Chapter 31

 

ADVICE TO ISHAN

Saturday, October 11, 1884

SRI RAMAKRISHNA lay on the small couch in his room at the Dakshineswar temple garden. It was about two in the afternoon. M. and Priya Mukherji were sitting on the floor. M. had left his school at one o'clock and had just arrived at Dakshineswar. The Master was telling anecdotes about the calculating nature of the wealthy Jadu Mallick.

 

The worldly Jadu Mallick

MASTER: "Once I went to Jadu Mallick's house. He asked right away, 'How much is the carriage hire?' Someone told him it was three rupees and two ānnās. Then he questioned me about it. Next one of his people secretly asked the coachman, who said it was three rupees and four ānnās  (All laugh.) At that he ran to us and said, 'How much did you say the carriage hire was?'

"A broker was present. He said to Jadu: 'There is a plot of land at Burra bazar for sale. Will you buy it?' Jadu asked the price and the broker told him. Jadu said, 'Won't he give it for less?' I said to Jadu: 'Come, come. You aren't going to buy the land. You're only bargaining. Isn't that so?' He turned to me and laughed.

"That is the nature of the worldly man. He wants people to come to him. That spreads his name in the market.

"Jadu went to Adhar's house. I told him it had made Adhar very happy. He said: 'What? What? Was he really happy?' A certain Mallick came to Jadu's house. He was very clever and deceitful. I saw it in his eyes. I looked at him and said: 'It isn't good to be clever. The crow is very clever, but it eats others filth.' I could tell he was badly off. Jadu's mother was amazed and said to me, 'How did you know he hadn't a penny?' I saw it from his appearance."

Narayan entered the room and sat on the floor.

MASTER (to Priyanath): "Well, your Hari is a fine young man."

PRIYANATH: "What is so fine about him? Of course, he has a childlike nature."

NARAYAN: "He addressed his wife as mother."

MASTER: "What! Even I can't do that. And he calls her mother! (To Priyanath) You see, the boy is very quiet. His mind is directed to God."

Sri Ramakrishna changed the subject of conversation.

MASTER: "Do you know what Hem said? He said to Baburam, 'God alone is real; all else is illusory.'(All laugh.) Oh, no! He said it sincerely. Again, he told me he would take me to his house and sing kirtan. But he didn't do it.  I understand that he said later on, 'What will people say if I sing with drums and cymbals?' He was afraid that people might think he was crazy.

Warning devotees about women

"Haripada has fallen into the clutches of a woman of the Ghoshpara sect. He can't get rid of her. He says that she takes him on her lap and feeds him. She claims that she looks on him as the Baby Krishna. I have warned him a great many times. She says that she thinks of him as a child. But this maternal affection soon degenerates into something dangerous.

"You see, you should keep far away from woman; then you may realize God. It is extremely harmful to have much to do with women who have bad motives, or to eat food from their hands. They rob a man of his spirituality.  Only by being extremely careful about woman can one preserve one's love of God. One day Bhavanāth, Rākhāl , and some other youngsters had cooked their own meal in the temple garden. They were sitting at their meal when a Baul arrived, sat down with them, and said he wanted to eat with them. I said that there was not enough food; if anything was left it would be kept for him. He became angry and left. On the Vijaya day a man allows anyone and everyone to feed him with his own hand. It is not good. But one can eat food from the hand of a devotee who is pure in heart.

"You must be extremely careful about women. Women speak of the attitude of Gopala! Pay no attention to such things. The proverb says: 'A woman devours the three worlds.' Many women, when they see handsome and healthy young men, lay snares for them. That is what they call the 'attitude of Gopala.'

"Those who develop dispassion from early youth, those who roam about yearning for God from boyhood, those who refuse all worldly life, belong to a different class. They belong to an unsullied aristocracy. If they develop true renunciation, they keep themselves at least fifty cubits away from women lest their spiritual mood should be destroyed. Once falling into the clutches of women, they no longer remain on the level of unsullied aristocracy. They fall from it and come to a lower level. People who practise renunciation from early youth belong to a very high level. Their ideal is very pure. They are stainless.

How to conquer passion

"How can a man conquer passion? He should assume the attitude of a woman. I spent many days as the handmaid of God. I dressed myself in women's clothes, put on ornaments, and covered the upper part of my body with a scarf, just like a woman. With the scarf on I used to perform the evening worship before the image. Otherwise, how could I have kept my wife with me for eight months? Both of us behaved as if we were the handmaids of the Divine Mother. I cannot speak of myself as a man. One day I was in an ecstatic mood. My wife asked me, 'How do you regard me?' 'As the Blissful Mother', I said.

"Do you know the significance of the Śiva emblem? It is the worship of the symbols of fatherhood and motherhood. The devotee worshipping the image prays, 'O Lord, please grant that I may not be born into this world again; that I may not have to pass again through a mother's womb.' "

A tutor of the Tagores entered the room with some boys of the family.

Sri Ramakrishna continued talking. 

MASTER (to the devotees): "Sri Krishna has a peacock feather on His crest. The feather bears the sign of the female sex. The significance of this is that Krishna carries Prakriti, the female principle, on His head. When Krishna joined the circle of the gopis to dance with them, He appeared there as a woman. That is why you see Him wearing women's apparel in the company of the gopis. Unless a man assumes the nature of a woman, he is not entitled to her company. Assuming the attitude of a woman, he can sport with her and enjoy her company.

Disciplines during the Sādhanā period

But a man must be extremely careful during the early stages of spiritual discipline. Then he must live far away from any woman. He must not go too close to one even if she is a great devotee of God. You see, a man must not sway his body while climbing to the roof; he may fall. Weak people should hold on to a support while going up the stairs.

