ADVICE TO PUNDIT SHASHADHAR
Monday, June 30, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was in his room, sitting on a mat spread on the floor. Pundit Shashadhar and a few devotees were with him on the mat, and the rest sat on the bare floor. Surendra, Baburam, M., Harish, Lātu, Hazra, and others were present. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon.
Sri Ramakrishna had met Pundit Shashadhar six days before in Calcutta, and now the pundit had come to Dakshineswar to visit the Master. Bhudar Chattopadhyaya and his elder brother, the pundit's hosts, were with him.
Nature of Brahman
The pundit was a follower of the path of jnāna. The Master was explaining this path to him. He said: "Nityā and Lila are the two aspects of one and the same Reality. He who is the Indivisible Satchidananda has assumed different forms for the sake of His Lila." As he described the nature of the Ultimate Reality the Master every now and then became unconscious in samādhi. While he talked he was intoxicated with spiritual fervour. He said to the pundit: "My dear sir, Brahman is immutalble and immovable, like Mount Sumeru. But He who is 'immovable' can also 'move'."
Glories of Kāli
The Master was in ecstasy. He began to sing in his melodious voice:
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kāli is?
He went on:
Is Mother merely a simple woman, born as others are born?
She it is who creates the worlds, She who preserves and destroys,
Seeking a shelter at Her feet, the gods themselves feel safe;
Again he sang:
Is Mother only Śiva's wife? To Her must needs bow down
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kāli's treasure for everyone?
The Master's ecstatic mood gradually relaxed. He stopped singing and sat in silence. After a while he got up and sat on the small couch.
Pundit Shashadhar was charmed with his singing. Very humbly he said to Sri Ramakrishna, "Are you going to sing anymore?"
A little later the Master sang again:
High in the heaven of the Mother's feet, my mind was soaring like a
Then he sang:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
Sri Ramakrishna continued:
I have surrendered my soul at the fearless feet of the Mother;
As Sri Ramakrishna sang the line, "And with it have bought Sri Durga's name", the tears flowed from Pundit Shashadhar's eyes. The Master went on with the song:
Deep within my heart I have planted the name of Kāli,
Again he sang:
Dwell, O mind, within yourself;
Though I am never loath to grant salvation,
Mere study of scriptures is futile
The pundit had studied the Vedas and the other scriptures. He loved to discuss philosophy. The Master, seated on the couch, cast his benign look on the pundit and gave him counsel through parables.
MASTER (to the pundit): "There are many scriptures like the Vedas. But one cannot realize God without austerity and spiritual discipline. 'God cannot be found in the six systems, the Vedas, or the Tantra.'
"But one should learn the contents of the scriptures and then act according to their injunctions. A man lost a letter. He couldn't remember where he had left it. He began to search for it with a lamp. After two or three people had searched, the letter was at last found. The message in the letter was: 'Please send us five seers of sandesh and a piece of wearing-cloth.' The man read it and then threw the letter away. There was no further need of it; now all he had to do was to buy the five seers of sandesh and the piece of cloth.
Reading, hearing, and seeing
"Better than reading is hearing, and better than hearing is seeing. One understands the scriptures better by hearing them from the lips of the guru or of a holy man. Then one doesn't have to think about their non-essential part.
Hanuman said: 'Brother, I don't know much about the phase of the moon or the position of the stars. I just contemplate Rāma.'
"But seeing is far better than hearing. Then all doubts disappear. It is true that many things are recorded in the scriptures; but all these are useless without the direct realization of God, without devotion to His Lotus Feet, without purity of heart. The almanac forecasts the rainfall of the year. But not a drop of water will you get by squeezing the almanac. No, not even one drop.
"How long should one reason about the texts of the scriptures? So long as one does not have direct realization of God. How long does the bee buzz about? As long as it is not sitting on a flower. No sooner does it light on a flower and begin to sip honey than it keeps quiet.
"But you must remember another thing. One may talk even after the realization of God. But then one talks only of God and of Divine Bliss. It is like a drunkard's crying, 'Victory to the Divine Mother!' He can hardly say anything else on account of his drunkenness. You can notice, too, that a bee makes an indistinct humming sound after having sipped the honey from a flower.
The nature of jnanis and vijnanis
"The Jnāni reasons about the world through the process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'. Reasoning in this way, he at last comes to a state of Bliss, and that is Brahman. What is the nature of a Jnāni? He behaves according to scriptural injunctions.
"Once I was taken to Chanak and saw some sādhus there. Several of them were sewing. (All laugh.) At the sight of us they threw aside their sewing. They sat straight, crossing their legs, and conversed with us. (All laugh.)
