THE MASTER AND KESHAB
October 27, 1882
Master's boat trip with Keshab
IT WAS FRIDAY, the
day of the Lakshmi Puja. Keshab Chandra Sen had arranged a boat
trip on the Ganges for Sri Ramakrishna.
About four o'clock
in the afternoon the steamboat with Keshab and his Brahmo followers cast
anchor in the Ganges alongside the Kāli temple at Dakshineswar.
The passengers saw in front of them the bathing-ghat and the chandni.
To their left, in the temple compound, stood six temples of Śiva, and to
their right another group of six Śiva temples. The white steeple
of the Kāli temple, the tree-tops of the Panchavati, and the silhouette
of pine-trees stood high against the blue autumn sky. The gardens
between the two nahabats were filled with fragrant flowers, and along
the bank of the Ganges were rows of flowering plants. The blue sky
was reflected in the brown water of the river, the sacred Ganges,
associated with the most ancient traditions of Aryan civilization.
The outer world appeared soft and serene, and the hearts of the Brahmo
devotees were filled with peace.
Master in samādhi
Sri Ramakrishna was
in his room talking with Vijay and Haralal. Some disciples of
Keshab entered. Bowing before the Master, they said to him: "Sir,
the steamer has arrived. Keshab Babu has asked us to take you
there." A small boat was to carry the Master to the steamer. No
sooner did he get into the boat than he lost outer consciousness in
samādhi. Vijay was with him.
M. was among the
passengers. As the boat came alongside the steamer, all rushed to
the railing to have a view of Sri Ramakrishna. Keshab became
anxious to get him safely on board. With great difficulty the
Master was brought back to consciousness of the world and taken to a
cabin in the steamer. Still in an abstracted mood, he walked
mechanically, leaning on a devotee for support. Keshab and the
others bowed before him, but he was not aware of them. Inside the
cabin there were a few chairs and a table. He was made to sit on
one of the chairs, Keshab and Vijay occupying two others. Some
devotees were also seated, most of them on the floor, while many others
had to stand outside. They peered eagerly through the door and
windows. Sri Ramakrishna again went into deep samādhi and became
totally unconscious of the outer world.
As the air in the
room was stuffy because of the crowd of people, Keshab opened the
windows. He was embarrassed to meet Vijay, since they had differed
in certain principles of the Brāhrno Samaj and Vijay had separated
himself from Keshab's organization, joining another society.
The Brahmo devotees
looked wistfully at the Master. Gradually he came back to sense
consciousness; but the divine intoxication still lingered. He said
to himself in a whisper: "Mother, why have You brought me here? They are
hedged around and not free. Can I free them?" Did the Master find
that the people assembled there were locked within the prison walls of
the world? Did their helplessness make the Master address these words to
the Divine Mother?
God dwells in devotee's heart
Sri Ramakrishna was
gradually becoming conscious of the outside world. Nilmadhav of
Ghazipur and a Brahmo devotee were talking about Pavhari Baba.
Another Brahmo devotee said to the Master: "Sir, these gentlemen visited
Pavhari Baba. He lives in Ghazipur. He is a holy man like
yourself." The Master could hardly talk; he only smiled. The
devotee continued, "Sir, Pavhari Baba keeps your photograph in his
room." Pointing to his body the Master said with a smile, "Just a
continued: "But you should remember that the heart of the devotee is the
abode of God. He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He
especially manifests Himself in the heart of the devotee. A
landlord may at one time or another visit all parts of his estate, but
people say he is generally to be found in a particular drawing-room.
The heart of the devotee is the drawing-room of God.
Attitude of jnānis and bhaktās
"He who is called
Brahman by the jnanis is known as Ātman by the yogis and as Bhagavan by
the bhaktas. The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping
in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen. The
jnani sticking to the path of knowledge, always reasons about the
Reality, saying, 'Not this, not this'. Brahman is neither 'this'
nor 'that'; It is neither the universe nor its living beings.
Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady. Then it disappears
and the aspirant goes into samādhi. This is the knowledge of
Brahman. It is the unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman
alone is real and the world illusory. All these names and forms
are illusory, like a dream. What Brahman is cannot be described.
One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person. This is the opinion
of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta philosophy.
"But the bhaktas
accept all the states of consciousness. They take the waking state
to be real also. They don't think the world to be illusory, like a
dream. They say that the universe is a manifestation of God's
power and glory. God has created all these - sky, stars, moon,
sun, mountains, ocean, men, animals. They constitute His glory.
He is within us, in our hearts. Again, He is outside. The
most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this - the
twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings.
The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to become sugar. (All
"Do you know how a
lover of God feels? His attitude is: 'O God, Thou are the Master, and I
am Thy servant. Thou art the Mother, and I am Thy child.' Or
again: 'Thou art my Father and Mother. Thou art the Whole, and I
am a part.' He doesn't like to say, 'I am Brahman.'
Attitude of yogis
"The yogi seeks to
realize the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul. His ideal is the union
of the embodied soul and the Supreme Soul. He withdraws his mind
from sense-objects and tries to concentrate it on the Paramatman.
Therefore, during the first stage of his spiritual discipline, he
retires into solitude and with undivided attention practises meditation
in a fixed posture.
"But the Reality is
one and the same. The difference is only in name. He who is
Brahman is verily Ātman, and again, He is the Bhagavan. He is
Brahman to the followers of the path of knowledge, Paramatman to the
yogis, and Bhagavan to the lovers of God."
The steamer had been
going toward Calcutta; but the passengers, with their eyes fixed on the
Master and their ears given to his nectar-like words, were oblivious of
its motion. Dakshineswar, with its temples and gardens, was left
behind. The paddles of the boat churned the waters of the Ganges
with a murmuring sound. But the devotees were indifferent to all
this. Spellbound, they looked on a great yogi, his face lighted
with a divine smile, his countenance radiating love, his eyes sparkling
with joy-a man who had renounced all for God and who knew nothing but
God. Unceasing words of wisdom flowed from his lips.
Reasoning of jnanis
jnanis, who adhere to the non-dualistic philosophy of Vedanta, say that
the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, the universe itself
and all its living beings, are the manifestations of Śakti, the Divine
Power. If you reason it out, you will realize that all these are
as illusory as a dream. Brahman alone is the Reality, and all else
is unreal. Even this very Śakti is unsubstantial, like a dream.
"But though you
reason all your life, unless you are established in samādhi, you cannot
go beyond the jurisdiction of Śakti. Even when you say, 'I am
meditating', or 'I am contemplating', still you are moving in the realm
of Śakti, within Its power.
Identity of Brahman and Śakti
"Thus Brahman and
Śakti are identical. If you accept the one, you must accept the
other. It is like fire and its power to burn. If you see the
fire, you must recognize its power to burn also. You cannot think
of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to
burn without fire. You cannot conceive of the sun's rays without
the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun without its rays.
"What is milk like?
Oh, you say, it is something white. You cannot think of the milk
without the whiteness, and again, you cannot think of the whiteness
without the milk.
"Thus one cannot
think of Brahman without Śakti, or of Śakti without Brahman. One
cannot think of the Absolute without the Relative, or of the Relative
without the Absolute.
Power is ever at play. She is creating, preserving, and destroying
in play, as it were. This Power is called Kāli. Kāli is
verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kāli. It is one and the same
Reality. When we think of It as inactive, that is to say,
not engaged in the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, then
we call It Brahman. But when It engages in these activities, then
we call It Kāli or Śakti. The Reality is one and the same; the
difference is in name and form.
