With Narendra and Other Devotees at the Cossipore Garden House
Sri Ramakrishna, an ocean of grace – M., Niranjan, and Bhavanath
Sri Ramakrishna is staying at a Cossipore garden house with his devotees. He is extremely ill, yet he has but one thought on his mind, the spiritual welfare of the devotees. He worries day and night for one or another of them.
He moved from the Shyampukur house to the Cossipore garden house on Friday, 11 December, the 27th of Agrahayana, the fifth day of the bright fortnight. He has been here for twelve days now. The young devotees have been gradually coming to stay in order to serve him. Many of them still visit their homes frequently. The householder devotees come almost daily, sometimes spending the night.
Most of the devotees, who have been gathering since 1881, have already met each other. The last have now come. Sashi and Sarat met Thakur at the end of 1884. After their college examinations in the middle of 1885, they began visiting him regularly. In September of 1884 Girish Ghosh saw Thakur at the Star Theatre. Three months after that, since the beginning of December, he has become a regular visitor. At the end of December 1884, Sarada saw Thakur at the Dakshineswar temple garden. Subodh and Kshirode met him for the first time in August of 1885.
All morning Sri Ramakrishna has been showering his love. He said to Niranjan, “You are my father. I will sit on your lap.” Touching Kalipada’s chest, he said, “Be awakened!” Then stroking his chin with affection, he said, “Whoever has sincerely called on God or performed his daily religious duties will surely come here.” He gave his blessings in the morning to two women, in the state of samadhi, touching their chests with his feet. They began to shed tears, one of them weeping, “Such grace!” His was a torrent of ecstatic love. As he wishes to bless Gopal of Sinthi, he said, “Fetch Gopal here.”
Today is Wednesday, 23 December 1885, 9th of Pausha, the second day of the dark fortnight of Agrahayana. It is now evening. Thakur is meditating on the Mother of the Universe.
After a while he talks sweetly with one or two devotees. Kali, Chunilal, M., Navagopal, Sashi, Niranjan and other devotees are there in the room.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Buy a stool for me. How much will it cost?”
M.: “Between two and three rupees.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “If a low seat for bathing costs twelve annas, why would a stool cost that much?”
M.: “It won’t be too much. It might be less than that.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Well, tomorrow is Thursday and late in the afternoon is not auspicious. Can you come before three o’clock?”
M.: “Certainly, sir. I shall come then.”
Is Sri Ramakrishna an incarnation of God? The hidden significance of his illness
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “Well, how long will it take me to recover from this illness?”
M.: “It is rather serious. It will take time.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “How many days?”
M.: “It may take five or six months.”
Hearing this, Thakur becomes impatient, like a child, and says, “What are you saying?”
M.: “Sir, that long to get completely well.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Please tell me why I have such illness when I see so many divine visions and go into ecstasy and samadhi.”
M.: “You are suffering a lot, sir. But it has a meaning.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “What is that?”
M.: “Your mood will undergo a change. You are becoming inclined toward the Formless. Even the ‘I of knowledge’ is disappearing.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, my teaching to others is coming to an end. I am not able to speak any more. I see everything is Rama. Time and again I ask myself, whom shall I tell? Just see, this house has been rented with the result that so many different devotees are coming here. But there is no signboard announcing the lecture times, like Krishnaprasanna Sen’s or Shashadhar’s.” (Both Thakur and M. laugh.)
M.: “And there is another meaning, to sift the devotees. What cannot be achieved by practicing austerities for five years, the devotees are gaining during these few days – spiritual disciplines, ecstatic love, devotion.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, undoubtedly. Niranjan has just been home. (To Niranjan) Tell me, how do you feel?”
Niranjan: “I did love you earlier, but now I simply cannot stay away.”
M.: “One day I realized how great all these men are.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Where?”
M.: “Sir, I noticed this one day when I was standing by myself in the Shyampukur house. I realized how each one of them has come here to serve you, brushing aside so many obstacles.”
Thakur in samadhi – in wondrous state – vision of the formless – selection of intimate disciples
Hearing this, Thakur becomes absorbed in ecstasy. After some time, he remains absolutely still, in samadhi.
