Assimilation of spiritual ideas — Master sees a performance — Signs of God-vision — Different moods of liberated souls — The ego of the devotee — Three classes of devotees — Restlessness for God-vision — Worldly man's spiritual discipline — Master and Girish — Master and book-learning — First God and then the world — Master's spiritual experiences — Chaitanya — The Divine Incarnation and the ordinary man — Yoga and God-vision.
Sunday, December 14, 1884
SRI RAMAKRISHNA arrived at the Star Theatre on Beadon Street in
Calcutta to see a play about the life of Prahlada. M., Baburam, Narayan,
and other devotees were with him. The hall was brightly lighted. The
play had not yet begun. The Master was seated in a box, talking with Girish.
MASTER (smiling): "Ah! You have written nice plays."
GIRISH: "But, sir, how little I assimilate! I just write."
MASTER: "No, you assimilate a great deal. The other day I said to you that no one could sketch a divine character unless he had love of God in his heart.
"Yes, one needs to assimilate spiritual ideas. I went to Keshab's house to see the play, Nava-Vrindavan. I saw a deputy magistrate there who earned eight hundred rupees a month. Everyone said that he was a very learned man; but I found him restless because of a boy, his son. He was very anxious to find a good seat for the boy; he paid no attention to the spiritual conversation of the players. The boy was pestering him with questions: 'Father! What is this? What is that?' He was extremely busy with the boy. You see, he merely read books; but he didn't assimilate their ideas."
GIRISH: "I often ask myself, 'Why bother about the theatre any more?'"
MASTER: "No, no! Let things be as they are. People will learn much from your plays."
The performance began. Prahlada was seen entering the schoolroom as a student. At the sight of him Sri Ramakrishna uttered once or twice the word "Prahlada" and went into samadhi.
During another scene Sri Ramakrishna wept to see Prahlada under an elephant's feet. He cried when the boy was thrown into the fire.
The scene changed. Lakshmi and Narayana were seen seated in Goloka. Narayana was worried about Prahlada. This scene, too, threw Sri Ramakrishna into an ecstatic mood.
After the performance Girish conducted Sri Ramakrishna to his private room in the theatre. He said to the Master, "Would you care to see the farce, Vivaha Vibhrata [The Confusion of Marriage']?"
MASTER: "Oh, no! Why something like that after the life of Prahlada? I once said to the leader of a theatrical troupe, 'End your performance with some religious talk.' We have been listening to such wonderful spiritual conversation; and now to see 'The Confusion of Marriage'! A worldly topic! We should become our old selves again. We should return to our old mood."
GIRISH: "How did you like the performance?"
MASTER: "I found that it was God Himself who was acting the different parts. Those who played the female parts seemed to me the direct embodiments of the Blissful Mother, and the cowherd boys of Goloka the embodiments of Narayana Himself. It was God alone who had become all these.
"There are signs by which you can know whether a man has truly seen God. One of these is joy; there is no hesitancy in him. He is like the ocean: the waves and sounds are on the surface; below are profound depths. The man who has seen God behaves sometimes like a madman; sometimes like a ghoul, without any feeling of purity or impurity; sometimes like an inert thing, remaining speechless because he sees God within and without; sometimes like a child, without any attachment, wandering about unconcernedly with his cloth under his arm. Again, in the mood of a child, he acts in different ways: sometimes like a boy, indulging in frivolity; sometimes like a young man, working and teaching with the strength of a lion.
"Man cannot see God on account of his ego. You cannot see the sun when a cloud rises in the sky. But that doesn't mean there is no sun; the sun is there just the same.
"But there is no harm in the 'ego of a child'. On the contrary, this ego is helpful. Greens are bad for the stomach; but hinche is good. So hinche cannot properly be called greens. Sugar candy, likewise, cannot be classed with other sweets. Other sweets are injurious to the health, but not sugar candy.
"So I said to Keshab, 'If I tell you more than I have already said, you won't be able to keep your organization together.' That frightened him. Then I said to him, 'There is no harm in the "ego of a child" or the "ego of a servant".'
