Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar with Devotees
Sri Ramakrishna is immersed in samadhi most of the time. He only engages himself outwardly for the instruction of devotees like Rakhal – to awaken their spiritual consciousness.
Everyone is sitting in the verandah to the west of Thakur’s room. Today is Tuesday, 4th of Pausha, the 4th of Agrahayana, 18 December 1883. Sri Ramakrishna is praising Devendranath Tagore for his renunciation and devotion to God. Looking at Rakhal and the other young devotees, Thakur says, “He is a good person, but those who never enter into worldly life and develop dispassion by meditating on God day and night from their very childhoods, like Sukadeva, are truly blessed.
“Worldly people nurse some desire or another in spite of themselves – even though they are clearly very devoted. Mathur Babu was entangled in a law-suit. He said to me, ‘Father, make this offering of flowers to Mother Kali for me.’ I did it whole-heartedly.’
“And Rati’s mother – she was so devoted. She used to come occasionally to serve me. She was a Vaishnava devotee. After a few days, as soon as she noticed that I ate food consecrated to Mother Kali, she stopped coming. So orthodox she was! It’s not possible to recognize such a single-track mind at first.”
Sri Ramakrishna is seated near the eastern door of the room. It is winter. He is wrapped in a moleskin shawl. Suddenly he sees the sun and then loses all outer-consciousness.
Is this the realization of the truth of the Gayatri mantra: We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds?
After a long time, he comes out of samadhi. Rakhal, Hazra, M. and others are sitting near him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Hazra): “The feeling in samadhi is ecstatic love. One time in Shyambazar a kirtan was being performed in Natabar Goswami’s house. I had a vision of Sri Krishna and the milkmaids and went into samadhi. I felt that my subtle body was following at the heels of Sri Krishna.
“During a kirtan at the Harisabha at Jodasanki, I lost all consciousness of the outer world. I almost quit my body that day.”
Sri Ramakrishna goes out for a bath. When he returns, he continues talking about the ecstatic love of the gopis. (To Mani and others) “You should accept the attraction of the gopis for Krishna and sing songs like these:
Friend, how far is that forest where my Shyamasundar lives? I cannot walk any farther.
O companion, I shall not go into a house where it is hard for me to chant the name of Krishna.
Sri Ramakrishna at the Sri Siddheshwari Temple in Thanthania
Sri Ramakrishna had vowed to offer sugar and green coconut to Sri Siddheshwari for Rakhal. He had asked Mani, “Will you pay for the sugar and coconut?”
In the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by Rakhal, Mani and some others, goes in a carriage to the Siddheshwari Temple. They pass through the Shimulia bazaar, where green coconut and sugar are bought.
When they reach the temple, he says to the devotees, “Break open a green coconut, put sugar on it, and offer it to the Divine Mother.”
When they had first arrived at the temple, priests and their friends were playing cards in front of Mother Kali. Seeing this, Thakur had said to the devotees, “Look! Playing cards in a place like this! They should be thinking of God here.”
Then they go to the house of Jadu Mallick. Several gentlemen are sitting with him.
Jadu says, “Come, please come.” After polite enquiries, Sri Ramakrishna says, (smiling): “Why do you keep ridiculous courtiers with you?”
Jadu (smiling): “So that you may save them!” (All laugh.)
Sri Ramakrishna: “Flatterers have in mind that the rich man will give them money. But it’s very difficult to extract money from a gentleman. A jackal met a bull and wouldn’t leave its side. When the bull was out grazing, the jackal was with him. The jackal thought the testicles of the bull would fall some time or other and he could eat them. Even when the bull slept, the jackal slept next to him. When it rose to graze, the jackal was by its side. A few days passed this way but the testicles did not drop. Disappointed now, the jackal left the bull. (All laugh.) Flatterers meet the same fate.”
Jadu and his mother treat Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees with refreshments.
Sri Ramakrishna with Mani – can one not have both knowledge and love of God?
Wednesday, 19 December 1883. Past nine o’clock in the morning. Sri Ramakrishna is talking with Mani in the Panchavati (see detailed account in Volume IV, Section VII).
Mani (to Sri Ramakrishna): “Can’t you have both knowledge and love for God?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A person with a very high spiritual ideal can have them both. God-men like Chaitanya Deva had both. But it’s different with ordinary human beings.
“There are five kinds of light: the light of a lamp, the light from another kind of fire, the light from the moon, the light of the sun and the light of the sun and moon together. Love for God is the moon, knowledge is the sun.
