Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees at Dakshineswar
Kedar’s festival at Dakshineswar
Sri Ramakrishna is talking to Kedar and other devotees at the Dakshineswar Temple. It is Sunday, 13 August 1882, Amavasya, 29th day of Shravana, 1289 (B.Y.), the time about five o’clock.
Kedar Chatterji’s home is in Halishahar. He is an accountant in government service. For a long time he had been in Dhaka where Vijay Goswami used to talk endlessly about Sri Ramakrishna. Hearing about God, his eyes would become filled with tears. He used to be a member of the Brahmo Samaj.
Thakur is sitting with devotees on the southern verandah of his room. Ram, Manomohan, Surendra, Rakhal, Bhavanath, M. and many other devotees are present. Kedar is celebrating a festival. The whole day passes in joy. During the singing by a master singer whom Ram has brought, Thakur goes into samadhi. He is sitting on the smaller cot in his room. M. and other devotees are sitting at his feet.
The nature of samadhi and harmony of religions: Hindus, Muslims and Christians
When he speaks, Thakur explains the nature of samadhi. He says, “You attain samadhi when you have realized Sat-chit-ananda. Then all duty drops off. What is the use of talking about Him in that state? How long does a bee hum? Till it sits on a flower. But giving up duties is not for an aspirant. He must practice worship, the chanting of His name, meditation, various devotions and pilgrimages.
“If a person reasons after realizing God, it’s like a bee buzzing softly while it sips honey.”
The musician sings beautifully. Sri Ramakrishna is delighted to hear him. He says to the musician, “A person who has a great talent, such as music, has a special manifestation of the power of God.”
Musician: “Sir, how can a person realize God?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Love for God is what is essential. God resides in everything, so whom do I call a devotee? The person whose mind ever dwells on God. This doesn’t happen if one is egoistic and proud. The water of God’s grace does not collect on the hill of ‘I-ness’; it runs off. I am only an instrument.
(To Kedar and the other devotees) “You can reach God by treading any path, all religions are true. You have to climb up onto the roof with the help of something. You can go by brick steps, by wooden steps, and you can also do it with the help of a bamboo ladder or a rope. You can even climb with the help of a bamboo pole.
“If you say that there are shortcomings and wrong conduct in their religion, I say, let it be. There are flaws in all religions. Everybody thinks his watch gives the correct time. But it is yearning that is essential. It is enough if you yearn for Him; love for God and attraction to Him makes for success. He is the inner controller. He sees the inner attraction, the yearning of the mind. Think of a father of many boys. Some of the older ones call him baba or papa very clearly. The younger ones can only utter ba or pa. Does the father get angry with the young ones? The father knows they’re calling him even though they can’t pronounce his name properly. All children are equal in the eye of a father.
“And also, devotees call God by different names. But they’re calling the same person. A pond has four ghats. When Hindus take water from one, they call it ‘jal’; Muslims take water from another and call it ‘pani’; Englishmen take it from yet another ghat and call it ‘water’. And there are others who call it ‘aqua’. But God is one, though his names are different.”
At a circus – Sri Ramakrishna and difficult problems of people in the world
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at the door of Vidyasagar’s school in Shyampukur in a hired hackney carriage. It is about three o’clock. He has taken M. with him, as well as Rakhal and one or two other devotees. Today is 15 November 1882, 30th of Kartik, the 5th day of the bright fortnight. The carriage gradually proceeds towards the Maidan of the fort via Chitpur Road.
Sri Ramakrishna is filled with joy. As though intoxicated or like a child, he leans out this side of the carriage, then the other. He talks to the devotees about the pedestrians. He says to M., “Look, I see that these people are interested in earthly things. They’re intent on their stomachs – they don’t think about God.”
Today Sri Ramakrishna is going to the Maidan to see the Wilson Circus. When they arrive, they buy the cheapest tickets of the lowest class, totaling eight annas. The devotees take him to a high gallery and sit on a bench. Thakur says happily, “Very nice. You can see well from here.” He watches different feats in the circus ring for a long time. Then he sees a horse running around the ring with an Englishwoman standing on one foot on its back. There are big iron hoops suspended over the track and when the horse nears them, it runs under them and the lady jumps through them, landing on the horse’s back again and balancing on one foot. The horse runs swiftly around the circular track again with the lady standing on its back as before.
The circus show is over. Thakur comes down from the gallery and goes with the devotees to the Maidan near the carriage. It is chilly. He is wearing a green cloth and talks to the devotees there in the maidan. One of the devotees has a small pouch of spices in his hand. The main spice is cubeb.
