AFTER THE PASSING AWAY

Baranagore Monastery — First members — Surendra's magnanimity — Ascetic zeal of the young sannyasis — Renunciation of "woman and gold" — Siva festival at the math — Narendra's reminiscences of the Master — Narendra's foreknowledge of things — Narendra's ego — About Nityagopal — Rakhal's reminiscences of the Master — The Master and Narendra — Master's love for Narendra — Prasanna's austere sadhana — Vidyasagar's reluctance about preaching — About Sashi — Rakhal's yearning for God — Tarak and Prasanna — Narendra asks Prasanna to practise self-surrender — Narendra's longing for God-vision — About Rabindra.

SRI RAMAKRISHNA passed away on Sunday, August 15, 1886, plunging his devotees and disciples into a sea of grief. They were like men in a shipwreck. But a strong bond of love held them together, and they found assurance and courage in each other's company. They could not enjoy the friendship of worldly people and would talk only of their Master. "Shall we not behold him again?" — this was the one theme of their thought and the one dream of their sleep. Alone, they wept for him; walking in the streets of Calcutta, they were engrossed in the thought of him. The Master had once said to M., "It becomes difficult for me to give up the body, when I realize that after my death you will wander about weeping for me." Some of them thought: "He is no longer in this world. How surprising that we still enjoy living! We could give up our bodies if we liked, but still we do not." Time and again Sri Ramakrishna had told them that God reveals Himself to His devotees if they yearn for Him and call on Him with whole-souled devotion. He had assured them that God listens to the prayer of a sincere heart.

The young unmarried disciples of the Master, who belonged to his inner circle, had attended on him day and night at the Cossipore garden house. After his passing away most of them returned to their families against their own wills. They had not yet formally renounced the world. For a short while they kept their family names. But Sri Ramakrishna had made them renounce the world mentally. He himself had initiated, several of them into the monastic life, giving them the ochre cloths of sannyasis.

Two or three of the Master's attendants had no place to go. To them the large-hearted Surendra said: "Brothers, where will you go? Let us rent a house. You will live there and make it our Master's shrine; and we householders shall come there for consolation. How can we pass all our days and nights with our wives and children in the world? I used to spend a sum of money for the Master at Cossipore. I shall gladly give it now for your expenses." Accordingly he rented a house for them at Baranagore, in the suburbs of Calcutta, and this place became gradually transformed into a math, or monastery.

For the first few months Surendra contributed thirty rupees a month. As the other members joined the monastery one by one, he doubled his contribution, which he later increased to a hundred rupees. The monthly rent for the house was eleven rupees. The cook received six rupees a month. The rest was spent for food.

The younger Gopal brought the Master's bed and other articles of daily use from the garden house at Cossipore. The brahmin who had been cook at Cossipore was engaged for the new monastery. The first permanent member was the elder Gopal. Sarat spent the nights there. In the beginning Sarat, Sashi, Baburam, Niranjan, and Kali used to visit the monastery every now and then, according to their convenience, Tarak, who had gone to Vrindavan following the Master's death, returned to Calcutta after a few months and soon became a permanent member of the monastery. Rakhal, Jogin, Latu, and Kali were living at Vrindavan with the Holy Mother when the monastery was started. Kali returned to Calcutta within a month, Rakhal after a few months, and Jogin and Latu after a year. The householder devotees frequently visited the monastic brothers and spent hours with them in meditation and study.

After a short time Narendra, Rakhal, Niranjan, Sarat, Sashi, Baburam, Jogin, Tarak, Kali, and Latu renounced the world for good. Sarada Prasanna and Subodh joined them some time later. Gangadhar, who was very much attached to Narendra, visited the math regularly. It was he who taught the brothers the hymn sung at the evening service in the Siva temple at Benares. He had gone to Tibet to practise austerity; now, having returned, he lived at the monastery. Hari and Tulasi, at first only visitors at the monastery, soon embraced the monastic life and thus completed the list of the Master's sannyasi disciples.1

Surendra was indeed a blessed soul. It was he who laid the foundation of the great Order later associated with Sri Ramakrishna's name. His devotion and sacrifice made it possible for those earnest souls to renounce the world for the realization of God. Through him Sri Ramakrishna made it possible for them to live in the world as embodiments of his teaching, the renunciation of "woman and gold" and the realization of God.

The brothers lived at the math like orphan boys. Sometimes they would not have the money to pay their house-rent; sometimes they would have no food in the monastery. Surendra would come and settle all these things. He was the big brother of the monks. Later on, when they thought of his genuine love, the members of this first math shed tears of gratitude.

The new monastery became known among the Master's devotees as the Baranagore Math. Narendra, Rakhal, and the other young disciples were filled with intense renunciation. One day Rakhal's father came to the math and asked Rakhal to return home. "Why do you take the trouble to come here?" Rakhal said to him. "I am very happy here. Please pray to God that you may forget me and that I may forget you too." The young disciples said to each other: "We shall never return to the worldly life. The Master enjoined upon us the renunciation of 'woman and gold'. How can we go back to our families?"

Sashi had taken charge of the daily worship in the math. The Master's relics had been brought from Balaram's house and Sri Ramakrishna was worshipped daily in the worship hall. Narendra supervised the household. He was the leader of the monastery. He would often tell his brother disciples, "The selfless actions enjoined in the Gita are worship, japa, meditation, and so on, and not worldly duties." The brothers at the math depended on him tor their spiritual inspiration. He said to them, "We must practise sadhana; otherwise we shall not be able to realize God."

He and his brother disciples, filled with an ascetic spirit, devoted themselves day and night to the practice of spiritual discipline. Their one goal in life was the realization of God. They followed to their hearts' content the injunctions prescribed in the Vedas, Puranas, and Tantras for an ascetic life. They spent their time in japa and meditation and study of the scriptures. Whenever they would fail to experience the Divine Presence, they would feel as if they were on the rack. They would practise austerity, sometimes alone under trees, sometimes in a cremation ground, sometimes on the bank of the Ganges. Again, sometimes they would spend the entire day in the meditation room of the monastery in japa and contemplation; sometimes they would gather to sing and dance in a rapture of delight. All of them, and Narendra particularly, were consumed with the desire to see God. Now and then they would say to each other, "Shall we not starve ourselves to death to see God?"