“Sometimes you can see the moon in the sky even before the sun has set. In an Incarnation of God and those like him, the moon of devotion and the sun of knowledge appear together.
“Can knowledge and love for God come in a single receptacle just by wishing for it? Only a special kind of person can possess both. Some bamboo has big holes and some very small. Is it possible for everybody to comprehend God within him? Is it possible for a one-seer pot to contain two seers of milk?”
Mani: “But what is not possible by His grace? If He bestows His grace, even a camel can pass through the eye of a needle.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Does He shower His grace just like that? When a beggar begs for a pice, it is given to him. But if he suddenly asks for railway fare, he is refused.”
Mani stands there without saying a word. Sri Ramakrishna is also silent. Then suddenly he says, “Yes, no doubt. In the case of some they both come, just by His grace – both knowledge and love for God.”
Leaving Thakur respectfully, Mani goes toward the bel tree. It is afternoon when he returns. As he had been delayed, Sri Ramakrishna had started toward the bel tree himself. He notices Mani returning with a carpet, asana, and a pot of water. Thakur meets him near the Panchavati. Mani prostrates before him.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “I came to look for you. It was very late and I thought you might have run away by jumping over the wall. Seeing your eyes, I thought maybe you had run away like Narayan Shastri. Then I thought, No, he wouldn’t run away. He thinks a great deal before he acts.”
Sri Ramakrishna with Mani and other devotees
Again that night Sri Ramakrishna talks with Mani. Rakhal, Latu, Harish and others are present.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mani): “Well, some people give a metaphysical interpretation of Krishna in Vrindavan. What is your opinion?”
Mani: “There are different opinions. There’s no harm in it. You told the story of Bhishma Deva. Before quitting his body, when he was lying on a bed of arrows he said, ‘Why am I weeping? Not because of the pain. When I think that God Himself was the charioteer of Arjuna and yet so many troubles befell the Pandavas, I realize that I have not understood God’s ways at all. That’s why I weep.’
“And then you told us about Hanuman’s saying, ‘I don’t know the day of the week or the position of the stars. I only contemplate Rama.’
“And you said that there is nothing else besides the two: Brahman and Shakti. You also said that when a person attains the knowledge of Brahman, both of them are felt to be one, only one without a second.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, certainly. You have to attain your goal, whether you go through a forest of thorns or along a good road.
“Of course, there are many opinions. The Naked One (Totapuri) said, ‘Sadhus can’t be fed together because of the difference of their views. Once a feast was arranged and sadhus from different sects went. Each sect insisted that their group be served first and the others later. No solution could be found. In the end, they all left. Prostitutes were served the food.’”
Mani: “Totapuri was a great man.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Hazra said, ‘He was just ordinary.’ No brother, there’s no use in talking about it. Everybody says only his watch gives the correct time.
“Look what dispassion Narayan Shastri developed. Such a great scholar. He left his wife and disappeared. When a person has renounced lust and greed totally, he attains union with God. Some have the characteristics of a yogi.
“I’ll have to tell you about the six spiritual centres. After piercing them, yogis attain God’s vision by His grace. Have you heard about the six spiritual centres?”
Mani: “According to the Vedanta school of thought, there are seven planes.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Not Vedanta. According to the Vedas. Do you know what the six centres are like? There are ‘lotuses inside the subtle body’. Yogis can see them – like the leaves and fruits of a wax tree.”
Mani: “Yes, sir. Yogis can see them. One book says that there is a kind of glass that magnifies a very small object, causing it to appear larger. In the same way these subtle lotuses can be seen.”
Sri Ramakrishna has asked Mani to stay in the hut in the Panchavati. He spends the night there. At dawn he sings the following song alone in the hut:
O Gauranga, I am without austerity and prayer. Please purify this lowly person with Thy philosopher’s stone.
My only thought is that I shall attain Thy feet.
O Gaur, I have not reached Thy feet – my days have passed in vainless hope and expectation.
Suddenly, he looks toward the window and sees Sri Ramakrishna standing there. Hearing, “Purify this lowly person with Thy philosopher’s stone,” his eyes are filled with tears.
And then Mani sings another song:
I shall put on the ochre robe and wear earrings of Mother of Pearl.
Having donned the robe of a yogini, I shall go to that region where hard-hearted Hari is.
Sri Ramakrishna walks on with Rakhal by his side.
The next day, Friday, 21 December, Sri Ramakrishna talks to Mani alone at the bel tree. He is talking about different secret spiritual practices and about renunciation of ‘lust and greed’. He also talks about how the mind itself becomes the guru – he talks about things like this.
