Sri Ramakrishna with Devotees in the House of a Marwari Devotee
Sri Ramakrishna at the Burrabazar house of a Marwari devotee
Today Sri Ramakrishna has made an auspicious visit to 12 Mallick Street in Burrabazar. The Marwari devotees are celebrating the Annakuta festival to which he has been invited. A couple of days earlier he had enjoyed the Shyama Puja (Diwali) in Dakshineswar with the devotees. The next day, again accompanied by devotees, he had gone to the Brahmo Samaj festival in Sinthi. Today is Monday, 20 October, 1884, the second lunar day of the bright fortnight in the month of Kartik. In Burrabazar they are still enjoying Diwali (the festival of lights).
At about three o’clock M. goes to Burrabazar with the Younger Gopal. He is carrying in one hand the two pieces of cloth Thakur had asked him to purchase. They are wrapped in a piece of paper. As they reach Mallick Street, they see a big crowd. Bullock carts and horse drawn carriages have jammed the street. Coming to house number 12, he notices Thakur sitting in a carriage. It cannot move because of the traffic jam. Baburam and Ram Chatterji are also in the carriage. Thakur smiles when he sees M. and Gopal.
Sri Ramakrishna gets down from the carriage with Baburam. M. leads the way. Reaching the house of the Marwaris, they see a number of cloth bales lying in the courtyard. Every now and then goods are loaded into the bullock carts. Accompanied by the devotees, Thakur goes upstairs. The Marwaris take him to a room on the third level which contains an image of Mother Kali. Thakur offers It his salutations and takes his seat. He now talks to the devotees with a smile on his face.
A Marwari begins to gently stroke his feet. Thakur says, “No, no. No need for that.” Then reflecting for a few minutes, he says, “Well, you may do so for awhile.” All his words are full of compassion.
Thakur says to M., “What about your school?”
M. — Sir, it’s a holiday.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — And tomorrow we have a recitation of the Chandi at Adhar’s house.
The Marwari devotee, the master of the house, sends a pundit (priest) to meet Thakur. The pundit salutes Thakur and sits down. Thakur discusses many spiritual subjects with him.
Sri Ramakrishna’s desire – the desire for love of God – divine fervour (bhava), love of God and meaning of ecstatic love
The topic of the conversation is now the avatar (God-incarnate).
Sri Ramakrishna — The avatar incarnates for the devotees and not for the jnani.
The Pundit —
Paritranaya sadhunam vinashaya cha dushkritam.
Dharma sansthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge yuge.
[I am born age after age for the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked, and for the establishment of dharma.]
“The avatar comes, first, for the joy of the devotees, and second, to subjugate the wicked. But the jnani is free from all desires.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — But I am not free from all desires. I have the desire for love of God.
The pundit’s son comes in at this moment, takes the dust of Thakur’s feet, and sits down.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well! What is your understanding of divine fervour and what is love of God?
The Pundit — Meditation on the Lord makes the mind tender. This is called divine fervour. It is like ice melting when the sun rises.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, what is ecstatic love?
The pundit speaks in Hindi. Thakur answers him in very sweet Hindi. In reply to Thakur’s question, the pundit explains the meaning of prema in his own way.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the pundit) — No, prema doesn’t mean that. Prema means loving God in such a way that one forgets the world. To such an extent that one even forgets the body which is so dear. Chaitanya Deva had prema.
The Pundit — Yes, sir. It is the state in which one acts like a mad man.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, some people develop bhakti, but others don’t. Why is this?
The Pundit — The Lord is impartial. He is the Kalpataru. He gives whatever one asks. Even so, one has to approach the Kalpataru to ask.
Since the pundit is speaking in Hindi, Thakur turns to M. and translates into Bengali.
The secret of samadhi
Sri Ramakrishna — Well tell me, how does one go into samadhi?
The Pundit — There are two kinds of samadhi: Savikalpa and Nirvikalpa. In Nirvikalpa samadhi the mind ceases to think.
Sri Ramakrishna — Yes. The mind takes the form of the Reality. There is no distinction between the meditator and the object of meditation. And then there are two kinds of samadhi: Chetana and Jada samadhi. Narada and Shukadeva attained Chetana samadhi. What do you think?
