Sri Ramakrishna with Rakhal, Ram, M., Bhavanath, and Other Devotees at the Panihati Festival
Thakur in the joy of devotional songs – is he Gauranga?
Sri Ramakrishna is dancing amidst a kirtan group on the crowded main road during the festival at Panihati. It is about one o’clock, Monday, 18 June 1883, the thirteenth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Jaishtha.
People stand around Sri Ramakrishna in rows to watch him during devotional singing. He dances intoxicated with divine love. Some people wonder whether Gauranga has again incarnated himself. The sound of the Lord’s name swells from all sides like ocean waves. Flowers are raining from all directions, and it appears as if ‘Hari is being looted.’
Navadvip Goswami was proceeding toward the Raghava temple singing the Lord’s name all the way. Suddenly Thakur shot into the kirtan group with the speed of an arrow and began to dance.
It is the ‘Festival of Flattened Rice’ of Pundit Raghava. It is celebrated every year on the thirteenth day of the lunar month in the bright fortnight. This festival was first celebrated by Raghunath Das. Thereafter, Raghava Pundit celebrated it every year. Nityananda said to Raghunath Das, “Oh, you thief! You just come running from your home and steal the taste of divine love without any of us knowing it. I am going to punish you today. Celebrate a festival of flattened rice and serve the devotees.”
Thakur visits the event almost every year. Today he came with Ram and other devotees. Ram had gone from Calcutta to Dakshineswar with M. in the morning. They had met Thakur, saluted him, and then taken their prasad meal on the northern verandah. Thakur went to Panihati by the same carriage in which Ram had come from Calcutta. Rakhal, M., Ram, Bhavanath, and one or two other devotees were also in the carriage. One of them sat on top.
The carriage traveled along the Magazine Road before coming to the Chanke Main Road (trunk road). On the way Thakur cuts many jokes with the young devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna in mahabhava at the Panihati festival
As soon as the carriage reaches the venue of the Panihati festival, Ram and the other devotees are amazed to see Thakur, who had been in such a joyous state in the carriage, suddenly get down and shoot forth like an arrow. After looking for him for a long time, they found him dancing among the kirtan group of Navadvip Goswami and going into samadhi every now and then. Navadvip Goswami carefully supported him when he was in samadhi so that he would not fall down. Devotees on all sides were shouting the name of Hari and throwing flowers and sweet confections at his feet. They were pushing each other to have a view of him.
Thakur dances in a semiconscious state. Returning to full consciousness, he sings:
Behold, the brothers have come! The two who shed tears while chanting Hari’s name.
They, who weeping, make others weep; they, who in ecstasy dancing, make the world dance;
They, who receiving the world’s blows, offer Hari’s love.
They are Kanai and Balai of Vraja, who would steal butter from the gopis’ pots;
Who, indifferent to caste, embrace the lowest of the lowly;
Who, themselves inebriated, inebriate others;
Who chant Hari’s name, though they are none other than Hari Himself.
They, who redeemed Jagai and Madhai and distinguish not friend from foe,
These two brothers, Gaur and Nitai, have come to redeem humanity.
Everyone dances with Thakur, intoxicated with divine love and feeling that Gaur and Nitai are dancing in their presence. Thakur sings again:
Behold, the whole of Nadia trembles under the waves of Gauranga’s love!
The wave of devotees singing the kirtan advances toward the Raghava Temple. Dancing all the way and having circumambulated the temple, they bow to the images of Radha-Krishna. Now the wave of people moves toward the temple of Radha-Krishna which was established by the babus of Gangakul.
Some of the singing party enter the temple of Radhakanta, but the majority are unable to enter. They push each other aside, trying to peep inside the doorway.
Dancing in the Radha-Krishna temple courtyard
Thakur dances again in the courtyard of Radha-Krishna. He is fully intoxicated with the joy of the kirtan. He goes into samadhi every now and then, flowers and sweets falling at his feet from all sides. Time and again the name of Hari is raised in the courtyard. The same sound, reaching the main road, is echoed by a thousand voices. Passengers on the boats sailing the Ganges listen wonderstruck to the chanting, like ocean waves, of Hari’s name. They themselves begin to chant, “Haribol, Haribol.”
Thousands of men and women assembled at the festival think to themselves that Sri Gauranga himself must assuredly have manifested in this great saint. One or two feel that he is none other than Gauranga.
Several people have assembled in the small courtyard. The devotees bring Sri Ramakrishna out of the courtyard very carefully.
Sri Ramakrishna in Mani Sen’s drawing room
Thakur comes with the devotees to Mani Sen’s drawing room and takes a seat. The same Sen family is in charge of serving Sri Radha and Krishna in the temple at Panihati. It is also this family who arranges the great festival every year and who invites Thakur.
After Thakur has rested for a while, Mani Sen and his spiritual preceptor, Navadvip Goswami, take him to another room where he is served prasad. A little while later Ram, Rakhal, M., Bhavanath, and other devotees are taken to a room where they take their seats. The gracious loving Lord of the devotees, Sri Ramakrishna, stands up, full of joy, and feeds devotees.
Instructions to Navadvip Goswami
Mahabhava and ecstatic love of Gauranga, his three states of consciousness
It is afternoon. Thakur is seated in Mani Sen’s drawing room with Rakhal, Ram, and other devotees. After prasad and feeling refreshed, Navadvip Goswami enters the drawing room and sits beside Thakur.
