September 7, 1884
IT WAS ABOUT ELEVEN
O'CLOCK. The Master was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar. He had not
yet taken his midday meal.
been made with the musician Shyamdas to entertain the Master and the
devotees with his kirtan. Baburam, M., Manomohan, Bhavanath, Kishori,
Chunilal, Haripada, the Mukherji brothers, Ram, Surendra, Tārak,
Niranjan, and others arrived at the temple garden. Lātu, Harish, and
Hazra were staying with the Master.
When M. saluted Sri
Ramakrishna, the Master asked: "Where is Narendra? Isn't he coming?" M.
told him that Narendra could not come.
A brahmin devotee
was reading to the Master from a book of devotional songs by Ramprasad.
Sri Ramakrishna asked him to continue. The brahmin read a song, the
first line of which was: "O Mother, put on Thy clothes."
please! These ideas are outlandish and bizarre. Read something that will
The brahmin read:
Who is there that can understand what Mother Kāli is?
Even the six darsanas are powerless to reveal Her. . . .
MASTER (to M.): "I
got a pain because I lay too long on one side while in samādhi yesterday
at Adhar's house; so now I'll take Baburam with me when I visit the
houses of the devotees. He is a sympathetic soul"
With these words the
How shall I open my heart,O friend?
It is forbidden me to speak.
I am about to die, for lack of a kindred soul
To understand my misery.
Simply by looking in his eyes,
I find the beloved of my heart;
But rare is such a soul, who swims in ecstatic bliss
On the high tide of heavenly love.
MASTER: "The Bauls
sing songs like that. They also sing another kind of song:
Stay your steps, O wandering monk!
Stand there with begging-bowl in hand,
And let me behold your radiant face.
Signs of a perfect soul
"According to the
Śakti cult the siddha is called a koul, and according to the Vedānta, a
paramahamsa. The Bauls call him a sai. They say, 'No one is greater than
a sai.' The sai is a man of supreme perfection. He doesn't see any
differentiation in the world. He wears a necklace, one half made of cow
bones and the other of the sacred tulsi-plant. He calls the Ultimate
Truth 'Ālekh', the 'Incomprehensible One'. The Vedas call It 'Brahman'.
About the jivas the Bauls say, 'They come from Ālekh and they go unto
That is to say, the
individual soul has come from the Unmanifest and goes back to the
Unmanifest. The Bauls will ask you, 'Do you know about the wind?' The
'wind' means the great currrent that one feels in the subtle nerves,
Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna, when the Kundalini is awakened. They will
ask you further, 'In which station are you dwelling?' According to them
there are six 'stations',
corresponding to the
six psychic centres of Yoga. If they say that a man dwells in the 'fifth
station', it means that his mind has climbed to the fifth centre, known
as the Viśuddha chakra. (To M.) At that time he sees the Formless."
Saying this the
Within the petals of this flower there lies concealed a subtle space,
Transcending which, one sees at length the universe in Space dissolve.
Description of the Bauls
"Once a Baul came
here. I asked him, 'Have you finished the task of "refining the syrup"?
Have you taken the pot off the stove?' The more you boil the juice of
sugar-cane, the more it is refined. In the first stage of boiling it is
simply the juice of the sugar-cane. Next it is molasses, then sugar,
then sugar candy, and so on. As it goes on boiling, the substances you
get are more and more refined.
"When does a man
take the pot off the stove? That is, when does a man come to the end of
his sadhana? He comes to the end when he has acquired complete mastery
over his sense-organs. His sense-organs become loosened and powerless,
as the leech is loosened from the body when you put lime on its mouth.
In that state a man may live with a woman, but he does not feel any lust
"Many of the Bauls
follow a 'dirty' method of spiritual discipline. It is like entering a
house through the back door by which the scavengers come.
"One day I was
taking my meal when a Bāul devotee arrived. He asked me, 'Are you
yourself eating, or are you feeding someone else?' The meaning of his
words was that the siddha sees God dwelling within a man. The siddhas
among the Bauls will not talk to persons of another sect; they call them
"The Bauls designate
the state of perfection as the 'sahaja', the 'natural' state. There are
two signs of this state. First, a perfect man will not 'smell of
Krishna'. Second, he is like the bee that lights on the lotus but does
not sip the honey. The first means, that he keeps all his spiritual
feelings within himself. He doesn't show outwardly any sign of
spirituality. He doesn't even utter the name of Hari. The second means
that he is not attached to woman. He has completely mastered his senses.
"The Bauls do not
like the worship of an image. They want a living man. That is why one of
their sects is called the Kartabhaja. They worship the karta, that is to
say, the guru, as God.
Different paths leading to God
"You see how many
opinions there are about God. Each opinion is a path. There are
innumerable opinions and innumerable paths leading to God."
what should we do?"
Devotion to one's
own path and respect for others'
MASTER: "You must stick to one path with all your strength. A man can
reach the roof of a house by stone stairs or a ladder or a rope-ladder
or a rope or even by a bamboo pole. But he cannot reach the roof if he
sets foot now on one and now on another. He should firmly follow one
path. Likewise, in order to realize God a man must follow one path with
all his strength.
"But you must regard
other views as so many paths leading to God. You should not feel that
your path is the only right path and that other paths are wrong. You
mustn't bear malice toward others.
"Well, to what path
do I belong? Keshab Sen used to say to me: 'You belong to our path. You
are gradually accepting the ideal of the formless God.' Shashadhar says
that I belong to his path. Vijay, too, says that I belong to
The tides in the Ganges
walked toward the Panchavati with M. and a few other devotees. It was
midday and time for the flood-tide in the Ganges.
They waited in the
Panchavati to see the bore of the tide.