"It is like water,
called in different languages by different names, such as 'jal', 'pani',
and so forth. There are three or four ghats on a lake. The
Hindus, who drink water at one place, call it 'jal'. The
Mussalmans at another place call it 'pani'. And the English at a
third place call it 'water'. All three denote one and the same
thing, the difference being in the name only. In the same way,
some address the Reality as 'Allah', some as 'God', some as
'Brahman', some as 'Kāli', and others by such names as 'Rama', 'Jesus',
'Durga', 'Hari.' "
Different manifestations of Kāli
KESHAB (with a
smile): "Describe to us, sir, in how many ways Kāli, the Divine Mother,
sports in this world."
MASTER (with a
smile): "Oh, She plays in different ways. It is She alone who is
known as Maha-Kāli, Nitya-Kāli, Smasana-Kāli, Raksha-Kāli, and
Syama-Kāli. Maha-Kāli and Nitya-Kāli are mentioned in the Tantra
philosophy. When there were neither the creation, nor the sun, the
moon, the planets, and the earth and when darkness was enveloped
in darkness, then the Mother, the Formless One, Maha-Kāli, the Great
Power, was one with Maha-Kala, the Absolute.
"Syama-Kāli has a
somewhat tender aspect and is worshipped in the Hindu households.
She is the Dispenser of boons and the Dispeller of fear. People worship
Raksha-Kāli, the Protectress, in times of epidemic, famine, earthquake,
drought, and flood. Smasana-Kāli is the embodiment of the power of
destruction. She resides in the cremation ground, surrounded by
corpses, jackals, and terrible female spirits. From Her mouth
flows a stream of blood, from Her neck hangs a garland of human heads,
and around Her waist is a girdle made of human hands.
Beginning of a cycle
destruction of the universe, at the end of a great cycle, the Divine
Mother garners the seeds for the next creation. She is like the
elderly mistress of the house, who has a hotchpotch-pot in which she
keeps different articles for household use. (All laugh.)
"Oh, yes! Housewives
have pots like that, where they keep 'sea-foam', blue pills, small
bundles of seeds of cucumber, pumpkin, and gourd, and so on. They
take them out when they want them. In the same way, after the
destruction of the universe, my Divine Mother, the Embodiment of
Brahman, gathers together the seeds for the next creation. After
the creation the Primal Power dwells in the universe itself. She
brings forth this phenomenal world and then pervades it. In the
Vedas creation is likened to the spider and its web. The spider
brings the web out of itself and then remains in it. God is the
container of the universe and also what is contained in it.
"Is Kāli, my Divine
Mother, of a black complexion? She appears black because She is viewed
from a distance; but when intimately known She is no longer so.
The sky appears blue at a distance; but look at it close by and you will
find that it has no colour. The water of the ocean looks blue at a
distance, but when you go near and take it in your hand, you find that
it is colourless."
The Master became
intoxicated with divine love and sang:
Is Kāli, my Mother, really black?
The Naked One, of blackest hue,
Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .
continued: "Bondage and liberation are both of Her making. By Her
Maya worldly people become entangled in 'woman and gold', and again,
through Her grace they attain their liberation. She is called
Saviour, and the remover of the bondage that binds one to the world."
Divine Mother's sport
Then the Master sang
the following song in his melodious voice:
In the world's busy market-place, O Syama, Thou art flying kites;
High up they soar on the wind of hope, held fast by maya's string.
Their frames are human skeletons, their sails of the three gunas made;
But all their curious workmanship is merely for ornament.
Upon the kite-strings Thou hast rubbed the manja-paste of worldliness,
So as to make each straining strand all the more sharp and strong.
Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;
And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!
On favouring winds, says Ramprasad, the kites set loose will speedily
Be borne away to the Infinite, across the sea of the world.
The Master said:
"The Divine Mother is always playful and sportive. This universe
is Her play. She is self-willed and must always have Her own way.
She is full of bliss. She gives freedom to one out of a hundred
A BRAHMO DEVOTEE:
"But, sir, if She likes, She can give freedom to all. Why, then,
has She kept us bound to the world?"
MASTER: "That is Her
will. She wants to continue playing with Her created beings.