First practice spiritual life, then lead family life – yoga of practice
Sri Ramakrishna says to M, “See how the Englishwoman stands on one foot on the horse’s back while it gallops around the ring. How difficult it is. She’s practiced it for a long time – that’s how she can do it. A little carelessness on her part and she could break an arm or leg. She could even die. Family life is just as difficult. Very few people can lead it successfully, and then only by the grace of God and after having practiced spiritual disciplines. Most people can’t do it. Domestic life brings much bondage. It drowns a person and makes him suffer deathlike pangs. A very few, like Janaka, were able to live in the family after practicing for a long time. Practicing spiritual disciplines is truly necessary. Without it, a person can’t live rightly in the world.”
Sri Ramakrishna in Balaram’s house
Sri Ramakrishna gets into the carriage. It reaches the door of Balaram’s house in Bosepara, Baghbazar. Thakur goes with the devotees to the parlour on the first floor. Evening lamps have been lit. Thakur talks about the circus. A number of devotees have assembled and Thakur talks about many spiritual things with them. He talks only about God.
Sri Ramakrishna, the caste system and problem of untouchables solved
Now the conversation turns to discrimination about castes. Thakur says, “There is a way to extinguish caste difference. That way is bhakti, or love for God. A devotee knows no caste. Love for God cleanses the body, the mind and soul. Gaur and Nitai spread the name of Hari and embraced all, including the pariah. A brahmin is no brahmin without love for God, and a pariah is no longer a pariah when he has love for God. An untouchable becomes pure, sanctified, by love for God.”
A worldly man is a bound soul
Sri Ramakrishna talks about worldly men: “They are like silkworms. They can come out of their cocoons if they want to, but they’ve made them with such effort they can’t give them up. So they die there. Or they’re like fish in a trap which can come out through the hole they have entered but, enjoying the sweet sound of water and swimming about with other fish, they get lost and don’t even try to come out. The lisping of children is the sweet sound of the water. The other fish are other people and the family. Only one or two swim out. They are called liberated souls.”
What charm Mahamaya has exercised
that even Brahma and Vishnu remain in the dark,
what to speak of a human being!
The bamboo ghurni trap is laid,
fish enter into them.
There is a way to exit,
but the fish do not escape.
Thakur continues: “Individual souls are like lentils fallen between millstones. They will be ground to powder. Only a few grains stick to the peg and are not crushed. So you have to take refuge next to the peg, with God. You have to call on Him, chant His name. That alone will bring you liberation. Otherwise, you will be ground in the millstone of death.”
Thakur sings again:
Mother, having fallen into the ocean of the world, this boat of the body is sinking.
O Shankari, the tempest of delusion and the storm of attachment are gradually rising.
The helmsman of the mind is incompetent, its six boatmen are stupid.
Having fallen into a whirlpool, I am struggling, shouting, “I sink, I sink!”
The oar of devotion is broken, the sail of faith torn, so, my boat is out of control.
What can I do? No remedy do I see.
Feeling helpless I fight the waves, I try to catch the boat of Durga’s name.
Duty to wife and children
Vishwas Babu had been sitting in the room for a long time. He gets up now and leaves. He had been wealthy, but squandered it all in a depraved life. Now he doesn’t even take care of his wife, daughter and family. When Balaram talked to Thakur about him, he said, “He is a spendthrift. A householder has duties and debts – to gods, to the father, to rishis, and also to the members of the family. A chaste wife must be provided for. And also children till they are grown and can stand on their own feet.”
“Only a sadhu doesn’t have to save for the future. Birds and monks don’t save. But birds bring food in their beaks for their chicks.”
Balaram: “Now Vishwas wants to keep the company of holy men.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “The Kamandalu of a sadhu moves around to all four holy centres of pilgrimage, but it remains just as bitter as before. The malaya breeze turns every tree that it touches into sandalwood. But the cotton, the ashwattha and the hog-plum do not become sandalwood trees. Some people keep the company of sadhus to be able to smoke hemp. (Laughter.) Don’t the sadhus smoke hemp? So others sit with them to prepare the hemp and get some as prasad.” (All laugh.)
Visit to the six-armed image of Chaitanya and to Rajmohan’s house – Narendra
Sri Ramakrishna has come to Calcutta on the day following his visit to the circus at Fort Maidan. It is Thursday, 16 November 1882, the sixth day of the bright fortnight of Kartik, the first of Agrahayana. Reaching Calcutta, he first goes to visit the image of Chaitanya with six arms at Granhatta. It is a centre for Vaishnava sadhus, Giridhari Das its chief priest. The six-armed Mahaprabhu has been worshipped here for some time. Thakur visits at dusk.
