Sri Ramakrishna at the Durga Puja Festival at Adhar’s House
Today is Navami Puja day, Wednesday, 10 October 1883, the 25th day of Aswin. Adhar is celebrating the Durga Puja festival at his house and has invited Thakur to it. Sri Ramakrishna is standing in the worship Hall, watching the arati of Sri Durga.
Sri Ramakrishna has come with devotees, including Balaram’s father and Sarada Babu, a retired school inspector and a friend of Adhar. Adhar has invited his neighbours and relatives for the occasion. Quite a number of them have come.
Sri Ramakrishna stands, in ecstasy, after watching the evening arati. Absorbed, he sings to the Divine Mother.
Adhar is a householder devotee. Many householder devotees present have been scalded by the three fires of the world.
Perhaps that is why Sri Ramakrishna sings a hymn of praise to the Mother of the Universe for the welfare of all.
O Mother, O Redeemer, take me across quickly this time.
I am dying in fear of the God of Death.
O, Mother of the Universe, preserver and enchantress of the world, and its begetter.
You took birth from Yashoda’s womb, emerging as the Lord’s divine sport.
In Vrindavan as Radha You sported and enjoyed Yourself with Krishna, the beloved of Vraja.
Full of sweetness, You took delight and participated in the dance of divine sport.
You are Shiva’s consort; You are the Mother, the heartthrob of Govinda. You dwell in the heart and bestow salvation.
You are eternal. You are Ishani, ever full of bliss; You assume all forms; You have attributes and yet You are attributeless. You are ever the beloved of Shiva. Who can fathom Your greatness?
Sri Ramakrishna talks with the Mother of the Universe in an ecstatic mood
Sri Ramakrishna goes to Adhar’s parlour on the second floor and sits down. Many invited guests are there. Balaram’s father, Sarada Babu and others sit near him.
Still absorbed in ecstasy, Thakur says to the guests, “Gentlemen, I have eaten. Go now and enjoy the feast.”
The Divine Mother has accepted Adhar’s offering. Is it because of this that Sri Ramakrishna is saying to the Mother of the Universe, in an ecstatic mood, “I have eaten. Now, you people should eat the sacramental food.” Still absorbed in ecstasy, Thakur says to Her, “Should I eat, Mother, or will You eat? O Mother, the image of divine bliss!”
Is Sri Ramakrishna seeing the Mother of the Universe and himself as one? Has the Divine Mother incarnated in this world as a son to instruct mankind? Is this why Thakur says, “I have eaten?”
In a state of ecstasy, he sees the six spiritual centres in his body and the Mother seated in them.
Absorbed, he sings:
You have enchanted the whole world, O Mother. You, the enchantress of Shiva Himself.
O Mother, sitting on the great lotus in the Muladhara, You enjoy Yourself, playing the vina.
In the machine of a human body, You manifest Yourself. With Your great mantra, You pierce the three gunas which reside in the three spiritual nerves – the Sushumna, Ida and Pingla.
You provide energy to the three musical scales.
You abide in the six-petalled lotus of Svadhisthana as Bhairava musical mode.
You reside as Hindola musical mode in the Vishuddha chakra, and in the Ajna lotus as eardrum. You pierce the seventy-three melodies with the three octaves: keynote, metre and tempo.
O Mahamaya, you easily bind all creatures with the net of infatuation.
You become absorbed in the Supreme Consciousness and establish there as lightning.
Nanda Kumar says: who knows for certain what Your essence is? But sing like the cuckoo and Your essence is the three gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas.
He sings again:
What more can I reason? I am already dead, reasoning and reasoning.
How did She take a black complexion, She whose name dispels the fear of death, and She who has Mahakala lying at Her feet.
There are so many forms of black, but this blackness is really amazing – it illumes the lotus of my heart when contemplated there.
She who is called Kali is blacker than black.
One who has seen this form of Hers but once likes no other form.
Prasad says in delight, “Where is such a woman that by merely hearing her name – without seeing Her – the mind is at once absorbed.”
Taking refuge in the Fearless One, all fear is dispelled. Perhaps it is for this reason that Thakur is dispensing fearlessness to the devotees by singing this song.
I have surrendered myself at the Fearless feet of the Divine Mother. Am I afraid of Yama any more?
I have planted the wish-fulfilling tree of Kali’s name in my heart.
Having sold my body in the marketplace of the world, I have bought the name of Durga.
I have cast from me my six unflagging foes.
This time when Yama comes, I’ll open my heart to him. This is my resolve.
The name of Tara, the Essence of Essences, I have tied to the top tuft of my hair.
Say Ramprasad: I have cried “Durga!” and am ready for the journey.