Monday, February 21, 1887


Narendra, Rakhal, Niranjan, Sarat, Sashi, Kali, Baburam, Tarak, and Sarada Prasanna were living in the monastery. All day the members had been fasting in observance of the Sivaratri.2 Sarat, Kali, Niranjan, and Sarada were planning to go to Puri, the following Saturday, on a pilgrimage to the sacred Jagannath. Jogin and Latu were at Vrindavan and had not yet seen the new place.

Narendra had gone to Calcutta that morning to look after a lawsuit in which his family had been involved since the death of his father. At nine o'clock in the morning M. arrived at the math. Tarak saw him and began to sing in praise of Siva, Rakhal joining him:

There Siva dances, striking both His cheeks; and they resound, Ba-ba-bom!
Dimi-dimi-dimi!
sounds His drum; a garland of skulls from His neck is hanging!
In His matted locks the Ganges hisses; fire shoots from His mighty trident!
Round His waist a serpent glitters, and on His brow the moon is shining!

Rakhal and Tarak danced as they sang. Narendra had recently composed the song.
Sashi finished the morning worship in the shrine. Sarat then sang about Siva to the accompaniment of the tanpura.


Narendra had just arrived from Calcutta. He had not yet taken his bath. Kali asked him, "What about the lawsuit?" "Why should you bother about it?" Narendra replied sharply.

Narendra was smoking and talking to M. and the others. He said; "Nothing can be achieved in spiritual life without the renunciation of 'woman and gold'. 'Woman' is the doorway to hell. All people are under the control of women. The cases of Siva and Krishna are quite different. Siva turned His Consort into His servant. Sri Krishna, no doubt, led a householder's life. But how unattached He was! How quickly He renounced Vrindavan and the gopis!"

RAKHAL: "And how He renounced Dwaraka, too, where He was king!"

Narendra took his bath in the Ganges and returned to the monastery. He carried his wet cloth and towel in his hand. Sarada prostrated himself before Narendra. He too had been fasting on account of the Sivaratri. He was going to the Ganges for his bath. Narendra entered the worship room and prostrated himself before the picture of Sri Ramakrishna, who was daily worshipped there as the Deity. For a few minutes he was absorbed in meditation.

The devotees assembled in a room and began to converse. The talk turned to Bhavanath. Narendra said, "People like him live like worms in the world."

It was afternoon. Arrangements were being made to worship Siva in the evening. Leaves of the bel-tree were gathered for the worship. Bel-wood was chopped for the homa.

In the evening Sashi, who was in charge of the worship at the monastery, burnt incense before the pictures of the various gods and goddesses.

The worship of Siva was to take place under the bel-tree in the monastery compound. The Deity was to be worshipped four times, during the four watches of the night. The brothers assembled under the bel-tree. Bhupati and M. were present also. One of the young members of the math was in charge of the worship. Kali was reading from the Gita. Now and then he argued with Narendra.

KALI: "I alone am everything. I create, preserve, and destroy." NARENDRA: "How is it possible for me to create? Another power creates through me. Our various actions — even our thoughts — are caused by that power."

M. (to himself): "The Master used to say: 'As long as a man feels that it is he who meditates, he is under the jurisdiction of the Adyasakti. Sakti must be acknowledged.'"

Kali reflected in silence a few moments and then said: "The actions you are talking about are illusory. There is not even any such thing as thought. The very idea of these things makes me laugh." NARENDRA: "The 'I' that is implied in 'I am He' is not this ego. It is that which remains after one eliminates mind, body, and so on."

After completing the recital of the Gita, Kali chanted: "Santih! Santih! Santih!"

Narendra and the other devotees stood up and circled round and round the tree, singing and dancing. Now and then they chanted in chorus: "Siva Guru! Siva Guru!"

It was midnight, the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the moon. Pitch darkness filled all the quarters. Men, birds, and animals were all hushed into silence. The young sannyasis were clad in gerrua robes. The words "Siva Guru", chanted in their full-throated voices, rose into the infinite sky like the rumblings of rain-clouds and disappeared in the Indivisible Satchidananda.

The worship was over. The sun, about to rise, was painting the eastern horizon crimson. In this sacred twilight, the conjunction of night and day, the holy Brahmamuhurta, the young worshippers finished their baths in the Ganges.

It was morning. The devotees went to the shrine room, prostrated themselves before the Deity, and gradually assembled in the big hall. Narendra was clad in a new ochre cloth. The bright orange colour of his apparel blended with the celestial lustre of his face and body, every pore of which radiated a divine light. His countenance was filled with fiery brilliance and yet touched with the tenderness of love. He appeared to all as a bubble that had risen up in the Ocean of Absolute Existence and Bliss and assumed a human body to help in the propagation of his Master's message. All eyes were fixed on him. Narendra was then just twenty-four years old, the very age at which the great Chaitanya had renounced the world.

Balaram had sent fruit and sweets to the monastery for the devotees' breakfast. Rakhal, Narendra, and a few others partook of the refreshments. After eating one or two morsels some of them cried out, "Blessed indeed is Balaram!" All laughed.

Narendra now began to joke like a child. He was imitating Sri Ramakrishna. He put a sweet into his mouth and stood still, as if in samadhi. His eyes remained unwinking. A devotee stepped forward and pretended to hold him up by the hand lest he should drop to the ground. Narendra closed his eyes. A few minutes later, with the sweetmeat still in his mouth, he opened his eyes and drawled out, "I — am — all — right." All laughed loudly.

Refreshments were now given to everyone. M. looked on at this wonderful mart of happiness. The devotees shouted joyfully, "Jai Gurumaharaj!" (Victory to the Guru.)



Monday, March 25, 1887


M. arrived at the Baranagore Math to visit his brother disciples. Devendra accompanied him. M. had been coming to the monastery very frequently and now and then had spent a day or two. The previous week he had spent three days at the math. He was very eager to observe the spirit of intense renunciation of these young men.

It was evening. M. intended to spend the night in the monastery. Sashi lighted the lamp in the worship room and chanted the name of God. Next he burnt incense before all the pictures of gods and goddesses in the various rooms. The evening service began. Sashi conducted the worship. The members of the math, with M. and Devendra, stood with folded hands and sang the hymn of the arati.

When the worship was over, Narendra and M. became engaged in conversation. Narendra was recalling his various meetings with Sri Ramakrishna.

NARENDRA: "One day, during one of my early visits, the Master in an ecstatic mood said to me, 'You have come!' 'How amazing!' I said to myself. 'It is as if he had known me a long time.' Then he said to me, 'Do you ever see light?' I replied: 'Yes, sir. Before I fall asleep I feel something like a light revolving near my forehead.'"

