FESTIVAL AT SURENDRA'S HOUSE
Sunday, June 15,
arrived in the morning at the garden house of Surendra, one of his
beloved householder disciples, in the village of Kankurgachi near
Calcutta. Surendra had invited him and a large number of the devotees to
a religious festival.
Occasions like this
were a source of great happiness and rejoicing to the Master's devotees.
He was then seen at his best. He joined with the others in devotional
music and in chanting the names of God, frequently going into ecstasy.
He poured out his entire soul in inspired talk, explaining the various
phases of God-Consciousness. The impressions of such a festival lingered
in the minds of all for many days.
The devotees stood
in rows inside the big hall of the garden house to hear the music sung
by the professional singers. The floor of the room was covered with a
carpet over which was spread a white sheet; a few bolsters, pillows, and
cushions lay here and there.
Krishna and Gopis at Vrindāvan
The musicians were
singing of the episodes in the life of Sri Krishna especially associated
with His divine love for the gopis of Vrindāvan. This was a theme which
always appealed to the Master and would throw him into ecstatic moods.
Incarnate, lived the years of His boyhood in Vrindāvan as a cowherd. He
tended His cows on the green meadows along the bank of the Jamuna and
played His flute. The milkmaids could not resist the force of His divine
attraction. At the sound of His flute they would leave their household
duties and go to the bank of the sacred river. Their love for Krishna
destroyed their attachment to worldly things. Neither the threats of
their relatives nor the criticism of others could make them desist from
seeking the company of Krishna. In the love of the gopis for Krishna
there was not the slightest trace of worldliness. It was the innate
attraction of God for pure souls, as of the magnet for iron. The author
of the Bhagavata has compared this love to the all-consuming love of a
woman for her beloved. Before the on rush of that love all barriers
between man and God are swept away. The devotee surrenders himself
completely to his Divine Beloved and in the end becomes one with Him.
Radha was the
foremost of the gopis, and Krishna's chief playmate. She felt an
indescribable longing for union with Him. A moment's separation from
Krishna would rend her heart and soul.
During many a
moonlit night Krishna would dance with Radha and the gopis in the sacred
groves of Vrindāvan, and on such occasions the gopis would experience
the highest religious ecstasy. At the age of eleven Krishna was called
to be the king of Mathura. He left the gopis, promising them, however,
His divine vision whenever they concentrated on Him in their hearts.
For centuries and
centuries the lovers of God in 1ndia have been worshipping the Divine by
recreating in themselves the yearning of the gopis for Krishna. Many of
the folk-songs of India have as their theme this sweet episode of
Krishna's life. Sri Chaitanya revived this phase of Hindu religious life
by his spiritual practice and his divine visions. In his ecstatic music
Chaitanya assumed the role of Radha and manifested the longing to be
united with Krishna. For a long period Sri Ramakrishna also worshipped
God as his beloved Krishna, looking on himself as one of the gopis or as
At Surendra's garden
house the kirtan had begun early in the morning. The musicians were
singing about the love of Krishna and Radha for each other. The Master
was frequently in samādhi. The room was crowded with devotees, among
them Bhavanath, Niranjan, Rākhāl , Surendra, Ram, and M., and many
members of the Brahmo Samaj.
In accordance with
the custom, the kirtan had begun with, an introductory song about
monastic life. He is being consumed with longing for a vision of
Krishna. He leaves Navadvip and goes away as a wandering monk to seek
out his Beloved. His devotees, unable to bear the pangs of separation,
weep bitterly and beg Gaurānga to return.
The musician sang:
O Gaur, come back to Nadia!
Next the musician
sang about the anguish of Radha at her separation from Krishna. When Sri
Ramakrishna heard the song he suddenly stood up. Assuming the mood of
Radha, he sang in a voice laden with sorrow, improvising the words: "O
friend, either bring my beloved Krishna here or take me to Him." Thus
singing, he completely lost himself in Radha and could not continue the
song. He became speechless, his body motionless, his eyes half closed,
his mind totally unconscious of the outer world. He was in deep samādhi.
Radha's anguish at separation from
After a long time he
regained normal consciousness and said in the same heart-rending voice:
"O friend, take me to my beloved Krishna and make me your bondslave. I
shall be your handmaid for ever. O friend, it was you who taught me how
to love Krishna. O Krishna! O Beloved of my soul!"
musicians continued their song. They took the part of Radha and sang as
if she were talking to her friend: "O friend, I shall not go
again to the Jamuna to draw water. Once I beheld my beloved Friend under
the kadamba tree. Whenever I pass it I am overwhelmed."
The Master again
became abstracted. Heaving a deep sigh he said, "Ah me! Ah me!"
The song went on.
Even the desire for Krishna's presence
Has cooled and refreshed my feverish body.
Now and then, the
musicians improvised lines to the music, continuing in the attitude of
"O friends, you can wait. Show me Krishna, my Beloved."
not bother about my ornaments. I have lost my most precious Ornament."
"Alas! I have fallen on evil days. My happy days are over."
"This unhappy time lingers so long!"
improvised a line himself: "Are not better times yet in sight
for me?" The
musicians then improvised: "Such a long time has passed! Are
not better times yet in sight for me?"
The musicians sang
Radha's words to a friend:
O friend, I am dying! Surely I die.
The anguish of being kept apart
From Krishna is more than I can bear.
Alas! to whom then shall I leave.
My priceless Treasure? When I am dead,
I beg you, do not burn my body;
Do not cast it into the river.
