Narendra's visit to Bodh-Gaya — Buddha's doctrines — The meaning of Buddha — Narendra's enthusiasm about Buddha — Master about himself — Master's vision of God — Different kinds of samadhi — Power of God's name — Surendra's faith — Master's love for Girish — Nature of the mind — Monks and householders — About Rakhal — Radha's love for Krishna — The crazy woman — Good use of money — Master's anxiety about M.'s wife.
Friday, April 9, 1886
IT WAS FIVE O'CLOCK in the afternoon. Narendra, Kali, Niranjan, and M.
were talking downstairs in the Cossipore garden house.
NIRANJAN (to M.): "Is it true that Vidyasagar is going to open a new school? Why don't you try to secure employment there for Naren?"
NARENDRA: "I have had enough of service under Vidyasagar."
Narendra had just returned from a visit to Bodh-Gaya, where he had gone with Kali and Tarak. In that sacred place he had been absorbed in deep meditation before the image of Buddha. He had paid his respects to the Bodhi-tree, which is an offshoot of the original tree under which Buddha attained Nirvana.
Kali said, "One day at Gaya, at Umesh Babu's house, Narendra sang many classical songs to the accompaniment of the mridanga."
Sri Ramakrishna sat on his bed in the big hall upstairs. It was evening. M. was alone in the room, fanning the Master. Latu came in a little later.
MASTER (to M.): "Please bring a chaddar for me and a pair of slippers."
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER (to Latu): "The chaddar will cost ten annas, and then the slippers — what will be the total cost?"
LATU: "One rupee and ten annas."
Sri Ramakrishna asked M., by a sign, to note the price.
Narendra entered the room and took a seat. Sashi, Rakhal, and one or two other devotees came in. The Master asked Narendra to stroke his feet. He also asked him whether he had taken his meal.
MASTER (smiling, to M.): "He went there [referring to Bodh-Gaya]."
M. (to Narendra): "What are the doctrines of Buddha?"
NARENDRA: "He could not express in words what he had realized by his tapasya. So people say he was an atheist."
MASTER (by signs): "Why atheist? He was not an atheist. He simply could not express his inner experiences in words. Do you know what 'Buddha' means? It is to become one with Bodha, Pure Intelligence, by meditating on That which is of the nature of Pure Intelligence; it is to become Pure Intelligence Itself."
NARENDRA: "Yes, sir. There are three classes of Buddhas: Buddha, Arhat, and Bodhisattva."
MASTER: "This too is a sport of God Himself, a new lila of God.
"Why should Buddha be called an atheist? When one realizes Svarupa, the true nature of one's Self, one attains a state that is something between asti, is, and nasti, is-not."
NARENDRA (to M.): "It is a state in which contradictions meet. A combination of hydrogen and oxygen produces cool water; and the same hydrogen and oxygen are used in the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe.
"In that state both activity and non-activity are possible; that is to say, one then performs unselfish action.
"Worldly people, who are engrossed in sense-objects, say that everything exists — asti. But the mayavadis, the illusionists, say that nothing exists — nasti. The experience of a Buddha is beyond both 'existence' and 'non-existence'."
MASTER: "This 'existence' and 'non-existence' are attributes of Prakriti. The Reality is beyond both."
The devotees remained silent a few moments.
MASTER (to Narendra): "What did Buddha preach?"
NARENDRA: "He did not discuss the existence or non-existence of God. But he showed compassion for others all his life.
"A hawk pounced upon a bird and was about to devour it. In order to save the bird, Buddha gave the hawk his own flesh."
Sri Ramakrishna remained silent. Narendra became more and more enthusiastic about Buddha.
NARENDRA: "How great his renunciation was! Born a prince, he renounced everything! If a man has nothing, no wealth at all, what does his renunciation amount to? After attaining Buddhahood and experiencing Nirvana, Buddha once visited his home and exhorted his wife, his son, and many others of the royal household to embrace the life of renunciation. How intense his renunciation was! But look at Vyasa's conduct! He forbade his son Sukadeva to give up the world, saying, 'My son, practise religion as a householder.'"
Sri Ramakrishna was silent. As yet he had not uttered a word.
