THE MASTER'S TRAINING OF HIS DISCIPLES
Monday, October 26, 1885
IT WAS ABOUT TEN O'CLOCK in the morning when M. arrived at the Syampukur house on his way to Dr. Sarkar to report the Master's condition.
Dr. Sarkar had declared the illness incurable. His words cast gloom over the minds of the Master's devotees and disciples. With unflagging devotion and zeal they nursed the patient-their teacher, guide, philosopher, and friend. A band of young disciples, led by Narendra, was preparing to renounce the world and dedicate their lives to the realization of God and the service of humanity. People flocked to the Master day and night. In spite of the excruciating pain in his throat, he welcomed them all with a cheerful face. There seemed to be no limit to his solicitude for their welfare. His face beamed as he talked to them about God. Dr. Sarkar, seeing that conversation aggravated the illness, forbade him to talk to people. "You must not talk to others," the physician had said to the Master, "but you may make an exception in my case." The doctor used to spend six or seven hours in Sri Ramakrishna's company, drinking in every word that fell from his lips.
MASTER: "I am feeling much relieved. I am very well today. Is It because of the medicine? Then why shouldn't I continue it?"
M: "I am going to the doctor. I shall tell him everything. He will advise what is best."
MASTER: "I haven't seen Purna for two or three days. I am worried about him."
M. (to Kāli): "Why don't you see Purna and ask him to come?"
KĀLI: "I shall go immediately."
MASTER (to M.): "The doctor's son is a nice boy. Please ask him to come."
M. arrived at Dr. Sarkar's house and found him with two or three friends.
DOCTOR (to M.): "I was talking about you just a minute ago. You said you would come at ten; I have been waiting for you an hour and a half. Your delay has made me worry about him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna].
(To a friend) "Please sing that song."
The friend sang:
Proclaim the glory of God's name as long as life remains in you;
DOCTOR (to M.): "Isn't it a beautiful song? How do you like that line, 'Where is His limit, where His end?' "
M: "Yes, that's a very fine line. It fills the mind with the idea of the Infinite."
DOCTOR (tenderly, to M.): "It is already late in the morning. Have you taken your lunch? I finish mine before ten and then begin my professional calls; otherwise I don't feel well. Look here, I have been thinking of giving a feast to you all [meaning Sri Ramakrishna's devotees] one day."
M: "That will be fine, sir."
DOCTOR: "Where shall I arrange it? Here or at the Syampukur house? Whatever you suggest."
M: "It doesn't matter, sir. Wherever you arrange it we shall be very happy to dine with you."
The conversation turned to Kāli, the Divine Mother.
DOCTOR: "Kāli is an old hag of the Sonthals."
M. burst into loud laughter and said, "Where did you get that?"
DOCTOR: "Oh, I have heard something like that." (M. laughs.)
Dr. Sarkar on ecstasy
They began to talk about the ecstasy that Vijay and the others had experienced the previous day in the Master's room. The doctor also had been present on the occasion.
DOCTOR: "Yes, I witnessed that ecstasy. But is excessive ecstasy good for one?"
M: "The Master says that an excess of ecstasy harms no one, if it is the result of the contemplation of God. He further says that the lustre of a gem gives light and soothes the body; It does not burn."
DOCTOR: "Oh, the lustre of a gem! That's only a reflected light."
DOCTOR: "Yes, that is true."
The doctor took M. in his carriage. He had to see a few patients on the way to Syampukur. They continued their conversation in the carriage. Dr. Sarkar referred to Mahima Chakravarty's pride.
Master's humility & M. and Dr. Sarkar
M: "He visits the Master. Even if he has a little pride, it will not last long. If one only sits in the Master's presence awhile, one's pride crumbles to pieces. It is because the Master himself is totally free from egotism. Pride cannot exist in the presence of humility. A celebrated man like Pundit Iswar Chandra Vidyāsāgar showed great modesty and humility in the Master's presence. The Paramahamsa visited his house; it was nine o'clock in the evening when the Master took his leave. Vidyāsāgar came all the way from the library to the gate of his compound to see him off. He himself carried the light to show the way. As the Master's carriage started off, Vidysagar stood there with folded hands."
DOCTOR: "Well, what does Vidyāsāgar think of him?"
M: "That day he showed the Master great respect. But when I talked with him later, I found out that he didn't much care for what the Vaishnavas call emotion or ecstasy. He shares your views on such things."
DOCTOR: "Neither do I care very much for any such display of emotion as folding one's hands or touching others' feet with one's head. To me the head is the same as the feet. But if a man thinks differently of the feet, let him do whatever he likes."
M: "We know that you do not care for a display of feelings. Perhaps you remember that the Master now and then refers to you as a 'deep soul'. He said to you yesterday that when an elephant plunges into a small pool it makes a big splash, but when it goes into a big lake you see hardly a ripple. The elephant of emotion cannot produce any effect at all in a deep soul. The Master says that you are a 'deep soul'."
DOCTOR: "I don't deserve the compliment. After all, what is bhava? It is only a feeling. There are other aspects of feeling, such as bhakti. When it runs to excess, some can suppress It and some cannot."
M: "Divine ecstasy may or may not be explainable; but, sir, it cannot be denied that ecstasy, or love of God, is a unique thing. I have seen in your library Stebbing's book on Darwinism. According to Stebbing the human mind is wonderful, whether it be the result of evolution or of special creation. He gives a beautiful illustration from the theory of light. Light is wonderful, whether you know the wave theory of light or not."
DOCTOR: "Yes. Have you noticed further that Stebbing accepts both Darwin and God?"
The conversation again turned to Sri Ramakrishna.
DOCTOR: "I find that he is a worshipper of the Goddess Kāli."
