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Sri Ramakrishna in the Role of Guru at the Dakshineswar Temple with Devotees
Thakur in samadhi – his vision of God and state of a paramahamsa
Sri Ramakrishna is seated with Rakhal, Latu, Mani, Harish, and other devotees on the southeastern verandah of his room. The time is about nine o’clock. It is Sunday, 23 December 1883, the ninth day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of Agrahayana.
It is the tenth day of Mani’s stay with the guru.
Manomohan has come from Konnagar this morning. He will meet with Thakur, rest for a while, and then go to Calcutta. Hazra is sitting close to Thakur. A Vaishnava from Nilkantha’s region sings for him, beginning with a song of Nilkantha.
Like Krishna’s, the complexion of the handsome Sri Gauranga, the dancing lover of God, is of golden hue.
This time he has incarnated in Nadia in a different guise, hiding his old marks.
He has come to destroy the deep darkness of the Kaliyuga and to manifest the joy of intense love in its surpassing brilliance.
This time he has come with three desires and three tastes. He has descended for the sake of all these.
The world is intoxicated by the touch of these three, particularly the delightful nectar of intense love.
This time having exchanged the blue complexion of the incarnate Krishna with Radha’s golden hue, you have come.
You have ascended into mahabhava, and sattvic and lesser bhavas have melted within you.
While you roam about wailing in the forest for a taste of that sublime mood, the tide of that intensely longing love floods your surroundings.
You, the new sannyasi seeking holy places, now go to Nilachal and then to Kashi.
You distribute the abundance of God’s love without any distinction of caste.
Says Dwija Nilkantha, How my mind longs to know when my desire to sell myself at Gaur’s feet will be fulfilled.
The next song is about mental worship.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Hazra): “This song about mental worship sounded a bit peculiar to me.”
Hazra: “It is not for a spiritual aspirant – the lamp of knowledge, the image of knowledge!”
Totapuri weeps in the panchavati – Padmalochan weeps
Sri Ramakrishna: “The song felt a bit odd. “The songs of older times are more genuine. I once sang for Totapuri in the panchavati – ‘O man, get ready for battle! Death has entered your house in battle array.’
“And I sang another song – ‘O Mother, it is no one else’s fault. I drown in the waters of the well these very hands have dug.’
“The Naked One – such a jnani – did not understand the meaning of the song. And yet it brought him to tears.
“What good things were said in these songs – ‘O man, meditate on Vishnu. Then you will be freed from even the fear of the extremely terrible King of Death.’
“Padmalochan also wept to hear me sing a song of Ramprasad. And you know what a great pundit he was!”
God vision – one and many; unity in diversity – Sri Ramakrishna and the philosophy of qualified non-dualism
After his midday meal, Thakur takes a little rest. Mani is sitting on the floor. Thakur greatly enjoys listening to the sanai being played at the nahabat.
Later, Thakur explains to Mani that Brahman Himself has become all living beings and the phenomenal universe.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “I heard someone say that the name of God is not chanted at a certain place. No sooner did he say it than I saw that God Himself had become all living beings and the phenomenal universe. It is like countless bubbles, reflections, of water. And I saw that they were like innumerable pills.
“One time when I was going to Burdwan from Kamarpukur, I ran toward a field to see how the creatures in it lived and ate. When I got there, I saw ants crawling on the ground. It seemed that every place was imbued with Consciousness.”
Hazra now enters the room and sits on the floor.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I also saw flowers with different kinds of petals. Some were small, and others were large images.”
While talking of these divine visions, Thakur enters into an ecstatic state. He says, “I have become! I have come!”
Saying this, he becomes absorbed in samadhi. He is absolutely motionless. After a long time, he regains a little consciousness of the outer world. He begins to laugh like a child. He paces the room, laughing.
One attains the state of a paramahamsa when one is rid of grief and desire – Thakur’s description of a paramahamsa under the banyan tree whom he saw while practicing spiritual disciplines
Thakur’s eyes emanate a luminosity of joy after a wonderful vision. A smile plays on his face. His gaze is unfixed.