"But it is quite different when one reaches perfection. After the realization of God there is not much for a man to fear; he has become to a great extent secure. The important thing is for a man somehow to climb to the roof. After that he can even dance there. But he cannot dance on the steps. Again, after climbing to the roof, you need no longer discard what you discarded before. You find that the stairs are made of the same materials-bricks, lime, and brick-dust-as the roof. The woman you have to be so careful about at the beginning will appear to you, after the realization of God, as the Divine Mother Herself. Then you will worship her as the Divine Mother. You won't fear her so much.

"The thing is to touch the 'granny', as children do in the game of hide-and-seek. Then you can do whatever you like.

Planes of mind

"Man, looking outward, sees the gross; at that time his mind dwells in the annamayakosha, the gross body. Next is the subtle body. Functioning through the subtle body, the mind dwells in the manomayakosha and the vijnanamayakosha. Next is the causal body. Functioning through the causal body the mind enjoys bliss; it dwells in the Ānandamaykosha. This corresponds to the semi-conscious state experienced by Chaitanya. Last of all, the mind loses itself in the Great Cause. It disappears. It merges in the Great Cause. What one experiences after that cannot be described in words. In his inmost state of consciousness, Chaitanya enjoyed this experience. Do you know what this state is like? Dayananda described it by saying, 'Come into the inner apartments and shut the door. Anyone and everyone cannot enter that part of the house.

 

On meditation

"I used to meditate on the flame of a light. I thought of the red part as gross, the white part inside the red as subtle, and the stick-like black part, which is the innermost of all, as the causal.

"By certain signs you can tell when meditation is being rightly practised. One of them is that a bird will sit on your head, thinking you are an inert thing.

"I first met Keshab at a meeting of the Adi Samaj. Several members of the Samaj were sitting on the platform. Keshab was in the middle. I saw him motionless as a log. Pointing to Keshab, I said to Mathur Babu: 'Look there! That bait has been swallowed by a fish.' Because of that power of meditation he achieved what he wanted-name, fame, and so forth-through the grace of God.

"One can meditate even with eyes open. One can meditate even while talking. Take the case of a man with toothache.

TUTOR OF THE TAGORES: "Yes, sir. I know that very well." (All laugh.)

MASTER (smiling): "Yes, even when his teeth ache he does all his duties,but his mind is on the pain. Likewise one can meditate with eyes open and while talking to others as well."

TUTOR: "One of the epithets of God is the 'Redeemer of the sinner'. That is our hope. God is compassionate."

MASTER: "The Sikhs, too, said that God was compassionate. I asked, 'How is He compassionate?' 'Why,' they answered, 'He has begotten us; He has created so many things for us; He has brought us up to be men; and He protects us from danger at every step.' Thereupon I said: 'After begetting us, God looks after us and feeds us. Is there much credit in that? Suppose a son is born to you. Do you expect a man from another part of the city to bring him up?' "

Tendencies from previous births

TUTOR: "Revered sir, one man quickly succeeds in spiritual life, and another doesn't succeed at all. How do you explain that?"

MASTER: "The truth is that a man succeeds to a great extent because of tendencies inherited from his previous births. People think he has attained the goal all of a sudden. A man drank a glass of wine in the morning. It made him completely drunk. He began to behave improperly. People were amazed to see that he could be so drunk after one glass. But another man said, 'Why, he has been drinking all night.'

"Hanuman burnt down the golden city of Lanka. People were amazed that a mere monkey could burn the whole city. But then they said, 'The truth is that the city was burnt by the sighs of Sita and the wrath of Rāma.'

"Look at Lala Babu. He had so much wealth. Could he have renounced it all so suddenly without the good tendencies of his previous births? And Rani Bhavani. So much knowledge and devotion in a woman!

"In his last birth a man is endowed with sattva. His mind is directed to God. He longs for God. He withdraws his mind from worldly things.

"Krishnadas Pal came here. I found him full of rajas. But it must be said that he observed the Hindu customs. He left his shoes outside before entering the room. After a little conversation I discovered that he had no stuff inside. I asked him about man's duty. He said, 'To do good to the world.' I said: 'My dear sir, who are you? What good will you do to the world? Is the world such a small thing that you think you can help it?' "

Narayan arrived. Sri Ramakrishna was very happy to see him. He seated Narayan by his side on the small couch. He showed him his love by stroking his body and giving him sweets to eat. Then he asked Narayan tenderly, "Will you have some water?" Narayan was a student at M.'s school. At home his people beat him for visiting Sri Ramakrishna. The Master said to Narayan with an affectionate smile, "You had better get a leather jacket; then the beating won't hurt." Turning to Harish, the Master said that he would like to have a smoke.

Again addressing Narayan, Sri Ramakrishna said: "That woman who has established an artificial relationship of mother and son with Haripada came here the other day. I have warned Haripada very often. She belongs to the Ghoshpara sect. I asked her if she had found her 'man'. She said yes, and mentioned a man's name.

(To M.) "Ah! Nilkantha came here the other day. What spiritual fervour he has! He said he would come here another day and sing for us. They are dancing over there. Why don't you go and see it? (To Ramlal) There is no oil in the room. (Looking at the oil-jar) The servant hasn't filled it."

Sri Ramakrishna was walking up and down, now in his room, now on the south verandah. Occasionally pausing on the semicircular porch west of his room, he would look at the Ganges.

After a little while he returned to his room and sat on the small couch. It was past three in the afternoon. The devotees took their seats on the floor. The Master sat in silence before them, now and then casting a glance at the walls, where many pictures were hanging. To Sri Ramakrishna's left was a picture of Sarasvati, and beyond it, a picture of Gaur and Nitai singing kirtan with their devotees. In front of the Master hung pictures of Dhruva, Prahlada, and Mother Kāli. On the wall to his right was another picture of the Divine Mother, Rajarajesvari. Behind him was a picture of Jesus Christ raising the drowning Peter. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna turned to M. and said: "You see, it is good to keep pictures of sannyāsis and holy men in one's room. When you get up in the morning you should see the faces of holy persons rather than the faces of other men. People with rajasic qualities keep 'English' pictures on their walls-pictures of rich men, the King, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and white men and women walking together. That shows their rajasic temperament.