Master's conception of Kāli
M: "But with him the meaning of Kāli is different. What the Vedas call the Supreme Brahman, he calls Kāli. What the Musslmans call Allah and the Christians call God, he calls Kāli. He does not see many gods; he sees only one God. What the Brahma jnanis of olden times called Brahman, what the yogis call Ātman and the bhaktas call the Bhagavan, he calls Kāli.
Depth of Sri Ramakrishna's experiences
"In Sri Ramakrishna one finds all the attitudes and ideals of religion. That is why people of all sects and creeds enjoy peace and blessedness in his presence. Who can fathom his feeling and tell us the depth of his inner experience?"
DOCTOR: " 'All things to all men.' I don't approve of it although St. Paul says it."
M: "Who can understand the state of his mind? We have heard from him that unless one is engaged in the yarn trade, one cannot tell the difference between number forty and number forty-one yarn. Only a painter can appreciate another painter. The mind of a saint is very deep. One cannot understand all the aspects of Christ unless one is Christlike. Perhaps the deep realization of the Master is what Christ meant when He said: 'Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.'"
DOCTOR: "What arrangements have you made about having him nursed?"
M: "At present one of the older devotees is assigned every day to look after him. It may be Girish Babu or Ram Babu or Balarām or Suresh Babu or Navagopal or Kāli Babu. It is that way."
It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when the doctor and M. entered the Master's room on the second floor. Sri Ramakrishna sat there, smiling as usual, completely forgetful of the fatal illness, which was eating his life away. Among the many devotees in the room were Girish, the younger Naren, and Sarat. Sometimes they were motionless, like the snake before its charmer, and sometimes they displayed great joy, like the bridal party with the bridegroom. The doctor and M. bowed low before the Master and sat on the floor. At the sight of the doctor, the Master said, laughing, "Today I have been feeling very well."
Then the Master went on with his soul-enthralling conversation.
Futility of mere scholarship
MASTER: "What will mere scholarship accomplish without discrimination and renunciation? I go into a strange mood while thinking of the Lotus Feet of God. The cloth on my body drops to the ground and I feel something creeping up from my feet to the top of my head. In that state I regard all as mere straw. If I see a pundit without discrimination and love of God, I regard him as a bit of straw.
"One day Dr.Rāmnārāyan had been arguing with me, when suddenly I went into that mood. I said to him: 'What are you saying? What can you understand of God by reasoning? How little you can understand of His creation! Shame! You have the pettifogging mind of a weaver!' Seeing the state of my mind he began to weep and gently stroked my feet."
did that because he is a Hindu. Besides, he is a believer in flowers and
sandal-paste. He is an orthodox Hindu."
Master on Bankim
MASTER: "Bankim is one of your pundits. I met him once. I asked him, 'What is the duty of man?' And he had the impudence to say, 'Eating, sleeping, and sex gratification.' These words created in me a feeling of great aversion. I said: 'What are you saying? You are very mean. What you think day and night and what you do all the time come out through your lips. If a man eats radish, he belches radish.' Then we talked about God a great deal. There was also much devotional music in the room, and I danced. Then Bankim said to me, 'Sir, please come to our house once.' 'That depends on the will of God', I replied. 'There also', he said, 'you will find devotees of God.' I laughed and said: 'What kind of devotees are they? Are they like those who said, "Gopal! Gopal!"? ' "
DOCTOR: "What is the story of 'Gopal! Gopal!'? "
MASTER (with a smile): "There was a goldsmith who kept a jewellery shop. He looked like a great devotee, a true Vaishnava, with beads around his neck, rosary in his hand, and the holy marks on his forehead. Naturally people trusted him and came to his shop on business. They thought that, being such a pious man, he would never cheat them. Whenever a party of customers entered the shop, they would hear one of his craftsmen say, 'Kesava! Kesava!' Another would say, after a while, 'Gopal! Gopal!' Then a third would mutter, 'Hari! Hari!' Finally someone would say, 'Hara! Hara!' Now these are, as you know, different names of God. Hearing so much chanting of God's names, the customers naturally thought that this goldsmith must be a very superior person. But can you guess the goldsmith's true intention? The man who said 'Kesava! Kesava!' meant to ask, who are these?-'who are these customers?' The man who said 'Gopal! Gopal!' conveyed the idea that the customers were merely a herd of cows. That was the estimate he formed of them after the exchange of a few words. The man who said 'Hari! Hari!' asked, 'Since they are no better than a herd of cows, then may we rob them?' He who said 'Hara! Hara!' gave his assent, meaning by these words, 'Do rob by all means, since they are mere cows!' (All laugh.)
"Once I went to a certain place with Mathur Babu. Many pundits came forward to argue with me. And you all know that I am a fool. (All laugh.) The pundits saw that strange mood of mine. When the conversation was over, they said to me: 'Sir, after hearing your words, all that we have studied before, our knowledge and scholarship, has proved to be mere spittle. Now we realize that a man does not lack wisdom if he has the grace of God. The fool becomes wise and the mute eloquent.' Therefore I say that a man does not become a scholar by the mere study of books.
Divine Knowledge is inexhaustible
"Yes, how true it is! How can a man who has the grace of God lack knowledge? Look at me. I am a fool. I do not know anything. Then who is it that utters these words? The reservoir of the Knowledge of God is inexhaustible. There are grain-dealers at Kamarpukur. When selling paddy, one man weighs the grain on the scales and another man pushes it to him from a heap. It is the duty of the second man to keep a constant supply of grain on the scales by pushing it from the big heap. It is the same with my words. No sooner are they about to run short than the Divine Mother sends a new supply from Her Inexhaustible storehouse of Knowledge.
