Master's joy on seeing Shivanath — Worldly people's indifference to spiritual life — Power of God's name — Three classes of devotees — Three kinds of bhakti — Utilizing tamas for spiritual welfare — Illustration of physicians — Three types of gurus — No finality about God's nature — Illusoriness of "I" — Sign of Perfect Knowledge — Personal God for devotees — Intense longing enables one to see God — Why so much controversy about God? — Parable of the chameleon — Vedantic Non-dualism — Seven planes of the mind — Duties drop away with deepening of spiritual mood — What happens after samadhi — Reincarnation of soul — Inscrutability of God's ways — Master at the circus — Necessity of spiritual discipline — Master on caste-system — Entanglement of householders — Futility of reasoning — Master on Theosophy — The pure in heart see God — Turning passions to God — Why so much suffering in God's creation? — Compassion and attachment.
October 28, 1882
IT WAS SATURDAY. The semi-annual
Brahmo festival, celebrated each
autumn and spring, was being held in Benimadhav Pal's beautiful
garden house at Sinthi, about three miles north of Calcutta. The house
stood in a secluded place suited for contemplation. Trees laden with flowers,
artificial lakes with grassy banks, and green arbours enhanced the beauty
of the grounds. Just as the fleecy clouds were turning gold in the light of
the setting sun, the Master arrived.
Many devotees had attended the morning devotions, and in the afternoon people from Calcutta and the neighbouring villages joined them. Shivanath, the great Brahmo devotee whom the Master loved dearly, was one of the large gathering of members of the Brahmo Samaj who had been eagerly awaiting Sri Ramakrishna's arrival.
When the carriage bringing the Master and a few devotees reached the garden house, the assembly stood up respectfully to receive him. There was a sudden silence, like that which comes when the curtain in a theatre is about to be rung up. People who had been conversing with one another now fixed their attention on the Master's serene face, eager not to lose one word that might fall from his lips.
At the sight of Shivanath the Master cried out joyously: "Ah! Here is Shivanath! You see, you are a devotee of God. The very sight of you gladdens my heart. One hemp-smoker feels very happy to meet another. Very often they embrace each other in an exuberance of joy."
The devotees burst out laughing.
MASTER: "Many people visit the temple garden at Dakshineswar. If I see some among the visitors indifferent to God, I say to them, 'You had better sit over there.' Or sometimes I say, 'Go and see the beautiful buildings.' (Laughter.)
"Sometimes I find that the devotees of God are accompanied by worthless people. Their companions are immersed in gross worldliness and don't enjoy spiritual talk at all. Since the devotees keep on, for a long time, talking with me about God, the others become restless. Finding it impossible to sit there any longer, they whisper to their devotee friends: 'When shall we be going? How long will you stay here?' The devotees say: 'Wait a bit. We shall go after a little while.' Then the worldly people say in a disgusted tone: 'Well then, you can talk. We shall wait for you in the boat.' (All laugh.)
"Worldly people will never listen to you if you ask them to renounce everything and devote themselves whole-heartedly to God. Therefore Chaitanya and Nitai, after some deliberation, made an arrangement to attract the worldly. They would say to such persons, 'Come, repeat the name of Hari, and you shall have a delicious soup of magur fish and the embrace of a young woman.' Many people, attracted by the fish and the woman, would chant the name of God. After tasting a little of the nectar of God's hallowed name, they would soon realize that the 'fish soup' really meant the tears they shed for love of God, while the 'young woman' signified the earth. The embrace of the woman meant rolling on the ground in the rapture of divine love.
"Nitai would employ any means to make people repeat Hari's name. Chaitanya said: 'The name of God has very great sanctity. It may not produce an immediate result, but one day it must bear fruit. It is like a seed that has been left on the cornice of a building. After many days the house crumbles, and the seed falls on the earth, germinates, and at last bears fruit.'
"As worldly people are endowed with sattva, rajas, and tamas, so also is bhakti characterized by the three gunas.
