Chapter 37

THE MASTER AND NARENDRA

Sunday, March 1, 1885

SRl RAMAKRISHNA was seated on the small couch in his room, absorbed in deep samādhi. Mahimacharan, Ram, Manomohan, Nabai Chaitanya, M., and other devotees were sitting on a mat spread on the floor. They were watching the Master intently.

It was the day of the Dolayatra, a Hindu religious festival. Sri Krishna and Radha are the central figures of this celebration, their images being placed on a swing, which is rocked now and then. A red powder is showered on the images. Later, friends and relatives throw the powder at one another. This festival is celebrated when winter passes into spring, on a full-moon day rendered doubly sacred by its association with the birth of Sri Chaitanya.

The devotees saw that the Master was returning to consciousness of the world, though his mind still lingered in the realm of God-vision.

The Master said to Mahimacharan, "My dear sir, please tell us something about love of God."

What need is there of penance if God is worshipped with love?
What is the use of penance if God is not worshipped with love?
What need is there of penance if God is seen within and without?
What is the use of penance if God is not seen within and without?

O Brahman! O my child! Cease from practising further penances.
Hasten to Sankara, the Ocean of Heavenly Wisdom;
Obtain from Him the love of God, the pure love praised by devotees,
which snaps in twain the shackles that bind you to the world.

Mahima said, "Once while the great sage Nārada was practising austerity, he suddenly heard a heavenly voice repeating those lines."

Two kinds of devotion

MASTER; "There are two classes of devotees: jivakotis, or ordinary men, and Isvarakotis, or Divine Messengers. The jivakoti's devotion to God is called vaidhi, formal; that is, it conforms to scriptural laws. He worships God with a fixed number of articles, repeats God's holy name a specified number of times, and so on and so forth. This kind of devotion, like the path of knowledge, leads to the Knowledge of God and to samādhi. The jivakoti does not return from samādhi to the relative plane. 

"But the case of the Isvarakoti is different. He follows the process of 'negation' and 'affirmation'. First he negates the world, realizing that it is not Brahman; but then he affirms the same world, seeing it as the manifestation of Brahman. To give an illustration: a man wanting to climb to the roof first negates the stairs as not being the roof, but on reaching the roof he finds that the stairs are made of the same materials as the roof: brick, lime, and brick-dust. Then he can either move up and down the stairs or remain on the roof, as he pleases.

Vision of God

"Sukadeva was absorbed in samādhi-nirvikalpa samādhi, jada samādhi. Since Suka was to recite the Bhagavata to King Parikshit, the Lord sent the sage Nārada  to him. Nārada  saw him seated like an inert thing, absolutely unconscious of the world around him. Thereupon  Nārada  sang four couplets on the beauty of Hari, to the accompaniment of the vina. While the first couplet was being sung the hair on Suka's body stood on end. Next he shed tears; for he saw the form of God, the Embodiment of Spirit, within himself, in his heart. Thus Sukadeva saw the form of God even after jada samādhi. He was an Isvarakoti.

 

How a liberated soul lives in the world

"Hanuman, after having the vision of God both with form and without, remained firmly devoted to the form of Rāma, the Embodiment of Consciousness and Bliss. 

"Prahlada sometimes realized, 'I am He'; sometimes he felt that he was the servant of God. How can such a person live without love of God? That is why he must accept the relationship of master and servant, feeling that God is the Master and himself the servant. This enables him to enjoy the Bliss of Hari. In this attitude he feels that God is the Bliss and he himself is the enjoyer.

"The 'ego of Devotion', the 'ego of Knowledge', and the 'ego of a child' do not harm the devotee. Sankaracharya  kept  the ego of Knowledge'.

Detachment of a child

The 'ego of a child' is not attached to anything. The child is beyond the three Gunās; he is not under the control of any of them. One moment you find him angry; the next moment it is all over. One moment you see him building his play house; the next moment he forgets all about it. Now you see him love his playmates; but if they are out of his sight a few days he forgets all about them. A child is not under the control of any of the Gunās-sattva, rajas, or tamas.

 

"I-consciousness"after God-realization

"The bhakta feels, 'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy devotee.' This 'I' is the 'ego of bhakti'. Why does such a lover of God retain the 'ego of Devotion'? There is a reason. The ego cannot begot rid of; so let the rascal remain as the servant of God, the devotee of God.

"You may reason a thousand times, but you cannot get rid of the ego. The ego is like a pitcher, and Brahman like the ocean-an infinite expanse of water on all sides. The pitcher is set in this ocean. The water is both inside and out; the water is everywhere; yet the pitcher remains. Now, this pitcher is the 'ego of the devotee'. As long as the ego remains, 'you' and 'I' remain, and there also remains the feeling, 'O God, Thou art the Lord and I am Thy devotee; Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' You may reason a million times, but you cannot get rid of it. But it is different if there is no pitcher." 

Narendra entered the room and saluted the Master. They began to talk together. Presently the Master came down from the couch and sat on the floor, on which a mat had been spread. In the mean time the room had become filled with people, both devotees and visitors.

Master warns Narendra about householders

MASTER (to Narendra): "Are you well? I hear that you often visit Girish Ghosh at his house. Is it true?"