"But jnanis will not talk about spiritual things without being asked. They will inquire, at first, about such things as your health and your family.
"But the nature of the vijnāni is different. He is unconcerned about anything. Perhaps he carries his wearing-cloth loose under his arm, like a child; or perhaps the cloth has dropped from his body altogether.
"The man who knows that God exists is called a Jnāni. A Jnāni is like one who knows beyond a doubt that a log of wood contains fire. But a vijnāni is he who lights the log, cooks over the fire, and is nourished by the food. The eight fetters have fallen from the vijnāni. He may keep merely the appearance of lust, anger, and the rest."
PUNDIT: "The knots of his heart are cut asunder; all his doubts are destroyed."
MASTER: "Yes. Once a ship sailed into the ocean. Suddenly its iron joints, nails, and screws fell out. The ship was passing a magnetic hill, and so all its iron was loosened.
"I used to go to Krishnakishore's house. Once, when I was there, he said to me, 'Why do you chew betel-leaf?' I said: 'It is my sweet pleasure. I shall chew betel-leaf, look at my face in the mirror, and dance naked among a thousand girls.'6 Krishnakishore's wife scolded him and said: 'What have you said to Ramakrishna? You don't know how to talk to people.'
"In this state, passions like lust and anger are burnt up, though nothing happens to the physical body. It looks just like any other body; but the inside is all hollow and pure."
A DEVOTEE: "Does the body remain even after the realization of God?"
MASTER: "The body survives with some so that they may work out their prarabdha karma or work for the welfare of others. By bathing in the Ganges a man gets rid of his sin and attains liberation. But if he happens to be blind, he doesn't get rid of his blindness. Of course, he escapes future births, which would otherwise be necessary for reaping the results of his past sinful karma. His present body remains alive as long as its momentum7 is not exhausted; but future births are no longer possible. The wheel moves as long as the impulse that has set it in motion lasts. Then it comes to a stop. In the case of such a person, passions like lust and anger are burnt up. Only the body remains alive to perform a few actions."
PUNDIT: "That is called samskara."
The nature of jnanis and vijnanis
MASTER: "The vijnāni always sees God. That is why he is so indifferent about the world. He sees God even with his eyes open. Sometimes he comes down to the Lila from the Nitya, and sometimes he goes up to the Nitya from the Lila."
PUNDIT: "I don't understand that."
MASTER: "The Jnāni reasons about the world through the process of 'Neti, neti', and at last reaches the Eternal and Indivisible Satchidananda. He reasons in this manner: 'Brahman is not the living beings; It is neither the universe nor the twenty-four cosmic principles.' As a result of such reasoning he attains the Absolute. Then he realizes that it is the Absolute that has become all this-the universe, its living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles.
"Milk sets into curd, and the curd is churned into butter. After extracting the butter one realizes that butter is not essentially different from buttermilk and buttermilk not essentially different from butter. The bark of a tree goes with the pith and the pith goes with the bark."
PUNDIT (smiling, to Bhudar): "Did you understand that? It is very difficult."
All-embracing realization of the vijnāni
MASTER: "If there is butter, there must be buttermilk also. If you think of butter, you must also think of buttermilk along with it; for there cannot be any butter without buttermilk. Just so, if you accept the Nitya, you must also accept the Lila. It is the process of negation and affirmation. You realize the Nitya by negating the Lila. Then you affirm the Lila, seeing in it the manifestation of the Nitya. One attains this state after realizing Reality in both aspects: Personal and Impersonal. The Personal is the embodiment of Chit, Consciousness; and the Impersonal is the Indivisible Satchidananda.
"Brahman alone has become everything. Therefore to be vijnāni this world is a 'mansion of myrth'. But to the Jnāni it is a 'framework of illusion'. Ramprasad described the world as a 'framework of illusion'. Another man said to him by way of retort:
This very world is a mansion of myrth;
"The vijnāni enjoys the bliss of God in a richer way. Some have heard of milk, some have seen it, and some have drunk it. The vijnāni has drunk milk, enjoyed it, and been nourished by it."
The Master remained silent a few moments and then asked Pundit Shashadhar to have a smoke. The Pundit went to the south east verandah to smoke. Soon he came back to the room and sat on the floor with the devotees. Seated on the small couch, the Master continued the conversation.