MASTER (to the
devotees): "The ebb-tide and flood-tide are indeed amazing. But notice
one thing. Near the sea you see ebb-tide and flood-tide in a river, but
far away from the sea the river flows in one direction only. What does
this mean? Try to apply its significance to your spiritual life. Those
who live very near God feel within them the currents of bhakti, bhava,
and the like. In the case of a few―the Isvarakotis, for instance―one
sees even mahabhava and prema.
(To M.) "What is the
explanation of the ebb-tide and flood-tide?"
M: "According to
Western astronomy, they are due to the attraction of the sun and the
In order to explain
it, M. drew figures on the earth and began to show the Master the
movement of the earth, the sun, and the moon.
The Master looked at
the figures for a minute and said: "Stop, please! It gives me a
Presently the tide
came up the Ganges. They heard the sound of the rushing water. The tide
struck the bank of the river and flowed toward the north. Sri
Ramakrishna looked at it intently and exclaimed like a child: "Look at
that boat! I wonder what is going to happen to it."
The Master and M.
sat down for a while in the Panchavati, Sri Ramakrishna placing his
umbrella on the cement platform. The conversation turned to Narayan. The
boy was a student. Sri Ramakrishna looked upon him as Narayana, God
Himself, and was very fond of him.
MASTER: "Have you
noticed Naran's nature? He can mix with all, old and young. One cannot
do this without a special power.
Besides, all love
him. Is he really artless?"
M: "I think so."
understand that he goes to your place. Is that so?"
M: "Yes, sir. He has
visited me once or twice."
MASTER: "Will you
give him a rupee? Or shall I ask Kāli about it?"
M: "Very well, sir.
I shall give him the money."
fine. It is good to help those who yearn for God. Thus one makes good
use of one's money. What will you gain by spending everything on your
Kishori had several
children. His salary was too small to support his family. Sri
Ramakrishna said to M.: "Naran said he would get a job for Kishori.
Please remind him of it."
The Master walked
away in the direction of the pine-grove. Returning to the Panchavati, he
said to M.: "Please ask someone to spread a mat outside my room. I shall
lie down a few minutes. I am coming presently."
When the Master
returned to his room, he could not find his umbrella and exclaimed: "You
have all forgotten the umbrella! The busybody doesn't see a thing even
when it is very near him. A man went to a friend's house to light the
charcoal for his smoke, though all the time he had a lighted lantern in
his hand. Another man looked everywhere for his towel. Finally he
discovered that it had been on his shoulder all the time."
It was about one
o'clock in the afternoon. The Master ate the prasad from the Kāli
temple. Then he wanted to rest awhile, but the devotees were still
sitting in his room. They were asked to go out, and then the Master lay
down. He said to Baburam, "Come here; sit near me." Baburam answered, "I
am preparing betel-leaf." The Master said,"Put your betel-leaf aside"
The devotees sat
under the bakul-tree in the Panchavati. Tārak, who had just returned
from Vrindāvan, told them stories of his visit.
A little later Sri
Ramakrishna was seated again on his couch, the devotees sitting on the
floor. Shyamdas was singing with his party.
He sang of the
gopis' grief at their separation from Sri Krishna:
Dry as a desert seemed the happy lake to them:
The chatak died of thirst, gazing toward the clouds.
The Master became
somewhat abstracted, but the musician could not create a spiritual
atmosphere. Sri Ramakrishna asked Nabai of Konnagar to sing a kirtan.
Nabai was Manomohan's uncle. He lived on the bank of the Ganges,
devoting his time to prayer and meditation, and was a frequent visitor
of Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar.
Master in ecstasy
Nabai began the
kirtan in a loud voice. The Master left the couch and began to dance.
Immediately Nabai and other devotees began to dance around him. The
atmosphere became intense with spiritual fervour.
After the kirtan,
Sri Ramakrishna resumed his seat. With great feeling he began to sing of
the Divine Mother, his eyes turned upward:
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss!
My mind knows nothing but Thy Lotus Feet.
The King of Death scowls at me terribly;
Tell me, Mother, what shall I say to him? . . .
He sang again:
As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love;
As is a man's feeling of love, so is his gain;
And faith is the root of all. . . .
This world, O Mother, is Thy madhouse!
What can I say of all Thy virtues?
Setting aside Thine elephant, Thou roamest about on foot;
Putting off Thy gems and pearls, O Self-willed Mother,
Thou dost adorn Thy comely neck with a garland of human heads.
Now Thou must rescue Ramprasad out of the forest of this world.
Again he sang:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
So long as I can breathe my last with Kāli's name upon my lips? . ..
Dwell, O mind, within yourself; Enter no other's home.
If you but seek there, you will find All you are searching for. . . .
The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight
To the blue lotus flower of Mother Syama's feet. . . .
Cherish my precious Mother Syama
Tenderly within, O mind;
May you and I alone behold Her,
Letting no one else intrude. . . .
As the Master sang
this last song he stood up. He was almost intoxicated with divine love.
Again and again he said to the devotees,
my precious Mother Syama tenderly within."
Then he danced and
Is Kāli, my Mother, really black?
The Naked One, of blackest hue,
Lights the Lotus of the Heart. . . .
The Master reeled as
he sang. Niranjan came forward to hold him. The Master said to him
softly, "Don't touch me, you rascal!"
Seeing the Master
dance, the devotees stood up. He caught hold of M.'s hand and said:
"Don't be foolish! Dance!"
resumed his seat, still charged with divine ecstasy. Coming down a
little to the normal state, he said: "Om! Om! Om!
Om! Om! Om Kāli!"
Again he said, "Let me have a smoke." Many of the devotees stood around.
