Sri Ramakrishna at Cossipore Garden House with Narendra and Other Devotees
Modesty is the ornament of women – his earlier story – gracious visit to M.’s house
Sri Ramakrishna is staying at the Cossipore garden house with the devotees. Although very ill, he is constantly anxious about the welfare of the devotees. Today is Saturday, 17 April 1886, 5th of Vaishakh, fourteenth day of the bright fortnight of Chaitra. It is also a full moon day.
Narendra has been visiting Dakshineswar almost daily to meditate in the panchavati for several days. Today he returns to Cossipore in the evening, accompanied by Tarak and Kali.
It is 8 p.m. The moonlight and southern breeze have made the garden very beautiful. Many of the devotees are meditating in the room downstairs. Narendra says to Mani, “They are giving it up” (i.e. giving up their personal adjuncts as they meditate).
In a little while Mani goes to the hall upstairs and sits with Thakur, who asks him to bring a spittoon and hand towel after cleaning them. Mani goes to the bathing ghat of the western pond and washes them in the moonlight. Then he brings them back.
The next morning Thakur sends someone for Mani. He had gone to the roof of the hall after taking his bath in the Ganges and meeting Thakur.
Mani’s wife has gone almost insane with grief over the death of her son. Thakur asks for her to be brought to the garden for her meals. He indicates by a sign, “Ask her to come and stay here for two days. She should bring her baby and have her meals here.”
Mani: “As you request, sir. It would be good for her to develop great love for God.”
Sri Ramakrishna says by a sign, “Grief drives away (love of God). And he [the boy] was quite grown up.
“Krishnakishore had two sons almost Bhavanath’s age. Each of them had two university degrees. They died. Krishnakishore is such a jnani, but he could not keep his balance in the beginning. Luckily, God has not given me a son.
“Such a great jnani Arjuna was! And he had Krishna as his companion. Even so, his grief was inconsolable at Abhimanyu’s death.
“Why hasn’t Kishori come?”
Devotee: “He goes every day to bathe in the Ganges.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why doesn’t he come here?”
Devotee: “I’ll ask him to.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Latu): “Why doesn’t Harish come?”
Modesty is an ornament of women – his earlier story – gracious visit to M.’s house
Two girls nine or ten years old, from M.’s family, have come to the Cossipore garden house and sung these songs for Thakur: ‘O my tongue, always repeat the name of Durga,’ ‘The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight,’ and others. When Thakur visited M.’s house at Telipara in Shyampukur (Thursday, 30 October 1884, 15th of Kartik, onset of the eleventh day of the lunar month), the same two girls sang for him then. He had been very pleased to hear them. When they sang today at the Cossipore garden house, the devotees heard them from downstairs and called them down to hear their songs again.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Don’t teach your girls songs anymore. It is different if they sing on their own, but a woman’s modesty suffers if she sings in the presence of anybody and everybody. It is very important that women preserve their modesty.”
Sri Ramakrishna’s self-worship – he gives prasad to the devotees
Flowers and sandal paste are brought to Thakur in a flower bowl. Sitting on his bed, he begins to worship himself, touching the flowers with sandal paste to his forehead, throat, and heart, and sometimes to his navel.
Manomohan has come from Konnagar. After saluting Thakur, he sits down. Thakur, still worshiping himself, places a garland around his own neck.
After a while, as if pleased with him, Thakur gives some offered flowers to Manomohan and a champak flower to Mani.
Did Buddha believe in the existence of God? Instruction to Narendra
It is 9 o’clock. Thakur is talking to M. Sashi is also in the room.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “What did Narendra and Sashi talk about? What did they discuss?”
M. (to Sashi): “What were you talking about?”
Sashi: “Maybe Niranjan told you about it. Did he?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “God does not exist, God does exist. Is that what you were talking about?”
Sashi (smiling): “Shall I call Narendra?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, do call him.” (Narendra comes in and sits down.)
(To M.) “Please ask him something. (To Narendra) Tell me what you were talking about.”
Narendra: “My stomach is upset. What more can I say?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It will be all right.”
