THE DURGA PUJA FESTIVAL
September 26, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA had
come to Calcutta. It was the first day of the Durga Puja, the great
religious festival, and the Hindus of the metropolis were celebrating
it. The Master intended to visit the image of the Divine Mother at
Adhar's house. He also wanted to see Shivanath, the Brahmo devotee.
It was about midday.
Umbrella in hand, M. was pacing the foot-path in front of the Brahmo
Samaj temple. Two hours had passed but the Master had not yet appeared.
Now and then M. sat down on the steps of Dr. Mahalnavish's dispensary
and watched the joy and mirth of the people, young and old, who were
celebrating the Puja.
A little after three
the Master's carriage drove up. As soon as Sri Ramakrishna stepped out
he saluted the temple of the Brahmo Samaj with folded hands. Hazra and a
few other devotees were with him. M. bowed before the Master and took
the dust of his feet. The Master told him that he was going to
Shivanath's house. A few minutes later several members of the Brahmo
Samaj came and took him to Shivanath's. But Shivanath was not at home.
Shortly afterwards Vijay Goswami, Mahalnavish, and several other Brahmo
leaders greeted the Master and took him inside the Brahmo temple.
Sri Ramakrishna was
in a happy mood. He was given a seat below the altar. There the Brahmo
devotees sang their devotional music. Vijay and the Brahmo devotees sat
in front of the Master.
MASTER (to Vijay,
with a smile): "I was told that you had put up a 'signboard' here that
people belonging to other faiths are not allowed to come in. Narendra,
too, said to me: 'You shouldn't go to the Brahmo Samiij. You had better
visit Shivanath's house.'
"But I say that we
are all calling on the same God. Jealousy and malice need not be. Some
say that God is formless,and some that God has form. I say, let one man
meditate on God with form if he believes in form, and let another
meditate on the formless Deity if he does not believe in form. What I
mean is that dogmatism is not good. It is not good to feel that my
religion alone is true and other religions are false. The correct
attitude is this: My religion is right, but I do not know whether other
religions are right or wrong, true or false. I say this because one
cannot know the true nature of God unless one realizes Him. Kabir used
to say: 'God with form is my Mother, the Formless is my Father. Which
shall I blame? Which shall I praise? The two pans of the scales are
Different paths for different temperaments
Christians, Saktas, Saivas, Vaishnavas, the Brahmajnanis of the time of
the rishis, and you, the Brahmajnanis of modern times, all seek the same
object. A mother prepares dishes to suit the stomachs of her children.
Suppose a mother has five children and a fish is bought for the family.
She doesn't cook pilau or kalia for all of them. All have not the same
power of digestion; so she prepares a simple stew for some. But she
loves all her children equally.
"Do you know my
attitude? I love all the preparations of fish. I have a womanly nature
(all laugh). I feel myself at home with every dish-fried fish, fish
cooked with turmeric powder, pickled fish. And further, I equally relish
rich preparations like fish-head, kalia, and pilau. (all laugh)
"Do you know what
the truth is? God has made different religions to suit different
aspirants, times, and countries. All doctrines are only so many paths;
but a path is by no means God Himself. Indeed, one can reach God if one
follows any of the paths with whole-hearted devotion. Suppose there are
errors in the religion that one has accepted; if one is sincere and
earnest, then God Himself will correct those errors. Suppose a man has
set out with a sincere desire to visit Jagannath at Puri and by mistake
has gone north instead of south; then certainly someone meeting him on
the way will tell him: 'My good fellow, don't go that way. Go to the
south.' And the man will reach Jagannath sooner or later.
"If there are errors
in other religions, that is none of our business. God, to whom the world
belongs, takes care of that. Our duty is somehow to visit Jagannath. (To
the Brahmos) The view you hold is good indeed. You describe God as
formless. That is fine. One may eat a cake with icing, either straight
or sidewise. It will taste sweet either way.
"But dogmatism is
not good. You have no doubt heard the story of the chameleon. A man
entered a wood and saw a chameleon on a tree. He reported to his
friends, 'I have seen a red lizard.' He was firmly convinced that it was
nothing but red. Another person, after visiting the tree, said, 'I have
seen a green lizard.' He was firmly convinced that it was nothing but
green. But the man who lived under the tree said: 'What both of you have
said is true. But the fact is that the creature is sometimes red,
sometimes green, sometimes yellow, and sometimes has no colour at all.'
"God has been
described in the Vedas as both with attributes and without. You describe
Him as without form only. That is one-sided. But never mind. If you know
one of His aspects truly, you will be able to know His other aspects
too. God Himself will tell you all about them. (Pointing to two or three
Brahmo devotees) Those who come to your Samaj know both this gentleman
Encouragement to Vijay
Vijay still belonged
to the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. He was a salaried preacher of that
organization but could not obey all its rules and regulations. He mixed
with those who believed in God with form. This was creating a
misunderstanding between him and the Brahmo authorities. Many Brahmos
disapproved of his conduct. The Master suddenly looked at Vijay and
began to talk to him.
MASTER (to Vijay,
smiling): "I understand that they have been finding fault with you for
mixing with those who believe in God with form. Is that true? He who is
a devotee of God must have an understanding that cannot be shaken under
any conditions. He must be like the anvil in a blacksmith's shop. It is
constantly being struck by the hammer; still it is unshaken. Bad people
may abuse you very much and speak ill of you; but you must bear with
them all if you sincerely seek God. Isn't it possible to think of God in
the midst of the wicked? Just think of the rishis of ancient times. They
used to meditate on God in the forest, surrounded on all sides by
tigers, bears, and other ferocious beasts. Wicked men have the nature of
tigers and bears. They will pursue you to do you an injury.
How to deal with wicked people
"One must be careful
about these few things. First, an influential man who has much money and
many men under his control. He can injure you if he wants; you must be
careful while talking to him; perhaps you may have to approve what he
says. Second, a dog. When it chases you or barks at you, you must stand
still, talk to it gently, and pacify it. Third, a bull. If it runs after
you with lowered horns, you must calm it with a gentle voice. Fourth, a
drunkard. If you arouse his anger, he will abuse you, naming fourteen
generations of your family. You should say to him: 'Hello uncle! How are
you?' Then he will be mightily pleased and sit by you and smoke.