The Pundit — That is so.
The Pundit keeps silent. He says nothing.
Sri Ramakrishna — Well, is it possible to gain occult powers by performing japa and austerities? For example, walking over the Ganges on foot?
The Pundit — It is indeed possible to attain occult powers, but the devotee doesn’t want them.
After some more conversation, the pundit says, “I shall come to Dakshineswar for your darshan on the ekadashi day.”
Sri Ramakrishna — Ah, you have a very good son.
The Pundit — Maharaj, a wave passes out over the surface of a river and another follows it. All is transitory.
Sri Ramakrishna — There is substance in you.
After some time the pundit salutes Sri Ramakrishna and says, “I have to perform worship. May I leave now?”
Sri Ramakrishna — No, no. Stay.
The pundit sits down again.
Sri Ramakrishna raises the topic of Hatha Yoga. The pundit continues to speak in Hindi. Thakur says, “Though it is a kind of austerity, a sadhu practicing Hatha Yoga identifies himself with the body. He has no other thought than of the body.”
The pundit again asks for permission to leave. He is to perform worship.
Thakur now talks to the pundit’s son.
Sri Ramakrishna — After some study of Nyaya, the Vedanta and other systems of philosophy, one understands the Srimad Bhagavata better. What do you think?
The Son — True, Sir. It is essential to study the Samkhya philosophy.
And thus the talk continues off and on for awhile.
Thakur lies down, leaning a bit on a pillow. The pundit’s son and some devotees sit on the floor. While reclining, Thakur hums the following song –
Fasten thyself to Hari, O Brother. You will sooner or later succeed.
Adverse circumstances will change.
It redeemed Anka, and it redeemed Banka. It has redeemed Srijana, the butcher.
It has redeemed Ganika by teaching Shuka, and it has redeemed Meera.
Is there no avatar now?
The master of the house comes and salutes Sri Ramakrishna. He is a Marwari devotee. He is very devoted to Thakur. The pundit’s son is still there. Thakur asks, “Is the Panini grammar studied in this part of the country?”
M. — Yes, Panini!
Sri Ramakrishna — Are Nyaya, the Vedanta and the rest also studied?
The host doesn’t answer Sri Ramakrishna, but asks him a question instead.
The Host — Maharaj, what is the way?
Sri Ramakrishna — Chanting His name and glories, associating with sadhus, and praying to Him with a longing heart.
The Host — Sir, bless us that worldliness maybe substantially reduced in our minds.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) — How much do you have? Eight annas (fifty percent)? (Laughter.)
The Host — Only you are aware of it, Sir. Without the blessings of a mahatma (elevated soul), nothing can be achieved.
Sri Ramakrishna — If you please God, everyone else is pleased. It is He who dwells in a mahatma’s heart.
The Host — When God is attained, nothing else remains to be attained. When He is attained, all worldly work falls off. When one finds a rupee, one doesn’t care to run after a pice.
Sri Ramakrishna — Some sadhana (spiritual practice) is essential. When you perform sadhana, you gradually feel a joy in it. If there is a pot of treasure buried very deep in the ground and one wants to possess it, one has to work hard to dig it out. One perspires, but if the spade touches the pot while digging, one hears its metallic sound and feels joy. The louder it sounds, the more joy. Go on calling upon Rama and meditate on Him. Rama will arrange everything for you.
The Host — Maharaj, you, yourself, are Rama.
Sri Ramakrishna — What are you saying? The wave belongs to the river. The river does not belong to the wave.
The Host — Rama resides within mahatmas. Rama is not visible in any other form. These days there are no avatars.
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) — How do you know there is no avatar at the present time?
The host is silent.
Sri Ramakrishna — Not everyone can recognize an avatar. When Narada went to see Rama, Rama stood up and prostrated before him, lying on the ground, saying, ‘We are worldly people. If sadhus like you don’t visit us, how can we be sanctified?’ And when he went to the forest to redeem the pledge (of his father), he saw that a number of rishis had given up eating when they heard of Rama’s exile. Many of them didn’t know that Rama was himself the Supreme Brahman.
