, all discussion stops. Then a person is fully absorbed in what he sees.
“I tell you a very secret thing. Why do I love boys like Purna and Narendra so much? When I went to embrace Jagannath in a loving mood, I broke my arm. He made me understand: ‘You have taken up a human body. Now live with human beings as a friend, a parent, and such other relationships.’
“When I see Purna, I now experience the same feeling that I used to have with Ramlala. I used to bathe Ramlala and feed him and put him to bed. Wherever I went, I took him with me. I would sit and weep for Ramlala. I have the same feeling when I see these young boys. Look at Niranjan. He’s not attached to anything. He takes poor people to the doctor, spending his own money. At the mention of marriage, he says, ‘My God! That is a whirlpool of the Vishalakshi!’ I see him sitting on a light.
“Purna belongs to a high spiritual ideal of God with form – he has an element of Vishnu! Ah, what love he has!
(To M.) “Did you notice how he looked at you? Just like one looks upon a brother disciple, as if you were his very own. He said he’d come see me again. He said he’d meet me at Captain’s house.”
Many qualities of Narendra – the qualities of the younger Naren
“Narendra is of a very high spiritual ideal – the realm of the Absolute. He has a masculine nature.
“So many devotees come here but none of them is like him.
“Sometimes I sit down and calculate their natures. I see them like lotuses. Some of them have ten petals, some have sixteen, some a hundred. But Narendra is a thousand-petalled lotus.
“Others may be small tumblers or pitchers, but Narendra is a huge barrel.
“Among ponds and tanks, he is a large lake, like the Haldarpukur.
“Among fish, Narendra is a red-eyed carp, others are small fish, like minnows or small white fish.
“He is a big receptacle. Many things can be kept in him. He is like a bamboo with a big hollow space inside.
“Narendra is not the slave of anything. He is not subject to any attachment or sense pleasure. Like a male pigeon. If you hold its beak, it pulls away from you. A female pigeon just stays still.
“Tarak of Belgharia can be called a red-eyed carp.
“Narendra is manly. That’s why he sits on the right side in a carriage. Bhavanath has a feminine nature, so I tell him to sit on the other side.
“When Narendra is in a gathering, I feel strong.”
Mahendra Mukherji enters and salutes. It is about eight o’clock in the morning. Haripada and Tulsiram arrive, one after the other. They salute Sri Ramakrishna and sit down. Baburam is suffering from fever and couldn’t come.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M. and others): “Hasn’t the younger Naren come? Maybe he’s under the impression I’ve already left. (To Mukherji) What a wonder! As a child, that boy (the younger Naren) would cry for the Lord when he returned from school. Is it a small thing to cry for God? And he is so intelligent. He is a bamboo with a big hollow compared to other bamboos.
“And he has given his entire mind to me. Girish Ghosh told me that the day kirtan was held at Navagopal’s house, the younger Naren was there. Asking where I was, he was not conscious of his surroundings. He began to walk over people looking for me.
“And he’s not afraid that he’ll be criticized at home. He stays at Dakshineswar for three nights at a time.”
Deep secret of bhakti yoga – harmony of jnana and bhakti
Mukherji, Hari Babu, Purna, Niranjan, M., and Balaram
[Priyanath] Mukherji: “Hari (Hari Babu of Baghbazar) was amazed at what you said yesterday. He said, ‘All this is in the Samkhya philosophy, in Patanjali, and the Vedanta. He is not an ordinary person.’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “But I have not read the Samkhya or the Vedanta.
“Perfect jnana and perfect bhakti are one and the same. By discriminating ‘not this, not this,’ all reasoning ends, leading to the knowledge of Brahman. Then one accepts again what one has renounced. You have to be careful climbing to the roof. But when you get there, you see that the roof is made of the same materials – brick, lime, and brick dust – of which the steps are made.
“He who is aware of high is also aware of low. After attaining spiritual knowledge, high and low appear as one.
“Hanuman also sometimes felt the attitude of ‘I am He,’ sometimes ‘I am Your servant,’ and at other times, ‘I am a part of You.’
“Why should one cherish love for God? Without it, how can a man spend his days?
“This I-ness does not go away. As long as there is the pot of I-ness, the attitude of ‘I am He’ is not attained. In samadhi, however, that I-ness disappears. Then what exists is only He. Ramprasad says, ‘Mother, only You will know in that state whether I am good or You are good.’