"You acquire the nature of the people whose company you keep. Therefore even pictures may prove harmful. Again, a man seeks the company that agrees with his own nature. The paramahamsas keep near them a few young boys five or six years old. They allow such boys to be near them. Attaining the state of a paramahamsa, a man loves the company of boys. Like the paramahamsas, the boys are not under the control of the Gunās-sattva, rajas, or tamas.

"By looking at trees a man awakens in his heart the picture of a hermitage in which a rishi is practising austerity."

A brahmin from Sinthi entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna. He had studied Vedānta in Benares. He was stout and had a smiling face.

MASTER: "Hello! How are you? You haven't been here in a long time."

PUNDIT (smiling): "Worldly duties, sir. You know I have very little leisure.  The pundit sat down, and the Master began to talk with him.

Dayananda

MASTER: "You spent a long time in Benares. Tell us what you saw there. Tell us something about Dayananda."

PUNDIT: "Yes, I met him. You also met him, didn't you?"

MASTER: "Yes, I visited him. He was 'living then in a garden house on the other side of the Ganges. Keshab was expected there that day. He longed for Keshab as the chatak bird longs for rain. He was a great scholar and made fun of the Bengali language. He admitted the existence of the deities, but Keshab did not. Dayananda used to say: 'God has created so many things. Couldn't He have created the deities?' Dayananda believed the Ultimate Reality to be without form. Captain was repeating the name of Rāma. Dayananda said to him sarcastically, 'Better repeat "sandesh"!' "

PUNDIT: "In Benares the pundits had great discussions with Dayananda.Finally he was left alone with all the others against him. They made it so hot for him that he thought the only way to save himself was by running away. All the pundits shouted with one voice, 'Whatever Dayananda has said is to be despised!'

Theosophy

"I saw Colonel Olcott too. The Theosophists believe in the existence of mahatmas. They also speak of the 'lunar', 'solar', 'stellar', and other planes. A Theosophist can go in his 'astral body' to all these planes. Oh, Olcott said many such things. Well, sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"

 

MASTER: "The one essential thing is bhakti, loving devotion to God. Do the Theosophists seek bhakti? They are good if they do. If Theosophy makes the realization of God the goal of life, then it is good. One cannot seek God if one constantly busies oneself with the mahatmas and the lunar, solar, and stellar planes. A man should practise sādhanā and pray to God with a longing heart for love of His Lotus Feet. He should direct his mind to God alone, withdrawing it from the various objects of the world."


The Master sang:

How are you trying, O my mind, to know the nature of God?
You are groping like a madman locked in a dark room.
He is grasped through ecstatic love; how can you fathom Him Without it? . . .
And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age;
When love awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul.

Continuing, the Master said: "You may speak of the scriptures, of philosophy, of Vedānta; but you will not find God in any of these. You will never succeed in realizing God unless your soul becomes restless for Him.

Only through affirmation, never negation, can you know Him,
Neither through Veda nor through Tantra nor the six darsanas.
It is in love's elixir only that He delights, O mind;
He dwells in the body's inmost depths, in Everlasting Joy.

"One must be very earnest about God. Listen to another song:

Can everyone have the vision of Radha? Can everyone taste her love?

This, the rarest treasure of all, no earthly wealth can buy;
Without devotions and sādhanā none can ever obtain it.

The raindrop falling upon the deep when Svati shines on high
Is formed within the oyster's shell into a priceless pearl.
Can such a pearl be formed from rain that falls at other times?

Mothers with their babes in arms may beckon to the moon
To leave the sky and come to them; but only the babes are fooled.
Does the moon ever leave the sky and dwell upon the earth?

Preparation for God vision

"One must practise intense spiritual discipline. Can one obtain the vision of God all of a sudden, without any preparation?

"A man asked, 'Why don't I see God?' I said to him, as the idea came to my mind: 'You want to catch a big fish. First make arrangements for it. Throw spiced bait into the water. Get a line and a rod. At the smell of the bait the fish will come from the deep water. By the movement of the water you will know that a big fish has come.'

"You want to eat butter. But what will you achieve by simply repeating that there is butter in milk? You have to work hard for it. Only thus can you separate butter from milk. Can one see God by merely repeating, 'God exists'? One needs sādhanā.

"The Divine Mother Herself practised austere sādhanā to set an example for mankind. Sri Krishna, who is none other than the Ultimate Brahman, also practised sādhanā to set an example to others.

Purusha and Prakriti

"Sri Krishna is the Purusha and Radha the Prakriti, the ChitŚakti, the Ādyāśakti. Radha is the Prakriti, the embodiment of the three Gunās. Sattva, rajas, and tamas are in her. As you remove the layers of an onion, you will first see tints of both black and red, then only red, and last of all only white.

The Vaishnava scriptures speak of 'Kam-Radha', 'Prem-Radha', and 'Nitya-Radha'. Chandravali is Kam-Radha, and Srimati is Prem-Radha; Nanda saw Nitya-Radha holding Gopala in Her arms.

"The Brahman of Vedānta and the ChitŚakti are identical, like water and its wetness. The moment you think of water you must also think of its wetness, and the moment you think of water's wetness you must also think of water. Or it is like the snake and its wriggling motion. The moment you think of the snake you must a1so think of its wriggling motion, and the moment you think of the snake's wriggling motion you must also think of the snake. When do I call the Ultimate Reality by the name of Brahman? When It is actionless or unattached to action. When a man puts on a cloth he remains the same man as when he was naked. He was naked; now he is clothed. He may be naked again. There is poison in the snake, but it doesn't harm the snake. It is poison to him who is bitten by the snake.