"Do you know what a worldly person endowed with sattva is like? Perhaps his house is in a dilapidated condition here and there. He doesn't care to repair it. The worship hall may be strewn with pigeon droppings and the courtyard covered with moss, but he pays no attention to these things. The furniture of the house may be old; he doesn't think of polishing it and making it look neat. He doesn't care for dress at all; anything is good enough for him. But the man himself is very gentle, quiet, kind, and humble; he doesn't injure anyone:
"Again, among the worldly there are people with the traits of rajas. Such a man has a watch and chain, and two or three rings on his fingers. The furniture of his house is all spick and span. On the walls hang portraits of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and other prominent people; the building is whitewashed and spotlessly clean. His wardrobe is filled with a large assortment of clothes; even the servants have their livery, and all that.
"The traits of a worldly man endowed with tamas are sleep, lust, anger, egotism, and the like.
"Similarly, bhakti, devotion, has its sattva. A devotee who possesses it meditates on God in absolute secret, perhaps inside his mosquito net. Others think he is asleep. Since he is late in getting up, they think perhaps he has not slept well during the night. His love for the body goes only as far as appeasing his hunger, and that only by means of rice and simple greens. There is no elaborate arrangement about his meals, no luxury in clothes, and no display of furniture. Besides, such a devotee never flatters anybody for money.
"An aspirant possessed of rajasic bhakti puts a tilak (A mark of sandal-paste or other material to denote one's religious affiliation.) on his forehead and a necklace of holy rudraksha beads, interspersed with gold ones, around his neck. (All laugh.) At worship he wears a silk cloth.
"A man endowed with tamasic bhakti has burning faith. Such a devotee literally extorts boons from God, even as a robber falls upon a man and plunders his money. 'Bind! Beat! Kill!' — that is his way, the way of the dacoits."
Saying this, the Master began to sing in a voice sweet with rapturous love, his eyes turned upward:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,1
So long as I can breathe my last with Kali's name upon my lips?
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours?2
Rituals may pursue him close, but never can they overtake him.
Charity, vows, and giving of gifts dc not appeal to Madan's3 mind;
The Blissful Mother's Lotus Feet are his whole prayer and sacrifice.
Who could ever have conceived the power Her name possesses?
Siva Himself, the God of Gods, sings Her praise with His five mouths!
The Master was beside himself with love for the Divine Mother. He sang with fiery enthusiasm:
It only I can pass away repeating Durga's name,
How canst Thou then, O Blessed One,
Withhold from me deliverance,
Wretched though I may be? . . .
Dive deep, O mind, dive deep in the Ocean of God's Beauty;
If you descend to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.
Go seek, O mind, go seek Vrindavan in your heart,
Where with His loving devotees
Sri Krishna sports eternally.
Light up, O mind, light up true wisdom's shining lamp,
And let it burn with steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart.
Who is it that steers your boat across the solid earth?
It is your guru, says Kabir;
Meditate on his holy feet.
Sri Ramakrishna continued: "It is also true that after the vision of God
the devotee desires to witness His lila. After the destruction of Ravana at
Rama's hands, Nikasha, Ravana's mother, began to run away for fear of
her life. Lakshmana said to Rama: 'Revered Brother, please explain this
strange thing to me. This Nikasha is an old woman who has suffered a great
deal from the loss of her many sons, and yet she is so afraid of losing her own
life that she is taking to her heels!' Rama bade her come near, gave her
assurance of safety, and asked her why she was running away. Nikasha
answered: 'O Rama, I am able to witness all this lila of Yours because I am
still alive. I want to live longer so that I may see the many more things You
will do on this earth.' (All laugh.)
(To Shivanath) "I like to see you. How can I live unless I see pure-souled devotees? I feel as if they had been my friends in a former incarnation."
A BRAHMO DEVOTEE: "Sir, do you believe in the reincarnation of the soul?"
MASTER: "Yes, they say there is something like that. How can we understand the ways of God through our small intellects? Many people have spoken about reincarnation; therefore I cannot disbelieve it. As Bhishma lay dying on his bed of arrows, the Pandava brothers and Krishna stood around him. They saw tears flowing from the eyes of the great hero. Arjuna said to Krishna: 'Friend, how surprising it is! Even such a man as our grandsire Bhishma — truthful, self-restrained, supremely wise, and one of the eight Vasus — weeps, through maya, at the hour of death.' Sri Krishna asked Bhishma about it. Bhishma replied: 'O Krishna, You know very well that this is not the cause of my grief. I am thinking that there is no end to the Pandavas' sufferings, though God Himself is their charioteer. (Krishna, an Incarnation of God, was Arjuna's charioteer.) A thought like this makes me feel that I have understood nothing of the ways of God, and so I weep.'"