In a game of hide-and-seek the running about soon stops if in the
beginning all the players touch the 'granny'. If all touch her,
then how can the game go on? That displeases her. Her pleasure is
in continuing the game. Therefore the poet said:
Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;
And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!
Reassurance to householders
"It is as if the
Divine Mother said to the human mind in confidence, with a sign from Her
eye, 'Go and enjoy the world.' How can one blame the mind? The mind can
disentangle itself from worldliness if, through Her grace, She makes it
turn toward Herself. Only then does it become devoted to the Lotus
Feet of the Divine Mother."
Ramakrishna, taking upon himself, as it were, the agonies of all
householders, sang a song complaining to the Divine Mother:
Mother, this is the grief that sorely grieves my heart,
That even with Thee for Mother, and though I am wide awake,
There should be robbery in my house.
Many and many a time I vow to call on Thee,
Yet when the time for prayer comes round, I have forgotten.
Now I see it is all Thy trick.
As Thou hast never given, so Thou receivest naught;
Am I to blame for this, O Mother? Hadst Thou but given,
Surely then Thou hadst received;
Out of Thine own gifts I should have given to Thee.
Glory and shame, bitter and sweet, are Thine alone;
This world is nothing but Thy play.
Then why, O Blissful One, dost Thou cause a rift in it?
Says Ramprasad: Thou hast bestowed on me this mind,
And with a knowing wink of Thine eye
Bidden it, at the same time, to go and enjoy the world.
And so I wander here forlorn through Thy creation,
Blasted, as it were, by someone's evil glance,
Taking the bitter for the sweet,
Taking the unreal for the Real.
continued: "Men are deluded through Her maya and have become attached to
Says Ramprasad: Thou hast bestowed on me this mind,
And with a knowing wink of Thine eye
Bidden it, at the same time, to go and enjoy the world."
"Sir, can't we realize God without complete renunciation?"
MASTFR (with a
laugh): "Of course you can! Why should you renounce everything? You are
all right as you are, following the middle path-like molasses partly
solid and partly liquid. Do you know the game of nax? Having
scored the maximum number of points, I am out of the game. I can't
enjoy it. But you are very clever. Some of you have scored
ten points, some six, and some five. You have scored just the
right number; so you are not out of the game like me. The game can
go on. Why, that's fine! (All laugh.)
"I tell you the
truth: there is nothing wrong in your being in the world. But you
must direct your mind toward God; otherwise you will not succeed.
Do your duty with one hand and with the other hold to God. After the
duty is over, you will hold to God with both hands.
Bondage and liberation are of the mind
"It is all a
question of the mind. Bondage and liberation are of the mind
alone. The mind will take the colour you dye it with. It is
like white clothes just returned from the laundry. If you dip them
in red dye, they will be red. If you dip them in blue or green,
they will be blue or green. They will take only the colour you dip
them in, whatever it may be. Haven't you noticed that, if you read
a little English, you at once begin to utter English words: Foot fut it
mit? Then you put on boots and whistle a tune, and so on. It all
goes together. Or, if a scholar studies Sanskrit, he will at once
rattle off Sanskrit verses. If you are in bad company, then you
will talk and think like your companions. On the other hand, when
you are in the company of devotees, you will think and talk only of God.
"The mind is
everything. A man has his wife on one side and his daughter on the
other. He shows his affection to them in different ways. But
his mind is one and the same.
"Bondage is of the
mind, and freedom is also of the mind. A man is free if he
constantly thinks: 'I am a free soul. How can I be bound, whether
I live in the world or in the forest? I am a child of God, the King of
Kings. Who can bind me?' If bitten by a snake, a man may get rid
of its venom by saying emphatically, 'There is no poison in me.' In the
same way, by repeating with grit and determination, 'I am not bound, I
am free', one really becomes so-one really becomes free.
"Once someone gave
me a book of the Christians. I asked him to read it to me.