Pacing up and down, he speaks: “I saw a paramahamsa under the banyan tree. He was walking and smiling in the same way. Has my nature become like his?”
Having paced the room, Thakur goes to the smaller cot and sits down. He talks to the Mother of the Universe, saying, “Well, I don’t want to know. Mother, may I only have pure love for Your lotus feet.”
(To Mani) “This stage is attained only when one is freed from grief and desires.”
Next he speaks to the Divine Mother, “Mother, You have taken away my worship. Please do not take away all my desires. Mother, a paramahamsa is a child. Doesn’t a child need a Mother? You are the Mother and I am Your son. How can a child live without his mother?”
Thakur talks to the Divine Mother in a tone of voice so touching it could melt even a stone. He says to the Her, “Mother, merely the knowledge of non-dualism – I spit on that. As long as there is the feeling of ‘I,’ there is ‘You’ too. A paramahamsa is a child. Doesn’t a child need its mother?”
Mani gazes in speechless wonder at this state of Thakur, which is rare even among the gods. He says to himself, Thakur is an ocean of motiveless grace. It is for my faith, for awakening my own consciousness, and for teaching humanity that he has assumed the role of a guru and taken this state of a paramahamsa.
Mani reflects further. Thakur says, “Non-dualism, Consciousness, and Eternal Bliss.” That it is only after attaining the knowledge of the non-dual Reality that Consciousness is awakened. And only then does one enjoy Eternal Bliss. Thakur not only has the knowledge of the non-dual Reality, but he is ever-blissful. He is ever immersed in the joy of intense love for the Mother of the Universe; he is ever intoxicated!
Observing Thakur in this state, suddenly Hazra folds his hands and now and then says, “Blessed. Blessed.”
Sri Ramakrishna says to Hazra, “But where is your faith? You are here only like Jatila and Kutila who served to develop the play.”
It is late afternoon. Mani is strolling alone in the temple garden reflecting on Sri Ramakrishna’s wonderful state of mind. He asks himself, Why did Thakur say that you attain this state only after getting rid of sorrow and desires? Who is this Thakur in the role of a guru? Or is he the advent of God Himself appearing in human form for our sake? Thakur says that one cannot come down from jada samadhi unless one is an Ishvarakoti or a divine incarnation.
All the rishis have thus acclaimed You, as also the Deva Rishi Narada, so also Asita, Devala, and Vyasa, and now you yourself say so to me.
— Bhagavad Gita: 10:13
The next day Sri Ramakrishna talks alone with Mani in the Jhautala. It is about eight o’clock, Monday, 24 December 1883, the tenth lunar day of the dark fortnight. It is the eleventh day of M.’s stay with Sri Ramakrishna.
It is winter. The sun has just appeared in the eastern sky. West of the Jhautala the Ganges is flowing north. There has just been a flood tide. There are trees and creepers all around. Not far away one can see the vilwa tree under which Thakur had practiced spiritual disciplines. Thakur is speaking now, facing the east. Mani faces north and listens to him in all humility. To the right of Thakur is the panchavati and Hanspukur. The winter sunrise spreads like a smile over the world. Thakur talks about the knowledge of Brahman.
Totapuri’s instructions to Thakur about the knowledge of Brahman
Sri Ramakrishna: “God with form is as true as the formless God.
“The Naked One used to instruct me about Sat-chit-ananda Brahman. He would say that It is like an infinite ocean, with water above, below, right, and left, water everywhere – the cause, water. The water is still. There are waves when it is acting. Creation, preservation, and dissolution are its waves.
“And he would say that Brahman is where all reasoning ends. It is like camphor, which leaves no residue after it is burnt.
“Brahman is beyond speech and mind. A salt doll went to fathom the ocean. It never returned to tell its depth. It dissolved into the ocean itself.
“The rishis said to Rama, ‘Rama, Bharadvaja and other rishis speak of you as an incarnation of God. But we don’t say that. We worship the Shabda Brahman. We don’t want a human form of God.’ Rama smiled, accepted their adoration, and left.”