M: "Do you see it even now?"

NARENDRA: "I used to see it frequently. In Jadu Mallick's garden house the Master one day touched me and muttered something to himself. I became unconscious. The effect of the touch lingered with me a month, like an intoxication.

"When he heard that a proposal had been made about my marriage, he wept, holding the feet of the image of Kali. With tears in his eyes he prayed to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, please upset the whole thing! Don't let Narendra be drowned.'

"After my father's death my mother and my brothers were starving. When the Master met Annada Guha one day, he said to him: 'Narendra's father has died. His family is in a state of great privation. It would be good if his friends helped him now with money.'

"After Annada had left I scolded him. I said, 'Why did you say all those things to him?' Thus rebuked, he wept and said, 'Alas! for your sake I could beg from door to door.'

"He tamed us by his love. Don't you think so?"

M; "There is not the slightest doubt about it. His love was utterly unselfish."

NARENDRA: "One day when I was alone with him he said something to me. Nobody else was present. Please don't repeat it to anyone here."

M: "No, I shall not. What did he say?"

NARENDRA: "He said: 'It is not possible for me to exercise occult powers; but I shall do so through you. What do you say?' 'No,' I replied, you can't do that.'

"I used to laugh at his words. You must have heard all these things from him. I told him that his visions of God were all hallucinations of his mind.

"He said to me: 'I used to climb to the roof of the kuthi and cry: "O devotees, where are you all? Come to me, O devotees! I am about to die. I shall certainly die if I do not see you." And the Divine Mother told me, "The devotees will come." You see, everything is turning out to be true.'

"What else could I say? I kept quiet.

"One day he closed the door of his room and said to Devendra Babu and Girish Babu, referring to me, 'He will not keep his body if he is told who he is.'"

M: "Yes, we have heard that. Many a time he repeated the same thing to us, too. Once you came to know about your true Self in nirvikalpa samadhi at the Cossipore garden house. Isn't that true?"

NARENDRA: "Yes. In that experience I felt that I had no body. I could see only my face. The Master was in the upstairs room. I had that experience downstairs. I was weeping. I said, 'What has happened to me?' The elder Gopal went to the Master's room and said, 'Narendra is crying.'

"When I saw the Master he said to me: 'Now you have known. But I am going to keep the key with me.'

"I said to him, 'What is it that happened to me?'

"Turning to the devotees, he said: 'He will not keep his body if he knows who he is. But I have put a veil over his eyes.'

"One day he said to me, 'You can see Krishna in your heart if you want.' I replied, 'I don't believe in Krishna or any such nonsense!' (Both M. and Narendra laugh.)

"I have noticed a peculiar thing. Some men, objects, or places make me feel as if I had seen them before, in a previous birth. They appear familiar to me. One day I went to Sarat's house in Calcutta, on Amherst Street. Immediately I said to Sarat: This house seems familiar to me. It seems to me that I have known the rooms, the passages, and the rest of the house for many, many days.

"I used to follow my own whims in everything I did. The Master never interfered. You know that I became a member of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj."

M: "Yes, I know that."

NARENDRA: "The Master knew that women attended the meetings of the Brahmo Samaj. A man cannot meditate with women sitting in front of him; therefore he criticized the meditation of the Brahmo Samaj. But he didn't object to my going there. But one day he said to me, 'Don't tell Rakhal about your being a member of the Brahmo Samaj, or he too will feel like becoming one.'"

M: "You have greater strength of mind. That is why the Master didn't prevent your going to the Samaj."

NARENDRA : "I have attained my present state of mind as a result of much suffering and pain. You have not passed through any such suffering. I now realize that without trials and tribulations one cannot resign oneself to God and depend on Him absolutely.

"Well, X— is so modest and humble! He is totally self-effacing. Can you tell me how I can develop humility?"

M: "Speaking about your ego, the Master said, 'Whose ego is it?'"

NARENDRA: "What did he mean?"

M: "A friend one day said to Radhika: 'You are egotistic. That is why you insulted Krishna.' Whereupon another friend said to the first: 'Yes, Radhika is egotistic, no doubt. But whose ego is it?' What she meant was that Radha was egotistic because she regarded Krishna as her Lord. It was Krishna Himself who kept that ego in Radha.

"What the Master meant was that it is God alone who has kept this ego in you, so that He may accomplish many things through you."

NARENDRA: "But my ego loudly proclaims to all that I have no suffering."

M. (smiling): "You may loudly proclaim it, if that be your sweet will."

The conversation turned to other devotees.

NARENDRA: "The Master said about Vijay Goswami, 'He is knocking at the door.'"

M: "That is to say, he has not yet entered the room. At Syampukur Vijay said to the Master, 'I saw you at Dacca in this tangible form, in this very body.' You were there too."

NARENDRA: "Devendra Babu and Ram Babu want to renounce the world. They are trying hard. Ram Babu told me privately that he would give up the world after two years."

M: "After two years? After making provision for his children?"

NARENDRA: "Besides, he will rent his present house and buy a small house. Other relatives will arrange his daughter's marriage."

M: "Gopal (Referring to Nityagopal.) is in an exalted state of mind, isn't he?"

NARENDRA: "What do you mean?"

M: "So much emotion, so much weeping and such exaltation in the name of God!"

NARENDRA: "Does mere emotion make a man spiritually great? Youngsters like Kali, Sarat, Sashi, and Sarada are more spiritual than Gopal. How great their renunciation is! Gopal does not accept the Master, does he?"

M: "That is true. The Master remarked that Gopal did not belong to the circle of his devotees. But I saw him show great reverence for Sri Ramakrishna."

NARENDRA: "What did you see?"

M: "At that time I was just becoming acquainted with Sri Ramakrishna. One day, after the meeting of the devotees in his room had broken up, I came out and saw Gopal on the foot-path, kneeling with folded hands before the Master. The moon was shining brightly overhead. It was the red path sprinkled with brick-dust, just outside the long verandah north of the Master's room. Nobody else was there. It appeared to me that Gopal had taken shelter at Sri Ramakrishna's feet and the Master was encouraging him."

NARENDRA: "I didn't see it."

M; "Further, the Master used to say, 'Gopal is in the state of a paramahamsa.' But I also distinctly remember his forbidding Gopal to be intimate with woman devotees. Many a time he warned him about it."