See that it is not given to the flames;
Do not cast it into the water.
In this body I played with Krishna.
Bind my lifeless form, I beg you,
To the black tamala's branches;
Tie it to the tamala tree.
Touching tamala it touches black.
Krishna is black, and black is tamala;
Black is the colour that I love.
From earliest childhood I have loved it.
To the black Krishna my body belongs;
Let it not lie apart from black!
Radha reaches her
last extremity. She faints away.
Radha has fallen to the ground;
She lies there lost to outward sense,
Repeating her precious Krishna's name,
And straightway doses both her eyes.
Ah, has the drama reached its end?
What ails you, O delight of Krishna?
Only a moment ago you spoke.
Her friends, anointing Radha's form
With cool and soothing sandal-paste,
Attempt to bring her back to earth.
Some of them weep in bitter grief;
They cannot bear to see her die.
Some sprinkle water on her face;
Perhaps she will revive again!
But, oh, can water give back life
To one who dies of Krishna's love?
chant Krishna's sweet name in her ears. This brings her back to partial
consciousness. She looks at the black tamala tree and thinks that
Krishna stands before her.
Krishna's name restores her life;
Once more her two eyes gaze around,
But Krishna's face she cannot see.
Alas, how bitterly she weeps!
"Where is my Krishna? Where is He
Whose name you chanted in my ears?
Bring Him but once before me here!"
Seeing the black tamala tree,
She stares at it and cries aloud:
"There is His crest! I see it clearly!
There is my "Krishna's lovely crest!"
But only a peacock did she see,
Whose glistening feathers she mistook
For the gay feather on Krishna's crest.
Krishna has gone to
Mathura to assume His royal duties. He has discarded His cowherd's dress
and flute and put on the royal regalia. Radha's friends, after a hurried
consultation, send a gopi to Mathura as messenger. She meets a woman of
that city, of her own age, who asks her where she comes from.
Radha's friend says:
"I don't have to call Krishna. He Himself will come to me." But none the
less, she follows the woman of Mathura and goes to Krishna's palace. In
the street she weeps overcome with grief, and prays to Krishna: "O Hari,
where are You? O Life of the gopis! O Enchanter of our hearts! O Beloved
of Radha! O Hari, Remover of Your devotees' shame! Come to us once more!
With great pride I said to the people of Mathura that You Yourself would
come to me. Please do not humiliate me."
In scorn says the
woman of Mathura:
"Oh, you are only a simple milkmaid!
How can you go to see our King,
Our Krishna, in your beggar's rags?
Behind seven doors His chamber stands.
You cannot enter. How can you go?
I die of shame to see your boldness.
Tell me, how will you manage to enter?"
Says the gopi:
Soul of the gopis! Oh, where are You?
Come to me here and save my life.
Where are You, adorable Soul of the gopis?
Come to me, Lord of Mathura!
And save the life of Your sorrowing handmaid.
Ah, where are You, Beloved of Radha?
Lord of our hearts and Friend of our souls!
O Hari, Destroyer of our shame!
O priceless Treasure of the gopis!
Come to Your handmaid and save her honour."
Thus the messenger
weeps and cries out for Krishna.
When the musicians
sang, "Where are You, adorable Soul of the gopis?"
the Master went into
samādhi. As the music neared its end the musicians sang louder. Sri
Ramakrishna was on his feet, again in deep samādhi. Regaining partial
consciousness, he said in a half articulate voice, "Kitna! Kitna!" He
was too much overwhelmed to utter Krishna's name distinctly.
The kirtan was
coming to a close. At the reunion of Radha and Krishna the Master sang
with the musicians, composing the lines himself:
Behold, there Radha stands by Krishna;
On His bosom she reclines.
Behold her standing at His left,
Like a golden creeper twining
Round a black tamala tree!
As the music came to
a close the Master led the chorus. All chanted together, to the
accompaniment of drums and cymbals: "Victory to Radha and Krishna!
Hallowed be the names of Radha and Krishna!" The devotees felt a surge
of divine emotion and danced around the Master. He too danced in an
ecstasy of joy. The names of God echoed and reechoed in the house and
Master's praise of Niranjan
After the music the
Master sat with the devotees. Just then Niranjan arrived and prostrated
himself before him. At the very sight of this beloved disciple the
Master stood up; with beaming eyes and smiling face, and said: "You have
come too! (To M.) You see, this boy is absolutely guileless. One cannot
be guileless without a great deal of spiritual discipline in previous
births. A hypocritical and calculating mind can never attain God.
"Don't you see that
God incarnates Himself only in a family where innocence exists? How
guileless Dasaratha was! So was Nanda, Krishna's father. There is a
saying: 'Ah, how innocent a man he is!
He is just like
(To Niranjan) "I
feel as if a dark veil has covered your face. It is because you have
accepted a job in an office. One must keep accounts there. Besides, one
must attend to many other things, and that always keeps the mind in a
state of worry. You are serving in an office like other worldly people;
but there is a slight difference, in that you are earning money for the
sake of your mother. One must show the highest respect to one's mother,
for she is the very embodiment of the Blissful Mother of the Universe.
If you had accepted the job for the sake of wife and children, I should
have said: 'Fie upon you! Shame! A thousand shames!'
(To Mani Mallick,
pointing to Niranjan) "Look at this boy. He is absolutely guileless. But
he has one fault: he is slightly untruthful nowadays. The other day he
said that he would visit me again very soon, but he didn't come. (To
Niranjan) That is why Rākhāl asked you why you didn't come to see
me while you were at Ariadaha, so near Dakshineswar."
