Sri Ramakrishna at Rajendra’s House
Sri Ramakrishna with Ram, Manomohan, Keshab and other devotees. 1881 A.D.
Rajendra Mitra’s home is on Bechu Chatterji Street in Thanthania. Keshab had suggested to Rajendra, when they were at the festival at Manomohan’s house, that it would be nice if a similar festival were celebrated at his house one day. Rajendra happily arranged one.
Today is Saturday, 10 December 1881, 26th of Agrahayana, 1288 (B.Y.). The celebration is today. It is a very happy occasion. Many devotees are coming, including Keshab and other Brahmo devotees.
Just before the festival, Umanath had informed Rajendra about the death of Bhai Aghornath, a Brahmo devotee. Aghornath had passed away at 2 a.m. in Lucknow on 8 December, 24th Agrahayan. The news had been received by wire the same night and Umanath had brought the message the next day. Keshab and the other Brahmo devotees were in mourning. Rajendra worried whether or not they would be able to come on Saturday.
Ram had said to Rajendra, “Why do you worry whether or not Keshab Babu comes? Thakur is coming. He is always in samadhi, he sees God face to face – the joy of which makes the whole world taste joy.”
When Ram, Rajendra and Manomohan visited Keshab, he said, “But I never said I wouldn’t go. The paramahamsa is going. How can I stay away? I’ll certainly go. Because I’m in mourning, I can eat separately.”
Keshab then talked with Rajendra and other devotees. There is a picture of Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi in the room.
Rajendra (to Keshab): “Many people say that the paramahamsa is an incarnation of Chaitanya.”
Keshab (pointing to the picture of samadhi): “Such samadhi can be seen nowhere. Jesus Christ, Mohammed and Chaitanya used to experience it.”
Sri Ramakrishna arrives at Manomohan’s house at 3 o’clock. He rests for awhile and has some refreshments. Surendra says, “Come, sir, yesterday you said you wanted to see a camera.” He takes Thakur by carriage to the Bengal Photographer Studio. The photographer shows how a photo is taken. A glass plate is covered with silver nitrate on one side to take the image.
Thakur is photographed. He immediately goes into samadhi.
Afterward, he goes to Rajendra Mitra’s house. Rajendra is a retired deputy magistrate.
Mahendra Goswami is reading from the Bhagavata in the courtyard of the house. A number of devotees are present, but Keshab has not yet arrived. Sri Ramakrishna talks to the devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “Why should it not be possible in family life? But it is very difficult. Today I came by the Baghbazar bridge. It is held up with so many chains! If one of these chains breaks, the bridge won’t be affected because it’s tied with so many other chains. Householders have as many bondages. Without God’s grace there’s no way to get rid of them.
“After realizing God, there’s no danger. There are both knowledge and ignorance in His maya. You become unattached when you realize God. Then you have correct understanding, the state of a paramahamsa. There is water in milk. A swan takes the milk from the mixture and discards the water. A swan can do this, but not a sparrow.”
A Devotee: “Then what is the way for a family man?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Faith in the words of the guru. Follow his instructions. Hold onto them like you’re whirling around a pillar then do your duties – that is, do the work of the world.
“Don’t think of the guru as a human being. Sat-chit-nanda Himself comes as the guru. By the grace of the guru a person sees the form of his spiritual ideal. And then the guru merges into the ideal.
“What is not possible through simple and unquestioning faith? During the rice-eating ceremony of a guru’s son, his disciples contributed to the best of their abilities. There was a poor widow who was also a disciple. She had a cow. She brought a small jug of milk. The guru had expected her to take the responsibility for all the milk and curds of the ceremony. He became angry and threw away the milk she had brought, saying, ‘Just go drown yourself!’ Taking it as a command, the woman went to the river to drown herself. Narayana appeared to her and said, ‘There’s curd in this container. The more you pour, the more there will be. And your guru will be pleased.’ When the guru was given the container, he was amazed. When he heard the whole story, he went to the shore of the river and said to the widow, ‘If you do not show me Narayana, I will commit suicide in this very river.’ Narayana appeared, but the guru could not see Him. The woman then prayed, ‘Lord, if you do not reveal yourself to my guru, he will quit his body and I will also die.’ Then Narayana showed himself once to the guru.
“You see, because of her devotion to her guru, not only did she attain the vision of God, but her guru also had His vision.
“So I say:
Even if my guru visits a tavern he remains my ever-joyful guru.
“Everybody wants to become a guru, but only a rare few want to be disciples. So notice that rainwater doesn’t collect on a hill. It collects in hollows on lower ground.
