Sri Ramakrishna at the Grand Festival of the Brahmo Samaj at Shimulia
In the company of Ram, Keshab, Narendra and other devotees
Today Thakur is attending, with devotees, the annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj at Shimulia. It is being held at the house of Jnana Chaudhary. It is Sunday, 1st January 1882, 18th Day of Pausha, 1288 (B.Y.), time about five o’clock.
Keshab Sen, Ram, Manomohan, Balaram, the Brahmo devotee Raj Mohan, Jnana Chaudhary, Kedar, the Brahmo devotee Kantibabu, Kalidas Sarkar, Kalidas Mukherji, Narendra, Rakhal and many devotees are present.
Only a few days ago, Narendra visited Thakur at Dakshineswar with Ram and some others. He is also at the festival today. He visits the Shimulia Brahmo Samaj from time to time and worships and sings there.
The worship will be performed according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj.
First are readings from scriptures. Narendra, who can sing, sings at their request.
It is evening. Gauri Pandit of Indesh arrives in the dress of a brahmachari.
Gauri: “Where is the gentleman, the paramahamsa?”
In a little while, Keshab arrives with devotees. He salutes Sri Ramakrishna by lying prostrate on the ground. They are all seated in the courtyard enjoying themselves.
Seeing the householder devotees all around, Thakur says with a laugh: “Why shouldn’t it be possible in family life? But, you know, there’s a problem. The mind is not with you. You can only give it to God if it’s with you. And you’ve enslaved it, enslaved it with ‘lust and greed’. So there’s a constant need of holy company.
“It is only when the mind is in your possession that it’s possible to practice spiritual disciplines. Constant company of the guru, service to him, and the company of holy people is essential. Either you think about Him day and night in seclusion, or have the company of the holy. When the mind is left alone it gradually dries up. It’s like if you keep water separately in a jug – it will become dry. But if you keep the jug in the water of the Ganges, it won’t dry out.
“The iron in a blacksmith’s shop reddens in fire. But if you take it out of the fire, it becomes black as before. That’s why it should be put in the furnace from time to time.
“To say that I am the doer, that because of this, the world is running, the house is mine and this is my family, is ignorance. But to feel that I am His servant, His devotee, or His child is very good.
“This I-ness doesn’t disappear for good. You can rid yourself of it by reasoning for awhile, but it soon returns, as if from nowhere, like the bleating and jerking of a slaughtered goat.
“The ‘I’ which God retains in you after His vision is called the ‘ripe I’ – like a sword turning gold after touching the philosopher’s stone. It can‘t be used for killing anymore.”
Sri Ramakrishna, sitting in the worship hall, says this to Keshab and the other devotees. They all listen with rapt attention. It is 8 p.m. The bell rings three times for worship to begin.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Keshab and the others): “What? You haven’t started worship yet?”
Keshab: “What else would our worship be? What has been happening is our worship.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “No, brother. You must perform according to your rules.”
Keshab: “Why? Worship is going on very nicely!”
At Sri Ramakrishna’s repeated insistence, Keshab rises and begins the worship. During it, Thakur suddenly stands up and goes into samadhi. The Brahmo devotees sing:
O mind, chant the name of Hari once.
By repeating His name, one crosses the sea of the world.
Hari is in water, Hari is on land, Hari is in fire, Hari is in the wind,
Hari in the moon, Hari in the sun, the whole universe is filled with Hari.
Sri Ramakrishna is still standing and in ecstasy. Keshab, holding him by the hand very carefully, brings him down from the hall to the courtyard.
The song continues. Thakur begins to dance to the beat of the song. Devotees all around him also dance.
On the first floor of Jnana Babu’s house, arrangements are afoot for a feast for Sri Ramakrishna, Keshab and the others.
After it they all return to the ground floor and take their seats. While talking, Thakur again begins to sing. Keshab joins him:
The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight to the blue lotus flower of Mother Shyama’s feet.
The honey of all worldly things – the flowers of lust and cravings – have lost all charm.
Then they 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.
Both Sri Ramakrishna and Keshab appear intoxicated. They dance and sing with the others till midnight.
Having rested for awhile, Thakur says to Keshab, “Why did you send me gifts on the occasion of your son’s marriage. Please take them back. What do I need them for?”
Keshab smiles a little. Then Thakur says, “Why do you publish my name in newspapers? Nobody can be made great by being written about in books and newspapers. If God makes someone great, even a person who lives in a dense forest becomes known. A flower opens out in a dense forest and a honeybee finds it, not flies. What can a man do? Don’t look up to a man. Men are just worms. The mouth that speaks well of a man one moment will soon run him down the next. I don’t want to be respected. I’d rather be the lowest of the low, the most insignificant of the insignificant.”
One day in the month of Ashada in 1881 A.D., Thakur Sri Ramakrishna visited Surendra’s mansion. Keshab was also expected, but he couldn’t make it. He was busy arranging the marriages of his eldest son and his second daughter.
On Friday, 15 July 1881, the 1st day of Shravana, Keshab, with a number of Brahmo devotees from Calcutta, had enjoyed a cruise to Somra in the steam yacht belonging to his son-in-law, the king of Cooch Bihar. During the cruise he broke his journey at Dakshineswar and took the paramahamsa and Hriday on board. In the yacht were Keshab, Trailokya and other Brahmo devotees and Kumar Gajendra, Narayan, Nagendra and so on.
While talking about God without form, Sri Ramakrishna entered samadhi. Trailokya Sannyal was singing to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. Coming out of samadhi, Thakur sang:
What a machine Mother Shyama has built!
What a machine Mother Kali has made!
In this machine, three and a half cubits high, what pranks She plays!
On the return journey Thakur disembarked at Dakshineswar. Keshab had been invited to Kalicharan Bannerji’s house and got off at the Ahiritola Ghat to go by foot to his house on Masjidvari Street.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section II, Chapter VII.
. For the complete song refer to Volume III, Section IX.
. For the complete song, refer Volume IV, Section XVI.