Master's unique experience
"During my boyhood God manifested Himself in me. I was then eleven years old. One day, while I was walking across a paddy field, I saw something. Later on I came to know from people that I had been unconscious, and my body totally motionless. Since that day I have been an altogether different man. I began to see another person within me. When I used to conduct the worship in the temple, my hand, instead of going toward the Deity, would very often come toward my head, and I would put flowers there. A young man who was then staying with me did not dare approach me. He would say: 'I see a light on your face. I am afraid to come very near you.'
"You know I am a fool. I know nothing. Then who is it that says all these things? I say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I am the machine and Thou art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the chariot and Thou art the Charioteer. I do as Thou makest me do; I speak as Thou makest me speak; I move as Thou makest me move. It is not I! It is not I! It is all Thou! It is all Thou!' Hers is the glory; we are only Her instruments. Once Radha, to prove her chastity, carried on her head a pitcher filled with water. The pitcher had a thousand holes, but not a drop of water spilled. People began to praise her, saying, 'Such a chaste woman the world will never see again!' Then Radha said to them: Why do you praise me? Say: Glory unto Krishna! Hail Krishna! I am only His handmaid.'
"Once in that strange mood of mine I placed my foot on Vijay's chest. You know how greatly I respect him-and I placed my foot on his body! What do you say to that?"
DOCTOR: "But now you should be careful."
The will of God
MASTER (with folded hands): "What can I do? I become completely unconscious in that mood, then I do not know at all what I am doing."
DOCTOR: "You should be careful. No use folding your hands now and expressing regret!"
MASTER: "Can I do anything myself in that mood? What do you think of this state? If you think it is a hoax, then I should say that your study of 'science' and all that is bosh!"
DOCTOR: "Now listen, sir! Would I come to see you so often if I thought it all a hoax? You know that I neglect many other duties in order to come here. I cannot visit many patients, for I spend six or seven hours at a stretch here."
MASTER: "Once I said
to Mathur Babu: 'Don't think that I have achieved my desired end because
you, a rich man, show me respect. It matters very little to me whether
you obey me or not.' Of course you must remember that a mere man can do
nothing, it is God alone who makes one person obey another. Man is straw
and dust before the power of God."
MASTER: "Do I ask you to show me respect?"
Dr. Sarkar and Girish
GIRISH: "Does he ask you to show him respect?"
DOCTOR (to the Master): "What are you saying? Do you explain it as the will of God?"
MASTER: "What else can it be? What can a man do before the will of God? Arjuna said to Sri Krishna on the battle-field of Kurukshetra 'I will not fight. It is impossible for me to kill my own kinsmen.' Sri Krishna replied: 'Arjuna, you will have to fight. Your very nature will make you fight.' Then Sri Krishna revealed to Arjuna that all the men on the battlefield were already dead.
"Once some Sikhs came to the Kāli temple at Dakshineswar. They said: 'You see, the leaves of the Aśwattha tree are moving. That too is due to the will of God.' Without His will not even a leaf can move."
DOCTOR: "If everything is done by the will of God, then why do you chatter? Why do you talk so much to bring knowledge to others?"
MASTER: "He makes me talk; therefore I talk. 'I am the machine and He is the Operator.' "
DOCTOR: "You say that you are the machine. That's all right. Or keep quiet, knowing that everything is God."
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Whatever you may think, sir, the truth is that we act because He makes us act. Can anyone take a single step against the Almighty Will?"
Free will and God's will
DOCTOR: "But God has also given us free will. I can think of God, or not, as I like."
GIRISH: "You think of God or do some good work because you like to. Really it is not you who do these things, but your liking of them that makes you do so."
DOCTOR: "Why should that be so? I do these things as my duty."
GIRISH: "Even then it is because you like to do your duty."
DOCTOR: "Suppose a child is being burnt. From a sense of duty I rush to save it."
GIRISH: "You feel happy to save the child; therefore you rush into the fire. It is your happiness that drives you to the action. A man eats opium being tempted by such relishes as puffed rice or fried potatoes." (Laughter.)
MASTER: "A man must have some kind of faith before he undertakes a work. Further, he feels joy when he thinks of it. Only then does he set about performing the work. Suppose a jar of gold coins is hidden underground. First of all a man must have faith that the jar of gold coins is there. He feels joy at the thought of the jar. Then he begins to dig. As he removes the earth he hears a metallic sound. That increases his joy. Next he sees a corner of the jar. That gives him more joy. Thus his joy is ever on the increase. Standing on the porch of the Kāli temple, I have watched the ascetics preparing their smoke of hemp. I have seen their faces beaming with joy in anticipation of the smoke."
DOCTOR: "But take the case of fire. It gives both heat and light. The light no doubt illumines objects, but the heat burns the body. Likewise, it is not an unadulterated joy that one reaps from the performance duty. Duty has its painful side too."
M. (to Girish): "As the proverb goes: 'If the stomach gets food, then the back can bear a few blows from the host.' There is joy in sorrow also."
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Duty is dry."
DOCTOR: "Why so?"
GIRISH: "Then it is
pleasant." (All laugh.)
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Duty must be pleasant; or why do you perform it?"
DOCTOR: "The mind is inclined that way."
M. (to Girish): "That wretched inclination draws the mind. If you speak of the compelling power of inclination, then where is free will?"
DOCTOR: "I do not say that the will is absolutely free. Suppose a cow is tied with a rope. She is free within the length of that rope, but when she feels the pull of the rope-"
MASTER: "Jadu Mallick also gave that illustration. (To the younger Naren) Is it mentioned in some English book?
