At the Dakshineswar Temple with Rakhal and Other Devotees
Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar temple with Rakhal, Ram, Kedar, and other devotees – conversation on brahmajnana with a Vedantist sadhu
Sri Ramakrishna is getting into a carriage to visit the Kali temple at Kalighat. He will first stop at Adhar Sen’s house, from where Adhar will accompany him. It is Saturday, 29 December 1883, the new moon day. It is about one o’clock.
The carriage is standing near the northern verandah of Thakur’s room. Mani approaches the door of the carriage.
Mani (to Sri Ramakrishna): “Sir, may I go with you?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why?”
Mani: “I would like to visit my house in Calcutta.”
Sri Ramakrishna (with concern): “Must you go? You are all right here.”
Mani wants to go home for just a few hours, but Thakur is not in favour of it.
It is Sunday, 30th December, the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Pausha. The time is about three o’clock.
While Mani is strolling alone under a tree, a devotee comes and tells him that Thakur wants to see him. Thakur is sitting with devotees in his room. Mani salutes him and takes his seat on the floor with the devotees.
Ram, Kedar, and others have come from Calcutta. A Vedantist monk is with them. Thakur had met him the day he went to see Ram’s garden. The monk had been sitting alone on a cot under a tree in the adjacent garden. Ram has now brought him to see Thakur, at Thakur’s request. The monk had also expressed a desire to see him.
Thakur talks happily with the monk. He has made him sit close by, on the smaller cot. They are speaking in Hindi.
Sri Ramakrishna: “What do you feel about all this?”
Monk: “It is all like a dream.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Brahman is real and the world unreal. Is that not so? Well, what is Brahman like?”
Monk: “Sound itself is Brahman – the anahata sound.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “But my dear, there is something which is indicated by the sound. Isn’t that so?”
Monk: “That itself is both the expresser and the expressed.”
Hearing this, Thakur goes into samadhi. Motionless, he sits like a picture. The monk and devotees witness this state in speechless wonder. Kedar says to the sadhu, “Look, sir. This is called samadhi.”
Thakur slowly returns to the conscious plane and talks to the Mother of the Universe: “Mother, I want to be normal. Please don’t make me unconscious. I want to talk to the sadhu about Sat-chit-ananda. Mother, I want to enjoy myself talking about Sat-chit-ananda!”
The monk sits speechless watching and listening to all this. Thakur says to him, “Now do away with your ‘I am He’. Let us enjoy ‘I’ and ‘You.’”
Is Thakur saying that as long as there is the feeling of ‘I’ and ‘You,’ there is the Divine Mother as well, so let’s come and enjoy ourselves with Her?
After some time, when the conversation ends, Thakur strolls in the panchavati. With him are Ram, Kedar, M., and some others.
Sri Ramakrishna instructs Kedar – renunciation of the world
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “What did you think of the sadhu?”
Kedar: “He has dry knowledge. Just like a pot that’s been put on the fire but no rice has been put in it.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That’s true, of course. But he has renounced the world. Whoever has renounced the world has progressed a good deal.
“He is in an earlier stage. All your achievements are of no account unless they lead to the realization of God. Nothing else is appealing when one is intoxicated with ecstatic love. Then:
Cherish the beloved Mother Shyama in your heart.
O mind, may you and I alone behold Her, and let no one else intrude.
Leaving behind all passions, anger and such vices, come, O mind, and let us behold her in solitude,
Taking with us only the tongue, that it may call on Her now and then, repeating, “Mother, Mother!”
O mind, allow neither baseness nor enticement to draw near, but let the eyes of knowledge, ever alert, keep watch.
Kedar sings another song of the same mood as that of Thakur:
O gopi friend! How can I open my heart to you? I am not allowed to speak.
Without a kindred soul to share my grief, I am about to die.
He who is one’s own can be known by the look in his eyes.
Such a one is rare who swims on the wave of ecstasy, immersed in bliss.
Such a one can ride its crest.
