Thakur Is Living – Truly He is living
The Morton School, roof on the fourth storey. Friday, 29 November, 1929, 5 p.m. Devotees have assembled on the roof. M. is meditating in his room behind closed doors. Jagabandhu Maharaj has come from the Belur Math and is also waiting for M. M. comes out to the roof at quarter to six and talks for awhile. Then he re-enters his room for meditation again. It is dusk. At half past six he takes his seat in the staircase room. He is not feeling well. He talks to the devotes seated on a chair facing north.
M. (drawing a circle with his forefinger): “Wonderful, this creation!
“A cushion floats on the sea. Inside it is salt water and outside it is salt water too.
“But a lotus flower blossoms on a dunghill.”
Today he does not talk more. He says, “Let’s read the Adhyatma Ramayana.” Chapter six of the Uttarkanda is read.
M. (to Jagabandhu): “Have you brought the diary?”
Jagabandhu: “Yes, sir.”
M.: “All right, read yesterday’s account.”
Jagabandhu reads –
Belur Math. 7 a.m. Saturday, 16 November, 1929. The Raspurnima day. 30th Kartik, 1355 (B.Y.)
Sri Mahapurusha, Swami Shivananda, the President of the Math, comes out by the southern door of his room on the second storey – a man with a big body, his head shaven. He is clad in long-sleeved woolens. He is seventy-five. For some time he seems to have been having symptoms of asthma. When he walks, his body leans slightly forward. To the left of his room is Khoka Maharaj’s room; to the right is the railing of the staircase steps.
Swami Akhandananda, the Vice-President of the Math, comes out of the room south of the staircase. He lives at the Sargachhi Ashrama, Murshidabad district. He is its founder. He has lived there since its founding, a long time ago. Sometimes he visits the Math and also Calcutta. He has now been at the Math for several days, and is occupying the southern room in the Math-building. Coming out of it, he sees that Sri Mahapurusha, ‘his elder brother’, is slowly coming toward him, so he stands on the verandah facing the Ganges on the landing of the steps. Both brother disciples are smiling.
Sri Mahapurusha says joyfully, “Om Namo Narayanaya, Bal-Swami Namo Narayanaya.”
Swami Akhandananda is younger than Sri Mahapurusha. Folding his hands, he silently returns the salutation.
His brother disciples call Swami Akhandananda Bal-Swami (Swami since childhood), since their early years, out of love for him, since he is younger than they are. And yet, he is senior to all his brother disciples in his wanderings. He journeyed across Tibet during his very early days.
Sri Mahapurusha says, “Today the Rasa of Govinda is to be celebrated.” Swami Akhandananda says, “In that case, I won’t leave today.” Sri Mahapurusha asks, “Where are you going?” Swami Akhandananda replies, “To Calcutta, to give the measurements for a shirt.”
The brother disciples sit together in Sri Mahapurusha’s room. It runs north to south and has three doors; it is in the northwest corner of the building. From the eastern door, one enters the room of Maharaj (Swami Brahmananda). Next is a verandah overlooking the Ganges – the river, the redeemer of sinners, flows in front of it. The northern door is to the roof.
Today everyone enters through the southern door. To the west of it is a window with a table placed in front of it. All essential articles lie on this table. The west wall has two windows. Sitting on his bed, Sri Mahapurusha can see Sri Thakur’s shrine through the north window. Between the two windows is a table near the wall. Books and stationery are kept there. There is a chair in front of the writing table. Near the north wall is a cupboard that contains books and clothes. Sri Mahapurusha sits on the chair by the table facing south, when a visitor arrives. He talks to him there. To the left of the chair is a wall and on the side to the west is a cot for sleeping. It has four poles for a mosquito net. The four poles are held upright by a frame of four pieces of wood at the top of it.