NIRANJAN: "I was
there only a couple of days."
MASTER (to Niranjan,
pointing to M.) "He is the headmaster of a school. At my bidding he went
to see you. (To M.) Did you send Baburam to me the other day?"
The Master went to
an adjoining room and began to talk with some devotees there.
Be mad for God alone
MASTER (to M.): "Ah!
How wonderful was the yearning of the gopis for Krishna! They were
seized with divine madness at the very sight of the black tamala tree.
Separation from Krishna created such a fire of anguish in Radha's heart
that it dried up even the tears in her eyes! Her tears would disappear
in steam. There were other times when nobody could notice the depth of
her feeling. People do not notice the plunge of an elephant in a big
M: "Yes, sir, that
is true. Chaitanya, too, experienced a similar feeling. He mistook a
forest for the sacred grove of Vrindāvan, and the dark water of the
ocean for the blue Jamuna"
MASTER: "Ah! If
anyone has but a particle of such prema! What yearning! What love! Radha
possessed not only one hundred per cent of divine love, but one hundred
and twenty-five per cent.
This is what it
means to be intoxicated with ecstatic love of God. The sum and substance
of the whole matter is that a man must love God, must be restless for
Him. It doesn't matter whether you believe in God with form or in God
without form. You may or may not believe that God incarnates Himself as
man. But you will realize Him if you have that yearning. Then He Himself
will let you know what He is like. If you must be mad, why should you be
mad for the things of the world? If you must be mad, be mad for God
Ramakrishna returned to the main hall of the house. A big pillow was
placed near him for his use. Before touching it he said, "Om Tat Sat"
Perhaps the pillow had been used by many worldly people, and that was
why he purified it in this way. Bhavanath, M., and other devotees sat
near him. It was getting late, but there was no indication that the meal
was going to be served. The Master became impatient, like a child, and
said: "I don't see any sign of food.
What's the matter?
Where is Narendra?"
A DEVOTEE (with a
smile): "Sir, Ram Babu is the manager of the feast. He is superintending
"Oh, Ram is the manager! Then we know what to expect."
A DEVOTEE: "Things
like this always happen when he is the supervisor." (All laugh.)
MASTER (to the
devotees): "Where is Surendra? What a nice disposition he has now! He is
very outspoken; he isn't afraid to speak the truth. He is unstinting in
his liberality. No one that goes to him for help comes away
empty-handed. (To M.) You went to Bhagavan Das. What sort of man is he?"
M: "He is very old
now. I saw him at Kalna. It was night. He lay on a carpet and a devotee
fed him with food that had been offered to God. He can hear only if one
speaks loudly into his ear.
Hearing me mention
your name he said, 'You have nothing to worry about.'"
BHAVANATH (to M.):
"You haven't been to Dakshineswar for a long time. The Master asked me
about you and said one day, 'Has M. lost all taste for this place?' "
Bhavanath laughed as
he said these words. The Master heard their conversation and said to M.
in a loving voice: "Yes, that is true. Why haven't you been to
Dakshineswar for such a long time?"
M. could only
stammer some lame excuses.
Mahimacharan arrived. He lived at Cossipore near Calcutta. Mahimacharan
held the Master in great respect and was a frequent visitor at the
temple garden. He was a man of independent means, having inherited some
ancestral property. He devoted his time to religious thought and to the
study of the scriptures. He was a man of some scholarship, having
studied many books, both Sanskrit and English.
MASTER (to Mahima):
"What is this? I see a steamship here. (All laugh.) We expect here a
small boat at the most, but a real steamship has arrived. But
then I know. It's the rainy season!" (Laughter.)
The Master was
conversing with Mahimacharan. He asked him: "Isn't feeding people a kind
of service to God? God exists in all beings as fire. To feed people is
to offer oblations to that Indwelling Spirit. But then one shouldn't
feed the wicked, I mean people who are entangled in gross worldliness or
who have committed heinous crimes like adultery. Even the ground where
such people sit becomes impure to a depth of seven cubits. Once Hriday
fed a number of people at his native place. A good many of them were
wicked. I said to Hriday: 'Look here. If you feed such people I shall
leave your house at once.' (To Mahima) I hear that you used to feed
people; but now you don't give any such feasts. Is it because your
expenses have gone up?" (Laughter.)
The meal was to be
served on the south verandah of the house. Leaf-plates were being placed
on the floor. The Master said to Mahimacharan: "Please go there and see
what they are doing. You may help them a little in serving the food. But
I shouldn't ask you." Mahimacharan said: "Let them bring in the food. I
shall see." Hemming and hawing, he went toward the kitchen, but
presently he came back.
Sri Ramakrishna and
the devotees enjoyed the meal greatly. Afterwards he rested awhile.
About two o'clock in the afternoon Pratap Chandra Mazumdar of the Brahmo
Samaj arrived. He was a co-worker of Keshab Chandra Sen and had been to
Europe and America in connection with the Brahmo missionary work. He
greeted Sri Ramakrishna, and the Master, too, bowed before him with his
They were soon
engaged in conversation.
PRATAP: "I have been
to Darjeeling recently for a change of air."
MASTER: "But your
health hasn't much improved. What are you suffering from?"
same-illness that Keshab died of."