NARENDRA: "Buddha did not care for Sakti or any such thing. He sought only Nirvana. Ah, how intense his dispassion was! When he sat down under the Bodhi-tree to meditate, he took this vow: 'Let my body wither away here if I do not attain Nirvana.' Such a firm resolve!
"This body, indeed, is the great enemy. Can anything be achieved without chastising it?"
SASHI: "But it is you who say that one develops sattva by eating meat. You insist that one should eat meat."
NARENDRA: "I eat meat, no doubt, but I can also live on rice, mere rice, even without salt."
After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna broke his silence. He asked Narendra, by a sign, whether he had seen a tuft of hair on Buddha's head.
NARENDRA: "No, sir. He seems to have a sort of crown; his head seems to be covered by strings of rudraksha beads placed on top of one another."
MASTER: "And his eyes?"
NARENDRA: "They show that he is in samadhi."
Sri Ramakrishna again became silent. Narendra and the other devotees looked at him intently. Suddenly a smile lighted his face and he began to talk with Narendra. M. was fanning him.
MASTER (to Narendra): "Well, here you find everything — even ordinary red lentils and tamarind. Isn't that so?"
NARENDRA: "After experiencing all those states, you are now dwelling on a lower plane."
M. (to himself): "Yes, after realizing all those ideals, he is now living as a bhakta, a devotee of God."
MASTER: "Someone seems to be holding me to a lower plane."
Saying this, Sri Ramakrishna took the fan from M.'s hand and said: "As I see this fan, directly before me, in exactly the same manner have I seen God. And I have seen —"
With these words he placed his hand on his heart and asked Narendra, by a sign, "Can you tell me what I said?"
NARENDRA: "I have understood."
MASTER: "Tell me."
NARENDRA: "I didn't hear you well."
Sri Ramakrishna said again, by a sign, "I have seen that He and the one who dwells in my heart are one and the same Person."
NARENDRA: "Yes, yes! Soham — I am He."
MASTER: "But only a line divides the two — that I may enjoy divine bliss."
NARENDRA (to M.): "Great souls, even after their own liberation, retain the ego and experience the pleasure and pain of the body that they may help others to attain liberation.
"It is like coolie work. We perform coolie work under compulsion, but great souls do so of their own sweet pleasure."
Again all fell into silence. After a time Sri Ramakrishna resumed the conversation.
MASTER (to Narendra and the others): "The roof is clearly visible; but it is extremely hard to reach it."
NARENDRA: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "But if someone who has already reached it drops down a rope, he can pull another person up.
"Once a sadhu from Hrishikesh came to Dakshineswar. He said to me: 'How amazing! I find five kinds of samadhi manifested in you.'
"Just as a monkey climbs a tree, jumping from one branch to another, so also does the Mahavayu, the Great Energy, rise in the body, jumping from one centre to another, and one goes into samadhi. One feels the rising of the Great Energy, as though it were the movement of a monkey.
"Just as a fish darts about in the water and roams in great happiness, so also does the Mahavayu move upward in the body, and one goes into samadhi. One feels the rising of the Great Energy, as though it were the movement of a fish.
"Like a bird hopping from one branch to another, the Mahavayu goes up in the tree of the body, now to this branch and now to that. One feels the rising of the Great Energy, as though it were the movement of a bird.
"Like the slow creeping of an ant, the Mahavayu rises from centre to centre. When it reaches the Sahasrara one goes into samadhi. One feels the rising of the Great Energy, as though it were the movement of an ant.
"Like the wriggling of a snake, the Mahavayu rises in a zigzag way along the spinal column till it reaches the Sahasrara, and one goes into samadhi. One feels the rising of the Great Energy, as though it were the movement of a snake."
RAKHAL (to the other devotees): "Let us stop here. He has already talked a great deal. It will aggravate his illness."
Monday, April 12, 1886
About five o'clock in the afternoon Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the
bed in his room in the Cossipore garden house. Sashi and M. were with
him. He asked M., by a sign, to fan him. There was a fair in the
neighbourhood in celebration of the last day of the Bengali year. A devotee, whom
Sri Ramakrishna had sent to the fair to buy a few articles, returned.