M. (smiling): “What is the state of Buddha [illumination] like?”
Narendra: “Did I ever attain it that I could tell you?”
M.: “What is Buddha’s opinion about whether or not God exists?”
Narendra: “How can you say that God exists? It is you who have created the world. You do know what Berkeley says.”
M.: “Yes, indeed he does say about external objects, ‘Esse est percipi (the existence of external objects depends upon their being perceived).’”
His earlier story – Totapuri’s instructions to Thakur: ‘the world is only the projection of the mind’
Sri Ramakrishna: “The Naked One used to say, ‘The world is the product of the mind, then it dissolves itself back into the mind.’
“But as long as ‘I-ness’ persists, the attitude of master and servant is the right attitude.”
Narendra (to M.): “How can you prove by reasoning that God exists? But if you rely on faith, you have to accept the attitude of master and servant. And if you accept that – and accept you must – you have to accept that He is kind as well.
“You only think of your sorrow. What about the happiness He has bestowed? Why do you forget it? How great is His grace! He has given us three precious things: human birth, longing for God, and the company of a great spiritual personality – manushyatam, mumukshutvam, mahapurusha-sanshrya.”
They all sit silently.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra): “But I do definitely feel that there is someone within.”
Dr. Rajendra Lal Dutta arrives and takes a seat. He is treating Thakur with homeopathic medicine. When the conversation about medicine ends, Thakur points to Manomohan.
Dr. Rajendra: “He is a son of my maternal uncle’s son.”
Narendra comes down to the lower floor and begins to sing to himself:
By giving Your vision, You have rid me of all sorrows and charmed my soul.
Beholding You, all the seven worlds forget their grief,
What to speak of my poor self so mean and unworthy.
Narendra has been suffering from mild indigestion. He says to M., “Feelings of love and devotion for God make the mind tend toward the body. Were it otherwise, who would ‘I’ be? Then there would be no man and no god, and I would have neither sorrow nor happiness.”
Thakur’s worship of himself – his prasad to Surendra – Surendra’s service to Thakur
It is already 9 p.m. Surendra and other devotees have brought a garland of flowers and offered it to Thakur. Baburam, Surendra, Latu, M., and some others are in the room.
Thakur puts the garland brought by Surendra, around his own neck. Everyone sits silently. Thakur is worshiping Him who resides within.
Suddenly he motions to Surendra. When he comes near the bed, Thakur puts the offered garland around Surendra’s neck.
Surendra salutes after receiving the garland. Thakur asks him by a sign to stroke his feet gently. Surendra strokes Thakur’s feet for some time.
Thakur in devotional singing with devotees in Cossipore garden house
There is a reservoir to the west of the room Thakur occupies. A few devotees are singing on the platform of its ghat with the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. Thakur sends word through Latu, “Please chant the Lord’s name for a while.”
M. and Baburam are still sitting with Thakur. They listen to the music of the devotees:
My Gaur is dancing,
Dancing with the devotees to the kirtan in Srivas’s courtyard.
Listening to the song, Thakur signals to Baburam, M., and the others, by a sign, “Please go downstairs. Sing with them and dance.”
They go down and take part in the kirtan.
After a while Thakur sends someone to ask them to sing:
O friend! My Gaur even knows how to dance!
His divine mood I cannot describe,
As my Gaur dances with both hands upraised!
The kirtan ends. Surendra, in an ecstatic mood, sings:
My father is mad, my mother too,
And I, their son, am mad.
My Mother is none other than Shyama,
And my father, He who utters “ba-ba-bam!”
Drunk with wine, my Mother staggers, Her disheveled hair away.
While bees beyond number swarm around Her crimson feet,
Buzzing to the ring of her anklets’ bells.
Existence of God and Narendra – Bhavanath, Purna, and Surendra
After visiting Sri Ramakrishna, Hirananda gets into a carriage. Standing close by, Narendra and Rakhal exchange a few words with him. It is 10 o’clock. Hirananda will come again tomorrow. This has been narrated in Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, Volume II, Section XXVII.