MASTER (to the Pundit): "Let me tell you something. There are three kinds of Ānanda, joy: the joy of worldly enjoyment, the joy of worship, and the Joy of Brahman. The joy of worldly enjoyment is the joy of 'woman and gold', which people always enjoy. The joy of worship one enjoys while chanting the name and glories of God. And the Joy of Brahman is the joy of God-vision. After experiencing the joy of God-vision the rishis of olden times went beyond all rules and conventions.
Three states of God-Consciousness
"Chaitanyadeva used to experience three spiritual states: the inmost, the semi-conscious, and the conscious. In the inmost state he would see God and go into samādhi. He would be in the state of jada samādhi. In the semi-conscious state he would be partially conscious of the outer world. In the conscious state he could sing the name and glories of God."
HAZRA (to the Pundit): "So your doubts are now solved."
MASTER (to the Pundit): "What is samādhi? It is the complete merging of the mind in God-Consciousness. The Jnāni experiences jada samādhi, in which no trace of 'I' is left. The samādhi attained through the path of bhakti is called 'chetana samādhi'. In this samādhi there remains the conciousness of 'I' ― the 'I' of the servant-and-Master relationship, of the lover-and-Beloved relationship, of the enjoyer-and-Food relationship. God is the Master; the devotee is the servant. God is the beloved; the devotee is the lover. God is the Food, and the devotee is the enjoyer. 'I don't want to be sugar. I want to eat it.' "
PUNDIT : "What will happen if God dissolves all of the 'I', if He changes the enjoyer himself into sugar?"
MASTER (smiling): "Come, come! Tell me what is in your mind. But don't the scriptures mention Nārada, Sanaka, Sanatana, Sananda, and Sanatkumara?"
PUNDIT: "Yes, sir. They do."
MASTER: "Though they were jnanis, yet they kept the 'I' of the bhakta. Haven't you read the Bhagavata?"
PUNDIT: "I have read only part of it, not the whole."
MASTER: "Pray to God. He is full of compassion. Will He not listen to the words of His devotee? He is the Kalpataru. You will get whatever you desire from Him."
PUNDIT: "I haven't thought deeply about these things before. But now I understand."
MASTER: "God keeps a little of 'I' in His devotee even after giving him the Knowledge of Brahman. That 'I' is the 'I of the devotee', the 'I of the Jnāni'. Through that 'I' the devotee enjoys the infinite play of God.
"The pestle was almost worn out with rubbing. Only a little was left. That fell into the underbrush and brought about the destruction of the lunar race, the race of the Yadus. The vijnāni retains the 'I of the devotee', the 'I of the Jnāni', in order to taste the Bliss of God and teach people.
"The rishis of old had timid natures. They were easily frightened. Do you know their attitude? It was this: 'Let me somehow get my own salvation; who cares for others?' A hollow piece of drift-wood somehow manages to float; but it sinks if even a bird sits on it. But Nārada and sages of his kind are like a huge log that not only can float across to the other shore but can carry many animals and other creatures as well. A steamship itself crosses the ocean and also carries people across.
The vijnāni is fearless and joyous
"Teachers like Nārada belong to the class of the vijnāni. They were much more courageous than the other rishis. They are like an expert satrancha-player. You must have noticed how he shouts, as he throws the dice: 'What do I want? Six? No, five! Here is five!' And every time he throws the dice he gets the number he wants. He is such a clever player! And while playing he even twirls his moustaches.
"A mere Jnāni trembles with fear. He is like an amateur satrancha-player. He is anxious to move his pieces somehow to the safety zone, where they won't be overtaken by his opponent. But a vijnāni isn't afraid of anything. He has realized both aspects of God: Personal and Impersonal. He has talked with God. He has enjoyed the Bliss of God.
"It is a joy to merge the mind in the Indivisible Brahman through contemplation. And it is also a joy to keep the mind on the Lila, the Relative, without dissolving it in the Absolute.
"A mere Jnāni is a monotonous person. He always analyses, saying: 'It is not this, not this. The world is like a dream.' But I have 'raised both my hands'. Therefore I accept everything.
Parable of the weaver woman
"Listen to a story. Once a woman went to see her weaver friend. The weaver, who had been spinning different kinds of silk thread, was very happy to see her friend and said to her: 'Friend, I can't tell you how happy I am to see you. Let me get you some refreshments.' She left the room. The woman looked at the threads of different colours and was tempted. She hid a bundle of thread under one arm. The weaver returned presently with the refreshments and began to feed her guest with great enthusiasm. But, looking at the thread, she realized that her friend had taken a bundle. Hitting upon a plan to get it back, she said: 'Friend, it is so long since I have seen you. This is a day of great joy for me. I feel very much like asking you to dance with me.' The friend said, 'Sister, I am feeling very happy too.' So the two friends began to dance together. When the weaver saw that her friend danced without raising her hands, she said: 'Friend, let us dance with both hands raised. This is a day of great joy.' But the guest pressed one arm to her side and danced raising only the other. The weaver said: 'How is this, friend? Why should you dance with only one hand raised? Dance with me raising both hands. Look at me. See how I dance with both hands raised.' But the guest still pressed one arm to her side. She danced with the other hand raised and said with a smile, 'This is all I know of dancing.' "
The Master continued: "I don't press my arm to my side. Both my hands are free. I am not afraid of anything. I accept both the Nitya and the Lila, both the Absolute and the Relative.