The Absolute and the phenomenal world are both true
“But the Absolute and the phenomenal belong to the same reality. As I said earlier a roof and the steps to it are made of the same material. There is divine sport as God, as gods, as human beings, and as the world. God-incarnate is His sport as a human being. You know, the sport as a human being is like water accumulated on a big roof rushing down through a drain pipe. It is the power of Sat-chit-ananda that takes its course through the pipe. Only twelve rishis, Bharadvaja and others, recognized Ramachandra as an avatar and declared him so. Not everyone can recognize a divine incarnation.”
Is Sri Ramakrishna an incarnation of God? – life of Thakur from his own lips – Kshudiram’s dream in Gaya – his worship by Hriday’s mother – Mathur’s vision of God within Thakur – possessed by Sri Gauranga in Phului Shyambazaar
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “God incarnates as a human being to teach knowledge and love of God. Well, how do you feel about me?
“My father went to Gaya. Raghuvir appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘I shall be born as your son.’ Seeing him in his dream, my father said to Him, ‘Lord, I am a poor brahmin! How shall I be able to serve you?’ Raghuvir replied, ‘It will be taken care of.’
“My sister, Hriday’s mother, used to worship my feet with flowers and sandal-paste. One day, touching my feet to her head, I (the Divine Mother in me) said to her, ‘You will quit your body in Kashi.’
“Mathur said, ‘Father, there is nothing but God within you. Your body is like an empty shell, like the form of a pumpkin outside but with no pulp or seeds inside. Once I saw you as someone walking and wearing a veil.’
“I am shown everything beforehand. Once, under the banyan tree (at the panchavati), I saw a party of singers with Chaitanya. I think I saw Balaram in it, and also you.
“I wanted to know Chaitanya’s states of mind and was shown them at Shyambazaar. There were men on trees, on walls, people surrounding me day and night. For seven days I had no time even to answer the call of nature. So I said to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, I have had enough!’ So it is all over now.
“I shall have to incarnate again. That is why I don’t give full knowledge to my intimate disciples. (Smiling) Were I to give you complete knowledge, would you come to me so readily again?
“I recognized you when I heard you read the Chaitanya Bhagavata. You are my own – the same substance, like father and son. All of you who come here are like a bunch of kalmi creeper. Pull one part and it all comes. You’re related to each other like brothers. Suppose Rakhal, Harish, and others have gone to Jagannath Puri. If you also go there, will you live separately?
“You were in a state of forgetfulness until you came here. Now you will be able to know yourself. God comes down as guru to make you know yourself.”
Totapuri’s instructions – God in the form of the guru makes one realize one’s Self
“The Naked One told me the tale of the tiger and the goats. A tigress attacked a herd of goats. Seeing it from a distance, a hunter killed the tigress. She was pregnant, so a cub was born. That cub began to grow up in the midst of goats. At first it nursed on goat’s milk. When it grew up a little, it began eating grass, and it began to bleat like the goats. In due course, it grew into a big tiger, but it still ate grass and bleated. If any animal attacked, it would run away like the goats.
“One day a fierce tiger attacked the herd of goats. It was amazed to see a tiger in the herd, eating grass and running away with the goats. He caught hold of the grass-eating tiger, which began to bleat and tried to run away. The wild tiger dragged it to the edge of a pond and said, ‘Look at your face in the water. See, your face is just like mine, pot-faced.’ Saying this, he thrust some flesh into its mouth. At first the grass-eating tiger absolutely refused to eat it. But after a while, getting its taste, it began to eat. The wild tiger said to it, ‘You were living with goats and eating grass like a goat! Shame on you!’ The grass-eating tiger felt very ashamed.
“Eating grass – that is, living in the midst of ‘lust and greed’ – bleating like a goat, and running away is the conduct of ordinary human beings. To go away with the tiger means to take refuge in the guru, who awakens spiritual consciousness, and to know that he alone is one’s own, one’s near and dear one. To see one’s true face means to recognize one’s own real Self.”
Thakur stands up. There is silence all around. Only the rustling of wind in the pine trees and the murmuring of the Ganges are heard. He passes the railing and begins walking with Mani through the panchavati to his room, talking with him all the while. Mani accompanies him. enchanted as though by a magic spell.