Thakur has returned to his room. It is four o’clock, and Mother Kali’s temple is open. He goes there, taking the monk with him. Mani accompanies them.
Entering the temple, Thakur prostrates before the Divine Mother with full devotion. The monk folds his hands, bows his head, and salutes the Mother repeatedly.
Sri Ramakrishna: “My dear sir, what do you think of the Mother?”
Monk (with devotion): “Kali is the supreme power.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Kali and Brahman are identical, are they not?”
Monk: “As long as the mind is outgoing one must accept Kali. As long as the mind goes out, one feels there is good and bad, and one has likes and dislikes.
“Certainly names and forms are illusory, but as long as the mind sees the outside world, one must renounce ‘lust.’ One has to distinguish between what is good and what is not in order to instruct others in the beginning. Otherwise, there would be corruption.”
Thakur returns to his room, talking with the sadhu on the way.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “Did you see the sadhu bow before Kali?”
Mani: “Yes, sir.”
The next day, Monday, 31 December. The time is about four o’clock. Thakur is seated in his room in the company of devotees – Balaram, Mani, Rakhal, Latu, Harish, and others.
Mere words of knowledge – Thakur rebukes Haladhari
Thakur says to Mani and Balaram:
“Haladhari had the attitude of a jnani. He studied the Adhyatma Ramayana, the Upanishads, and similar scriptures day and night. And he would look with disdain when someone talked about the forms of God. Once when I took a little food from the leaf-plates of beggars, he said, ‘How will you be able to get your sons married?’ I said, ‘What do you mean, you rascal? Am I going to have children? To hell with your study of the Gita and the Vedanta.’
“Just see, on the one hand he says that the world is an illusion, and on the other, he meditates in the Vishnu temple with nose turned up in disgust!”
It is dusk. Balaram and the other devotees have left for Calcutta. Thakur is meditating on the Divine Mother in his room. After some time, the sweet sound of arati emanates from the temples.
It is about 8 p.m. Thakur is in an ecstatic mood and talking to the Divine Mother in a sweet voice. Mani is sitting on the floor.
Sri Ramakrishna and Vedanta
Thakur is chanting the sweet sacred name, “Hari Om, Hari Om, Hari Om.” He says to the Divine Mother, “O Mother, don’t make me unconscious with the knowledge of Brahman. I don’t want knowledge of Brahman, Mother. I want to enjoy myself! I want to be merry!”
Then he says, “I don’t know Vedanta, Mother. And I don’t want to know it! Having attained You, the Veda and the Vedanta remain so far below.”
“O Krishna! I say to you, ‘Eat this, take this, my child.’ And I shall say, ‘Child, you have assumed a human body for my sake.’”
Path of knowledge and discrimination – path of devotion and knowledge of Brahman
Sri Ramakrishna is sitting in his room. It is about 8 p.m., Wednesday, 2 January 1884, the fifth day of the bright fortnight of Pausha. Rakhal and Mani are in the room. It is the 21st day of Mani’s stay with Sri Ramakrishna.
Thakur has forbidden Mani to reason.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Rakhal): “It is not good to reason too much. First God, then the world. Attain Him and then you will know about His world as well.
(To Rakhal and Mani) “When you talk to Jadu Mallick, you will know how many houses, how many gardens, and how many government securities he has.
“That is why the rishis asked Valmiki to repeat the word mara. It has a special meaning. ‘Ma’ means God and ‘ra’ means the world – first God, and then the world.”
The sacred word mara and Krishnakishore
“Krishnakishore said, ‘Mara is a sacred mantra since rishis gave it. ‘Ma’ means God and ‘ra’ means the world.’
“So, like Valmiki, in the beginning one should call on God secretly, in a solitary place, weeping with a mind full of yearning, renouncing everything else. A vision of God is the first thing that is necessary. Reasoning about the scriptures and the world come after that.”