The two kinds of ego
"I said to Keshab Sen that he would not be able to realize God without renouncing the ego. He said, 'Sir, in that case I should not be able to keep my organization together.' Thereupon I said to him: 'I am asking you to give up the "unripe ego", the "wicked ego". But there is no harm in the "ripe ego", the "child ego", the "servant ego", the "ego of Knowledge".'
"The worldly man's ego, the 'ignorant ego', the 'unripe ego', is like a thick stick. It divides, as it were, the water of the Ocean of Satchidananda. But the 'servant ego', the 'child ego', the 'ego of Knowledge', is like a line on the water. One clearly sees that there is only one expanse of water. The dividing line makes it appear that the water has two parts, but one clearly sees that in reality there is only one expanse of water.
"Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge' in order to teach people. God keeps in many people the 'ego of a Jnāni' or the 'ego of a bhakta' even after they have attained Brahmajnana. Hanuman, after realizing God in both His Personal and His Impersonal aspect, cherished toward God the attitude of a servant, a devotee. He said to Rāma: 'O Rāma, sometimes I think that You are the whole and I am a part of You. Sometimes I think that You are the Master and I am Your servant. And sometimes, Rāma, when I contemplate the Absolute, I see that I am You and You are I.'
"Yaśoda became grief-stricken at being separated from Krishna, and called on Radha. Radha saw Yaśoda's suffering and revealed herself to her as the divine Śakti, which was her real nature. She said to Yaśoda: 'Krishna is Chidatma, Absolute Consciousness, and I am ChitŚakti, the Primal Power. Ask a boon of Me: Yaśoda said: 'I don't want Brahmajnana. Please grant me only this: that I may see the form of Gopala in my meditation; that I may always have the company of Krishna's devotees; that I may always serve the devotees of God; that I may always chant God's name and glories.'
"Once the gopis felt a great desire to see the forms of the Lord. So Krishna asked them to dive into the water of the Jamuna. No sooner did they dive into the water than they all arrived at Vaikuntha. There they saw the form of the Lord endowed with His six celestial splendours. But they did not like it. They said to Krishna: 'We want to see Gopala and serve Him. Please grant us that boon alone. We don't want anything else.'
"Before His departure for Mathura, Krishna wanted to give the Knowledge of Brahman to the gopis. He said to them: 'I dwell both inside and outside all beings. Why should you see only one form of Mine?' The gopis cried in chorus: 'O Krishna, do You want to go away from us? Is that why You are instructing us in Brahmajnana?'
"Do you know the attitude of the gopis? It is this: 'We are Radha's and Radha is ours.' "
A DEVOTEE: "Does this 'I' of the devotee never disappear altogether?"
MASTER: "Yes, it disappears at times. Then one attains the Knowledge of Brahman and goes into samādhi. I too lose it, but not for all the time. In the musical scale there are seven notes: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, and ni. But one cannot keep one's voice on 'ni' a long time. One must bring it down again to the lower notes. I pray to the Divine Mother, 'Mother, do not give me Brahmajnana.' Formerly believers in God with form used to visit me a great deal. Then the modern Brahmajnanis began to arrive. During that period I used to remain unconscious in samādhi most of the time. Whenever I regained consciousness, I would say to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, please don't give me Brahmajnana.'"
God listens to our prayer
PUNDIT: "Does God listen to our prayers?"
MASTER: "God is the Kalpataru, the Wish-fulfilling Tree. You will certainly get whatever you ask of Him. But you must pray standing near the Kalpataru. Only then will your prayer be fulfilled. But you must remember another thing. God knows our inner feeling. A man gets the fulfillment of the desire he cherishes while practising sadhana. As one thinks, so one receives. A magician was showing his tricks before a king. Now and then he exclaimed: 'Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!' Suddenly his tongue turned upward and clove to the roof of his mouth. He experienced kumbhaka. He could utter neither word nor sound, and became motionless. People thought he was dead. They built a vault of bricks and buried him there in that posture. After a thousand years someone dug into the vault. Inside it people found a man seated in samādhi. They took him for a holy man and worshipped him. When they shook him his tongue was loosened and regained its normal position. The magician became conscious of the outer world and cried, as he had a thousand years before: 'Come confusion! Come delusion! O King, give me money! Give me clothes!'