They began to talk
about Keshab. Pratap said: "Even in boyhood he showed non-attachment to
worldly things, seldom making merry with other boys. He was a student in
the Hindu College. At that time he became friendly with Satyendra and
through him made the acquaintance of his father, Devendranath Tagore.
Keshab cultivated bhakti and at the same time practised meditation. At
times he would be so much overcome with divine love that he would become
unconscious. The main purpose of his life was to introduce
religion among householders.
next turned to a certain Marhatta lady.
PRATAP: "Some women
of our country have been to England. This Marhatta lady, who is very
scholarly, also visited England. Later she embraced Christianity. Have
you heard her name, sir?"
Egotism brings calamity
MASTER: "No. But
from what you say it seems to me that she has a desire for name and
fame. That kind of egotism is not good. The feeling 'I am the doer' is
the outcome of ignorance. But the feeling that God does everything is
due to knowledge. God alone is the Doer; all others are mere instruments
in His hands.
Parable of the calf
"The misfortune that
befalls a man on account of his egotism can be realized if you only
think of the condition of the calf. The calf says, 'Hamma! Hamma!' that
is, 'I! I!' And just look at its misfortune! At times it is yoked to the
plough and made to work in the field from sunup to sundown, rain or
shine. Again, it may be slaughtered by the butcher. In that case the
flesh is eaten and the skin tanned into hide. From the hide shoes are
made. People put on these shoes and walk on the rough ground. Still that
is not the end of its misfortunes. Drums are made from its skin and
mercilessly beaten with sticks. At last its entrails are made into
strings for the bow used in carding cotton. When used by the carder the
string gives the sound 'Tuhu! Tuhu!', 'Thou! Thou!'-that is, 'It is
Thou, O Lord! It is Thou!' It no longer says, 'Hamma! Hamma!', 'I! I!'
Only then does the calf's trouble come to an end, and it is liberated.
It doesn't return to the world of action.
"Likewise, when the
embodied soul says: 'O God, I am not the doer; Thou art the Doer. I am
the machine and Thou art its Operator', only then does its suffering of
worldly life come to an end; only then does it obtain liberation. It no
longer has to be reborn in this world of action."
A DEVOTEE: "How can
a man get rid of his ego?"
MASTER: "You cannot
get rid of it until you have realized God. If you find a person free
from ego, then know for certain that he has seen God."
Signs of God-vision
DEVOTEE: "What, sir,
are the signs of God-vision?"
MASTER: "Yes, there
are such signs. It is said in the Bhagavata that a man who has seen God
behaves sometimes like a child, sometimes like a ghoul, sometimes like
an inert thing, and sometimes like a madman.
"The man who has
seen God becomes like a child. He is beyond the three gunas; he is
unattached to any of them. He behaves like a ghoul, for he maintains the
same attitude toward things holy and unholy. Again, like a madman, he
sometimes laughs and sometimes weeps. Now he dresses himself like a
dandy and the next moment he goes entirely naked and roams about with
his cloth under his arm. Therefore he seems to be a lunatic. Again, at
times he sits motionless like an inert thing."
DEVOTEE: "Does the
ego disappear altogether after the realization of God?"
sometimes God totally effaces the ego of His devotee, as in the state of
But in many cases He
keeps a trace of ego. But that doesn't injure anybody. It is like the
ego of a child. A five-year-old child no doubt says 'I', but that ego
doesn't harm anybody. At the touch of the philosopher's stone, steel is
turned into gold; the steel sword becomes a sword of gold.
The gold sword has
the form of a sword, no doubt, but it cannot injure anybody. One cannot
cut anything with a gold sword.
(To Pratap) "You
have been to England. Tell us what you saw there."
PRATAP: "The English
people worship what you call 'gold'. Of course, there are also some good
people in England, those who live an unattached life. But generally one
finds there a great display of rajas in everything. I saw the same thing
Secret of work
MASTER (to Pratap):
"It is not in England alone that one sees attachment to worldly things.
You see it everywhere. But remember that work is only the first step in
spiritual life. God cannot be realized without sattva-love,
discrimination, kindness, and so on. It is the very nature of rajas to
involve a man in many worldly activities. That is why rajas degenerates
into tamas. If a man is entangled in too many activities he surely
forgets God. He becomes more and more attached to 'woman and gold'.
"But it is not
possible for you to give up work altogether. Your very nature will lead
you to it whether you like it or not. Therefore the scriptures ask you
to work in a detached spirit, that is to say, not to crave the work's
results. For example, you may perform devotions and worship, and
practise austerities, but your aim is not to earn people's recognition
or to increase your merit.
"To work in such a
spirit of detachment is known as karmayoga. But it is very difficult. We
are living in the Kaliyuga, when one easily becomes attached to one's
actions. You may think you are working in a detached spirit, but
attachment creeps into the mind from nobody knows where. You may worship
in the temple or arrange a grand religious festival or feed many poor
and starving people. You may think you have done all this without
hankering after the results. But unknown to yourself the desire for name
and fame has somehow crept into your mind. Complete detachment from the
results of action is possible only for one who has seen God."
The path of bhakti for this age
A DEVOTEE: "Then
what is the way for those who have not seen God? Must they give up all
the duties of the world?"
MASTER: "The best
path for this age is bhaktiyoga, the path of bhakti prescribed by
Nārada: to sing the name and glories of God and pray to Him with a
longing heart, 'O God, give me knowledge, give me devotion, and reveal
Thyself to me!' The path of karma is extremely difficult. Therefore one
should pray: 'O God, make my duties fewer and fewer; and may I, through
Thy grace, do the few duties that Thou givest me without any attachment
to their results! May I have no desire to be involved in many
"It is not possible
to give up work altogether. Even to think or to meditate is a kind of
As you develop love
for God, your worldly activities become fewer and fewer of themselves.
