Inscrutability of God's ways — Two ways of yoga — Efficacy of bhakti-yoga — Householder's duty — Complete renunciation for religious teachers — Hard rules for a sannyasi — About Keshab and Vijay — Praise of guilelessness and purity — Master's guilelessness — Nature of Brahman — What happens after death — Maya hides Knowledge — Master's renunciation — Liberation — Path of devotion for Kaliyuga — Power of inborn tendencies — Various forms of divine love — Chaitanya's spiritual moods — Practice of Japa — Master with Brahmo devotees — Hazra's eccentricities — Master's attitude toward women — Physical signs indicating character — Master and Nilkantha.
Thursday, October 2, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA was sitting in his room
at Dakshineswar. Latu, Ramlal,
Harish, and Hazra were living with him at the temple garden.
Baburam spent a day or two with him now and then.
Manilal Mallick, Priya Mukherji and his relative Hari, a bearded Brahmo devotee from Shibpur, and several Marwari devotees from Calcutta were in the Master's room. Manilal was an old member of the Brahmo Samaj.
MASTER (to Manila and the others): "It is wise to salute a person mentally. What need is there of touching his feet? Mental salutation doesn't embarrass anybody.
"The attitude that my religion alone is right and all other religions are false is not good. I see that God Himself has become all these: men, images, and salagram. I see one alone in all these; I do not see two. I see only one.
"Many people think that their opinion alone is right and others' opinions are wrong; that they alone have won and others have lost. But a person who has gone forward may be detained by some slight obstacle, and someone who has been lagging behind may then steal a march on him. In the game of golakdham one may advance a great deal, but still somehow one's piece may fail to reach the goal.
"Triumph or defeat is in the hands of God. We cannot understand His ways. You must have noticed that the green coconut remains high in the tree and is exposed to the sun, but still its milk is cool. On the other hand the paniphal (A kind of aquatic fruit.) remains in the water, but when eaten it heats the body.
"Look at the body of man. The head is the root, and it is at the top."
MANILAL: "What then is our duty?"
MASTER: "To remain somehow united with God. There are two ways: karmayoga and manoyoga. Householders practise yoga through karma, the performance of duty. There are four stages of life: brahmacharya, garhasthya, vanaprastha, and sannyas. Sannyasis must renounce those karmas which are performed with special ends in view; but they should perform the daily obligatory karmas, giving up all desire for results. Sannyasis are united with God by such karmas as the acceptance of the staff, the receiving of alms, going on pilgrimage, and the performance of worship and japa.
"It doesn't matter what kind of action you are engaged in. You can be united with God through any action provided that, performing it, you give up all desire for its result.
"There is the other path: manoyoga. A yogi practising this discipline doesn't show any outward sign. He is inwardly united with God. Take Jadabharata and Sukadeva, for instance. There are many other yogis of this class, but these two are well known. They shave neither hair nor beard.
"All actions drop away when a man reaches the stage of the paramahamsa. He always remembers the ideal and meditates on it. He is always united with God in his mind. If he ever performs an action it is to teach men.
"A man may be united with God either through action or through inwardness of thought, but he can know everything through bhakti. Through bhakti one spontaneously experiences kumbhaka. The nerve currents and breathing calm down when the mind is concentrated. Again, the mind is concentrated when the nerve currents and breathing calm down. Then the buddhi, the discriminating power, becomes steady. The man who achieves this state is not himself aware of it.
"One can attain everything through bhaktiyoga. I wept before the Mother and prayed, 'O Mother, please tell me, please reveal to me, what the yogis have realized through yoga and the jnanis through discrimination.' And the Mother has revealed everything to me. She reveals everything if the devotee cries to Her with a yearning heart. She has shown me everything that is in the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Puranas, and the Tantra."
MANILAL: "And what about hathayoga?"
MASTER: "The hathayogis identify themselves with their bodies. They practise internal washing and similar disciplines, and devote themselves only to the care of the body. Their ideal is to increase longevity. They serve the body day and night. That is not good.
"What is your duty? You should renounce 'woman and gold' mentally. You cannot look on the world as crow-droppings.
"The goswamis are householders. Therefore I said to them: 'You have your duties in the temple; how can you renounce the world? You cannot explain away the world as maya.'
"Chaitanyadeva said that the duties of householders were kindness to living beings, service to the Vaishnavas, and the chanting of God's holy name.
"Keshab Sen once said about me: 'Now he asks us to hold to both — God and the world. But one day he will sting us.' No, that is not true. Why should I sting?"
MANI MALLICK: "But, sir, you do."
MASTER (smiling): "How so? You are a householder. Why should you renounce?
"But the renunciation of the world is needful for those whom God wants to be teachers of men. One who is an acharya should give up 'woman and gold'; otherwise people will not take his advice. It is not enough for him to renounce only mentally; he should also renounce outwardly. Only then will his teaching bear fruit. Otherwise people will think, 'Though he asks us to give up "woman and gold", he enjoys them himself in secret.'
"A physician prescribed medicine for a patient and said to him, 'Come another day and I'll give you directions about diet.' The physician had several jars of molasses in his room that day. The patient lived very far away. He visited the physician later and the physician said to him: 'Be careful about your food. It is not good for you to eat molasses.' After the patient left, another person who was there said to the physician: 'Why did you give him all the trouble of coming here again? You could very well have given him the instructions the first day.' The physician replied with a smile: 'There is a reason. I had several jars of molasses in my room that day. If I had asked the patient then to give up molasses, he would not have had faith in my words. He would have thought: "He has so many jars of molasses in his room, he must eat some of it. Then molasses can't be so bad." Today I have hidden the jars. Now he will have faith in my words.'