After his meal he comes to the Panchavati, wearing a beautiful yellow robe. Two or three Vaishnava sadhus arrive. One of them is a Baul. Thakur says to the Vaishnavas, “Please tell me the meaning of the string in your loin-cloth.”
In the afternoon a monk of the order of Nanak arrives. Harish and Rakhal are also present. The sadhu believes in the formless Absolute. Thakur asks him to meditate on God with form also.
Sri Ramakrishna says to the sadhu, “Dive, dive. You can’t find jewels by swimming on the surface. God is without form but also with form. A person develops love quickly by meditating on God with form. Then you can meditate on the Formless again. It’s like throwing away a letter after reading it – then he attends to the instructions of the letter.”
At Dakshineswar with the devotees – Balaram’s father and others
Today is Saturday, 22 December 1883. It is about nine in the morning. Balaram’s father has arrived. Rakhal, Harish, M. and Latu are staying here. Devendra Ghosh of Shyampukur arrives. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting with the devotees on the southeastern verandah.
A devotee asks him: “How do you develop love for God?”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Balaram’s father and the other devotees): “Go forward! The king sits beyond the seven gates. Only when you’ve passed through all the gates, can you see him.
“During the installation of Annapurna at Chanak (1874-75), I said to Dwaraka Babu, ‘There are big fish in the deep water of a large pond. Drop bait for them. They will make a big splash when they smell it.’ Ecstatic love – love and devotion – is the bait.”
Sri Ramakrishna and the meaning of incarnation
“God plays as a human being. He incarnates in a man – for example, Sri Krishna, Ramachandra and Chaitanya Deva.
“I said to Keshab Sen, ‘There is the greatest manifestation of God in man. There are small holes in the ridges on the edge of a [rice] field. They’re called ghutis. Small fish and crab gather there. If you want to find them, you have to look in these holes. If you’re looking for God, look for Him in an incarnation of God.
“The Mother of the Universe manifests Herself in the person three and a half cubits tall. There is a song that goes:
What a machine Mother Kali has made!
In this machine, three and a half cubits high, what pranks She plays!
She Herself residing within pulls the string to make it move.
The machine thinks it moves by itself, knowing not who its operator is.
But the machine who knows it is She will be a machine no more.
And Mother Shyama Herself will be tied with the string of love.
“But you have to practice spiritual disciplines if you want to realize God and to recognize an incarnation. There are big fish in a large pond. You have to throw bait for them. Milk contains butter, but you have to churn it. Mustard contains oil – but it has to be pressed to extract the oil. Henna makes a palm red – but you have to grind it first.”
Sri Ramakrishna and the worship of the Formless
A Devotee (to Sri Ramakrishna): “Well! Is God formless or with form?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Wait. First go to Calcutta, then you’ll know where Fort Maidan is and where the Asiatic society is and where the Bengal Bank is.
“If you want to go to the brahmin quarter in Khardaha, you have to first reach Khardaha.
“Why shouldn’t it be possible to practice discipline of the formless? But it is very difficult. You can’t practice it without renouncing ‘lust and greed’ – both outwardly and inwardly. You won’t succeed if there is even a trace of worldly calculation.
“Worship of God with form is easier. But it’s not that easy.
“You shouldn’t talk to devotees about the spiritual disciplines of God without form, of the path of knowledge. It’s only with a great deal of difficulty that a person develops a little love for God. Calling everything a dream can harm devotional feelings.
“Kavirdas believed in the formless God. He didn’t believe in Shiva, Kali or Krishna. He used to say, ‘Kali eats rice and bananas and Krishna danced like a monkey when the milkmaids clapped.’ (Everybody laughs.)
“A worshipper of the formless perhaps first sees the ten-armed one and then the four-armed one. Then he sees the two-armed Gopala. Finally he sees the indivisible light and is merged in it.
“Dattatreya and Jadabharata didn’t return after the vision of Brahman – so it is said.
“According to one belief, Sukadeva tasted only a drop of that ocean of Brahman. He saw and heard the play of the waves on the ocean – but he didn’t dive into it.
“A brahmachari said to me, ‘If you go beyond Kedar, your body will not survive.’ Similarly, the body doesn’t survive after attaining the knowledge of Brahman. The body dies in twenty-one days.
“There is a boundless plain on the other side of the wall. Four friends tried to see what was on the other side. Each one of them climbed the wall and, after seeing the field, fell into it laughing, exclaiming, ‘Ah! Aha!’ The first three didn’t come back to give a report. Only one of them did. His body survived even after attaining the knowledge of Brahman – in order to teach people. For example, Divine Incarnations.
