Sri Ramakrishna in the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar with Devotees
Bhakti Yoga – principle of samadhi – spiritual states of Sri Chaitanya (Mahaprabhu)
Sunday, 9 December, 1883. It is the tenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Agrahayana (eighth month of the Hindu calendar). It is one or two o’clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna is sitting in his room on the smaller cot talking about God. Adhar, Manomohan, Shivachandra of Thanthania, Rakhal, M., Harish and other devotees are there. Hazra lives here these days. Thakur is describing the spiritual states of Sri Chaitanya (Mahaprabhu).
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — Chaitanya Deva used to have these three states.
- The conscious state – in this state his mind would roam between the gross and the subtle.
- The semi-conscious state – in this state his mind was in the causal state, in the enjoyment of the causal.
- The innermost state – his mind would merge into the Great Cause.
“This conforms beautifully to the five sheaths (koshas) of the Vedas. The gross body is concerned with the annamaya and the pranamaya sheaths. The subtle body means the manomaya and the vijnanamaya sheaths. The causal body corresponds to the anandamaya sheath. The Great Cause is beyond the five sheaths. When the mind merges in the Great Cause, it results in what is called nirvikalpa or jada samadhi.
“When Chaitanya Deva was in the conscious state, he would chant the name of God. In the semi-conscious state, he danced with the devotees. And when he experienced the innermost state, he would be absorbed in samadhi.”
M. (to himself) — Is Thakur alluding to his own states? Chaitanya Deva also experienced these states.
Sri Ramakrishna — Chaitanya was an incarnation of bhakti (love and devotion). He came to teach love of God to mankind. Have love for God and everything else is done for you. There is no need at all for Hatha Yoga.
Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga
A Certain Devotee — Sir, what is Hatha Yoga?
Sri Ramakrishna — In Hatha Yoga, one is more concerned with the body. A Hatha yogi puts a bamboo tube in his anus for washing the inner organs of the body. He draws ghee (clarified butter) and milk through his organ of reproduction. He practices exercises to train his tongue. He sits in a fixed posture and sometimes levitates. All these are the actions of prana (the vital air). A magician, while performing magic feats, turned his tongue to touch his palate and immediately his body became stiff. People thought he was dead. He was buried and remained in a grave for many years. After a long time the grave was somehow opened and that man regained outer consciousness. As soon as he was conscious, he cried out, ‘Look at my magic! See my feats!’ (All laugh.) All these are actions of prana.
“Vedantists don’t accept Hatha Yoga. Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga: In Raja Yoga one unites with God through the mind. One communes with God by means of love and reason. It is a good path of union with God. Hatha Yoga is not well-suited for this age of Kali in which life depends on food.”
Austerities of Sri Ramakrishna – his near and dear ones – great centres of pilgrimage of future
Sri Ramakrishna is standing on the path by the Nahabat. He sees M. seated on a side verandah behind the fence and absorbed in deep meditation. Is he meditating on the Lord? Thakur is on his way back from Jhautala (willow grove) after having a wash.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well! So you are meditating here. You will soon succeed. Just practice a little and someone will appear to tell you the right way.
M. is startled when he sees Thakur. He remains seated on his asana (meditation seat).
Sri Ramakrishna — The time is ripe for you. The bird doesn’t hatch its egg before the right hour. I have indicated your spiritual ideal (abode). It is truly your ‘abode’.
Saying this, Thakur tells Mani again what his spiritual ideal (abode) is.
“It is not that everybody has to practice a lot of austerities – though I had to make great deal of effort. I used to lie down with my head on the ground and the whole day would pass by while I wept and called out, “Mother, Mother!”
Mani has been coming to Thakur for the last two years or so. He has been educated in English, so Thakur sometimes calls him ‘Englishman’. Mani is college-educated. He is married.
He has heard Keshab and other learned men lecture. He enjoys reading English philosophy and science. But since he has met Thakur, he has been finding the learned books of European scholars and lectures in English and other languages unattractive. Now he wishes only to see Thakur day and night and to listen to his holy conversation.
These days M. deliberates especially upon one instruction of Thakur. Thakur has said, “You can only see the Lord if you take to sadhana (spiritual disciplines).” He also has said, “Indeed, the aim of human life is God-realization.”