Mani Sen offers to pay Thakur’s carriage fare. Thakur, who is sitting on a couch in the drawing room, says, “Why would these people (Ram and other devotees) accept the carriage fare from you? They earn money.”
He then talks with Navadvip Goswami about God.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Navadvip): “When love and devotion for God matures, one experiences ecstasy. It is followed by mahabhava. After mahabhava comes ecstatic love and then the attainment of the goal (God-realization).
“Gauranga would experience mahabhava and ecstatic love for God.
“When one feels ecstatic love, one not only forgets the world but one’s own body which is so dear. Gauranga experienced this ecstatic love. Seeing the ocean and thinking it was the Jamuna, he jumped in.
“An ordinary person does not experience either mahabhava or ecstatic love – he goes only as far as ecstasy. Gauranga used to experience all three states of consciousness. Am I right?”
Navadvip: “Yes, sir. The inmost state, the state of semi-consciousness, and the conscious state.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He would remain in samadhi during the inmost state. In the state of semi- consciousness, he could only dance, and in the outward conscious state he would sing the name and glories of God.”
Navadvip brings his son and introduces him to Thakur. His son is a young man and studies scriptures. He salutes Thakur.
Navadvip: “He studies holy books at home. It used to be very difficult to get a copy of the Vedas in this country. Max Müller translated them and printed them. That’s how people are able to read them now.”
Scholarship and scriptures – try to understand the essence
Sri Ramakrishna: “Too much study of the scriptures brings more harm than good.
“You should know the essence of them. After that the holy book is not needed.
“Having understood the essence, you should dive deep to attain God.
“The Divine Mother has told me that the essence of the Vedanta is that Brahman is the reality and the world an illusion. The essence of the Gita is what you get after pronouncing the word Gita ten times – in other words, tyagi, tyagi [a man of renunciation].”
Navadvip: “It doesn’t exactly become tyagi, it becomes tagi. But both words convey the same meaning. From the root tag you have taga, and adding the suffix i, it becomes tagi. Both tyagi and tagi have the same meaning.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The essence of the Gita is: O man, renounce everything and practice spiritual disciplines to realize God.”
Navadvip: “But how can we make our minds willing to renounce?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You who are goswamis serve the deity. You can’t afford to renounce family life. If you do, who will carry out the worship and service of the deity? You must renounce mentally.
“God Himself has kept you in the household to set an example for mankind. Resolve a thousand times and still you will not be able to renounce family life. He has given you such a nature that you are bound to carry out the affairs of the world.
“Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘What do you mean, you will not fight? Even if you wish otherwise, you will not be able to desist from fighting this war. Your very nature will compel you to fight.’”
Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi – yoga and bhoga of Goswami
When Thakur says, “Sri Krishna said to Arjuna,” he passes into samadhi. His body immediately becomes perfectly still; he does not even blink. It is not possible to perceive if he is breathing or not. Navadvip Goswami, his son, and the devotees watch him, speechless with wonder.
Returning somewhat to normal, Thakur says to Navadvip: “Yoga and bhoga! You belong to the line of goswamis who strive for union with God and at the same time enjoy worldly pleasures.
“Now pray to God – pray sincerely – only this prayer: ‘O Lord, I don’t want the glories of Your world-bewitching maya, I want You alone!’
“He is present in all elements and beings, no doubt. But do you know who a real devotee is? He who dwells in Him; he whose mind, heart, and soul have been merged in Him.”
Thakur has now returned completely to the normal state of consciousness. He says to Navadvip: “Some people say that the state (of samadhi) I pass into is a disease. But I ask, can one be unconscious while contemplating Him whose Consciousness has made the whole world conscious?”
Mani Sen says goodbye to the visiting brahmins and Vaishnava devotees. He offers to each of them a rupee or two, according to his status. He offers five rupees to Thakur, but Sri Ramakrishna says: “I cannot accept money.”
Mani Sen insists.
Thakur then says, “In the name of your guru, please do not offer me anything!” Mani Sen still offers the money. Thakur anxiously asks M., “Must I accept it?” M. objects severely, saying, “Certainly not. By no means.”
Mani Sen’s people give the money to Rakhal on the pretext of buying mangoes and sandesh.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “I have refused the money in his guru’s name. I am free now. Rakhal has accepted it. It is now his responsibility.”
Sri Ramakrishna boards the carriage with the devotees to return to the Dakshineswar temple.
Meditation on formless God and Sri Ramakrishna
Mati Seal’s shrine is on the way. Several times Thakur had said to M., “We will go together to see Mati Seal’s lake and I can teach you how to meditate on the formless God.”
Thakur has a bad cold. Even so, he goes inside the shrine with the devotee. In this shrine Gauranga is worshiped.
It is a little before dusk. Thakur and the devotees salute the image of Sri Gauranga by lying prostrate on the ground.
Now they go to the lake in the eastern part of the temple garden and enjoy the view of the lake and the fish. People do not harm the fish here. As soon as they throw puffed rice and other food to the fish, a swarm of big ones comes to eat it. Then, free from all fear, they swim and play in the water joyfully.
. A Bengali expression meaning to scatter before a crowd something to be picked up.
. Chinra Festival.
. The highest manifestation of divine love.
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