Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees at Dakshineswar
Tantrik devotee and worldly life – fear of non-attachment
Sri Ramakrishna rests for awhile after a meal in his room at the Dakshineswar Temple. Adhar and M. arrive and salute him. A Tantrik devotee has also come. Rakhal, Hazra, Ramlal and some others are staying with Thakur these days. It is Sunday, 17 June 1883, 4th of Ashada, the 20th day of the bright fortnight of Jaishtha.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “Why can’t a person succeed while living a life in the world? But it is very difficult. Janaka and some others lived a worldly life after attaining knowledge. Even so, there is a risk. Even a worldly man who works without attachment has fear. When Janaka saw the Bhairavi, he bent his head down – he hesitated to look at a woman. The Bhairavi said, ‘Janaka, I see that you haven’t yet attained knowledge – you still see a difference between a man and a woman.’
“Howsoever clever you may be, if you live in a room full of soot, you’re sure to dirty your body a little bit with it.
“I’ve seen a worldly devotee performing worship in silk clothes, and he’s in a good mood. The mood lasts till he takes refreshments. Then he returns to his previous self – the same rajas and tamas.
“The sattva guna produces a devotional attitude – but there also is still the sattva of bhakti, the rajas of bhakti and the tamas of bhakti. The sattva of bhakti is pure sattva. With this attitude the mind only goes to God. It remains on the body only to the extent that is required for preserving the body.”
A paramahamsa is beyond the three gunas and beyond the fruit of karma – also beyond sin and virtue – Keshab Sen and his group
“A paramahamsa is beyond the three gunas. The three gunas, though within him, are almost non-existent. He’s like a child, not subject to them. That’s why a paramahamsa lets young children come around – to adopt their attitude.
“A paramahamsa cannot save for the future. This is not for householders – they have to save for their families.”
The Tantrik Devotee: “Is a paramahamsa conscious of sin and virtue?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Keshab Sen asked me the same question. I said to him, ‘If I tell you more, your organization will break up.’ Keshab said, ‘Then please say no more, sir.’
“What is sin and what is virtue? In the state of a paramahamsa, a person sees that it is God Himself who grants good behavior – and also bad. There are sweet as well as bitter fruits. Some trees bear sweet fruits, others bitter or sour. He has created the tree of sweet mangoes as well as sour hog-plum.”
The Tantrik Devotee: “That’s true, sir. You see rose fields on the hills – as far as the eye can see.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A paramahamsa sees that it is all the splendour of His maya: real and unreal, good and bad, sin and virtue. But this is a very advanced stage. In this stage a person can’t maintain an organization.”
Tantrik devotee and fruit of karma – sin and virtue – sin and responsibility
Tantrik Devotee: “But doesn’t a person have to reap the fruit of his action?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That’s true. The result of good acts is good. And the result of bad actions bring bad results. Don’t you feel the bite of chillies when you eat them? All this is God’s lila, His play.”
Tantrik Devotee: “What is the way for us? Every action bears fruit, doesn’t it?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Let it be. It’s different for devotees of God.”
Saying this, he sings:
O mind, you do not know how to farm
The field of your life lies fallow; were you to cultivate it, you would reap a golden harvest.
Fence it around with Kali’s name, and your crop will not be harmed.
That fence of the Mother with long flowing hair is strong indeed: not even Death himself dares come near.
Not today or in a hundred years will your crops be snatched away.
Work now, O mind, to reap your harvest to the full. Sow the seed, your guru’s gift, and shower it with the water of love.
If you cannot do so by yourself, take Ramprasad along.
He sings another song:
The path of Yama (God of Death) is barred.
The doubt of my mind has also gone.
O brother, at the nine gates of my house, four Shivas stand guard. The house stands on one pillar and is tied with three ropes.
Sreenath sits on the thousand-petalled lotus in the head, giving fearlessness.
“Whether a brahmin or a prostitute dies in Kashi, he or she will become Shiva.