"I used to weep, praying to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, destroy with Thy thunderbolt my inclination to reason.' "
PUNDIT: "Then you too had an inclination to reason?"
MASTER :"Yes, once."
PUNDIT: "Then please assure us that we shall get rid of that inclination too. How did you get rid of yours?"
MASTER: "Oh, somehow or other."
Sri Ramakrishna was silent awhile. Then he went on with his conversation.
MASTER: "God is the Kalpataru. One should pray standing near It. Then one will get whatever one desires.
"How many things God has created! Infinite is His universe. But what need have I to know about His infinite splendours? If I must know these, let me first realize Him. Then God Himself will tell me all about them. What need have I to know how many houses and how many government securities Jadu Mallick possesses? All that I need is somehow to converse with Jadu Mallick. I may succeed in seeing him by jumping over a ditch or through a petition or after being pushed about by his gate-keeper. Once I get a chance to talk to him, then he himself will tell me all about his possessions if I ask him. If one becomes acquainted with the master, then one is respected by his officers too. (All laugh.)
"There are some who do not care to know the splendours of God. What do I care about knowing how many gallons of wine there are in the tavern? One bottle is enough for me. Why should I desire the knowledge of God's splendours? I am intoxicated with the little wine I have swallowed.
"Both bhaktiyoga and jnanayoga are paths by which you can realize God. Whatever path you may follow, you will certainly realize Him. The path of bhakti is an easy one. The path of knowledge and discrimination is very difficult. Why should one reason so much to know which path is the best? I talked about this with Vijay for many days. Once I told him about a man who used to pray, 'O God, reveal to me who and what You are.'
"The path of knowledge and discrimination is difficult indeed. Parvati, the Divine Mother, revealed Her various forms to Her father and said, 'Father, if you want Brahmajnana, then live in the company of holy men.'
"Brahman cannot be described in words. It is said in the Rāma Gitā that Brahman has only been indirectly hinted at by the scriptures. When one speaks about the 'cowherd village on the Ganges', one indirectly states that the village is situated on the bank of the Ganges.
"Why shouldn't a man be able to realize the formless Brahman? But it is extremely difficult. He cannot if he has even the slightest trace of worldliness. He can be directly aware of Brahman in his inmost consciousness only when he renounces all sense-objects―form, taste, smell, touch, and sound and only when his mind completely stops functioning. And then too, he knows only this much of Brahman―that It exists."
Quoting from an Upanishad, the pundit said, "It is to be experienced only as Existence."
MASTER: "In order to realize God a devotee should make use of a particular attitude-the attitude of a 'hero' or a friend or a handmaid or a child."
MANI MALLICK: "Only then can one feel attached to God."
MASTER: "For many days I cherished the feeling that I was a companion of the Divine Mother. I used to say: 'I am the handmaid of Brahmamayi, the Blissful Mother. O companions of the Divine Mother, make me the Mother's handmaid! I shall go about proudly, saying, "I am Brahmamayi's handmaid!" '
Different classes of perfect souls
"Some souls realize God without practising any spiritual discipline. They are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. Those who have realized God through austerity, japa, and the like, are called sadhanasiddha, perfect through spiritual discipline. Again, there are those called kripasiddha, perfect through divine grace. These last may be compared to a room kept dark a thousand years, which becomes light the moment a lamp is brought in.
"There is also a class of devotees, the hathatsiddha, that is to say, those who have suddenly attained God-vision. Their case is like that of a poor boy who has suddenly found favour with a rich man. The rich man marries his daughter to the boy and along with her gives him land, house, carriage, servants, and so forth.
"There is still another class of devotees, the svapnasiddha, who have had the vision of God in a dream."
SURENDRA (smiling): "Let us go to sleep then. We shall wake and find ourselves babus, aristocrats."
MASTER (tenderly): "You are already a babu. When the letter 'a' is joined to the letter 'ka', 'ka' becomes 'kaa'. It is futile to add another 'a'. If you add it, you will still have the same 'kaa'. (All laugh.)
Description of the nitya-siddha
"The nityasiddha is in a class apart. He is like arani wood. A little rubbing produces fire. You can get fire from it even without rubbing. The nityasiddha realizes God by practising slight spiritual discipline and sometimes without practising any at all. But he does practise spiritual discipline after realizing God. He is like the gourd or pumpkin vine―first fruit, then flower."