“You are my own, my near and dear one. Why else would you come here so often? While listening to the kirtan (devotional songs), I saw Rakhal among the cowherds of Braja. Narendra belongs to a very high spiritual ideal (abode). And Hirananda! What a childlike temperament he has! He is so sweet! I long to see him, too.”
His earlier story – intimate companions of Gauranga – tulsi grove – service rendered by Mathur Babu
“I saw the intimate companions of Gauranga (Chaitanya Deva), not in bhava (trance), but with my physical eyes. Formerly, I was in such a state that I had visions with my physical eyes. Now I see things in ecstasy.
“With the physical eyes I saw Gauranga and his intimate companions. I saw you, too, among them. Also Balaram.
“Why do I suddenly stand up when I see somebody! You know, it’s as if I were meeting an old acquaintance after a long time.
“I used to weep and pray to the Divine Mother, ‘Mother, I am dying to see the devotees! Please bring them to me quickly. At that time whatever came to pass in my mind would happen.
“I had planted a grove of tulsi in the Panchavati for performing japa and meditation. I had the idea that it should be enclosed by a fence of bamboo sticks. Later I found that a bundle of bamboo sticks and a small piece of string had come floating in with the tide in front of the Panchavati. A labourer of the temple joyfully informed me about it.
“In that state I could not perform worship. I said, ‘Mother, who will look after me in this state? Mother! I am not strong enough to bear my own burden. And I like to hear about You, I like to feed Your devotees. I like to offer something to them who visit me. How is it possible, Mother? Mother, please provide a rich person to help me!’ That is why Mathur Babu rendered me so much service.
“And I said, ‘Mother, I shall have no child, but I want a particularly pure boy devotee with me always. Pray give me such a boy.’ So I got Rakhal. Those who are intimate with me are either a portion of the divinity or one kala thereof.”
Thakur again goes toward the Panchavati. M. accompanies him. Thakur laughs and talks on various topics.
His earlier story – wondrous vision of the form – branch of the banana tree
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — You see, one day I saw a wondrous form extending from the Kali Temple to the Panchavati. Do you believe it?
M. is aghast. He takes a leaf or two from a branch in the Panchavati and puts them in his pocket.
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you see where that branch fell off? I used to sit under it.
M. — I took a green branch from this tree and have it at my home.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — Why?
M. — I am overjoyed when I see it. In the end, this spot will become a great centre of pilgrimage.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — What kind of centre of pilgrimage? Like Panihati?
A great festival is held at Panihati to commemorate Raghava Pandit. There is a large gathering. Sri Ramakrishna attends the festival almost every year. There he dances in ecstatic love during the kirtan just as Sri Gauranga (Chaitanya Deva) did. Unable to hold himself back at the call of his devotees, he came again to reveal his image of love during the kirtan.
Narration of the Lord’s story
It is evening. Sri Ramakrishna is seated on the smaller cot in his room meditating on the Divine Mother. Arati of the deities is being performed one after the other in the shrines. One can hear the sound of conch shells and the ringing of bells. M. is to stay here for the night.
After some time, Thakur asks M. to read the ‘Bhaktamala’ to him. M. reads.
The story of king Jayamal
‘There was a king named Jayamal. Of pure nature, he had an ineffable love for Lord Krishna. He observed the rules of worship strictly, according to Navadha bhakti (devotion of nine rites). His devotion was as strong as a line drawn on rock.
“He was only happy when engaged in the worship of the Deity Shyamalasundara and he knew no other gods or goddesses. At dawn he regularly sat down for four hours to worship Him
“He would not think of anything but his worship at this time, even if there was danger to his treasury or a thunderbolt struck from above.
“Having come to know of it, a rival king invaded Jayamal’s kingdom while he was engaged in worship.
“Without their king’s command, the army chief and soldiers could not go to battle. They stood waiting for his orders as the enemy gradually surrounded the fort. Even so, the king was not moved.
“His mother came to him beating her forehead, and cried loudly in sorrow, ‘Everything is being taken away! There is complete destruction! Yet you are so unconcerned!’
“Jayamal said, ‘Mother, why do you pester me? What can one do when the Giver Himself takes back what He has given? What He protects, no one can take away. All our efforts are certainly in vain.’
“In the meantime Shyamalasundara, the Deity, armed Himself and rode the king’s horse to the battlefield. He destroyed the enemy’s army, then tied the horse and returned to the worship.