“When the eyes are filled with tears at the mention of Hari, or Kali, or Rama, ritualistic devotions are no longer needed. All work falls away. The fruit of action does not touch him.”
Thakur sings another song.
Love is born of contemplation.
One’s gain depends on one’s faith. Faith is the basis.
If the mind remains submerged in the nectar of the sea of the feet of Mother Kali,
There is no longer any need of puja, homa, yajna and so on.
Thakur sings another song –
Of what use are rituals for one who utters Kali’s name at dawn and noon and dusk? Worship itself will follow in his footsteps, never catching up.
Why go to Gaya, Ganges, Prabhas, Kashi, or Kanchi, if I can breathe my last chanting Kali’s name?
“When the mind gets absorbed in God, bad or sinful tendencies do not survive.”
The Tantrik Devotee: “But you have said that the ‘I of knowledge’ remains.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The ‘I of knowledge’, the ‘I of the devotee’, the ‘I of a servant’ are the good ‘I’s,’ which remain. The rascal ‘I’ flees.” (Laughter.)
The Tantrik Devotee: “Sir, many of our doubts have been resolved.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Upon attaining the vision of Atman, all doubts flee.”
Tantrik devotee and tamas of bhakti – hollow doubts – eight occult powers
“Develop the tamas of bhakti. Say, ‘What! I have repeated the name of Rama? I have repeated the name of Kali? What bondage have I? What fruit of action is there for me?’ ”
Thakur sings another song.
Mother, can I but die with Durga’s name upon my lips, I shall see, O Shankari, how in the end you cannot refuse to rescue me.
Should I have killed a brahmin or a cow, or destroyed a child in the womb, or indulged in drink, or slain a woman,
For all those heinous deeds I care not in the least; still may I aspire to Brahman.
Sri Ramakrishna adds: “Faith! Faith! Faith! The Guru has said that it is Rama who resides in every form, ‘The same Rama lies in every being.’ A dog is going away with bread in its mouth. The devotee says, ‘O Rama! Stop, let me butter your bread.’ One must have such faith in the words of the Guru.
“Hollow people have no faith. They are always in doubt. As long as you have not realized the Self doubt doesn’t leave you.
“Pure love for God is devotion without any desires. You attain Him quickly through this love.
“Occult powers such as anima are all desires. Krishna said to Arjuna, ‘My dear, if you have any occult power like anima you cannot attain God. You may only become more powerful.’”
The Tantrik Devotee: “Sir, why don’t the Tantrik rituals bear fruit these days?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Because they’re not done perfectly or not done with love and devotion for God. That’s why they don’t bear fruit.”
While ending his talk Thakur now says, “Bhakti indeed is the essence. The genuine devotee has no fear, no feelings of anxiety. The Mother knows all. The cat holds the mouse in one way but its own kitten in quite another.”
Sri Ramakrishna with Rakhal, M. and other devotees at Balaram’s house
Today Sri Ramakrishna visits Balaram in Calcutta. M. is sitting close to him. Rakhal is also here. Thakur has entered into an ecstatic mood. It is Monday, 25 June 1883, the 5th day of the dark fortnight of Jaishtha, 12th day of Ashada, time about 5 o’clock.
Sri Ramakrishna (in an abstracted mood): “Look here, if you seek with a yearning heart, you can have a vision of your true Self. But the more the desire for sense enjoyment remains, the more that vision is obscured.”
M.: “As you say, sir, you have to take a leap.”
Sri Ramakrishna (joyfully): “That’s it!”
Everybody remains silent. Thakur continues to speak.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Look, everybody can realize the Self.”
M.: “But, sir, God is the doer. He does differently with different people. In the case of some, he awakens their consciousness. But in the case of others, He keeps them in ignorance.”