To the north of Sri Mahapurusha’s room is a small wooden staircase two feet high to go to the roof. On the roof to the north is a bathroom. To the left of the southern door of the room is an easy chair with a black cushion. Outside the door, to the right of it, is a pie safe where sweetmeats and other eatables are kept. When a visitor comes, he is given prasad from it. Close to it, there is the hookah, the chilam, and tongs etc. – all articles needed for smoking. Sri Mahapurusha smokes.
Swami Akhandananda sits facing west on a chair in the middle of the room. Sri Mahapurusha is seated on a chair in front of the table facing south. Some sadhus stand inside the room, others outside. Swami Dhruveshwarananda stands to the north holding a pole of Sri Mahapurusha’s cot. Swami Akhandananda, with reference to Sri Mahapurusha, talks to Swami Dhruveshwarananda.
Akhandananda: “Good, you know homeopathy. It will be of great service. That fellow doesn’t want to go. He wants to catch the fish but won’t touch water! Stay in the Math as long as you like, since you have come. Then you can leave. And remember, service to others through homeopathy is itself an austerity Swamiji (Vivekananda) said, ‘You have to jump into the water, get scalded by fire.’ The Lord comes down in a human body. He is more manifest in man. He is going to be worshipped this time in man.
“If the mind is not settled, it wanders and doesn’t even accept the words of the guru. There is another man Mahimananda knows. At the time of Hari Maharaj’s passing away, I noticed that he wouldn’t even go ten miles away from Kashi lest he should die somewhere else.”
Sri Mahapurusha: “When he came this time, his temperament changed a lot. He has a much wider view now. How can one be narrow-minded when he has faith and loving devotion for Thakur? Let him stay here peacefully now.”
Sri Krishna’s Rasalila is going to be played today. Saying, “Victory to Govinda, victory to the friend of Vraja,” he begins to sing and clap his hands in beats.
M. sits, still listening to the diary, muttering in between, “Ah, what nectar you have distributed! It’s like an account of Vaikuntha.”
The reader continues reading –
Today is Thursday, 21 November 1929, 5:45 p.m. Belur Math, the verandah on the second storey. Sri Mahapurusha, Swami Shivananda, is seated on a chair and gazing at the holy Ganges. It has been a little cold and he has covered his body with a shawl. He is in a pensive mood. An attendant sadhu intermittently whisks away mosquitoes with a big handkerchief. The Swami looks beautifully serene and grave, with compassion written large on his face.
Khoka Maharaj is sitting outside his room to the south. To his south, there is the passage leading to the verandah. South of him is Swami Vivekananda’s room.
A young devotee enters, offers his salutations, and kneels. He folds his hands and asks, “Kindly bless me that I may gain faith, knowledge and love for God, that I may have discrimination and dispassion. Just as Swamiji could not ask the Divine Mother for anything more, I too do not want anything else.”
A sadhu seated in Swami Vivekananda’s room at the northeastern corner of Swamiji’s table is watching this scene. Behind him is the eastern wall. He cannot be seen from the verandah. He is the attendant of Swami Vivekananda’s room. Hearing Swamiji’s prayer from the young man, the sadhu is a little amused. But he also feels sorry for himself when he hears the compassionate words of Sri Mahapurusha and his sympathetic and childlike attitude toward the young man.
Sri Mahapurusha says full of compassion and sympathy, “Yes, yes, you must pray to Him for jnana and bhakti, discrimination, and dispassion. ‘My house and home, my wife and son, my family’ – all these constitute His maya. ‘My Math’ is also maya. All is maya. ‘It is all Yours, not mine’ – this is spiritual knowledge.
“Many people come here to work together. (Perhaps Sri Mahapurusha is talking of the Math and the Mission). All they do is because of His Mahamaya.
“In this regime of the British Government, when one person leaves, another comes to take his place. Thus the work goes on. When one government falls, another comes to take its place. This goes on eternally.”
The devotee: “It is like the flow of a river. If you look at it, it is just one, but every moment, it changes its movement.”