It talked about nothing but sin. (To Keshab) Sin is the only thing
one hears of at your Brahmo Samaj, too. The wretch who constantly
says, 'I am bound, I am bound' only succeeds in being bound. He
who says day and night, 'I am a sinner, I am a sinner' verily becomes a
Redeeming power of faith
"One should have
such burning faith in God that one can say: 'What? I have repeated the
name of God, and can sin still cling to me? How can I be a sinner any
more? How can I be in bondage any more?'
"If a man repeats
the name of God, his body, mind, and everything become pure. Why
should one talk only about sin and hell, and such things? Say but once,
'O Lord, I have undoubtedly done wicked things, but I won't repeat
them.' And have faith in His name."
became intoxicated with divine love and sang:
If only I can pass away repeating Durga's name,
How canst Thou then, O Blessed One,
Withhold from me deliverance,
Wretched though I may be? . . .
Then he said: "To my
Divine Mother I prayed only for pure love. I offered flowers at
Her Lotus Feet and prayed to Her: 'Mother, here is Thy virtue, here is
Thy vice. Take them both and grant me only pure love for Thee.
Here is Thy knowledge, here is Thy ignorance. Take them both and
grant me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy purity, here is Thy
impurity. Take them both, Mother, and grant me only pure love for
Thee. Here is Thy dharma, here is Thy adharma. Take them
both, Mother, and grant me only pure love for Thee.'
(To the Brahmo
devotees) "Now listen to a song by Ramprasad:
Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kāli, the Wish-fulfilling Tree,
And there beneath It gather the four fruits of life.
Of your two wives, Dispassion and Worldliness,
Bring alone Dispassion only, on your way to the Tree,
And ask her son Discrimination about the Truth.
When will you learn to lie, O mind, in the abode of Blessedness,
With Cleanliness and Defilement on either side of you?
Only when you have found the way
To keep these wives contentedly under a single roof,
Will you behold the matchless form of Mother Syama.
Ego and Ignorance, your parents, instantly banish from your sight;
And should Delusion seek to drag you to its hole,
Manfully cling to the pillar of Patience.
Tie to the post of Unconcern the goats of Vice and Virtue,
Killing them with the sword of Knowledge if they rebel.
With the children of Worldliness, your first wife, plead from a goodly
And, if they will not listen, drown them in Wisdom's sea.
Says Ramprasad: If you do as I say,
You can submit a good account, O mind, to the King of Death,
And I shall be well pleased with you and call you my darling.
"Why shouldn't one be able to realize God in this world? King Janaka had
such realization. Ramprasad described the world as a mere
'framework of illusion'. But if one loves God's hallowed feet,
This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.
Janaka's might was unsurpassed;
What did he lack of the world or the Spirit?
Holding to one as well as the other,
He drank his milk from a brimming cup!
"But one cannot be a
King Janaka all of a sudden. Janaka at first practised much
austerity in solitude.
Solitude for householders
"Even if one lives
in the world, one must go into solitude now and then. It will be
of great help to a man if he goes away from his family, lives alone, and
weeps for God even for three days. Even if he thinks of God for
one day in solitude, when he has the leisure, that too will do him good.
People shed a whole jug of tears for wife and children. But who
cries for the Lord? Now and then one must go into solitude and practise
spiritual discipline to realize God. Living in the world and
entangled in many of its duties, the aspirant, during the first stage of
spiritual life, finds many obstacles in the path of concentration.
While the trees on the foot-path are young, they must he fenced around;
otherwise they will be destroyed by cattle. The fence is necessary
when the tree is young, but it can be taken away when the trunk is thick
and strong. Then the tree won't be hurt even if an elephant is
tied to it.
Malady of worldly people and its cure
"The disease of
worldliness is like typhoid. And there are a huge jug of water and
a jar of savoury pickles in the typhoid patient's room. If you
want to cure him of his illness, you must remove him from that room.
The worldly man is like the typhoid patient. The various objects
of enjoyment are the huge jug of water, and the craving for their
enjoyment is his thirst. The very thought of pickles makes the
mouth water; you don't have to bring them near. And he is
surrounded with them. The companionship of woman is the pickles.