"What have you bought?" the Master asked him.
DEVOTEE: "Candy for five pice, a spoon for two pice, and a vegetable-knife for two pice."
MASTER: "What about the penknife?"
DEVOTEE: "I couldn't get one for two pice."
MASTER (eagerly): "Go quickly and get one!'
M. was pacing the garden. Narendra and Tarak returned from Calcutta. They had visited Girish Ghosh's house and other places.
TARAK: "We have eaten a great deal of meat and other heavy stuff today."
NARENDRA: "Yes, our minds have come down a great deal. Let us practise tapasya. (To M.) What slavery to body and mind! We are just like coolies — as if this body and mind were not ours but belonged to someone else."
In the evening lamps were lighted in the house. Sri Ramakrishna sat on his bed, facing the north. He was absorbed in contemplation of the Mother of the Universe. A few minutes later Fakir, who belonged to the priestly family of Balaram, recited the Hymn of Forgiveness addressed to the Divine Mother. Sash;, M., and two or three other devotees were in the room. After the recital Sri Ramakrishna, with folded hands, very respectfully bowed to the Deity.
M. was fanning Sri Ramakrishna. The Master said to him by signs, "Get a stone cup for me that will hold a quarter of a seer of milk — white stone." He drew the shape of the cup with his finger.
M: "Yes, sir."
MASTER: "When eating from other cups I get the smell of fish."
Tuesday, April 13, 1886
It was about eight o'clock in the morning. M. had spent the night at the
garden house. After taking his bath in the Ganges he prostrated himself
before Sri Ramakrishna. Ram had just come. He saluted the Master and
took a seat. He had brought a garland of flowers, which he offered to the
Master. Most of the devotees were downstairs; only one or two were in the
Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Ram.
MASTER: "How do you find me?"
RAM: "In you one finds everything.
"Presently there will be a discussion about your illness."
The Master smiled and asked Ram by a sign, "Will there really be a discussion about my illness?"
Sri Ramakrishna's slippers were not comfortable. Dr. Rajendra Dutta intended to buy a new pair1 and had asked for the measurement of his feet. The measurement was taken.
Sri Ramakrishna asked M., by a sign, about the stone cup. M. at once stood up. He wanted to go to Calcutta for the cup.
MASTER: "Don't bother about it now."
M: "Sir, these devotees are going to Calcutta. I will go with them."
M. bought the cup in Calcutta and returned to Cossipore at noon. He saluted the Master and placed the cup near him. Sri Ramakrishna took the cup in his hands and looked at it. Dr. Rajendra Dutta, Dr. Sreenath, Rakhal Haldar, and several others came in. Rakhal, Sashi, and the younger Naren were in the room. The physicians heard the report of the Master's illness. Dr. Sreenath had a copy of the Gita in his hand.
DR. SREENATH (to his friends): "Everything is under the control of Prakriti. Nobody can escape the fruit of past action. This is called prarabdha."
MASTER: "Why, if one chants the name of God, meditates on Him, and takes refuge in Him —"
DR. SREENATH (to his friends): "But, sir, how can one escape prarabdha, the effect of action performed in previous births?"
MASTER: "No doubt a man experiences a little of the effect; but much of it is cancelled by the power of God's name. A man was born blind of an eye. This was his punishment for a certain misdeed he had committed in his past birth, and the punishment was to remain with him for six more births. He, however, took a bath in the Ganges, which gives one liberation. This meritorious action could not cure his blindness, but it saved him from his future births."
DR. SREENATH (to his friends): "But, sir, the scriptures say that nobody can escape the fruit of karma."
Dr. Sreenath was ready to argue with the Master.
MASTER (to M.): "Why don't you tell him that there is a great difference between the Isvarakoti and an ordinary man? An Isvarakoti cannot commit sin. Why don't you tell him that?"
M. remained silent and then said to Rakhal, "You tell him."
After a few minutes the physicians left the room. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to Rakhal Haldar.
HALDAR: "Dr. Sreenath studies Vedanta. He is a student of the Yoga-vasishtha."
MASTER: "A householder should not hold the view that everything is illusory, like a dream."
Referring to a man named Kalidas, a devotee said, "He too discusses Vedanta, hut he has lost all his money in lawsuits."