It was about half past eight when the evening worship began in the prayer hall. Soon the moon rose in the autumn sky and flooded the trees and creepers of the garden with its light. After prayer the devotees began to sing. Sri Ramakrishna was dancing, intoxicated with love of God. The Brahmo devotees danced around him to the accompaniment of drums and cymbals. All appeared to be in a very joyous mood. The place echoed and re-echoed with God's holy name.
When the music had stopped, Sri Ramakrishna prostrated himself on the ground and, making salutations to the Divine Mother again and again, said: "Bhagavata — Bhakta — Bhagavan! My salutations at the feet of the jnanis! My salutations at the feet of the bhaktas! I salute the bhaktas who believe in God with form, and I salute the bhaktas who believe in God without form. I salute the knowers of Brahman of olden times. And my salutations at the feet of the modern knowers of Brahman of the Brahmo Samaj!"
Then the Master and the devotees enjoyed a supper of delicious dishes, which Benimadhav, their host, had provided.
Wednesday, November 15, 1882
Sri Ramakrishna, accompanied by Rakhal and several other devotees,
came to Calcutta in a carriage and called for M. at the school where he was
teaching. Then they all set out for the Maidan. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to
see the Wilson Circus. As the carriage rolled along the crowded Chitpore
Road, his joy was very great. Like a little child he leaned first out of one
side of the carriage and then out of the other, talking to himself as if
addressing the passers-by. To M. he said: "I find the attention of the people
fixed on earthly things. They are all rushing about for the sake of their
stomachs. No one is thinking of God."
They arrived at the circus. Tickets for the cheapest seats were purchased. The devotees took the Master to a high gallery, and they all sat on a bench. He said joyfully: "Ha! This is a good place. I can see the show well from here." There were exhibitions of various feats. A horse raced around a circular track over which large iron rings were hung at intervals. The circus rider, an Englishwoman, stood on one foot on the horse's back, and as the horse passed under the rings, she jumped through them, always alighting on one foot on the horse's back. The horse raced around the entire circle, and the woman never missed the horse or lost her balance.
When the circus was over, the Master and the devotees stood outside in the field, near the carriage. Since it was a cold night he covered his body with his green shawl.
Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "Did you see how that Englishwoman stood on one foot on her horse, while it ran like lightning? How difficult a feat that must be! She must have practised a long time. The slightest carelessness and she would break her arms or legs; she might even be killed. One faces the same difficulty leading the life of a householder. A few succeed in it through the grace of God and as a result of their spiritual practice. But most people fail. Entering the world, they become more and more involved in it; they drown in worldliness and suffer the agonies of death. A few only, like Janaka, have succeeded, through the power of their austerity, in leading the spiritual life as householders. Therefore spiritual practice is extremely necessary; otherwise one cannot rightly live in the world."
The Master got into the carriage with the devotees and went to Balaram Bose's house. He was taken with his companions to the second floor. It was evening and the lamps were lighted. The Master described the feats he had seen at the circus. Gradually other devotees gathered, and soon he was engaged in spiritual talk with them.
The conversation turned to the caste-system. Sri Ramakrishna said: "The caste-system can be removed by one means only, and that is the love of God. Lovers of God do not belong to any caste. The mind, body, and soul of a man become purified through divine love. Chaitanya and Nityananda scattered the name of Hari to everyone, including the pariah, and embraced them all. A brahmin without this love is no longer a brahmin. And a pariah with the love of God is no longer a pariah. Through bhakti an untouchable becomes pure and elevated."
Speaking of householders entangled in worldliness, the Master said: "They are like the silk-worm. They can come out of the cocoon of their worldly life if they wish. But they can't bear to; for they themselves have built the cocoon with great love and care. So they die there. Or they are like the fish in a trap. They can come out of it by the way they entered, but they sport inside the trap with other fish and hear the sweet sound of the murmuring water and forget everything else. They don't even make an effort to free themselves from the trap. The lisping of children is the murmur of the water, and the other fish are relatives and friends. Only one or two make good their escape by running away. They are the liberated souls."
The Master then sang:
When such delusion veils the world, through Mahamaya's spell,
That Brahma is bereft of sense,
And Vishnu loses consciousness,
What hope is left for men?