Today is Wednesday, 21 April, 1886, 9th day of Vaisakha, the 3rd day of the dark fortnight of Chaitra. Narendra and M. converse while they stroll the garden path. Narendra’s mother and brothers are in great difficulty at home. He has not yet been able to make satisfactory arrangement for their well-being and is very worried.
Narendra: “I don’t want to work in Vidyasagar’s school anymore. I’m thinking of going to Gaya. Somebody told me there’s a manager’s job for someone’s estate there. There is no God – or anything like God.”
Mani (smiling): “You say this now, but later you won’t. Skepticism is a stage on the path to God-realization. When you’ve passed this stage and progressed further, you will realize God. That’s what the paramahamsa says.”
Narendra: “Has anyone seen God the way I see these trees?”
Mani: “Yes, Thakur has.”
Narendra: “That may be a hallucination.”
Mani: “What a person sees in a particular state is reality for him – the truth – in that state. If you dream you are in a garden, that garden is a reality for you. However, in another state, say when you are awake, you may know that it was unreal, an illusion. When you attain the state of God-realization, you see Him as the Reality, the truth.”
Narendra: “I want the truth. The other day I had a long argument with the paramahamsa.”
Mani (smiling): “What was it about?”
Narendra: “He said to me, ‘Some people call me God.’ I said, ‘Let a thousand people say so, but I won’t unless I realize it myself.’
“He said, ‘What many people say is the truth, that is the law.’
“I said, ‘Unless I realize it for myself, I will not listen to what others say.’”
Mani (smiling): “You have the same attitude as Copernicus and Berkeley. Everybody said that it was the sun that revolves [around the earth]. Copernicus didn’t listen. The man in the street says that the external world is a reality. Berkeley refused to believe it. That is why Lewis said, ‘Why was Berkeley not a philosophical Copernicus?’”
Narendra: “Can you give me a book on the history of philosophy?”
M.: “The one by Lewis?”
Narendra: “No, by Überweg. I want to study a German author.”
Mani: “You say, ‘Has anyone seen God the way I see this tree?’ Suppose God came as a human being and said, ‘I am God,’ will you believe him? Don’t you know the story of Lazarus? When he died and was in the other world, Lazarus said to Abraham, ‘Let me go tell my relatives and friends that there really is another world and a hell.’ Abraham said, ‘Will they believe you if you say that? They’ll say that some charlatan has come and is telling stories.’ Thakur says, ‘God can’t be known by reasoning. Everything comes from faith: jnana, vijnana, vision, intimacy – everything.’”
Bhavanath has married. He is worried about making a living. He comes to M. and says, “I hear Vidyasagar is going to establish a new school. I need to earn a living. Can I get a job there?”
Ramlal – carriage fare for Purna – Surendra’s straw screens
It is between three and four o’clock. Thakur is resting. Ramlal, who has come from Dakshineswar to see him, is gently stroking his feet. Gopal of Sinthi and Mani are also in the room.
Thakur asks Mani to shut the window and massage his feet.
Purna had been asked to hire a carriage and come to the Cossipore garden house. He has already visited Thakur and left. Mani will pay the carriage fare. Thakur asks Gopal by a sign, “Has he (M.) given the money?”
Gopal: “Yes sir.”
It is about 9 p.m. Surendra, Ram, and others are planning to return to Calcutta.
It is a hot day in the month of Vaishakh. Thakur’s room becomes extremely hot during the day, so Surendra has brought straw screens. Hung on the windows they will cool the room to a great extent.
Surendra: “Where are the screens? Why, they haven’t been hung! Nobody pays any attention.”
A devotee (smiling): “The devotees are now in the state of brahmajnana. It is now ‘I am He’; the world is an illusion. When the feeling of ‘You are the Lord and I am your servant’ returns, they will attend to his service.” (All laugh.)
 George Berkeley (1685-1753), Irish philosopher.
. For the complete song refer to Section XV, Chapter V.
. The hollow, drumming sound that Shiva makes while striking his cheeks.
. Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Polish astronomer and founder of modern astronomy.
. Friedrich Überweg, An Outline of a History of Philosophy from Thales to the Present, 3 vols., 1867.
. So ‘ham.
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