Realization of one’s own real Self – the way to realize God, or the Self – earnest prayer – union of the Absolute and phenomenal world
Sri Ramakrishna: “No, no. You must pray to Him with a yearning heart. When you are sincere, He is bound to listen to your prayer.”
A Devotee: “True, sir – because there is ‘I,’ you have to pray.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “You go to the Absolute by holding on to the phenomenal, step by step – like going up to the roof by stairs. After realizing the Absolute, you must come back down to the phenomenal and live there loving God in the company of devotees. This is the surest way.
“God has numerous forms, many games: He plays as the Lord, as deities, as man, and as the world. He takes the form of a human being in every age as an incarnation of God, to teach mankind love and devotion. Just think of Chaitanya Deva. You can taste and appreciate God’s love only through an incarnation of God. Infinite is His divine sport, but we need love and devotion. We need only the milk. And that comes through the udders of a cow. The incarnation of God is the udder.”
Is Thakur saying that he has come down as an incarnation himself? That just by seeing him, you see God? Is Thakur hinting about himself by referring to Chaitanya Deva?
Sri Ramakrishna in different moods at Dakshineswar and in the house of a devotee
Sri Ramakrishna is at the Dakshineswar Temple sitting on the steps of the Shiva temples in the month of June 1883. It is very hot. The evening will set in soon. M. has come with ice, etc. After saluting Thakur, he sits down on a step of the Shiva temple just below Thakur’s feet.
John Stuart Mill and Sri Ramakrishna: limitations of man – a conditioned being
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “The husband of Mani Mallick’s granddaughter came here. He has read in some book that God doesn’t appear to be all-knowing or wise. If He were, why is there so much misery? And an embodied being dies – why not let him die all at once? Why cause him to die slowly and with such great trouble? The author of the book has gone so far as to say that he could have created a better world.”
M. listens to Thakur with his mouth agape, without saying anything. Thakur continues.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Can God be understood? Sometimes even I think of Him as good and sometimes as bad. He’s kept us in the domain of delusion. Sometimes He keeps us in the state of awareness and sometimes in unconsciousness. For a short time this ignorance disappears, but then it envelops us again. If you throw a piece of stone in a pond covered with algae, you see water for a minute – but very soon the water is covered by the algae again.
“As long as you have body-consciousness, you are subject to pleasure and pain, birth and death, disease and sorrow. They all belong to the body – not to the Atman. Maybe God takes you to a better place when the body dies. It’s like the birth of a child after labour pains. Realizing the Self, happiness and sorrow, birth and death, appear like a dream.
“What can we understand? Can you put ten seers of milk in a pot that has the capacity for one seer? A salt doll that goes to fathom the sea never returns to tell its depth. It’s dissolved and becomes one with the sea.
All doubts are solved, all actions are dissipated
It is evening. Arati is being performed for the deities. Sri Ramakrishna, seated on the small cot in his room, is meditating on the Mother of the Universe. Rakhal, Latu, Ramlal, Kishori Gupta and some other devotees are there. M. is going to stay here for the night.
Thakur now talks to a devotee alone on the small verandah north of his room. He says, “It’s good to meditate before dawn and then late at night; and also every day at twilight.” He is talking about how to meditate on God with form and on the Impersonal Reality.
A little later Thakur sits on the semi-circular verandah to the west. It is about 9 p.m. M. is sitting near him. Rakhal and the others go back and forth between the verandah and the room.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Look, all doubts will be removed from those who come here. What do you think?”
M.: “Yes, sir.”
At a distance a man is singing while he rows his boat on the bosom of the Ganges. The sweet sound of the song passing through the infinite sky and touching the bosom of the Ganges sounds to Thakur like the anahata sound. He immediately goes into ecstasy – his whole body horripilated. Holding M.’s hands he says, “Look, my hair is standing on end. Pass your hand over my body.”
M. is speechless to feel the body horripilated with love. ‘The body horripilated’: The Upanishads say that Brahman fills the entire universe and ether. Has the same Brahman touched Sri Ramakrishna in the form of sound? Is he Sound Brahman?