"In the presence of
a wicked person I become alert. If such a man asks me whether I have a
pipe for smoking, I say, 'Yes, I have.' Some people have the nature of a
snake: they will bite you without warning. You have to discriminate a
great deal in order to avoid the bite; otherwise your passion will be
stirred up to such an extent that you will feel like doing injury in
return. The companionship of a holy man is greatly needed now and then.
It enables one to discriminate between the Real and the unreal."
VIJAY: "I have no
time, sir. I am entangled in my duties here."
MASTER: "You are a
religious teacher. Others have holidays, but not so a religious teacher.
When the manager of an estate brings order to one part of it, the
landlord sends him to another part. So you have no leisure." (all laugh)
VIJAY (with folded
hands): "Sir, please give me your blessing."
MASTER: "Now you are
talking like an ignorant person. It is God alone who blesses."
VIJAY: "Revered sir,
please give us some instruction."
The Master glanced
around the Brahmo temple and said with a smile, "This is nice too-a
mixture of crystals and syrup. There are crystals, and there is syrup
"I have scored too
many points and am therefore out of the game (all laugh). Do you know
the game called 'nax'? It is a game of cards, and anyone scoring above
seventeen is out of the game. Those who score fewer points-say five,
seven, or ten-are clever. I have scored too many and am out of the game.
"Once Keshab Sen
gave a lecture at his house. I was present. Many people were there. The
ladies were seated behind the screen. Keshab, in the course of his talk,
said, 'O God, please bless us that we may dive and disappear altogether
in the river of bhakti.' I said to Keshab with a smile: 'If you
disappear altogether in the river of bhakti, then what will be the fate
of those behind the screen? By all means dive into the river, but you
had better come back to dry land now and then: Don't disappear in the
river altogether.' At these words Keshab and the others burst out
"Never mind. One can
realize God in the world, too, if only one is sincere. 'I' and
'mine'-that is ignorance. But, 'O God! Thou and Thine'-that is
Advice to householders
"Live in the world
like a maidservant in a rich man's house. She performs all the household
duties, brings up her master's child, and speaks of him as 'my Hari'.
But in her heart she knows quite well that neither the house nor the
child belongs to her. She performs all her duties, but just the same her
mind dwells on her native place. Likewise, do your worldly duties but
fix your mind on God. And know that house, family, and son do not belong
to you; they are God's. You are only His servant.
"I ask people to
renounce mentally. I do not ask them to give up the world. If one lives
in the world unattached and seeks God with sincerity, then one is able
to attain Him.
(To Vijay) "There
was a time when I too would meditate on God with my eyes closed. Then I
said to myself: 'Does God exist only when I think of Him with my eyes
closed? Doesn't He exist when I look around with my eyes open?' Now,
when I look around with my eyes open, I see that God dwells in all
beings. He is the Indwelling Spirit of all-men, animals and other living
beings, trees and plants, sun and moon, land and water.
"Why do I seek
Shivanath? He who meditates on God for many days has substance in him,
has divine power in him. Further, he who sings well, plays well on a
musical instrument, or has mastered anyone art, has in him real
substance and the power of God. This is the view of the Gitā. It is said
in the Chandi that he who is endowed with physical beauty has in him
substance and the power of God. (To Vijay) Ah, what a beautiful nature
Kedār has! No sooner does he come to me than he bursts into tears. His
eyes are always red and swim in tears, like a chanabara in syrup."
VIJAY: "At Dāccā he
is constantly talking about you. He is always eager to see you."
Sri Ramakrishna was
about to depart. The Brahmo devotees bowed low before him and he
returned their salute. Then, getting into the carriage, he set out for
Adhar's house to see the image of the Divine Mother.
Sunday, September 28, 1884
It was the day of
the most auspicious day of the worship of Durga, the Divine Mother. At
Adhar's invitation Sri Ramakrishna had come to Calcutta to see the holy
image at his house. Before going there he went to Ram's. Many devotees,
including Narendra, Baburam, M., Niranjan, Vijay, Kedār, Ram, and
Surendra, were present. Balarām and Rākhāl were still at
MASTER (looking at
Vijay and Kedār, with a smile): "This is a nice reunion today. You two
have the same spiritual mood. (To Vijay) Well, what about Shivanath? Did
VIJAY: "Yes, sir, he
heard that you had been to his house. I haven't seen him, but I sent him
word. He knows about it."
MASTER (to Vijay and
the others); "Four desires have come into my mind. I shall eat fish
curry cooked with egg-plant. I shall visit Shivanath. The devotees will
repeat the name of Hari over their beads, and I shall watch them. And
the Tantrik devotees will drink consecrated wine, eight ānnās
worth, on the ashtami day, and I shall watch them and salute them."
Narendra was seated
in front of the Master. He was about twenty-two years old. While Sri
Ramakrishna was talking thus his eyes fell upon his beloved disciple. At
once the Master stood up and went into samādhi. He placed one foot on
Narendra's knee. He was in a deep spiritual mood, his eyes unblinking,
his mind completely unconscious of the outer world. After a long time he
came down to the relative plane of consciousness; but he still appeared
dazed, for the intoxication of divine bliss had not altogether left him.
Speaking to himself in that ecstatic state, he repeated the name of God.
He said: "Satchidananda! Satchidananda! Satchidananda! Shall I repeat
that? No, it is the day of the Divine Mother, the Giver of the bliss of
divine inebriation. O Mother, full of the bliss of divine inebriation!
Sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni. It is not good to keep the voice on 'ni'.
It is not possible to keep it there very long. I shall keep it on the
next lower note.
Difference between ordinary men and Incarnations
"There are different
planes of consciousness: the gross, the subtle, the causal, and the
Great Cause. Entering the Mahakarana, the Great Cause, one becomes
silent; one cannot utter a word.