The narrow channel first is made, and there the trap is set;
But open though the passage lies,
The fish, once safely through the gate,
Do not come out again.
The silk-worm patiently prepares its closely spun cocoon;
Yet even though a way leads forth,
Encased within its own cocoon,
The worm remains to die.
The Master continued: "Man may be likened to grain. He has fallen
between the millstones and is about to be crushed. Only the few grains that
stay near the peg escape. Therefore men should take refuge at the peg, that
is to say, in God. Call on Him. Sing His name. Then you will be free.
Otherwise you will be crushed by the King of Death."
The Master sang again:
Mother! Mother! My boat is sinking, here in the ocean of this world;
Fiercely the hurricane of delusion rages on every side!
Clumsy is my helmsman, the mind; stubborn my six oarsmen, the passions;
Into a pitiless wind
I sailed my boat, and now it is sinking!
Split is the rudder of devotion; tattered is the sail of faith;
Into my boat the waters are pouring! Tell me, what shall I do?
For with my failing eyes, alas! nothing but darkness do I see.
Here in the waves I will swim,
O Mother, and cling to the raft of Thy name!
Mr. Viswas had been sitting in the room a long time; he now left. He
had once been wealthy but had squandered everything in an immoral life.
Finally he had become indifferent to his wife and children. Referring to
Mr. Viswas, the Master said: "He is an unfortunate wretch. A householder
has his duties to discharge, his debts to pay: his debt to the gods, his debt
to his ancestors, his debt to the rishis, and his debt to wife and children.
If a wife is chaste, then her husband should support her; he should also
bring up their children until they are of age. Only a monk must not save;
the bird and the monk do not provide for the morrow. But even a bird
provides when it has young. It brings food in its bill for its chicks."
BALARAM: "Mr. Viswas now wants to cultivate the company of holy people."
MASTER (with a smile): "A monk's kamandalu goes to the four principal holy places4 with him, but it still tastes bitter. Likewise, it is said that the Malaya breeze turns all trees into sandal-wood. But there are a few exceptions, such as the cotton-tree, the aswattha, and the hog plum.
"Some frequent the company of holy men in order to smoke hemp. Many monks smoke it, and these householders stay with them, prepare the hemp, and partake of the prasad."
Thursday, November 16, 1882
The Master had come to Calcutta. In the evening he went to the house
of Rajmohan, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, where Narendra and some
of his young friends used to meet and worship according to the Brahmo
ceremonies. Sri Ramakrishna wanted to see their worship. He was
accompanied by M. and a few other devotees.
The Master was very happy to see Narendra and expressed a desire to watch the young men at their worship. Narendra sang and then the worship began. One of the young men conducted it. He prayed, "O Lord, may we give up everything and be absorbed in Thee!" Possibly the youth was inspired by the Master's presence and so talked of utter renunciation. Sri Ramakrishna remarked in a whisper, "Much likelihood there is of that!"
Rajmohan served the Master with refreshments.
Sunday, November 19, 1882
It was the auspicious occasion of the Jagaddhatri Puja, the festival of the
Divine Mother. Sri Ramakrishna was invited to Surendra's house in
Calcutta; but first he went to the house of Manomohan in the neighbourhood.
The Master was seated in Manomohan's parlour. He said: "God very much relishes the bhakti of the poor and the lowly, just as the cow relishes fodder mixed with oil-cake. King Duryodhana showed Krishna the splendour of his wealth and riches, but Krishna accepted the hospitality of the poor Vidura. God is fond of His devotees. He runs after the devotee as the cow after the calf."
The Master sang:
And, for that love, the mighty yogis practise yoga from age to age;
When love awakes, the Lord, like a magnet, draws to Him the soul.
Then he said: "Chaitanya used to shed tears of joy at the very mention
of Krishna's name. God alone is the real Substance; all else is illusory. Man
can realize God if he wants to, but he madly craves the enjoyment of
'woman and gold'. The snake has a precious stone
( A folk belief in Bengal.) in its head, but
it is perfectly satisfied to eat a mere frog.
"Bhakti is the one essential thing. Who can ever know God through reasoning? I want love of God. What do I care about knowing His infinite glories? One bottle of wine makes me drunk. What do I care about knowing how many gallons there are in the grog-shop? One jar of water is enough to quench my thirst. I don't need to know the amount of water there is on earth."