"I have seen the acharya of the Adi Brahmo Samaj. I understand that he has married for the second or third time. He has grown-up children. And such men are teachers! If they say, 'God is real and all else illusory', who will believe them? You can very well understand who will be their disciples.
"Like teacher, like disciple. Even if a sannyasi renounces 'woman and gold' mentally, but lives with them outwardly, he cannot be a teacher of men. People will say that he enjoys 'molasses' secretly.
"Once Mahendra Kaviraj of Sinthi gave five rupees to Ramlal. I didn't know about it. When Ramlal told me about the money, I asked him, 'For whom was the money given?' He said it was for me. At first I thought that I should use it to pay what I owed for my milk. But will you believe me? I had slept only a little while when I suddenly woke up writhing with pain, as if a cat were scratching my chest. I went to Ramlal and asked him again, 'Was the money given for your aunt?' (The Holy Mother, his wife.) 'No', Ramlal answered. Thereupon I said to him, 'Go at once and return the money.' Ramlal gave it back the next day.
"Do you know how it looks for a sannyasi to accept money or to be attached to an object of temptation? It is as if a brahmin widow who had practised continence and lived on simple boiled rice and vegetables and milk for many years, were suddenly to accept an untouchable as her paramour. (All look stunned.)
"There was a low-caste woman named Bhagi Teli in our part of the country. She had many disciples and devotees. Finding that she, a sudra, was being saluted by people, the landlord became jealous and engaged a wicked man to tempt her. He succeeded in corrupting her and all her spiritual practice came to nothing. A fallen sannyasi is like that.
"You are leading householders lives. It is necessary for you to live in the company of holy men. First of all, the company of holy men; then sraddha, faith in God.
"How can people have reverence and faith in God if the holy men do not sing His name and glories? People respect a man if they know that in his family there have been royal ministers for three generations.
(To M.) "Even if one has attained Knowledge, one must still constantly practise God-Consciousness. Nangta used to say: 'What is the use of polishing the outside of a metal pot one day only? If you don't polish it regularly it will get tarnished again.' I shall have to go to your house some time. If I know your house I can meet other devotees there. Please go to see Ishan some time.
(To Manilal) "Keshab Sen's mother came here the other day. The young boys of her family sang the name of Hari. She went around them clapping her hands. I noticed she was not very much stricken with grief over Keshab's death. She observed the fast of ekadasi here and counted her beads. I was pleased to see her devotion to God."
MANILAL: "Ramkamal Sen, Keshab Babu's grandfather, was a devotee of God. He used to sit in a tulsi-grove and repeat God's holy name. Pyarimohan, Keshab's father, was also a Vaishnava devotee."
MASTER: "The son could not have been so devoted to God if the father had not been like that. Look at Vijay. His father would become unconscious of the world in divine ecstasy while reading the Bhagavata. Vijay can hardly control his emotion: while uttering Hari's name, he sometimes stands up from his seat. The forms of God that Vijay sees nowadays are all real. Speaking about the different aspects of God, formless and with form, Vijay said that God sometimes appears with attributes and sometimes without attributes. He gave the example of the chameleon, which sometimes turns red, sometimes blue, sometimes green, and sometimes remains colourless.
"Vijay is really guileless. One cannot realize God without being guileless and liberal-minded. Yesterday Vijay was at Adhar Sen's house. He behaved as if it were his own place and those who lived there his own people. One cannot be guileless and liberal-minded unless one is free from worldliness."
Then the Master sang:
You will attain that priceless Treasure when your mind is free from stain. . . .
What need of rituals has a man, what need of devotions any more,
If he repeats the Mother's name at the three holy hours?
Rituals may pursue him close, but never can they overtake him.
Charity, vows, and giving of gifts do not appeal to Madan's mind;
The Blissful Mother's Lotus Feet are his whole prayer and sacrifice.
"The sandhya merges in the Gayatri, the Gayatri in Om. A man is firmly
established in spiritual life when he goes into samadhi on uttering 'Om' only once.
"There is a sadhu in Hrishikesh who gets up early in the morning and stands near a great waterfall. He looks at it the whole day and says to God: 'Ah, You have done well! Well done! How amazing!' He doesn't practise any other form of japa or austerity. At night he returns to his hut.
"What need is there even to bother one's head about whether God is formless or has a form? It is enough for a man to pray to Him, alone in solitude, weeping, 'O God, reveal Yourself to me as You are.'
"God is both inside and outside. It is He who dwells inside us. Therefore the Vedas say, Tattvamasi — That thou art.' God is also outside us. He appears manifold through maya; but in reality He alone exists. Therefore before describing the various names and forms of God, one should say, 'Om Tat Sat.' ("Om. That alone is Reality.")
"It is one thing to learn about God from the scriptures, and quite another to see Him. The scriptures only give hints. Therefore to read a great many scriptures is not necessary. It is much better to pray to God in solitude.
"It isn't necessary to read all of the Gita. One can get the essence of the Gita by repeating the word ten times. It becomes reversed and is then 'tagi'. The essence of the book is: 'O man, renounce everything and worship God.'"
The Master went into an ecstatic mood while watching the evening worship of Kali in the company of the devotees. He was in no condition even to salute the image. Very carefully he returned to his room with the devotees and sat down; he was still in an ecstatic mood. He spoke to them while in that state.