Sarada Babu is mourning the death of his son. That’s why his friend Adhar has brought him to Thakur. Sarada Babu is a devotee of Gauranga. At his sight, Sri Ramakrishna is inspired with the feeling of Gauranga. Thakur sings:
Why has my body turn fair? (for complete song see Section 19, Chapter 4 of Vol. IV of this title).
Now he sings, inspired with the feeling of Gauranga. He said that Sarada Babu was very fond of the song:
Surely Gauranga would be in ecstasy.
How else would he who is the treasure house of ecstasy be?
He laughs, weeps and dances, charged with divine feeling.
Seeing a forest, he thinks of Vrindavan. Seeing the sea, he thinks it the Jamuna.
He who has Krishna within and Gaur without surely will know ecstasy.
Gaur sobs and weeps. He holds his own feet and says:
Where are you, Radha, full of the ecstasy of love?
And he sings:
O Mother! The neighbours raise a scandal, they cast aspersions on me because of Gaur.
How shall I explain and to whom, O the friend of my heart? I am dying of shame.
One day Gaur was performing the kirtan round the city with his troupe.
Shouting, Hari Bol, Hari Bol, he went through Nadia’s bazaar.
Accompanying them, I saw his two red-hued holy feet.
One day, there was noise and bustle of the kirtan in the house of Srivas.
The moon-faced Gaur rolled in ecstasy in Srivas’ courtyard.
I stood aside, hiding myself in a corner.
I fell in a swoon and the wife of Srivas brought me to consciousness.
One day, the moon-faced Gaur was standing on the bank of the Ganges,
The moon and the sun both shone on Gaur’s body.
Seeing the beautiful image of Gaur, both Shaktas and Shaivites were entranced.
Suddenly my water-pot fell and the husband’s sister, that gossip, saw it.
M. muses: Balaram’s father is a Vaishnava. Is it for this reason that Ramakrishna is singing the mad love song of the gopis and Sri Krishna?
O Friend, I have not found my Shyam within my reach.
Can I live happily at home? Had Shyam been the hair of my head, I would have made a braid with Bakul flowers entwined.
Had Shyam been a bracelet, he would always be around my arm.
O friend, I would have walked along shaking my arm for show.
I would have gone on the main road, wearing that bracelet of Shyam.
When Shyam plays his flute, I come to the Jamuna to fetch water.
And I look all around like a shy she-deer.
Sri Ramakrishna on the harmony of religions – conversation with Balaram’s father
Balaram’s father has estates in Bhadrak and other places in Orissa and has built guest houses and temples for the service of the deities in Vrindavan, Puri, Bhadrak and other places for the service of the deities. During the last part of his life, he devotes himself to Shyamasundar Kunj [Krishna] in Vrindavan.
Balaram’s father is an old Vaishnava. Many Vaishnava devotees have no sympathy for the views of Shaktas, Shaivites and Vedantists. Some of them even have malicious attitudes toward them. But Sri Ramakrishna does not like such a narrow-minded opinion. He says that you can realize God by all paths, all beliefs, if you have longing in your heart. Many Vaishnava devotees outwardly tell beads and recite the scriptures, but they have no yearning for God-realization. Perhaps that’s why Thakur is advising Balaram’s father.
His earlier story – Sri Ramakrishna wears the habit of Vaishnava hermits and is initiated with Rama mantra
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “I thought, why should I walk on a single track? I also took up the habits of a Vaishnava recluse in Vrindavan. I followed this attitude for three days. Then I was initiated with the Rama mantra at Dakshineswar – I had Vaishnava mark on my forehead and wore a diamond around my neck. After a few days I put them all away.
Advice to Balaram’s father – God with attributes and the attributeless – God with form and formless
“A man had a tub. People took their clothes to him to be dyed. The tub was full of a solution of dye, but the clothes would take whatever colour the people wanted by being dipped in the same liquid. Someone was speechless to see this and said to the dyer, ‘Please give me the dye you are using.’”
Is Thakur saying that people from all religions will go to him to be awakened spiritually?
Sri Ramakrishna adds, “A chameleon lived on a tree. One person saw that it was green, another black, and another saw it yellow. Different people saw it in different colours. They talked about it, one saying that the animal was green. Another said, ‘No, it is red.’ ‘No, no,’ another said, ‘It is yellow.’ And they began to quarrel. Then all these fellows went to a person who was sitting under the tree. He said, ‘I live under this tree day and night. I know that it is a chameleon. It changes its colour often. And sometimes it has no colour at all.’ ”
Is Sri Ramakrishna saying that God is with qualities, and that He assumes various forms? And again, that He is without qualities – He has no colour, He is beyond mind and speech? And that the sweetness of God can be tasted on all paths – bhakti yoga as well as jnana yoga?
Sri Ramakrishna (to Balaram’s father): “Don’t read any more books. You can read devotional scriptures, like the life of Chaitanya.”