Thakur weeps while on the road – Mother, strike a thunderbolt to my tendency to reason, 1868
(To Mani) “So I say to you, don’t reason any more. I came from the pine grove just to say this to you. Reasoning too much causes harm in the end – ultimately you become a person like Hazra. I used to walk around alone at night, weeping and saying, ‘Mother, strike my tendency to reason with a thunderbolt!’”
“Say you won’t reason any more.”
Mani: “No, sir, I shall not.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Everything can be attained by love for God alone. Those who want the knowledge of Brahman will have it if they continue on the path of love.
“Can there be any dearth of spiritual knowledge if God grants His mercy? In Kamarpukur they weigh paddy by pushing forward more paddy as soon as the first heap is done. The Divine Mother pushes forward heaps of spiritual knowledge.”
Padmalochan’s devotion to Thakur – Thakur’s prayer in the panchavati during his days of spiritual practices
“When you have realized God, scholars and the learned appear like mere straw. Padmalochan said, ‘What does it matter if I go with you to the meeting in the fisherman’s house? With you I can even go and eat at the house of a person who cremates the dead.’
“Everything can be achieved through love for God. When you can love Him, you feel no lack of anything at all. Karttika and Ganesha were sitting beside Bhagavati (their mother). She was wearing a necklace of jewels round her neck. The Mother said, ‘I will give this necklace to one who goes around the universe first.’ Immediately, without losing a second, Karttika set out on his peacock. Ganesha, on the other hand, went slowly round his mother and saluted Her. Ganesha knew that the Mother contained the whole universe within Herself. Pleased with Ganesha, She put the necklace around his neck. After a long time Karttika returned and saw his brother sitting there wearing the necklace.
“I wept and cried to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, please make me understand what the Vedas and the Vedanta contain. Please tell me what is in the Puranas and the Tantras.’ She made everything known to me, one by one.
“She made everything known. She has shown me so much!”
Thakur’s visions while practicing spiritual disciplines: Shiva and Shakti, heaps of human skulls, guru the pilot, the ocean of Sat-chit-ananda
“One day Shiva and Shakti were revealed to me everywhere, the union of Shiva and Shakti. Everything – human beings, birds and beasts, plants and creepers, everything – had Shiva and Shakti within! The union of Purusha and Prakriti!
“And one day I was shown a heap of human heads as high as a mountain. There was nothing else. I was seated alone in their midst.
“And another time I was shown a vast ocean. I went to measure it as a salt doll. As soon as I tried, through the grace of the guru, I became a stone. I saw a ship. Immediately I boarded it. The guru was the pilot. (To Mani) Do you call on Sat-chit-ananda, who is the guru, every morning?”
Mani: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The guru was the pilot. I saw then that ‘I’ was one thing and ‘you’ another. Then I jumped into the ocean and became a fish. I saw that I was swimming joyfully in the ocean of Sat-chit-ananda.
“These are all very secret mysteries. How much can you understand by reasoning? You achieve everything when God Himself reveals them to you. Then you lack nothing.”
Meditation under the bel tree during the days of spiritual practice, 1859-61 – renunciation of “lust and greed”
Sri Ramakrishna visits his birthplace – registration of Raghuvir’s land, 1879-80
Thakur has been served his midday meal. It is about one o’clock, Saturday, 5 January. It is the 23rd day of Mani’s stay.
After eating, Mani is in the nahabat. He suddenly hears someone call his name three times. He comes out and sees Thakur calling him from the long verandah north of his room. Mani goes to him and salutes.
Thakur talks with Mani on the southern verandah.
Sri Ramakrishna: “How do you meditate? I used to have clear visions of different forms under the bel tree. One day I saw silver coins, a shawl, a plate full of sandesh, and two women. I asked my mind, ‘O mind! Do you want any of these?’ The sandesh looked to me like excrement. One of the women had a big nose ring. I could see both their insides and outsides – guts, urine, faeces, flesh, bones, and blood. My mind did not want any of these. It remained attached to the lotus feet of God alone.