The pundit smiled at this illustration.
MASTER: "There is the instance of Prahlada. He was a nityasiddha. While writing the letter 'ka' he shed a stream of tears."
The Master was pleased with the pundit's humility. He praised him to the devotees.
MASTER: "He has such a nice nature. You find no difficulty in driving a nail into a mud wall. But its point breaks if you try to drive it against a stone; and still it will not pierce it. There are people whose spiritual consciousness is not at all awakened even though they hear about God a thousand times. They are like a crocodile, on whose hide you cannot make any impression with a sword "
PUNDIT: "But one can hurt a crocodile by throwing a spear into its belly." (All laugh.)
MASTER (smiling): "What good is there in reading a whole lot of scriptures? What good is there in the study of philosophy? What is the use of talking big? In order to learn archery one should first aim at a banana tree, then at a reed, then at a wick, and last at a flying bird. At the beginning one should concentrate on God with form.
"Then there are devotees who are beyond the three gunas. They are eternally devoted to God, like Nārada. These devotees behold Krishna as Chinmaya, all Spirit, His Abode as Chinmaya, His devotee as Chinmaya. To them God is eternal, His Abode is eternal, His devotee is eternal.
"Those who reason and speculate following the process of 'Neti, neti' do not accept the Incarnation of God. Hazra says well that Divine Incarnation is only for the bhakta, and not for the Jnāni, because the Jnāni is quite contented with his ideal, 'I am He'."
Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees remained silent awhile. The pundit resumed the conversation.
PUNDIT: "Sir, how does one get rid of callousness? Laughter makes me think of muscles and nerves. Grief makes me think of the nervous system."
MASTER (smiling): "That is why Narayan Shastri used to say, The harmful effect of the study of the scriptures is that it encourages reasoning and arguing.'"
PUNDIT: "Is there no way for us then?"
MASTER: "Yes, there is the path of discrimination. In a song occurs the line: 'Ask her son Discrimination about the Truth.'
"The way lies through discrimination, renunciation, and passionate yearning for God. Unless a man practises discrimination, he cannot utter the right words. One time, after expounding religion at great length, Pundit Samadhyayi said, 'God is dry.' He reminded me of the man who once said, 'My uncle's cow-shed is full of horses.' Now, does anyone keep horses in a cowshed? (With a smile) You have become like a chānābarā fried in butter. Now it will be good for you and for others as well, if you are soaked in syrup a few days. Just a few days."
PUNDIT (smiling): "The sweetmeat is over-fried. It has become charred."
MASTER (with a laugh): "No! No! It is brown as a cockroach. Just the right colour."
HAZRA: "The sweetmeat is well cooked. It has become spongy. Now it will soak up the syrup nicely."
MASTER: "You see, there is no need to read too much of the scriptures. If you read too much you will be inclined to reason and argue. Nangta used to teach me thus: What you get by repeating the word 'Gitā' tell times is the essence of the book. In other words, if you repeat 'Gitā' ten times it is reversed into 'tagi', which indicates renunciation.
"Yes, the way to realize God is through discrimination, renunciation, and yearning for Him. What kind of yearning? One should yearn for God as the cow, with yearning heart, runs after its calf."
PUNDIT: "The same thing is said in the Vedas: 'O God, we call on Thee as the cow lows for the calf.'"
MASTER: "Add your tears to your yearning. And if you can renounce everything through discrimination and dispassion, then you will be able to see God. That yearning brings about God-intoxication, whether you follow the path of knowledge or the path of devotion. The sage Durvasa was mad with the Knowledge of God.
"There is a great deal of difference between the knowledge of a householder and that of an all-renouncing sannyasi. The householder's knowledge is like the light of a lamp, which illumines only the inside of a room. He cannot see anything, with the help of such knowledge, except his own body and his immediate family. But the knowledge of the all-renouncing monk is like the light of the sun. Through that light he can see both, inside and outside the room. Chaitanyadeva's knowledge had the brilliance of the sun-the sun of Knowledge. Further, he radiated the soothing light of the moon of Devotion. He was endowed with both-the Knowledge of Brahman and ecstatic love of God.
(To the pundit) "One can attain spiritual consciousness through both affirmation and negation. There is the positive path of love and devotion, and there is the negative path of knowledge and discrimination. You are preaching the path of knowledge. But that creates a very difficult situation: there the guru and the disciple do not see each other. Sukadeva went to Janaka for instruction about the Knowledge of Brahman. Janaka said to him: 'You must pay me the guru's fee beforehand. When you attain the knowledge of Brahman you won't pay me the fee, because the knower of Brahman sees no difference between the guru and the disciple.'