MASTER (smiling): "Yes, one proclaims everything to be maya, and still one goes to court! (To Rakhal) Mukherji of Janai, too, talked big. But at last he came to his senses. If I were well I should have talked a little more with Dr. Sreenath. Can one obtain jnana just by talking about it?"
HALDAR: "You are right, sir. I have seen enough of jnana. Now all I need in order to live in the world is a little bhakti. The other day I came to you with a problem on my mind, and you solved it."
MASTER (eagerly): "What was it?"
HALDAR: "Sir, when that boy (pointing to the younger Naren) came in, you said he had controlled his passions."
MASTER: "Yes, it is true. He is totally unaffected by worldliness. He says he doesn't know what lust is. (To M.) Just feel my body. All the hair is standing on end."
The Master's hair actually stood on end at the thought of a pure mind totally devoid of lust. He always said that God manifests Himself where there is no lust.
Rakhal Haldar took his leave.
Sri Ramakrishna was seated with the devotees. A crazy woman had been troubling everybody in order to see the Master. She had assumed toward him the attitude of a lover and often ran into the garden house and burst into the Master's room. She had even been beaten by the devotees; but that did not stop her.
SASHI: "If she comes again I shall shove her out of the place!"
MASTER (tenderly): "No, no! Let her come and go away."
RAKHAL: "At the beginning I too used to feel jealous of others when they visited the Master. But he graciously revealed to me that my guru is also the Guru of the Universe. Has he taken this birth only for a few of us?"
SASHI: "I don't mean that. But why should she trouble him when he is ill? And she is such a nuisance!"
RAKHAL: "We all give him trouble. Did we all come to him after attaining perfection? Haven't we caused him suffering? How Narendra and some of the others behaved in the beginning! How they argued with him!"
SASHI: 'Whatever Narendra expressed in words he carried out in his actions." RAKHAL: "How rude Dr. Sarkar has been to him! No one is guiltless, if it comes to that."
MASTER (to Rakhal, tenderly): "Will you eat something?"
RAKHAL: "Not now. Later on."
Sri Ramakrishna asked M., by a sign, whether he was going to have his meal there.
RAKHAL (to M.): "Please take your meal here. He is asking you to."
Sri Ramakrishna was seated completely naked. He looked like a five-year-old boy. Just then the crazy woman climbed the stairs and stood near the door.
M. (in a low voice, to Sashi); "Ask her to salute him and go away. Don't make any fuss."
Sashi took her downstairs.
It was the first day of the Bengali year. Many woman devotees arrived. They saluted Sri Ramakrishna and the Holy Mother. Among them were the wives of Balaram and Manomohan, and the brahmani of Baghbazar. Several of them had brought their children along.
Some of the women offered flowers at the Master's feet. Two young girls, nine or ten years of age, sang a few songs.
First they sang:
We moan for rest, alas! but rest can never find;
We know not whence we come, nor where we float away.
Time and again we tread this round of smiles and tears;
In vain we pine to know whither our pathway leads,
And why we play this empty play. . . .
There comes Radha, and there see your Krishna,
With arching eyes and the flute at His lips. . . .
O tongue, always repeat the name of Mother Durga!
Who but your Mother Durga will save you in distress? . . .
Sri Ramakrishna said by a sign: "That's good! They are singing of the Divine Mother."
The brahmani of Baghbazar had the nature of a child. Sri Ramakrishna told Rakhal, by a sign, to ask her to sing. The devotees smiled as the brahmani sang:
O Hari, I shall sport with You today;
For I have found You alone in the nidhu wood. . . .
The woman devotees went downstairs.
It was afternoon. M. and a few other devotees were seated near the Master. Narendra came in. He looked, as the Master used to say, like an unsheathed sword.
Narendra sat down near the Master and within his hearing expressed his utter annoyance with women. He told the devotees what an obstacle women were in the path of God-realization.
Sri Ramakrishna made no response. He listened to Narendra.
Narendra said again: "I want peace. I do not care even for God."
Sri Ramakrishna looked at him intently without uttering a word. Now and then Narendra chanted, "Brahman is Truth, Knowledge, the Infinite."