Sri Mahapurusha: “Yes, it is like that. This eternal flow makes people forget. Every man has his own ideas. Our aim, that we have to call upon God, is forgotten – such is His maya.”
The sadhu seated in Swami Vivekananda’s room thinks about this scene and hears Sri Mahapurusha saying.
Sri Mahapurusha: “The eternal flow of the world! House, home, man, birds and beasts, are all brought into existence to play their parts, and then they disappear. The hill, the mount, the forest, the river and the sea come into existence and then disappear. The sea takes the place of the hill, and then the sea itself turns into a desert. They appear and disappear like pictures in a bioscope.
“This flow goes on and no one can stop its movement. When God comes down in a human form, some people try to go against the current with a yearning heart.”
The sadhu says to himself, “Our Mission is also moving with the current and I am doing the same. But my heart begins to cry at the thought that all I have seen, all I have heard, may go waste.
“And I see that many people let themselves go with the flow. Perhaps God will look after them. Perhaps they are men of greater faith.
“And those who throw themselves into the current, imitating others, without having faith, will also be looked after by Him. Why? Because Swamiji said, ‘All those who are spiritually advanced have come here.’
“Shall I advance towards Him by coming out of the current (Mission)? I begin to fear and start to wonder if I would be able to do it alone. I know the purpose – it is to go towards Him. Once I tried it, but could not do it. I was ordered from within that I must take to work. And I am assured that the suckling child must ultimately go to the Mother’s lap. Let me do a little work for the Father – Thakur – who is watching it all.
“Going with the flow – that is, to remember Him while absorbed in daily work is also such an uneasy and restless task.
“It is not possible to maintain the balance – to remember Him constantly during the work. Too much work takes the mind right to the bottom. Even then, if the work conforms to one’s nature, there is less chance of forgetting Him. What to do?”
This mental struggle overwhelms the sadhu. Like a helpless person, he prays, “Lord, may I not get enchanted by your world-bewitching maya. Diminish my work. I take refuge in You.”
M.: “Ah! How beautifully he has drawn the picture of his mind! The inner struggle is the sign of a person practicing a living religion. Those who keep a diary benefit others through their description of inner struggles. Not many people keep a record of their inner struggle as an aspirant. Mostly, their record repeats teachings of the knowledge of the Ultimate Reality. This diary contains the tales of that struggle.”
The reading from the dairy continues –
Belur Math, Friday, 22 November 1929, 6 p.m. The evening worship with lights has just ended. Sri Mahapurusha is seated on the verandah on the second storey. In front flows the Ganges. Lights on the other bank swing like garlands. Swami Shraddhananda is sitting at the feet of Sri Mahapurusha. He is practicing spiritual disciplines and worship in Rajpur, near Dehradun. The sadhu has long hair and a beard. He was blessed by Sri Mahapurusha in Kashi some time ago. He has been at the Math for several days now to associate with the sadhus.
Sri Mahapurusha is seated partly in light and partly in shade. What serenity is on his face! He is seated near the north of the door. From his right, near the northern wall of Swamiji’s room, a sadhu is watching. Sri Mahapurusha’s mind is drawn to the community singing of the arati in Thakur’s shrine. He appears immersed in the sea of Sri Ramakrishna-Brahman. This serene and joyful mood entering the sadhu’s heart has surcharged his mind. He says to himself: “How fortunate I am! I have in front of me the presence of this Vedapurusha.He is an intimate disciple of the avatara of the age. He is a knower of Brahman. And he is my guru, my God.” While living in the Madras Math, he once perceived him to be Sri Ramakrishna himself, so full of Ramakrishna he was. This perception has revived today.
It is quiet, as if solitude is deep-rooted. Sri Mahapurusha, breaking that silence, says to Shraddhananda, “Did you go to Amarnath?” He replies, “No, Sir. I don’t like wandering.” Sri Mahapurusha says, “Very good, very good, this is very nice. You can become addicted to wandering. Those who wish to advance spiritually, those who want real knowledge, should not wander.”