"He who has seen God finds that God alone has become the world and all its living beings; it is He who has become all. Such a person is called a superior devotee."
GIRISH (smiling): "Yes, God is everything. But the devotee keeps a trace of ego; that is not harmful."
MASTER (smiling): "Yes, there is no harm in that. That trace of ego is kept in order to enjoy God. You can enjoy divine bliss only when you make a distinction between yourself and God — the distinction between the servant and the Master.
"There is also the devotee of the mediocre class: he sees that God dwells in all beings as their Inner Guide. But the inferior devotee says, 'God exists; He is up there', that is to say, beyond the sky. (All laugh.)
"When I saw the cowherd boys of Goloka in your performance I felt that God has become all. He who has seen God knows truly that God alone is the Doer, that it is He who does everything."
GIRISH: "Sir, I know truly that it is God who does everything."
MASTER: "I say, 'O Mother, I am the machine and You are the Operator; I am inert and You make me conscious; I do as You make me do; I speak as You make me speak.' But the ignorant say, 'I am partly responsible, and God is partly responsible.'"
GIRISH: "Sir, I am not really doing anything. Why should I bother about work at all?"
MASTER: "No, work is good. When the ground is well cultivated and cleared of stones and pebbles, whatever you plant will grow. But one should work without any personal motive.
"There are two types of paramahamsas: the jnani and the premi. (Lover of God.) The jnani is self-centred; he feels that it is enough to have Knowledge for his own self. The premi, like Sukadeva, after attaining his own realization, teaches men. Some eat mangoes and wipe off the traces from their mouths; but some share their mangoes with others. Spades and baskets are needed to dig a well. After the digging is over, some throw the spades and baskets into the well. But others put them away; for a neighbour may use them. Sukadeva and a few others kept the spades and baskets for the benefit of others. (To Girish) You should do the same."
GIRISH: "Please bless me, sir."
MASTER: "Have faith in the Divine Mother and you will attain everything."
GIRISH: "But I am a sinner."
MASTER: "The wretch who constantly harps on sin becomes a sinner."
GIRISH: "Sir, the very ground where I used to sit would become unholy."
MASTER: "How can you say that? Suppose a light is brought into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it illumine the room little by little, or all in a flash?"
GIRISH: "Then you have blessed me."
MASTER: "If you sincerely believe it. What more shall I say? I eat and drink and chant the name of God."
GIRISH: "I have no sincerity. Please give it to me."
MASTER: "I? Sages like Narada and Sukadeva could have done that."
GIRISH: "I don't see Narada and Sukadeva. But you are here before me."
MASTER (smiling): "All right. You have faith."
All remained silent. The conversation began again.
GIRISH: "I have one desire: love of God for its own sake."
MASTER: "Only the Isvarakotis have such love. It is not for ordinary men."
All sat in silence. The Master began to sing in an absent-minded mood, his gaze turned upward:
Can everyone have the vision of Syama? Is Kali's treasure for everyone?
Oh, what a pity my foolish mind will not see what is true!
Even with all His penances, rarely does Siva Himself behold
The mind-bewitching sight of Mother Syama's crimson feet.
To him who meditates on Her the riches of heaven are poor indeed;
If Syama casts Her glance on him, he swims in Eternal Bliss.
The Prince of yogis, the King of the gods, meditate on Her feet in vain;
Yet worthless Kamalakanta yearns for the Mother's blessed feet!
Yet worthless Kamalakanta yearns for the Mother's blessed feet!
Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, O mind!
And how can She hold Herself from you?
"If a devotee prays to God with real longing, God cannot help revealing
Himself to him.
"The other day I told you the meaning of bhakti. It is to adore God with body, mind, and words. 'With body' means to serve and worship God with one's hands, go to holy places with one's feet, hear the chanting of the name and glories of God with one's ears, and behold the divine image with one's eyes. 'With mind' means to contemplate and meditate on God constantly and to remember and think of His lila. 'With words' means to sing hymns to Him and chant His name and glories.
"Devotion as described by Narada is suited to the Kaliyuga. It means to chant constantly the name and glories of God. Let those who have no leisure worship God at least morning and evening by whole-heartedly chanting His name and clapping their hands.