In the room was Hari, a young man about twenty years of age, who was a relative of the Mukherjis and very much devoted to the Master. He was married. At that time he was living with the Mukherjis and looking for a job.
MASTER (to Hari, in an ecstatic mood): "Take your initiation after getting your mother's permission. (To Priya, referring to Hari) I couldn't give him the mantra though I said I would initiate him. I don't initiate people. Continue with your own meditation and japa as you have been doing."
PRIYA: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "And I am saying this to you in this state of my mind. Believe my words. You see, there is no show or deceit here. I just said to the Divine Mother in my ecstatic mood, 'O Mother, may those who come here [referring to himself] through sincere attraction obtain perfection!'"
Mahendra Kaviraj of Sinthi was seated on the verandah conversing with Ramlal, Hazra, and others. The Master called to him from his room. M. went out quickly and brought Mahendra in.
MASTER (to Mahendra): "Sit down and listen to my words."
Mahendra was a little embarrassed. He sat down.
MASTER (to the devotees): "God can be served in different ways. An ecstatic lover of God enjoys Him in different ways. Sometimes he says, 'O God, You are the lotus and I am the bee', and sometimes, 'You are the Ocean of Satchidananda and I am the fish.' Sometimes, again, the lover of God says, 'I am Your dancing-girl.' He dances and sings before Him. He thinks of himself sometimes as the friend of God and sometimes as His handmaid. He looks on God sometimes as a child, as did Yasoda, and sometimes as husband or sweetheart, as did the gopis.
"Sometimes Balarama looked on Krishna as a friend; sometimes he would think he was Krishna's umbrella or carpet. He served Krishna in all possible ways."
Was Sri Ramakrishna hinting at his own state of mind while thus describing the different attitudes of a lover of God?
Next he described Chaitanya's three spiritual moods.
MASTER: "Chaitanyadeva used to experience three moods. In the inmost mood he would be absorbed in samadhi, unconscious of the outer world. In the semi-conscious mood he would dance in ecstasy but could not talk. In the conscious mood he would sing the glories of God.
(To the devotees) "You are listening to my words. Try to assimilate them. When worldly people sit before a sadhu, for the time being they completely hide all worldly thoughts and ideas. But once away from the holy man they let them out again. You have seen a pigeon eating dried peas. You think he has digested them, but he keeps them in his crop. You can feel them there.
"At dusk put aside all duties and pray to God. One is reminded of Him by darkness. At the approach of darkness one thinks: 'I could see everything a moment ago. Who has brought about this change?' The Mussalmans put aside all activities and say their prayers at the appointed times."
MUKHERJI: "Revered sir, is it good to practise japa?"
MASTER: "Yes. One attains God through japa. By repeating the name of God secretly and in solitude one receives divine grace. Then comes His vision. Suppose there is a big piece of timber lying under water and fastened to the land with a chain; by proceeding along the chain, link by link, you will at last touch the timber.
"Higher than worship is japa, higher than japa is meditation, higher than meditation is bhava, and higher than bhava are mahabhava and prema. Chaitanyadeva had prema. When one attains prema one has the rope to tie God."
Hazra entered the room.
MASTER (to Hazra): "Love of God, when it is intense and spontaneous, is called raga-bhakti. Vaidhi-bhakti, formal devotion, depends on scriptural injunctions. It comes and it goes. But raga-bhakti is like a stone emblem of Siva that has sprung up out of the bowels of the earth. One cannot find its root; they say the root goes as far as Benares. Only an Incarnation of God and His companions attain raga-bhakti."
HAZRA: "Ah me!"
MASTER: "One day I was returning from the pine-grove, when I saw you telling your beads. I said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, what a small-minded fellow he is! He lives here and still he practises japa with a rosary! Whoever comes here [referring to himself] will have his spiritual consciousness awakened all at once; he won't have to bother much about japa. Go to Calcutta and you will find thousands telling their beads — even the prostitutes.'
(To M.) "Please bring Naran here in a carriage. I am making the same request to Mukherji. I shall give Naran something to eat when he comes. There is great significance in feeding boys like him."
Saturday, October 4, 1884
It was the day of the first full moon after the Durga Puja. Sri Ramakrishna
arrived at the Calcutta house of Nabin Sen, the elder brother of
Keshab Chandra Sen. On the previous Thursday Keshab's mother had
begged the Master to pay her a visit in Calcutta.
The Master seated himself in a room on the upper floor of the house. With him were Baburam, Kishori, and a few other devotees. Nandalal and Keshab's other nephews, Keshab's mother, and other relatives of his, waited on the Master. It had been arranged to have devotional music performed in the room. M. was sitting in a room downstairs, listening to the kirtan.
Sri Ramakrishna said to the Brahmo devotees: "The world is impermanent. One should constantly remember death." Then he sang:
Remember this, O mind! Nobody is your own:
Vain is your wandering in this world.
Trapped in the subtle snare of maya as you are,
Do not forget the Mother's name. . . .
The Master said to the devotees: "Dive deep. What will you gain by
merely floating on the surface? Renounce everything for a few days, retire
into solitude, and call on God with all your soul."
The Master sang:
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. . . .
At Sri Ramakrishna's request the Brahmo devotees sang:
Thou art my All in All, O Lord! — the Life of my life, the Essence of essence;
In the three worlds I have none else but Thee to call my own.
Thou art my peace, my joy, my hope; Thou my support, my wealth, my glory;
Thou my wisdom and my strength. . . .