Mahimacharan was fanning him. The Master asked him to sit down and
recite from the scriptures. Mahimacharan recited from the Mahanirvana
Om; I bow to Thee,
the Everlasting Cause of the world;
I bow to Thee, Pure Consciousness, the Soul that sustains the whole
I bow to Thee, who art One without duality, who dost bestow liberation;
I bow to Thee, Brahman, the all-pervading Attributeless Reality.
Thou alone art the Refuge, the only Object of adoration;
Thou art the only Cause of the universe, the Soul of everything that is;
Thou alone art the world's Creator, Thou its Preserver and Destroyer;
Thou art the immutable Supreme Lord, the Absolute; Thou art unchanging
Dread of the dreadful! Terror of the terrible!
Refuge of all beings! Purity of purifiers!
Thou alone dost rule over those in the high places,
Supreme over the supreme, the Protector of protectors.
Almighty Lord, who art made manifest as the Form of all, yet art Thyself
unmanifest and indestructible;
Thou who art imperceptible to the senses, yet art the very Truth;
Incomprehensible, imperishable, all-pervading, hidden, and without form;
O Lord! O Light of the Universe! Protect us from harm.
On that One alone we meditate; that One is the sole object of our worship;
To That alone, the non-dual Witness of the Universe, we bow.
In that One who alone exists and who is our sole eternal Support, we seek,
The self-dependent Lord, the Vessel of Safety in the ocean of existence.
listened to the hymn with folded hands. After it was sung he saluted
Brahman; The devotees did likewise.
Adhar arrived from
Calcutta and bowed down before the Master.
MASTER (to M.): "We
have had such joy today! How much joy Hari's name creates! Is it not
M: "Yes, sir."
Mahimacharan was a
student of philosophy. That day he too had chanted the name of Hari and
danced during the kirtan. This made the Master very happy.
It was about dusk.
Many of the devotees took their leave. A lamp, was lighted in Sri
Ramakrishna's room and incense was burnt.
After some time the
moon came out, flooding the sky with its light.
Sri Ramakrishna was
sitting on his couch. He was in a spiritual mood, absorbed in
contemplation of the Divine Mother. Now and then he chanted Her hallowed
name. Adhar was sitting on the floor. M. and Niranjan, too, were there.
Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Adhar.
MASTER: "What! You
have come just now! We have had so much kirtan and dancing. Shyamdas
began the kirtan. He is Ram's music teacher. But I didn't enjoy his
singing very much; I didn't feel like dancing. Later I heard about his
character. I was told that he had as many mistresses as there are hairs
on a man's head.
"Didn't you get the
Adhar held the post
of deputy magistrate, a government post that carried with it great
prestige. He earned three hundred rupees a month. He had applied for the
office of vice-chairman of the Calcutta Municipality. The salary
attached to this office was one thousand rupees. In order to secure it,
Adhar had interviewed many influential people in Calcutta.
MASTER (to M. and
Niranjan): "Hazra said to me, 'Please pray to the Divine Mother for
Adhar, that he may secure the job.' Adhar made the same request to me. I
said to the Mother: 'O Mother, Adhar has been visiting You. May he get
the job if it pleases You.' But at the same time I said to Her: 'How
small-minded he is! He is praying to You for things like that and not
for Knowledge and Devotion.'
(To Adhar) "Why did
you dance attendance on all those small-minded people? You have seen so
much; you have heard so much!
After reading the
entire Ramayana, to ask whose wife Sita is!' "
ADHAR: "A man cannot
but do these things if he wants to lead a householder's life. You
haven't forbidden us to, have you?"
Advice to Adhar about renunciation
alone is good, and not pravritti.3 Once, when I was in a God-intoxicated
state, I was asked to go to the manager of the Kāli temple to sign the
receipt for my salary. They all do it here. But I said to the manager:
'I cannot do that. I am not asking for any salary. You may give it to
someone else if you want.' I am the servant of God alone. Whom else
shall I serve? Mallick noticed the late hours of my meals and arranged
for a cook. He gave me one rupee for a month's expenses. That
embarrassed me. I had to run to him whenever he sent for me. It would
have been quite a different thing if I had gone to him of my own accord.
"In leading the
worldly life one has to humour mean-minded people and do many such
things. After the attainment of my exalted state, I noticed how things
were around me and said to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother! please change
the direction of my mind right now, so that I may not have to flatter
(To Adhar) "Be
satisfied with the job you have. People hanker after a post paying fifty
or a hundred rupees, and you are earning three hundred rupees! You are a
deputy magistrate. I saw a deputy magistrate at Kamarpukur. His name was
Ishwar Ghosha! He had a turban on his head. Men's very bones trembled
before him. I remember having seen him during my boyhood. Is a deputy
magistrate a person to be trifled with?
"Serve him whom you
are already serving. The mind becomes soiled by serving but one master.
And to serve five masters!
"Once a woman became
attached to a Mussalman and invited him to her room. But he was a
righteous person; he said to her that he wanted to use the toilet and
must go home to get his water-jar for water. The woman offered him her
own, but he said: 'No, that will not do. I shall use the jar to which I
have already exposed myself. I cannot expose myself before a new one.'
With these words he went away. That brought the woman to her senses. She
understood that a new water-jar, in her case, signified a paramour."
Narendra was in
straitened circumstances on account of his father's unexpected death. He
had been seeking a job to maintain his mother, brothers, and sisters. He
had served a few days as headmaster of the Vidyasagar School at
ADHAR: "May I ask if
Narendra would accept a job?"
MASTER: "Yes, he
would. He has his mother, brothers, and sisters to support."