 

NARENDRA: "Yes, sir, I go there now and then."


Girish had been visiting Sri Ramakrishna for some months. The Master said that none could fathom the depth of Girish's faith. And his longing for God was as intense as his faith was deep. At home, he was always absorbed in the thought of Sri Ramakrishna. Many of the Master's devotees visited him; they talked only about Sri Ramakrishna. But Girish was a householder who had had varied experiences of worldly life, and the Master knew that Narendra would renounce the world, that he would shun "woman and gold" both mentally and outwardly.

MASTER: "Do you visit Girish frequently? No matter how much one washes a cup that has contained a solution of garlic, still a trace of the smell will certainly linger. The youngsters who come here are pure souls-untouched by 'woman and gold'. Men who have associated a long time with 'woman and gold' smell of the garlic, as it were. They are like a mango pecked by crows. Such a fruit cannot be offered to the Deity in the temple, and you would hesitate to eat it yourself. Again, take the case of a new pot and another in which curd has been made. One is afraid to keep milk in the second pot, for the milk very often turns sour.

"Householder devotees like Girish form a class by themselves. They desire yoga and also bhoga. Their attitude is that of Ravana, who wanted to enjoy  the maidens of heaven and at the same time realize Rāma. They are like the asuras, the demons, who enjoy various pleasures and also realize Narayana."

NARENDRA: "But Girish has given up his old associates."

MASTER: "Yes, yes. He is like a bull castrated in old age. In Burdwan I once saw an ox moving about the cows. I asked a bullock-cart driver: 'what is this? an ox? How strange!' He said to me: 'True, sir. But it was castrated in old age, and so it hasn't altogether shaken off the old tendencies.'

"In a certain place there sat some sannyāsis. A young woman happened to pass by. All continued as before to meditate on God, except one of them, who cast sidelong glances at her. Before becoming a monk he had been the father of three children.

"If you make a solution of garlic in a cup, won't it be hard to remove the smell from it? Can a worthless tree like the babui produce mangoes? Of course such a thing may become possible through the occult powers of a yogi; but can everyone acquire such powers?

Worldly people have no time for spiritual practice

"When have worldly people time to think of God? A man wanted to engage a pundit who could explain the Bhagavata to him. His friend said: 'I know of an excellent pundit. But there is one difficulty: he does a great deal of farming. He has four ploughs and eight bullocks and is always busy with them; he has no leisure.' Thereupon the man said: 'I don't care for a pundit who has no leisure. I am not looking for a Bhagavata scholar burdened with ploughs and bullocks. I want a pundit who can really expound the sacred book to me.'

"There was a king who used to listen daily to a pundit's exposition of the Bhagavata. Every day at the end of their study the pundit would ask the king, 'O King, have you understood what I have read?' To this question the king would daily give the same reply: 'Sir, you had better understand it first yourself.' Each day, when the pundit returned home, he would ponder the meaning of the king's words. He was a pious man, devoted to prayer and meditation. Gradually he came to his senses and realized that the only real thing in the world is the Lotus Feet of God, and that all else is illusory. He felt dispassion for the world and took up the life of a monk. As he was leaving the world he sent a man to the king with the message: 'Yes, O King! Now I have understood.'

"But do I look down on worldly people? Of course not. When I see them, I apply the Knowledge of Brahman, the Oneness of Existence. Brahman itself has become everything; all are Narayana Himself. Regarding all women as so many forms of the Divine Mother, I see no difference between a chaste woman and a streetwalker.

"Alas! I find no customers who want anything better than kalai pulse. No one wants to give up 'woman and gold'. Man, deluded by the beauty of woman and the power of money, forgets God. But to one who has seen the beauty of God, even the position of Brahma, the Creator, seems insignificant.


"A man said to Ravana, 'You have been going to Sita in different disguises; why don't you go to her in the form of Rāma?' 'But', Ravana replied 'when I meditate on Rāma in my heart, the most beautiful women-celestial maidens like Rambha and Tilottama-appear no better than ashes of the funeral pyre. Then even the position of Brahma appears trivial to me, not to speak of the beauty of another man's wife.'

"Alas! I find that all the customers here seek worthless Kalai Pulse. Unless, the soul is pure, it cannot have genuine love of God and single-minded devotion to the ideal. The mind wanders away to various objects.

(To Manomohan ) "You may take offence at my words; but I said to Rākhāl , 'I would rather hear that you had drowned yourself in the Ganges than learn that you had accepted a job under another person and become his servant.'

"One day a Nepalese girl came here. She sang devotional songs to the accompaniment of the esraj. When someone asked her if she was married, she said sharply: 'What? I am the handmaid of God! Whom else could I serve?'

"How can a man living in the midst of 'woman and gold' realize God? It is very hard for him to lead an unattached life. First, he is the slave of his wife, second, of money, and third, of the master whom he serves.