The Master sang again:
O Mother, for Yasoda Thou wouldst dance, when she called
Thee her precious "Blue Jewel";
Where hast Thou hidden that lovely form, O terrible Syama? . . .
The Brahmo devotees also sang to the accompaniment of cymbals and drums:
O Mother, how deep is Thy love for men!
Mindful of it, I weep for joy.
Almost from the day of my birth
I have transgressed Thine every law,
And still Thou lookest on me with love,
Comforting me with sweetest words.
Mindful of it, I weep for joy.
O Mother, the burden of Thy love
Is far too great for me to bear;
My soul gives a heart-piercing cry
At Thy love's touch. To Thee I come,
Seeking a refuge at Thy feet.
They again sang of the Divine Mother:
O Mother, Thou my Inner Guide, ever awake within my heart!
Day and night Thou boldest me in Thy lap.
Why dost Thou show such tenderness to this unworthy child of Thine?
Ah! It seems Thou art mad with love: now caressing, now with strong grasp
Holding me firm. Thou givest me to drink
Thy nectar, pouring in my ears Thy words of loving tenderness.
Unceasing is Thy love for me, a love that cannot see my faults;
Whenever I am in danger. Thou dost save me.
Saviour of sinners! I know the truth: I am my Mother's and She is mine.
Now I shall listen to Her alone, and follow the path of righteousness;
Drinking the milk that flows from my Mother's breasts,
I shall be strong and sing with joy: "Hail, O Mother! Brahman Eternal!"
The Master and the Brahmo devotees sang several songs about Hari and Gauranga.
Sunday, October 5, 1884
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room after the midday meal, with M.,
Hazra, the elder Kali, Baburam, Ramlal, Hari, and others. Some of them
sat on the floor and some stood about. On the previous day the Master had
visited Keshab's mother at her Calcutta house and had made her happy with
his devotional songs.
Hazra had been living with the Master at Dakshineswar a long time. He was a little conceited about his knowledge and even criticized the Master now and then before others. Again, he would sit on the verandah of the Master's room and tell his beads with apparent concentration. He spoke slightingly of Chaitanya as a "modern Incarnation". He would say: "God gives not only pure devotion but also wealth. He has no lack of it. By attaining God one obtains the eight occult powers as well." Hazra had a small debt to clear up, about one thousand rupees. He had incurred it for the building of his house and was worried about paying it.
The elder Kali had a position in an office, from which he received a small salary. He had a large family to maintain. He was devoted to the Master and visited him now and then, even absenting himself from the office.
KALI (to Hazra): "You go about criticizing people; you are like a touch-stone, testing what is pure gold and what is impure. Why do you speak so much ill of others?"
HAZRA: "Whatever I say, I say to him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] alone."
MASTER: "That is so."
Hazra began to explain Tattvajnana.
HAZRA: "The meaning of Tattvajnana is the knowledge of the existence of the twenty-four tattvas, or cosmic principles."
He was wrong about the meaning of the word.
A DEVOTEE: "What are they?"
HAZRA: "The five elements, the six passions, the five organs of perception, the five organs of action, and so forth."
M. (to the Master, smiling): "He says that the six passions are included in the twenty-four cosmic principles."
MASTER (smiling): "Listen to him! Notice how he explains Tattvajnana! The word really means 'knowledge of Self. The word 'Tat' means the Supreme Self, and the word 'tvam', the embodied soul. One attains Supreme Knowledge, Tattvajnana, by realizing the identity of the embodied soul and the Supreme Self."
After a few minutes Hazra left the room and sat on the porch.
MASTER (to M. and the others): "He [meaning Hazra] only argues. This moment perhaps he understands, but the next moment he is his old self again.
"When the angler hooks a big fish and finds it pulling hard, he releases the line; otherwise it will snap and the angler himself will be thrown into the water. Therefore I do not say much to him.
(To M.) "Hazra said that a man could not be liberated unless he was born in a brahmin body. 'How is that?' I said. 'One attains liberation through bhakti alone. Savari was the daughter of a hunter. She, Ruhidas, and others belonged to the sudra caste. They were liberated through bhakti alone.' 'But still —' Hazra insisted.
"He recognized Dhruva's spiritual greatness, but not as much as he recognized Prahlada's. When Latu said, 'Dhruva had great yearning for God from his boyhood', he kept still.
"I said that there was nothing greater than the bhakti that sought no end and had no selfish motive. Hazra contradicted me. I said to him, 'A wealthy man is annoyed when a petitioner comes to him. "There he comes", he says angrily. "Sit down", he says to him in an indifferent voice, and shows that he is much annoyed. He doesn't allow such a beggar to ride with him in his carriage.'
"But Hazra said that God was not like such wealthy people of the world; did He lack wealth, that He should feel pinched to give it away? Hazra said further: 'When rain falls from the sky, the Ganges and all the big rivers and lakes overflow with water. Small tanks, too, are filled. Likewise, God out of His grace grants wealth and riches as well as knowledge and devotion.'
(To the devotees) "But I call this impure devotion to God. Pure devotion has no desire behind it. You don't want anything from me, but you love to see me and hear my words. My mind also dwells on you. I wonder how you are and why you don't come.
"You don't want anything of God but still you love Him. That is pure bhakti, love of God with no motive behind it. Prahlada had it. He sought neither kingdom nor riches; he sought Hari alone."
M: "Hazra is a chatterbox. He won't achieve anything unless he becomes silent."
MASTER: "Now and then he comes to me and becomes mellowed. But he is a pest; again he argues. It is very hard to get rid of egotism. You may cut down an aswattha tree, but the next day a sprout will spring up. As long as the roots remain, the tree will grow again.