"But an Isvarakoti,
after attaining the Great Cause, can come down again to the lower
planes. Incarnations of God, and others like them, belong to the class
of the Isvarakotis. They climb up, and they can also come down. They
climb to the roof, and they can come down again by the stairs and move
about on a lower floor. It is a case of negation and affirmation. There
is, for instance, the seven-storey palace of a king. Strangers have
access only to the lower apartments; but the prince, who knows the
palace to be his own, can move up and down from floor to floor. There is
a kind of rocket that throws out sparks in one pattern and then seems to
go out. After a moment it makes another pattern, and then still another.
There is no end to the patterns it can make. But there is another kind
of rocket that, when it is lighted, makes only a dull sound, throws out
a few sparks, and then goes out altogether. Like this second kind, an
ordinary jiva, after much spiritual effort, can go to a higher plane;
but he cannot come down to tell others his experiences. After much
effort he may go into samādhi; but he cannot climb down from that state
or tell others what he has seen there.
Nature of the ever-perfect
"There is a class of
devotees, the nityasiddhas, the ever-perfect. From their very birth they
seek God. They do not enjoy anything of the world.
Illustration of homa bird
The Vedas speak of
the homa bird. It lives very high in the sky. There the mother bird lays
her egg. She lives so high that the egg falls for many days. While
falling it is hatched. The chick continues to fall. That also goes on
for many days. In the mean time the chick develops eyes. Coming near the
earth, it becomes conscious of the world. It realizes it will meet
certain death if it hits the ground. Then it gives a shrill cry and
shoots up toward its mother. The earth means death, and it frightens the
young bird; it then seeks its mother. She dwells high up in the sky, and
the young bird shoots straight up in that direction. It doesn't look
"Those who are born
as the companions of an Incarnation of God are eternally perfect. For
some of them that birth is the last.
(To Vijay) "You have
both-yoga and bhoga. King Janaka also had yoga and bhoga. Therefore he
is called a rajarshi, both king and seer. Nārada was a devarshi, and
Sukadeva a brahmarshi. Yes, Sukadeva was a brahmarshi. He was not a mere
Jnāni; he was the very embodiment of Jnāna, Divine Knowledge. Whom do I
call a Jnāni? A man who has attained Knowledge and has done so after
much effort. Sukadeva was the very image of Knowledge, in other words, a
form of concentrated Knowledge. He attained Knowledge spontaneously,
without any labour."
Saying this, Sri
Ramakrishna came down to the normal mood. Then he talked freely with the
devotees. The Master asked Kedār to sing.
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. . . .
Kedār sang several
other songs. After the music the Master again talked to the devotees.
Nandalal, Keshab's nephew, was also present with a few brahmo friends.
They were sitting near the Master.
MASTER (to Vijay and
the other devotees): "A man brought a bottle of consecrated wine for me;
but I couldn't even touch it."
MASTER: "I become
intoxicated at the mere thought of God. I don't have to take any wine. I
feel drunk at the very sight of the charanamrita. I feel as if I had
drunk five bottles of liquor. When a person attains such a state he
cannot help discriminating about food."
regards food, one should take whatever comes."
MASTER: "What you
say applies only to a particular state of the aspirant's mind. No food
can harm a Jnāni.
According to the
Gitā, the Jnāni himself does not eat; his eating is an offering to the
Kundalini. But that does not apply to a bhakta. The present state of my
mind is such that I cannot eat any food unless it is first offered to
God by a brahmin priest. Formerly my state of mind was such that I would
enjoy inhaling the smell of burning corpses, carried by the wind from
the other side of the Ganges. It tasted very sweet to me. But nowadays I
cannot eat food touched by anybody and everybody. No, I cannot. But once
in a while I do. One day I was taken to see a performance of a play at
Keshab's house. They gave me luchi and curries to eat. I didn't know
whether the food was handed to me by a washerman or a barber; but I ate
quite a little (all laugh). Rākhāl had asked me to eat.
(To Narendra) "With
you it is all right. You are in 'this' as well as in 'that'. You can eat
everything now. (To the devotees) Blessed is he who feels longing for
God, though he eats pork. But shame on him whose mind dwells on 'woman
and gold', though he eats the purest food-boiled vegetables, rice, and
"Once I had a desire
to eat dal cooked in a blacksmith's house. From my childhood I had heard
the blacksmiths say, 'Do the brahmins know how to cook?' I ate the dal,
but it smelt of the blacksmith. (all laugh)
"I received the
Allah mantra from Govinda Rai. Rice was cooked for me with onions in the
kuthi. I ate some. I ate curry in Mani Mallick's garden house, but I
felt a kind of repulsion to it.
"When I went to
Kamarpukur, Ramlal's father was frightened. He thought I might eat at
any and every house. He was frightened to think I might be expelled from
the caste; so I couldn't stay long. I came away.
"Both the Vedas and
the Puranas describe pure food and conduct. But what the Vedas and the
Puranas ask people to shun as impure is extolled by the Tantra as good.
Master's divine madness
"Oh, what a state of
mind I passed through! I would open my mouth, touching, as it were,
heaven and the nether world with my jaws, and utter the word 'Ma'. I
felt that I had seized the Mother, like a fisherman dragging fish in his
net. Let me recite a song:
This time I shall devour Thee utterly, Mother Kāli!
For I was born under an evil star,
And one so born becomes, they say, the eater of his mother.
Thou must devour me first, or I myself shall eat Thee up;
One or the other it must be.
I shall besmear my hands with black, and with black my face;
With black I shall besmear the whole of my body
And when Death seizes me, with black I shall besmear his face.
O Mother, I shall eat Thee up but not digest Thee;
I shall install Thee in my heart
And make Thee offerings with my mind.
You may say that by eating Kāli I shall embroil myself
With Kala, Her Husband, but I am not afraid;
Braving His anger, I shall chant my Mother's name.
To show the world that Ramprasad is Kāli's rightful son,
Come what may, I shall eat Thee up-Thee and Thy retinue-
Or lose my life attempting it.
"I almost became mad-such was my longing for God."
Narendra began to
O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason? . . .
Listening to the
song, the Master again went into samādhi. Coming down to the normal
plane, he assumed the attitude of Girirani and sang the
sang, intoxicated with divine love:
Tell me, my Uma, how
have you fared, alone in the Stranger's house? . . .
He said to the
devotees, "Today is the Mahashtami. The Mother has come; that is why I
feel such an awakening of spiritual emotion."