“Think of a scale, with its lower and upper needles. The mind is the lower needle. I was always in fear that my mind would move away from the upper needle (God). But a person sat beside me with a trident in his hand. He threatened to attack me if the lower needle moved away from the upper one.
“You cannot succeed unless you renounce ‘lust and greed.’ I renounced three things: land, wife, and money. I went to the village to get some land registered in the name of Raghuvir. I was asked to sign the deed. I did not. I didn’t think of the land as mine. I was shown great respect as the guru of Keshab Sen. I was given mangoes – but I couldn’t take them home. A sannyasin must not hoard.
“How can one expect to realize God without renouncing? If one thing is lying under another, how can you reach it without removing the one on top?
“One must call on God without expecting any reward. But when one worships God with the intention of fulfilling desires, it finally becomes selfless. Dhruva practiced austerities to get a kingdom, but he realized God. He said, ‘If one comes across gold while picking up glass, why leave it there?’”
Sri Ramakrishna and compassion, charitable acts – Chaitanya Deva’s act of charity
“God can be realized only when one has acquired sattva.
“Charitable acts of the worldly are generally motivated. This is not good. One should act without expectation of any reward – but it is very difficult to work selflessly.
“If God reveals Himself to you face to face, will you pray to Him to grant you a boon to build reservoirs, roads, bathing steps, dispensaries, hospitals, and so forth? When you are in the presence of God, such desires are left behind.
“Does that mean that an act of compassion or of charity is of no use?
“No, it is not that. If you have money and you see someone suffering, you should help him with it. A jnani, a man of knowledge, says, ‘Give. Give something to him.’ But he feels, ‘What can I do? God alone is the doer, everyone else is a non-doer.’
“Stricken by sorrow over the troubles of others, saintly people show the way to God. Shankaracharya retained the ego of knowledge to teach humanity.
“The gift of spiritual knowledge and love for God is higher than the gift of food. Therefore, Chaitanya Deva disseminated bhakti even among outcastes. The body is prone to sorrow as well as happiness. You have come here to eat mangoes. Eat them and leave. Spiritual knowledge and love for God are what is needed. God alone is the substance, all else is nothing.”
Does free will exist? Sri Ramakrishna’s dictum
“Indeed, it is God who does everything. You may say that implies that people may commit sin. That is not true. A person who truly feels that God is the Doer and he a non-doer cannot take a false step.
“What the English (westerners) call free will is also given by God.
“If God had not given free will, sin would have increased. If God had not given the feeling that I am responsible for my own actions, there would be much more sin.
“But those who have realized God know that free will is only an appearance. In fact, He is the operator and I am an instrument. He is the driver and I am the car.”
Sri Ramakrishna, the guru – he cries and prays for devotees
It is four o’clock. Rakhal and a few other devotees are listening to Mani’s singing.
Lying prostrate a hundred times outside the room, he then enters slowly.
Rakhal goes into an ecstatic mood when he hears the song.
After a while Mani arrives.
Rakhal: “He has made us happy by singing such sweet songs today.”
Sri Ramakrishna, passing into a divine mood, sings:
O friend! I am revived on hearing Krishna’s name.
(To Mani) “Sing songs like this: ‘All the friends sat together. O, Radha was quite well only a moment ago. Perhaps her ecstatic mood has suddenly disappeared.’”
Then he adds, “And what else? Just live with love for God and devotees.”
Conversation between Radha and Yashoda – Sri Ramakrishna’s relatives
“When Krishna went to Mathura, Yashoda came to Radha. Radha was absorbed in meditation. When it was over, she said to Yashoda, ‘I am the Primal Power. You may ask me for a boon.’ Yashoda said, ‘What other boon can I ask? Let me be able to serve Him with body, mind, and speech. Let me be able to see God’s devotees with these eyes, to meditate on Him with this mind, and to sing God’s name and glories with my tongue.’