God alone is the agent
(To the doctor) "Look here. If a man truly believes that God alone does everything, that He is the Operator and man the machine, then such a man is verily liberated in life. 'Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs.' Do you know what it is like? Vedānta philosophy gives an illustration. Suppose you are cooking rice in a pot, with potato, egg-plant, and other vegetables. After a while the potatoes, eggplant, rice, and the rest begin to jump about in the pot. They seem to say with pride: 'We are moving! We are jumping!' The children see it and think the potatoes, egg-plant, and rice are alive and so they jump that way. But the elders, who know, explain to the children that the vegetables and the rice are not alive; they jump not of themselves, but because of the fire under the pot; if you remove the burning wood from the hearth, then they will move no more. Likewise the pride of man, that he is the doer, springs from ignorance. Men are powerful because of the power of God. All becomes quiet when that burning wood is taken away. The puppets dance well on the stage when pulled by a wire, but they cannot move when the wire snaps.
"A man will cherish the illusion that he is the doer as long as he has not seen God, as long as he has not touched the Philosopher's Stone. So long will he know the distinction between his good and bad actions. This awareness of distinction is due to God's māyā; and it is necessary for the purpose of running His illusory world. But a man can realize God if he takes shelter under His Vidyā-māyā and follows the path of righteousness. He who knows God and realizes Him is able to go beyond māyā. He who firmly believes that God alone is the Doer and he himself a mere instrument is a jivanmukta, a free soul though living in a body. I said this to Keshab Chandra Sen."
GIRISH (to the doctor): "How do you know that free will exists?"
DOCTOR: "Not by reasoning; I feel it."
GIRISH: "In that case I may say that others and I feel the reverse. We feel that we are controlled by another." (All laugh.)
Dr. Sarkar on duty
DOCTOR: "There are two elements in duty: first, the 'oughtness' of a duty; second, the happiness, which comes as an after-effect. But at the initial stage this happiness is not the impelling motive. I noticed in my childhood the great worry of the priest at the sight of ants in the sweets offered before the Deity. He did not, at the outset, feel joy at the thought of the sweets. First of all he worried about them."
M. (to himself) : "It is difficult to say whether one feels happiness while performing the duty or afterwards. Where is the free will of a man if he performs an action, being impelled by a feeling of happiness?"
MASTER: "What the doctor is speaking of is called love without any selfish motive. I do not want anything from Dr. Mahendra Sarkar; I do not need anything from him, but still I love to see him. This is love for love's sake. But suppose I get a little joy from it; how can I help it?
"Ahalyā once said to Rāma 'O Rāma, I have no objection to being born even as a pig. But please grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet. I do not want anything else.'
"Nārada went to Ayodhya to remind Rāma that He was to kill Ravana . At the sight of Rāma and Sita, he began to sing their glories. Gratified at Nārada's devotion, Rāma said: 'Nārada, I am pleased with your prayer. Ask a boon.' Nārada replied, 'O Rāma, if Thou must give me a boon, then grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be deluded by Thy world-bewitching māyā. Rāma said, 'Ask something more.' 'No, Rāma,' answered Nārada, 'I do not want anything else. I want only pure love for Thy Lotus Feet, a love that seeks no return.'
"That is Dr. Sarkar's attitude. It is like seeking God alone, and not asking Him for wealth, fame, bodily comforts, or anything else. This is called pure love.
"There is an element of joy in it, no doubt; but it is not a worldly joy; it is the joy of bhakti and prema, devotion to God and ecstatic love of Him. I used to go to Sambhu Mallick's house. Once he said to me: 'You come here frequently. Yes, you come because you feel happy talking with me.' Yes, there is that element of happiness.
"But there is a state higher than this. When a man attains It, he moves about aimlessly, like a child. As the child goes along, perhaps he sees a grasshopper and catches it. The man of that exalted mood, too, has no definite aim.
"I too passed through that state. It is called Dāsya, the attitude of the servant toward his master. I used to weep so bitterly with the name of the Divine Mother on my lips that people would stand in a row watching me. When I was passing through that state, someone, in order to test me and also to cure my madness, brought a prostitute into my room. She was beautiful to look at, with pretty eyes. I cried, 'O Mother! O Mother!' and rushed out of the room. I ran to Haladhāri and said to him, 'Brother, come and see who has entered my room!' I told Haladhāri and everyone else about this woman. While in that state I used to weep with the name of the Mother on my lips. Weeping, I said to Her: O Mother, protect me! Please make me stainless. Please see that my mind is not diverted from the Real to the unreal.' (To the doctor) This attitude of yours is also very good. It is the attitude of a devotee, one who looks on God as his Master.
"When a man develops pure sattva, he thinks only of God. He does not enjoy anything else. Some are born with pure sattva as a result of their Prārabdha karma. Through unselfish action one finally acquires pure sattva. Sattva mixed with rajas diverts the mind to various objects. From it springs the conceit of doing good to the world. To do good to the world is extremely difficult for such an insignificant creature as man. But there is no harm in doing good to others in an unselfish spirit. This is called unselfish action. It is highly beneficial for a person to try to perform such action. But by no means all succeed, for it is very difficult. Everyone must work. Only one or two can renounce action. Rarely do you find a man who has developed pure sattva. Through disinterested action sattva mixed with rajas gradually turns into pure sattva.
"No sooner does a man develop pure sattva than he realizes God, through His grace.
"Ordinary people cannot understand pure sattva. Hem once said to me: 'Well, priest! The goal of a man's life is to acquire name and fame in the world. Isn't that true?' "
Tuesday, October 27, 1885
Sri Ramakrishna was seated in his room. Narendra and other devotees were with him. The Master was conversing with them. It was about ten o'clock in the morning.
NARENDRA "How strangely the doctor behaved yesterday!"
A DEVOTEE: "Yes, the fish swallowed the hook but the line broke."