KEDĀR: "Lord, you
are here. Are you different from the Divine Mother?"
looked in another direction and sang in an absent-minded mood:
Ah, friend! I have
not found Him yet, whose love has driven me mad....
Again he became
ecstatic and sang of the Divine Mother. As he sang, Vijay suddenly stood
up crying the name of Hari. Sri Ramakrishna, full of divine love, began
to dance with Vijay and the other devotees.
The music was over.
The Master, Vijay, Narendra, and the other devotees sat down. All eyes
were fixed on Sri Ramakrishna, who began conversing with the devotees.
He asked about their health. Kedār spoke to him humbly in a soft, sweet
voice. Narendra, Chunilal, Ram, M., and Harish were sitting by the
KEDĀR (humbly): "How
can I get rid of my dizziness?"
"One gets that. I have had it myself.
Use a little almond
oil. I have heard that it cures dizziness."
KEDĀR: "I shall,
Chunilal): "Hello! How is everything?"
"Everything is all right with us now. Balarām Babu and Rākhāl are
well at Vrindāvan."
MASTER: "Why have
you sent so many sweetmeats? (To Harish) Wait a day or two before coming
to Dakshineswar. You are not well. You may fall ill again there. (To
Narayan, tenderly) Sit here. Sit by me. Come to Dakshineswar tomorrow
and have your meal there. (Pointing to M.) Come with him. (To M.) What
do you say?"
M. wanted to
accompany Sri Ramakrishna to Dakshineswar that very day. He became
Surendra stood near
Sri Ramakrishna. He was in the habit of drinking and often went to
excess. This had worried the Master greatly, but he had not asked
Surendra to give up drinking altogether. He had said to him: "Look here,
Surendra! Whenever you drink wine, offer it beforehand to the Divine
Mother. See that your brain doesnt become clouded and that you don't
reel The more you think of the Divine Mother, the less you will like to
drink The Mother is the Giver of the bliss of divine inebriation.
Realizing Her, one feels a natural bliss."
The Master looked at
Surendra and said, "You have had a drink." With these words he went into
samādhi. It was dusk. Regaining partial consciousness, the Master sang:
Behold my Mother playing with Śiva, lost in an ecstasy of joy!
Drunk with a draught of celestial wine, She reels, and yet She does not
fall. . .
Then he chanted the
name of Hari, clapping his hands occasionally. In a sweet voice he said:
"Hari! Hari! O mind, chant the name of Hari! Sing the name of Hari!"
Then he chanted: "Rāma! Rāma Rāma! Rāma!"
Now the Master began
to pray: "O Rāma! O Rāma! I am without devotion and austerity, without
knowledge and love; I have not performed any religious rites. O Rāma, I
have taken refuge in Thee; I have taken shelter at Thy feet. I do not
want creature comforts; I do not seek name and fame. O Rāma, I do not
crave the eight occult powers; I do not care for a hundred occult
powers! I am Thy servant. I have taken refuge in Thee. Grant, O Rāma,
that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet; that I may not be deluded
by Thy world-bewitching māyā! O Rāma, I have taken refuge it Thee."
As the Master prayed
all eyes were turned toward him. Hearing his piteous voice, few could
restrain their tears.
came in and stood near him.
MASTER: "Where have
you been, Ram?"
RAM: "I was
Ram had been making
arrangements for feeding the devotees on the roof of the house.
MASTER (to Ram, with
a smile): "Isn't it better to stay down below that to be high up? Water
accumulates in low land but flows down from a high mound."
RAM (with a smile):
"That is true, sir."
Supper was ready on
the roof. Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees were taken there and
sumptuously fed. Later the Master went to Adhar's house with M.,
Niranjan, and others. The Divine Mother was being worshipped there, It
had been Adhar's earnest prayer that on this sacred day Sri Ramakrishna
might bless his house with his presence.
Monday, September 29, 1884
It was the third day
of the Durga Puja. The Master had been awake in his room at Dakshineswar
since early morning. The morning worship in the Kāli temple was over and
the orchestra had played the morning melodies in the nahabat. Brahmans
and gardeners, basket in hand, were plucking flowers for the worship of
the Divine Mother. Bhavanath, Baburam, Niranjan, and M. had spent the
night at Dakshineswar, sleeping on the porch of the Master's room. As
soon as they awoke they saw Sri Ramakrishna dancing in an ecstatic mood.
He was chanting: "Victory to Mother Durga! Hallowed be the name of
Durga!" He was naked and looked like a child as he chanted the name of
the Blissful Mother. After a few moments he said: "Oh, the bliss of
divine ecstasy! Oh, the bliss of divine drunkenness!" Then he repeatedly
chanted the name of Govinda: "O Govinda! My life! My soul!"
The devotees sat on
their beds and with unwinking eyes watched Sri Ramakrishna's spiritual
mood. Hazra was living at the temple garden. Lātu was also living there
to render the Master personal service. Rākhāl was still at
Vrindāvan. Narendra visited Sri Ramakrishna now and then. He was
expected that day.
The devotees washed
their faces. The Master took his seat on a mat on the north verandah.
Bhavanath and M. sat beside him. Other devotees were coming in and out
of the room.
Bhavanath): "The truth is that ordinary men cannot easily have faith.
But an Isvarakoti's faith is spontaneous. Prahlada burst into tears
while writing the letter 'ka'. It reminded him of Krishna. It is the
nature of jivas to doubt. They say yes, no doubt, but-
Oneness of Śakti and Brahman
"Hazra can never be
persuaded to believe that Brahman and Śakti, that Śakti and the Being
endowed with Śakti, are one and the same. When the Reality appears as
Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer, we call It Śakti; when It is
inactive, we call It Brahman. But really It is one and the same
thing-indivisible. Fire naturally brings to mind its power to burn; and
the idea of burning naturally brings to mind the idea of fire. It is
impossible to think of the one without the other.
"So I prayed to the
Divine Mother: 'O Mother! Hazra is trying to upset the views of this
place. Either give him right understanding or take him from here.' The
next day he carne to me and said, 'Yes, I agree with you.' He said that
God exists everywhere as All-pervading Consciousness."