Sri Ramakrishna arrived at Surendra's house. Many devotees had assembled there, including Surendra's elder brother, who was a judge.
MASTER (to Surendra's brother): "You are a judge. That is very good. But remember, everything happens through God's power. It is He who has given you your high position; that is how you became a judge. People think it is they who are great. The water from the roof flows through a spout that is shaped like a lion's head. It looks as if the lion were bringing the water out through its mouth. But look at the source of the water! A cloud gathers in the sky and rain falls on the roof; then the water flows through the pipe and at last comes out through the spout."
SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "The Brahmo Samaj preaches the freedom of women and the abolition of the caste-system. What do you think about these matters?"
MASTER: "Men feel that way when they are just beginning to develop spiritual yearning. A storm raises clouds of dust, and one cannot distinguish between the different trees — the mango, the hog plum, and the tamarind. But after the storm blows over, one sees clearly. After the first storm of divine passion is quelled, one gradually understands that God alone is the Highest Good, the Eternal Substance, and that all else is transitory. One cannot grasp this without tapasya and the company of holy men. What is the use of merely reciting the written parts for the drum? It is very difficult to put them into practice on the instrument. What can be accomplished by a mere lecture? It is austerity that is necessary. By that alone can one comprehend.
"You asked about caste distinctions. There is only one way to remove them, and that is by love of God. Lovers of God have no caste. Through this divine love the untouchable becomes pure, the pariah no longer remains a pariah. Chaitanya embraced all, including the pariahs.
"The members of the Brahmo Samaj sing the name of Hari. That is very good. Through earnest prayer one receives the grace of God and realizes Him. God can be realized by means of all paths. The same God is invoked by different names."
SURENDRA'S BROTHER: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"
MASTER : "I have heard that man can acquire superhuman powers through it and perform miracles. I saw a man who had brought a ghost under control. The ghost used to procure various things for his master. What shall I do with superhuman powers? Can one realize God through them? If God is not realized then everything becomes false."
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Sri Ramakrishna arrived
in Calcutta to attend the annual festival of the Brahmo Samaj, which was
to be celebrated at Manilal Mallick's house. Besides M. and other devotees
of the Master, Vijay Goswami and a number of Brahmos were present.
Elaborate arrangements had been made to make the occasion a success. Vijay
was to conduct the worship.
The kathak recited the life of Prahlada from the Purana. Its substance was as follows: Hiranyakasipu, Prahlada's father, was king of the demons. He bore great malice toward God and put his own son through endless tortures for leading a religious life. Afflicted by his father, Prahlada prayed to God, "O God, please give my father holy inclinations."
At these words the Master wept. He went into an ecstatic mood. Afterwards he began to talk to the devotees.
MASTER: "Bhakti is the only essential thing. One obtains love of God by constantly chanting His name and singing His glories. Ah! What a devotee Shivanath is! He is soaked in the love of God, like a cheese-cake in syrup.
"One should not think, 'My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.' God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite the opinions.
"Let me tell you one thing. God can be seen. The Vedas say that God is beyond mind and speech. The meaning of this is that God is unknown to the mind attached to worldly objects. Vaishnavcharan (A noted devotee of the Vaishnava sect and an admirer of Sri Ramakrishna.) used to say, 'God is known by the mind and intellect that are pure.' Therefore it is necessary to seek the company of holy men, practise prayer, and listen to the instruction of the guru. These purify the mind. Then one sees God. Dirt can be removed from water by a purifying agent. Then one sees one's reflection in it. One cannot see one's face in a mirror if the mirror is covered with dirt.
"After the purification of the heart one obtains divine love. Then one sees God, through His grace. One can teach others if one receives that command from God after seeing Him. Before that one should not 'lecture'. There is a song that says:
You have set up no image here,
Within the shrine, O fool!
Blowing the conch, you simply make
Confusion worse confounded.
"You should first cleanse the shrine of your heart. Then you should
install the Deity and arrange worship. As yet nothing has been done. What
can you achieve by blowing the conch-shell (The
conch-shell is blown during the temple service.) and simply making a loud
Vijay sat on a raised stool and conducted the worship according to the rules of the Brahmo Samaj. Afterwards he sat by the Master.