Sri Ramakrishna bows down at the panchavati
Reaching the panchavati, he stands under the foot of the banyan tree where a big branch had fallen off. Facing east, he bows to the brick platform and touches it with his forehead. This is the place where he had practiced spiritual disciplines and had wept so with a yearning heart for the Divine Mother, where he had had so many visions of the forms of God and conversations with the Divine Mother. Is it for this reason that whenever Thakur comes to this spot, he offers salutations?
After his visit to the bakultala, he comes near the nahabat. Mani is with him.
Nearing the nahabat, he sees Hazra and says to him, “Don’t overeat. And give up your worry about purity and impurity. People who worry excessively about such things do not attain spiritual knowledge. Only observe the prescribed rituals that are necessary. Don’t overdo it.” Then Thakur goes into his room.
Rakhal, Ram, Surendra, Latu, and other devotees with Sri Ramakrishna
Thakur is resting after his meal. Today is 24 December and the Christmas holidays have started. Surendra, Ram, and other devotees are arriving from Calcutta.
It is about one o’clock. Mani is strolling around the jhautala alone. Standing near its railing, Harish calls out to Mani, “Thakur wants you. There is going to be a reading from the Shiva Samhita.” It contains instructions on yoga and the six centres.
Mani enters Thakur’s room, salutes him, and takes a seat. Thakur is sitting on his cot; the devotees are on the floor. But there is no reading of the Shiva Samhita. Instead Thakur himself speaks to them.
Ecstatic love of God and sport at Vrindavan – God-incarnate and His activity as a human being
Sri Ramakrishna: “The gopis had intense love for Krishna. There are two aspects of ecstatic love: ‘I-ness’ and ‘my-ness.’ ‘If I don’t serve Krishna, he will become sick’ – this is I-ness. There is no feeling of God in this attitude.
“My-ness – that is feeling ‘my and mine.’ The gopis had such a feeling of my-ness for Sri Krishna that, lest his soles should get hurt, they laid their subtle bodies under his feet.
“Yashoda said, ‘I don’t know your Chintamani Krishna. I only have my Gopala.’ And the gopis said, ‘Where is my sweetheart, my Beloved?’ They also did not have the feeling of his being God.
“We see young boys saying, ‘My father.’ If someone says to one of them, ‘No, he is not your father,’ he would insist that he is indeed his father.
“An incarnation of God conducts himself just like a human being. That is why it is very difficult to recognize an incarnation. Born as a human being, He acts just like one – the same hunger and thirst, the same disease and sorrow, even fear at times, just like a human being. Ramachandra was stricken with grief for Sita. Sri Krishna carried the shoes and wooden stool of his father Nanda on his head.
“When an actor plays the role of a holy man in the theatre, he acts just like a holy man – and not like the actor who takes the role of a king. He acts as his role demands.
“A quick-change artist played the role of an all-renouncing sadhu. Seeing him dressed that way, a gentleman offered him a rupee. He didn’t accept it, but left, saying, ‘No.’ After he had washed and returned in his normal dress, he said, ‘Now let me have the rupee.’ The gentleman said, ‘Only a while ago you went away saying you wouldn’t take the rupee. Now you are asking for it?’ The man said, ‘I was playing the role of a sadhu. How could I accept the rupee then?’
“It is the same with God. When He assumes the form of a human being, He conducts Himself exactly like a human being.
“When one visits Vrindavan, one can see so many places associated with Krishna’s life.”
Instructions to Surendra – charity in service of devotees and telling the truth
Surendra: “I went there during the holidays. Visitors are pestered constantly for money, ‘Please give a pice. Please do.’ All the priests started asking. I said to them, ‘I’ll be leaving for Calcutta tomorrow.’ But I fled the very same day.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why did you do that? For shame! You said you would go the next day but ran away the same day. Shame!”
Surendra (feeling ashamed): “Here and there I saw babajis seated in the forest. They were meditating and repeating the name of God in solitude.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Did you offer anything to the babajis?”