"I said to Hazra, 'Don't speak ill of anyone.' It is Narayana Himself who has assumed all these forms. One can worship even a wicked person. Haven't you observed the Kumari Puja? Why should you worship a girl who has all the physical limitations of a human being? It is because she is a form of the Divine Mother. But God dwells in a special way in His devotee. The devotee is His parlour. If the gourd has a large body then it makes a good tanpura. It gives a nice sound."
Two monks had arrived at the temple garden in the morning. They were devoted to the study of the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedanta, and other scriptures. They entered the Master's room, saluted him, and sat on the mat on the floor. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the small couch. The Master spoke to the sadhus in Hindusthani.
MASTER: "Have you had your meal?"
SADHU: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "What did you eat?"
SADHU: "Dal and bread. Will you take some?"
MASTER: "No, I take only a few morsels of rice. Well, your japa and meditation must be without any desire for results. Isn't that so?"
SADHU: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "That is good. One must surrender the result to God. What do you say? That is the view of the Gita."
One sadhu said to the other, quoting from the Gita: 'O Arjuna, whatever action you perform, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give in charity, and whatever austerities you practise, offer everything to Me."
MASTER: "If you give God something, you receive it back a thousand times over. That is why after doing meritorious deeds one offers a handful of water to God. It is the symbol of offering the fruit to God. When Yudhisthira was about to offer all his sins to Krishna, Bhima warned him: 'Never do such a thing. Whatever you offer to Krishna you will receive back a thousandfold.'
(To one of the sadhus) "Well, sir, one should be desireless; one should renounce all desires. Isn't that so?"
SADHU: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "But I have the desire for bhakti. That is not bad. Rather, it is good. Sweets are bad, for they produce acidity. But sugar candy is an exception. Isn't that so?"
SADHU: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "Well, sir, what do you think of the Vedanta?"
SADHU: "It includes all the six systems of philosophy."
MASTER: "But the essence of Vedanta is: 'Brahman alone is real, and the world illusory; I have no separate existence; I am that Brahman alone.' Isn't that so?"
SADHU: "That is true, sir."
MASTER: "But for those who lead a householder's life, and those who identify themselves with the body, this attitude of 'I am He' is not good. It is not good for householders to read Vedanta or the Yogavasishtha. It is very harmful for them to read these books. Householders should look on God as their Master and on themselves as His servants. They should think, 'O God, You are the Master and the Lord, and I am Your servant.' People who identify themselves with the body should not have the attitude of 'I am He."
The devotees in the room remained silent. Sri Ramakrishna was smiling a little, a picture of self-contentment. He appeared happy in his own Self.
One of the sadhus whispered in the other's ear: "Look! This is the state of the paramahamsa."
MASTER (to M.): "I feel like laughing."
Sri Ramakrishna smiled like a child. The monks left the room. The devotees were moving about in the room and on the porch.
MASTER (to M.): "Did you go to Nabin Sen's house?"
M: "Yes, sir. I listened to the songs from downstairs."
MASTER: "That was well done. Your wife was there. She is a cousin of Keshab Sen, isn't she?"
M: "A distant cousin."
Sri Ramakrishna strolled up and down with M. No one else was with them.
MASTER: "A man visits his father-in-law's house. I, too, often used to think that I should marry, go to my father-in-law's house, and have great fun. But see what has come of it!"
M: "Sir, you say, 'If the boy holds his father's hand, he may slip; but he doesn't if the father holds his hand.' That is exactly your condition. The Mother has taken hold of your hand."
MASTER: "I met Bamandas at the Viswases' house. I said to him, 'I have come to see you.' As I was leaving the place I heard him say: 'Goodness gracious! The Divine Mother has caught hold of him, like a tiger seizing a man.' At that time I was a young man, very stout, and always in ecstasy.
"I am very much afraid of women. When I look at one I feel as if a tigress were coming to devour me. Besides, I find that their bodies, their limbs, and even their pores are very large. This makes me look upon them as she-monsters. I used to be much more afraid of women than I am at present. I wouldn't allow one to come near me. Now I persuade my mind in various ways to look upon women as forms of the Blissful Mother.
"A woman is, no doubt, a part of the Divine Mother. But as far as a man is concerned, especially a sannyasi or a devotee of God, she is to be shunned. I don't allow a woman to sit near me very long, no matter how great her devotion may be. After a little while I say to her, 'Go and see the temples.' If that doesn't make her move, I myself leave the room on the pretext of smoking.
"I find that some men are not at all interested in women. Niranjan says, 'A woman never enters my thought.' I asked Hari (Later Swami Turiyananda.) about it. He too says that his mind does not dwell on woman.
"Woman monopolizes three quarters of the mind, which should be given to God. And then, after the birth of a child, almost the whole mind is frittered away on the family. Then what is left to give to God?
"Again, there are some men who shed their last drop of blood, as it were, to keep their wives out of mischief. There is the gate-keeper, an old man, whose wife is only fourteen years old. She had to live with him. They lived in a thatched hut with walls made of dry leaves. People made holes in the wall to peep in. Now she has left him and run away.
"I know another man. He doesn't know where to keep his wife. There was some trouble at home, and now he is greatly worried. Let's not talk about these things any more.
"If a man lives with a woman, he cannot help coming under her control. Worldly men get up and sit down at the bidding of women. They all speak highly of their wives.