It was eight o'clock in the evening. Sri Ramakrishna sat on his bed. A few devotees sat on the floor in front of him. Surendra arrived from his office. He carried in his hands four oranges and two garlands of flowers. Now he looked at the Master and now at the devotees. He unburdened his heart to Sri Ramakrishna.
SURENDRA (looking at M. and the others): "I have come after finishing my office work. I thought, 'What is the good of standing on two boats at the same time?' So I finished my duties first and then came here. Today is the first day of the year; it is also Tuesday, an auspicious day to worship the Divine Mother. But I didn't go to Kalighat. I said to myself, 'It will be enough if I see him who is Kali Herself, and who has rightly understood Kali.'"
Sri Ramakrishna smiled.
SURENDRA: "It is said that a man should bring fruit and flowers when visiting his guru or a holy man. So I have brought these. . . . (To the Master) I am spending all this money for you. God alone knows my heart. Some people feel grieved to give away a penny; and there are people who spend a thousand rupees without feeling any hesitation. God sees the inner love of a devotee and accepts his offering."
Sri Ramakrishna said to Surendra, by a nod, that he was right.
SURENDRA: "I couldn't come here yesterday. It was the last day of the year. But I decorated your picture with flowers."
Sri Ramakrishna said to M., by a sign, "Ah, what devotion!"
SURENDRA: "As I was coming here I bought these two garlands for four annas."
Almost all the devotees took their leave. The Master asked M. to stroke his legs and fan him.
Friday, April 16, 1886
Saturday, April 17, 1886
It was the night of the full moon. For some time Narendra had been
going to Dakshineswar daily. He spent a great deal of time in the Panchavati
in meditation and contemplation. This day he returned from Dakshineswar
in the evening. Tarak and Kali were with him.
It was eight o'clock in the evening. Moonlight and the south wind added to the charm of the garden house. Many of the devotees were meditating in the room downstairs. Referring to them, Narendra said to M., "They are shedding their upadhis one by one."
A few minutes later M. came into Sri Ramakrishna's room and sat down on the floor. The Master asked him to wash his towel and the spittoon. M. washed them in the reservoir.
Next morning Sri Ramakrishna sent for M. After taking his hath in the Ganges and saluting the Master, he had gone to the roof. Sri Ramakrishna asked M. to bring his grief-stricken wife to the garden house, where she could have her meal.
The Master said to M., by a sign: "Ask her to come. Let her stay here a couple of days. She may bring the baby."
M: "Yes, sir. It would be fine if she developed intense love of God." Sri Ramakrishna again answered by signs: "Oh, grief pushes out devotion. And he was such a big boy!
"Krishnakishore had two sons. They were of the same age as Bhavanath, and each had two university degrees. They both died. And Krishnakishore, jnani that he was, could not at first control himself. How lucky I am that I have none!
"Arjuna was a great jnani; and Krishna was his constant companion. Nevertheless he was completely overwhelmed with grief at the death of his son Abhimanyu.
"Why doesn't Kishori come?"
A DEVOTEE: "He comes to the Ganges every day for his bath."
MASTER: "But why doesn't he come here?"
DEVOTEE: "I shall ask him to come, sir."
MASTER: "Why doesn't Harish come?"
Two young girls aged nine and ten, who belonged to M.'s family; sang several songs about the Divine Mother for the Master. They had sung for him when he had visited M.'s house at Syampukur. The Master was very much pleased with their songs. After they had finished, they were sent for by the devotees to sing for them downstairs.
MASTER (to M.): "Don't teach the girls any more songs. It is different if they sing spontaneously. But they will lose-their modesty by singing before anyone and everyone. It is very necessary for women to be modest."
Flowers and sandal-paste were placed before the Master in a flower-basket. He sat on his bed and worshipped himself with these offerings. Sometimes he placed flowers and sandal-paste on his head, sometimes on his throat, sometimes on his heart, and sometimes on his navel.
Manomohan of Konnagar came in and took a seat after saluting the Master. Sri Ramakrishna was still busy with the worship of his inner Self. He put a garland of flowers on his own neck. After a while he seemed to be pleased with Manomohan and gave him some flowers. M., too, received a flower.