The Host — You, indeed, are that very Rama.
Sri Ramakrishna — For God’s sake, you must not say such things!
Saying so, Thakur salutes him with folded hands and says, “That Rama dwells in all beings; that Rama exists everywhere in the world. I am your servant. That Rama Himself has become all human beings, birds and beasts.”
The Host — Maharaj, we don’t know this …
Sri Ramakrishna — You are Rama whether you know it or not!
The Host — You are beyond attachment and hatred.
Sri Ramakrishna — Why? I paid an advance of three annas to a coachman who was to take me to Calcutta. But he never turned up. I became very angry with him. He was a bad man, indeed. How he made me suffer!
The worship of the Wearer of the peacock crown (Lord Krishna) at the Annakuta festival in Burrabazar
Sri Ramakrishna is resting for awhile. In the meantime, the Marwari devotees on the roof start singing devotional songs for the festival of the Wearer of the peacock crown (Lord Krishna). A food offering has been arranged. Some devotees come to escort Sri Ramakrishna to have the darshan of the Deity. Seeing the image of Sri Krishna, Thakur salutes the Deity and takes some offered flowers to touch his head.
Thakur passes into ecstasy as he sees the Deity. Folding his hands, he says, “O Govinda, You are my vital breath, my very life! Victory to Govinda, to Govinda! Vasudeva, the embodiment of Sachchidananda! O Krishna, my Krishna. Jnana is Krishna, mind is Krishna, prana (vital breadth) is Krishna, atman (soul) is Krishna, body is Krishna, caste is Krishna, family is Krishna! O Govinda, You are my vital breath, my very life.”
Uttering these words, Thakur goes into samadhi where he stands. Ram Chatterji holds him as long as he is in samadhi.
After quite some time, the samadhi ends. In the meantime, Marwari devotees have entered the room to carry the image of Sri Krishna outside. It is now to be installed on a throne. A holy feast has been arranged outside for the occasion.
Thakur comes down from his samadhi. The Marwari devotees joyfully take the image of Sri Krishna, installed on a throne, out of the room.
Food is offered to the Deity while the Marwari devotees put up a curtain. After the offering of food, arati is performed and music starts. Sri Ramakrishna fans the image with a chamara.
Now the brahmins are fed. All this takes place on the roof in the presence of Thakur. The Marwaris earnestly request him to eat. Thakur sits down to eat and the devotees also partake of the prasad.
On the main road of Burrabazar – passing through Diwali scenes
Thakur takes his leave. It is already dusk. The road is very crowded. Thakur says, “Let’s get out of the carriage. It can go by a back street.” He has only gone a little distance when he sees a betel-leaf seller huddled inside his small shop in front of a house. To enter it one has to bend one’s head. Thakur says, “How troublesome it is to be shut in such tiny space! Strange is the nature of householders! And they are full of joy in such a life!”
After making a detour, the carriage reaches the party. Thakur again gets into it with Baburam, M. and Ram Chatterji. The Younger Gopal sits on the roof of the carriage.
A beggar woman with a boy in her arms approaches the carriage and asks for alms. Thakur notices her and says to M., “Do you have any money with you?” Gopal gives her a pice.
The carriage rolls through Burrabazar. There is a lot of hustle and bustle because of Diwali (festival of lights). It is a dark night, but the whole bazaar is illuminated with lights. Passing through the lane of Burrabazar, the carriage reaches the Chitpur Road. This street is also well lit and terribly crowded with men lined up like ants. The crowd eagerly watches the shops so beautifully decorated on both sides of the road. Some of them are sweetmeat shops where various kinds of sweets are artistically arranged on metal plates. Other shops sell scents and roses decorated in various ways with pictures. Well-dressed shopkeepers sprinkle rose water on those who pass by with sprinklers. The carriage reaches a scent shop. At the sight of the pictures and illumination, Thakur expresses his joy like a five-year-old child. There are crowds all around. Sri Ramakrishna calls out, “Please try to go farther.” He laughs as he says it. Laughing loudly, he says to Baburam, “I say, try to move forward! What’s the matter with you?”