Different stages of divine love
"Both negation and affirmation are ways to realize one and the same goal. Infinite are the opinions and infinite are the ways. But you must remember one thing. The injunction is that the path of devotion described by Nārada is best suited to the Kaliyuga. According to this path, first comes bhakti; then bhava, when bhakti is mature. Higher than bhava are mahabhava and prema. An ordinary mortal does not attain mahabhava and prema. He who has achieved these has realized the goal, that is to say, has attained God."
PUNDIT : "In expounding religion one has to use a great many words."
MASTER: "While preaching, eliminate the 'head and tail', that is to say, emphasize only the essentials."
The pundit and Mani Mallick became engaged in conversation. Mani was a member of the Brahmo Samaj. The pundit argued vehemently about the good and bad sides of the Samaj. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch and looked on, smiling. Presently he remarked: "This is the tamasic aspect of sattva, the attitude of a hero. This is necessary. One should not hold one's tongue at the sight of injustice and untruth. Suppose a bad woman wants to drag you from the path of righteousness. You must then assume the heroic attitude and say: 'What? You witch! You dare injure my spiritual life? I shall cut your body in two right now.' "
With a smile Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: "Mani Mallick has been following the tenets of the Brahmo Samaj a long time. You can't convert him to your views. Is it an easy thing to destroy old tendencies? Once there lived a very pious Hindu who always worshipped the Divine Mother and chanted Her name. When the Mussalmans conquered the country, they forced him embrace Islam. They said to him: 'You are now a Mussalman. Say "Allah". From now on you must repeat only the name of Allah.' With great difficulty he repeated the word 'Allah', but every now and then blurted out 'Jagadamba'. At that the Mussalmans were about to beat him. Thereupon he said to them: 'I beseech you! Please do not kill me. I have been trying my utmost to repeat the name of Allah, but our Jagadamba has filled me up to the throat. She pushes out your Allah.' (All laugh.)
Different paths to suit different tastes
(To the pundit) "Please don't say anything to Mani Mallick. You must know that there are different tastes. There are also different powers of digestion. God has made different religions and creeds to suit different aspirants. By no means all are fit for the Knowledge of Brahman. Therefore the worship of God with form has been provided.
"The mother brings home a fish for her children. She curries part of the fish, part she fries, and with another part she makes pilau. By no means all can digest the pilau. So she makes fish soup for those who have weak stomachs. Further, some want pickled or fried fish. There are different temperaments. There are differences in the capacity to comprehend."
All sat in silence. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit, "Go and visit the temples and take a stroll in the garden." It was about half past five in the afternoon. The pundit left the room with his friends and several of the devotees.
After a while the Master went with M. toward the bathing-ghat on the Ganges. He said to M., "Baburam now says, 'What shall I gain by study?' " On the bank of the river he met the pundit and said to him, "Aren't you going to the Kāli temple?" The pundit said: "Yes, sir. Let us go together." With a smiling face Sri Ramakrishna proceeded to the temple through the courtyard. He said to the pundit, "Listen to a song."
Is Kāli, my Mother, really black?
As he was going through the courtyard, he quoted to the pundit from a song:
Lighting the lamp of Knowledge in the chamber of your heart,
They came to the temple. Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother, touching the ground with his forehead.
Red hibiscus flowers and vilwa-leaves adorned the Mother's feet. Her three eyes radiated love for Her devotees. Two of Her hands were raised as if to give them boons and reassurance; the other two hands held symbols of death. She was clothed in a sari of Benares silk and was decked with ornaments.
Image of Kāli
Referring to the image, one of the party remarked, "I heard it was made by the sculptor Nabin." The Master answered: "Yes, I know. But to me She is the Embodiment of Spirit."
As Sri Ramakrishna was coming back to his room with the devotees, he said to Baburam, "Come with us." M. also joined them.
It was dusk. The Master was sitting on the semicircular porch west of his room. Baburam and M. sat near him. He was in a mood of partial ecstasy.
Rākhāl was not then living with Sri Ramakrishna, and therefore the Master was having difficulties about his personal service. Several devotees lived with him, but he could not bear the touch of everyone during his spiritual moods. He hinted to Baburam: "Do stay with me. It will be very nice. In this mood I cannot allow others to touch me."