"Did what Hazra said really make you suffer so much?"
MASTER: "You see, I
am now in a different mood. I can't shout and carry on heated
discussions with people. I am not in a mood now to argue and quarrel
with Hazra. Hriday said to me at Jadu Mallick's garden house,
'Uncle, don't you want to keep me with you?' 'No,' I said, 'I am no
longer in a mood to get into heated arguments with you.'
Knowledge and ignorance
"What is knowledge
and what is ignorance? A man is ignorant so long as he feels that God is
far away. He has knowledge when he knows that God is here and
"When a man has true
knowledge he feels that everything is filled with Consciousness. At
Kamarpukur I used to talk to Shibu, who was then a lad four or five
years old. When the clouds rumbled and lightning flashed, Shibu would
say to me: 'There, uncle! They are striking matches again!' (all laugh)
One day I noticed him chasing grasshoppers by himself. The leaves
rustled in the near-by trees. 'Hush! Hush!' he said to the leaves. 'I
want to catch the grasshoppers.' He was a child and saw everything
throbbing with consciousness. One cannot realize God without the faith
that knows no guile, the simple faith of a child.
"Ah, what a state of
mind I passed through! One day something bit me while I was sitting in
the grass. I was afraid it might have been a snake, and I didn't know
what to do. I had heard that if a snake bites you again immediately
after its first bite, it takes back. its own venom. At once I set out to
discover the hole so that I might let the snake bite me again. While I
was searching, a man said to me, 'What are you doing?' After listening
to my story, he said, 'But the snake must bite in the very same place it
has bitten before.' Thereupon I went away. Perhaps I had been bitten by
a scorpion or some other insect.
"I had heard from
Ramlal that the autumn chill was good for one's health. Ramlal had
quoted a verse to support it. One day, as I was returning from Calcutta
in a carriage, I stuck my head out of the window so that I might get all
the chill. Then I fell ill." (all laugh)
entered his room and sat down. His legs were a little swollen. He asked
the devotees to feel his legs and see whether or not the pressure of
their fingers made dimples. Dimples did appear with the pressure, but
the devotees said that it was nothing.
Bhavanath): "Please ask Mahendra of Sinthi to see me. I shall feel
better if he reassures me."
BHAVANATH (with a
smile): "You have great faith in medicine. But we haven't so much."
MASTER: "It is God
who, as the doctor, prescribes the medicine. It is He who, in one form,
has become the physician. Dr. Gangaprasad asked me not to drink water at
night. I regarded his statement as the words of the Vedas. I look upon
him as the physician of heaven."
Hazra entered the
room and sat down. The Master talked awhile about different things and
then said to Hazra: "You see, many people were at Ram's house yesterday.
Vijay, Kedār, and others were there. But why did I feel so deeply
stirred at the sight of Narendra? I found that Kedār belonged to the
realm of Divine Inebriation."
arrived, and Sri Ramakrishna was exceedingly happy. Narendra saluted the
Master and began to talk with Bhavanath and others in the room. M. was
seated near by. A long mat was spread on the floor. While talking,
Narendra lay on it flat on his stomach. The Master looked at him and
suddenly went into samādhi. He sat on Narendra's back in an ecstatic
O Mother, ever blissful as Thou art,
Do not deprive Thy worthless child of bliss! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna came
down from the plane of samādhi. He sang:
Repeat, O mind, my Mother Durga's hallowed name!
O Gauri! O Narayani! to Thee I bow.
Thou art the day, O Mother! Thou art the dusk and the night.
As Rāma Thou drawest the bow, as Krishna Thou playest the flute;
As Kāli all-terrible, Thou hast silenced Śiva, Thy Lord.
The ten Embodiments of Divine Śakti art Thou,
And Thou the ten Avatars; this time save me Thou must!
With flowers and vilwa-leaves did Yaśoda worship Thee,
And Thou didst bless her by placing Krishna, the Child, in her arms.
Wherever I chance to live, O Mother, in forest or grove,
May my mind, day and night, dwell at Thy Lotus Feet;
Whether at last I die a natural or sudden death,
Oh, may my tongue repeat Durga's name at the end!
Thou mayest send me away, O Mother, but where shall I go?
Tell me, Mother, where else shall I hear so sweet a name?
Thou mayest even say to me: "Step aside! Go away!"
Yet I shall cling to Thee, O Durga! Unto Thy feet
As Thine anklets I shall cling, making their tinkling sound.
When, O Mother, Thou sittest at mighty Śiva's side,
Then I shall cry from Thy feet, "Victory unto Śiva!"
Mother, when as the Kite, Thou soarest in the sky,
There, in the water beneath, as a minnow I shall be swimming;
Upon me Thou wilt pounce, and pierce me through with Thy claws.
Thus, when the breath of life forsakes me in Thy grip,
Do not deny me the shelter of Thy Lotus Feet!
From the world's bondage free me, 0 Spouse of the Absolute!
Thy two feet are my boat to cross this world's dark sea.
Thou art the heavens and the earth, and Thou the nether world;
From Thee have the twelve Gopalas and Hari and Brahma sprung.
Whoever treads the path, repeating "Durga! Durga!"
Śiva Himself protects with His almighty trident.
Hazra was sitting on
the northeast verandah counting the beads of his rosary. The Master went
and sat in front of him, taking the rosary in his own hands.
MASTER (to Hazra):
"You see, I cannot use the rosary. No, perhaps I can. Yes, I can with my
left hand. But I cannot repeat the name of God with it."
With these words Sri
Ramakrishna tried to perform a little japa. But hardly had he begun when
he went into samādhi. He sat in that state a long time, still holding
the rosary in his hand. The devotees looked at him with wonder in their
eyes. Hazra also watched the Master without uttering a word. After a
long time Sri Ramakrishna regained consciousness of the outer world and
said that he was hungry. He often said such things to bring his mind
down to the normal plane. M. was going to bring something for him to
eat. The Master said, "No, I shall first go to the Kāli temple."