"Once I wanted to go to a certain place. I asked Ramlal's aunt (His own wife) about it. She forbade me to go; so I could not. A little while later I said to myself: 'I am not a householder. I have renounced "woman and gold". If, in spite of that, this is my plight, one can well imagine how much worldly people are controlled by their wives.'"
M: "One who lives in the midst of 'woman and gold' can't help being stained by it, even if only slightly. You told us about Jaynarayan. He was such a great scholar. When you visited him he was an old man. You found him warming pillows and blankets in the sun."
MASTER: "But he had no vanity of scholarship. Further, what he said about the last days of his life came to pass. He spent them in Benares, following the injunctions of the scriptures. I saw his children. They were wearing high boots and had been educated in English schools."
By means of questions and answers Sri Ramakrishna now explained to M. his own exalted state.
MASTER: "At first I went stark mad. Why am I less so now? But I get into that state now and then."
M: "You don't have just one mood. As you said, you experience various moods. Sometimes you are like a child, sometimes like a madman, sometimes like an inert thing, and sometimes like a ghoul. And now and then you are a natural person."
MASTER: "Yes, like a child. But I also experience the moods of a boy and a young man. When I give instruction I feel like a young man. Then there is my boyishness: like a boy twelve or thirteen years old, I want to be frivolous. That is why I joke and make merry with the youngsters.
"What do you think of Naran?"
M: "He has good traits, sir."
MASTER: "Yes, the shell of the gourd is good. The tanpura made out of it will give good music. He says to me, 'You are everything.' Everyone speaks of me according to his comprehension. Some say that I am simply a sadhu, a devotee of God.
"If I forbid Naran to do something, he understands it very well. The other day I asked him to pull up the curtain, but he didn't do it. I had forbidden him to tie a knot, to sew his clothes, to lock a box, to pull up a curtain, and similar things. He understood it all. He who would renounce the world must practise all these disciplines. They are meant for sannyasis.
"While practising sadhana a man should regard a woman as a raging forest fire or a black cobra. But in the state of perfection, after the realization of God, she appears as the Blissful Mother. Then you will look on her as a form of the Divine Mother."
A few days earlier Sri Ramakrishna had spoken many words of warning to Narayan about women. He had said: "Don't let yourself touch the air near a woman's body. Cover yourself with a heavy sheet lest the air should touch your body. And keep yourself eight cubits, two cubits, or at least one cubit away from all women except your mother."
MASTER (to M.): "Naran's mother said to him about me, 'Even we are enchanted by the sight of him, not to speak of you, a mere child.' None but the guileless can realize God. How guileless Niranjan is!"
M: "True, sir."
MASTER: "Didn't you notice him that day in the carriage on the way to Calcutta? He is always the same — without guile. A man shows one side of his nature inside his house and another to the outside world. Since his father's death Narendra has been worried about his worldly affairs. He has a slightly calculating mind. How I wish that other, youngsters were like Niranjan and Narendra!
"Today I went to the village to see Nilkantha's theatrical performance. It was given at Nabin Niyogi's house. The children there are very bad; they have nothing to do but find fault. In such a place a person's spiritual feeling is restrained. During a performance the other day I saw Doctor Madhu shedding tears. I looked at him alone.
(To M.) "Can you tell me why people feel so much attracted to this place [meaning himself]? What does it mean?"
M: "It reminds me of an episode in Krishna's life at Vrindavan. Krishna transformed Himself into the cowherd boys and the calves, whereupon the cows began to feel more strongly attracted to the cowherd boys, the gopis, and the calves."
MASTER: "That is the attraction of God. The truth is, the Divine Mother creates the spell and it is that which attracts people.
"Well, not as many people come here as used to go to Keshab Sen. And how many people respect and honour Keshab! He is known even in England. Queen Victoria spoke with him. It is said in the Gita that God's power is manifest in him who is honoured and respected by many. But so many people do not come here."
M: "It was the householders who went to Keshab Sen."
MASTER: "Yes, that is true. The worldly-minded."
M: "Will what Keshab has founded remain a long time?"
MASTER: "Why, he has written a samhita, a book of rules for the guidance of the members of his Brahmo Samaj."
M: "But it is quite different with the work done by a Divine Incarnation Himself — Chaitanya's work, for instance."
MASTER: "Yes, yes. That is true."
M: "You yourself tell us that Chaitanyadeva said, 'The seeds I have sown will certainly bear fruit some time or other.' A man left some seeds on the cornice of a house. Later on the house fell down and trees grew from those seeds."
MASTER: "Many people go to the Samaj founded by Shivanath and his friends. Isn't that so?"
M: "Yes, sir. People of that sort."
MASTER (smiling): "Yes, yes. The worldly-minded go there, but not many of those who long for God and are trying to renounce 'woman and gold'."
M: "It will be fine if a current flows from this place. Everything will be carried away by its force. Nothing that comes out of this place will be monotonous."
MASTER (smiling): "I keep men's own ideals intact. I ask a Vaishnava to hold to his Vaishnava attitude and a Sakta to his. But this also I say to them: "Never feel that your path alone is right and that the paths of others are wrong and full of errors.' Hindus, Mussalmans, and Christians are going to the same destination by different paths. A man can realize God by following his own path if his prayer is sincere.
"Vijay's mother-in-law said to me, 'Why don't you tell Balaram that it is unnecessary to worship God with form; that it will be enough if he prays to the formless Satchidananda?' I replied, 'Why should I say such a thing, and why should he listen to me even if I should say it?'"
M: "That is true, sir. There are different paths to suit time, place, and the fitness of the candidate. Whatever path a man may follow, he will ultimately reach God if he is pure of heart and has sincere longing. That is what you say."
Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room. Hari, the relative of the Mukherjis, M., and other devotees were on the floor. An unknown person saluted the Master and took a seat. The Master remarked later that his eyes were not good. They were yellow, like a cat's.
Hari prepared a smoke for Sri Ramakrishna.
MASTER (to Hari): "Let me see the palm of your hand. This mark is a good sign. Relax your hand."
He took Hari's hand into his as if to feel its weight.
MASTER: "He is still childlike. As yet there is no blemish in him. (To the devotees) From the hand I can tell whether a person is deceitful or guileless. (To Hari) Why, you should go to your father-in-law's house. You should talk to your wife and have a little fun with her if you like. (To M.) What do you say?" (M. and the others laugh.)
M: "If a new pot becomes bad, one can no longer keep milk in it."
MASTER (smiling): "How do you know that it is not already bad?"
The two Mukherjis, Mahendra and Priyanath, were brothers. They did not work in an office, but had their own flour-mill. Priyanath had been an engineer. Sri Ramakrishna talked to Hari about the Mukherji brothers.
MASTER: "The elder brother is nice, isn't he? He is artless."
HARI: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "Isn't the younger brother very miserly? I understand that since coming here he has improved a great deal. He once said to me, 'I didn't know anything before.' (To Hari) Do they give anything in charity?"
HARI: "Not much, as far as I can see. Their elder brother, now dead, was a very good man. He was very charitable."
MASTER (to M. and the others): "Whether a person will make spiritual progress or not can be known to a great extent by his physical marks. The hand of a deceitful person is heavy. A snub nose is not a good sign. Sambhu had that kind of nose; hence he was not quite sincere in spite of all his wisdom. Pigeon-breast is not a good sign either. Hard bones and heavy elbow-joints are bad signs too; and yellow eyes, like a cat's.
"A man becomes very mean if he has lips that are thick, like a dome's. (One of the lowest castes among the Hindus.) A brahmin was here for a few months acting as priest of the Vishnu temple. I couldn't eat the food he touched. One day I suddenly exclaimed, 'He is a dome!' Afterwards he said to me: 'Yes, sir. We live in the dome quarters. I know how to make wicker baskets and such things, just like a dome.'
"There are other bad physical signs: one eye and squint eyes. It is rather better to have one eye, but never squint eyes. Squint-eyed people are wicked and deceitful.
"A student of Mahesh Nyayaratna's came here. He described himself as an atheist. He said to Hriday: 'I am an atheist. You may take up the position of a believer in God and argue with me.' Thereupon I watched him closely and noticed that his eyes were yellow, like a cat's.
"Whether a person is good or bad can also be known from the way he walks."
Sri Ramakrishna paced the verandah. M. and Baburam walked with him.
MASTER (to Hazra): "A man came here. I saw that his eyes were like a cat's. He asked me: 'Do you know astrology? I am in some difficulty.' I said: 'No, I don't. Go to Baranagore. There you will find astrologers.'"
Baburam and M. talked about Nilkantha's theatrical performance. Baburam had spent the previous night at the temple garden after his return from Nabin Sen's house. In the morning he had attended Nilkantha's performance with the Master.
MASTER (to M. and Baburam): "What are you talking about?"
M. AND BABURAM: "About Nilkantha's performance."
While pacing the verandah Sri Ramakrishna suddenly took M. aside and said, "The less people know about your thoughts of God, the better for you." Saying these words the Master abruptly went away. A short time afterwards he began to talk with Hazra.
HAZRA: "Nilkantha told you he would pay you a visit. It would be good to send for him."
MASTER: "No, he didn't sleep at all last night. It will be different if he comes here through the will of God."
Sri Ramakrishna asked Baburam to visit Narayan at his house. He looked on Narayan as God Himself, and so he longed to see him. The Master said to Baburam, "You may go to him with one of your English text-books."
About three o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was sitting in his room. Nilkantha arrived with five or six of his companions. The Master went toward the east door as if to welcome him. The musicians bowed before the Master, touching the ground with their foreheads.
Sri Ramakrishna went into samadhi. Baburam stood behind him. M., Nilkantha, and the musicians were in front of him, watching him in great amazement. Dinanath, an officer of the temple, looked on from the north side of the bed. Soon the room was filled with officers of the temple garden. Sri Ramakrishna's ecstasy abated a little. He seated himself on a mat on the floor, surrounded by Nilkantha and other devotees.
MASTER (still in an ecstatic mood): "I am all right."
NILKANTHA (with folded hands): "Make me all right too."
MASTER (smiling): "Why, you are already all right. Adding the letter 'a' to 'ka', one gets 'ka'. By adding another 'a' to 'ka', one still gets the same • ka'." (All laugh.)
NILKANTHA: "Revered sir, I am entangled in worldliness."
MASTER (smiling): "God has kept you in the world for the sake of others. There are eight fetters. One cannot get rid of them all. God keeps one or two so that a man may live in the world and teach others. You have organized this theatrical company. How many people are being benefited by seeing your bhakti! If you give up everything, then where will these musicians go?
"God is now doing all these works through you. When they are finished, you will not return to them. The housewife finishes her household duties, feeds everyone, including the menservants and maidservants, and then goes to take her bath. She doesn't come back then even if people shout for her."
NILKANTHA: "Please bless me."