Akbar and the holy man

"When Akbar was Emperor of Delhi there lived a hermit in a hut in the forest. Many people visited the holy man. At one time he felt a great desire to entertain his visitors. But how could he do so without money? So he decided to go to the Emperor for help, for the gate of Akbar's palace was always open to holy men. The hermit entered the palace while the Emperor was at his daily devotions and took a seat in a corner of the room. He heard the Emperor conclude his worship with the prayer, 'O God, give me money; give me riches', and so on and so forth. When the hermit heard this he was about to leave the prayer hall; but the Emperor signed to him to wait. When the prayer was over, Akbar said to him, 'You came to see me; how is it that you were about to leave without saying anything to me?' 'Your Majesty need not trouble yourself about it', answered the hermit. 'I must leave now.' When the Emperor insisted, the hermit said, 'Many people visit my hut, and so I came here to ask you for some money.' 'Then', said Akbar, 'why were you going away without speaking to me?' The hermit replied: 'I found that you too were a beggar; you too prayed to God for money and riches. Thereupon I said to myself, "Why should I beg of a beggar? If I must beg, let me beg of God." ' "

NARENDRA: "Nowadays Girish Ghosh thinks of nothing but spiritual things."

MASTER: "That is very good. But why is he so abusive? Why does he use such vulgar language to me? In my present state of mind I cannot bear such rudeness. When a thunderbolt strikes near a house, the heavy things inside the house are not much affected; but the window-panes rattle. Nowadays I cannot bear such roughness. A man living on the plane of sattva cannot bear noise and uproar. That is why Hriday was sent away. It was the Divine Mother who sent him away. During the later part of his stay he went to extremes; he became very rough and abusive. (To Narendra) Do you agree with Girish about me?"

NARENDRA: "He said he believed you to be an Incarnation of God. I didn't say anything in answer to his remarks."

MASTER: "But how great his faith is! Don't you think so?"

The devotees listened intently to the Master's words. He was still seated on the mat spread on the floor, with M. by his side and Narendra in front of him. The devotees were sitting around.

After a few minutes silence he said to Narendra tenderly, "My child, you will not attain God without renouncing 'woman and gold'." As he said this, great emotion welled up in his heart. Fixing on Narendra an earnest and tender look, he sang:

We are afraid to speak, and yet we are afraid to keep still;
Our minds, O Radha, half believe that we are about to lose you!
We tell you the secret that we know-
The secret whereby we ourselves, and others, with our help,
Have passed through many a time of peril;
Now it all depends on you.

Sri Ramakrishna seemed to be afraid lest Narendra should leave him. Narendra looked at the Master with tears in his eyes.

A visitor who was there for the first time heard and saw all this. He said to the Master, "Sir, if one must renounce 'woman and gold', then what shall a householder do?"

MASTER: "You may enjoy 'woman and gold'. What has passed between us is no concern of yours." Mahimacharan, a householder devotee, heard everything and sat speechless.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Go forward. Push on. You will discover the forest of sandal-wood. Go farther and you will find the silver-mine. Go farther still and you will see the gold-mine. Do not stop there. Go forward, and you will reach the mines of rubies and diamonds. Therefore I say, go forward."

MAHIMA: "But, sir, something holds us back. We can't move."

MASTER (with a smile): "Why? Cut the reins. Cut them with the sword of God's name. 'The shackles of Kala, Time, are cut by Kāli's name.'

"Every now and then, the Master cast his gracious look on Narendra. He said, "Have you now become an experienced physician?" Quoting a Sanskrit verse he said, "He who has killed only a hundred patients is a novice in medicine; but he becomes an expert after killing a thousand!" 

Was the Master hinting that Narendra, even though still young, had had many painful experiences of life?  Narendra smiled and kept silent.

It was afternoon. The devotees were seated around the Master, listening to Nabai Chaitanya's singing.

Suddenly the Master left the room, but the music continued. M. accompanied the Master. Sri Ramakrishna walked across the courtyard and entered the temple of Radhakanta. He bowed down before the images, M. following him. There was some red powder in a tray. The Master offered a little powder to the images and bowed down again. Next he proceeded to the Kāli temple. Passing up the seven steps, he stood on the open porch and looked at the image. Then he entered the shrine, offered red powder to the Divine Mother, and saluted Her. As he left the temple he asked M., "Why didn't you Bring Baburam with you?"

Sri Ramakrishna returned to his room accompanied by M. and another devotee carrying the tray of red powder. He offered a little of it to all the pictures of gods and goddesses in his room, but not to those of Jesus Christ and himself. Then he threw the powder on the bodies of Narendra and the other devotees. They all took the dust of his feet.

In the cool shade of the late afternoon the devotees walked about in the temple garden, leaving the Master and M. in the room. The Master whispered to M.: "All say that they meditate well. But why is it different with Paltu? What do you think of Narendra? He is utterly guileless. Just now he is faced with many difficult family problems and so his spiritual progress is a little checked; but it will not be so for long."

Narendra was arguing on the verandah with a Vedantist. Now and then the Master went out to look at them. As the devotees gathered in the room he asked Mahima to recite a hymn. Mahima chanted a verse from the Mahanirvana Tantra:

We worship the Brahman-Consciousness in the Lotus of the Heart,
The Undifferentiated, who is adored by Hari, Hara, and Brahma. . . .

Mahima recited a few more hymns and at last one to Śiva, by Sankaracharya, that compared the world to a deep well and a wilderness. Mahima was a householder.