Hence treatment in solitude is necessary.
"One may enter the
world after attaining discrimination and dispassion. In the ocean
of the world there are six alligators: lust, anger, and so forth.
But you need not fear the alligators if you smear your body with
turmeric before you go into the water. Discrimination and
dispassion are the turmeric. Discrimination is the knowledge of
what is real and what is unreal. It is the realization that God
alone is the real and eternal Substance and that all else is unreal,
transitory, impermanent. And you must cultivate intense zeal for
God. You must feel love for Him and be attracted to Him. The
gopis of Vrindāvan felt the attraction of Krishna. Let me sing you
Listen! The flute has sounded in yonder wood.
There I must fly, for Krishna waits on the path.
Tell me, friends, will you come along or no?
To you my Krishna is merely an empty name;
To me He is the anguish of my heart.
You hear His flute-notes onlv with your ears,
But, oh, I hear them in my deepest soul.
I hear His flute calling: 'Radha come out!
Without you the grove is shorn of its loveliness.' "
The Master sang the
song with tears in his eyes, and said to Keshab and the other Brahmo
devotees: "Whether you accept Radha and Krishna, or not, please do
accept their attraction for each other. Try to create that same
yearning in your heart for God. Yearning is all you need in order
to realize Him."
ebb-tide set in. The steamboat was speeding toward Calcutta.
It passed under the Howrah Bridge and came within sight of the Botanical
Garden. The captain was asked to go a little farther down the
river. The passengers were enchanted with the Master's words, and
most of them had no idea of time or of how far they had come.
Keshab began to
serve some puffed rice and grated coconut. The guests held these
in the folds of their wearing-cloths and presently started to eat.
Everyone was joyful. The Master noticed, however, that Keshab and
Vijay rather shrank from each other, and he was anxious to reconcile
Disagreements necessary for enriching
MASTEIR (to Keshab):
"Look here. There is Vijay. Your quarrel seems like the
fight between Śiva and Rama. Śiva was Rama's s guru. Though
they fought with each other, yet they soon came to terms. But the
grimaces of the ghosts, the followers of Śiva, and the gibberish of the
monkeys, the followers of Rama, would not come to an end! (Loud
laughter.) Such quarrels take place even among one's own kith and kin.
Didn't Rama fight with His own sons, Lava and Kusa? Again, you must have
noticed how a mother and daughter, living together and having the same
spiritual end in view, observe their religious fast separately on
Tuesdays, each on her own account-as if the welfare of the mother were
different from the welfare of the daughter. But what benefits the
one benefits the other. In like manner, you have a religious
society, and Vijay thinks he must have one too. (Laughter.) But I
think all these are necessary. While Sri Krishna, Himself God
Incarnate, played with the gopis at Vrindāvan, trouble-makers like
Jatila and Kutila appeared on the scene. You may ask why.
The answer is that the play does not develop without trouble-makers.
(All laugh.) There is no fun without Jatila and Kutila. (Loud
"Ramanuja upheld the
doctrine of Qualified Non-dualism. But his guru was a pure
non-dualist. They disagreed with each other and refuted each
other's arguments. That always happens. Still, to the
teacher the disciple is his own."
All rejoiced in the
Mastcr's company and his words.
MASTER (to Keshab):
"You don't look into people's natures, before you make them your
disciples, and so they break away from you.
"All men look alike,
to be sure, but they have different natures. Some have an excess
of sattva, others an excess of rajas, and still others an excess of
tamas. You must have noticed that the cakes known as puli all look
alike. But their contents are very different. Some contain
condensed milk, some coconut kernel, and others mere boiled kalai pulse.
"Do you know my
attitude? As for myself, I eat, drink, and live happily. The rest
the Divine Mother knows. Indeed, there are three words that prick
my flesh: 'guru', 'master', and 'father'.
"There is only one
Guru, and that is Satchidananda. He alone is the Teacher. My
attitude toward God is that of a child toward its mother. One can
get human gurus by the million. All want to be teachers. But
who cares to be a disciple?