“His worship over, King Jayamal came out and saw his horse panting and perspiring profusely from head to foot. He asked, ‘Who rode my horse? And who has tied him to the shrine?’ No one knew who had ridden the horse and who had brought it back.
“Suspecting something unusual, the king warily went to the battlefield with his soldiers. There he saw enemy soldiers lying dead in the field. Only one was spared, their chief king. Surprised, he asked the king what had happened.
“The enemy king, putting a cloth around his neck and offering worship to King Jayamal with folded hands, made his submission: ‘What fight could we put up against your wonderful soldier? He could conquer the three worlds.’
“I don’t ask for wealth, nor do I ask for a kingdom. You may take my kingdom if you will tell me who the blue soldier is, who destroyed my whole army. He won my heart as soon as I glanced at saw him.
“King Jayamal understood that it was all the doing of Shyam (the blue-hued One, Sri Krishna). The enemy king also understood the mystery and began to chant prayers, holding Jayamal’s feet. He said, ‘I take refuge at the feet of the one by whose blessing Sri Krishna has showered His grace on me. May your Shyam accept me.’ ”
The reading from the scripture over, Thakur talks with M.
Dogmatism in Bhaktamala – who is an intimate one? Janaka and Shukadeva
Sri Ramakrishna — Do you believe it? Do you believe that He Himself vanquished a whole army, riding a horse?
M. — The devotee called upon Him with a yearning heart. So I believe it. But whether the Lord was actually seen riding a horse, I don’t know. He could have come on horseback, but I am not sure if He was actually seen.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — This book contains beautiful stories of devotees. But the book is dogmatic. It runs down other beliefs.
The next day Thakur is talking to M. standing on the garden path. Mani says to him, “I must come and stay here.”
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, you come to me so often. What does it signify? People go to a sadhu and see him just once. What does it mean that you come here so often?
M. is silent. Thakur himself replies to his question.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) — Does one visit unless one is very intimate? One who is intimate is one who is very near and dear, one’s very own – like father, son, brother and sister.
“I don’t say everything to you at one time. If I did, why would you come again to see me?
“Shukadeva went to Janaka seeking Brahmajnana (the knowledge of Brahman). Janaka asked him first to pay his dakshina. Shukadeva said, ‘How is the teacher’s fee due before the instruction is given?’ Janaka laughed and said, ‘When you have gained Brahmajnana, you will not be able to differentiate between the guru and the disciple. So I ask for the teacher’s fee in advance!’ ”
Reflections in the heart of the disciple
It is the bright fortnight. The moon has risen. M. is strolling on the garden path of the Kali Temple. On one side of the path are Sri Ramakrishna’s room, the Nahabat, the Bakultala and the Panchavati. On the other side, the bright waters of the Bhagirathi (the holy Ganges) reflect the moonlight.
M. is talking to himself, “Can one really realize God? Sri Ramakrishna says so. He says, ‘Do a little and someone will come and tell you the way.’ In other words, he has asked me to practice some spiritual disciplines. Well, I have married and have children. Can one married and with children still attain Him? (Thinking for awhile) Certainly one can. Otherwise, why should he have said so? Is it not possible by His grace?”
“One sees the universe in front – sun, moon, stars, living beings and twenty-four cosmic principles. How have they come into existence? Who is their Creator? Moreover, what am I to Him? This life is in vain without this knowledge.
“Sri Ramakrishna is the best among men. I have never seen such a great, saintly person in my life. He certainly has seen the Lord. If not, to whom does he talk day and night, crying, ‘Mother, Mother!’ And how is it that he has so much love for the Lord – such love that he loses all outer consciousness? He goes into samadhi and becomes inert. And then sometimes he laughs, sometimes he weeps, sometimes he dances and sings, intoxicated with divine love.”
 Gross physical sheath sustained by food
 Subtle, vital sheath consisting of five pranas: prana, apana, samana, vyana, and udana. It vitalizes and holds together the body and mind for the continuation of life; its gross manifestation is the breath.
 Sheath of mind which receives sense impressions
 Sheath of intellect which discriminates or wills
 Body of bliss, so-called because it is nearest to the Blissful Atman
 The eleventh day of the lunar fortnight
 One sixteenth of the power of divinity
 An appellation of Lord Krishna
 One puts a piece of cloth round one’s neck to indicate humility
 A fee or gift given to the teacher