At Balaram’s House with Narendra, Rakhal, and Other Devotees
Sri Ramakrishna enjoys devotional songs with Narendra and other devotees
Sri Ramakrishna is seated with the devotees in the room northeast of the parlour in Balaram’s house. It is about one o’clock. Narendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal, Balaram, and M. are with him.
It is Saturday, 7 April 1883, twenty-fifth day of Chaitra, and Amavasya, the day of the new moon. Thakur arrived at Balaram’s house in the morning and had his midday meal there. Narendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal, and a few other devotees had also been invited and dined with him. Thakur often says to Balaram, “Feed them. It will bring you the same merit as feeding a number of holy men.”
Some days ago Thakur had gone to Keshab’s house to see the play Nava Vrindavan. Narendra and Rakhal had accompanied him. Narendra had also acted in the performance, and Keshab had played the role of Pavhari Baba.
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra and other devotees): “Keshab was acting the part of a sadhu and sprinkling the water of peace – something that I did not like. Sprinkling the water of peace after a theatrical performance!
“Another person (Ku Babu) played the part of Sin. It’s not right to play such a role. One should not commit sin; one should not even feign it.”
Narendra is not feeling well, but Thakur wishes very much to hear him sing. He says, “Narendra, everybody is asking for you to sing.”
Narendra sings to the accompaniment of the tanpura.
Sing, O bird, nesting in the depth of my heart.
Sing, O bird, who are perched on Brahman’s wish-fulfilling tree.
Sing of the glories of All-pervading God.
Eat the ripe fruits of righteousness, wealth, fulfillment, and liberation.
Sing the name of Atmaram,3 the delight of life. Repeat His name.
Sing, O bird of life, forever in my heart.
Call on Him like the thirsty chatak bird. Sing and be not idle!
He sings another song:
O Brahman, joy of the universe, the light supreme,
God without beginning, Lord of the universe, Soul of the soul.
He sings again:
O King of kings, reveal Yourself to me.
At Your feet I dedicate my soul and my life,
Seared by the fire of this world,
And a heart stained with wrongful acts.
O compassionate Lord, entangled in maya, I live as one who is dead.
Revive me by Your life-giving glance.
He sings another song:
On the salver of the sky blaze two lamps, sun and moon.
And yet another:
In the firmament of wisdom, the moon of divine love rises full.
Narendra now stops and, at Thakur’s request, Bhavanath sings:
O Compassionate One, who but You is my friend?
Who else remains a friend in happiness and sorrow; who else can assuage the pain of my misdeeds?
This sea of the world is full of peril; who but You can take me safely across?
Whose grace but Yours can calm the raging storm of my passions?
Who but You pours out the water of peace to extinguish the burning torment of my soul?
And when all others have forsaken me, who but You embraces me in my dying hour?
Narendra (smiling): “This fellow (Bhavanath) has given up fish and betel-leaf.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Bhavanath, smiling): “Well, why is that? What’s wrong with fish and betel leaf? They’re not harmful. Giving up ‘lust and greed’ is the real renunciation. Where is Rakhal?”
A devotee: “Sir, Rakhal is asleep.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “A person went to see a theatrical performance, carrying a mat under his arm. Seeing that there was still a lot of time before the play was to begin, he spread the mat on the floor and went to sleep. He woke up to find that the play was over. (General laughter.) Taking the mat under his arm, he went back home.” (Laughter.)
Ramdayal is very sick. He is lying in bed in another room. Thakur goes to the doorway and inquires about him.
Panchadashi – Vedanta scripture and Sri Ramakrishna – worldly man and discussion on scriptures
A Brahmo devotee: “Sir, have you read the Panchadashi?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “At first one should hear books like that and reason them out. But later:
Cherish the beloved Mother Shyama in your heart.
O mind, may you and I alone behold Her, and let no one else intrude.
“One should hear the scriptures in the early stages of spiritual practice. But after attaining God, there’s no lack of spiritual knowledge. The Divine Mother provides it more and more.
“When learning to write, you have to spell out every word, but later you can write fluently.
“You have to be up and doing while melting gold. You have to hold the bellows in one hand, the fan in the other, and the pipe in your mouth till the gold is melted. When the gold is melted, you pour it in the mould and you can sit down in peace.
“Simply studying the scriptures is not much help. Living in the midst of ‘lust and greed,’ you can’t understand the real significance of the scriptures. Attachment to the world keeps spiritual knowledge from you.
Though I learned many poems and dramas with great delight,
I have forgotten them all in my love for Krishna. (All laugh.)
Thakur now talks about Keshab with the Brahmo devotees.
“Keshab has both yoga and bhoga – he performs spiritual practices but enjoys worldly pleasures as well. He lives as a householder, but his mind is turned towards God.”
A devotee talks about a university convocation, saying, “I saw any number of people there. It was a forest of human beings!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Seeing big crowds, I’m inspired with the thought of God. Had I seen that gathering, I would have been overwhelmed with spiritual feeling.”
. Dharma, artha, kama, and moksha.
- The Divine Self.
. For the complete song refer to Volume II, Section I, Chapter II.
. Unnecessary luxuries.
. Yatra, a religious play.
.. For the complete song refer to Section IX, Chapter I.
. Ramakrishna is making a play on words. He refers to Krishna by the word kala, which means “black” or “deaf.” That is why the devotees laugh.
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