MASTER: "Yasoda went mad with grief because she was separated from Krishna. She went to Radhika, who was meditating. Radhika said to her in an ecstatic state: 'I am the Ultimate Prakriti, the Primal Power. Ask a boon of Me.' Yasoda said to her: 'What shall I ask of You? Please bless me, that with all my body, mind, and speech I may think of God and serve Him; that with my ears I may hear the singing of God's name and glories; that with my hands I may serve Hari and His devotees; that with. my eyes I may behold His form and His devotees.'
"Your eyes fill with tears when you utter the name of God. Why then should you worry about anything? Divine love has grown in you.
"To know many things is ajnana, ignorance. To know only one" thing is jnana, Knowledge — the realization that God alone is real and that He dwells in all. And to talk to Him is vijnana, a fuller Knowledge. To love God in different ways, after realizing Him, is vijnana.
"It is also said that God is beyond one and two. He is beyond speech and mind. To go up from the Lila to the Nitya and come down again from the. Nitya to the Lila is mature bhakti.
"I love that song of yours about aspiring to reach the Lotus Feet of the Divine Mother. It is enough to know that everything depends on the grace of God. But one must pray to God; it will not do to remain inactive. The lawyer gives all the arguments and finishes his pleading by saying to the judge: 'I have said all I have to say. Now the decision rests with Your Honour.'"
After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna said to Nilkantha: "You sang so much in the morning, and now you have taken the trouble to come here. But here everything is 'honorary'."
NILKANTHA: "Why so?"
MASTER (smiling): "I know what you will say."
NILKANTHA: "I shall get a precious gem from here."
MASTER: "You already have that precious gem. What will you gain by adding again the letter 'a' to 'ka'? If you didn't have the gem, should I like your songs so much? Ramprasad had attained divine realization; that is why his songs appeal so much.
"I had already planned to hear your music. Later on Niyogi, too, came here to invite me."
The Master was sitting on the small couch. He told Nilkantha that he would like to hear a song or two about the Divine Mother.
Nilkantha sang two songs with his companions. When the Master heard the second song he stood up and went into samadhi. Presently he began to dance in an ecstasy of divine love. Nilkantha and the devotees sang and danced around him. Then Nilkantha sang a song about Siva, and the Master danced with the devotees.
When the singing was over, Sri Ramakrishna said to Nilkantha, "I should like to hear that song of yours I heard in Calcutta."
M: "About Sri Gauranga?"
MASTER: "Yes, yes!"
Nilkantha sang the song, "The beautiful Gauranga, the youthful dancer, fair as molten gold".
Sri Ramakrishna sang again and again the line, "Everything is swept away by the onrush of love", and danced with Nilkantha and the other devotees. Those who saw that indescribable dancing were never to forget it. The room was filled with people, all intoxicated with divine joy. It seemed as if Chaitanya himself were dancing with his companions.
Manomohan was in an ecstatic mood. He was a devotee of Sri Rama- krishna and a brother-jn-law of Rakhal. Several ladies of his family had come with him. They were witnessing this divine music and dancing from the north verandah.
Sri Ramakrishna sang again, this time about Gauranga and Nityananda:
Behold, the two brothers have come, who weep while chanting Hari's name. . . .
He danced with Nilkantha and the other devotees, improvising the-line:
Behold, the two brothers have come, they who are mad with love of Radha.
Hearing the loud music, many people gathered about the room. The
verandahs to the south and north, and the semicircular porch to the west of
the room, were crowded with people. Even passengers in the boats going
along the Ganges were attracted by the kirtan.
The music was over. Sri Ramakrishna bowed to the Divine Mother and said, "Bhagavata — Bhakta — Bhagavan. My salutations to the jnanis, my salutations to the yogis, my salutations to the bhaktas."
The Master was seated on the semicircular porch with Nilkantha and the other devotees. The autumn moon flooded all the quarters with light. Sri Ramakrishna and Nilkantha talked.
NILKANTHA: "You are none other than Gauranga."
MASTER: "Why should you say such a thing? I am the servant of the servant of all. The waves belong to the Ganges; but does the Ganges belong to the waves?"
NILKANTHA: "You may say whatever you like, but we regard you as Gauranga himself."
MASTER (tenderly, in an ecstatic mood): "My dear sir, I try to seek my 'I', but I do not find it. Hanuman said: 'O Rama, sometimes I think that You are .the whole and I am a part, and sometimes that You are the Master and I am Your servant. But when I have the Knowledge of Reality, I see that You are I and I am You.'"
NILKANTHA: "What shall I say, sir? Please be gracious to us."
MASTER (smiling): "You are ferrying many people across the ocean of the world. How many hearts are illumined by hearing your music!"
NILKANTHA: "You talk of ferrying. But bless me that I may not be drowned in the ocean myself."
MASTER (smiling): "If you get drowned, it will be in the Sea of Immortality."
Sri Ramakrishna was delighted with Nilkantha's company. He said to the musician: "For you to have come here! You whom people see as a result of many austerities and prayers! Listen to a song."
The Master sang a song, two lines of which ran:
When the Blissful Mother comes to my house, how much of the Chandi I shall hear!
How many monks will come here, and how many yogis with matted locks!
He said, continuing, "As long as the Divine Mother has come here, many
yogis with matted locks will come too."
Sri Ramakrishna laughed. To M, Baburam, and the other devotees he said: "I feel very much like laughing. Just fancy, I am singing for these musicians!"
NILKANTHA: "We go about singing; but today we have had our true reward."
MASTER (smiling): "When a shopkeeper sells an article, he sometimes gives a little extra something to the buyer. You sang at Nabin's house and have given the extra something here."