“You should practice spiritual disciplines with full faith in the name the guru gives at initiation.
“It is said that a pearl oyster opens itself for a drop of rain water that comes from the Svati constellation of stars. As soon as the drop falls into the oyster, it dives deep into the water and stays there till a pearl is formed.”
Sri Ramakrishna at Rajendra’s house
Seeing so many Brahmo devotees, Sri Ramakrishna says, “Is this a Brahmo Samaj gathering or mere show? There is regular worship in the Brahmo Samaj, which is very good, but you have to dive deep. Mere worship and lectures are not enough. You have to pray to God to take away desire for enjoyments and attachment, and to grant you pure love and devotion at His lotus feet.
“An elephant has both inner and outer tusks. The outer tusks are for show, but the inner ones are teeth for eating. Secret desire for the enjoyment of ‘lust and greed’ harms a person’s devotion.
“What is the use of giving lectures? A vulture flies high, but its sight remains fixed on charnel-pits. A rocket first shoots high into the sky, but the next moment it falls to the ground.
“A person only remembers God at the time of death when the desire for enjoyment has been done away with. Otherwise, only things of the world come to the mind – wife, son, home, wealth, prestige, rank and so on. A parrot can learn to say ‘Radha Krishna,’ but when it’s seized by a cat, it only squawks ‘caw-caw’.
“That’s why practice is essential – to repeat His name and qualities, to sing His glory, to meditate on Him, to contemplate Him, to pray – in order to get rid of the desire for enjoyment and attachment and fix the mind on His lotus feet.
“Be like a maid-servant who attends to all her work but at the same time keeps her mind in her own village. In other words, attend to all your duties while keeping your mind fixed on God. A worldly life sticks to you. A genuine devotee lives like a mudfish – in the mud, but the mud does not stick to his body.
“Brahman and His Primal Power are the same. By calling on Him as Mother, you soon gain love and devotion for God.”
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna begins to sing:
The kite of my mind was soaring high up in the sky of the feet of Mother Shyama.
The rough wind of misdeeds made it fall circling to the ground.
And then he sings:
O Mother Shyama! Yashoda would make You dance when she called You her precious blue jewel!
Where have You hidden that form, O terrible Shyama?
Now Thakur stands up and dances as he sings. The devotees also stand up.
Sri Ramakrishna goes into samadhi now and then. Everyone watches him intently, standing still like images in a picture. Doctor Dukari puts his fingers in Thakur’s eyes to test the samadhi. The devotees are irritated to see it.
After this amazing dancing and singing, they all seat themselves again. Just then Keshab and many Brahmo devotees arrive. They salute Thakur and sit as well.
Rajendra (to Keshab): “We had wonderful music and dancing.” He then asks Trailokya to sing again.
Keshab (to Rajendra): “Since the paramahamsa has already taken his seat, the kirtan will never pick up tempo.”
Trailokya and other Brahmo devotees begin to sing:
But for once, repeat the name of Hari, say the name of Hari, repeat the name of Hari.
Cross the ocean of the world, by repeating, ‘Hari, Hari, Hari.’
Hari is present in the water, Hari is on earth, Hari is present in the moon, Hari is present in the sun.
Hari is present in the air and in fire. This vast expanse of earth is filled with Hari.
Arrangements are being made on the first floor for a feast for Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees. He is still sitting in the courtyard talking with Keshab. He tells Keshab that he had been to a photographer in Radha Bazaar.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling, to Keshab): “Today I saw a beautiful machine for taking photographs. For one thing I saw that a bare glass does not receive the image, but that first they rub something black on the back side of the glass. Then the photograph appears. Just like this, a person may hear spiritual talks that leave no impression on the mind, it is forgotten the next moment. But if the person has the black ink of love for God within him already, and attraction for Him is rubbed on the mind, then he internalizes the words. Otherwise they are heard and forgotten.”
Thakur goes to the first floor. He is given a seat on a beautiful small carpet.
Shyamasundari, Manomohan’s mother, serves the food. Manomohan says, “My affectionate mother has saluted Thakur by lying prostrate on the floor. She has also served him food.” Rama and others were there then.
Keshab and other devotees sit for their meal on the verandah opposite the room in which Thakur is being fed.
Shailajacharan Mukherji, the present attendant of the Shyamasundar image in the shrine on Bechu Chatterji Street, is present today.
. A shalik: A black sparrow with a small yellow beak.
. For complete song, refer Volume III, Section IX.
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