Sri Ramakrishna at Manomohan’s Home
With Keshab Sen, Surendra, Rajendra Mitra, Trailokya and others
At Manomohan’s house, 23 Shimulia Street, near Surendra’s residence, Saturday, 3 December 1881 today; 19th day of Agrahayana, 1288 (Bengali Year).
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at about four o’clock in the afternoon. Manomohan’s is a small one-storeyed house [one upper floor], with a small courtyard. Thakur sits in the parlour overlooking the street, on the ground floor.
Sri Ramakrishna talks with Ishan Mukherji from Bhawanipur.
Ishan: “Why did you renounce family life? The scriptures speak highly of the householder stage of life.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I don’t know what is good or bad. I do what He makes me do. I say what He makes me say.”
Ishan: “If everyone were to renounce the householder’s life, it would be working against God.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why should everyone renounce? Is it His will that everybody should be like dogs and jackals with their mouths in ‘lust and greed’? Does He will nothing else? How do you know what He wills and what He doesn’t?
“You’re saying it is His will that a person leads a family life. Why don’t you see it is also His will when a husband or wife and son die? When you starve, when there is poverty, why don’t you see that as God’s will too?
“Maya doesn’t allow us to know what His will is. Because of His maya, the ephemeral appears to us as permanent and the permanent appears transitory. The world is transitory. It is here now and then gone. But His maya doesn’t let us see that. It is His maya that makes me think I’m the doer and all these – wives, sons, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, hearth and home – are all mine.
“Maya is both knowledge and ignorance. The world of ignorance makes you forget, and the knowledge aspect of maya, of spiritual knowledge, takes you towards God, towards love for God and holy company.
“But for the person who is beyond maya, by God’s grace, they are both the same, knowledge and ignorance.
“There is a lot of enjoyment in the householder life. But what is the enjoyment of ‘lust and greed’? Once you swallow sandesh, you don’t remember if it was sweet or sour.
“Anyway, why should everybody renounce ‘lust and greed’? It isn’t even possible to renounce before the time is ripe. When the desire for enjoyment is over, the time for renunciation comes. Can you do it by force?
“There is a kind of renunciation called monkey renunciation. It is the renunciation of people of little understanding. A widowed mother supported herself and her son by spinning. The boy lost the small job that he had. As a consequence he felt he should renounce the world. He put on ochre and went to Kashi. But in a few days he wrote to say that he had found a job paying ten rupees a month. He tried to buy a gold ring, a dhoti and a shirt with it. How could he get rid of that desire for enjoyment?”
Sri Ramakrishna at Manomohan’s
Keshab has arrived with Brahmo devotees. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting in the courtyard. Keshab salutes him with great devotion. He takes his seat to the left of Thakur, and Ram sits on his right.
After a reading from the Bhagavata, Thakur speaks. Householder devotees are sitting all around the courtyard.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “Worldly duty is very difficult to perform. After spinning around quickly, a person feels faint and falls. But if he holds to a pillar while he spins, there is no danger. Do your duty, but do not forget God.
“So you ask, what is the way out if it’s so difficult? The way out is the yoga of practice. I’ve seen carpenters’ wives in the village [Kamarpukur] pounding flattened rice with one hand, being careful that the pestle doesn’t mangle their fingers. And at the same time they nurse their babies at the breast and talk to customers, demanding payment before they leave.
“An unfaithful woman attends to all her household work, but her mind is constantly on her lover.
“But some spiritual practice is necessary for this. From time to time you need to go into solitude and call on Him. You should first develop love for God and then do your duty. If you cut a jackfruit with your bare hands, its milky juice will stick to them. But if you rub your hands with oil first, and then cut the jackfruit, its juice won’t stick to them.”
Now there is music in the courtyard. And then Trailokya sings: “Victory, victory to the All-Blissful Mother, the form of Brahman!”
Thakur dances in joy. Keshab and other devotees dance with him. It is cold, but Thakur’s body is covered with perspiration.
Having enjoyed the kirtan, everybody sits down and Sri Ramakrishna asks for something to eat. A plate of sweets is brought to him from the inner apartments. Keshab holds it while Thakur eats from it. He holds a drinking glass as well in this manner. Then he wipes Thakur’s mouth with a cloth and begins to fan him.
Sri Ramakrishna again takes up the question of whether or not it is possible to lead a spiritual life in the household.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab and others): “Householders who are able to pray to Him are heroes. They have a very heavy load of twenty seers on their heads and yet they try to realize God. Such devotees are heroic.
“Even if you say that it’s very difficult, in spite of that, what is not possible with God’s grace? Even the impossible becomes possible. If you bring a light into a room that’s been dark for a thousand years, does it light up little by little? It lights up immediately.”
Listening to these words of hope, Keshab and other householder devotees are filled with joy.
Keshab (smiling, to Rajendra Mitra): “It would be nice to have a celebration like this at your home.”
Rajendra: “All right, that would be nice! Ram, you please take charge of it.” (Rajendra is Ram and Manomohan’s uncle.)
Thakur is now taken to the inner apartments. He is to be served a meal there. Shyamasundari, Manomohan’s mother, has prepared the meal. Sri Ramakrishna sits down and looks at the different sweets and other plates of food. He smiles and says when he eats, “You have done so much for me.” He is also given a glass of ice water.
Keshab and the other devotees sit in the courtyard to eat. Coming down to them, Thakur starts feeding them. And he dances and sings of luchis and balls of sweets to entertain them.
It is time for Sri Ramakrishna to go back to Dakshineswar. Keshab and the other devotees take the dust of his feet and see him board the carriage.
. The husband of Ram and Manomohan’s mother’s sister.
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