NARENDRA: "Speaking to me about Gopal, the Master asked why, if Gopal was a real paramahamsa, he should hanker after money. 'He doesn't belong to this place', the Master said. 'Those who are my own will always come here.' He used to be angry with T— because he was Gopal's constant companion and didn't come to the Master more often. 'Gopal has spiritual realizations, no doubt,' the Master said to me, 'but he has attained them all of a sudden, without the necessary preparations. He is not one of my own. If he is, why haven't I wept for him?'

"Some are proclaiming Gopal as the reincarnation of Nityananda. But times without number the Master said to me: 'In me alone are embodied Advaita, Chaitanya, and Nityananda.3 I am all these three.'"



Friday, April 8, 1887

About eight o'clock in the morning two devotees, one a householder and the other a monk, were conversing in a room in the Baranagore monastery, when M. came in. The devotees were of the same age — twenty-four or twenty-five years old. M. intended to spend three days at the monastery. He went to the shrine and saluted the Deity. After visiting Narendra, Rakhal, and the other brothers, he at last came into the room where the two devotees were engaged in conversation. The householder devotee wanted to renounce the world. The monk was trying to persuade him not to do so.

MONK: "Why don't you finish the few duties you have in the world? Very soon they will be left behind.

"A man was told that he would go to hell. He asked a friend, 'What is hell like?' Thereupon the friend began to draw a picture of hell on the ground with a piece of chalk. No sooner was the picture drawn than the man rolled over it and said, 'Now I have gone through hell!'"

HOUSEHOLDER: "I don't relish worldly life. Ah, how happy you are here!"

MONK: "Why don't you renounce the world, if you want to? Why do you talk about it so much? But I repeat, why don't you enjoy the fun once for all?"

Sashi finished the regular worship in the worship hall. About eleven the brothers of the math returned from the Ganges after taking their baths. They put on clean cloths, went to the shrine, prostrated themselves before the Deity, and meditated there a little while.

After the food was offered to the Deity they had their meal. M. ate with them.

It was evening. Incense was burnt before the pictures of gods and goddesses and the evening service was performed. Rakhal, Sashi, the elder Gopal, and Harish were seated in the big hall. M. also was there. Rakhal warned one of the brothers to be careful about the food to be offered to the Master in the shrine.

RAKHAL (to Sashi and the others): "One day I ate part of his [meaning the Master's] refreshments before he took them. At this he said: 'I cannot look at you. How could you do such a thing?' I burst into tears."

THE ELDER GOPAL: "One day at Cossipore I breathed hard on his food. At this he said, 'Take that food away.'"

M. and Narendra were pacing the verandah and recalling old times.

NARENDRA: "I did not believe in anything."

M: "You mean the forms of God?"

NARENDRA: "At first I did not accept most of what the Master said. One day he asked me. Then why do you come here?' I replied, 'I come here to see you, not to listen to you.'"

M: "What did he say to that?"

NARENDRA: "He was very much pleased."



Saturday, April 9, 1887


The members of the math were resting a little after their meal. Narendra and M. sat under a tree in the garden to the west of the monastery. It was a solitary place and no one else was present. Narendra was recounting to M. his various experiences with Sri Ramakrishna. Narendra was about twenty-four years old, and M. thirty-two.

M: "You must remember vividly your first visit to him."

NARENDRA: "Yes. It was at the temple garden at Dakshineswar, in his own room. That day I sang two songs."

Narendra sang them for M.:

Let us go back once more, O mind. to our own abode!
Here in this foreign land of earth
Why should we wander aimlessly in stranger's guise?
These living beings round about, and the five elements,
Are strangers to you, all of them; none is your own.
Why do you thus forget yourself,
In love with strangers, O my mind?
Why do you thus forget your own?

Ascend the path of Truth, O mind! Unflaggingly climb,
With Love as the lamp to light your way.
As your provision for the journey, bring with you
The virtues, carefully concealed; for, like two highwaymen,
Greed and delusion wait to rob you of your wealth.
And keep beside you constantly,
As guards to shelter you from harm,
Calmness of mind and self-control.

Companionship with holy men will be for you
A welcome rest-house by the road;
There rest your weary limbs awhile, asking your way,
If ever you should be in doubt, of him who watches there.
If anything along the path should frighten you,
Then loudly shout the name of the Lord;
For He is Ruler of that road,
And even Death must bow to Him.

*   *   *

O Lord, must all my days pass by so utterly in vain?
Down the path of hope I gaze with longing, day and night.
Thou art the Lord of all the worlds, and I but a beggar here;
How can I ask of Thee to come and dwell within my heart?
My poor heart's humble cottage door is standing open wide;
Be gracious, Lord, and enter there but once, and quench its thirst!

M: "What did he say after listening to your songs?"

NARENDRA: "He went into samadhi. He said to Ram Babu: "Who is this boy? How well he sings!' He asked me to come again."

M: "Where did you see him next?"

NARENDRA: "At Rajmohan's house. The third visit was at Dakshineswar again. During that visit he went into samadhi and began to praise me as if I were God. He said to me, 'O Narayana, you have assumed this body for my sake.' But please don't tell this to anybody else."

M: "What else did he say?"

NARENDRA: "He said: 'You have assumed this body for my sake. I asked the Divine Mother, "Mother, unless I enjoy the company of some genuine devotees completely free from 'woman and gold', how shall I live on earth?"' Then he said to me, 'You came to me at night, woke me up, and said, "Here I am!"' But I did not know anything of this. I was sound asleep in our Calcutta house."

M: "In other words, you may be both present and absent at the same time. It is like God, who is both formless and endowed with form."

NARENDRA: "But you must not tell this to anyone else. At Cossipore he transmitted his power to me."

M: "Didn't it happen when you used to meditate before a lighted fire under a tree at the Cossipore garden house?"

NARENDRA: "Yes. One day, while meditating, I asked Kali to hold my hand. Kali said to me, 'When I touched your body I felt something like an electric shock coming to my body.'

"But you must not tell this to anybody here. Give me your promise."

M: "There is a special purpose in his transmission of power to you. He will accomplish much work through you. One day the Master wrote on a piece of paper, 'Naren will teach people.'"

NARENDRA: "But I said to him, 'I won't do any such thing.' Thereupon he said, 'Your very bones will do it.' He has given me charge of Sarat. Sarat is now yearning for God"; the Kundalini is awakened in him."

