With Keshab at the Dakshineswar Temple
Saturday, 1st January 1881, 18th day of Pausha, 1287 (B.Y.). The winter festival of the Brahmo Samaj will soon be celebrated. Keshab Sen has come to the Dakshineswar Temple with Pratap, Trailokya, Jaygopal Sen and other Brahmo devotees to visit Sri Ramakrishna. Ram, Manomohan and some others are present.
Many of the Brahmo devotees have reached the Kali Temple before Keshab. They are sitting near Sri Ramakrishna and await Keshab’s arrival eagerly, looking to the south for his arrival by steamer. They are restless and talking noisily.
Finally Keshab arrives. He has a bouquet of flowers and two bel fruits in his hand. He touches Sri Ramakrishna’s feet and places the articles near, prostrating in salutation. Thakur returns the salutation by his own prostration.
Sri Ramakrishna laughs joyfully. He talks to Keshab.
Sri Ramakrishna (with a smile, to Keshab): “Keshab, you like me, but your disciples don’t. I said to them, ‘Let’s make some noise, be restless so Govinda will come.’”
(To Keshab’s disciples) “Hey brothers, your Govinda has arrived! We’ve been making noise for a long time, but why would that make you joyful?
“It isn’t easy to experience Govinda. Didn’t you see in the play about Krishna that he and the cowherd boys and gopis only came after Narada prayed in Vrindavan with a yearning heart: ‘O Govinda, my life-breath, my life!’ Without yearning, you cannot see the Lord.
(To Keshab) “Keshab, do say something. All these people are eager to listen to you.”
Keshab (smiling, humbly): “Talking here is like selling a needle to a blacksmith.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “But the fact of the matter is that the nature of a devotee is like the nature of a hemp-smoker: ‘You take a puff on the pipe so I can also have one.’” (All laugh.)
It is four o’clock. Music can be heard coming from the nahabat of the temple garden.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab and the others): “Listen to how nice the music is. One person is playing a monotone and another is raising many waves of other modes. I’m like that. Why should I blow only one note when there are seven available to me? Why should I only say, ‘So ‘ham, So ‘ham?’ I like to call on Him in all attitudes – of shanta (serenity), of dasya (servant toward his master), of vatsalya (mother toward her child), of sakhya (friend) and of madhura (beloved). I’ll call on Him in all these attitudes, I’ll be happy and enjoy myself in all these moods.”
Keshab listens to these words, speechless. He says, “I have never heard such an explanation of knowledge and devotion – amazing, so beautiful!”
Keshab (to Sri Ramakrishna): “How long will you hide away in solitude like this? Crowds of people are going to fill this place.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What do you mean? I just eat and drink, enjoy myself and repeat His name. I don’t know about gathering people. ‘I don’t know the names of various villages – what I know is that I am a brahmin from Virbhum.’ Hanuman said, ‘I don’t know the day of the week, the date, or the conjunction of stars. I only contemplate Rama.’”
Keshab: “Well, I’ll gather the people. But they will all have to come here.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I am the dust of the dust of the feet of everyone. If they are kind enough to come here, let them come.”
Keshab: “Whatever you say, your coming will not be in vain.”
Sri Ramakrishna with devotees at the Dakshineswar Temple
Arrangements for a kirtan are being made. Many devotees are participating. The kirtan party is coming south from the Panchavati. Hriday is playing a horn and Gopidas is playing a drum. Two devotees are playing cymbals.
Sri Ramakrishna sings:
O man, if you want happiness in life, repeat the name of Hari.
You will have a life of joy, go to Vaikuntha and taste the fruit of liberation. That is the merit of repeating Hari’s name.
Today I give you the name that Shiva sings with his five mouths.
About the harmony of religions
“God can be realized by all paths. Just like some of you have come here by carriage, some by boat, some by steamer, and some on foot – whatever way is convenient for you or according to your inclination. But the aim is only one, though some reach it earlier than others.”
Way to realize God: give up ego
(To Keshab and others) “The more you rid yourself of your adjunct, or title, the closer to God you will be. Water doesn’t stay on a high mound. It gathers in a hollow below it. It’s the same with the shower of God’s grace. It doesn’t stay where there’s ego. Humility is the only right attitude.
“You have to be very cautious in life. Even the clothes a person wears generates ego. I’ve seen a person with an inflated belly caused by an enlarged spleen. He was wearing a black-bordered dhoti and singing snatches of Vidhu Babu’s love songs.
“People spout English when they wear western style boots.
“Ordinary people putting on the ochre cloth become proud. Only a small mistake on the part of somebody else irritates them.”
End of sense enjoyment, yearning, and God-realization
“You can’t see God without yearning. And such longing doesn’t come until the desire for sense enjoyments has ended. Those who are surrounded by ‘lust and greed,’ who are not finished with their desires for enjoyment, do not feel yearning for God.
“There, in the countryside [Kamarpukur], Hriday’s son used to stay with me the whole day. He was four or five years old. He’d keep himself busy doing this or that and forget everybody else. But as soon as it was evening, he’d say, ‘I want to go to my mother.’ Howsoever much I tried to get his attention, saying such things as ‘I will give you a pigeon,’ he couldn’t forget his mother. He’d cry to go to her. Play – anything else – couldn’t soothe him. Seeing him in that state, I’d cry too.
“This is a childlike cry for God. This is yearning. In this state, not play, not food, nothing else interested him. It is only when the desire for enjoyment ends that such yearning, such crying, comes.”
Everyone sits silently, amazed to hear these words.
It is evening. A lamp man has lit the lamp in the room. Keshab and Brahmo devotees will leave after eating. Food is being prepared.
Keshab (smiling): “Puffed rice today too?”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Hridu knows.”
Leaf plates have been laid for the guests. They are first served puffed rice, then luchis, and then ragout. They are all full of joy, with smiles on their faces. It is nearly ten o’clock before it is over.
Thakur talks with Brahmo devotees at the foot of the Panchavati.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling, to Keshab and others): “After realizing God you can live well in the world. First touch the Granddame, and then play the game.
“A devotee becomes unattached after he has realized God, like a mudfish. Even while living in muddy water, the body of a mudfish is not stained with mud.”
It is about 11 o’clock. Everyone is impatient to leave. Pratap says, “Why not spend the night here?”
Sri Ramakrishna asks Keshab to stay.
Keshab (smiling): “I have work to do. I have to leave.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Well my dear, can’t you sleep without the smell of the fish basket? A fishwife was the guest of a gardener one night. She was given a room full of flowers to sleep in, but she couldn’t sleep. (All laugh.) She lay there restlessly. The gardener’s wife noticed her state and asked her, ‘Why can’t you sleep?’ The fishwife replied, ‘I don’t know, sister, but the fragrance of the flowers won’t let me sleep. Can you bring my fish basket?’ The fishwife sprinkled some water on the basket and fell fast asleep smelling it.” (All laugh.)
Keshab gets into the carriage of the Brahmo devotee, Jaygopal Sen, and they leave for Calcutta.
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