Brahman Itself is unattached.

"Names and forms are nothing but the manifestations of the power of Prakriti. Sita  said to Hanuman: 'My child, in one form I am Sita , in another form I am Rāma. In one form I am Indra, in another I am IndRani. In one form I am Brahma, in another,  Brahmani. In one form I am Rudra, in another, Rudrani.' Whatever names and forms you see are nothing but the manifestations of the power of ChitŚakti. Everything is the power of ChitŚakti-even meditation and he who meditates. As long as I feel that I am meditating, I am within the jurisdiction of Prakriti. (To M.) Try to assimilate what I have said. One should hear what the Vedas and the Puranas say, and carry it out in life.

(To the pundit) "It is good to live in the company of holy men now and then. The disease of worldliness has become chronic in man. It is mitigated, to a great extent, in holy company.

Knowledge and ignorance

"'I' and 'mine'-that is ignorance. True knowledge makes one feel: 'O God, You alone do everything. You alone are my own. And to You alone belong houses, buildings, family, relatives, friends, the whole world. All is Yours.' But ignorance makes one feel: 'I am doing everything. I am the doer. House, buildings, family, children, friends, and property are all mine.'

 

Hollowness of worldly love

"Once a teacher was explaining all this to a disciple. He said, 'God alone, and no one else, is your own.' The disciple said: 'But, revered sir, my mother, my wife, and my other relatives take very good care of me. They see nothing but darkness when I am not present. How much they love me!' The teacher said: 'There you are mistaken. I shall show you presently that nobody is your own. Take these few pills with you. When you go home, swallow them and lie down in bed. People will think you are dead, but you will remain conscious of the outside world and will see and hear everything. Then I shall visit your home.

"The disciple followed the instructions. He swallowed the pills and lay as if unconscious in his bed. His mother, wife, and other relatives began to cry. Just then the teacher came in, in the guise of a physician, and asked the cause of their grief. When they had told him everything, he said to them: 'Here is a medicine for him. It will bring him back to life. But I must tell you one thing. This medicine must first be taken by one of his relatives and then given to him. But the relative who takes it first will die. I see his mother, his wife, and others here. Certainly one of you will volunteer to take the medicine. Then the young man will come back to life.'

"The disciple heard all this. First the physician called his mother, who was weeping and rolling on the ground in grief. He said to her: 'Mother, you don't need to weep any more. Take this medicine and your son will come to life. But you will die.' The mother took the medicine in her hand and began to think. After much reflection she said to the physician, with tears in her eyes: 'My child, I have a few more children. I have to think about them too. I am wondering what will happen to them if I die.  Who will feed them and look after them?' The physician next called the wife and handed the medicine to her. She had been weeping bitterly too. With the medicine in her hand she also began to reflect. She had heard that she would die from the effect of the medicine. At last, with tears in her eyes, she said: 'He has met his fate. If I die, what will happen to my young children? Who will keep them alive? How can I take the medicine?' In the mean time the disciple had got over the effect of the pills. He was now convinced that nobody was really his own. He jumped out of bed and left the place with his teacher. The guru said to him, 'There is only one whom you may call your own, and that is God.'

"Therefore a man should act in such a way that he may have bhakti for the Lotus Feet of God and love God as his very own. You see this world around you. It exists for you only for a couple of days. There is nothing to it."  PUNDIT (smiling): "Revered sir, I feel a spirit of total renunciation when I am here. I feel like going away, giving up the world."

MASTER: "No, no! Why should you give up? Give up mentally. Live unattached in the world.

"Surendra wanted to spend the night here occasionally. He brought a bed and even spent a day or two here. Then his wife said to him, 'You may go anywhere you like during the day-time, but at night you must not leave home.' What could poor Surendra do? Now he has no way of spending the night away from home.

Reason and love

"What will you achieve by mere reasoning? Be restless for God and learn to love Him. Reason, mere intellectual knowledge, is like a man who can go only as far as the outer court of the house. But bhakti is like a woman who goes into the inner court.

 

Different attitudes toward God

"One must take up a definite attitude toward God. Then alone can one realize Him. Rishis like Sanaka cherished the attitude of Śānta; Hanuman the attitude of a servant; the cowherd boys of Vrindāvan, like Sridāmā and Sudāmā, the attitude of a friend; Yaśoda the attitude of a mother; and Radha the attitude of a sweetheart.

"'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy servant' - that is the servant's attitude, a very good one for aspirants."

PUNDIT: "Yes, sir."

The pundit from Sinthi left. It was dusk. Twilight hung over the Panchavati, the temples, and the river. Evening worship began in the different temples, accompanied by the sound of bells, gongs, and conch-shells. Sri Ramakrishna bowed before the pictures of the deities in his room. He was sitting on the small couch in an abstracted mood. A few devotees were on the floor. There was silence in the room.

Master and Ishan

An hour passed. Ishan and Kishori entered and sat down on the floor after saluting Sri Ramakrishna. Ishan was a great ritualist. He was devoted to the performance of the, various rites and ceremonies prescribed by the scriptures. The Master opened the conversation.

 
Characteristics of Knowledge

MASTER: "Can one attain knowledge of God by merely repeating the word 'God'? There are two indications of such knowledge. First, longing,that is to say, love for God. You may indulge in reasoning or discussion, but if you feel no longing or love, it is all futile. Second, the awakening of the Kundalini. As long as the Kundalini remains asleep, you have not attained knowledge of God. You may be spending hours poring over books or discussing philosophy, but if you have no inner restlessness for God, you have no knowledge of Him.

 
Path of devotion

"When the Kundalini is awakened, one attains bhava, bhakti, prema, and so on. This is the path of devotion.