MASTER (to Vijay): "Will you tell me one thing? Why did you harp so much on sin? By repeating a hundred times, 'I am a sinner', one verily becomes a sinner. One should have such faith as to be able to say, 'What? I have taken the name of God; how can I be a sinner?' God is our Father and Mother. Tell Him, 'O Lord, I have committed sins, but I won't repeat them.' Chant His name and purify your body and mind. Purify your tongue by singing God's holy name."
In the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the west porch of his
room in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Among others, Baburam, Ramdayal,
and M. were present. These three were going to spend the night with
the Master. M. intended to stay the following day also, for he was having
his Christmas holidays. Baburam had only recently begun to visit the Master.
MASTER (to the devotees): "A man becomes liberated even in this life when he knows that God is the Doer of all things. Once Keshab came here with Sambhu Mallick. I said to him, 'Not even a leaf moves except by the will of God.' Where is man's free will? All are under the will of God. Nangta was a man of great knowledge, yet even he was about to drown himself in the Ganges. He stayed here eleven months. At one time he suffered from stomach trouble. The excruciating pain made him lose control over himself, and he wanted to drown himself in the river. There was a long shoal near the bathing-ghat. However far he went into the river, he couldn't find water above his knees. Then he understood everything (He realized that man is not free even to kill himself, that everything depends on the will of the Divine Mother. See) and came back. At one time I was very ill and was about to cut my throat with a knife. Therefore I say: 'O Mother, I am the machine and Thou art the Operator; I am the chariot and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I do as Thou makest me do.'"
The devotees sang kirtan in the Master's room:
Dwell, O Lord, O Lover of bhakti,
In the Vrindavan of my heart,
And my devotion unto Thee
Will be Thy Radha, dearly loved;
My body will be Nanda's home,
My tenderness will be Yasoda,
My longing for deliverance
Will be Thy gentle gopi maids.
Lift the Govardhan of my sin
And slay my six unyielding passions,
Fierce as the demons sent by Kamsa!
Sweetly play the flute5 of Thy grace,
Charming the milch cow of my mind;
Abide in the pasture of my soul.
Dwell by the Jamuna of my yearning,
Under the banyan of my hope,
For ever gracious to Thy servant;
And, if naught but the cowherds' love
Can hold Thee in Vrindavan's vale,
Then, Lord, let Dasarathi, too,
Become Thy cowherd and Thy slave.
Again they sang:
Sing, O bird that nestles deep within my heart!
Sing, O bird that sits on the Kalpa-Tree of Brahman!
Sing God's everlasting praise.
Taste, O bird, of the four fruits of the Kaipa-Tree,
Dharma, artha, kama, moksha.
Sing, O bird, "He alone is the Comfort of my soul!"
Sing, O bird, "He alone is my life's enduring Joy!"
O thou wondrous bird of mv life,
Sing aloud in my heart! Unceasingly sing, O bird!
Sing for evermore, even as the thirsty chatak
Sings for the raindrop from the cloud.
A devotee from Nandanbagan entered the room with his friends. The
Master looked at him and said, "Everything inside him can be seen through
his eyes, as one sees the objects in a room through a glass door." This devotee
and his brothers always celebrated the anniversary of the Brahmo Samaj at
their house in Nandanbagan. Sri Ramakrishna had taken part in these
The evening worship began in the temples. The Master was seated on the small couch in his room, absorbed in meditation. He went into an ecstatic mood and said a little later: "Mother, please draw him to Thee. He is so modest and humble! He has been visiting Thee." Was the Master referring to Baburam, who later became one of his foremost disciples?
The Master explained the different kinds of samadhi to the devotees. The conversation then turned to the joy and suffering of life. Why did God create so much suffering?
M: "Once Vidyasagar said in a mood of pique: 'What is the use of calling on God? Just think of this incident: At one time Chenghiz Khan plundered a country and imprisoned many people, the number of prisoners rose to about a hundred thousand. The commander of his army said to him: "Your Majesty, who will feed them? It is risky to keep them with us. It will be equally dangerous to release them. What shall I do?" Chenghiz Khan said: "That's true. What can be done? Well, have them killed." The order was accordingly given to cut them to pieces. Now, God saw this slaughter, didn't He? But He didn't stop it in any way. Therefore I don't need God, whether He exists or not. I don't derive any good from Him.'"