It was about nine o'clock in the morning. The Master and M. were talking. Sashi was also in the room.
MASTER (to M.): "What were Narendra and Sashi talking about? What did they discuss?"
M. (to Sashi): "What were you talking about?"
SASHI: "Was it Niranjan that told you about it?"
MASTER: "What were you discussing? I heard 'God', 'Being', 'Non-being', and so forth."
SASHI (smiling): "Shall I call Narendra?"
Narendra came in and took a seat.
MASTER (to M.): "Ask him something. (To Narendra) Tell us what you were talking about."
NARENDRA: "I have indigestion. What's there to tell you about?"
MASTER: "You will get over your indigestion."
M. (smiling): "Tell, us about the experience of Buddha."
NARENDRA: "Have I become a Buddha, that you want me to talk about him?"
M: "What does Buddha say about the existence of God?"
NARENDRA: "How can you say that God exists? It is you who have created this universe. Don't you know what Berkeley says about it?"
M: "Yes, I do. According to him, esse is percipi. (The existence of external objects depends on their perception.) The world exists as long as the sense-organs perceive it."
MASTER: "Nangta used to say, 'The world exists in mind alone and disappears in mind alone.' But as long as 'I-consciousness' exists, one should assume the servant-and-master relationship with God."
NARENDRA (to M.): "How can you prove by reasoning that God exists? But if you depend on faith, then you must accept the relationship of servant and Master. And if you accept that — and you can't help it — then you must also say that God is kind.
"You think only of the suffering in the world — why do you forget that God has also given you so much happiness? How kind He is to us! He has granted us three very great things: human birth, the yearning to know God, and the companionship of a great soul."
All were silent.
MASTER (to Narendra): "I feel very clearly that there is Someone within me.
Dr. Rajendralal arrived and took a seat. He had been treating the Master with homeopathic medicine. When the talk about medicine was over, Sri Ramakrishna pointed out Manomohan to the doctor.
RAJENDRA: "He is a distant relative of mine."
Narendra went downstairs. He was singing to himself:
Lord, Thou hast lifted all my sorrow with the vision of Thy face,
And the magic of Thy beauty has bewitched my mind;
Beholding Thee, the seven worlds forget their never-ending woe;
What shall I say, then, of myself, a poor and lowly soul? . . .
Narendra had a little indigestion. He said to M.: "If one follows the path
of bhakti, then the mind comes down a little to the body. Otherwise, who
am I? Neither man nor God. I have neither pleasure nor pain."
It was about nine o'clock in the evening. Surendra and a few other devotees entered Sri Ramakrishna's room and offered him garlands of flowers. Baburam, Latu, and M. were also in the room.
Sri Ramakrishna put Surendra's garland on his own neck. All sat quietly. Suddenly the Master made a sign to Surendra to come near him. When the disciple came near the bed, Sri Ramakrishna took the garland from his neck and put it around Surendra's. Surendra saluted the Master. Sri Ramakrishna asked him, by a sign, to rub his feet. Surendra gave them a gentle massage.
Several devotees were sitting on the bank of the reservoir in the garden, singing to the accompaniment of drum and cymbals. Sri Ramakrishna sent them word through Latu to sing the name of Hari.
M., Baburam, and several others were still sitting in the Master's room. They heard the devotees singing:
There dances my Gora, chanting Hari's name! . . .
When the Master heard the song he made a sign to Baburam and M. to
join them. He also asked them to dance,
A few minutes later Sri Ramakrishna sent another devotee to the singers to ask them to sing the following improvised lines: "Ah, my Gora even knows how to dance!" "How can I describe my Gora's moods?" "My Gora dances with both his hands upraised."
The music was over. Surendra was almost in an ecstatic mood. He sang:
Crazy is my Father, (Siva.) crazy is my Mother,
And I, their son, am crazy too!
Syama is my Mother's name.
My Father strikes His cheeks and makes a hollow sound:
And my Mother, drunk and reeling,
Falls across my Father's body!
Syama's streaming tresses hang in vast disorder;
Bees are swarming numberless
About Her crimson Lotus Feet..
Listen, as She dances, how Her anklets ring!