MASTER (smiling): "But the hook is in its mouth. It will die and float on the water."
Narendra went out for a few minutes. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M about Purna.
MASTER; "The devotee looking on himself as Prakriti likes to embrace and kiss God, whom he regards as the Purusha. I am telling this just to you. Ordinary people should not hear these things."
M: "God sports in various ways. Even this illness of ours is one of His sports. Because you are ill new devotees are coming to you."
MASTER (smiling): "Bhupati says, 'What would people have thought of you if you had just rented a house to live in, without being ill?' Well, what has happened to the doctor?"
M: "As regards God! he accepts for himself the attitude of a servant. He says, 'Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' But then he asks me, 'Why do you apply the idea of God to a man?' "
MASTER: "Just see! Are you going to him today?"
M: "I shall see him if it is necessary to report your condition."
MASTER: "How do you find this boy Bankim? If he cannot come here you may give him instruction. That will awaken his spiritual consciousness."
Narendra entered the room and sat near Sri Ramakrishna. Since the death of his father he had been very much worried about the family's financial condition. He now had to support his mother and brothers. Besides, he was preparing himself for his law examination. Lately he had served as a teacher in the Vidyāsāgar School at Bowbazar. He wanted to make some arrangement for his family and thus get rid of all his worries. Sri Ramakrishna knew all this. He looked affectionately at Narendra.
MASTER (to M.): "Well, I said to Keshab, 'One should be satisfied with what comes unsought.' The son of an aristocrat does not worry about his food and drink. He gets his monthly allowance. Narendra, too, belongs to a high plane. Then why is he in such straitened circumstances? God certainly provides everything for the man who totally surrenders himself to Him."
M: "Narendra, too, will be provided for. It is not yet too late for him."
MASTER: "But a man who feels intense renunciation within doesn't calculate that way. He doesn't say to himself, 'I shall first make an arrangement for the family and then practise sādhanā.' No, he doesn't feel that way if he has developed intense dispassion. A goswami said in the course of his preaching, 'If a man has ten thousand rupees he can maintain himself on the income; then, free from worries, he Can pray to God.'
"Keshab Sen also said something like that. He said to me: 'Sir, suppose a man wants, first of all, to make a suitable arrangement of his property and estate and then think of God; will It be all right for him to do so? Is there anything wrong about it?' I said to him: 'When a man feels utter dispassion, he looks on the world as a deep well and his relatives as venomous cobras. Then he cannot think of saving money or making arrangements about his property.' God alone is real and all else illusory. To think of the world instead of God!
"A woman was stricken with intense grief. She first tied her nose-ring in the corner of her cloth and then dropped to the ground, saying, 'Oh, friends, what a calamity has befallen me!' But she was very careful not to break the nose-ring."
All laughed. At these words Narendra felt as if struck by an arrow, and lay down on the floor. M. understood what was going through Narendra's mind and said with a smile: "What's the matter? Why are you lying down?"
The Master said to M., with a smile: "You remind me of a woman who felt ashamed of herself for sleeping with her brother-in-law and couldn't understand the conduct of those women who lived as mistresses of strangers. By way of excusing herself she said: 'After all, a brother-in-law is one's own. But even that kills me with shame. And how do these women dare to live with strangers?' "
M. himself had been leading a worldly life. Instead of being ashamed of his own conduct, he smiled at Narendra. That was why Sri Ramakrishna referred to the woman who criticized the conduct of immoral women, though she herself had illicit love for her brother-in-law.
A Vaishnava minstrel was singing downstairs. Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with his song and said that someone should give him a little money. A devotee went downstairs. The Master asked, "How much did he give the singer?" When he was told that the devotee had given only two pice, he said: "Just that much? This money is the fruit of his servitude. How much he had to flatter his master and suffer to earn it! I thought he would give at least four ānnās."
The younger Naren had promised to show Sri Ramakrishna the nature of electricity with an instrument. The instrument was exhibited.
It was about two o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees were sitting in the room. Atul brought with him a friend who was a munsiff. Bagchi, the famous painter from Shikadarpara, arrived. He presented the Master with several paintings. Sri Ramakrishna examined the pictures with great delight.
Bagchi had long hair like a woman's. Sri Ramakrishna said: "Many days ago a sannyāsi came to Dakshineswar who had hair nine cubits long. He used to chant the name of Radha. He was genuine."
Master in samādhi & Narendra's singing
A few minutes later Narendra began to sing. The songs were full of the spirit of renunciation. He sang:
O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?
He sang again:
O Mother, Thou my inner Guide, ever awake within my heart;
Then he sang:
O gracious Lord, if like a bee
I take no pleasure in the sight
O Lord, whenever doubt of Thee,
It was half past five in the afternoon when Dr. Sarkar came to the Master's room at Syampukur, felt his pulse, and prescribed the necessary medicine. Many devotees were present, including Narendra, Girish, Dr. Dukari, the younger Naren, Rākhāl , M., Sarat, and Shyam Basu.
Dr. Sarkar talked a little about the Master's illness and watched him take the first dose of medicine. Then Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Shyam Basu. Dr. Sarkar started to leave, saying, "Now that you are talking to Shyam Basu, I shall say good-bye to you."
The Master and a devotee asked the doctor if he would like to hear some songs.
DR. SARKAR (to the Master): "I should like it very much. But music makes you frisk about like a kid and cut all sorts of capers. You must suppress your emotion."
Dr. Sarkar took his seat once more, and Narendra began to sing in his sweet voice, to the accompaniment of the Tānpura and Mridanga:
This universe, wondrous and infinite,
He sang again:
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Dr. Sarkar said to M., "This song is dangerous for him." Sri Ramakrishna asked M. what the doctor had said. M. replied, "The doctor is afraid that this song may throw your mind into samādhi."