‘Go forward’ – Sri Ramakrishna cannot hoard under any circumstance
The devotees are amused. They understand that Thakur is saying, “Go forward toward the Lord. Don’t be satisfied with where you are.” It is as the brahmachari who said to the woodcutter, “Go forward.” When the woodcutter went farther he saw a forest of sandalwood trees. After a few days, going still farther, he came across a mine of silver. Next he went ahead and found a gold mine. Ending at last with pearls and jewels! So Thakur exhorts again and again, “Proceed! Go forward!” The carriage rolls on. Thakur has noticed that M. has brought some pieces of cloth for him. Two short unbleached ones and two washed ones. But Thakur had only asked him to buy the short cloths. Thakur says, “Leave me the short cloths. Keep the others yourself. You may give me one.”
M. — Right, sir. I shall take one of them back.
Sri Ramakrishna — No, take both of them for the time being.
M. — As you please.
Sri Ramakrishna — You can bring the cloths when I need them. You see, yesterday Beni Pal brought some food to take back in the carriage for Ramlal. I told him not to give me anything to carry. I cannot hoard.
M. — Yes sir, it doesn’t matter. I shall take both the bleached ones back.
Sri Ramakrishna (affectionately) — If any desire arises in my mind, it is indeed for the good of you all. You are my own. I shall ask for it when I need it.
M. (humbly) — It will be as you wish.
The carriage now reaches the shop where chillum are sold. Sri Ramakrishna says to Ram Chatterji, “Ram, please buy a pice worth of chillum.”
Sri Ramakrishna now talks about a devotee.
Sri Ramakrishna — I told him that I was going to Burrabazar the next day and I would like to meet him there. Do you know what he said? ‘The tram ticket will cost four pice. How can I come?’ Yesterday I went to Beni Pal’s garden. He acted like a preacher, though nobody had asked him to lecture. He began to sing so that people would know that he was one of the Brahmos. (To M.) Tell me, what do you think of that? He said that he would have to spend an anna to come to Burrabazar!
Now the topic of the conversation turns again to the Annakuta festivity arranged by the Marwari devotees.
Sri Ramakrishna (to the devotees) — What I saw here is exactly like it is in Vrindavan. Rakhal and others are seeing all this there. The Annakuta (mound of cereals) there is much higher; there is also a greater crowd; and there is the Govardhan Mount. There are such differences.
Hindu Ideal – the Sanatana Dharma
“The upcountry people of India have such great devotion to God! Have you noticed? They possess the real bhava (spirit) of the Hindus. Indeed theirs is the Sanatana Dharma (eternal religion). Did you notice the immense joy with which they carried the divine image? It was joy at the thought of carrying the throne of Bhagavan on their shoulders.
“The Hindu ideal indeed is Sanatana Dharma. All the religions that you see now have come about by God’s will. And by His will they will disappear, they will not last. So I say, ‘Salutations at the feet of even the devotees of today.’ The Hindu ideal has ever been and will last forever.”
M. has to return home. He takes the dust of Thakur’s feet and gets down from the carriage near Sobhabazar. Thakur proceeds joyfully in the carriage.
 Annakuta means a stupendous heap of cereals. In this festivity a large quantity of food is offered to the Deity and distributed among indigents.
 The wish-fulfilling tree of heaven
 In Savikalpa samadhi the aspirant retains the distinction between himself and God
 In Chetana samadhi the aspirant retains consciousness of his I-ness as he communes with God
 In Jada samadhi the aspirant appears like an inert object as he communes with God
 In Unmana samadhi the functioning of the mind does not totally cease as the aspirant communes with God
 In Sthita samadhi the aspirant gets fully established in the Self
 Eleventh day of the lunar fortnight
 One of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy founded by Kapila. Samkhya postulates two ultimate realities, Purusha and Prakriti. Declaring that the cause of suffering is man’s identification of Purusha with Prakriti and its products, Samkhya teaches that liberation and true knowledge are attained in the supreme consciousness, where such identification ceases and Purusha is realized as existing independently in its transcendental nature.
 Hundred pice equal one Rupee
 Bowl of hookah which holds tobacco and cinder
 Sixteen annas constitute one Rupee
 Eternal Religion