(Pointing toward Dakshineswar) “Look there. That is our Amarnath. God came in a human body and enacted his divine sport for some thirty years there. How much samadhi, how many divine visions, how much conversation with the Mother he had there! The Mother is none else but Para-brahman and She is indeed Shakti. Dakshineswar is the living Amarnath for us.”
There is a short silence. After a few moments Nripen Saha, a devotee, arrives. He has a big container in his hand. He says to Sri Mahapurusha, “It contains chanabara.” Sri Mahapurusha exclaims like a child, “Very nice, very nice! Offer it to Thakur. Prasad can be taken in this same container for tomorrow morning prayers!” Nripen comes almost daily to the Math from Calcutta to pay homage.
Opening the lid, he shows chanabara to Sri Mahapurusha. It is very good, both in quality and quantity. Sri Mahapurusha cannot contain himself with joy. He says, “Such nice sweets! Tell them to give it to Thakur to eat today.” He says it with such natural devotion, as if Thakur was alive right next to him.
M.: “How could it be otherwise? For his intimate disciples, Thakur is living; he is truly living. Sashi Maharaj would fry puris and offer them one by one to Thakur. He saw Thakur eating them in front of him, though Thakur’s gross body had passed away. It was said that there was nothing in the house. What could he be offered as food? His self-respect wounded, he went to the sea to bring some sand, but as he reached the gate, a devotee gave him ten rupees. Instead of going to the sea, he went to the bazaar and bought a few things, cooked them, and offered them to Sri Ramakrishna.”
The reading from the diary continues –
Today is Saturday, 23 November, 1924. Sri Mahapurusha’s room, 7 a.m. A sadhu comes in and offers salutation. Sri Mahapurusha is seated on the north side of the cot. As soon as the sadhu rises Sri Mahapurusha says, “Sat-chit-ananda Shiva – Sat-chit-ananda Shiva!” Sometimes he makes others hear this mahamantra after they offer salutations.
It is now half past ten. Sri Mahapurusha has gone to the southern room on the second storey and has taken his seat on the cot. A devotee who sings grasps his hands together and says from the southeastern corner, “Maharaj, I have not achieved anything. I cannot perform spiritual practice and worship. Admitting this, I weep in front of God.”
Sri Mahapurusha says very affectionately, “If you can cry, ‘Ma, Ma,’ you have succeeded already. You will not have to do anything else.”
A sadhu carrying flowers to Swamiji’s room hears these great words. Overcome with joy, he says to himself, “What an easy path he has indicated: Cry to the Mother! Thakur also showed this new easy path: go to a solitary corner and cry yearningly in solitude. He will surely listen and will surely grant His vision.”
After awhile Sri Mahapurusha paces the verandah alone on the second storey and occasionally mutters, “Sambhu Shiva, Sambhu Shiva.” A sadhu sitting in Swamiji’s room is praying. He discontinues it and watches Sri Mahapurusha, who is pacing like a lonely lion.
Dusk is approaching. Sri Mahapurusha is seated on a chair close to the passage on the verandah of second storey facing the Ganges. Swami Shraddhananda of Rajpur is seated close to his feet. Some others stand around.
Narayan Babu has arrived. He was a frequent visitor to the Baranagore Math. He has had the blessings of Thakur. He offers his salutations and sits down. He says happily to Sri Mahapurusha, “It was so delightful to hear that song from you in the Baranagore Math. I still seem to hear it.” “Which one?” asks Sri Mahapurusha. “Let your mind dwell on Hari. You will attain gradually,” says Narayan Babu with joy. Sri Mahapurusha says, “Yes, but Thakur did not like it. He said: Why so? You have taken the Mother’s name once, you must attain it. Why gradually? It must happen this very moment as in the case of a dacoit. There must be so much faith, love and devotion.”
M.: “O, how beautiful: ‘If you can cry uttering “Ma, Ma,” you have already succeeded.’ Had not Thakur come, who could have made these sadhus talk of such an easy path? It is he, who sits inside them and makes them say nectar-like words to persons being scalded by a burning fire.”