Surendra: “No, Sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That was not right. Some-thing should be offered to sadhus and devotees. Those who have money should offer something when they come across such persons.”
Life of Thakur from his own holy lips – visit to Vrindavan in 1868 with Mathur
“I went to Vrindavan with Mathur Babu.
“As soon as I got to the Dhruva ghat in Mathura, I suddenly had a vision. I saw Vasudeva crossing the Jamuna with Krishna in his arms.
“And one evening I was strolling on the bank of the Jamuna. There were little huts on the beach. There were also big jujube trees. At dusk the cows started returning from pasture. I saw them crossing the Jamuna. They were followed by a number of cowherd boys.
“No sooner did I see them than I shouted, ‘Where are you Krishna?’ and I became unconscious.
“I wanted to visit the Shyamkunda and Radhakunda. I was sent in a palanquin. It was a long way. They put some luchis and jilipis in the palanquin. While crossing the meadow, I wept and said, ‘O Krishna! All these places are here, but you are not! It is the same field where you used to graze cows.’
“Hriday was following me on foot. Tears fell from my eyes. I could not ask the palanquin men to stop.
“I saw in Shyamkunda and Radhakunda that the sadhus had built huts for themselves. Lest they should be disturbed by the sight of anything, they were practicing spiritual disciplines with their backs to the outside. The twelve forests are worth seeing.
“I went into a deep spiritual mood when I saw the image of Bankuvihari. I tried to touch Him. I didn’t feel a desire to see Govindaji a second time. In Mathura, I had seen Krishna as a cowherd boy in a dream. Hriday and Mathur Babu had the same dream.”
Surendra, a devotee of the Divine Mother – union with God and enjoyment of sense objects
“You have both – striving for union with God and desire for enjoyment.
“There are brahmarishis, devarishis, and rajarishis. Sukadeva was a brahmarshi – he didn’t keep one book with him. Narada was a devarishi, Janaka a rajarishi – he performed work without expectation of any reward.
“The devotee of the Divine Mother attains both virtue and liberation and also enjoys wealth and the fulfillment of legitimate desires.
“One day I saw you in a vision as a son of the Divine Mother. You have both the desire for God and for enjoyment. If you didn’t have them, your face would look dry.”
Sri Ramakrishna meets a devotee of the Divine Mother at the bathing ghat – Nabin Niyogi’s desire for God and desire for enjoyment
“A person who has renounced completely looks dry. I met a devotee of the Divine Mother at the bathing ghat. He was eating and at the same time worshiping the Divine Mother. He was like a child before his mother.
“But it’s not good to have too much money. Jadu Mallick seems to be sunk in worldliness. You see, he has now become very wealthy.
“As for Nabin Niyogi, he has both desire for God and desire for enjoyment. At the time of Durga Puja both the father and the son were fanning the Mother with a chamara.”
Surendra: “Sir, why can’t I concentrate when I meditate?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “But you remember and think of God, don’t you?”
Surendra: “Yes sir. I go to sleep repeating, ‘Mother, Mother.’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That is very good. Remembrance and thinking of God are enough.”
Thakur has taken upon himself the responsibility of Surendra. Why then should he worry?
Sri Ramakrishna’s instruction on union with God – Shiva Samhita
After dusk Thakur sits with his devotees. Mani is seated on the floor with them. The topic of conversation is yoga and the six centres of consciousness. The Shiva Samhita deals with them.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Ida, pingala, and sushumna. All the lotuses are in the sushumna and are formed of consciousness. Think of a tree made of wax. It has branches, twigs, and fruit all made of wax. The kundalini power resides in the bottom, four-petalled muladhara lotus. The Primal Power dwells in all bodies in the form of Kundalini. It is like a sleeping snake coiled up. ‘You have been fast asleep, coiled up in Your abode of muladhara.’
(To Mani) “In the path of Bhakti Yoga, the kundalini awakens rapidly. One cannot realize God unless the kundalini wakes up. Sing with full concentration, in solitude, without the knowledge of others:
Waken, O Mother Kundalini! You are the very image of Bliss Eternal.
You have been fast asleep, coiled up in Your abode of muladhara.