M: "He must be careful that dead leaves do not accumulate there. Perhaps you remember what the Master used to say: 'In a lake the fish make holes so that they may rest there. But if dead leaves accumulate in the holes the fish do not go there.'"

NARENDRA: "The Master used to call me Narayana."

M: "Yes, I know he did."

NARENDRA: "When he was ill he would not allow me to pour water to wash his hands. At Cossipore he said: 'Now the key is in my hands. He will give up his body when he knows who he is.'"

M: "Didn't he say it when you were in nirvikalpa samadhi?"

NARENDRA: "Yes. At the time it seemed to me I had no body. I felt only my face.

"I was studying law at home to prepare for the examinations. Suddenly I said to myself, 'What am I doing?'"

M: "Didn't it happen when the Master was at Cossipore?"

NARENDRA : "Yes. Like an insane person I ran out of our house. He asked me, 'What do you want?' I replied, 'I want to remain immersed in samadhi.' He said: 'What a small mind you have! Go beyond samadhi! Samadhi is a very trifling thing.'"

M: "Yes, he used to say that vijnana is the stage after jnana. It is like going up and down the stairs after reaching the roof."

NARENDRA: "Kali has a craving for knowledge. I scold him for that. Is knowledge so easy to get? Let his bhakti first mature. The Master told Tarak at Dakshineswar that emotion and bhakti are by no means the last word."

M: "What other things did he say about you?"

NARENDRA: "Once I said to him, The forms of God and things like that, which you see in your visions, are all figments of your imagination.' He had so much faith in my words that he went to the Divine Mother in the temple and told Her what I had said to him. He asked Her, 'Are these hallucinations, then?' Afterwards he said to me, 'Mother told me that all these are real.'

"Perhaps you remember that he said to me, 'When you sing, He who dwells here (touching his heart), like a snake, hisses as it were, and then, spreading His hood, quietly holds Himself steady and listens to your music.'

"He has no doubt said many things about me; but what have I realized?"

M: "Now you have put on the garb of Siva; you cannot touch money. Do you remember the Master's story?"

NARENDRA: "Please tell it to me."

M: "A vahurupi (A professional impersonator.) disguised himself as Siva and visited a house. The master of the house wanted to give him a rupee, but he did not accept it. Then the mendicant went home, removed his disguise, came back to the gentleman, and asked for the rupee. 'Why didn't you accept it before?' he was asked. He said: 'I was impersonating Siva, a sannyasi. I couldn't touch money at that time.'"

When Narendra heard the story he laughed a long while.

M: "You have now put on the garb of a physician, as it were. You have become the guardian of these young men. Yours is the entire responsibility. You have to bring up the brothers of the monastery."

NARENDRA: "Whatever spiritual disciplines we are practising here are in obedience to the Master's command. But it is strange that Ram Babu criticizes us for our spiritual practices. He says: 'We have seen him. (Sri Ramakrishna) What need have we of any such practice?'"

M: "Let people act according to their faith."

NARENDRA: "But the Master asked us to practise sadhana."

Narendra was again telling M. about the Master's love for him.

NARENDRA: "How many times he prayed to the Divine Mother for my sake! After my father's death, when I had no food at home and my mother and sisters and brothers were starving too, the Master prayed to the Divine Mother to give me money."

M: "Yes, I know that. You once told me."

NARENDRA: "But I didn't get any money. The Master told me what the Divine Mother had said to him: 'He will get simple food and clothing. He will eat rice and dal.'

"He loved me so much! But whenever an impure idea crept into my mind he at once knew about it. While going around with, Annada, sometimes I found myself in the company of evil people. On those occasions the Master could not eat any food from my hands. He could raise his hand only a little, and could not bring it to his mouth. On one such occasion, while he was ill, he brought his hand very close to his mouth, but it did not go in. He said to me, 'You are not yet ready.'

"Now and then I feel great scepticism. At Baburam's house it seemed to me that nothing existed — as if there were no such thing as God."

M: "The Master used to say that he too had passed through that mood."

Both M. and Narendra remained silent. Then M. said: "You are all indeed blessed! You think of the Master day and night."

NARENDRA: "But how little it is! We don't yet feel like giving up the body because we haven't realized God."


It was night. Niranjan had just returned from Puri. The members of the math, and M., greeted him with great joy. Niranjan was telling them his experiences. He was then about twenty-five years old.

The evening worship was over. Some of the brothers were meditating. But many of them assembled in the big hall around Niranjan. They were talking. After nine o'clock Sashi offered food to the Deity.

The members of the math finished their supper, which consisted of homemade bread, a little vegetable, and a little hard molasses.



Saturday, May 7, 1887


It was the full-moon day of the month of Vaisakh. Narendra and M were seated on a couch in M.'s study in Calcutta. They were talking. Just before Narendra's arrival M. had been studying The Merchant of Venice, Comus, and Blackie's Self-culture, which he taught at school.

Narendra and the other brothers of the monastery were full of yearning for God-realization. A fire of intense renunciation raged in their hearts.

NARENDRA: "I don't care for anything. You see, I am now talking with you, but I feel like getting up this minute and running away."

Narendra sat in silence a few minutes. Then he said, "I shall fast to death for the realization of God."

M: "That is good. One can do anything for God."

NARENDRA: "But suppose I cannot control my hunger."

M: "Then eat something and begin over again."

Narendra remained silent a few minutes.

NARENDRA: "It seems there is no God. I pray so much, but there is no reply — none whatsoever.

"How many visions I have seen! How many mantras shining in letters of gold! How many visions of the Goddess Kali! How many other divine forms! But still I have no peace.

"Will you kindly give me six pice?"

Narendra asked for the money to pay his carriage hire to the Baranagore Math. Just then Satkari arrived in a carriage. Of the same age as Narendra, he dearly loved the members of the monastery. He lived near the math and worked in Calcutta. The carriage was his own. Narendra returned the money to M. and said that he would go with Satkari in his carriage. He asked M. to give them some refreshments.

M. accompanied the two friends to the Baranagore Math. He wanted to see how the brothers spent their time and practised sadhana. He wanted to see how Sri Ramakrishna, the Master, was reflected in the hearts of the disciples. Niranjan was not at the math. He had gone home to visit his mother, the only relative he had in the world. Baburam, Sarat, and Kali had gone to Puri. They intended to spend a few days there.