He went across the
cement courtyard toward the Kāli temple. On the way he bowed with folded
hands to the twelve Śiva temples. On the left was the temple of
Radhakanta. He went there first and bowed before the image. Then he
entered the Kāli temple and saluted the Mother. Sitting on a carpet, he
offered flowers at the Mother's holy feet. He also placed a flower on
his own head. While returning from the temple he asked Bhavanath to
carry the green coconut offered at the temple, and the charanamrita.
Coming back to his room, accompanied by M. and Bhavanath, he saluted
Hazra, who cried out in dismay: "What are you doing, sir? What is this?"
The Master said, "Why should you say it is wrong?" Hazra often argued
with the Master, declaring that God dwelt in all beings and that
everybody could attain Brahmajnana through sadhana. He had an
exaggerated idea of his own spiritual progress.
It was about noon.
The gong and the bells announced the worship and offering in the various
temples. The brahmins, the Vaishnavas, and the beggars went to the
guest-house to have their midday meal. The devotees of the Master were
also to partake of the sacred offerings. He asked them to go to the
guest-house. To Narendra he said: "Won't you take your meal in my room?
All right. Narendra and I will eat here." Bhavanath, Baburam, M., and
the other devotees went to the guest-house.
After his meal Sri
Ramakrishna rested a few minutes. The devotees were on the verandah
engaged in light conversation. He soon joined them and was happy in
their company. It was about two o'clock. All were, still sitting on the
verandah, when suddenly Bhavanath appeared in the garb of a brahmachari,
dressed in an ochre cloth, kamandalu in hand, his face beaming with
MASTER (with a
smile): "That is his inner feeling. Therefore he has dressed himself as
NARENDRA: "He has
put on the garb of a brahmachari; let me put on the garb of' a Tantrik
HAZRA: "Then you
will have to follow the Tantrik rituals, with women, wine, and so on."
Sri Ramakrishna did
not encourage the conversation. Indeed, he made fun of it.
Suddenly the Master
began to dance in an ecstatic mood. He sang:
Mother, Thou canst not trick me any more,
For I have seen Thy crimson Lotus Feet. . . .
The Master said:
"Ah, how wonderfully Rajnarayan sings about the Divine Mother! He sings
and dances that way. The music of Nakur Āchārya at Kamarpukur is also
wonderful. Ah, how beautiful his singing and dancing are!"
A sādhu was staying
at the Panchavati. But he was a hot-tempered man; he scolded and cursed
everyone. He came to the Master's room wearing wooden sandals and asked
the Master, "Can I get fire here?" Sri Ramakrishna saluted him and stood
with folded hands as long as he remained in the room.
When he had left,
Bhavanath said to the Master with a laugh, "What great respect you
showed the sādhu!"
"You see, he too is Narayana, though full of tamas. This is the way one
should please people who have an excess of tamas. Besides, he is a
The devotees were
engaged in a game of golokdham. Hazra joined them. The Master stood by,
watching them play. M. and Kishori reached "heaven". Sri Ramakrishna
bowed before them and said, "Blessed are you two brothers." He said to
M., aside, "Don't play any more." Hazra fell into "hell". The Master
said: "What's the matter with Hazra? Again!" No sooner had Hazra got out
of "hell" than he fell into it again. All burst into laughter. Lātu, at
the first throw of the dice, went to "heaven" from "earth". He began to
cut capers of joy. "See Lātu's joy!" said the Master. "He would have
been terribly sad if he hadn't achieved this. (Aside to the devotees)
This too has a meaning. Hazra is so vain that he thinks he will triumph
over all even in this game. This is the law of God, that He never
humiliates a righteous person. Such a man is victorious everywhere."
Sri Ramakrishna was
sitting on the small couch in his room. Narendra, Baburam, Bhavanath,
and M. were sitting on the floor. Narendra referred to various religious
sects-the Ghoshpara, Panchanami, and others. Sri Ramakrishna described
their views and condemned their immoral practices. He said that they
could not follow the right course of spiritual discipline, but enjoyed
sensuous pleasures in the name of religion.
Danger of Tantrik discipline
Narendra): "You need not listen to these things. The bhairavas and the
bhairavis of the Tantrik sect also follow this kind of discipline. While
in Benares I was taken to one of their mystic circles. Each bhairava had
a bhairavi with him. I was asked to drink the consecrated wine, but I
said I couldn't touch wine. They drank it. I thought perhaps they would
then practise meditation and japa. But nothing of the sort. They began
to dance. I was afraid they might fall into the Ganges: the circle had
been made on its bank. It is very honourable for husband and wife to
assume the roles of bhairava and bhairavi.
(To Narendra and the
others) "Let me tell you this. I regard woman as my mother; I regard
myself as her son. This is a very pure attitude. There is no danger in
it. To look on woman as a sister is also not bad. But to assume the
attitude of a 'hero', to look on woman as one's mistress, is the most
difficult discipline. Tārak's father followed this discipline. It is
very difficult. In this form of sadhana one cannot always maintain the
"There are various
paths to reach God. Each view is a path. It is like reaching the Kāli
temple by different roads. But it must be said that some paths are clean
and some dirty. It is good to travel on a clean path.
"Many views, many
paths-and I have seen them all. But I don't enjoy them any more; they
Master's inner experiences
"No one else is
here, and you are my own people. Let me tell you something. I have come
to the final realization that God is the Whole and I am a part of Him,
that God is the Master and I am His servant. Furthermore, I think every
now and then that He is I and I am He."
listened to these words in deep silence.
"I feel disturbed if I have a misunderstanding with someone. I feel that
in that case I am not able to love all"
MASTER: "Try at the
outset to talk to him and establish a friendly relationship with him. If
you fail in spite of your efforts, then don't give it another thought.
Take refuge in God. Meditate on Him. There is no use in giving up God
and feeling depressed from thinking about others."
souls, such as Christ and Chaitanya, have admonished us to love all
MASTER: "Love you
must, because God dwells in all beings. But salute a wicked person from
a distance. You speak of Chaitanya? He also used to restrain his
spiritual feeling in the presence of unsympathetic people. At Srivas's
house he put Srivas's mother-in-law out of the room, dragging her out by
BHAVANATH: "It was
not he but others who did it."