After awhile, Thakur resumes the conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna: “All those who come here have good tendencies from past lives. What do you say?”
M.: “Yes, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Adhar must have good tendencies.”
M.: “That goes without saying.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A person who is guileless realizes God quickly. There are two paths – good, toward God, and bad, toward the world. He should take the good path toward Reality.”
M.: “Yes, sir. If there is the least fibre on a thread, it can’t enter the eye of a needle.”
Why complete renunciation?
Sri Ramakrishna: “If you find a hair in your food, you have to spit out everything you have in your mouth.”
M.: “But as you said: those who have realized God aren’t harmed by the world – even a whole banana plant is consumed by the blazing fire of knowledge.”
Sri Ramakrishna and Kavikankan –songs of the Chandi at Adhar’s house
Thakur has come to Adhar’s house in Benetola in Calcutta another day. Saturday, 14 July 1883, the 10th day of the bright fortnight of Ashada. Adhar is going to have Rajnarayan chant the Chandi for Thakur. Rakhal, M. and some other devotees are with Thakur. The recitation will be in the worship hall. Rajnarayan begins:
I have surrendered myself at the fearless feet of the Divine Mother. Am I afraid of Yama any more?
I have tied tuft of hair on the top of my head to the almighty mantra of Kali’s name.
Having sold my body in the mart of the world, I have bought the name of Durga.
I have planted the wish-fulfilling tree of Kali’s name in my heart,
This time when Yama comes, I will open my heart to him. This is my resolve,
The six wicked beings in the body I have driven out.
I have cried, ‘Victory to Durga, to great Durga!’ and have thus ended my journey.
Hearing only a part of it, Thakur is entranced and stands up. He sings along with the group of musicians.
Thakur adds his own line to the song, “O Mother, save me, O Mother!” As he does, he becomes absorbed in samadhi – unconscious of the outside world. Motionless, he stands there. The musicians continue:
Who is this Woman who lights the battlefield?
Her body is like a dark storm cloud. And Her teeth flash like lightening.
Her hair is disheveled and She runs about fearlessly among the gods and the demons.
She destroys the demons with terrible laughter on Her face. Thus She flashes like lightening in battle.
The drops of diligence falling on Her body of red lotuses look beautiful!
Beholding Her Sea of Beauty, the moon has shed its lustre.
Is it possible that Shiva, who enthralls the Universe, is lying at Her feet as though dead?
Kamalakanta wonders who this Woman with the gait of an elephant can be.
Thakur again goes into samadhi.
When the music ends, he goes from the worship hall to Adhar’s parlour on the second level and sits down with the devotees. The conversation is on different aspects of spirituality. Some devotees’ emotion flows unseen as in the case of the Phalgu river – there is no sign of any internal emotion on the surface. The conversation continues in this way.
Talk about God-realization at Balaram’s house – the aim of life
Yet on another day, Saturday, 18 August 1883, the 2nd day of Bhadra, Thakur comes to Balaram’s house in the afternoon. He explains the doctrine of divine incarnation.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees): “An incarnation of God takes on a body to teach mankind love for God. It’s like climbing up and down the stairs after reaching the roof. Other people tread the path of devotion to reach the roof until they have attained knowledge, until they’re free of desires. You can reach the roof only when you’re free from all desire. A shopkeeper doesn’t go to bed till he’s set his accounts right – he sleeps only after his balances tally in the ledger.
(To M.) “If you take a plunge, you’re bound to succeed – you’re bound to be successful if you make the jump.
“Well, what do you think of the service performed by Keshab Sen, Shivanath and the other Brahmos?”
M.: “Sir, it’s just as you say: they only describe the garden – they don’t talk much about seeing the master of the garden. They start by describing the garden, and also end there.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “That’s right! The main thing is to look for the owner of the garden, and to talk to him. The only aim of life is to realize God.”