Narendra was in charge of the members of the monastery. Prasanna4 had been practising austere sadhana for the past few days. Once Narendra had told him of his desire to fast to death for the realization of God. During Narendra's absence in Calcutta, Prasanna had left the monastery for an unknown destination. When Narendra heard about it, he said to the brothers, "Why did Raja5 allow him to go?" But Rakhal had not been in the monastery at the time, having gone to the Dakshineswar temple for a stroll.

NARENDRA: "Just let Raja come back to the monastery! I shall scold him. Why did he allow Prasanna to go away? (To Harish) I am sure you were lecturing him then, standing with your feet apart. Couldn't you prevent his going away?"

Harish replied in a very low voice, "Brother Tarak asked him not to go, but still he went away."

NARENDRA (to M.): "You see what a lot of trouble I am in! Here, too, I am involved in a world of maya. Who knows where this boy has gone?"

Rakhal returned from Dakshineswar. Bhavanath had accompanied him.

Narendra told Rakhal about Prasanna's going away from the monastery. Prasanna had left a letter for Narendra. This was the substance of the letter: "I am going to Vrindavan on foot. It is very risky for me to live here. Here my mind is undergoing a change. Formerly I used to dream about my parents and other relatives. Then I dreamt of woman, the embodiment of maya. I have suffered twice; I had to go back to my relatives at home. Therefore I am going far away from them. The Master once told me, "Your people at home are apt to do anything; never trust them.'"

Rakhal said: "These are the reasons for his going away. Once he remarked: 'Narendra often goes home to look after his mother, brothers, and sisters. And he supervises the family's lawsuit. I am afraid that I too may feel like going home, following his example.'"

Narendra remained silent.

Rakhal was talking to them about making pilgrimages. He said: "We have achieved nothing by staying here. The Master always exhorted us to realize God. Have we succeeded?"

Rakhal lay down. The other devotees were either lying down or sitting.

RAKHAL: "Let us go to the Narmada."

NARENDRA: "What will you achieve by wandering about? Can one ever attain jnana, that you are talking about it so much?"

A DEVOTEE: "Then why have you renounced the world?"

NARENDRA: "Must we live with Shyam because we have not seen Ram? Must we go on begetting children because we have not realized God? What are you talking about?"

Narendra went out, returning after a few minutes. Rakhal was still lying down.

A member of the monastery who was also lying down said teasingly, feigning great suffering on account of his separation from God: "Ah! Please get me a knife. I have no more use for this life. I can't stand this pain any more!"

NARENDRA (feigning seriousness): "It is there. Stretch out your hand and take it."

Everybody laughed.

The conversation again turned to Prasanna.

NARENDRA: "Even here we are involved in maya. Why have we become sannyasis, I wonder?"

RAKHAL: "I have read in a book that sannyasis should not live together. The author has described a city of sannyasis."

SASHI: "I don't care about sannyas or any such thing. There is no place where I cannot live."

They were talking of Bhavanath, whose wife had been seriously ill. Narendra said to Rakhal: "I understand that his wife has been snatched from the jaws of death. Is that why he went to Dakshineswar to enjoy the fresh air?"

Ram Babu intended to build a temple in the garden at Kankurgachi, where some of Sri Ramakrishna's ashes were buried.

NARENDRA (to Rakhal): "Ram Babu has made M. one of the trustees of the garden."

M. (to Rakhal): "But I don't know anything about it."

It was dusk. Sashi burnt incense before the picture of Sri Ramakrishna in the worship room and then before the pictures of gods and goddesses in the other rooms.

The evening worship began. The members of the math and the other devotees stood with folded hands near the door of the shrine and witnessed the arati. Then they all sang in chorus the following hymn to Siva, to the accompaniment of bell and gong:

Jaya Siva Omkara, Bhaja Siva Omkara,
Brahma Vishnu Sadasiva.
Hara Hara Hara Mahadeva!

Narendra had introduced this song for the evening worship. It is sung in the temple of Siva in Benares.

It was eleven o'clock at night when their supper was over. The brothers prepared a bed for M., and all went to sleep.

It was midnight. M. was wide awake. He said to himself: "Everything is as it was before. The same Ayodhya — only Rama is not there." M. silently left his bed. It was the full-moon night of Vaisakh, the thrice-blessed day of the Buddhists, associated with Buddha's birth, realization, and passing away. M. was walking alone on the bank of the Ganges, contemplating the Master.


It was Sunday. M. had arrived the day before and was planning to stay till Wednesday. The householder devotees generally visited the monastery on Sundays.

The Yogavasishtha was being studied and explained. M. had heard a little about the teachings of this book from Sri Ramakrishna. It taught the absolute identity of Brahman and the soul, and the unreality of the world. The Master had forbidden him and the other householder devotees to practise spiritual discipline following the method of the Advaita Vedanta, since the attitude of the oneness of the soul and God is harmful for one still identified with the body. For such a devotee, the Master used to say, it was better to look on God as the Lord and oneself as His servant.

The conversation turned to the Yogavasishtha. M: "Well, how is Brahmajnana described in the Yogavasishtha?"

RAKHAL: "Hunger, thirst, pain, pleasure, and so on, are all maya. The annihilation of the mind is the only means to the realization of Brahman."

M: "What remains after the annihilation of the mind is Brahman. Is that not true?"

RAKHAL: "Yes."

M: "Sri Ramakrishna used to say that. Nangta taught him that way. Have you found in the book that Vasishtha asked Rama to lead a householder's life?"

RAKHAL: "I haven't yet found anything like that in the book. Rama is not even admitted by the author to be an Incarnation of God."

Presently Narendra, Tarak, and another devotee returned from the bank of the Ganges. They had intended to go to Konnagar, on the other side of the river, but had been unable to find a ferry-boat. They sat down. The conversation about the Yogavasishtha went on.

NARENDRA (to M.): "There are many nice stories in the book. Do you know the incident of Lila?"

M: "Yes, I have read the book here and there. Lila had attained Brahmajnana."

NARENDRA: "Yes. Do you remember the story of Indra and Ahalya, and the story of how King Viduratha became a chandala?"

M: "Yes, I remember."

NARENDRA: "What a wonderful description of the forest!"

Narendra and the other devotees were going to the Ganges to bathe. M. accompanied them. The sun was very hot; so M. took his umbrella. Sarat, a devotee from Baranagore, was going with them to take his bath. He often visited the monastery.

M. (to Sarat): "It is very hot."

NARENDRA: "Is that your excuse for taking the umbrella?"

M. laughed.

The members of the monastery were clad in gerrua.