Narendra can support his family with fifty or with a hundred rupees.
Will he try for a hundred?"
people think highly of their wealth. They feel that there is nothing
like it. Sambhu said, 'It is my desire to leave all my property at the
Lotus Feet of God.' But does God care for money? He wants from His
devotees knowledge, devotion, discrimination, and renunciation.
"After the theft of
the jewelry from the temple of Radhakanta, Mathur Babu said: 'O God, You
could not protect Your own jewelry! What a shame!' Once he wanted to
give me an estate and consulted Hriday about it. I overheard the whole
thing from the Kāli temple and said to him: 'Please don't harbour any
such thought. It will injure me greatly.' "
ADHAR: "I can tell
you truthfully, sir, that not more than six or seven persons like you
have been born since the creation of the world."
MASTER: "How so?
There certainly are people who have given up everything for God. As soon
as a man gives up his wealth, people come to know about him. But it is
also true that there are others unknown to people. Are there not such
holy men in upper India?"
ADHAR: "I know of at
least one such person in Calcutta. He is Devendranath Tagore."
MASTER: "What did
you say? Who has enjoyed the world as much as he? Once I visited him at
his house with Mathur Babu. I saw that he had many young children. The
family physician was there writing out prescriptions.
If, after having
eight children, a man doesn't think of God, then who will? If, after,
enjoying so much wealth, Devendranath hadn't thought of God, then people
would have cried shame upon him."
NIRANJAN: "But he
paid off all his father's debts."
MASTER: "Keep quiet!
Don't torment me any more. Do you call anyone a man who doesn't payoff
his father's debts if he is able to?
But I admit that
Devendranath is infinitely greater than other worldly men, who are sunk
in their worldliness. They can learn much from him.
Signs of a real devotee
There is an ocean of
difference between a real all-renouncing devotee of God and a
householder devotee. A real sannyāsi, a real devotee who has renounced
the world, is like a bee. The bee will not light on anything but a
flower. It will not drink anything but honey.
But a devotee
leading the worldly life is like a fly. The fly sits on a festering sore
as well as on a sweetmeat. One moment he enjoys a spiritual mood, and
the next moment he is beside himself with the pleasure of 'woman and
"A devotee who has
really and truly renounced all for God is like the chatak bird. It will
drink only the rain-water that falls when the star Svati is in the
ascendant. It will rather die of thirst than touch any other water,
though all around there may lie seven oceans and rivers full to the brim
with water. An all-renouncing devotee will not touch 'woman and gold'.
He will not keep 'woman and gold' near him lest he should feel
Chaitanya, too, enjoyed the world."
"What? What did he enjoy in the world?"
MASTER: "It was
honour in the sight of others, but nothing to him. Whether you―a deputy
magistrate―or this youngster Niranjan honours me, it is all the same to
me. And I tell you this truthfully: the idea of controlling a wealthy
man never enters my mind. Surendra once said, rather condescendingly,
that Rākhāl 's father could sue me for letting Rākhāl stay with
me. When I heard this from Manomohan, I said: 'Who is this Surendra? How
does he dare make a remark like that? He keeps a carpet and pillow here
and gives me some money. Is that his excuse for daring to make such an
impudent remark?' "
ADHAR: "I understand
that he gives ten rupees a month. Isn't that so?"
MASTER: "That covers
two months expenses. The devotees stay here and he gives the money for
their service. It is he who earns the merit. What is that to me? Is it
for my personal gain that I love Narendra, Rākhāl , and the others?"
M: "Your love for
them is like a mother's for her children."
Master's genuine love for his disciples
MASTER: "But even
behind the mother's love lies her hope that the children will support
her later on. But I love these youngsters because I see in them Narayana
Himself. These are not mere words.
God takes charge of His devotees
(To Adhar) "Listen.
There is no scarcity of moths when the lamp is lighted. When God is
realized, He Himself provides everything for His devotees. He sees that
they do not lack anything. When God is enshrined in the heart, many
people come forward to offer their services.
"Once a young
sannyasi went to a householder to beg his food. He had lived as a monk
from his very birth; he knew nothing of worldly matters. A young
daughter of the householder came out to give him alms; He turned to her
mother and said, 'Mother, has this girl abscesses on her chest?' The
mother said: 'No, my child. God has given her breasts to nurse her child
when she becomes a mother.' Thereupon the sannyasi said: 'Then why
should I worry about myself? Why should I beg my food? He who has
created me will certainly feed me.'
"Listen. If a woman
renounces everything for her paramour, she can say to him, if need be,
'You wretch! I shall sit on your chest and devour you.'
"Nangta told me of a
certain king who gave a feast to the sādhus, using plates and tumblers
of gold. I noticed in the monasteries at Benares with what great respect
the abbots were treated. Many wealthy up-country people stood before
them with folded hands, ready to obey their commands. But a true sādhu,
a man who has really renounced everything, seeks neither a gold plate
God sees that he
lacks nothing. God gives the devotee everything that is needed for
(To Adhar) "You are
an executive officer. What shall I say to you? Do whatever you think
best. I am an illiterate person."
ADHAR (smiling, to
the devotees): "Now he is examining me."
MASTER (smiling) :
"Dispassion alone is good. Don't you see, I didn't sign the receipt for
my salary? God alone is real and all else is illusory."
Hazra entered the
room and sat with the devotees on the floor. Hazra repeated now and
then, "Soham! Soham!" "I am He! I am He!"
To Lātu and other
devotees he often said: "What does one gain by worshipping God with
offerings? That is merely giving Him things that are His already." He
had said this once to Narendra.
The Master spoke to
MASTER: "I explained
to Lātu who the object of the devotee's worship is."