The hymn ran thus:

O Great God! O Thou Auspicious One, with the moon shining in Thy crest!
Slayer of Madana!  Wielder of the trident! Unmoving One! Lord of the Himalayas!
O Consort of Durga, Lord of all creatures! Thou who scatterest the distress of the fearful!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world. 

O Beloved of Parvati's heart! O Thou moon-crested Deity!
Master of every being! Lord of  hosts! O Thou, the Lord of Parvati!
O Vamadeva, Self-existent One! O Rudra, Wielder of the bow!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of  this miserable world.

O blue-throated God! Śiva, whose ensign is the bull! O Five-faced One!
Lord of the worlds, who wearest snakes upon Thy wrists! O Thou Auspicious One!
O Śiva! O Pasupati!  O Thou, the Lord of Parvati!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest Of this miserable world.

O Lord of the Universe! O Śiva Sankara! OGod of Gods!
Thou who dost bear the river Ganges in Thy matted locks!
Thou, the Master of Pramatha and Nandika! O Hara, Lord of the world!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.


O King of Kasi, Lord of the cremation ground of Manikarnika!
O mighty Hero, Thou the Destroyer of Daksha's sacrifice! O All-pervasive One!
O Lord of hosts! Omniscient One, who art the sole Indweller in  every heart! O Lord!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O Great God! Compassionate One! O Benign Deity!
O Byomakesa!  Blue-throated One! O Lord of hosts!
Thy body is smeared with ashes! Thou art garlanded with human skulls!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

O Thou who dwellest on Mount Kailas! Thou whose carrier is thebull!
O Conqueror of death! O Three-eyed One! Lord of the three worlds!
Beloved of Narayana! Conqueror of lust! Thou, Śakti's Lord!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

Lord of the Universe! Refuge of the whole world! O Thou of  infinite forms!
Soul of the Universe! O Thou in whom repose the infinite virtues of the world!
O Thou adored by all! Compassionate One! O Friend of the poor!
Rescue me, helpless as I am, from the trackless forest of this miserable world.

MASTER (to Mahima): "Why do you call the world a deep well or a trackless forest? An aspirant may think so in the beginning; but how can he be frightened by the world if he holds fast to God? Then he finds that-

This very world is a mansion of mirth;
Here I can eat, here drink and make merry.

"Why should you be frightened? Hold fast to God. What if the world is like a forest of thorns? Put on shoes and walk on the thorns. Whom should you fear? You won't have to play again the part of the 'thief' in the game of hide-and-seek, once you touch the granny'.

"King Janaka used to fence with two swords-the one of Knowledge and the other of action. Nothing can frighten an expert player. (To M.) "My mind is still drawn to what he just recited."

Sri Ramakrishna referred to the hymns chanted by Mahima.

Nabai Chaitanya and the other devotees began to sing. They were joined by the Master, who danced, drunk with divine love. Afterwards he said: "This is the one thing needful, the chanting of God's name. All else is unreal. Love and devotion alone are real, and other things are of no consequence."

Later Sri Ramakrishna went out in the direction of the Panchavati. He asked M. about Binode, a student in M.'s school, who now and then experienced ecstasy while thinking of God. The Master loved him dearly. As he was returning to his room with M., he asked: "Well, some speak of me as an Incarnation of God. What do you think about it?" The Master came back to his room and sat on the small couch. He repeated the question to M. The other devotees were seated at a distance and could not follow the conversation.

MASTER: "What do you say?"

M: "I think so too. You are like Sri Chaitanya."

MASTER: "Is it a full manifestation of God, or a part? Tell me how much.'

M: "I don't know, sir. But it is true that there is in you an Incarnation of the Divine Power. There is no doubt that God alone dwells in you."

MASTER: "That is true. Chaitanya also wanted to realize Śakti, the Divine Power."

Narendra was engaged in a heated discussion. Ram, who had recently recovered from, an illness, joined him.

MASTER (to M.): "I don't like such discussions. (To Ram) Will you stop that? You haven't been well. All right, go on softly; don't get so excited. (To M.) I don't like these discussions. I used to weep and pray to the Divine Mother saying: 'O Mother, any man says it is this, while another says it is that. Do Thou tell me, O Mother, what is the truth.'"

Saturday, March. 7, 1885

At three o'clack in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was in his room at Dakshineswar conversing happily with his devotees. Baburam, the younger Naren, Paltu, Haripada, Mohinimohan, and others were present. A young brahmin who had been staying with the Master a few days was also there.The Holy Mother, Sri Ramakrishna's wife, was living in the nahabat. Occasianally she would come to Sri Ramakrishna's room to attend to his needs. Mohinimohan had braught his wife and Nabin's mother with him to the temple garden from Calcutta. The ladies were with the Holy Mother; they were waiting far an opportunity to visit the Master when the  men devotees would leave the room.

 

Master talks about his young disciples

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch. As he looked at the young devotees his face beamed with joy.

Rākhāl  was not then liying at Dakshineswar with the Master. Since his return from Vrindāvan he had been living at home.