Thakur has now gone from Balaram’s house to Adhar’s. He chants God’s name and dances in Adhar’s parlour after dusk. Vaishnavcharan, the professional singer, is singing. Adhar, M., Rakhal and others are present.
Joy of singing at Adhar’s house – Thakur’s advice to him
After the singing, Thakur sits absorbed with emotion. He says to Rakhal, “The spiritual feeling here is not like rainfall in the month of Shravana when it rains heavily and then just as quickly stops. Here, Shiva springs up from the bowels of the earth, though he has not been installed by human hands. The other day you left Dakshineswar in a huff. I prayed to the Divine Mother not to mind your bad mood.”
Is Sri Ramakrishna an incarnation of God? Is he Shiva?
And then in an ecstatic mood he says to Adhar, “I say, brother. Meditate on the name you were just chanting.”
Saying this, he touches Adhar’s tongue with his finger and writes something on it.
Has Adhar been initiated?
Primal Power and the doctrine of incarnation
Yet on another day Thakur is sitting on the steps of the southeastern verandah of his room at the Dakshineswar Temple. With him are Rakhal, M. and Hazra. In a jocular mood Thakur mentions several things about his childhood.
Sri Ramakrishna in samadhi at Dakshineswar – he converses with the Mother of the Universe
Thakur is in samadhi. It is evening. He is sitting alone on the smaller cot in his room and is talking to the Mother of the Universe. He says, “Mother, why do You create such confusion? Should I go there, Mother? If You take me, I’ll go.”
There was talk about Thakur’s visit to a devotee’s house. Is he speaking like that to get the permission of the Mother of the Universe?
Sri Ramakrishna again talks to the Mother of the Universe. It seems that he is praying to Her for a devotee of his inner circle. He says, “Mother, please make him stainless. Why have you given him only one part of divine power?”
He is silent for awhile. Then he says, “O yes, I see. It will be enough for Your work.”
Is this what Thakur is saying: Out of sixteen kalas, one kala of Your power will be enough for Your work, for teaching humanity?
Now in an ecstatic mood, Thakur talks to M. and the others about the Primal Power and the meaning of the incarnation of God.
“That which is Brahman is also Power, which I call Mother. When It is inactive I call It Brahman and when It creates, preserves and dissolves, I call It Power. It’s like still water and water with ripples in it. An incarnation of God is the play of Power. He comes to teach love and devotion to God. An incarnation is like the udder of a cow. You can only get milk from the udders.
“God manifests Himself as a human being – like fish collect in a hole.”
Some devotees wonder if Sri Ramakrishna is a God-man like Sri Krishna, Chaitanya Deva and Christ.
. And he who serves me with an unswerving devotion, he, going beyond the gunas, is fit for becoming Brahman. Bhagavad Gita 14:26.
. The pillar is Brahman, the ropes are the three gunas.
. Sandhya (thrice-performed worship and meditation) and protective mystic words.
. For complete song, refer Volume IV, Section XVIII.
. bhidyate hådayagranthiçchidyante sarvasaàçayäù,
kñéyante cäsya karmäëi tasmin dåñöe parävare | munòakopaniñad 2-2-8 [The knot of the heart gets untied, all doubts become solved, and all one’s actions become dissipated.]
. The power to become as small as an atom.
. John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography. Mill; 1806-1873
. His Mahamaya.
. The sound of creation; Om, the unstruck sound.
. etasminnu khalvakñare gärgyäkäça otaçca protaçceti |
[By this Immutable, O Gargi, is the ether pervaded.]
çabdaù khe pauruñaà nåñu
[[I am ] sound in Akasha, and manhood in men.]
. Volume II, Section XX.
. ätmä vä are drañöavyaù çrotavyo mantavyo nididhyäsitavyo
[The Self, my dear [Maitreyi] should be realized – should be heard of, reflected on and meditated on.]
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