“As long as I-ness persists, it is better to have the attitude of a devotee. It’s not right to think ‘I am God’ or ‘O embodied being, you are not like Krishna, you are just a devotee.’ But it’s a different matter if God Himself draws you. It’s like a master saying affectionately to his servant, ‘Come, come along. Sit beside me. You are the same as I.’
“The waves belong to the Ganges, not the Ganges to the waves.
“Shiva has both states of mind. When he is absorbed in the joy of the Self, he is in the state of ‘I am He’ – he is fully fixed in union with God. But when he feels himself a separate ‘I-ness,’ he dances, exclaiming, ‘Rama! Rama!’
“That to which the movable belongs, to Him also belongs the immovable.
“That is why you may not be moving just now, but after a while you begin to work.
“Spiritual knowledge and love for God are one and the same. Even so, one person says that it is water and another that it is a piece of ice.”
Two kinds of samadhi – obstacle to samadhi: ‘lust and greed’
“Broadly speaking, samadhi is of two kinds. By reasoning on the path of jnana, I-ness is obliterated and one attains samadhi. It is called sthira samadhi or jada samadhi (nirvikalpa samadhi). The samadhi attained by the path of bhakti is known as bhava samadhi. In this samadhi, a thin line of I-ness persists to enable one to enjoy divine bliss, divine contact. However, if a person is attached to ‘lust and greed,’ this state cannot be attained.
“I said to Kedar, ‘If your mind dwells in “lust and greed,” you can’t realize God.’ Once I thought I might stroke his chest with my hand, but I couldn’t do it. Within him, there was something twisted. It was like a house smelling filthy – I couldn’t enter it. It was like a natural Shiva Lingam, whose roots spread as far as Kashi. As long as you are attracted by the world, as long you are attached to ‘lust and greed,’ you cannot succeed.
“‘Lust and greed’ has not yet entered into these youngsters. That’s why I am so fond of them. Hazra says, ‘You like a boy who is handsome and the son of a rich man.’ If that were true, why would I be so fond of Harish, Latu, Narendra? Narendra can’t find a pice for salt to season his rice.
“Worldliness has not yet entered into these youngsters’ minds. That’s why they are so pure.
“And many of them are ever-perfect ones. They were drawn to God since their birth. Imagine you’ve bought a garden and when clearing it, you discover a previously installed water pipe. You open it and lo, water gushes out!”
Purna and Niranjan – serving the mother – the attitude of a Vaishnava
Balaram: “Sir, how is it that Purna has realized suddenly that the world is an illusion?”
“Do you know how it is with these youngsters? Bearing fruit even before flowering. First they see God, and then they hear about His glories and attributes. After that comes direct union.
“Look at Niranjan. He’s not a bookkeeper – he doesn’t keep track of gain and loss. When he hears the call, he can go. But as long as a person’s mother is alive, she has to be looked after. I used to worship my mother with flowers and sandal paste. It is the Mother of the Universe who has come down in the form of your mother. The memorial service honouring a deceased relative is the worship of one’s chosen deity. Vaishnavas celebrate in a grand way when somebody dies. Their festival has the same significance.
“As long as you take care of your own body, you must look after your mother. So I say to Hazra, ‘When you have a cough, you make a mixture of sugar candy and pepper, and you have to get the pepper and also salt for taste.’ As long as you do this for yourself, you have also to take care of your mother.
“A minor can’t take responsibility for himself, so he has a guardian. Chaitanya Deva’s state was like that of a minor.”
M. goes to take dip in the Ganges.
Sri Ramakrishna’s horoscope – his earlier story – Thakur’s realization of God
Vision of Rama, Lakshmana, and Krishna – naked figure of a paramahamsa
Sri Ramakrishna is talking with the devotees in the same small room in Balaram’s house. Mahendra Mukherji, Balaram, Tulsi, Haripada, Girish, and other devotees are sitting on the floor. Girish has been visiting Thakur for seven or eight months. M. has returned after his bath in the Ganges. He salutes Thakur and sits beside him. Thakur is relating a few of his wonderful visions of God.
“One day in the Kali Temple I saw Nangta and Haladhari reading the Adhyatma Ramayana. Suddenly I saw a stream with woods and green trees and plants on either side. I saw Rama and Lakshmana walking along wearing shorts. One day, in front of the kuthi, I saw Arjuna’s chariot, with the Lord sitting in it as the charioteer. I remember this even now.
“Another day, during a kirtan at my native village, I saw the figure of Gauranga before me.
“A naked man used to be with me all the time then. I would touch his penis and cut jokes with him. Then I would laugh and laugh. This naked form came out of my own body – the picture of a paramahamsa – like a child.