MASTER (smjling): "Rākhāl  is now enjoying his 'pension'. Since his return from Vrindāvan he has been staying at home. His wife is there. But he said to me that he would not accept any work even if he were offered a salary of a thousand rupees.


"Rākhāl  would lie down here and say to me that he didn't care even for my campany. He was then passing through such an exalted state.


"Bhavanāth is married; but We spends the whole night in spiritual conversation with his wife. The couple passes their time talking of God alone: I said to him, 'Have a little fun with your wife now and then.' 'What?' he retorted angrily. 'Shall we too indulge in frivolity?' "

Sri Ramakrishna began to talk about Narendra.

MASTER (to the devotees): "I haven't felt the same strong longing for the younger Naren that I felt for Narendra.

(To Haripada) "Do you go to Girish Ghosh's house?"

HARIPADA: "Yes, I go there very often. He is our neighbour."

MASTER: "Does Narendra, too, go there?"

HARIPADA: "Yes, I see him there occasionally."

MASTER: "What does he say in reply to Girish?" [Girish Ghosh spoke of Sri Ramakrishna as an Incarnation of God.]

HARIPADA: "Narendra has been defeated in the argument."

MASTER: "No, Narendra says, 'Girish Ghosh has such strong faith; why should I contradict him?' "
The brother of Judge Anukal Mukhopadhyaya's son-in-law was in the room. The Master asked him, "Do you know Narendra?"

BROTHER: "Yes, sir. He is a very intelligent young man."

MASTER (to the devotees): "He must be a good man because he speaks highly of Narendra. Narendra was here the other day and sang with Trailokya Sannyal. But that day his singing seemed flat to me."


Baburam was a student in the Entrance Class in the school where M. taught.

MASTER (to Baburam): "Where are your books? Aren't you attending to your studies? (To M.) He wants to stick to both.

"That is very difficult. What will you gain by knowing God partially? Vasishthadeva, great sage that he was, was overcome at the death of his sons. That amazed Lakshmana and he asked Rāma the reason. Rāma said: 'Brother, what is there to wonder at? He who has knowledge has ignorance also. Brother, go beyond both knowledge and ignorance.' If a thorn enters the sole of your foot, you get anothet thorn to take out the first one. Afterwards you throw both away. Likewise, one procures the thorn of knowledge to remove the thorn of ignorance; then one goes beyond both knowledge and ignorance."

BABURAM (smiling): "That's what I want."

MASTER (smiling): "But, my child, can you attain it by holding to both? If you want that, then come away."

BABURAM (smiling): "Take me away from the world."

MASTER (to M.): "Rākhāl  lived with me, but that was different; his father agreed to it. If these boys stay here there will be trouble.

(To Baburam) "You have no strength of mind; you haven't much courage. Just see how the younger Naren says, 'I will come away for good."

Sri Ramakrishna came down from the small couch and sat among the youngsters on the floor. M. sat by his side. 

Master's eagerness for a spiritual companion

MASTER (to M.): "I have been seeking one who has totally renounced woman and gold. When I find a young man, I think that perhaps he will live with me; but everyone raises some objection or other.
"A ghost sought a companion. It is said that a man who dies on a Saturday or Tuesday becomes a ghost. Therefore, whenever the ghost saw anybody fall from a roof or stumble and faint on the road on either of those days, he would run to him, hoping that the man, through an accidental death, would become a ghost and be his companion. But such was his ill luck that everyone revived. The poor thing could not get a companion.

"Just see, Rākhāl  always gives his wife as an excuse. He says, 'What will become of her?' When I touched Narendra on the chest, he became unconscious; then he cried out: 'Oh, what have you done to me? Don't you know that I have a father and mother?'
"Why has God made me lead this kind of life? Chaitanyadeva became a sannyāsi so that all would salute him. Whoever salutes an Incarnation, even once, obtains liberation."

Mohinimohan had brought a basket of sweetmeats for Sri Ramakrishna.

MASTER: "Who has brought these sweets?"
Baburam pointed to Mohinimohan.

Sri Ramakrishna touched the sweets, uttering the word "Om", and ate a little. Then he distributed them among the devotees. To the surprise of the others, he fed the younger Naren and a few of the boys with his own hand.

MASTER (to M): "This has a meaning. There is a greater manifestation of God in men of pure heart. In former years, when I used to go to Kamarpukur, I would feed some of the young boys with my own hand. Chine Sankhari would say, 'Why doesn't he feed us that way?' But how could I? They led an immoral life. Who would feed them?"

Sri. Ramakrishna was in the happiest mood with his young and pure-souled devotees.. He was seated on the small couch and was doing funny imitations of a kirtani. The devotees laughed heartily. The kirtani is dressed lavishly and covered with ornaments. She sings standing on the floor, a coloured kerchief in her hand. Now and then she coughs to draw people's attention and blows her nose, raising her nose-ring, When a respectable gentleman enters the room she welcomes him with appropriate words, still continuing her song. Now and then she pulls her sari from her arms to show off her jewels. 

The devotees were convulsed, with laughter at this mimicry by Sri Ramakrishna. Paltu rolled on the ground. Pointing to him, the Master said to M.: "Look at that child! He is rolling with laughter." He said to Paltu with a smile: "Don't report this to your father, or he will lose the little respect he has for me. You see, he is an 'Englishman."

