The House in Shyampukur – Thakur with Narendra, Mani, and Other Devotees
Why the illness? Advice to Narendra about sannyasa
Thakur is sitting in the Shyampukur house with Narendra and other devotees. It is 10 o’clock, Tuesday, 27 October 1885, 12th of Kartik, the fourth day of the dark fortnight of Ashwin. The conversations on 26 October, 11th Kartik and discussions with Dr. Sarkar have been published in Sri Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, Volume I.
Thakur is talking with Narendra and Mani.
Narendra: “How strange the doctor was behaving yesterday.”
A devotee: “The fish was hooked, but the line broke.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “It was tied to the fishhook. The fish will die and come to the surface.”
Narendra goes out for a while. He will return soon. Thakur talks to Mani about Purna.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I am telling this only to you. Ordinary men shouldn’t hear these things. With a feminine attitude, a devotee naturally wants to embrace and kiss God.”
Mani: “Many are His sports. Even your illness is a part of God’s sport. It is because of your illness that new devotees are coming.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Bhupati says, ‘Had you not contracted the disease, what would people have said if you had just rented this house?’ Well, what about the doctor?”
Mani: “On the one hand, he accepts the attitude of a servant – ‘I am the servant and You are my Master.’ On the other, he asks, ‘Why do you call a man God?’”
Sri Ramakrishna: “See for yourself. Are you going to see him today?”
Mani: “I’ll go if I have to report news about you.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What kind of boy is Bankim? If he can’t come here, you yourself instruct him. His spiritual consciousness will be awakened.”
What comes first: show of the world or God? – Sri Ramakrishna hints to Keshab and Narendra
Narendra comes in and sits down near Sri Ramakrishna. He is very worried since his father’s death. He has his mother and brothers at home to provide for. He is preparing for his law examination and also has been working for a few months as a teacher at Vidyasagar’s Bowbazar school. He will be at peace only after he has provided for the family. This is what he is trying to do.
Thakur knows all this. He gazes at Narendra affectionately.
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Well, I said to Keshab, ‘One should be satisfied with what comes of its own accord. The son of a rich family has no worry about his food – he gets an allowance every month. Narendra belongs to a high plane, so why isn’t he getting help? If you surrender your mind completely to God, He will surely provide for everything.”
M.: “Sir, it will surely come about. It is not yet too late.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “But when a person develops deep dispassion, all such calculations vanish. Feeling intense nonattachment, it just doesn’t come to the mind, ‘Let me first arrange everything for the family and then I will take to spiritual practices.’ (Smiling) A goswami said in a lecture, ‘If you have ten thousand rupees, it is enough for meals, and then you can sit down free of worries and call on God.’
“Keshab Sen also alluded to the same thing. He said, ‘Sir, is it all right if a person settles his worldly affairs and then thinks of God? Is there any harm in that?’”
“I said, ‘When a person attains deep dispassion, the world appears like a deep well and one’s family like deadly snakes. That person doesn’t calculate, saying, ‘Let me save my money and arrange my worldly affairs.’ God alone is the Reality and everything else is unreal. Thinking of the world, abandoning God!
“A woman suffered extreme grief. First she took her nose-ring and tied it to the end of her cloth. Then she fell on the ground and began to wail, ‘Oh what a catastrophe has befallen me!’ But she took great care that her nose-ring did not break.” (Everybody laughs.)
Hearing these words, Narendra lies down on the floor as if hit by an arrow. M., though realizing his mental condition, says to him with a smile, “You are lying down. What is the matter?”
Sri Ramakrishna (to M., laughing): “It’s like the woman who said, ‘I’m sleeping with my husband’s elder brother and feeling so ashamed. How do all these (women) sleep with strangers?’”
M., himself a householder, should be ashamed of it. No one sees his own faults but notices the faults of others. This is what Thakur is saying. A woman had an illicit affair with her husband’s elder brother but thought that she was less at fault than other women who were mistresses of strangers. She would argue, “The husband’s brother is, after all, one’s own. Even so, I am dying of shame.”
Who is liberal? – One is more attached to money earned by flattery and servility
A Vaishnava is singing downstairs, and Thakur is overjoyed to hear him. He asks the devotees to give him some money. A devotee goes to give him something. Thakur asks, “What did he give?” The devotee says, “Two pice.”
Thakur: “That devotee earns money with great difficulty through servitude. It is hard-earned money, earned by flattery. I thought he would give at least four annas.”
Electric machine and Bagchi – sees portrait of the six-armed Gauranga and Ramachandra – his earlier story: long haired sannyasin at Dakshineswar
The younger Naren had said he would bring a machine to demonstrate to Sri Ramakrishna the nature of electricity. He has done this today.
It is two o’clock. Thakur is sitting with the devotees. Atul has brought a friend, who is a subordinate judge, with him. Bagchi, the famous painter from Shikdarpara, has come. He presents several pictures to Thakur.
Thakur, full of joy, examines the paintings. When he sees the picture of Gauranga with six arms, he says to the devotees, “Look! How beautiful it is!”
Wanting to show the devotees more, he asks for the picture of Ahalya turned into stone. He is very happy to see Ramachandra in the picture.
Bagchi has long hair like a woman. Thakur says, “A long time ago I saw a sannyasin at Dakshineswar. He had hair nine cubits long. He used to chant, ‘Radhe, ‘Radhe.’ It was not an act.”
After a while, Narendra sings. All the songs are filled with dispassion. Is Narendra inspired by hearing Thakur speak of deep dispassion and sannyasa?
Narendra sings, first:
Will my days just pass in vain, O Lord?
Day and night my eyes are on the path of hope…
O Mother, as the Inner Controller! You are awake within, day and night.
O Lord, O Compassionate One! What joy have I in this life
If my soul, like a bee, does not remain inebriated at Your lotus feet?
. yadåcchäläbha, Gita 4:22.
. For the complete song refer to Volume III, Appendix, Chapter I.
. For the complete song refer to Section XXI, Chapter III.
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