MASTER: "Could the
other have done it without his approval? What can be done? Suppose a man
cannot make another love him; must he worry about it day and night? Must
I waste my mind, which should be given to God, on useless things? I say:
'O Mother, I don't want Narendra, Bhavanath, Rākhāl , or anybody. I seek
Thee alone. What shall I do with man?'
When the Blissful
Mother comes to my house, how much of the Chandi I shall hear!
How many monks will
come here, and how many yogis with matted locks!
"When I attain God I
shall attain everything. I renounced gold and silver, saying, 'Rupee is
clay and clay is rupee; gold is clay and clay is gold.' With these words
I threw gold, silver, and clay into the Ganges. Then I was afraid at the
thought that Mother Lakshmi might be angry with me because I had treated
Her wealth with contempt; that She might even stop my meals. So I prayed
to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, I want Thee and nothing else.' I knew
that by realizing Her I should get everything."
"This is the shrewd calculation of a business man."
"Yes, that is so. Once the Lord was pleased with a certain devotee. He
appeared before him and said: 'I am very much pleased with your
austerities. Ask a boon of Me.' The devotee said, 'O Lord, if You are
gracious enough to give me a boon, then please grant that I may eat from
gold plates with my grandchildren.' One boon covered many things-wealth,
children, and grandchildren." (all laugh)
Hazra was sitting on
MASTER: "Do you know
what Hazra wants? He wants money. His family is in distress; he has
debts. He thinks that God will give him money because he devotes himself
to japa and meditation."
A DEVOTEE: "Can't
God fulfil a devotee's desire?"
MASTER: "If it is
His sweet will. But God doesn't take entire responsibility for a devotee
unless the devotee is completely intoxicated with ecstatic love for Him.
At a feast it is only a child whom one takes by the hand and seats at
his place. Who does that with older people? Not until a man thinks so
much of God that he cannot look after himself does God take on his
responsibilities. Hazra doesn't inquire about his family. His son said
to Ramlal: 'Please ask father to come home. We shall not ask anything of
him.' These words almost brought tears to my eyes. Hazra's mother said
to Ramlal: 'Please ask Pratap to come home just once. Also ask your
uncle to request him to come home.' I told him about it, but he didn't
listen to me.
Duty toward mother
"Is a mother to be
trifled .with? Before becoming a sannyasi Chaitanyadeva worked hard to
persuade his mother to let him renounce home. Mother Sachi said that she
would kill Keshab Bharati. Chaitanyadeva did his utmost to persuade her.
He said: 'Mother, I shall not renounce home if you won't let me. But if
you compel me to lead a householder's life, I shall die. And, mother,
even if I go away as a sannyasi, you will be able to see me whenever you
desire. I shall stay near you. I shall see you every now and then.' Only
when Chaitanya explained it to her thus did she give her permission.
Nārada could not go to the forest to practise austerity as long as his
mother was alive. He had to take care of her. After her death he went
away to realize God.
"When I went to
Vrindāvan I felt no desire to return to Calcutta. It was arranged that I
should live with Gangama. Everything was settled. My bed was to be on
one side and Gangama's on the other. I resolved not to go back to
Calcutta. I said to myself, 'How long must I eat a kaivarta's food?'
'No,' said Hriday to me, 'let us go to Calcutta.' He pulled me by one
hand and Gangama pulled me by the other. I felt an intense desire to
live at Vrindāvan. But just then I remembered my mother. That completely
changed everything. She was old. I said to myself: 'My devotion to God
will take to its wings if I have to worry about my mother. I would
rather live with her. Then I shall have peace of mind and be able to
meditate on God.'
(To Narendra) "Why
don't you say a few words to Hazra about going home? The other day he
said to me, 'Yes, I shall go home and stay there three days.' But now he
has forgotten all about it.
(To the devotees)
"We have talked about filthy things-Ghoshpara and things like that.
Govinda! Govinda! Govinda! Now chant the name of Hari. Let there be a
dish of rice pudding and sweets after the ordinary lentils."
Narendra began to
Fasten your mind, O man, on the Primal Purusha,
Who is the Cause of all causes,
The Stainless One, the Beginningless Truth.
As Prana He pervades the infinite universe;
The man of faith beholds Him,
Living, resplendent, the Root of all.
Beyond the senses, eternal, the Essence of Consciousness,
He shines in the cave of the heart,
Adorned with Holiness, Wisdom, and Love;
By meditating on Him, man is delivered from grief.
Of countenance ever serene,
An inexhaustible Ocean of Virtue,
None can fathom His depths; yet freely, of His own grace,
Does He reveal Himself
To those who come to His feet for shelter,
Merciful since they are helpless and He is the Ever-forgiving, The Giver
The Ready Help in the sea of our woe.
Unswervingly just, bestowing the fruits of our deeds, good and ill,
Yet is He the Fount of Compassion,
The Ocean of Mercy brimming with Love;
Even to hear of His glory suffuses the eyes with tears.
Gaze on His face and be blest:
Your heart is hungry for Him, O man!
Bright with unspeakable beauty, peerless and without stain,
No words can ever describe Him;
Be as a beggar before His gate
And worship Him day and night, beseeching Him for His grace.
He sang again:
In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full,
And Love's Hood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere.
O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee!
On every side shine devotees, like stars around the moon;
Their Friend, the Lord All-merciful, joyously plays with them.
Behold! the gates of paradise today are open wide. . . .
Sri Ramakrishna was
dancing in a circle. The devotees joined him. They all sang and danced.
Their bliss was indescribable. The Master sang about the Divine Mother:
Behold my Mother playing with Śiva, lost in an ecstasy of joy! . . .
Sri Ramakrishna was
highly pleased because M. had joined in the music. He said to M., with a
smile, "The atmosphere would have been more intense with divine fervour
if a drum had accompanied the music and played: 'Tak tak ta
dhina! Dak dak da dhina!' "
It was dusk when the
kirtan was finished.
Wednesday, October 1, 1884
Master at Adhar's house
Sri Ramakrishna had
set out from Dakshineswar for Adhar's house in Calcutta. Narayan and
Gangadhar were with him. In the carriage, in an ecstatic mood, he said:
"Shall I count the beads? How shameful that would be! This emblem of
Śiva has sprung from the bowels of the earth; it is self created and not
set up by man's hands."