In the mean time the Master had partially lost consciousness of the outer world. Looking at the physician, he said with folded hands: "No, no. Why should I go into samādhi?" Hardly had he spoken these words when he went into a deep ecstasy. His body became motionless, his eyes fixed, his tongue speechless. He sat there like a statue cut in stone, completely unconscious of the outer world. Turned inward were his mind, ego, and all the other organs of perception. He seemed an altogether different person.
Narendra continued his songs, pouring his entire heart and soul into them:
What matchless beauty! What a bewitching Face I behold!
O gracious Lord, if like a bee
As the doctor heard the words, "The purest wife's unspotted love", his eyes were filled with tears. He cried out, "Ah me! Ah me!"
Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
In the midst of the singing Sri Ramakrishna had regained consciousness of the outer world. When Narendra finished the song, the Master continued his conversation, keeping them all spellbound. The devotees looked at his face in wonder. It did not show the slightest trace of the agonizing pain of his illness. The face shone with heavenly joy.
Addressing the doctor, the Master said: "Give up this false modesty. Why should you feel shy about singing the name of God? The proverb says very truly: 'One cannot realize God if one is a victim of shame, hatred, or fear.' Give up such foolish notions as: 'I am such a great man! Shall I dance crying the name of God? What will other great men think of me on hearing of this? They may say that the doctor, poor fellow, has been dancing uttering the name of Hari, and thus pity me.' Give up all these foolish notions."
DOCTOR: "I never bother about what people say. I don't care a straw about their opinions."
MASTER: "Yes, I know of your strong feeling about that. (All laugh.)
On knowledge and ignorance
"Go beyond knowledge and ignorance; only then can you realize God. To know many things is ignorance. Pride of scholarship is also ignorance. The unwavering conviction that God alone dwells in all beings is Jnāna, knowledge. To know Him intimately is vijnāna, a richer Knowledge if a thorn gets into your foot, a second thorn is needed to take it out. When it is out both thorns are thrown away. You have to procure the thorn of knowledge to remove the thorn of ignorance; then you must set aside both knowledge and ignorance. God is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. Once Lakshmana said to Rāma, 'Brother, how amazing it is that such a wise man as Vasishtha wept bitterly at the death of his sons!' Rāma said: 'Brother, he who has knowledge must also have ignorance. He who has knowledge of one thing must also have knowledge of many things. He who is aware of light is also aware of darkness.' Brahman is beyond knowledge and ignorance, virtue and vice, merit and demerit, cleanliness and uncleanliness."
Sri Ramakrishna then recited the following song of Ramprasad:
Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kāli, the Wish-fulfilling
SHYAM BASU: "Sir, what remains after one throws away both thorns?"
Brahman cannot be described
MASTER: "Nitya–Śuddha–Buddha rupam, the Eternal and Ever-pure Consciousness. How can I make it clear to you? Suppose a man who has never tasted ghee asks you, 'What does ghee taste like?' Now, how can you explain that to him? At the most you can say: 'What is ghee like? It is just like ghee!' A young girl asked her friend: 'Well, friend, your husband is here. What sort of pleasure do you enjoy with him?' The friend answered: 'My dear, you will know it for yourself when you get a husband. How can I explain it to you?'
"It is said in the Purana that Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, was once born as the daughter of King Himalaya. After Her birth She showed Her father Her many forms. The Lord of the mountains, after enjoying all these visions, said to the Divine Mother, 'May I have the vision of Brahman as It is described in the Vedas!' Then the Divine Mother answered, 'Father, if you want to have the vision of Brahman you must live in the company of holy men.'
"What Brahman is cannot be described in words. Somebody once said that everything in the world has been made impure, like food that has touched the tongue, and that Brahman alone remains undefiled. The meaning is this: All scriptures and holy books-the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and so forth-may be said to have been defiled because their contents have been uttered by the tongues of men; but what Brahman is no tongue has yet been able to describe. Therefore Brahman is still undefiled. One cannot describe in words the joy of play and communion with Satchidananda. He alone knows, who has realized it."
Addressing Dr. Sarkar, Sri Ramakrishna continued: "Look here. One cannot attain Knowledge unless one is free from egotism. There is a saying:
When shall I be free?
'I' and 'mine'-that is ignorance. 'Thou' and Thine' that is Knowledge. A true devotee says: 'O God, Thou alone art the Doer; Thou alone doest all. I am a mere instrument; I do as Thou makest me do. All these-wealth, possessions, nay, the universe Itself-belong to Thee. This house and these relatives are Thine alone, not mine. I am Thy servant; mine is only the right to serve Thee according to Thy bidding.'
"Those who have read a few books cannot get rid of conceit. Once I had a talk with Kalikrishna Tagore about God. At once he said, 'I know all about that.' I said to him: 'Does a man who has visited Delhi brag about it? Does a gentleman go about telling everyone that he is a gentleman?' "
SHYAM: "But Kalikrishna Tagore has great respect for you."
MASTER: "Oh, how vanity turns a person's head! There was a scavenger woman in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. And her pride! And all because of a few ornaments. One day a few men were passing her on the path and she shouted to them, 'Hey! Get out of the way, you people!' If a scavenger woman could talk that way, what can one say about the vanity of others?"
Master scolds Shyam Basu
SHYAM: "Sir, if God alone does everything, how is it that man is punished for his sins?"
MASTER: "How like a goldsmith you talk!"
NARENDRA: "In other words, Shyam Babu has a calculating mind, like a goldsmith, who weighs things with his delicate balance."
