Sri Ramakrishna with Narendra and Other Devotees at the Cossipore Garden House
Advice to Narendra on the harmony of Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga
Sri Ramakrishna is with the devotees in the big hall at the Cossipore garden house. It is about 8 p.m. Narendra, Sashi, M., the elder Gopal, and Sarat are there. Today is Thursday, 11 March 1886, 28th of Phalgun, 1292 (B.Y.), the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Phalgun.
Thakur is ill. He is resting in bed with the devotees sitting near him. Sarat is standing and fanning him. Thakur talks of his illness.
Sri Ramakrishna: “If you go to Bholanath, he will give you some oil and tell you how to use it.”
The elder Gopal: “Then we’ll bring it tomorrow morning.”
M.: “Somebody can go and get it today.”
Sashi: “I can do it.”
Sri Ramakrishna (pointing at Sarat): “He can go.”
In a little while Sarat leaves for Dakshineswar temple to get the oil from Bholanath Mukherji.
Thakur is lying down. The devotees sit silently. Suddenly he sits up and addresses Narendra.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra): “Brahman is unattached. The three gunas are in Him, but He is not attached to them.
“It is like a breeze carrying the fragrance of both good and bad smells. The air remains unaffected. Shankaracharya was walking along a road in Kashi. An outcaste carrying a load of meat was coming his way and suddenly touched him. Shankara exclaimed, ‘You’ve touched me!’ The outcaste said, ‘Master, you have not touched me, nor have I touched you. The Atman is not attached. You are that pure Atman.’
“Brahman and maya! A man of knowledge rejects maya.
“Maya is like a veil. See, I am using this towel in front of the lamp to bar the view, and I can’t see the light of the lamp.”
Thakur holds the towel between himself and the devotees. He says, “Look. Now you can’t see my face.
“As Ramprasad says, ‘Raise the mosquito net and see.’
“But a devotee doesn’t reject maya. He worships Mahamaya. Taking refuge in it, he prays, ‘Mother, don’t stand in the way. Only when you step out of the way will I attain the knowledge of Brahman.’ A man of knowledge denies the three states of wakefulness, dream, and deep sleep. But devotees accept them all. As long as ‘I-ness’ persists, so long does everything else exist.
“As long as you retain ‘I-ness’, so long do you see that God indeed has become maya, the universe, living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.”
Narendra and the others remain silent.
“The theory of maya is dry. Now tell me, what I said.”
Narendra: “Maya is dry.”
Thakur strokes Narendra’s face and hands and says, “All these are the signs of a devotee. The features of a man of knowledge are different: his face and body are dry.”
“But a man of knowledge can live in the world with vidyamaya – love for God, compassion, and non-attachment – after attaining spiritual know-ledge. This is for two particular objectives. First, to teach mankind and second, to enjoy bliss.
“If a jnani remains silently in samadhi, he would not be able to instruct people. That’s why Shankaracharya retained the ‘ego of knowledge.’
“And a man of knowledge lives with devotees and love for God to enjoy and experience the bliss of God.
“There is no harm in the ‘I of knowledge,’ the ‘I of a devotee.’ But the ‘rascal I’ is harmful. When one realizes God, one becomes childlike. There is no harm in the ‘I of a child.’ It’s like a face reflected in a mirror. It doesn’t say bad things. A burnt rope is a rope only in appearance – it is blown away with a puff. The ‘I’ gets burnt in the fire of spiritual knowledge. Then it can no longer harm anyone. It is ‘I’ only in name.
“Living in the relative world after reaching the Absolute is like going to the other bank and then returning. It is for teaching people and for enjoyment, for pleasure.”
Thakur talks in a very low voice. He pauses for a while and then he says to the devotees, “I am so sick, but my mind is not subject to the power of ignorance. Just look, I don’t think of Ramlal or home or wife. But I am worried about Purna, a kayastha boy unrelated to me. I have no worry about the others.
“It is God who has kept vidyamaya in me for the benefit of others – for the devotees.
“And as long as one keeps vidyamaya, one has to return. Divine incarnations and other god-men keep vidyamaya. You have to come back even if you have the least trace of desire – you have to return repeatedly. A person gains liberation only when all desires are gone. But devotees don’t want liberation.
“If you die in Kashi, you don’t have to return. Men of knowledge want liberation.”
Narendra: “The other day we went to Mahimacharan Chakravarty’s house.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “And then?”
Narendra: “I have never seen a jnani as dry as he is.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “What happened?”
Narendra: “He asked us to sing. Gangadhar sang:
By Krishna’s name restored to life, Radha looks round and round, searching, searching….
Then catching sight of the black tamal tree, Radha exclaims, “Behold! There is my Krishna’s crest!”
“Hearing the song, he [Mahima] said, ‘Why sing such songs? I don’t like love, or things like that. Besides, I have a wife and son. Why sing such songs here?”
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “See his fear!”
. A clerk at the Dakshineswar temple garden.
. The Vedantic theory that the world of names and forms is illusory, dream-like.
. Bhakti, daya, and vairagya.
. Later Swami Akhandananda.
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