The significance of the play of Radha-Krishna – sweetness and the taster of sweetness – the one thing needful
“There is nothing more to it than this: to love Him and to taste His sweetness. He is sweetness, the devotee is the taster – it is the devotee who drinks the sweetness. He is a lotus and the devotee is the bee. The devotee drinks the honey of the lotus.
“Just as a devotee can’t live without the Lord, the Lord can’t live without a devotee. In that case, the devotee is the sweetness and the Lord its taster. The devotee is the lotus and the Lord a bee. To enjoy His sweetness God becomes two, which is the reason for the divine play of Radha-Krishna.”
Advice to Balaram’s father: How long do holy duties like visiting places of pilgrimage, wearing a string of beads and religious habit last?
“In the beginning a person should go on pilgrimage, wear a string of beads and practice rituals. But after attaining the goal, after realizing God, outer display gradually decreases. Then there is only living with God’s name – remembering and meditating on it.
“Sixteen rupees are a lot of paise. But when sixteen rupees are put together it doesn’t look like much of a heap. When they are turned into one gold piece, how small they become. And when you buy a diamond for it, people hardly notice it.”
Vaishnavas criticize people who don’t wear outer signs like rosaries around their necks. Is this why Thakur is saying that after God-realization, a devotee doesn’t have any need for religious rosaries and clothes? When you attain the real thing, the outer observances decrease?
Sri Ramakrishna (to Balaram’s father): “The Kartabhajas talk about beginners, practioners, perfected ones and the perfected among the perfect. A beginner puts a vermilion mark on his forehead, wears a rosary around his neck and practices outer rituals. Practioners don’t observe as much outer conduct – for example, the bauls. The perfected is one who has firm faith that God exists. The perfected among the perfect are like Chaitanya Deva. They have realized God and are always communicating with Him. The perfected of the perfect are called Sai. There is no one beyond Sai.”
Advice to Balaram’s father – sattvic spiritual disciplines – harmony of all religions and giving up fanaticism
“There are different kinds of spiritual seekers. Sattvic spiritual disciplines are practiced secretly – the aspirant practices in seclusion. He looks like an average person, but he meditates inside a mosquito net.
“A rajasic aspirant indulges in outward show. He wears a rosary around his neck, puts on ochre clothes, a silk dhoti, and his rosary is interspersed with gold beads. This is like sitting outside with a signboard.”
Vaishnava devotees do not have much faith in Vedanta or Shaktism. Thakur is instructing Balaram’s father to shake off such narrow-mindedness.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Balaram’s father and others): “Whatever the religion, whatever the belief, everyone calls upon the same God. So you mustn’t look down upon or criticize any religion or belief. The Vedas call God Sat-chit-ananda Brahman. The Bhagavata and other Puranas call Him Sat-chit-ananda Krishna. The Tantras call Him Sat-chit-ananda Shiva – the same one Sat-chit-ananda.
“Vaishnavas have different sects. That which is called Brahman in the Vedas is called Alekh-Niranjan by one of their sects. Alekh means that which is not noticeable, cannot be seen through the senses. They say that Radha and Krishna are two parts of the same Alekh.
“In Vedanta there is no incarnation of God. Vedantists say, ‘Rama and Krishna are two waves of Sat-chit-ananda.’
“There are no two, only One. Whatever one may call God, if it is from the bottom of his heart, it will surely reach Him – it is yearning which brings it about.”
Sri Ramakrishna is absorbed in ecstasy while he says all this to the devotees. Now he regains outer awareness and says, “Are you Balaram’s father?”
Advice to Balaram’s father – yearn for God
They are all quiet for awhile. Balaram’s old father counts the beads of his Harinam rosary silently.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M. and others): “Well, these people chant His name so much, go on pilgrimage so often. Then why are they like this? For them a year has eighteen months.
“I said to Harish, ‘What‘s the use of going to Kashi if you have no yearning? If you have yearning, Kashi is right here.’
“Why don’t they succeed even after visiting so many holy places and repeating the name so much? They have no yearning. If you call Him with longing, He reveals Himself.
“Before a yatra [theatrical performance] begins, there is so much noise everywhere. You can’t see Sri Krishna then. Later, when Rishi Narada comes to Vrindavan with a longing heart, playing on his vina and saying, ‘My life-breath! My Govinda, my soul!’ Krishna doesn’t delay anymore. He appears with the cowherd boys and says, ‘Stop, O white cow. Stop.’”
. Three kinds of affliction: spiritual, material and supernatural.
. A stringed musical instrument.
. Indian musical mode of rainy season.
. An Indian musical mode.
. The six passions: Lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride and envy.
. Chaitanya Charitamrita.
. Bhagavad Gita 3:17.
. Bible, Matthew 13:45-46: A merchant sold all he had, closed his business, and bought a pearl of great price.
back to Kathamrita Main Page