Some time after dusk, Thakur goes by hackney carriage to Rajmohan’s house in Shimulia. He has been told that Narendra and other young men perform the Brahmo Samaj service here. That is why he has come. M and one or two other devotees are with him. Rajmohan is an old Brahmo member.
Brahmo devotee and complete renunciation or sannyasa
Thakur is happy to see Narendra and says, “I’ll watch how you worship.” Narendra begins to sing. Priya and some other young men were present.
Worship now begins. One of the young men performs it. He prays, “Lord, grant that we may renounce everything else and become absorbed in You.” It seems he has been inspired by seeing Sri Ramakrishna and so is talking of complete renunciation. M. is seated very close to Thakur and is the only one to hear him say in a very soft whisper, “Not much likelihood of that!”
Rajmohan takes the master inside the house to serve him some refreshments.
Sri Ramakrishna in the houses of Manomohan and Surendra
Sri Jagadhatri Puja will fall on next Sunday, 19 November 1882. Surendra has invited Thakur to his home today. He impatiently goes in and out of the house waiting for Thakur to come. Seeing M., he says, “You have come. But where is he?” Just then Thakur arrives by carriage.
Manomohan’s house is quite close. Thakur has first gone there to rest awhile before going to Surendra’s house. In Manomohan’s parlour, he said, “God likes the devotion of a person who is humble and poor. Like a cow loves fodder mixed with oil-cake. Duryodhana showed his wealth and splendour, but the Lord didn’t go to his house. He went to Vidura’s. He is the gracious loving Lord of his devotee. He runs after a devotee the way a cow runs behind after her calf.”
The ecstasy for which the exalted yogi practices yoga,
like a magnet attracting iron does the Lord pull.
“Tears used to flow from Chaitanya’s eyes when he heard the name of Krishna. Only God is substantial, all else is illusory. The man, if he so wishes, can realize God. But he remains addicted to the enjoyment of ’lust and greed.’ Though a snake has a jewel on its head, it is happy to eat a frog.
“Love for God is the essential thing. Who can know God through reasoning? I want love of God. Why do I need to know His boundless glories? If I can become inebriated by only one bottle of wine, why do I need to know how much wine is in the wine shop? A pot of water is enough to quench my thirst. Why do I need to know how much water is on the earth?”
Surendra and judge Sadarwala – caste distinction. Caste system and problem of untouchables solved – Theosophy
Sri Ramakrishna now arrives at Surendra’s house. He goes in and sits in the parlour on the first floor. The brother of Surendra, Sadarwala, is also present. Many devotees have gathered together in the room. Thakur says to Surendra’s brother, “You are a judge, that’s good. But please remember that it is God’s power through which everything happens. You have this high post because it is He who has granted it. People think they are great. But it is water on the roof that flows down the drain pipe which ends in the shape of a lion’s mouth – it looks like the water’s coming out of a lion’s mouth. But see where the water is coming from. In the sky is a cloud that rains down on the roof. Then the water flows down the drain pipe and comes out through the lion’s mouth.”
Surendra’s brother: “Sir, they talk of freedom of women in the Brahmo Samaj and say, ‘Discrimination between castes must be abolished.’ What do you think?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “People think like that when they have first developed love for God. A strong wind raises a lot of dust. Then you can’t distinguish a mango tree from other trees. You can only see well when the tempest has blown over. When the first tempest of divine love has blown over, you gradually come to see that only God is the eternal substance and all else is transitory. Without the company of the holy and the practice of austerity, you can’t realize this. What good is it to read the musical notation of a drum? It is very difficult to put them in practice. What use is there in just lecturing? You have to practice austerities. Only through them will you be able to realize.
“Distinction between the castes? There is only one way to wipe it away. That way is love for God. An untouchable becomes pure. An outcaste is no longer an outcaste after attaining love for God. Chaitanya Deva embraced all, including outcastes.
“Brahmos chant the name of Hari. That’s very good. If you call on God with a heart full of yearning, He will shower His grace, He will be realized.
“You can reach him by any path. God is one, but he is called various names. Hindus, for example, take water from one spot at a pond and call it jal. At another spot, Christians take water and call it water, and yet at another, Muslims take water and call it pani.”
Surendra’s brother: “Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I was told that it leads to supernatural powers – miracles. At Deomodal’s house I saw a fellow who had attained mastery over a ghost. The ghost would fetch a number of different things. What shall I do with occult powers? Does it help to realize God? If God can’t be attained by them, they’re all illusion.”
. Ghurrni: A bamboo trap with big holes allowing fish to come in with the flow of water.
. Probably a reference to the six passions: lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride, and envy.
. Now known as Neemtala Street.
. He is probably referring to Narendra.
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