The reading from the diary continues –
Sunday, 24 November, 1929, Belur Math, Sri Mahapurusha’s room, 6 a.m. Sri Mahapurusha is sitting on the northern portion of his bed. Sadhus are coming singly to pay obeisance to him. Swami Sharvananda, having offered salutations, stands in front of the western window. He says, “I’m going to Calcutta today. I have to give some homeopathic medicine to someone.” Sri Mahapurusha says with a smile, “Son, don’t be a medicine-giving sadhu.”
Swami Pranavananda says, “In our village, Belur, so many people fall sick.” Sri Mahapurusha says, “It’s good and must be done if you enquire after the people of your neighbourhood.”
It is about 9 p.m. Sri Mahapurusha has pain in his right knee. Shankar Maharaj, his attendant, makes hot bags of salt and Mati Maharaj applies heat with them. Umesh Maharaj is whisking away evening mosquitoes with a fan. He is not well today. A sadhu, who is standing toward the north of the cot, is fanning the fire in an iron pan. The same sadhu stretching himself up examines the eczema on Sri Mahapurusha’s foot that is placed on a stool. Sri Mahapurusha laughs and says to the sadhu, “You don’t have to examine it.” Shailesh Maharaj is sitting nearby.
The same sadhu, having offered his salutations one morning, asked whether Sri Mahapurusha had slept well at night. Sri Mahapurusha smiled and said, “Tell me, why you asked?” The sadhu said, “I often hear that you don’t sleep well, that’s all.” This sadhu himself was in poor health. He understood that he had no right to enquire about Sri Mahapurusha’s health, that he had rather take care of his health.
M.: “Even if one is weak because of a health problem, staying near, and watching and hearing everything and rendering service as much as one is capable of – all these are various austerities. By staying with holy people, you gain the results of the austerity of a thousand years. Where can one get such an opportunity? The life of these people is living religion. It is only when an avatara comes that such a living religion can be seen. There is a flood of religion now – even the plains are pole deep in water with it.”
The diary continues –
Wednesday, 27 November, 1929, evening. Worship is over. Sri Mahapurusha is sitting on a cot in the southern office room. Adjacent to his room, and to the east, is Swami Vivekananda’s room. Mati Maharaj, the attendant there, stands nearby and Swami Vijayananda is seated on the floor. There is an electric light in the room. After some time it is switched off and a blue blub is switched on in its place. It gives a very dim light. There is casual conversation.
Sri Mahapurusha: “Has Khoka (Satish Mukherji) come from the Basumati office?”
Swami Vijayananda: “No.”
There is silence for awhile.
bhrāmayansarvabhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā.
“What should the man do then, when it is He who makes Mahamaya do all?”
Swami Vijayananda: “The Chandi says, balādākṛṣya.”
Sri Mahapurusha: “Yes.”
jñānināmapi cetāṃsi devī bhagavatī hi sā,
balādākṛṣya mohāya mahāmāyā prayacchati.
“Even men of knowledge come to such a pass.”
It is 7:15 p.m. Himanshu, a young man of 22 or 23, enters. He is the daughter’s son of Tulsiram Babu, Swami Premananda’s brother. His home is in Calcutta. He visits Master Mahashay there. Himanshu offers salutations and stands before him.
Sri Mahapurusha: “How are you, young man? All right?”
Himanshu: “No, sir. The mind is not in the right state.”
Sri Mahapurusha: “Why so? Both of your parents have taken Thakur as their refuge and you have taken refuge with us. Why should your mind not be in the right state? Come to the Math and visit Master Mahashay in Calcutta. Don’t go anywhere else. You really should do this. Do you practice japa and meditation? You know that song of Thakur: ‘O my mind, live within yourself. Don’t go to any other house. You will get everything you ask for sitting here. Look for it within yourself.’”