And you lose all interest in them. Can one who has tasted a drink made
of sugar candy enjoy a drink made of ordinary molasses?"
First God and then worldly duties
A DEVOTEE: "The
English people always exhort us to be active. Isn't action the aim of
MASTER: "The aim of
life is the attainment of God. Work is only a preliminary step; it can
never be the end. Even unselfish work is only a means; it is not the
"Sambhu Mallick once
said to me, 'Please bless me, sir, that I may spend all my money for
good purposes, such as building hospitals and dispensaries; making
roads, and digging wells.' I said to him: 'It will be good if you can do
these things in a spirit of detachment. But that is very difficult.
Whatever you may do, you must always remember that the aim of this life
of yours is the attainment of God and not the building of hospitals and
dispensaries. Suppose God appeared before you and said to you, "Accept a
boon from Me." Would you then ask Him, "O God, build me some hospitals
and dispensaries"? Or would you not rather pray to Him: "O God, may I
have pure love at Your Lotus Feet! May I have Your uninterrupted
vision!"? Hospitals, dispensaries, and all such things are unreal. God
alone is real and all else unreal. Furthermore, after realizing God one
feels that He alone is the Doer and we are but His instruments. Then why
should we forget Him and destroy ourselves by being involved in too many
activities? After realizing Him, one may, through His grace, become His
instrument in building many hospitals and dispensaries.'
"Therefore I say
again that work is only the first step. It can never be the goal of
life. Devote yourself to spiritual practice and go forward. Through
practice you will advance more and more in the path of God. At last you
will come to know that God alone is real and all else is illusory, and
that the goal of life is the attainment of God.
The story of the wood-cutter
"Once upon a time a
wood-cutter went into a forest to chop wood. There suddenly he met a
brahmachari. The holy man said to him, 'My good man, go forward.' On
returning home the wood-cutter asked himself, 'Why did the brahmachari
tell me to go forward?' Some time passed. One day he remembered the
brahmachari's words. He said to himself, 'Today I shall go deeper into
the forest.' Going deep into the forest, he discovered innumerable
sandal-wood trees. He was very happy and returned with cart-loads of
sandal-wood. He sold them in the market and became very rich.
"A few days later he
again remembered the words of the holy man to go forward. He went deeper
into the forest and discovered a silver-mine near a river. This was even
beyond his dreams. He dug out silver from the mine and sold it in the
market. He got so much money that he didn't even know how much he had.
"A few more days
passed. One day he thought: 'The brahmachari didn't ask me to stop at
the silver-mine; he told me to go forward.' This time he went to the
other side of the river and found a gold-mine. Then he exclaimed: 'Ah,
just see! This is why he asked me to go forward.'
"Again, a few days
afterwards, he went still deeper into the forest and found heaps of
diamonds and other precious gems. He took these also and became as rich
as the god of wealth himself.
"Therefore I say
that, whatever you may do, you will find better and better things if
only you go forward. You may feel a little ecstasy as the result of
japa, but don't conclude from this that you have achieved everything in
spiritual life. Work is by no means the goal of life. Go forward, and
then you will be able to perform unselfish work. But again I say that it
is most difficult to perform unselfish work. Therefore with love and
longing in your heart pray to God: 'O God, grant me devotion at Thy
Lotus Feet and reduce my worldly duties. Please grant me the boon that
the few duties I must do may be done in a detached spirit.' If you go
still farther you will realize God.
You will see Him. In
time you will converse with Him."
conversation turned to the quarrels among the members of the Brahmo
Samaj. They had had a misunderstanding about the right to preach in the
temple after Keshab's death.
MASTER (to Pratap):
"I hear that some members of the Samaj have quarrelled with you about
the altar. But they are most insignificant persons-mere nobodies.
(To the devotees):
"People like Pratap and Amrita are like good conchshells, which give out
a loud sound. And the rest, about whom you hear so much, don't give out
any sound at all." (All laugh.)
PRATAP: "Speaking of
sounds, even such a worthless thing as a mangostone makes a sound!"
MASTER (to Pratap):
"One can very well understand the inner feeling of a teacher of your
Brahmo Samaj by hearing his preaching. Once I went to a meeting of a
Hari Sabha. The preacher of the day was a pundit named Samadhyayi. And
can you imagine what he said? He said in the course of his sermon: 'God
is dry. We must make Him sweet and fresh with our love and devotion.' I
was stunned to hear these words. Then I was reminded of a story. A boy
once said: 'At my uncle's house there are many horses. Oh, yes!
His whole cow-shed is full of them.' Now if it was really a cow-shed,
then horses could not be kept there. Possibly he had only cows. What did
people think on hearing such an incoherent statement? They believed that
there were surely no such animals as horses in the shed." (Laughter.)
A DEVOTEE: "True,
sir, there were not only no horses, but possibly there were also no
MASTER: "Just fancy,
to describe God, who is of the very nature of Love and Bliss, as dry! It
only proves that the man has never experienced what God is like.
Master's advice to Pratap
(To Pratap) "Let me
tell you something. You are a learned and intelligent and serious-minded
soul. Keshab and you were like the two brothers, Gaur and Nitai. You
have had enough of lectures, arguments, quarrels,discussions, and
dissensions. Can such things interest you any more? Now gather your
whole mind and direct it to God. Plunge deep into God."