MASTER: "I say: O my foolish boy, eat the mangoes and be happy. What is the use of your calculating how many hundreds of trees, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves there are in the orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat them and be contented.
(To Shyam) "You have been born in this world as a human being to worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do you trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by discussing 'philosophy'? Look here, one ounce of Liquor is enough to intoxicate you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of liquor there are in the tavern?"
DOCTOR: "Quite so. And what is more, the Wine in God's Tavern is beyond all measure. There is no limit to It."
MASTER (to Shyam): "Why don't you give your power of attorney to God? Rest all your responsibilities on Him. If you entrust an honest man with your responsibilities, will he misuse his power over you? God alone knows whether or not He will punish you for your sins."
DOCTOR: "God alone knows what is in His mind. How can a man guess it? God is beyond all our calculations."
MASTER (to Shyam): "That's the one theme of you Calcutta people. You all say, 'God is stained by the evil of inequality', because He has made one person happy and another miserable. What these rascals see in themselves they see in God, too.
"Hem used to come to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Whenever he chanced to meet me, he would say: 'Well, priest, there is only one thing worth having in this world, and that is honour. Isn't that so?' Very few indeed say that the goal of human life is the realization of God."
SHYAM: "We hear a great deal about the subtle body. Can anyone show it to us? Can anyone demonstrate that the subtle body, when a man dies, leaves the gross body and goes away?"
MASTER: "True devotees don't care a rap about showing you these things. What do they care whether some fool of a big man respects them or not? The desire to have a big man under their control never enters their minds."
SHYAM: "What is the distinction between the gross body and the subtle body?"
MASTER: "The body consisting of the five gross elements is called the gross body. The subtle body is made up of the mind, the ego, the discriminating faculty, and the mind-stuff. There is also a causal body, by means of which one enjoys the Bliss of God and holds communion with Him. The Tantra calls it the Bhagavati Tanu, the Divine Body. Beyond all these is the Maha-karana, the Great Cause. That cannot be expressed by words.
"What is the use of merely listening to words? Do something! What will you achieve by merely repeating the word 'siddhi'? Will that intoxicate you? You will not be intoxicated even if you make a paste of siddhi and rub it all over your body. You must eat some of it. How can a man recognize yarns of different counts, such as number forty and number forty-one, unless he is in the trade? Those who trade in yarn do not find it at all difficult to describe a thread of a particular count. Therefore I say, practice a little spiritual discipline; then you will know all these-the gross, the subtle, the causal, and the Great Cause. While praying to God, ask only for love for His Lotus Feet.
"When Rāma redeemed Ahalyā from the curse, He said to her, 'Ask a boon of Me.' Ahalyā said, 'O Rāma, if You deign to grant me a boon, then please fulfill my desire that I may always meditate on Your Lotus Feet, even though I may be born in a pig's body.'
"I prayed to the Divine Mother only for love. I offered flowers at Her Lotus Feet and said with folded hands: 'O Mother, here is Thy ignorance and here is Thy knowledge; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy virtue and here is Thy sin; here is Thy good and here is Thy evil; take them all and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy dharma and here is Thy adharma; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee.'
Pairs of opposites
"Dharma means good actions, like giving in charity. If you accept dharma, you have to accept adharma too. If you accept virtue, you have to accept sin. If you accept knowledge, you have to accept ignorance. If you accept holiness, you have to accept unholiness. It is like a man's being aware of light, in which case he is aware of darkness too. If a man is aware of one, he is aware of many too. If he is aware of good, he is aware of evil too.
"Blessed is the man who retains his love for the Lotus Feet of God, even though he eats pork. But if a man is attached to the world, even though he lives only on boiled vegetables and cereals, then-"
DOCTOR: "He is a wretch. But let me interrupt you here and say something. Buddha once ate pork and as a result had colic. To get rid of the pain he would take opium and thus become unconscious. Do you know the meaning of Nirvāna and such stuff? Buddha would become stupefied after eating opium. He would have no consciousness of the outer world. This is what they call Nirvāna!"
All laughed to hear this novel interpretation of Nirvāna. The conversation went on.
MASTER (to Shyam): "There is no harm in your leading the life of a householder. But do your duties in an unselfish spirit, fixing your mind on the Lotus Feet of God. You must have noticed that a man with a carbuncle on his back speaks to others in his usual way; perhaps he attends to his daily duties also; but his mind is always on the carbuncle. It is like that.
"Live in the world like an immoral woman. Though she performs her household duties, her mind is fixed on her sweetheart. (To the doctor) Do you understand that?"
DOCTOR: "Never having had such an experience myself, how can I understand?"
SHYAM: "Oh, yes! You understand a little." (All laugh.)
MASTER: "Moreover he has had long experience in that trade. Isn't that so?" (All laugh.)
SHYAM: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"
MASTER: "The long and short of the matter is that those who go about making disciples belong to a very inferior level. So also do those who want occult powers to walk over the Ganges and to report what a person says in a far-off country and so on. It is very hard for such people to have pure love for God."
SHYAM: "But the Theosophists have been trying to re-establish the Hindu religion."
MASTER: "I don't know much about them."
SHYAM: "You can learn from Theosophy where the soul goes after death-whether to the lunar sphere or the stellar sphere or some other region."
MASTER: "That may be. But let me tell you my own attitude. Once a man asked Hanuman, 'What day of the lunar fortnight is it?' Hanuman replied: 'I know nothing about the day of the week, the day of the lunar fortnight, the position of the stars in the sky, or any such things. On Rāma alone I meditate.' That is my attitude too."
SHYAM: "The Theosophists believe in the existence of Mahatmas. Do you believe in them, sir?"