M. (to Narendra): "It is really very hot. One is liable to get a sunstroke."

NARENDRA: "I see that your body is the obstacle in your path of renunciation. Isn't that so? I mean you, Devendra Babu—"

M. laughed and said to himself, "Is it merely the body?"

After bathing, the devotees returned to the monastery. They washed their feet and entered the worship room. Saluting the Deity, they offered flowers.

Narendra was a little late in coming to the worship room. He found that there was no flower on the tray. There were only a few bel-leaves. He sprinkled the leaves with sandal-paste and offered them to Sri Ramakrishna. He rang the bell, saluted the Deity again, and joined the other brothers in the big hall, which was known as the room of the "danas".

The members of the math called themselves the "danas" and the "daityas", which mean the "ghosts" and the "demons", the companions of Siva. They took these names because of their utter indifference to worldly pleasures and relationships.

The southernmost room of the second floor was used for meditation, contemplation, and study, and was known as Kali Tapasvi's room, since Kali used to shut himself in there most of the day. North of this room was the worship room, and north of that, again, was the room where the offerings for the worship were prepared. From this room the devotees used to watch the evening worship. North of the "offering room" was the room of the "danas", a very long hall where the members of the math used to assemble. Here the householder devotees and visitors were received. North of this hall was a small room where the devotees took their meals. East of the worship room and of Kali Tapasvi's room ran a long verandah, at the south-west corner of which was the library of a society of Baranagore. Between Kali Tapasvi's room and this library was a staircase; and north of the dining-room was another staircase, leading to the roof.

Narendra and the other members of the math often spent their evenings on this roof. There they devoted a great deal of lime to discussion of the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, Sankaracharya, Ramanuja, and Jesus Christ, and of Hindu philosophy, European philosophy, the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras.

Narendra, who had a beautiful voice, used to sing in the room o£ the "danas" and teach music to Sarat and a few others. Kali used to take lessons on the instruments. Many, many happy hours they spent together in that hall, dancing and singing.


Narendra was sitting with the devotees in the room of the "danas". The conversation turned to religious preaching.

M. (to Narendra): "Vidyasagar says that he does not speak about God to anyone for fear of being caned." NARENDRA: "For fear of being caned? What does he mean?"

M: "This is what Vidyasagar says: 'Suppose that after death we all go to God. The emissaries of Death will have sent Keshab Sen there too. Keshab Sen, no doubt, committed sins while he lived on earth. When that is proved, perhaps God will say, "Give him twenty-five stripes." Then suppose I am taken to God. I used to go to Keshab Sen's Brahmo Samaj in my earthly life. I too have committed many sins; so I too am ordered to be caned. Then suppose I say to God that I acted in that sinful way because I listened to Keshab's preaching. Thereupon God will ask His emissaries to bring Keshab back. When he is brought, the Almighty Lord will say to him: "Did you really preach that way? You yourself knew nothing about spiritual matters and yet you had the hardihood to teach others about God! Emissaries! Give him twenty five stripes more."'"

Everybody laughed.

M: "Therefore Vidyasagar says: 'I cannot take care of my own self; should I be foolish enough to get an additional caning for misleading others? I myself do not understand God. How shall I lecture to others about Him?'"

NARENDRA: "How has he — who could not understand God — understood other things?"

M: "What other things?"

NARENDRA: "He says that he has not understood God. But how, then, can he understand charity and doing good to others? How can he understand about the school? How can he understand about educating boys by establishing schools? How can he understand that it is right to enter the world, marry, and beget children?

"He who rightly understands one thing understands everything else."

M. (to himself). "Yes, Sri Ramakrishna, too, said that he who knows God knows everything else. Further, he said to Vidyasagar that leading a worldly life, establishing schools, and so on are the outcome of rajas. The Master also said that Vidyasagar's philanthropy was due to the influence of sattva on rajas. Such rajas is not harmful."

After their meal the brothers of the monastery rested. M. and Chunilal were conversing. Chunilal told M. of his first visit to Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. He also told him how at one time he had felt disgusted with the world, had renounced it, and had wandered about in holy places. A few minutes later Narendra came and sat by them. He asked the younger Gopal to prepare a smoke for him. The latter had been meditating. Narendra said to him: "I say! Prepare a smoke. What do you mean by this meditation? First of all prepare yourself for spiritual life by serving God and holy men; then you will be able to meditate. First of all karma, and then meditation." Everybody laughed.


There was a big plot of wooded land to the west of the monastery compound. M. was seated alone under a tree, when suddenly Prasanna appeared. It was about three o'clock in the afternoon.

M: "Where have you been all these days? Everyone has been so worried about you. Have you seen the brothers? When did you arrive?"

PRASANNA: "Just now. Yes, I have seen them."

M: "You left a note saying that you were going to Vrindavan. We were terribly worried about you. How far did you go?"

PRASANNA: "Only as far as Konnagar."6

Both of them laughed.

M: "Sit down. Tell me all about it. Where did you stop first?"

PRASANNA: "At the Dakshineswar temple garden. I spent one night there."

M. (smiling): "What is Hazra's present mood?"

PRASANNA: "Hazra asked me, 'What do you think of me?'"

Both laughed.

M. (smiling): "What did you say?"

PRASANNA: "I said nothing."

M: "Then?"

PRASANNA: "Then he asked me whether I had brought tobacco for him."

Both laughed.

PRASANNA: "He wanted me to wait on him." (Laughter.)

M: "Where did you go next?"

PRASANNA: "By degrees I got to Konnagar. I spent the night in the open. I intended to proceed farther and asked some gentlemen whether I could procure enough money there for a railway ticket to the up-country."

M: "What did they say?"

PRASANNA: "They said, 'You may get a rupee or so; but who will give you the whole fare?'"

Both laughed.

M: "What did you take with you?"

PRASANNA: "Oh, one or two pieces of cloth and a picture of the Master. I didn't show the picture to anybody."


Sashi's father came to the math. He wanted to take his son home. During Sri Ramakrishna's illness Sashi had nursed the Master for nine months with unswerving zeal. He had won a scholarship in the Entrance Examination for his academic ability and had studied up to the B.A., but he had not appeared at the examination. His father, a poor brahmin, was a devout Hindu and spent much of his time in spiritual practice. Sashi was his eldest son. His parents had hoped that, after completing his education, he would earn money and remove the family's financial difficulties. But Sashi had renounced the world for the realization of God. Whenever he thought of his father and mother he felt great anguish of heart. Many a time he said to his friends, with tears in his eyes: "I am at a loss as to my duty. Alas, I could not serve my parents; I could not be of any use to them. What great hope they placed in me! On account of our poverty my mother did not have any jewelry. I cherished the desire to buy some for her. But now all my hopes are frustrated; it is impossible for me to return home. My Master asked me to renounce 'woman and gold'. I simply cannot return home."