False piety

MASTER (to the devotees): "There are people who indulge in all kinds of gossip at the time of their daily devotions. As you know, one is not permitted to talk then; so they make all kinds of signs, keeping their lips closed. In order to say, 'Bring this', 'Bring that', they make sounds like 'Huh', 'Uhuh'. All such things they do! (Laughter.)

"Again, there are some who bargain for fish while telling their beads. As they count the rosary, with a finger they point out the fish, indicating, That one, please.' They reserve all their business for that time! (Laughter.)

"There are women who come to the Ganges for their bath and, instead of thinking of God, gossip about no end of things. 'What jewels did you offer at the time of your son's marriage?'- 'Has so-and-so returned from her father-in law's house?' - 'So-and-so is seriously ill.' - 'So-and-so went to see the bride; we hope that they will offer a magnificent dowry and that there will be a great feast.' - 'Harish always nags at me; he can't stay away from me even an hour.' - 'My child, I couldn't come to see you all these days; I was so busy with the betrothal of so-and-so's daughter.'

"You see, they have come to bathe in the holy river, and yet they indulge in all sorts of worldly talk."
The Master began to look intently at the younger Naren and went into samādhi. Did he see God Himself in the pure-souled devotee?

The devotees silently watched the figure of Sri Ramakrishna motionless in samādhi. A few minutes before there had been so much laughter in the room; now there was deep silence, as if no one were there. The Master sat with folded hands as in his photograph.

After a short while his mind began to come down to the relative plane.  He heaved a long sigh and became aware of the outer world. He looked at the devotees and began to talk with them of their spiritual progress.

MASTER (to the younger Naren): "I have been eager to see you. You will succeed. Come here once in a while. Well, which do you prefer-jnāna or bhakti?"

THE YOUNGER NAREN: "Pure bhakti."

MASTER: "But how can you love someone unless you know him? (Pointing to M, with a smile) How can you love him unless you know him? (To M.) Since a pure-souled person has asked for pure bhakti, it must have some meaning.

Genuine bhakti

"One does not seek bhakti of one's own accord without inborn tendencies. This is the characteristic of prema-bhakti. There is another kind of bhakti, called jnāna-bhakti, which is love of God based on reasoning.

(To the younger Naren) "Let me look at your body; take off your shirt. Fairly broad chest. You will succeed. Come here now and then."

Sri Ramakrishna was still in the ecstatic mood. He spoke tenderly to the other devotees about their future.

MASTER (to Paltu): "You will succeed, too, but, it will take a little time.

(To Baburam) "Why don't I attract you to me? It is just to avoid trouble.

(To Mohinimohan) "As for you you are all right.There is a little yet to be done. When that is achieved, nothing will remain-neither duty nor work nor the world itself. Is it good to get rid of everything?"
As Sri Ramakrishna spoke these words he looked at Mohini affectionately, as if scanning his inmost feelings. Was Mohini really wondering whether it would, be wise to renounce all for God? After a while Sri Ramakrishna said, "God binds the Bhagavata pundit to the world with one tie; otherwise, who would remain to explain the sacred book? He keeps the pundit bound for the good of men. That is why the Divine Mother has kept you in the world."

Now Sri Ramakrishna spoke to the young brahmin.

MASTER: "Give up knowledge and reasoning; accept bhakti. Bhakti alone is the essence. Is this the third day of your stay here?"

BRAHMIN (with folded hands): "Yes, sir."

MASTER: "Have faith. Depend on God. Then you will not have to do anything yourself. Mother Kāli will do everything for you.

"Jnāna goes as far as the outer court, but bhakti can enter the inner court. The Pure Self is unattached. Both vidyā and avidyā are in It, but It is unattached. Sometimes there is a good and sometimes a bad smell in the air, but the air itself is unaffected.

Nature of Ātman

"Once Vyasadeva was about to cross the Jamuna. The gopis also were there. They wanted to go to the other side of the river to sell curd, milk, and cream. But there was no ferry at that time. They were all worried about how to cross the river, when Vyāsa said to them, 'I am very hungry.' The milkmaids fed him with milk and cream. He finished almost all their food. Then Vyāsa said to the river, 'O Jamuna, if I have not eaten anything, then your waters will part and we shall walk through.' It so happened. The river parted and a pathway was formed between the waters. Following that path, the gopis and Vyāsa crossed the river. Vyāsa had said, 'If I have not eaten anything'. That means, the real man is Pure Ātman. Ātman is unattached and beyond Prakriti. It has neither hunger nor thirst; It knows neither birth nor death; It does not age, nor does It die. It is immutable as Mount Sumeru.

 

Jeevanmukta & Separation of body and soul

"He who has attained this Knowledge of Brahman is a jivanmukta, liberated while living in the body. He rightly understand that the Ātman and the body are two separate things. After realizing God one does not identify the Ātman with the body. These two are separate, like the kernel and the shell of the coconut when its milk dries up. The Ātman moves, as it were, within the body. When the 'milk' of worldly-mindedness has dried up, one gets Self-knowledge. Then one feels that Ātman and body are two separate things. The kernel of a green almond or betel-nut cannot be separated from the shell; but when they are ripe the juice dries up and the kernel separates from the shell. After the attainment of the Knowledge of Brahman, the 'milk' of worldly-mindedness dries up.