PRATAP: "Yes, sir,
you are right. That is surely my only duty now. But I am doing all these
things only to perpetuate Keshab's name."
MASTER (with a
smile): "No doubt you say now that you are doing all this to keep his
name alive; but in a few days you won't feel that way. Listen to a
story. A man had built a house on a hill.
It was only a mud
hut, but he had built it with great labour. A few days after, there came
a violent storm and the hut began to rock. The man became very anxious
to save it and prayed to the god of the winds,'O god of the winds,
please don't wreck the house!' But the god of the winds paid no heed to
his prayer. The house was about to crash. Then he thought of a trick. He
remembered that Hanuman was the son of the god of the winds. At once he
cried out with great earnestness: 'O revered sir, please don't pull down
the house. It belongs to Hanuman. I beseech you to protect it.' But
still the house continued to shake violently. Nobody seemed to listen to
his prayer. He repeated many times, 'Oh, this house belongs to Hanuman!'
But the fury of the wind did not abate. Then he remembered that Hanuman
was the devoted servant of Rāma, whose younger brother was Lakshmana.
Desperately the man prayed, crying aloud, 'Oh, this house belongs to
Lakshmana!' But that also failed to help matters. So the man cried out
as a last resort: 'This is Rāma's house. Don't break it down, O god of
the winds! I beseech you most humbly.' But this too proved futile, and
the house began to crash down. Whereupon the man, who now had to save
his own life, rushed out of it with the curse: 'Let it go! This is the
devil's own hut!'
(To Pratap): "You
don't have to perpetuate Keshab's name. Remember that he achieved all
his success through the will of God. Through the divine will his work
was established, and through the divine will it is disintegrating. What
can you do about it? Now it is your bounden duty to give your entire
mind to God, to plunge deep into the Ocean of His Love."
Saying these words
the Master sang in his sweet voice:
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.
Go seek, O mind, go seek Vrindāvan in your heart,
Where with His loving devotees
Sri Krishna sports eternally.
Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom's shining lamp,
And let it burn with steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart.
Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth?
It is your guru, says Kubir;
Meditate on his holy feet.
continued, addressing Pratap: "Did you listen to the song? You have had
enough of lectures and quarrels. Now dive deep into the Ocean of God.
There is no fear of death from plunging into this Ocean, for this is the
Ocean of Immortality. Don't think that this will make you lose your
head. Never for a moment harbour the idea that by thinking too much of
God one becomes insane. Once I said to Narendra"
PRATAP: "Who is
MASTER: "Oh, never
mind. There is a young man of that name. I said to Narendra: 'Look here,
my boy. God is the Ocean of Bliss; Don't you want to plunge into this
Ocean? Suppose there is a cup of syrup and you are a fly. Where will you
sit to sip the syrup?' Narendra said, 'I will sit on the edge of the cup
and stick my head out to drink it.' 'Why?' said I. 'Why should you sit
on the edge?' He replied, 'If I go far into the syrup, I shall be
drowned and lose my life.' Then I said
to him: 'But, my
child, there is no such fear in the Ocean of Satchidananda. It is the
Ocean of Immortality. By plunging into it a man does not die; he becomes
immortal. Man does not lose his consciousness by being mad about God.
Knowledge and ignorance
(To the devotees)
"The feeling of 'I ' and 'mine' is ignorance. People say that Rani
Rasmani built the Kāli temple; but nobody says it was the work of God.
They say that such and such a person established the Brahmo Samaj; but
nobody says it was founded through the will of God. This feeling, 'I am
the doer', is ignorance. On the contrary, the idea, 'O God, Thou art the
Doer and I am only an instrument; Thou art the Operator and I am the
machine', is Knowledge. After attaining Knowledge a man says: 'O God,
nothing belongs to me-neither this house of worship nor this Kāli temple
nor this Brahmo Samaj. These are all Thine. Wife, son, and family do not
belong to me. They are all Thine.'
"To love these
objects, regarding them as one's own, is māyā. But to love all things is
daya, compassion. To love only the members of the Brahmo Samaj or of
one's own family is māyā; to love one's own countrymen is māyā. But to
love the people of all countries, to love the members of all religions,
is daya. Such love comes from love of God, from daya.
"Māyā entangles a
man and turns him away from God. But through daya one realizes God.
Sages like Sukadeva and Nārada always cherished daya in their hearts."
sir, are those who live with you making progress in spiritual life?"
MASTER: "I tell
people that there is nothing wrong in the life of the world. But they
must live in the world as a maidservant lives in her master's house.'
Referring to her
master's house, she says, 'That is our house.' But her real home is
perhaps in a far-away village. Pointing out her master's house to
others, she says, no doubt, 'This is our house', but in her heart she
knows very well that it doesn't belong to her and that her own house is
in a faraway village. She brings up her master's son and says, 'My Hari
has grown very naughty', or 'My Hari doesn't like sweets.' Though she
repeats, 'My Hari' with her lips, yet she knows in her heart that Hari
doesn't belong to her, that he is her master's son.
"Thus I say to those
who visit me: 'Why don't you live in the world? There is no harm in
But always keep your
mind, on God. Know for certain that house, family and property are not
yours. They are God's. Your real home is in God.' Also I ask them
to pray always with a longing heart for love of God's Lotus Feet."
conversation turned to the English people. A devotee said, "Sir, I
understand that nowadays the pundits of England do not believe in the
existence of God."
they may talk, I don't believe that any of them is a real atheist. Many
of them have had to admit that there is a great power behind the
activities of the universe."