"The 'ego of a devotee' begets no pride; it does not create ignorance. On the contrary it helps one realize God. This ego is no more like the ordinary ego than hinche is like ordinary greens. One generally becomes indisposed by eating greens; but hinche removes excessive bile; it does one good. Sugar candy is not like ordinary sweets. Sweets are generally harmful, but sugar candy removes acidity.
"Nishtha leads to bhakti; bhakti, when mature, becomes bhava; bhava, when concentrated, becomes mahabhava; and last of all is prema. Prema is like a cord: by prema God is bound to the devotee; He can no longer run away. An ordinary man can at best achieve bhava. None but an Isvarakoti attains mahabhava and prema. Chaitanyadeva attained them.
"What is the meaning of jnanayoga? It is the path by which a man can realize the true nature of his own Self; it is the awareness that Brahman alone is his true nature. Prahlada sometimes was aware of his identity with Brahman. And sometimes he would see that God was one and he another; at such times he would remain in the mood of bhakti.
"Hanuman said, 'O Rama, sometimes I find that You are the whole and I a part, sometimes that You are the Master and I Your servant; but, O Rama, when I have the Knowledge of Reality, I see that You are I and I am You.'"
MASTER: "Why shouldn't a man be able to realize God in the world? But he must have discrimination and dispassion; he must have the unshakable awareness that God alone is real and all else is unreal and has but a two-day's existence. It will not do to float on the surface. You must dive deep."
With these words, 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. . . .
MASTER: "You must remember another thing: in the ocean there is danger
of alligators, that is to say, of lust and the like."
GIRISH: "I am not afraid of the King of Death."
MASTER: "But I am speaking of the danger of the alligators of lust and the like. Because of them one should smear one's body with turmeric before diving in — the turmeric of discrimination and dispassion.
"Some attain knowledge of God in the world. Mention is made of two classes of yogis: the hidden and the known. Those who have renounced the world are 'known' yogis: all recognize them. But the 'hidden' yogis live in the world. They are not known. They are like the maidservant who performs her duties in the house but whose mind is fixed on her children in the country. They are also, as I have told you, like the loose woman who performs her household duties zealously but whose mind constantly dwells on her lover. It is very hard to cultivate discrimination and dispassion. It is not easy to get rid of the idea, 'I am the master and all these are mine.' I saw a deputy magistrate, who earns a salary of eight hundred rupees, paying no attention to a religious discourse. He had brought one of his children with him and was busy finding a good place for him to sit. I know another man, whom I shall not name, who used to devote a great deal of time to japa; but he bore false witness in court for the sake of ten thousand rupees. Therefore I say that a man can realize God in the world, too, but only if he has discrimination and dispassion."
GIRISH: "What will happen to this sinner?"
Sri Ramakrishna sang in a tender voice, turning his eyes upward:
Meditate on the Lord, the Slayer of hell's dire woes,
He who removes the fear of death;
Thinking of Him, the soul is freed from worldly grief
And sails across the sea of life in the twinkling of an eye.
Consider, O my mind, why you have come to earth;
What gain is there in evil thoughts and deeds?
Your way lies not through these: perform your penance here
By meditating long and deep on the everlasting Lord.
MASTER: "'Sails across the sea of life in the twinkling of an eye.' One
attains the vision of God if Mahamaya steps aside from the door. Mahamaya's
grace is necessary: hence the worship of Sakti. You see, God is near us, but
it is not possible to know Him because Mahamaya stands between. Rama,
Lakshmana, and Sita were walking along. Rama walked ahead, Sita in the
middle, and Lakshmana last. Lakshmana was only two and a half cubits
away from Rama, but he couldn't see Rama because Sita — Mahamaya — was in the way.
"While worshipping God, one should assume a definite attitude. I have three attitudes: the attitude of a child, the attitude or a maidservant, and the attitude of a friend. For a long time I regarded myself as a maidservant and a woman companion of God; at that time I used to wear skirts and ornaments, like a woman. The attitude of a child is very good.