“Parvati was born as the daughter of King Himalaya. She began to show her different forms to her father. Himalaya said, ‘Daughter, I have seen all these forms. But you also have the form of Brahman. Please show that to me.’ Parvati said, ‘Father, if you want the knowledge of Brahman, you will have to renounce the world and keep the company of sadhus.’
“But Himalaya would not give up beseeching her. So Parvati showed him her Brahman form. No sooner did he see it than he fainted.”
Sri Ramakrishna and bhakti yoga
“All that I have said is a matter of deliberation. ‘Only Brahman is real and the world an illusion’ is the idea – that everything is a dream! It’s a very hard path. In this path God’s play is like a dream and so unreal. The ‘I’ also vanishes. In this path an incarnation of God is not accepted. Very difficult. Devotees shouldn’t listen to much of such ideas.
“The reason God incarnates is to teach and cultivate love of God. He tells us to accept Him as a refuge. When a person has love for God and devotion to Him, everything happens by His grace –knowledge and vijnana, everything.
“He plays. He is under control of the devotee.”
Mother Shyama has tied Herself with the string of love.
“Sometimes God is the magnet and the devotee is the needle. At other times the devotee becomes the magnet and God the needle. A devotee attracts Him. The devotee has the gracious loving Lord under his control.
“According to one belief, Yashoda and the other milkmaids were believers of the Formless in earlier incarnations. They were not satisfied with that. So they enjoyed sporting with Sri Krishna at Vrindavan. One day Sri Krishna said, ‘I’ll show you the Eternal Abode. Let’s go to Jamuna for a bath. As soon as they dove into the water, they saw Goloka, and then the Indivisible Light.’ Yashoda said, ‘O Krishna, I don’t want to see all this anymore. I only want to see Your human form. I want to take You in my arms and feed You.’
“That’s why God is more manifest in His incarnation. As long as an incarnation of God lives in a human form, he should be worshipped and served.
O Brother, he will hide himself in the morning, in that secret chamber within.
“Not everyone can recognize an incarnation of God. Assuming a body, disease, sorrow, hunger and thirst, all invade him. He appears like any one of us. Rama wept in sorrow at his separation from Sita.
Bound by the five elements, even Brahman laments.
“It is said in the Puranas, ‘After killing Hiranyaksha, God lived happily with its young ones, suckling them. (Everybody laughs.) He didn’t think at all of returning to His own heavenly abode. At last Shiva came and killed the body with a trident and God, laughing out loud, returned to His abode.’”
Sri Ramakrishna with Bhavanath, Mani, Latu and others
It is afternoon. Bhavanath has arrived. Rakhal, M., Harish and others are in the room. It is Saturday, 22 December 1883.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Bhavanath): “It’s enough if you develop love for an incarnation of God. Oh, what love the milkmaids had!”
Saying this, Thakur assumes the attitude of the milkmaids and sings:
Shyam, You are the soul of my soul.
My companion, I will not go home.
The other day I was standing at the door. Friends, you were going to the wood.
I wish I were a cowboy carrying your load on my head.
“When Sri Krishna disappeared in the midst of the dancing, the milkmaids became mad [with grief]. Seeing a tree, they said to it, ‘Maybe you are a hermit. You’ve surely seen Sri Krishna. If not, how could you have become so immobile, absorbed in samadhi?’ Seeing the ground covered with grass, they said to the ground, ‘O, surely you have seen him. If not, why does your hair stand on end? Surely, you have tasted the joy of his touch.’ And seeing a madhavi creeper, they said, ‘O madhavi, give us Madhava.’ The milkmaids are mad with divine love.
“When Akrur arrived, Sri Krishna and Balaram got into his chariot to go to Mathura. The milkmaids caught hold of its wheels. They would not let it move.”
After saying this, Sri Ramakrishna sings again:
Don’t hold the wheels of the chariot. Please do not.
Does this chariot move because of the wheels?
It is Hari who is the charioteer – He who moves the world moves the chariot.
Sri Ramakrishna: “‘Does this chariot move because of its wheels?’ – I like that very much. ‘He who moves the world moves the chariot’ – the charioteer moves the chariot by His command.”
. Mathur wanted to offer the flowers to the Divine Mother in order to win his law-suit.
. tatsaviturvareëyaà bhargo devasya dhémahi
. Linga sharira.
 The tree under which Sri Ramakrishna practiced the most austere sadhana; sometimes referred to as the “beltala.”
. The king of the mountains.
. Vishnu as the Boar Incarnation.
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