MASTER: "If you believe in my words, I say yes. But now please leave these matters alone. Come here again when I am a little better. Some way will be found for you to attain peace of mind, if you have faith in me. You must have noticed that I don't accept any gift of money or clothes. We do not take any collection here. That is why so many people come. (Laughter.)
(To the doctor) "If you won't take offence, I shall tell you something. It is this: You have had enough of such things as money, honour, lecturing, and so on. Now for a few days direct your mind to God. And come here now and then. Your spiritual feeling will be kindled by hearing words about God."
After a little while, as the doctor stood up to take his leave, Girish Chandra Ghosh entered the room and bowed low before the Master. Dr. Sarkar was pleased to see him and took his seat again.
DOCTOR (pointing to Girish): "Of course he would not come as long as I was here. No sooner am I about to leave than he enters the room."
Girish and Dr. Sarkar began to talk about the Science Association established by the latter.
MASTER: "Will you take me there one day?"
DOCTOR: "If you go there you will lose all consciousness at the sight of the wondrous works of God."
MASTER: "Oh, indeed!"
DOCTOR (to Ginsh): "Whatever you may do, please do not worship him as God. You are turning the head of this good man."
GIRISH: "'What else can I do? Oh, how else shall I regard a person who has taken me across this ocean of the world, and what is still more, the ocean of doubt? There is nothing in him that I do not hold sacred. Can I ever look on even his excreta as filthy?"
DOCTOR: 'This question of excreta doesn't bother me. I too have no feeling of repugnance. Once a grocer's child was brought to my office for treatment. His bowels moved there. All covered their noses with cloths; but I sat by his side for half an hour without putting a handkerchief to my nose. Besides, I cannot cover my nose when the scavenger passes by me with a tub on his head. No, I cannot do that. I know very well that there is no difference between a scavenger and myself. Why should I look down on him? Can't I take the dust of his [meaning Sri Ramakrishna's] feet? Look here,"
The doctor saluted Sri Ramakrishna and touched the Master's feet with his forehead.
GIRISH: "Oh, the angels are saying, 'Blessed, blessed be this auspicious moment!' "
DOCTOR: "What is there to marvel at in taking the dust of a man's feet? I can take the dust of everybody's feet. Give me, all of you, the dust of your feet."
The doctor touched the feet of all the devotees.
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "We think of him [meaning the Master] as a person who is like God. Do you know, sir, what it is like? There is a point between the vegetable creation and the animal creation where it is very difficult to determine whether a particular thing is a vegetable or an animal. Likewise, there is a stage between the man-world and the God-world where it is extremely hard to say whether a person is a man or God."
DOCTOR: "Well, my dear young friend, one cannot apply analogies to things divine."
NARENDRA: "I don't say that he is God. What I am saying is that he is a godlike man."
Dr. Sarkar on expressing feelings
DOCTOR: "One should suppress one's feelings in such a matter. It is bad to give vent to them. Alas! No one understands my own feelings. Even my best friend thinks of me as a stern and cruel person. Even people like you will perhaps one day throw me out after beating me with your shoes."
MASTER: "Don't say such a thing! They love you so much! They await your coming as eagerly as the bridesmaids in the bridal chamber await the coming of the groom."
GIRISH: "Everyone has the greatest respect for you."
DOCTOR: "My son and even my wife think of me as a hard-hearted person. My only crime is that I do not display my feelings."
GIRISH: "In that case, sir, it would be wise for you to open the door of your heart, at least out of pity for your friends; for you see that your friends cannot otherwise understand you."
DOCTOR: "Will you believe me when I say that my feelings get worked up even more than yours? (To Narendra) I shed tears in solitude.
(To Sri Ramakrishna) "Well, may I say something? When you are in ecstasy you place your foot on others' bodies. That is not good."
MASTER: "Do you think I know at that time that I am touching another with my foot?"
DOCTOR: "You feel that it is not the right thing to do, don't you?"
MASTER: "How can I explain to you what I experience in samādhi? After coming down from that state I think, sometimes, that my illness may be due to samādhi. The thing is, the thought of God makes me mad. All this is the result of my divine madness. How can I help it?"
DOCTOR: "Now he accepts my view. He expresses regret for what he does. He is conscious that the act is sinful"
MASTER (to Narendra): "You are very clever. Why don't you answer? Explain it all to the doctor."
Cause of Master's illness
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Sir, you are mistaken. He is not expressing regret for touching the bodies of his devotees during samādhi. His own body is pure, untouched by any sin. That he touches others in this way is for their good. Sometimes he thinks that he may have got this illness by taking their sins upon himself.
"Think of your own case. Once you suffered from colic. Didn't you have regrets at that time for sitting up and reading till very late at night? Does that prove that reading till the late hours of the night is, in itself, a bad thing? He [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] too may be sorry that he is ill. But that does not make him feel that it is wrong on his part to touch others for their welfare."
Dr. Sarkar felt rather embarrassed and said to Girish: "I confess my defeat at your hands. Give me the dust of your feet." He saluted Girish.
DOCTOR (to Narendra): "Whatever else one may say about him [meaning Girish], one must admit his intellectual powers."
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "You may look at the thing from another standpoint. You can devote your life to scientific research without giving a thought to your health or comfort. But the Science of God is the grandest of all sciences. Isn't it natural for him to risk his health to realize Him?"
DOCTOR: "All religious reformers, including Jesus, Chaitanya, Buddha, and Mohammed, were in the end filled with egotism. They all said, 'Whatever I say is alone true.' How shocking!"
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Now, sir, you are committing the same mistake.
You are accusing them all of egotism. You are finding fault with them. For that very reason you too can be accused of egotism."
Dr. Sarkar remained silent.
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "We offer worship to him bordering on divine worship."
At these words the Master laughed like a child.