MASTER: "Is it possible to understand God's action and His motive? He creates, He preserves, and He destroys. Can we ever understand why He destroys? I say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I do not need to understand. Please give me love for Thy Lotus Feet.' The aim of human life is to attain bhakti. As for other things, the Mother knows best. I have come to the garden to eat mangoes. What is the use of my calculating the number of trees, branches, and leaves? I only eat the mangoes; I don't need to know the number of trees and leaves.
Baburam, M., and Ramdayal slept that night on the floor of the Master's room.
It was an early hour of the morning, about two or three o'clock. The room was dark. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his bed and now and then conversed with the devotees.
MASTER: "Remember that daya, compassion, and maya, attachment, are two different things. Attachment means the feeling of 'my-ness' toward one's relatives. It is the love one feels for one's parents, one's brother, one's sister, one's wife and children. Compassion is the love one feels for all beings of the world. It is an attitude of equality. If you see anywhere an instance of compassion, as in Vidyasagar, know that it is due to the grace of God. Through compassion one serves all beings. Maya also comes from God. Through maya God makes one serve one's relatives. But one thing should be remembered: maya keeps us in ignorance and entangles us in the world, whereas daya makes our hearts pure and gradually unties our bonds.
"God cannot be realized without purity of heart. One receives the grace of God by subduing the passions — lust, anger, and greed. Then one sees God. I tried many things in order to conquer lust.
"When I was ten or eleven years old and lived at Kamarpukur, I first experienced samadhi. As I was passing through a paddy-field, I saw something and was overwhelmed. There are certain characteristics of God-vision. One sees light, feels joy, and experiences the upsurge of a great current in one's chest, like the bursting of a rocket."
The next day Baburam and Ramdayal returned to Calcutta. M. spent the day and the night with the Master.
It was afternoon. The Master was sitting in his room at Dakshineswar
with M. and one or two other devotees. Several Marwari devotees arrived
and saluted the Master. They requested Sri Ramakrishna to give them spiritual
instruction. He smiled.
MASTER (to the Marwari devotees): "You see, the feeling of 'I' and 'mine' is the result of ignorance. But to say, 'O God, Thou art the Doer; all these belong to Thee' is the sign of Knowledge. How can you say such a thing as 'mine'? The superintendent of the garden says, This is my garden.' But if he is dismissed because of some misconduct, then he does not have the courage to take away even such a worthless thing as his mango-wood box. Anger and lust cannot be destroyed. Turn them toward God. If you must feel desire and temptation, then desire to realize God, feel tempted by Him. Discriminate and turn the passions away from worldly objects. When the elephant is about to devour a plaintain-tree in someone's garden, the mahut strikes it with his iron-tipped goad.
"You are merchants. You know how to improve your business gradually. Some of you start with a castor-oil factory. After making some money at that, you open a cloth shop. In the same way, one makes progress toward God. It may be that you go into solitude, now and then, and devote more time to prayer.
"But you must remember that nothing can be achieved except in its proper time. Some persons must pass through many experiences and perform many worldly duties before they can turn their attention to God; so they have to wait a long time. If an abscess is lanced before it is soft, the result is not good; the surgeon makes the opening when it is soft and has come to a head. Once a child said to its mother: 'Mother, I am going to sleep now. Please wake me up when I feel the call of nature.' 'My child,' said the mother, 'when it is time for that, you will wake up yourself. I shan't have to wake you.'"
The Marwari devotees generally brought offerings of fruit, candy, and other sweets for the Master. But Sri Ramakrishna could hardly eat them. He would say: "They earn their money by falsehood. I can't eat their offerings." He said to the Marwaris: "You see, one can't strictly adhere to truth in business. There are ups and downs in business. Nanak once said, 'I was about to eat the food of unholy people, when I found it stained with blood.' A man should offer only pure things to holy men. He shouldn't give them food earned by dishonest means. God is realized by following the path of truth. One should always chant His name. Even while one is performing one's duties, the mind should be left with God. Suppose I have a carbuncle on my back. I perform my duties, but the mind is drawn to the carbuncle. It is good to repeat the name of Rama. 'The same Rama who was the son of King Dasaratha has created this world. Again, as Spirit, He pervades all beings. He is very near us; He is both within and without.'"