MASTER: "Well, that
is enough. They believe in Śakti, don't they? Then why should they be
PRATAP: "They also
believe in the moral government of the universe."
Pratap was now about
to take leave of the Master.
MASTER (to Pratap):
"What more shall I say to you? My only request is that you do not
involve yourself in quarrels and dissensions any more. Another
thing. It is 'woman and gold' that keeps men away from God. That is the
barrier. Don't you find that everyone has nothing but praise for his own
wife? (All laugh.) A wife may be good or bad; but if you ask her husband
about her he will always say, 'Oh, she is very good-'"
At this point Pratap
bade the Master good-bye. He did not wait to hear the end of Sri
Ramakrishna's words about the renunciation of "woman and gold". Those
burning words touched the hearts of the devotees and were carried away
on the wind through the gently rustling leaves in the garden.
A few minutes later
Mani Mallick said to Sri Ramakrishna: "Sir, it is time for you to leave
for Dakshineswar. Today Keshab's mother and the other ladies of his
family are going to the temple garden to visit you. They will be hurt if
they do not find you there."
Keshab had passed
away only a few months before. His old mother and his other relatives
wanted to visit the Master.
MASTER (to Mani
Mallick): "Don't hurry me, please. I didn't sleep well. I can't rush.
They are going to Dakshineswar. What am I to do about it? They will
stroll in the garden and enjoy it thoroughly."
After resting a
little the Master was ready to leave for Dakshineswar. He was thinking
of Surendra's welfare. He visited the different rooms, softly chanting
the holy name of God.
Suddenly he stood
still and said: "I didn't eat any luchi at meal time. Bring me a little
He ate only a crumb
and said: "There is much meaning in my asking for the luchi. If I should
remember that I hadn't eaten any at Surendra's house, then I should want
to come back for it."
MANI MALLICK: "That
would have been nice. Then we too should have come with you."
Friday, June 20, 1884
It was dusk. Sri
Ramakrishna was sitting in his room, absorbed in contemplation of the
Divine Mother. Now and then he was chanting Her name. Rākhāl , Adhar,
M., and several other devotees were with him.
After a while the
evening worship began in the temples. Adhar left the room to see the
Sri Ramakrishna and
MASTER: "Tell me,
does Baburam intend to continue his studies? I said to him, 'Continue
your studies to set an example to others.' After Sita had been set free,
Bibhishana refused to become king of Ceylon. Rāma said to him: 'You
should become king to open the eyes of the ignorant.
Otherwise they will
ask you what you have gained as a result of serving Me. They will be
pleased to see you acquire the kingdom.'
Baburam's spiritual nature
"I noticed the other
day that Baburam, Bhavanath, and Harish have a feminine nature. In a
vision I saw Baburam as a goddess with a necklace around her neck and
with woman companions about her.
He has received
something in a dream. His body is pure. Only a very little effort will
awaken his spiritual consciousness.
"You see, I am
having some difficulty about my physical needs. It will be nice if
Baburam lives with me. The nature of these attendants of mine is
undergoing a change. Lātu is always tense with spiritual emotion. He is
about to merge himself in God. Rākhāl is getting into such a
spiritual mood that he can't do anything even for himself. I have to get
water for him. He isn't of much service to me.
youngsters Baburam and Niranjan are rather exceptional. If other boys
come in the future, they will, it seems to me, receive instruction and
then go away.
"But I don't want
Baburam to tear himself away from his family. It may make trouble at
(Smiling) When I ask
him, 'Why don't you come?' he says, 'Why not make me come?' He looks at
Rākhāl and weeps. He says, 'Rākhāl is very happy here.'
lives here as one of the family. I know that he will never again be
attached to the world. He says that worldly enjoyments have become
tasteless to him. His wife came here on her way to Konnagar. She is
fourteen. He too was asked to go to Konnagar, but he didn't go. He said,
'I don't like
merriment and gaiety.'
"What do you think
of Niranjan?" M: "He is very handsome."
MASTER: "No, I am
not asking about his looks. He is guileless. One can easily realize God
if one is free from guile. Spiritual instruction produces quick results
in a guileless heart. Such a heart is like well cultivated land from
which all the stones have been removed. No sooner is the seed sown
than it germinates. The fruit also appears quickly.
"Niranjan will not
marry. It is 'woman and gold' that causes entanglement. Isn't that so?"
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "What will
one gain by renouncing betel-leaf and tobacco? The real renunciation is
the renunciation of 'woman and gold.'
"I came to know in
an ecstatic mood that, though Niranjan had accepted a job in an office,
he would not be stained by it. He is earning money for his mother. There
is no harm in that.
"The work you are
doing won't injure you either. What you are doing
is good. Suppose a
clerk is sent to jail; he is shut up there and chained, and at last he
is released. Does he cut capers after his release? Of course not.
He works again as a clerk. It is not your intention to accumulate money.
You only want to support your family. Otherwise, where will they go?"
M: "I shall be
relieved if someone takes charge of them."
MASTER: "That is
true. But now do 'this' as well as 'that' "
M: "It is great luck
to be able to renounce everything."
MASTER: "That is
true. But people act according to their inherent tendencies. You
have a few more duties to perform. After these are over you will have
peace. Then you will be released. A man cannot easily get out of the
hospital once his name is registered there. He is discharged only when
he is completely cured.