“Ramprasad perfected himself by his songs. If you can sing with a longing heart, you realize God.”
Mani: “Sir, by experiencing these only once, one has no more distress of mind.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Ah! You no more have distress. Yes indeed.
“I would like to tell you a few important things about yoga.”
Everything indeed is done by the guru – spiritual practice and spiritual perfection – Narendra born spiritually perfect
“You know, a mother bird doesn’t peck the egg till the chick inside has developed. She breaks it open just at the right time.
“A little spiritual practice is necessary, however. Everything is done by the guru, but in the end he makes the disciple practice a little. When you fell a big tree, you have to step away from it a little when it is nearly cut through. Then it falls by itself with a great crash.
“When a canal is cut from a river to bring water to the fields, the farmer stands aside when the canal is about to join the river and only a little cutting remains. Then the earth itself gets soaked and falls of itself, letting the water flow into the canal.
“When you get rid of ego and limitations you realize God. When you get over the feeling of being a learned man, the son of a certain person, of being wealthy, famous, and so on, you realize God.
“Only God is real, all else is ephemeral. The world is transitory. This is called discrimination. Without discrimination, the mind does not assimilate spiritual instructions.
“By practicing spiritual disciplines, you attain perfection by His grace. Of course some effort is necessary, but it ultimately ends in realization of God and attainment of bliss.
“A pot of gold lies buried at a certain place. Hearing about it, a man quickly runs there and starts digging. He continues to dig, sweating with the effort. After digging a long time he hears a sound ‘tan’ at the stroke of the spade. He throws away the spade and looks for a vessel. Seeing the pot, he dances with joy.
“Then he takes the pot out and turns it upside down. Gold coins fall into his hand and he counts them. It is such a joyful experience – seeing, touching, enjoying! Isn’t that true?”
Mani: “It is, sir.”
Thakur is silent for a while and then he resumes speaking.
Who are my very own? – instruction about fasting on ekadashi
“Those who are my very own will come to me even if I reprimand them.
“Ah, look what a fine nature Narendra has! In the beginning, he used to say anything he liked about Mother Kali. Getting irritated one day, I said to him, ‘Rascal, don’t come here again!’ He went out quietly and began to prepare a smoke. He who is one’s own does not become annoyed even when scolded. What do you say?”
Mani: “True, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Narendra is born perfect. He has faith and single-minded devotion to the formless God.”
Mani (laughing): “Whenever he comes, he creates excitement.”
Thakur laughs, full of joy: “True, he does create commotion.”
The next day is Tuesday, 25 December, the 11th day of the dark fortnight. It is about eleven o’clock. Thakur has not been served his meal yet. Mani, Rakhal and other devotees are in his room.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “It is good to observe the ekadashi. It purifies the mind a great deal and develops love and devotion for God. Do you think so?”
Mani: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “But it’s all right to have milk and puffed rice, don’t you think?”
. Vanccha, wishes, desires, or longings to be pursued.
. Asvadan, tastes in the sense of those things that are sweet or desirable.
. Manas puja
. An epithet of Totapuri.
. Narkantkari Srikanta.
. A double-reed wind instrument similar to an oboe with a somewhat strident, nasal sound.
. sarvabhütastham ätmänaà sarvabhütäni cätmani |
ékñate yogayuktätmä sarvatra samadarçanaù || Bhagavad Gita 6:29 (The Self in all beings and all beings in the Self).
. Advaita, Chaitanya, and Nityananda.
. Troublemakers in the Radha-Krishna story.
. Nirvikalpa samadhi, complete absorption, so that all sense of duality is obliterated.
. Prabhu, master.
. Sound Brahman, referring to Om, the Impersonal.
. Referring to M.
. Prema bhakti.
. Nara lila.
. Beloved God.
. Baby Krishna.
. There are twelve forests in the 1453-square-mile area surrounding Vraja, the scene of Krishna’s play. Each is associated with a different exploit, and each is a place of pilgrimage.
. Yoga and bhoga.
. Dharma and moksha.
. Artha and kama.
. A fan made from the tail of a yak.
 The eleventh day of the lunar month.
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