 
Path of karma

"The path of karma is very difficult. Through it one obtains some powers-I mean occult powers."

ISHAN: "Let me go and see Hazra."

Sri Ramakrishna sat in silence. After a while Ishan returned to the room accompanied by Hazra. The Master was still silent. A few moments later Hazra whispered to Ishan: "Let's leave him alone. Perhaps he will meditate now." Both left the room.

Sri Ramakrishna was still silent. In a few moments the devotees noticed that he was really meditating. Then he performed japa. He placed his right hand on his head, then on his forehead, then on his throat, then on his heart, and last of all on his navel. Was it meditation on the Primordial Energy in the six centres of the body?

Ishan and Hazra had gone to the  Kāli temple. Sri Ramakrishna was absorbed in meditation. Meanwhile Adhar had arrived. It was about half past seven.

A little later the Master. went to the  Kāli temple. He looked at the image, took some sacred Rowers from the feet of the Mother, and placed them on his head. He prostrated himself before the Mother and went round the image. He waved the chamara. He appeared ecstatic with divine fervour. Coming out, he found Ishan performing the sandhya  with the kosakusi.

Rituals are only steps

MASTER (to Ishan): "What? You are still here? Are you still performing the sandhya? Listen to a song:

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?
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours?
Rituals may pursue him close, but never can they overtake him.
Charity, vows, and giving of gifts do not appeal to Madan's mind;
The Blissful Mother's Lotus Feet are his whole prayer and sacrifice. . . .

"How long must a man continue the sandhya ? As long as he has not developed love for the Lotus Feet of God, as long as he does not shed tears and his hair does not stand on end when he repeats God's name.

I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
Knowing the secret that  Kāli is one with the highest  Brahman,
I have discarded, once for all, both dharma and adharma.

"When the fruit grows, the flower drops off. When one has developed love of God and has beheld Him, then one gives up the sandhya and other rites. When the young daughter-in-law is with child, the mother-in-law reduces her activities. When she has been pregnant for nine months, she is not allowed to perform any household duty. After the birth of the child, she only carries the child on her arm and nurses it. She has no other duty. After the attainment of God, the sandhya  and other rites are given up.

Master exhorts Ishan

"You cannot achieve anything by moving at such a slow pace. You need stern renunciation. Can you achieve anything by counting fifteen months as a year? You seem to have no strength, no grit. You are as  mushy as flattened rice soaked in milk. Be up and doing! Gird your loins!

"I don't like that song:

Brother, joyfully cling to God;
Thus striving, some day you may attain Him.

I don't care for the line, 'Thus striving, some day you may attain Him.'  You need stern renunciation. I say the same thing to Hazra.

"You ask me why you don't feel stern renunciation. There is a reason for it. You have desires and tendencies within you. The same is true of Hazra. In our part of the country I have seen peasants bringing water into their paddy-fields. The fields have low ridges on all sides to prevent the water from leaking out; but these are made of mud and often have holes here and there. The peasants work themselves to death to bring the water, which, however, leaks out through the holes. Desires are the holes. You practise japa and austerities, no doubt, but they all leak out through the holes of your desires. 

"They catch fish with a bamboo trap. The bamboo is naturally straight. But why is it bent in the trap? In order to catch the fish. Desires are the fish. Therefore the mind is bent down toward the world. If there are no desires, the mind naturally looks up toward God.

"Do you know what it is like? It is like the needles of a balance. On account of the weight of 'woman and gold' the two needles are not in line. It is 'woman and gold' that makes a man stray from the path of yoga. Haven't you noticed the flame of a candle? The slightest wind makes it waver. The state of yoga is like the candle-flame in a windless place.

"The mind is dispersed. Part of it has gone to Dāccā, part to Delhi, and another part to Coochbehar. That mind is to be gathered in; it must be concentrated on one object. If you want sixteen ānnāís worth of cloth, then you have to pay the merchant the full sixteen ānnās.  Yoga is not possible if there is the slightest obstacle. If there is a tiny break in the telegraph-wire, then the news cannot be transmitted. 

"You are no doubt in the world. What if you are? You must urrender the fruit of your action to God. You must not seek any result for yourself. But mark one thing. The desire for bhakti cannot be called a desire. You may desire bhakti and pray for it. Practise the tamas of bhakti and force your demand upon the Divine Mother.

This bitterly contested suit between the Mother and Her son-
What sport it is! says Ramprasad. I shall not cease tormenting Thee
Till Thou Thyself shalt yield the fight and take me in Thine arms at last.

"Trailokya once remarked, 'As I was born into the family, I have a share in the estate.'

"God is your own Mother. Is She a stepmother? Is it an artificial relationship? If you cannot force your demand on Her, then on whom can you force it? Say to Her:

Mother, am I Thine eight-months child? Thy red  eyes cannot frighten me!.
A deed of gift I hold in my heart, attested by Thy Husband Śiva;
I shall sue Thee, if I must, and with a single point shall win.

"God is your own Mother. Enforce your demand. If you are part of a thing, you feel its attraction. Because of the element of the Divine Mother in me I feel attracted to Her. A true Saiva has some of the characteristics of Śiva; he has in him some of the elements of Śiva. He who is a true Vaishnava is endowed with some of the elements of Narayana.

"Nowadays you don't have to attend to worldly duties. Spend a few days thinking of God. You have seen that there is nothing to the world."

The Master sang:

Remember this, O mind! Nobody is your own:
Vain is your wandering in this world.
Trapped in the subtle snare of māyā as you are,
Do not forget the Mother's name.

Only a day or two men honour you on earth
As lord and master; all too soon
That form, so honoured now, must needs be cast away,
When Death, the Master, seizes you.

Even your beloved wife, for whom, while yet you live,
You fret yourself almost to death,
Will not go with you then; she too will say farewell,
And shun your corpse as an evil thing.