When his ecstasy is over, he says to M., “I saw that all forms of God were merging into the Formless. I want to say much more, but I can’t. Well, this inclination to the Formless – is it because the body will cease to exist? Do you think so?”
M. (speechless): “That could be, sir.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I see even now the Formless Indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute – just like that. But I have concealed the inclination with great effort.
“What you say about sifting of devotees is right. This illness is showing who belongs to the inner circle and who belongs to the outer. Those who come here after renouncing the world belong to the intimate group. And those who just come once and ask, ‘How do you do, sir?’ belong to the outer circle.
“Did you notice Bhavanath? He came to Shyampukur dressed as a bridegroom and asked me how I was doing. He never came again. I treat him kindly because of Narendra, but my mind is no longer attracted to him.”
Speaking freely the story of his life in his own words – who is Sri Ramakrishna?
ähus tväm åñayaù sarve devarñir näradas tathä |
asito devalo vyäsaù svayaà caiva bravéñi me ||
[Thus do all the seers acclaim You – the divine seer Narada, also Asita Devala and Vyasa – and now you yourself tell me so.]
– Bhagavad Gita: 10:13
Sri Ramakrishna (to M.): “When God descends, assuming a human form for the sake of His devotee, he is accompanied by devotees as well. Some are his intimate disciples, others belong to the outer circle, and some are suppliers of provisions.
“When I was ten or eleven years old, I was going to the Vishalakshi shrine in my native village and had my first experience of ecstasy in an open field. What did I see? It made me completely lose all external consciousness.
“When I was twenty-two or twenty-three, I was asked by the Divine Mother in the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar, ‘Do you want to be Akshara?’ I didn’t know the meaning of Akshara and I asked Haladhari. He said, ‘Kshara means an embodied being and Akshara means the Paramatman, or the Supreme Self.’
“At the time of arati, I would climb up to the roof of the Kuthi and cry out from there, ‘Come, O devotees! Wherever you may be!’ I would stop breathing when I met worldly people. I told English-educated men and they said, ‘All this is delusion of the mind.’ I became peaceful, thinking to myself, That may be so. But all this is being confirmed now. All the devotees are gathering.
“Then the five providers were revealed to me. First I saw Mathur Babu and then Sambhu Mallick – I had never seen him before, but I had seen in ecstasy a fair-complexioned man wearing a crown. When I met Sambhu many days later, I remembered that it was this very man I had seen in ecstasy. The other three providers I have not yet been able to spot clearly. But they were all fair- skinned. Surendra might very well be one of the providers.
“When this state came over me, a person identical to me came and shook the spiritual nerve channels – the ida, the pingala, the sushumna. He licked the lotus of each of the six chakras and all the drooping lotuses turned up. Last of all, the lotus at the sahasrara opened out completely.
“I was shown beforehand what kind of person would visit me. I saw with these physical eyes, not in a vision, a kirtan party led by Chaitanya Deva, going from the banyan tree to the bakultala. I saw Balaram in it and, I think, yourself [M.]. The regular visits of Chuni and yourself to me have awakened spiritual consciousness [in both of you]. I also saw Sashi and Sarat. They were in the group of the rishi Christ.
“I saw a boy under the banyan tree. Hriday said that a son would be born to me. For me every woman is the Mother. How could I have a son? That boy is Rakhal.
“I said, ‘Mother, since you have given me this temperament, please find me a rich man.’ So it was that Mathur Babu served me for fourteen years. He did so much! A separate provision store for sadhus, carriages and palanquins for me – whatever I asked him to give to anyone, he gave. The Brahmani (Bhairavi Brahmani) used to say, ‘He is Pratap Rudra.’
“Vijay had a vision of this very form (of Sri Ramakrishna). What does this mean? He said he touched it just as I touch you.
“Noto (Latu) counted thirty-one devotees. This is not a big number. Kedar and Vijay are making a few more.
“I was shown in a vision that during my last days, I would have to live on farina pudding.
“During this illness, my wife (Holy Mother) is feeding me farina pudding. I weep, saying, ‘Is this the living on farina pudding? In this painful condition?’”
. A king of Orissa and a devotee of Chaitanya Deva, whom he served with immense faith, respect, and devotion.
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