"The attitude of a 'hero' is not good. Some people cherish it. They regard themselves as Purusha and woman as Prakriti; they want to propitiate woman through intercourse with her. But this method often causes disaster."
GIRISH: "At one time I too cherished that idea."
Sri Ramakrishna looked at Girish pensively.
GIRISH: "I still have that twist in my mind. Tell me what I should do." Sri Ramakrishna reflected a minute and said, "Give God your power of attorney. Let Him do whatever He likes."
The conversation then turned to Sri Ramakrishna's young devotees.
MASTER (to Girish and the others): "In meditation I see the inner traits of these youngsters. They have no thought of acquiring house and property. They do not crave sex pleasure. Those of the youngsters who are married do not sleep with their wives. The truth is that unless a man has got rid of rajas and has acquired sattva, he cannot steadily dwell in God; he cannot love God and realize Him."
GIRISH: "You have blessed me."
MASTER: "How is that? I said that you would succeed if you were sincere."
Saying this, the Master exclaimed, "Anandamayi!" and went into samadhi. He remained in that state a long time. Regaining partial consciousness, he said, "Where are those rascals?" M. brought Baburam to him. Sri Ramakrishna looked at Baburam and the other devotees and said, still in ecstasy, "The bliss of Satchidananda is indeed good; but what about the bliss of divine inebriation?"
He began to sing:
Once for all, this time, I have thoroughly understood;
From One who knows it well, I have learnt the secret of bhava. . . .
Again he sang:
Why should I go to Ganga or Gaya, to Kasi, Kanchi, or Prabhas,
So long as I can breathe my last with Kali's name upon my lips? . . .
The Master continued, saying, "While praying to the Divine Mother, I
said, 'O Mother, I don't seek anything else: give me only pure love for
Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with Girish's calm mood. He said to him, "This mood of yours is good; the calm mood is the best."
The Master was seated in the manager's room. A man entered and said, "Will you see the farce. 'The Confusion of Marriage'? It is being played now."
Sri Ramakrishna said to Girish: "What have you done? This farce after the life of Prahlada! First sweets and rice pudding and then a dish of bitter herbs!"
After the theatre, the actresses, following Girish's instructions, came to the room to salute Sri Ramakrishna. They bowed before him, touching the ground with their foreheads. The devotees noticed that some of the actresses, in saluting the Master, touched his feet. He said to them very tenderly, "Please don't do that, mother!"
After the actresses had left the room, Sri Ramakrishna said to the devotees, "It is all He, only in different forms."
The carriage was ready at the door. Girish and the others came to the street to see the Master off. As soon as Sri Ramakrishna stepped into the carriage, he went into deep samadhi. Narayan and several other devotees were with him. The carriage started for Dakshineswar.
Saturday, December 27, 1884
NISHI: "I am a daughter of Bhavani Pathak. He is my father. He
has also, in a way, given me in marriage."
PRAFULLA: "What do you mean?"
NISHI: "I have surrendered my all to Krishna."
PRAFULLA: "How is that?"
NISHI: "My beauty, youth, and soul."
PRAFULLA: "Then He is your husband."
NISHI: "Yes, because he alone is my husband who completely possesses me."
PRAFULLA (with a sigh): "I do not know. You talk that way because you do not know what a husband is. If you had a real husband, you could never have liked Sri Krishna."
The foolish Brajeswar — Prafulla's husband — was unaware that his wife loved him so much.
NISHI: "All can love Sri Krishna, because He has infinite beauty, infinite youth, and infinite splendour."
This young lady was a disciple of Bhavani and well-versed in logic. But Prafulla was illiterate; she could not answer Nishi's arguments. But the writers of the Hindu social laws knew the reply. God is infinite, no doubt; but one cannot keep the infinite in the small cage of the heart. One can do so only with the finite. Therefore the infinite Creator of the universe is worshipped by the Hindu in the cage of his heart as Sri Krishna, the finite Personal God. The husband of a woman has a still more definite form. Therefore if the wife cherishes pure conjugal love, the husband becomes the first step toward God. Hence the husband is the only Deity to the Hindu woman. Other societies are inferior to Hindu society in this respect.