Difficulty of preaching
"It is extremely
difficult to teach others. A man can teach only if God reveals
Himself to him and gives the command. Narada, Sukadeva, and sages
like them had such a command from God, and Sankara had it too.
Unless you have a command from God, who will listen to your words?
"Don't you know how
easily the people of Calcutta get excited? The milk in the kettle puffs
up and boils as long as the fire burns underneath. Take away the
fuel and all becomes quiet. The people of Calcutta love
sensations. You may see them digging a well at a certain place.
They say they want water. But if they strike a stone they give up
that place; they begin at another place. And there, perchance,
they find sand; they give up the second place too. Next they begin
at a third. And so it goes. But it won't do if a man only
imagines that he has God's command.
"God does reveal
Himself to man and speak. Only then may one receive His command.
How forceful are the words of such a teacher! They can move mountains.
But mere lectures? People will listen to them for a few days and then
forget them. They will never act upon mere words.
"At Kamarpukur there
is a small lake called the Haldarpukur. Certain people used to
befoul its banks every day. Others who came there in the morning
to bathe would abuse the offenders loudly. But next morning they
would find the same thing. The nuisance didn't stop. (All
laugh.) The villagers finally informed the authorities about it. A
constable was sent, who put up a notice on the bank which read: 'Commit
no nuisance.' This stopped the miscreants at once. (All laugh.)
"To teach others,
one must have a badge of authority; otherwise teaching becomes a
mockery. A man who is himself ignorant starts out to teach
others-like the blind leading the blind! Instead of doing good, such
teaching does harm. After the realization of God one obtains an
inner vision. Only then can one diagnose a person's spiritual
malady and give instruction.
commission from God, a man becomes vain. He says to himself, 'I am
teaching people.' This vanity comes from ignorance, for only an ignorant
person feels that he is the doer. A man verily becomes liberated
in life if he feels: 'God is the Doer. He alone is doing
everything. I am doing nothing.' Man's sufferings and
worries spring only from his persistent thought that he is the doer.
Doing good to others
"You people speak of
doing good to the world. Is the world such a small thing? And who
are you, pray, to do good to the world? First realize God, see Him by
means of spiritual discipline. If He imparts power, then you can
do good to others; otherwise not."
A BRAHMO DEVOTEE:
"Then, sir, we must give up our activities until we realize God?"
Why should you? You must engage in such activities as contemplation,
singing His praises, and other daily devotions."
BRAHMO: "But what
about our worldly duties-duties associated with our earning money, and
MASTER: "Yes, you
can perform them too, but only as much as you need for your livelihood.
At the same time, you must pray to God in solitude, with tears in your
eyes, that you may be able to perform those duties in an unselfish
manner. You should say to Him: 'O God, make my worldly duties
fewer and fewer; otherwise, O Lord, I find that I forget Thee when I am
involved in too many activities. I may think I am doing unselfish
work, but it turns out to be selfish.' People who carry to excess the
giving of alms, or the distributing of food among the poor, fall victims
to the desire of acquiring name and fame.
"Sambhu Mallick once
talked about establishing hospitals, dispensaries, and schools, making
roads, digging public reservoirs, and so forth. I said to him:
'Don't go out of your way to look for such works. Undertake only
those works that present themselves to you and are of pressing
necessity-and those also in a spirit of detachment.' It is not good to
become involved in many activities. That makes one forget God.
Coming to the Kalighat temple, some, perhaps, spend their whole time in
giving alms to the poor. They have no time to see the Mother in
the inner shrine! (Laughter.) First of all manage somehow to see the
image of the Divine Mother, oven by pushing through the crowd.
Then you may or may not give alms, as you wish. You may give to
the poor to your heart's content, if you feel that way. Work is
only a means to the realization of God. Therefore I said to
Sambhu, 'Suppose God appears before you; then will you ask Him to build
hospitals and dispensaries for you?' (Laughter.) A lover of God never
says that. He will rather say: 'O Lord, give me a place at Thy
Lotus Feet. Keep me always in Thy company. Give me sincere
and pure love for Thee.'