They arrived at
Adhar's house, where many devotees, including Kedār, Baburam, and Vijay,
had assembled. Vaishnavcharan, the musician, was present. At the
Master's behest, Adhar heard Vaishnavcharan's music daily after his
return from the office.
When the Master
entered Adhar's drawing-room the devotees stood up to receive him. Kedār
and Vijay saluted him, and the Master asked Narayan and Baburam to
salute Kedār and Vijay. He asked Kedār and Vijay to bless Narayan and
Baburam that they might have devotion to God. Pointing to Narayan he
said, "He is utterly guileless." The eyes of the devotees were fixed on
the two boys.
MASTER (to Kedār and
the other devotees): "It is good that I have met you all here; otherwise
perhaps you would have come to the Kāli temple to see me. Through the
will of God, however, we have met here."
KEDĀR (with folded
hands): "The will of God! It is all your will."
smiled. Vaishnavcharan began a kirtan about Radha and Krishna. When the
music was nearing its end, with the union of Radha and Krishna, the
Master began to dance with ecstatic fervour. The devotees danced and
sang around him. After the music they all sat down. The Master said to
Vijay, referring to Vaishnavcharan, "He sings very well." He asked the
musician to sing the song about Sri Chaitanya, beginning with the line,
"The beautiful Gaurānga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold."
When the song was
over, the Master asked Vijay, "How did you like it?"
Sri Ramakrishna also
sang a song about Sri Chaitanya, M. joining him. Then Vaishnavcharan
sang another song:
O my flute, sing Hari's name!
You cannot know the highest Truth
Without Lord Hari's grace.
His name removes our bitter grief:
Repeat the name of Hari, then,
Repeat Sri Krishna's holy name!
If He bestows His grace on me,
No longer shall be afraid
Of this unfriendly world;
Sing then Lord Hari's name, my flute!
Our only treasure is His name.
Govinda says: Behold, my days
Are passing by in vain:
In the world's deep and shoreless sea,
Oh, let me not be drowned!
again, this time about Mother Durga:
O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga;
Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress? . . .
The Master and the
musician sang again and again the following lines from the song:
The moving and the unmoving, the gross and the subtle, art Thou:
Creation and preservation art Thou, and the last dissolution.
Thou art the Primal Root of this manifold universe:
The Mother of the three worlds, their only Saviour, art Thou;
Thou art the Śakti of all, and Thou Thine own Śakti, too.
Kedār and several
devotees stood up. They were about to return home. Kedār saluted the
Master and bade him good-bye.
MASTER: "Should you
go away without bidding Adhar good-bye? Wouldn't that be an act of
KEDĀR: " 'When God
is pleased, the world is pleased.' You are staying; so in a sense we are
all staying. I am not feeling well. Besides, I am a little nervous about
my social conventions. Once before I had trouble with our community."
VIJAY: (pointing to
the Master): "Should we go away and leave him here?"
Just then Adhar came
in to take the Master to the dining-room, for the meal was ready. Sri
Ramakrishna stood up and said, addressing Kedār and Vijay: "Come. Come
with me." They followed him and partook of the dinner together with the
After dinner they
all returned to the drawing-room, where the devotees sat around the
Master. Kedār said to him with folded hands, 'Please forgive me for
hesitating to eat here.' Perhaps the thought had come to his mind that
he should not have hesitated, since the Master himself had no scruples
about eating at Adhar's house.
Kedār worked at
Dāccā. Many devotees brought offerings of sweets and other food for him.
Referring to this, Kedār said to the Master: "People want to give me
food. What should I do? Lord, what is your command in this matter?"
MASTER: "One can eat
food even from an untouchable if the untouchable is a devotee of God.
After spending seven years in a God-intoxicated state at Dakshineswar, I
visited Kamarpukur. Oh, what a state of mind I was in at that time! Even
a prostitute fed me with her own hands. But I cannot allow that now."
Kedār was about to
take his leave.
KEDĀR (in a low
voice): "Lord, please transmit power to me. Many people come to me. What
do I know?"
will be all right. One gets along well if one is sincerely devoted to
Yogendra, the editor
of a Bengali paper, the Bangavasi, entered the room. The conversation
turned to the Personal God and God without form.
MASTER: "God has
form; again, He is formless. How many aspects He has! We cannot
comprehend Him. Why should we say that God is formless only?"
YOGENDRA: "That is
the one amazing thing about the Brahmo Samaj. There even a boy twelve
years old sees God as formless. The members of the Adi Samaj do not
object very much to God with form. They are allowed to attend
ritualistic worship if it takes place in respectable families."
"How nicely he has put it! Even a boy sees the formless God!"
Babu does not believe in God's forms."
VIJAY: "That is his
mistake. (Pointing to the Master) As he says, the chameleon assumes
different colours-now this colour, now that. Only the man who lives
under the tree knows the animal's true colour.
"While meditating I
saw images of gods painted on a canvas. How many gods! How many
different things they said! I said to myself: 'I shall go to the Master.
He will explain it all to me.' "
MASTER: "You saw
KEDĀR: "God assumes
forms for the sake of His devotees. Through ecstatic love a devotee sees
God with form. Dhruva had a vision of the Lord. He said: 'Why don't your
ear-rings move?' The Lord said, 'They will move if you move them.' "
MASTER: "One must
accept everything: God with form and God without form. While meditating
in the Kāli temple I noticed Ramani, a prostitute. I said, 'Mother, I
see that Thou art in that form too.' Therefore I say one must accept
everything. One does not know when or how God will reveal Himself."
The Master sang:
A mendicant has come to us, ever absorbed in divine moods. . .
VIJAY: "God has
infinite power. Can He not reveal Himself in any form He chooses? Man is
a speck of dust, and he dares come to a conclusion about God. How
MASTER: "A man reads
a little of the Gitā, the Bhagavata, or the Vedānta and thinks he has
understood everything. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar. One grain of
sugar filled its stomach, and it was returning home with another grain
in its mouth. On the way it said to itself, 'The next time I go, I shall
bring home the whole hill.' " (All laugh)