Two classes of Master's devotees
"The devotees who
come here may be divided into two groups. One group says, 'O God, give
me liberation.' Another group, belonging to the inner circle, doesn't
talk that way. They are satisfied if they can know two things: first,
who I6 am; second, who they are and what their relationship to me is.
You belong to this second group; otherwise. . .
and a few others have a feminine nature. Harish sleeps in a woman's
Baburam says that he
too likes the womanly attitude. So I am right. Bhavanath also is like
But Narendra, Rākhāl
, and Niranjan have a masculine nature.
Significance of the Master's injuring
"Please tell me one
thing. What is the significance of my having hurt my arm? Once my teeth
were broken while I was in a state of ecstasy. It is the arm this time."
Seeing M. silent,
the Master himself continued the conversation.
MASTER: "My arm was
broken in order to destroy my ego to its very root. Now I cannot find my
ego within myself any more. When I search for it I see God alone. One
can never attain God without completely getting rid of the ego. You must
have noticed that the chatak bird has its nest on the ground but soars
up very high.
"Captain says I
haven't acquired any occult powers because I eat fish. I tremble with
fear lest I should acquire those powers. If I should have them, then
this place would be turned into a hospital or a dispensary. People would
flock here and ask me to cure their illness. Is it good to have occult
M: "No, sir. You
have said to us that a man cannot realize God if he possesses even one
of the eight occult powers."
MASTER: "Right you
are. Only the small-minded seek them. If one asks something of a rich
man, one no longer receives any favour from him. The rich man doesn't
allow such a person to ride in the same carriage with him. Even if he
does, he doesn't allow the man to sit near him. Therefore love without
any selfish motive is best.
"God with form and
the formless God are both equally true. What do you say? One cannot keep
one's mind on the formless God a long time. That is why God assumes form
for His devotees.
"Captain makes a
nice remark in this connexion. He says that when a bird gets tired of
soaring very high it perches on a tree and rests. First is the formless
God, and then comes God with form.
"I shall have to go
to your house once. I saw in a vision that the houses of Adhar, Balarām,
and Surendra were so many places for our forgathering. But it makes no
difference to me whether they come here or not."
M: "That's right.
Why shouldn't it be so? One must feel misery if one feels happiness. But
you are beyond both."
Further, I think of the magician and his magic. The magician alone is
real. His magic is illusory, like a dream. I realized this when I heard
the Chandi recited. Sumbha and Nisumbha were scarcely born when I
learnt that they both were dead."
M: "Yes, sir. Once I
was going to Kalna with Gangadhar in a steamer. A country boat struck
our ship and sank with twenty or twenty-five passengers. They all
disappeared in the water, like foam churned up by the steamer.
"May I ask you one
thing? Does a man watching magic really feel compassion when he sees
suffering in the performance? Does he feel, at that time, any sense of
responsibility? One thinks of compassion only when one feels
responsibility. Isn't that so?"
How a Jnāni looks on the illusory world
MASTER: "A Jnāni
sees everything at once-God, māyā, the universe, and living beings. He
sees that Vidyā-māyā, Avidyā-māyā, the universe, and all living beings
exist and at the same time do not exist. As long as he is conscious of
'I', he is conscious of 'others' too. Nothing whatsoever exists after he
cuts through the whole thing with the sword of jnāna. Then even his 'I'
becomes as unreal as the magic of the magician."
reflecting on these words, when the Master said: "Do you know what it is
like? It is as if there were a flower with twenty-five layers of petals,
and you cut them all with one stroke.
"The idea of
responsibility! Goodness gracious! Men like Sankaracharya and Sukadeva
kept the 'ego of Knowledge'. It is not for man to show compassion, but
for God. One feels compassion as long as one has the 'ego of Knowledge'.
And it is God Himself who has become the 'ego of Knowledge'.
Supreme power of
in the relative world
"You may feel a
thousand times that it is all magic; but you are still under the control
of the Divine Mother. You cannot escape Her. You are not free. You must
do what She makes you do. A man attains Brahmajnana only when it is
given to him by the Ādyāśakti,
the Divine Mother. Then alone does he see the whole thing as magic;
"As long as the
slightest trace of ego remains, one lives within the jurisdiction of the
One is under Her sway. One cannot go beyond Her.
"With the help of
God sports as an Incarnation. God, through His Śakti, incarnates Himself
as man. Then alone does it become possible for the Incarnation to carry
on His work.
Everything is due to the Śakti of the
"When anyone asked
the former manager of the temple garden a great favour, the manager
would say, 'Come after two or three days.' He must ask the proprietor's
"God will incarnate
Himself as Kalki at the end of the Kaliyuga. He will be born as the son
of a brahmin. Suddenly and unexpectedly a sword and horse will come to
him. . . ."
Adhar returned to
the Master's room after watching the evening worship in the temples.
MASTER (to Adhar and
the others): "Bhuvan was here and brought me twenty-five Bombay mangoes
and some sweets. She said to me, 'Will you eat a mango?' I said,
'My stomach is heavy today.' And to tell you the truth, I am feeling
uncomfortable after eating a few of the sweets."
Bhuvanmohini was a
nurse who used to visit Sri Ramakrishna now and then.
The Master could not
eat the food offerings of everyone, especially of physicians and nurses.
It was because they accepted money from the sick in spite of the
suffering of these people.
Sen's mother, sisters, and other relatives came here; so I had to dance
I had to entertain
them. What else could I do? They were so grief-stricken!"