HAZRA: "The devotee
really prays to his own Self."
MASTER: "What you
say is a very lofty thought. The aim of spiritual discipline, of
chanting God's name and glories, is to realize just that. A man attains
everything when he discovers his true Self in himself. The object of
sādhanā is to realize that. That also is the purpose of assuming a human
body. One needs the clay mould as long as the gold image has not been
cast; but when the image is made, the mould is thrown away. The body may
be given up after the realization of God.
"God is not only
inside us; He is both inside and outside. The Divine Mother showed me in
the Kāli temple that everything is Chinmaya, the Embodiment of Spirit;
that it is She who has become all this―the image, myself, the utensils
of worship, the door-sill, the marble floor. Everything is indeed
"The aim of prayer,
of spiritual discipline, of chanting the name and glories of God, is to
realize just that. For that alone a devotee loves God. These youngsters
are on a lower level; they haven't yet reached a high spiritual state.
They are following the path of bhakti. Please don't tell them such
things as 'I am He'."
Like the mother bird
brooding over her chicks, Sri Ramakrishna was alert to protect his
Adhar and Niranjan
went out on the porch to take refreshments. Presently they returned to
ADHAR (smiling): "We
talked about so many things. (Pointing to M.) But he didn't utter a
MASTER: "In Keshab's
organization there was a young man with four university degrees. He
laughed when he saw people arguing with me. He said: 'To argue with him!
How silly!' I saw him again, later on, at one of Keshab's meetings. But
then he did not have the same bright complexion."
Sri Ramakrishna sat
on the floor for his supper. It was a light meal of a little farina
pudding and one or two luchis that had been offered in the Kāli temple.
M. and Lātu were in the room. The devotees had brought various sweets
for the Master. He touched a sandesh and asked Lātu, "Who is the rascal
that brought this?" He took it out of the cup and left it on the ground.
He said to Lātu and M.: "I know all about him. He is immoral"
LĀTU: "Shall I give
you this sweet?"
LĀTU: "Will it suit
M. had received an
English education. Sri Ramakrishna said to him: "It is not possible for
me to eat things offered by anyone and everyone. Do you believe this?"
M: "Gradually I
shall have to believe all these things."
MASTER: "Yes, that
After finishing the
meal Sri Ramakrishna washed his mouth. He said to M., "Then will you
give the rupee to Naran?" "Yes," said M.,
"certainly I will."
The moon rose in the
clear autumn sky and was reflected in the river. It was ebb-tide in the
Ganges and the river flowed south toward the sea.
Sunday, September 14, 1884
Sri Ramakrishna was
sitting in his room with Narendra, Bhavanath, the Mukherji brothers, and
other devotees. Rākhāl was staying with Balarām at Vrindāvan and
was laid up with an attack of fever. Narendra was preparing himself for
his coming law examination.
About eleven o'clock
Jnan Babu arrived. He was a government official and had received four
MASTER (at the sight
of Jnan Babu): "Well! Well! This sudden awakening of 'knowledge'!"
JNAN (smiling): "You
must admit, sir, that one sees the awakening of knowledge as a result of
very good fortune."
"You are Jnan. Then why should you have ajnan,
ignorance? Oh, I
understand. Where there is knowledge there is also ignorance. The sage
Vasishtha was endowed with great knowledge and still he wept at the
death of his sons. Therefore I ask you to go beyond both knowledge and
ignorance. The thorn of ignorance has pierced the sole of a man's foot.
He needs the thorn of knowledge to take it out. Afterwards he throws
away both thorns. The Jnāni says, 'This world is a "framework of
illusion".' But he who is beyond both knowledge and ignorance describes
it as a 'mansion of mirth'. He sees that it is God Himself who has
become the universe, all living beings, and the twenty-four cosmic
Living in the world after realization of God
"A man can live in
the world after attaining God. Then he can lead the life of detachment.
In the country I have seen the women of the carpenter families making
flattened rice with a husking-machine. With one hand one of them turns
the paddy in the hole and with the other she holds a nursing child. At
the same time she talks with the buyer. She says to him: 'You owe me two
Pay it before you go.' But seventy-five per cent of the woman's mind is
on her hand lest it should be crushed by the pestle of the husking
"A man should do his
worldly duties with only twenty-five percent of his mind, devoting the
rest to God."
Referring to Pundit
Shashadhar, the Master said to the devotees, "I found him
monotonous―engaged in the dry discussion of philosophy.
"He alone who, after
reaching the Nitya, the Absolute, can dwell in the Lila, the Relative,
and again climb from the Lila to the Nitya, has ripe knowledge and
devotion. Sages like Nārada cherished love of God after attaining the
Knowledge of Brahman. This is called vijnāna.
"Mere dry knowledge
is like an ordinary rocket: it bursts into a few sparks and then dies
out. But the Knowledge of sages like Nārada and Sukadeva is like a good
rocket: for a while it showers balls of different colours, and then it
stops; again it throws out new balls, and again it stops; and thus it
goes on. Those sages had prema for God. Prema is the rope by which one
can reach Satchidananda."
The Master finished
his midday meal and rested a few minutes. Bhavanath, M., the Mukherji
brothers, Hazra, and several other devotees sat down under the
bakul-tree and began to converse. The Master stopped there awhile on his
way to the pine-grove.
HAZRA (to the
younger Gopal): "Please prepare a smoke for him [meaning the Master]."
"Why don't you admit that you want it?" (All laugh.)
MUKHERJI (to Hazra):
"You must have learnt much wisdom from him [meaning the Master]."
"No, he has been wise like this from his boyhood." (All laugh.)