“But those who are highly developed spiritually can even do without the company of devotees. At times they don’t have a liking for the company of devotees. The lime of whitewash won’t stick to a mother of pearl surface. In other words, this is the state of a person who sees God both within and without.”
Returning from the pine grove, Thakur says to Mani under the panchavati, “You have a feminine voice. Can you practice singing such songs as this: ‘Friend, how far is that wood where my Shyama Sundara is …’?
(To Mani, looking at Baburam) “See, those who are my own have become strangers – Ramlal and other relatives seem no longer to be my near and dear ones. And those who were strangers have become my relatives. Just see how I say to Baburam, ‘Go and answer the call of nature. Now go and wash your face.’ The devotees have indeed become my own.”
Mani: “True, sir.”
Thakur practiced spiritual disciplines in the panchavati in 1857-58, before the state of madness for God – Consciousness as Power and Consciousness as Self
Sri Ramakrishna (glancing at the panchavati): “I used to sit in the panchavati [and practice spiritual disciplines]. In course of time I became mad for God. That, too, passed away. Kala (time) indeed is Brahman. She who sports with Kala is Kali. She is the Primal Power. She even moves the immovable.”
Saying this, Thakur sings:
Wondering about Her mystery, my mind is overwhelmed at the thought of Her who removes the fear of death.
At Her feet lies Mahakala, Death Himself, and I wonder why She should be so black.
“Today is Saturday. Please visit Mother Kali’s temple.”
Approaching the bakul tree, Thakur says to Mani, “Chidatma and Chitshakti. Consciousness as Self is the male aspect of God and Consciousness as Power the female aspect. Sri Krishna is Consciousness as Self, and Radha Consciousness as Power. Each one of the devotees is an individual form of that Consciousness as Power.
“The devotees should think of themselves as companions or as servants. This is the important thing.”
Thakur goes to the Kali temple when it is dusk. He is pleased to see Mani meditating on the Divine Mother there.
Thakur weeps before the Mother of the Universe for the devotees – blessing the devotees
The arati has been performed in all the temples. Thakur is seated on his wooden cot in his room, meditating on the Mother of the Universe. Only Mani is there, seated on the floor.
Thakur is in samadhi.
After some time, he returns to normal consciousness. He is now filled to the brim with divine feeling. He talks to the Divine Mother lovingly, like a baby insisting demands on its mother. He says in a piteous tone of voice, “Oh Mother, why have You not revealed Your form to me, Your world-bewitching form! I have entreated You so many times, but You don’t listen to my entreaties! You only do as you want.”
The tone of voice he uses would melt even a stone.
Thakur again talks to the Divine Mother.
“Mother, I want faith. Let that rascal reason disappear. You reason seven times, but it disappears at once. I want faith – faith in the words of the guru, the faith of a child! A mother says to her child, ‘There is a ghost,’ and the child fully believes that there is indeed a ghost. The mother says, ‘There is a bugbear there,’ and the child fully believes it. The mother says, ‘He is your elder brother.’ He believes more than a hundred percent that he is indeed his brother. I want faith!
“But Mother, why should the devotees be blamed? What else can they do? It is necessary to reason once before you accept anything. See how much I implored him the other day, yet nothing happened. And today, so suddenly –”
Thakur weeps and prays to the Divine Mother in a sorrowful tone, his voice choked with emotion.
How amazing! He is crying before the Divine Mother for the sake of devotees!
“Mother, please fulfill the desires of those who come to you. Don’t make them renounce completely. Well, do what you like in the end.
“Mother, if you keep him [referring to M.] in the world, please reveal Yourself from time to time. Otherwise, how will he live? How will they be encouraged, Mother, if You don’t reveal Yourself every now and then? But after that, do what you like.”
Sri Ramakrishna is still absorbed in an ecstatic mood when he suddenly says to Mani, “Look here, you have already reasoned enough. No more of it. Promise that you will not reason any more.”
Mani folds his hands and says, “I will not.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You have done enough reasoning. When you came in the beginning, I told you your spiritual ideal. I know everything about you.”
