Sri Ramakrishna at the Nandan Bagan Brahmo Samaj with Rakhal, M., and Other Devotees
Sight of the shrine inspires Sri Ramakrishna – Sri Radha seized with the madness of ecstatic love
Sri Ramakrishna has arrived at the Brahmo Samaj temple in Nandan Bagan, accompanied by Rakhal, M., and a few other devotees. He is talking with the Brahmo devotees. It is about five o’clock.
Kashisvara Mitra’s house is in Nandan Bagan. He was a retired sub-judge and a member of the Adi Brahmo Samaj who used to worship the Lord in a big hall on the second level of his house. Now and then he would invite devotees for a festival. After his death, his sons Srinath, Yajnanath, and others continued to hold celebrations on a few occasions in the same manner as their father had done. It is they who have earnestly invited Thakur here.
After arriving, Thakur at first sits in the drawing-room on the ground floor. Gradually, Brahmo devotees arrive and gather there. Rabindra (Tagore) and other members of the Tagore family are present. When asked to go to the worship hall, Thakur and the devotees go upstairs to the second level. Thakur takes his seat there. A dais has been set up on the eastern side of the hall and a piano placed in the southwest corner. Many chairs are placed in the north part of the room, to the west of a door leading to the women’s quarters. The worship will begin in the evening. Bhairava Bandopadhayaya of the Adi Brahmo Samaj, along with one or two devotees, will sit at the dais and perform the worship.
It is summer, 2 May 1883, Wednesday, the 10th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Chaitra. Many of the Brahmo devotees are strolling around the big courtyard below or on the verandah. Janaki Goshal and a few others come to the worship hall, wishing to sit near Sri Ramakrishna. They want to hear him talk about God. When Thakur enters the room, he bows before the altar and then takes a seat. He says to Rakhal, M., and others:
“Narendra once asked me, ‘What good is there in bowing before the shrine of the Samaj?’
“At the sight of a shrine, I’m reminded of Him. I feel divine inspiration. God is present wherever people talk about Him. One feels the presence in all the holy places of pilgrimage. Such places remind one of God.
“A devotee went into an ecstatic mood at the sight of a babul tree. It reminded him that the same wood is used for making the handles of axes used in Lord Radhakanta’s garden.
“Another devotee had such loving devotion for his guru that he became overwhelmed with divine emotion to see a resident from his guru’s neighbourhood.
“Srimati (Radha) would become inspired with Krishna at the sight of a cloud or blue clothing or a picture of Krishna. She was so filled with yearning for him that she would cry like a mad woman, ‘Where are you, my Krishna?’”
Goshal: “Madness isn’t good.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What do you mean? Is this like the madness born of worrying about worldly things that makes you unconscious? This state of madness comes after meditating on God. Haven’t you heard of the madness of love for God and the madness of knowledge?”
The way: to love God and to turn around the six enemies
A Brahmo devotee: “How can one find God?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “By developing love for Him. You must think constantly that God alone is real and everything else is of a fleeting nature.
“The Ashwattha tree alone is permanent. Its fruit lasts but a few days.”
The Brahmo devotee: “Lust and anger are the real enemies. What can we do about them?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Turn the six enemies around – towards God.
“Have lust for union with the Atman.
“Show anger to those who are an obstacle in the way to God. Have greed to attain Him. If you have to say, ‘Me and mine,’ say it in relation to Him – as, for example, ‘My Krishna or my Rama.’ If you have pride, let it be like the pride of Bibhishana who said, ‘I have bowed to Rama. This head shall never bow to anybody else.’”
The Brahmo devotee: “If everything is really being done by Him, you’re not responsible for your sins.”
Free will – responsibility
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Duryodhana said: ‘O Hrishikesh, I act as You, seated within my heart, make me act.’
“If you have the right kind of faith – that God alone is the Doer and you do nothing, you can’t commit a sin. The person who knows how to dance well never takes a wrong step.
“But unless you’re pure in heart, you don’t even have the faith that God exists.”
Thakur glances at the people gathered in the worship hall and says, “It’s very good to gather like this now and then to meditate on God and sing His name and glories.
“But the love of worldly people for God is momentary, drying up like drops of water falling on a hot iron. They don’t last long.”
Worship of the Brahmos and Sri Ramakrishna
The worship is about to begin. The large worship hall is full of Brahmo devotees. Several of the Brahmo women take their seats on chairs to the north of the room, holding music books in their hands.
They sing Brahmo songs to the accompaniment of piano and harmonium. There is no end to Thakur’s joy to hear the music, which is followed by an invocation, a prayer, and then the worship. The acharyas sitting on the platform recite mantras from the Vedas.
You are our Father, grant us right understanding. We bow to You. Pray do not destroy us.
The Brahmo devotees chant in unison with an acharya:
Om! Brahman is infinite truth and knowledge.
Immortal and blissful, it glitters.
Brahman is peace, all-good, and one without a second.
It is pure, untouched by sin.
Now the acharyas sing a hymn of praise:
Om! We bow to the real, the cause of the universe.
We bow to pure consciousness, the refuge and support of all.
The religious teachers now pray, reciting another prayer:
Lead us from the unreal to the Real and from darkness to Light,
Lead us from death to immortality and reach us through and through.
O Rudra, protect us always with Your compassionate face.
Thakur becomes absorbed in ecstasy when he hears these hymns. Now an acharya reads a paper.
Sri Ramakrishna, without anger and full of supreme bliss – ocean of motiveless grace
The worship is over. Preparations are underway to serve luchis and sweets to the devotees. Most of the Brahmo devotees are enjoying fresh air in the courtyard below and on the verandah.
It is 9 p.m. Thakur has to return to the Dakshineswar Temple. The hosts are so busy attending to their invited guests that they completely forget to take care of him and his party.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Rakhal and others): “Why, no one is paying any attention to us!”
Rakhal (angrily): “Sir, let us leave this place and return to Dakshineswar.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Oh, angry man! Who will pay the carriage fare of three rupees and two annas? Such stubbornness won’t get you anywhere. You have no money and you’re simply getting angry! Besides, where shall I eat so late at night?”
After quite some time, they hear that the leaf plates have been laid. All the devotees are asked to sit at the same time. Thakur, Rakhal, and others join the crowd and return to the second storey to eat. They find no place to sit in such a crowd. With great difficulty they find a place in a corner for Thakur to sit.
The spot is not clean. A brahmin woman cook serves vegetable curry. Thakur doesn’t feel like eating it. He eats luchi with a pinch of salt and some sweets.
Thakur is an ocean of compassion. The hosts are young. How could he be annoyed with them for not showing him the proper respect? If he had left without eating anything, it would have been unlucky for them. Besides, they had arranged the feast in the name of God.
After eating, Thakur gets into a carriage. Who will pay the fare? The hosts are nowhere to be found. Later Thakur relates this incident of the carriage fare to the devotees with humor: “Someone went to the hosts to ask for the carriage fare. At first he was ignored. But finally, with great difficulty, they scraped up three rupees. He was not given the two annas! The hosts said, ‘This should certainly be enough.’”
. Krishna’s body was dark blue.
. Lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride, and envy.
. An epithet of Krishna.
. Religious teachers.
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