Ramakrishna returned from the pine-grove. The devotees noticed that he
was in an ecstatic mood and was reeling like a drunkard. After reaching
his room he regained the normal state.
gathered in the room. Among them was a new-comer, a sadhaka from
Konnagar, who looked over fifty years of age and seemed to have great
vanity of scholarship.
The Master stood in
the middle of the room and suddenly said to M., "He came here―Naran."
Narendra was engaged
in a discussion with Hazra and a few others on the verandah. They could
be heard from the room.
MASTER (referring to
Narendra): "The chatterbox! But he is now much worried about his
M.: "Yes, sir, it is
MASTER: "Once he
said that he would look upon adversity as his good fortune. Isn't that
M: "He has great
strength of mind."
A DEVOTEE: "Does he
lack strength in anything?"
Pointing to the
sadhaka from Konnagar, a devotee said to the Master: "Sir, he has come
to visit you. He has some questions to ask."
The sadhaka was
seated erect, his chin up.
SADHAKA: "Sir, what
is the way?"
MASTER: "Faith in
the guru's words. One attains God by following the guru's instructions
step by step. It is like reaching an object by following the trail of a
SADHAKA: "Is it
possible to see God?"
MASTER: "He is
unknowable by the mind engrossed in worldliness. One cannot attain God
if one has even a trace of attachment to 'woman and gold'. But He is
knowable by the pure mind and the pure intelligence―the mind and
intelligence that have not the slightest trace of attachment. Pure Mind,
Pure Intelligence, Pure Ātman, are one and the same thing."
SADHAKA: "But the
scriptures say, 'From Him words and mind return baffled.' He is
unknowable by mind and words."
MASTER: "Oh, stop!
One cannot understand the meaning of the scriptures without practising
spiritual discipline. What will you gain by merely uttering the word
'siddhi'? The pundits glibly quote the scriptures; but what will that
accomplish? A man does not become intoxicated even by rubbing siddhi on
his body; he must swallow it. What is the use of merely repeating,
'There is butter in the milk'?
Turn the milk into
curd and churn it. Only then will you get butter."
SADHAKA: "You talk
about churning butter. But you too are quoting the scriptures."
MASTER: "What will
one gain by merely quoting or hearing the scriptures? One must
assimilate them. The almanac makes a forecast of the rainfall for the
year, but you won't get a drop by squeezing its pages."
SADHAKA: "You talk
about churning butter. Have you done it yourself?"
MASTER: "You don't
have to bother about what I have or haven't done. Besides, it is very
difficult to explain these things to others.
Suppose someone asks
you, 'What does ghee taste like?' Your answer will be, 'Ghee tastes like
"To understand these
things one needs to live with holy men, just as to understand the pulse
of bile, of phlegm, and so on, one needs to live with a physician."
SADHAKA: "There are
some people who are irritated by others' company."
happens only after the attainment of Knowledge, after the realization of
God. Shouldn't a beginner live in the company of holy men?"
The sadhaka sat in
silence a few moments. Then he said with some irritation: "Please tell
me whether you have realized God either directly or intuitively. You may
answer me if you are able, or you may keep silent if you wish." The
Master said with a smile: "What shall I say? One can only give a hint."
SADHAKA: "Then tell
us that much."
Narendra was going
to sing. He said, "No one has brought a pakhoaj."
THE YOUNGER GOPAL:
"Mahimacharan has one."
(interrupting): "No, we don't want anything of his here."
A devotee from
Konnagar sang a song. Every now and then Sri Ramakrishna glanced at the
sadhaka. The singer and Narendra became engaged in a furious discussion
about musical technique. The sadhaka said to the singer, "What is the
use of such discussions?" Referring to another man who had joined in the
discussion, Sri Ramakrishna said to the sadhaka, "Why didn't you scold
him, too?" It could be seen that the sadhaka was not on friendly terms
with his companions from Konnagar.
O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?
Down the path of hope I gaze with longing, day and night. . . .
The sadhaka closed
his eyes in meditation as he listened to the song. It was four o'clock
in the afternoon. The rays of the setting sun fell on his body. Sri
Ramakrishna quickly opened an umbrella and placed it near the door so
that the sun might not disturb the sadhaka.
Narendra sang again:
How shall I call on Thee, O Lord, with such a stained and worldly mind?
Can a straw remain unharmed, cast in a pit of Raming coals?
Thou, all goodness, art the fire, and I, all sin, am but a straw:
How shall I ever worship Thee?
The glory of Thy name, they say, redeems those even past redeeming;
Yet, when I chant Thy sacred name, alas! my poor heart quakes with fright.
I spend my life a slave to sin; how can I find a refuge, then,
O Lord, within Thy holy way?
In Thine abounding kindliness, rescue Thou this sinful wretch;
Drag me off by the hair of my head and give me shelter at Thy feet.
Again he sang:
Sweet is Thy name, O Refuge of the humble!
It falls like sweetest nectar on our ears
And comforts us, Beloved of our souls!
The priceless treasure of Thy name alone
Is the abode of Immortality,
And he who chants Thy name becomes immortal.
Falling upon our ears, Thy holy name
Instantly slays the anguish of our hearts,
Thou Soul of our souls, and fills our hearts with bliss!
As Narendra sang the
line, "And he who chants Thy name becomes immortal", the Master went
into samādhi. At first his fingers, especially the thumbs, began to
tremble. The devotees from Kannagar had never seen the Master in
samādhi. Seeing him silent, they were about to leave the room. Bhavanath
said to them: "Why are you going away? This is his samādhi." The
devotees resumed their places.
I have laboured day and night
To make Thy seat within my heart;
Wilt Thou not be kind to me,
O Lord of the World, and enter there?
still in the ecstatic mood, came dawn from his couch to the floar and
sat by Narendra. The beloved disciple sang again:
In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full,
And Love's flood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.