Sri Mahapurusha rises and goes to his room humming the second line: “You will get everything you ask for sitting here. Look for it within yourself. You have everything within.”
M.: “Nice. ‘You will get everything you ask for sitting here. Look for it within yourself. You have everything within.’ When Thakur sang this song, we felt as if we had already got everything. The devotees would see God in a human body in front of them. So the mind and soul would become filled with an unknown joy. Who could ask for anything else? Then there was nothing else but One.”
The reading continues –
Today is Thursday, 28 November, 1929, the southern room on the second storey in the Math. It is here that the working committee assembles. It is 6.30 p.m. In the southeastern corner is a cot with a bedspread. Swami Nikhilananda sleeps on it these days. Sri Mahapurusha sits on the bedding over the quilt, facing the east. The blue bulb is on.
Two devotees from Etally are seated on the floor below him. One of them is called Sunder. He is a young man. A dialogue is going on between them.
Swami Raghavananda lives in Etally these days. He delivers talks on Kenopanishad. Sri Mahapurusha says, “It speaks of the advent of the Goddess. After the battle between the gods and demons, the gods had become proud. It was to break their pride that the Goddess came. But those people could not recognize Her.
“She came in the guise of a Yaksha. Indra sent Agni, the god of fire, to find out who had arrived. On Agni’s coming, the Goddess in the form of Yaksha asked Agni who he was. He replied, ‘I am the god Agni.’ ‘How powerful and capable are you?’ asked the Goddess.
“‘I can burn the whole earth,’ replied Agni. ‘All right. Just burn this piece of straw,’ said the Goddess. Agni, though he tried his best, couldn’t do it. He left. Then came Pavan, the god of wind. Even he could not move that piece of straw. When Indra came to know of it, he began to suspect that it was surely the Goddess, the Brahman-Shakti. So Indra came himself. The Goddess took Her seat in the sky in the form of Uma Hemvati. Indra was the first to recognize Her. So he was known as the king of gods. Unless the Mother allows it, nobody can recognize Her. So Thakur would always pray: ‘Mother do not enchant me by Your world- bewitching maya.’ He noticed that She always makes one forget. The Gita says:
bhrāmayansarvabhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā.
“He makes everything move with His Mahamaya. Haven’t you heard Thakur’s parable? A marionette first moves the doll this way, and then that. The children think that the doll is dancing by itself, but there is a person who is holding it and making it dance. Similarly, a man thinks he himself is doing everything. Because of our ignorance, we cannot see His hand.”
A certain devotee: “Is it the result of our ego?”
Sri Mahapurusha: “Yes, but if there is no ego, no work can be accomplished, whether big or small. So you should work with the idea that you are His devotee, His son or His servant. When this is done, the Divine Mother doesn’t bind, but frees. Take refuge in Her and that’s all. ‘Mother, I take refuge in Thee. Mother, I take refuge in Thee,’ one should always pray thus.”
M. has been sitting with his eyes shut, listening to the reading of the diary for a long time. Now he speaks.
M. (to the sadhu): “Yes, God makes everyone move with His Mahamaya. The potatoes and patal are dancing. The moment you pull out the fuel, the dance stops. The man can’t see His hand on account of his ignorance.”
The sadhu takes some snacks of sweets, offers salutations, and departs.
Friday, 29 November 1929.
. Receptacle for tobacco.
. The abode of Vishnu.
. Personification of Veda.
. A cheese sweet.
. The Lord dwells in the hearts of all begins, O Arjuna and by His maya causes all beings to revolve as though mounted on a machine. – Bhagavad Gita 18:61.
. Bhagavati Mahamaya forcibly pulls away the minds of even the jnanis and puts it into delusion. – Chandi 1:55.
. A kind of demigod attendant of Kubera, the god of wealth.
. The Lord dwells in the hearts of all begins, O Arjuna and by His maya causes all beings to revolve as though mounted on a machine. Bhagavad Gita 18:61.
. A vegetable.