Continuing, the Master said: "What are these things you busy yourself with-this arbitration and leadership? I hear that you settle people's quarrels and that they make you the arbiter. You have been doing this kind of work a long time. Let those who care for such things do them. Now devote your mind more and more to the Lotus Feet of God. The saying goes: 'Ravana died in Lanka and Behula wept bitterly for him!'

"Sambhu, too, said, 'I shall build hospitals and dispensaries.' He was a devotee of God; so I said to him, 'Will you ask God for hospitals and dispensaries when you see Him?'

"Keshab Sen asked me, 'Why do I not see God?' I said, 'You do not see God because you busy yourself with such things as name and fame and scholarship.'  The mother does not come to the child as long as it sucks its toy-a red toy.  But when, after a few minutes, it throws the toy away and cries, then the mother takes down the rice-pot from the hearth and comes running to the child.

"You are engaged in arbitration. The Divine Mother says to Herself:'My child over there is now busy arbitrating and is very happy. Let him be.' "

In the mean time Ishan had been holding Sri Ramakrishna's feet. He said humbly, "It is not my will that I should do those things."

MASTER: "I know it. This is the Divine Mother's play-Her lila. It is the will of the Great Enchantress that many should remain entangled in the world. Do you know what it is like?

How many are the boats, O mind,
That float on the ocean of this world!
How many are those that sink!

Again,

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;
And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O
Mother, watching them!

Only one or two in a hundred thousand get liberation. The rest are entangled through the will of the Divine Mother.

"Haven't you seen the game of hide-and-seek? It is the 'granny's' will that the game should continue. If all touch her and are released, then the playing comes to a stop. Therefore it is not her will that all should touch her

"You see, in big grain stores the merchants keep rice in great heaps that touch the ceiling. Beside them there are heaps of lentils. To protect the grain from the mice, the merchants leave trays of puffed rice and sweetened rice near it. The mice like the smell and the sweet taste of these and so stayaround the trays. They don't find the big heaps of grain. Similarly, men aredeluded by 'woman and gold'; they do not know where God is.

"Rāma said to Nārada, 'Ask a boon of Me.' Nārada said: 'O Rāma, is there anything I lack? What shall I ask of Thee? But if Thou must give me a boon, grant that I may have selfless love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching māyā.' Rāma said, 'Nārada, ask something else.' Nārada again replied: O Rāma, I don't want anything else Be gracious to me and see that I have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet.'

"I prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I don't want name and fame I don't want the eight occult powers. I don't want a hundred occult powers O Mother, I have no desire for creature comforts. Please, Mother, grant me the boon that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet.'

"It is written in the Adhyātma Rāmāyana that Lakshmana asked Rāma 'Rāma, in how many forms and moods do You exist? How shall I be able to recognize You?' Rāma said: 'Brother, remember this. You may be certain that I exist wherever you find the manifestation of ecstatic love.' That love makes one laugh and weep and dance and sing; if anyone has developed such love, you may know for certain that God Himself is manifest there. Chaitanyadeva reached that state."

The devotees listened spellbound to Sri Ramakrishna. His burning words entered their souls, spurring them along the path of renunciation.

Now he spoke to Ishan in a serious voice.

MASTER: "Don't forget yourself because of what you hear from your flatterers. Flatterers gather around a worldly man. Vultures gather around the carcass of a cow.

"Worldly people have no stuff in them. They are like a heap of cow-dung. Flatterers come to them and say: 'You are so charitable and wise! You are so pious!' These are not mere words but pointed bamboos thrust at them. How foolish it is! To be surrounded day and night by a bunch of worldly brahmin pundits and hear their flattery!

"Worldly men are slaves of three things: they are slaves of their wives, slaves of their money, slaves of their masters. Can they have any inner stuff? There is a certain person whom I shall not name; he earns eight hundred rupees a month but is the slave of his wife. He stands up or sits down at her bidding.

"Arbitration and leadership? How trifling these are! Charity and doing good to others? You have had enough of these. Those who are to devote themselves to such things belong to a different class. Now the time is ripe for you to devote your mind to the Lotus Feet of God. If you realize God, you will get everything else. First God, then charity, doing good to others, doing good to the world, and redeeming people. Why need you worry about these things. 'Ravana  died in Lanka and Behula wept for him bitterly!'

"That's the trouble with you. It will be very good if a world-renouncing sannyāsi gives you some spiritual instruction. The advice of the worldly man will not be right, be he a brahmin pundit or anyone else.

"Be mad! Be mad with love of God! Let people know that Ishan has gone mad and cannot perform worldly duties any more. Then people will no longer come to you for leadership and arbitration. Throw aside the kosakusi and justify your name of Ishan."

Ishan quoted:

O Mother, make me mad with Thy love!
What need have I of knowledge or reason?

MASTER: "Mad! That's the thing!  Shivanath once said that one 'loses one's head' by thinking too much of God. 'What?' said I. 'Can anyone ever become unconscious by thinking of Consciousness? God is of the nature of Eternity, Purity, and Consciousness. Through His Consciousness one becomes conscious of everything; through His Intelligence the whole world appears intelligent.' Shivanath said that some Europeans had gone insane, that they had 'lost their heads', by thinking too much about God. In their case it may be true; for they think of worldly things. There is a line in a song: 'Divine fervour fills my body and robs me of consciousness.' The consciousness referred to here is the consciousness of the outer world."

Ishan was seated touching Sri Ramakrishna's feet and listening to his words. Now and then he cast a glance at the basalt image of  Kāli in the shrine. In the light of the lamp She appeared to be smiling. It was as if the living Deity, manifesting Herself through the image, was delighted to hear the Master's words, holy as the words of the Vedas.