O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! . . .
As Narendra sang the
last line, Sri Ramakrishna stood up, still absorbed in samādhi.
Futility of mere study of scriptures
After a long time
the Master regained partial consciousness of the world and sat down on
the mat. Narendra finished his singing, and the Tānpura was put back in
its place. The Master was still in a spiritual mood and said: "Mother,
tell me what this is. They want someone to extract the butter for them
and hold it to their mouths. They won't throw the spiced bait into the
lake. They won't even hold the fishing-rod. Someone must catch the fish
and put it into their hands! How troublesome! Mother, I won't listen to
any more argument.
The rogues force it
on me. What a bother! I shall shake it off. God is beyond the Vedas and
their injunctions. Can one realize Him by studying the scriptures, the
Vedas, and the Vedānta? (To Narendra) Do you understand this? The Vedas
give only a hint"
Narendra wanted the
Tānpura again. The Master said, "I want to sing." He was still in an
ecstatic mood and sang:
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. . .
The Master said,
"Mother, why do You make me argue?" He sang again:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava. . . .
The Master said, "I
am quite conscious." But he was still groggy with divine fervour. He
sang once more:
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
As I repeat my Mother Kāli's name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk! . . .
Futility of reasoning
Sri Ramakrishna had
said, "Mother, I won't listen to any more argument."
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .
Sri Ramakrishna said
with a smile: "O Mother, make me mad! God cannot be realized through
knowledge and reasoning, through the arguments in the scriptures." He
had been pleased with the singing of the musician from Konnagar and said
to him humbly: "Please sing about the Divine Mother. Please - one song."
MUSICIAN: "You must
excuse me, sir."
MASTER (bowing with
folded hands): "No, sir. I can enforce this demand."
Saying this, Sri
Ramakrishna sang a few lines from a kirtan, assuming the attitude of a
Radha has every right to say it;
She has kept awake for Krishna.
She has stayed awake all night,
And she has every right to be piqued.
Then he said to the
musician: "My dear sir, you are a child of the Divine Mother. She dwells
in all beings. Therefore I have every right
to enforce my
demand. A farmer said to his guru, 'I shall get my mantra from you by
beating you, if I have to.' "
"By a shoe-beating?"
"No! I won't go that far."
Again in an
abstracted mood Sri Ramakrishna said: "The beginner, the struggling, the
perfect, and the supremely perfect. Which are you―perfect or supremely
perfect? Come along! Sing for us."
complied. He sang just a melody.
MASTER: "My dear
sir, that too makes me happy."
The musician then
sang a song. When the music was over, the devotees from Konnagar saluted
the Master and took their leave.
The sadhaka bowed
before him with folded hands and said, "Holy man, let me say good-bye."
still in an ecstatic mood, was talking to the Divine Mother.
MASTER: "Mother, is
it You or I? Do I do anything? No. no! It is You.
Was it You who heard
the arguments all this time, or was it I? No, not I. It was You.".
became conscious of the outer world and began to converse with Narendra,
Bhavanath, and the other devotees.
They were talking
about the sadhaka.
"What kind of man is he?"
MASTER: "He is a
BHAVANATH: "He can
certainly recite Sanskrit verses."
MASTER: "Once I said
to a man about a sādhu: 'He is a rajasic sādhu. Why should one give him
food and other presents?' At this another sādhu taught me a lesson by
saying to me: 'Don't say that. There are three classes of holy men:
sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.' Since that day I have respected holy men
of all classes."
"What? Is it like the 'elephant God'? All, indeed, are God."
"It is God Himself who sports in the world as both vidyā and avidyā.
Therefore I salute both. It is written in the Chandi: 'The Divine Mother
is the good fortune of the blessed and the ill fortune of the unlucky.'
(To Bhavanath) Is that mentioned in the Vishnu Purana?"
"I don't know, sir. The devotees from Konnagar did not understand your
samādhi and were about to leave the room."
MASTER: "Who was it
that asked them to remain?"
"It was I."
MASTER: "My child,
you are equally good in bringing people here and in driving them away."
turned to the argument that Narendra had had with the musician from
didn't spare him."
right. One needs such grit. This is called the influence of tamas on
sattva. Must a man listen to everything another man says? Should one say
to a prostitute, 'All right, you may do whatever you like'? Must one
listen to her? At one time Radha was piqued. A friend said, 'Her ego has
been roused.' Brinde, another friend, said: 'Whose is this' ego? Her ego
belongs to Krishna alone. She is proud in the pride of Krishna.' "
Glory of God's name
turned to the glory of God's name.
BHAVANATH: "I feel
such relief while chanting the name of Hari."
MASTER: "He who
relieves us of sin is Hari. He relieves us of our three afflictions in
the world. Chaitanya preached the glory of Hari's name; so it must be
good. You see, he was such a great scholar, and an Incarnation too.
Since he preached that name, it must be good. (Smiling) Once some
peasants were invited to a feast. They were asked if they would eat a
preparation of hog plum. They answered: 'You may give it to us if the
gentlemen have eaten it. If they enjoyed it, then it must be good.' (All
(To the Mukherji
brothers) "I should like to visit Shivanath; I won't have to hire a
carriage if you take me in yours."
right, sir, we shall set a day."
MASTER (to the
devotees): "Do you think the Brahmos will like me? They criticize those
who believe in God with form."
wanted to go on a pilgrimage. He told Sri Ramakrishna so.
"How is that? Do you want to go when the sprout of divine love has
hardly corne up? First comes the sprout, then the tree, then the fruit.