The pundit entered the Master's room after visiting the temples. The Master said to him from the porch, "Take some refreshments." The pundit said that he had not yet performed his evening devotions. At once Sri Ramakrishna stood up and sang in an exalted mood:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
Intoxicated With ecstatic love, the Master said: "How long should one perform devotions? So long as one's mind does not merge in God while repeating Om."
PUNDIT: "Then let me eat the refreshments. I shall perform the devotions later on."
MASTER: "No, I don't want to obstruct the current of your life. It is not good to renounce anything before the proper time arrives. When the fruit ripens, the flower drops off of itself. One shouldn't forcibly tear off the green branch of a coconut tree. That injures the tree."
Surendra was about to leave. He invited his friends into his carriage. The Master, still in an ecstatic mood, said, "Don't take more people than your horse can draw." Suredra took leave of Sri Ramakrishna. The pundit left the room to perform his worship. M. and Baburam saluted the Master. They were about to leave for Calcutta. Sri Ramakrishna was still in an ecstatic mood.
MASTER (to M.): "I cannot utter a word now. Stay a few minutes."
M. again took his seat and waited for the Master's command. Sri Ramakrishna motioned to Baburam to take a seat and asked him to fan him a little. M. also took part in rendering this personal service to the Master.
MASTER (to M., tenderly): "Why don't you come here so frequently now?"
M: "Not for any special reason. I have been rather busy at home."
MASTER: "Yesterday I came to know Baburam's inner nature. That is why I have been trying so hard to persuade him to live with me. The mother bird hatches the egg in proper time. Boys like Baburam are pure in heart. They have not yet fallen into the clutches of 'woman and gold'. Isn't that so?"
M: "It is true, sir. They are still stainless."
MASTER: "They are like a new pot. Milk kept in it will not turn sour."
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "I need Baburam here. I pass through certain spiritual states when I need someone like him. He says he must not, all at once, live with me permanently, for it will create difficulties. His relatives will make trouble. I am asking him to come here Saturdays and Sundays."
Master's advice to householders
The pundit entered the room with his friends. He had finished his devotions and was ready to eat the refreshments. One of his companions asked the Master: "Shall we succeed in spiritual life? Please tell us what our way is."
MASTER: "You all have the yearning for liberation. If an aspirant has yearning, that is enough for him to realize God. Don't eat any food of the sraaddha ceremony. Live in the world like an unchaste woman. She performs her household duties with great attention, but her mind dwells day and night on her paramour. Perform your duties in the world but keep your mind always fixed on God.
The pundit finished eating his refreshments.
MASTER (to the pundit): "You have read the Gitā, no doubt. It says that there is a special power of God in the man who is honoured and respected by all."
The pundit quoted the verse from the Gitā.
MASTER: "You surely possess divine power."
PUNDIT: "Shall I labour with perseverance to finish the task that I have accepted?"
Sri Ramakrishna forced himself, as it were, to say, "Yes." He soon changed the conversation.
MASTER: "One cannot but admit the manifestation of power. Vidyasagar once asked me, 'Has God given more power to some than to others?' I said to him: 'Certainly. Otherwise, how can one man kill a hundred? If there is no special manifestation of power, then why is Queen Victoria so much honoured and respected? Don't you admit it?' He agreed with me."
The pundit and his friends saluted the Master and were about to take their leave. Sri Ramakrishna said to the pundit: "Come again. One hemp-smoker rejoices in the company of another hemp-smoker. They even embrace each other. But they hide at the sight of people not of their own kind. A cow licks the body of her calf; but she threatens a strange cow with her horns." (All laugh.)
The pundit left the room. With a smile the Master said: "He has become 'diluted' even in one day. Did you notice how modest he was? And he accepted everything I said."
Moonlight flooded the semicircular porch. Sri Ramakrishna was still seated there. M. was about to leave.
MASTER (tenderly): "Must you go now?"
M.: "Yes, sir. Let me say good-bye."
MASTER: "I have been thinking of visiting the houses of the devotees. I want to visit yours also. What do you say?"
M.: "That will be very fine."
Thursday, July 3, 1884
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in Balarām Bose's house in Calcutta. It was the day of the "Return Car Festival". The Lord of the Universe was worshipped in Balarām's house as Jagannath. There was a small car in the house for use during the Car Festival.
Balarām's father was a pious Vaishnava who devoted most of his time to prayer and meditation in his garden house at Vrindāvan. He also studied devotional books and enjoyed the company of devotees. Balarām had brought his father to Calcutta to meet the Master.
Sri Ramakrishna was in a very happy mood. Seated near him were Ram, Balarām, Balarām's father, M., Manomohan, and several young devotees. He was conversing with them.