Mani (gratefully): “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Hearing that you had children, I reprimanded you. Now go home and live with them. Show them that you are their very own. But know in your heart that you are not their own, nor are they yours.”
Mani keeps silent. Thakur continues to speak.
Sri Ramakrishna: “And love your father. Since you have now learned to fly, will you be able to salute before him?”
Mani (folding his hands): “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What more can I say to you? You know all this. Understand it?”
Mani keeps silent.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Do you understand all this?”
Mani: “Sir, I understand only partially.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You understand well enough. Rakhal is staying here, and his father is pleased.”
Mani folds his hands but does not say anything. Sri Ramakrishna adds, “What you are thinking will also happen.”
With devotees in the joy of song – Divine Mother and earthly mother – why does God play as a human being?
Thakur has now returned to normal con-sciousness. Rakhal and Ramlal are in the room.
Thakur asks Ramlal to sing. Ramlal sings:
Who is this woman who lights up the battlefield?
He sings another song:
Dancing, deep-dark like the darkest storm-cloud over the field of battle,
She looks like a freshly bloomed lotus, floating on a blood- red sea.
Sri Ramakrishna: “The Divine Mother and the earthly mother. She who pervades everything, becoming the entire universe, is the Divine Mother. She from whom you are born is the earthly mother. I used to merge into samadhi repeating, ‘Mother, Mother.’ It is as though I would pull the Mother of the Universe toward myself, the way a fishermen throws a net and drags it for some time. Then many big fish are caught in the net.”
Gauri Pundit’s words – Kali and Gauranga are one and the same
“Gauri said, ‘One gains true spiritual knowledge when one realizes that Kali and Gauranga are one and the same.’ That which is Brahman is indeed Shakti (Mother Kali). In human form She is Gauranga.”
Is Thakur suggesting that the Primal Power has come in the human form as Sri Ramakrishna?
At Thakur’s behest, Ramlal sings of the divine sport of Sri Gauranga:
In Keshab Bharati’s hut what did I behold? The exquisite, bright form of Sri Gauranga, his eyes streaming with tears of love!
The wave of Gaur’s love has touched my body.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “He who is the Absolute is also the phenomenal world. His divine sport is for the sake of devotees. A devotee can love Him only when he can be seen in human form. Then alone is he able to love Him as a brother or sister, father or mother, or son or daughter.
“For the love of the devotee, He comes down as a human being to enact His play.”
. M. has been staying with Thakur for two weeks, since 14 December, and intends to stay longer. Sri Ramakrishna is not in favour of his breaking his retreat with a visit home.
 The reference is to Shankara’s dictum “Brahma satyam jagat mithya….” According to Shankara, what is real (satyam) is eternal and unchanging, and what is unreal or false is ephemeral and changing (mithya).
. Unstruck, a sound produced on its own without two objects being struck together; Om as the first movement of Shiva-Shakti heard in higher states of meditation.
. väcyaväcakabhedena tvameva parameçvara: “O Supreme Lord, You are distinguished as vachaka, the signifier, and vachya, the object signified” – Adhyatma Ramayana.
. So ‘ham.
. He professes to be a Vedantist who has gone beyond duality, but his behavior shows otherwise.
. Referring to an incident that took place in 1868.
. Both fisherman and cremation men are low-caste Hindus.
. bhikñuaù sauvarëädénäà naiva parigrahet|
yasmäd bhikñurhiraëyaà rasena dåñöaà ca sa brahmähä bhavet|
yasmäd bhikñurhiraëyaà rasena spåñöaà ca sa paulkaso bhavet|
yasmäd bhikñurhiraëyaà rasena grähyaà ca sa ätmahä bhavet|
tasbhäd bhikñurhiraëyaà rasena na dåñöaà ca spåñöaà na grähyaà ca| (paramahaàsopaniñat)
. Later Swami Premananda.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section XX, Chapter II.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section XII.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section XVI, Chapter I.
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