ISHAN (pointing to the image); "Those words from your sacred lips have really come from there."

MASTER: "I am the machine and She is the Operator. I am the house and She is the Indweller. I am the chariot and She is the Charioteer. I move as She moves me; I speak as She speaks through me. In the  Kaliyuga one does not hear the voice of God, it is said, except through the mouth of a child or a madman or some such person.

"A man cannot be a guru. Everything happens by the will of God. Heinous sins-the sins of many births-and accumulated ignorance all disappear in the twinkling of an eye, through the grace of God. When light enters a room that has been kept dark a thousand years, does it remove the thousand years' darkness little by little, or instantly? Of course, at the mere touch of light all the darkness disappears.

"What can a man do? He may speak many words, but after all is said and done everything rests with God. The lawyer says: 'I have said all that can be said. Now the verdict rests with the judge.'

"Brahman is actionless. When It is engaged in creation, preservation, and dissolution, It is called the Primal Power, Ādyāśakti. This Power must be propitiated. Don't you know that it is so written in the Chandi? The gods first sang a hymn to theĀdyāśakti in order to propitiate Her. Only then did Hari wake up from His yoga sleep."

ISHAN: "Yes, sir.  Brahma and the other gods sang this hymn at the timeof the death of the demons Madhu and Kaitabha:

Svaha, Vashat, and Svadha art Thou; Thou the inner Self of the mantra;
Thou the Nectar of Immortality, O Everlasting One!
Eternal and unutterable art Thou, and yet Thou art manifest

In the three matras and the half matra:
O Goddess, Thou art Savitri; Thou art the Ultimate Mother;
All things have their support in Thee, by whom this universe  was made.
O Goddess, Thou sustainest all, and all by Thee is devoured!

Thou it is that we call the Creator, when Thou createst the world,
O Embodiment of creation! 
Thou it is that we call the Preserver, when Thou preservest it;
Thou it is that we call the Destroyer, when Thou   destroyest it."

MASTER: "Yes, but you must assimilate that."

The Master rose. He mounted the platform in front of the shrine and saluted the Mother, touching the ground with his forehead. The devotees quickly gathered around him and fell at his feet. They all begged his grace. He descended from the platform and started toward his room, conversing with M. First he sang:

 I bow my head, says Prasad, before desire and liberation;
 Knowing the secret that  Kāli is one with the highest Brahman, 
 I have discarded, once for all, both dharma and adharma.

The Master continued: "Do you know the meaning of dharma and adharma? Here dharma means religious acts enjoined by the scriptures, suchas charity, sraddha, feeding the poor, and the like.

"The performance of this dharma is called the path of karma. It is an extremely difficult path: it is very hard to act without motive. Therefore one is asked to pursue the path of devotion.

"A man was performing the sraddha ceremony at his house. He was feeding many people. Just then a butcher passed, leading a cow to slaughter. He could not control the animal and became exhausted. He said to himself: 'Let me go into that house and enjoy the feast of the sraddha ceremony and strengthen my body. Then I shall be able to drag the cow along.' So he carried out his intention. But when he killed the cow, the sin of the slaughter fell also on the performer of the sraddha. That is why I say the path of devotion is better than the path of action."

The Master entered his room accompanied by M. He was humming a song. The forceful words of renunciation that he had just spoken to Ishan found expression through its words. He sang the lines:

Mother, take everything else away from me,
But leave me my necklace of bones and my pot of hemp!

Sri Ramakrishna sat down on the small couch, and Adhar, Kishori, and the other devotees sat on the foor.

MASTER (to tile devotees): "I was noticing Ishan, Why, he hasn't achieved anything! What can be the reason?  He practised the purascharana for five months. That would have caused a revolution in any other person.'

ADHAR: "It wasn't wise of you to say those things to him in front of us."

MASTER: "How is that?  He is so much given to japa! How can words affect him?"

After a while Sri Ramakrishna said to Adhar, "Ishan is very charitable, and he practises japa and austerity a great deal." The Master remained quiet a few moments. The eyes of the devotees were fixed on him. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna said to Adhar, "You have both-yoga and bhoga."

Saturday, October 18, 1884

It was the day of the worship of  Kāli, the Divine Mother. The worship was to begin at eleven o'clock at night. Several devotees arrived at the temple.

All creation is the sport of my mad Mother  Kāli;
By Her māyā the three worlds are bewitched.
Mad is She and mad is Her Husband; mad are Her two disciples!
None can describe Her loveliness, Her glories, gestures, moods;
Śiva, with the agony of the poison in His throat,
Chants Her name again and again.
The Personal does She oppose to the Impersonal,
Breaking one stone with another;
Though to all else She is agreeable,
Where duties are concerned She will not yield.
Keep your raft, says Ramprasad, afloat on the sea of life,
Drifting up with the flood-tide, drifting down   with the ebb.

The Master was quite overwhelmed with the song. He said that songs like these denoted a state of divine inebriation. He sang one after another:


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. . . . 

Then:

O  Kāli, my Mother full of Bliss! Enchantress of the Almighty Śiva!
In Thy delirious joy Thou dancest, clapping Thy hands  together! . . .

And then:

If at the last my life-breath leaves me as I repeat the name of  Kāli,
I shall attain the realm of Śiva. What does Benares mean to me?
Infinite are my Mother's glories; who can find the end of Her virtues?
Śiva, beholding their smallest part, lies prostrate at Her Lotus Feet.
The singing was over. Two sons of Rajnarayan entered the room and bowed low before the Master. In the afternoon they had sung with their father the glories of the Divine Mother. The Master sang again with them:
 All creation is the sport of my mad Mother Kāli

The younger brother requested Sri Ramakrishna to sing a certain song about Sri Gaurānga. The Master sang:

Gaur and Nitai, ye blessed brothers!
I have heard how kind you are,
And therefore I have come to you. . . .