Path of devotion most elective for
"Karmayoga is very
hard indeed. In the Kaliyuga it is extremely difficult to perform
the rites enjoined in the scriptures. Nowadays man's life is
centred on food alone. He cannot perform many scriptural rites.
Suppose a man is laid up with fever. If you attempt a slow cure
with the old-fashioned indigenous remedies, before long his life may be
snuffed out. He can't stand much delay. Nowadays the drastic
'D Gupta' mixture is appropriate. In the Kaliyuga the best way is
bhaktiyoga, the path of devotion-singing the praises of the Lord, and
prayer. The path of devotion alone is the religion for this age.
(To the Brahmo devotees) Yours also is the path of devotion.
Blessed you are indeed that you chant the name of Hari and sing the
Divine Mother's glories. I like your attitude. You don't
call the world a dream like the non-dualists. You are not
Brahmajnanis like them; you are bhaktas, lovers of God. That you
speak of Him as a Person is also good. You are devotees. You
will certainly realize Him if you call on Him with sincerity and
The boat cast anchor
at Kayalaghat and the passengers prepared to disembark. On coming
outside they noticed that the full moon was up. The trees, the
buildings, and the boats on the Ganges were bathed in its mellow light.
A carriage was hailed for the Master, and M. and a few devotees got in
with him. The Master asked for Keshab. Presently the latter
arrived and inquired about the arrangements made for the Master's return
to Dakshineswar. Then he bowed low and took leave of Sri
The carriage drove
through the European quarter of the city. The Master enjoyed the
sight of the beautiful mansions on both sides of the well lighted
streets. Suddenly he said: "I am thirsty. What's to be
done?" Nandalal, Keshab's nephew, stopped the carriage before the India
Club and went upstairs to get some water. The Master inquired
whether the glass had been well washed. On being assured that it
had been, he drank the water.
As the carriage went
along, the Master put his head out of the window and looked with
childlike enjoyment, at the people, the vehicles, the horses, and the
streets, all flooded with moonlight. Now and then he heard
European ladies singing at the piano. He was in a very happy mood.
The carriage arrived
at the house of Suresh Mitra, who was a great devotee of the Master and
whom he addressed affectionately as Surendra. He was not at home.
The members of the
household opened a room on the ground floor for the Master and his
party. The cab fare was to be paid. Surendra would have
taken care of it had he been there. The Master said to a devotee:
"Why don't you ask the ladies to pay the fare? They certainly know that
their master visits us at Dakshineswar. I am not a stranger to
Narendra, who lived
in that quarter of the city, was sent for. In the mean time Sri
Ramakrishna and the devotees were invited to the drawing-room upstairs.
The floor of the room was covered with a carpet and a white sheet.
A few cushions were lying about. On the wall hung an oil painting
especially painted for Surendra, in which Sri Ramakrishna was pointing
out to Keshab the harmony of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism,
and other religions. On seeing the picture Keshab had once said,
"Blessed is the man who conceived the idea."
Sri Ramakrishna was
talking joyously with the devotees, when Narendra arrived. This
made the Master doubly happy. He said to his young disciple, "We
had a boat trip with Keshab today. Vijay and many other Brahmo
devotees were there. (Pointing to M.) Ask him what I said to
Keshab and Vijay about the mother and daughter observing their religious
fast on Tuesdays, each on her own account, though the welfare of the one
meant the welfare of the other. I also said to Keshab that
trouble-makers like jatila and Kutila were necessary to lend zest to the
play. (To M.) Isn't that so?"
M: "Yes, sir.
It was late.
Surendra had not yet returned. The Master had to leave for the
temple garden, and a cab was brought for him. M. and Narendra
saluted him and took their leave. Sri Ramakrishna's carriage
started for Dakshineswar through the moonlit streets.