We are so happy to have you here to talk to."
MAHENDRA: "I feel
like visiting the holy places a little. I shall return soon."
It was about five
o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna left his room. The devotees
were walking in the garden. Many of them were about to leave.
The Master was
conversing with Hazra on the north verandah. They were talking of
Narendra's frequent visits to Annada, the eldest son of the Guhas.
HAZRA: "I hear that
Annada is now practising austerity. He lives on very little food and
eats rice once every four days."
MASTER: "Is that so?
'Who knows? One may realize God even by means of a religious garb.'"
sang the Āgamani."
MASTER (eagerly) :
"How did he sing it?"
Kishori stood close
by. The Master said to him, "Are you well?"
A little later the
Master was standing on the west porch. Since it was autumn, he had put
on a flannel shirt dyed with ochre. He asked Narendra, "Is it true that
you sang the Āgamani?"
Narendra and M., Sri Ramakrishna walked to the embankment of the Ganges.
Narendra sang the
Tell me, my Uma, how have you fared, alone in the Stranger's
People speak so much ill of us! Alas, I die of shame!
My Son-in-law smears His body with ashes from the funeral pyre
And roams about in great delight;
You too, along with Him, cover with ash your golden skin.
He begs the food that He eats! How can I bear it, being your mother?
This time, when He returns to claim you, I shall say to Him,
"My daughter Umā is not at home."
stood listening to the song and went into samādhi. The sun was still
above the horizon as the Master stood on the embankment in the ecstatic
mood. On one side of him was the Ganges, flowing north with the
flood-tide. Behind him was the flower garden. To his right one could see
the nahabat and the Panchavati. Narendra stood by his side and sang.
Gradually the darkness of evening fell upon the earth.
After Narendra and
several other devotees had saluted the Master and left for Calcutta, Sri
Ramakrishna returned to his room. He was absorbed in meditation on the
Divine Mother and was chanting Her holy name.
Master at Jadu's garden
Jadu Mallick had
arrived at his garden house next to the Kāli temple. He sent for the
Master. Adhar, too, had arrived from Calcutta, and he saluted Sri
Ramakrishna. The Master asked Lātu to light the lantern and accompany
him to Jadu's garden.
MASTER (to M.): "Why
didn't you bring Naran with you?"
M: "Shall I come
MASTER: "Do you want
to come? Adhar and the others are here. All right, you may come. Will
the Mukherjis also come with us? (To the Mukherjis) Come along. Then we
can leave Jadu-Mallick quickly."
The Master went to
Jadu's drawing-room. It was a well furnished room, with everything spick
and span. The lamps were lighted. Jadu was sitting with his friends and
was playing with the children. Servants were in attendance. Smiling,
Jadu welcomed Sri Ramakrishna, but he did not get up. He treated the
Master as a friend of long acquaintance.
Jadu was a devotee
of Gaurānga. He had just seen a performance of Gaurānga's life at the
Star Theatre and told the Master about it. The Master listened to his
account joyfully and played with the children. M. and the Mukherji
brothers sat near him. In the course of the conversation Sri Ramakrishna
told Jadu that Adhar had not been able to secure the post of
vice-chairman of the Calcutta Municipality. Jadu said that Adhar was
still young and could try for it again. At his request the Master sang a
few songs about Gaurānga.
After the music was
over, the Mukherjis were about to take their leave. The Master, too, was
ready to go, but he was in an ecstatic mood. On coming to the porch he
went into samādhi. The gate-keeper of the garden house was a pious man.
Now and then he invited the Master to his house and fed him. Sri
Ramakrishna stood there in samādhi and the gate-keeper fanned him with a
large fan. Ratan, the manager of the garden house, saluted the Master,
and Sri Ramakrishna, returning to the consciousness of the relative
world, greeted the manager and the gate-keeper, saying, "Narayana".
Then, accompanied by the devotees, he went back to the temple- garden
through the main gate.
MASTER (to the
Mukherjis, pointing to M.): "Please visit him often."
"Yes, henceforth he will be our teacher."
MASTER: "It is the
nature of the hemp-smoker to make merry in the company of another
hemp-smoker. He will not talk even to an amir, but he will embrace a
wretched hemp-smoker if he happens to meet one." (All laugh.)
It was about nine
o'clock. The Mukherji brothers saluted the Master and went away. Adhar
and M. sat on the floor in the Master's room while he talked to Adhar
about Rākhāl .
His worry over Rākhāl 's illness
staying in Vrindāvan with Balarām. The Master had learnt from a letter
about Rākhāl 's illness. He was so worried about him that two or three
days earlier he had wept before Hazra like a child. Adhar had sent a
registered letter to Rākhāl but had received no reply.
MASTER (to Adhar):
"Naran has received a letter from Vrindāvan. Why haven't you received a
reply to yours?"
ADHAR: "I haven't
yet heard from Vrindāvan."
MASTER: "M. has also
received a letter from Vrindāvan."
They began to talk
of Sri Ramakrishna's seeing a play, at the Star Theatre, about the life
"Jadu told me that one could see the play very well from a one-rupee
seat. Very cheap! Once we were talking about going to Panihati. Jadu
wanted me to go in a country boat with a whole crowd of passengers. (All
"Formerly he liked
to hear a little about God. But I don't see Jadu much nowadays. He is
always surrounded by flatterers. They have spoiled him. He is a man of a
very calculating nature. I would no sooner set foot in his house than he
would ask me,. 'How much is the carriage hire?' I would say: 'You don't
have to bother about it. You may give two and a half rupees.' That would
keep him quiet." (All laugh.)
It was late. Adhar
was about to depart. The Master asked M. to bring Naran with him.