Ramlal entered the room. The Master said to him: "Please sing something about the Divine Mother. It is the day of Her worship."

Ramlal sang:

Who is the Woman yonder who lights the field of battle? 
Darker Her body gleams even than the darkest storm-cloud,
And from Her teeth there flash the lightning's blinding flames!

Dishevelled Her hair is flying behind as She rushes about,
Undaunted in this war between the gods and the demons.
Laughing Her terrible laugh, She slays the fleeing asuras,
And with Her dazzling flashes She bares the horror of war. . . .

Again Ramlal sang:

Who, is this terrible Woman, dark as the sky at midnight?
Who is this Woman dancing over the field of battle? . . .

Sri Ramakrishna began to dance to the song. Then he himself sang:

The black bee of my mind is drawn in sheer delight
To the blue lotus flower of Mother Syama's feet,
The blue flower of the feet of  Kāli, Śiva's Consort.
Tasteless, to the bee, are the blossoms of desire.
My Mother's feet are black, and black, too, is the bee;
Black is made one with black! This much of the mystery
These mortal eyes behold, then hastily retreat.
But Kamalakanta's hopes are answered in the end;
He swims in the Sea of Bliss, unmoved by joy or pain.

After the music and dancing Sri Ramakrishna sat on the couch and the devotees sat on the floor. He said to M.:  "It is a pity you weren't here in the afternoon. The musical recital of the Chandi was very fine."

Some of the devotees went to the temple to salute the image of the Divine Mother. Others sat quietly performing japa on the steps leading to the Ganges. It was about eleven o'clock, the most auspicious time for contemplation of the Divine Mother. The flood-tide was rising in the Ganges, and the lights on its banks were reflected here and there in its dark waters.

From outside the shrine M. was looking wistfully at the image. Ramlal came to the temple with a book in his hand containing the rules of the worship. He asked M. if he wanted to come in. M. felt highly favoured and entered the shrine. He saw that the Divine Mother was profusely decorated. The room was brilliantly illuminated by a large chandelier that hung from the ceiling. Two candles were burning in front of the image. On the floor were trays full of offerings. Red hibiscus flowers and bel-leaves adorned Her feet. She wore garlands round Her neck, M.'s eyes fell on the chamara. Suddenly he remembered that Sri Ramakrishna often fanned the Divine Mother with it. With some hesitation he asked Ramlal if he might fan the image. The priest gave his permission. M. joyously fanned the image. The regular worship had not yet begun.

The devotees again entered the Master's room. Beni Pāl had invited Sri Ramakrishna to visit the Sinthi Brahmo Samaj the next day, but had made a mistake in his letter with regard to the date.

MASTER (to M.): "Beni Pāl has sent me an invitation. But why has he put the wrong date?"

M: "The date was not written correctly. He wrote the letter carelessly."

As Sri Ramakrishna spoke, he was standing in the middle of the room with Baburam by his side. He leaned toward the disciple, touching his body.

Suddenly he went into  samādhi. The devotees stood around with their eyes fixed on him. The Master's left foot was advanced a little; the shoulder was slightly inclined to one side; his arm rested on Baburam's neck near the ear. After a while he came down from the ecstatic state. As he stood there he put one hand to his cheek and appeared to be brooding over something. Then, smiling, he addressed the devotees.

MASTER: "I saw everything-how far the devotees had advanced. I saw Rākhāl , him (pointing to M.), Surendra, Baburam, and many others."

HAZRA: "Me?"

MASTER: "Yes."

HAZRA: "Many more obstacles?"

MASTER: "No."

HAZRA: "What about Narendra?"

MASTER: "I didn't see him. But I can tell about him. He is a little entangled. But I saw that everyone will succeed. (To M.) I saw that all are in hiding."


The devotees listened to these words with great wonder. It seemed to them that they were hearing an oracle.

MASTER: "But I got into that mood by touching Baburam."

HAZRA: "Who is first?"

Sri Ramakrishna was quiet for a time. Then he said, "I wish I had a few like Nityagopal." Again he appeared thoughtful. He remained standing. He said: "I wish Adhar Sen's duties would become fewer. But I am afraid the English officer will scold him. He may say, 'What is all this nonsense?'" (All smile.)

Sri Ramakrishna sat on the small couch, and the devotees on the floor. Baburam. and Kishori came quickly to the Master and began to stroke his feet gently.

MASTER (to Kishori): "What's the matter? Why so much service today?

The worship in the temple

Ramlal entered the room and saluted Sri Ramakrishna, touching the ground with his forehead. Then with great respect he touched the Master's feet. He was ready to worship the Divine Mother in the temple.

RAMLAL: "Please permit me to go to the shrine."

The Master twice uttered the words "Om  Kāli" and said: "Perform the worship carefully. There is also a sheep to be slaughtered."

It was midnight. The worship began in the Kāli temple. The Master went to watch the ceremony. During the worship he stood near the image. Now the sheep was going to be slaughtered. The animal was consecrated before the Deity. People stood in lines watching the ceremony. While the sheep was being taken to the block Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room. He could not bear the sight.

Several devotees remained in the temple till two o'clock in the morning. Haripada came and asked them to take the prasad to the Master's room. After finishing their meal they lay down wherever they could for the remainder of the night.

It was morning. The dawn service in the temples was over and the theatrical performance was going on in the open hall in front of the shrine. M. was coming through the courtyard with Sri Ramakrishna. He wanted to take leave of the Master.

MASTER: "Why should you go now?"

M: "You are going to Sinthi in the afternoon. I too intend to be there. So I should like to go home for a few hours."

They came to the  Kāli temple. At the foot of the steps M. saluted the Master.

MASTER: "You are going? All right. Please bring two pieces of cheap cloth for me. I shall use them while taking my bath."

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