“Oh, I can’t describe the many divine visions I had. At the time I had severe stomach troubles. The visions would aggravate them, so when I had one, I would say, ‘Get away!’ But they would catch hold of me, like ghosts. I would remain absorbed in ecstasy. I couldn’t tell you how I passed my days. Then all divine emotion would pass as if I had had a bout of diarrhea.” (Laughter.)
Girish (smiling): “I am examining your horoscope.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I was born on the second lunar day. Except for the positions of sun, moon, and mercury, it doesn’t show much more.”
Girish: “You were born under Aquarius. Rama and Krishna were born under Cancer and Taurus. And Chaitanya Deva under Leo.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I had two desires. One, to be king of the devotees. Two, that I should not be a dry sadhu.”
Sri Ramakrishna’s horoscope – why spiritual practice for Thakur? – vision of Brahmayoni
Girish (smiling): “Why did you have to practice spiritual disciplines?”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “The Divine Mother underwent many difficult spiritual practices for Shiva, sitting encircled by five fires, keeping her body immersed in water during cold weather, and gazing at the sun without blinking.
“Krishna practiced a number of spiritual disciplines with the Radha Yantra. That yantra was the Brahmayoni from which universes arise. He would meditate on it and worship it. From it thousands of universes are created.
“This is very secret. Under the bel tree I used to have sparkling visions.”
His earlier story – practicing Tantra under the bel tree – Brahmani procured the articles
“I practiced a number of Tantric disciplines under the bel tree – with a skull, and so forth. And I performed a number of postures. The Brahmani arranged everything.
(Moving nearer to Haripada) “In that state I used to worship the penis of young boys with flowers and sandalwood paste. I couldn’t help myself.
“And there was another experience. I would fall sick the very next day if I became egoistic.”
M. sits like a picture without saying a word when he hears Thakur tell of his wonderful experiences, words never heard before. The devotees also sit there as if bathed in the redeeming current of the Ganges, as if the Bhagavata itself were flowing from the lips of Sri Ramakrishna.
Everyone is silent.
Sri Ramakrishna: “He has laughter within. There is sand over the course of the Phalgu River. But dig into it and you will reach water.
(To M.) “Don’t you scrape your tongue? Please clean your tongue every day.”
Balaram: “Well, Purna has come to know many things about you from him (M.).”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He knows my earlier life story. But what, I don’t know.”
Balaram: “Purna is perfect by nature. What are these people?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “They are just instruments.”
It is nine o’clock. Arrangements have been made for Thakur’s return to Dakshineswar. A boat has been hired and is ready for him at the Annapurna ghat of Baghbazar. Prostrating, the devotees salute Thakur.
He boards the boat with one or two devotees. Gopal’s Mother goes into the same boat. After a little rest at Dakshineswar, she will continue on foot to Kamarhatti in the evening.
Thakur’s camp cot from Dakshineswar, which had been sent for repairs, is also loaded into the boat. It was on this cot that Rakhal generally slept.
. One-sixteenth divine power (kala).
. Traditionally offered to Shiva.
.Traditionally offered to Vishnu.
. Baby Krishna.
. For the complete story refer to Volume III, Section XV, Chapter I.
. Rupa, swarupa, raj, bij, and pak pranali.
. näyaà hanti na hanyate – Bhagavad Gita, 2:19; na hanyate hanyamäne çarére – Bhagavad Gita 2:20.
. Harinath Chattopadhyaya, the future Swami Turiyananda.
. Doctrine of Advaita.
. Doctrine of Vishishtadvaita.
. Sankalpa and vikalpa.
. Later Swami Trigunatitananda.
. The attitude of Gopala toward them.
. God is the puppeteer.
. A low bow with the right palm to the forehead.
. Col. Henry Steel Olcott, first president of the Theosophical Society.
. For the complete song refer to Section XIII, Chapter III.
. For the complete song refer to Section XV, Chapter IV.
. For the complete song refer to Section XVII, Chapter I.
. For the complete song refer to Section VI, Chapter I.
. The savior, literally “she who takes one across [the ocean of worldly existence]”.
. For the complete song refer to Section VIII, Chapter I.
. Alekh Niranjan.
. A stream near Kamarpukur.
 Later Swami Turiyananda.
. So ’ham.
. Daso ’ham.
. Ravi, Chandra, and Buddha.
. To win him as a husband.
. The future Swami Nirmalananda.
. Magha Nakshatra.
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