Prafulla was an ignorant girl; she could not understand Nishi's arguments. She said, "Friend, I do not understand all these arguments; but you haven't yet told me your name."
NISHI: "Bhavani Pathak has given me the name of Nishi, Night. I am the sister of Diva, Day. One day I shall introduce my sister to you. Let me continue what I was saying. God alone is the real Husband; and to a woman the husband is her only God. Sri Krishna is the God of all. Why should we cherish two Deities, two Gods? If you divide the little bhakti of this small heart, how little there will be!"
PRAFULLA: "Don't be silly. Is there any limit to a woman's bhakti?" NISHI: "There is no end to a woman's love. But bhakti is one thing, and love another."
Summarizing part of the book, M. said that Bhavani initiated Prafulla
into spiritual life.
He continued reading:
During the first year Bhavani did not allow any man to enter Prafulla's house nor did he allow her to speak to any man outside the house. During the second year the rule about speaking was withdrawn, but no man was allowed inside her house. In the third year Prafulla shaved her head. Now Bhavani allowed his select disciples to see her. The shaven-headed disciple would converse with them on scriptural topics, keeping her eyes cast on the ground.
M. then read that Prafulla began the study of the scriptures; that she
finished grammar and read Raghuvamsa, Kumara Sambhava, Sakuntala,
and Naishadha; and that she studied a little of the Samkhya, Vedanta, and
MASTER: "Do you know what that means? People like the author of this book believe that knowledge is impossible without the study of books. They think that first comes the knowledge of books and then comes the knowledge of God. In order to know God one must read books! But if I want to know Jadu Mallick, must I first know the number of his houses and the amount of money he has in government securities? Do I really need all this information? Rather I should somehow enter his house, be it by flattering his gate-keepers or by disregarding their rough treatment, and talk to Jadu Mallick himself. Then, if I want to know about his wealth or possessions, I shall only have to ask him about them. Then it will be a very easy matter for me. First comes Rama, then His riches, that is, the universe. This is why Valmiki repeated the mantra, 'mara'. 'Ma' means God, and 'ra' the world, that is to say, His riches."
The devotees listened to the Master's words with rapt attention.
M. continued with the story of Prafulla:
Prafulla finished her studies and then practised spiritual austerity for
many days. Then one day Bhavani visited her; he wanted to instruct her
about selfless work. He quoted to her from the Gita: "Therefore do thou
always perform obligatory actions without attachment; by performing
action without attachment one attains to the highest."
He told her the three characteristics of disinterested action: first, control of the sense-organs; second, absence of egotism; and third, surrendering the fruit of action to Sri Krishna. He further told her that no dharma is possible for the egotistic person. Quoting from the Gita, he said: "The gunas of Prakrit; perform all action. With the understanding deluded by egotism, man thinks, I am the doer."
Bhavani next spoke to her about surrendering the fruit of action to Sri Krishna. Again he quoted from the Gita: "Whatever thou doest, whatever thou eatest, whatever thou givest away, whatever austerity thou practisest, O son of Kunti, do that as an offering unto Me."
MASTER: "This is fine. These are the
words of the Gita; one cannot refute
them. But something else must be noted. The author speaks about surrendering
the fruit of action to Sri Krishna, but not about cultivating bhakti
M: "No, that is not especially mentioned here.
"Next Prafulla and Bhavani talked about the use of money. Prafulla said that she offered all her wealth to Krishna."
M. read from the book again.
PRAFULLA: "Like my actions, I offer all my wealth to Sri Krishna."
PRAFULLA: "Yes, all."
BHAVANI: "In that case you won't be able to perform action in a detached spirit. If you have to work to earn your food, you will be attached to that work. Hence there are two alternatives before you: either you will have to get your food by begging, or you will have to live on your money. Even a beggar becomes attached to the alms he receives; therefore you must use your own money to maintain your body."
A man must work hard if he wants to help all beings with charity. Hence it is necessary for him to make a little display of clothes, of pomp and luxury. Therefore Bhavani said, "A little shopkeeping is necessary."