"But it is extremely difficult to attain the Knowledge of Brahman. One doesn't get it by merely talking about it. Some people feign it. (Smiling) There was a man who was a great liar; but, on the other hand, he used to say he had the Knowledge of Brahman. When someone took him to task for telling lies, he said: 'Why, this world is truly like a dream. If everything is unreal, then can truth itself be real? Truth is as unreal as falsehood.'" (All laugh.)

Sri Ramakrishna sat with the devotees on the mat on the floor. He was smiling. He said to the devotees, "Please stroke my feet gently." They carried out his request. He said to M., "There is great significance in this." Placing his hand on his heart, the Master said, "If there is anything here, then through this service the ignorance and illusion of the devotees will be completely destroyed."
Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna became serious, as if about to reveal a secret.

Revelation about himself

MASTER (to M.): "There is no outsider here. The other day, when Harish was with me, I saw Satchidananda come out of this sheath, It said, 'I incarnate Myself in every age.' I thought that I myself was saying these words out of mere fancy. I kept quiet and watched. Again Satchidananda Itself spoke, saying, 'Chaitanya, too, worshipped Śakti.' " 
The devotees listened to these words in amazement. Some wondered whether God Himself was seated before them in the form of Sri Ramakrishna. The Master paused a moment. Then he said, addressing M., "I saw that it is the fullest manifestation of Satchidananda; but this time the Divine Power is manifested through the glory of sattva."

The devotees sat spellbound.

MASTER (to M.): "Just now I was saying to the Mother, 'I cannot talk much.' I also said to Her, 'May people's inner consciousness be awakened by only one touch!' You see, such is the power of Yogamaya that She can cast a spell. She did so at Vrindāvan. That is why Subol was able to unite Sri Krishna and Radhika. Yogamaya, the Primal Power, has a power of attraction. I applied that power myself.

(To M.) "Well, do you think that those who come here are realizing anything?"

M: "Yes, sir, it must be so."

MASTER: "How do you know?"

M. (smiling): "Everyone says, 'Whoever goes to him doesn't return to the world.'

MASTER (smiling): "A bullfrog was caught by a water-snake. The snake could neither swallow the frog nor let it go. As a result the frog suffered very much; he croaked continuously. And the snake suffered too. But if the frog had been seized by a cobra, he would have been quiet after one or two croaks. (All laugh.)

(To the young devotees) "Read the Bhaktichaitanya- chandrika by Trailokya. Ask Trailokya for a copy. He has written well about Chaitanyadeva."

A DEVOTEE: "Will he give it to us?"

MASTER (smiling): "Why not? If a farmer has a good crop of melons he can easily give away two or three. (All laugh.) Won't Trailokya give you the book free?

(To Paltu) "Come here now and then."

PALTU: "I shall come whenever I can."

MASTER: "Will you see me in Calcutta when I go there?"

PALTU: "Yes, I shall try."

MASTER; "That's the answer of a calculating mind."

PALTU: "If I don't say, 'I shall try', I may be a liar."

MASTER (to M.): "I don't mind the lies of these boys. They are not free.

(To Haripada) "Why hasn't Mahendra Mukherji come here lately?"

HARlPADA: "I'm not quite sure why."

M. (smiling): "He's practising jnanayoga!"

MASTER: "No, it's not that. The other day he promised to send me in his carriage to the theatre to see a play about the life of Prahlada; but he didn't send the carriage. Perhaps that is why he doesn't come."

M: "One day I saw Mahima Chakravarty and had a talk with him. It seems that Mahendra visits him."

MASTER: "But Mahima talks about bhakti also. He loves to recite the hymn: 'what need is there of penance if God is worshipped with love?' "

M. (smiling): "He says that because you make him say it."

About Girish

Girish Chandra Ghosh was always talking to the devotees about the Master.

HARIPADA: "Girish Ghosh sees many visions nowadays. After going home from here he remains absorbed in spiritual moods and sees many things."

MASTER: 'That may be true. Coming to the Ganges, one sees many things-boats, ships, and what not."

HARIPADA: "Girish Ghosh says: 'From now on I shall occupy myself only with my work. In the morning, on the stroke of the clock, I shall sit down with my pen and ink-pot and write for the whole day.' He makes the resolve, no doubt, but cannot carry it out. No sooner do we visit him than he begins to talk about you. You asked him to send Narendra here in a carriage. He said, 'I shall hire a carriage for Narendra.' "

At five o'clock the younger Naren was ready to go home. Sri Ramakrishna stood by his side on the northeast verandah and gave him various instructions. Then the boy saluted the Master and departed. Many of the devotees also took their leave.

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch talking to Mohini. Mohini's wife was almost mad with grief on account of her son's death. Sometimes she laughed and sometimes she wept. But she felt peaceful in Sri Ramakrishna's presence.

MASTER: "How is your wife now?"

MOHINI: "She becomes quiet whenever she is here; but sometimes at home she becomes very wild. The other day she was going to kill herself."

When Sri Ramakrishna heard this he appeared worried. Mohini said to him humbly, "Please give her a few words of advice."

MASTER: "Don't allow her to cook. That will heat her brain all the more. And keep her in the company of others so that they may watch her."

It was dusk. Preparations were going on in the temples for the evening worship. The lamp was lighted in the Master's room and incense was burnt. Seated on the small couch, Sri Ramakrishna saluted the Divine Mother and chanted Her name in a tender voice. There was nobody in the room except M, who was sitting on the floor. 

Sri Ramakrishna rose from the couch. M also stood up. The Master asked him to shut the west and north doors of the room. M obeyed and stood by Sri Ramakrishna on the porch. The Master said that he wanted to go to the Kāli temple. Leaning on M.'s arm, he came down to the terrace of the temple. He asked M. to call Baburam and sat down.

After visiting the Divine Mother, the Master returned to his room across the court, chanting, "O Mother! Mother! Rajarajesvari!"

Sri Ramakrishna entered his room and sat on the small couch. He had been passing through an extraordinary state of mind: he could not touch any metal. He had said a few days before, "It seems that the Divine Mother has been removing from my mind all ideas of possession." He had been eating from plantain-leaves and drinking water from an earthen tumbler. He could not touch a metal jar; so he had asked the devotees to get a few earthen jars for him. If he touched metal plates or pots, his hand ached as if stung by a horned fish.

Prasanna had brought a few earthen pots, but they were very small. The Master said with a smile: These pots are too small. But he is a nice boy. Once I asked him to take off his clothes, and he stood naked in front of me. What a child he is!"

Tārak of Belgharia arrived with a friend and bowed low before Sri Ramakrishna, who was sitting on the small couch. The room was lighted by an oil lamp. A few devotees were sitting on the floor.

Tārak was about twenty years old, and married. His parents did not allow him to come to Sri Ramakrishna. He lived mostly at his home near Bowbazar. The Master was very fond of him. Tārak's friend had a tamasic nature; he rather scoffed at the Master and religious ideas in general.

MASTER (to Tārak's friend): "Why don't you go and visit the temples?"

FRIEND: "Oh, I've seen them before."

MASTER: "Is it wrong for Tārak to come here?"

FRIEND: "You know best."

MASTER (pointing to M.): "He is a headmaster."

FRIEND: "Oh!"

Master warns Tārak

Sri Ramakrishna asked about Tatak's health and talked with him at length. Tārak was ready to leave. Sri Ramakrishna asked him to be careful about many things.

MASTER: "My good man, beware. Beware of 'woman and gold'. Once you sink in the māyā of a woman, you will not be able to rise. It is the whirlpool of the Viśālākśi. He who has fallen into it cannot pull himself out again. Come here now and then."

TĀRAK: "My people at home don't let me."

A DEVOTEE: "Suppose someone's mother says to him, 'Don't go to Dakshineswar.' Suppose she curses him, saying, 'If you go there you will be drinking my blood!'"

MASTER: "A mother who says that is no mother; she is the embodiment of avidyā. There is no sin in disobeying such a mother. She obstructs her son's path to God. There is no harm in disobeying your elders for the sake of God. For Rāma's sake Bharat did not obey his mother Kaikeyi. The gopis did not obey their husbands when they were forbidden to visit Krishna. Prahlada disobeyed his father for God. Vali disregarded the words of Sukracharya, his teacher, in order to please God. Bibhishana went against the wishes of Ravana, his elder brother, to please Rāma. But you must obey your elders in all other things. Let me see your hand."

Sri Ramakrishna took Tārak's hand into his own and seemed to feel its weight. A few moments later he said: "There is a little crookedness in your mind; but that will go. Pray to God a little and come here now and then. Yes, that twist will go. Is it you that have hired the house at Bowbazar?"

TĀRAK: "Not I, sir, but my parents."

MASTER (smiling): "They or you? Is it because you are afraid of the 'tiger'?" Tārak had a young wife. Did the Master mean that a woman is like a tiger to a man? 

Tārak saluted Sri Ramakrishna and took his leave. The Master lay down on the small couch. He seemed worried about Tārak. Suddenly he said to M., "Why do I worry so much about these young boys?" M. kept still. He was thinking over a reply. The Master asked him, "Why don't you speak?"

Mohini's wife entered the room and sat at one side. Sri Ramakrishna spoke  to M. about Tārak's friend.

MASTER: "Why did Tārak bring that fellow with him?"

M: "Perhaps he wanted a companion for the road. It is a long way from Calcutta; so he brought a friend with him."

The Master suddenly addressed Mohini's wife and said: "By unnatural death one becomes an evil spirit. Beware. Make it clear to your mind. Is this what you have come to after hearing and seeing so much?"  Mohini was about to take his leave. He saluted Sri Ramakrishna. His wife also saluted the Master, who stood near the north door of the room. Mohini's wife spoke to him in a whisper.

MASTER: "Do you want to stay here?" 

MOHINI'S WIFE: "Yes, I want to spend a few days with the Holy Mother at the Nahabat. May I?"

MASTER: "That will be all right. But you talk of dying. That frightens me. And the Ganges is so near!"  

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