After Sri Ramakrishna's passing away Sashi's father had hoped that his son would come back to his family. The boy had spent a few days at home, but immediately after the establishment of the new monastery he had begun to frequent it and, after a few days, had decided to remain there as one of the members. Every now and then his father came to the monastery to persuade him to come home; but he had not succeeded.

This day, on learning that his father had come, Sashi fled the monastery by another door. He did not want to meet him.

Sashi's father knew M. They paced the upper verandah together and talked.

SASHI'S FATHER: "Who is in charge of this place? Narendra alone is the cause of all the mischief. For a while all these young men returned home and devoted themselves to their studies."

M: "There is no master here. They are all equals.. What can Narendra do? Can a man renounce home against his own will? Have we householders, for instance, been able to give up our homes altogether?"

SASHI'S FATHER: "You are doing the right thing. You are serving both the world and God. Can't one practise religion after your method? That is exactly what we want Sashi to do. Let him live at home and come here too. You have no idea how much his mother weeps for him."

M. became sad and said nothing.

SASHI'S FATHER: "And if you speak of searching for holy men, I know where to find a good one. Let Sashi go to him."


Rakhal and M. were walking on the verandah to the east of Kali Tapasvi's room.

RAKHAL (earnestly): "M., let us practise sadhana! We have renounced home for good. When someone says, 'You have not realized God by renouncing home; then why all this fuss?', Narendra gives a good retort. He says, 'Because we could not attain Ram, must we live with Shyam and beget children?' Ah! Every now and then Narendra says nice things. You had better ask him."

M: "What you say is right. I see that you too have become restless for God."

RAKHAL: "M., how can I describe the state of my mind? Today at noon-time I felt great yearning for the Narmada. M., please practise sadhana; otherwise you will not succeed. Even Sukadeva was afraid of this world. That is why immediately after his birth he fled the world. His father asked him to wait, but he ran straight away."

M: "Yes, the Yogopanishad describes how Sukadeva fled this world of maya. It also describes Vyasa's conversation with Suka. Vyasa asked his son to practise religion in the world. But Suka said that the one essential thing is the Lotus Feet of God. He also expressed his disgust with worldly men for getting married and living with women."

RAKHAL: "Many people think that it is enough not to look at the face of a woman. But what will you gain merely by turning your eyes to the ground at the sight of a woman? Narendra put it very well last night, when he said: 'Woman exists for a man as long as he has lust. Free from lust, one sees no difference between man and woman.'"

M: "How true it is! Children do not see the difference between man and woman."

RAKHAL: "Therefore I say that we must practise spiritual discipline. How can one attain Knowledge without going beyond maya?

"Let's go to the big hall. Some gentlemen have come from Baranagore. Narendra is talking with them. Let's go and listen to him."

M. did not enter the room. As he was pacing outside he overheard some of the conversation.

NARENDRA: "There is no fixed time or place for the sandhya and other devotions."

GENTLEMAN: "Sir, can one realize God through spiritual practice alone?"

NARENDRA: "Realization depends on God's grace. Sri Krishna says in the Gita:

The Lord, O Arjuna, dwells in the hearts of all beings, causing them, by His maya, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. Take refuge in Him with all thy heart, O Bharata. By His grace wilt thou attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode.

"Without the grace of God mere worship and prayer do not help at all. Therefore one should take refuge in Him."

GENTLEMAN: "May we come now and then and disturb you?"

NARENDRA: "Please come whenever you like. We take our baths in the Ganges at your ghat."

GENTLEMAN: "I don't mind that. But please see that others don't use it."

NARENDRA: "We shall not use your ghat, if that is what you mean."

NARENDRA: "No, I don't mean exactly that. But if you see other people using it, then you had better not go."


It was dusk. The evening worship was over. The devotees, as usual, sang in chorus, "Jaya Siva Omkara". Afterwards they assembled in the room of the "danas". M., too, was seated there. Prasanna was reading from the Guru Gita.

Narendra sang:

I salute the Eternal Teacher, who is the Embodiment of the Bliss of Brahman,
The Essence of knowledge and liberation, the Giver of Supreme Joy;
Who is all-pervading, like the akasa, and is the goal of the Vedanta's teachings;
Who is One, eternal, stainless, pure, and is the constant Witness of all things;
Who dwells beyond all moods, transcending the three gunas.

Narendra sang again:

There is none higher than the Guru, none better than the Guru;
This is what Siva has declared.
I shall sing of the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall worship the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall meditate on the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman;
I shall bow down to the blessed Guru, the Supreme Brahman.

As Narendra sang these verses from the Guru Gita in his melodious voice, the minds of the devotees became steady, like a candle-name in a windless place.


Rakhal was seated in Kali Tapasvi's room. Prasanna sat near him. M., too, was there.

Rakhal had renounced the world, leaving behind his wife and child. A fire of intense renunciation burnt day and night in his heart. He was thinking seriously of going away, by himself, to the bank of the Narmada or some other holy place. Still, he was trying to persuade Prasanna not to run away from the monastery.

RAKHAL (to Prasanna): "Where do you want to go, running away from here? Here you are in the company of holy men. Wouldn't it be foolish to run away from this? Where will you find another like Narendra?"

PRASANNA: "My parents live in Calcutta. I am afraid of being drawn by their love. That is why I want to flee to a distant place."

RAKHAL: "Can our parents love us as intensely as Gurumaharaj [mean- ing Sri Ramakrishna] did? What have we done for him, to deserve all this love? Why was he so eager for our welfare in body, mind, and soul? What have we done for him, to deserve all this?"

M. (to himself): "Ah! Rakhal is right. Therefore a person like Sri Ramakrishna is described as the 'Ocean of Mercy without any reason'."

PRASANNA(to Rakhal): "Don't you yourself feel like running away from here?"

RAKHAL: "Yes, now and then I have a fancy to spend a few days on the bank of the Narmada. I say to myself, 'Let me go to a place like that and practise sadhana in a garden.' Again, I feel a strong desire to practise the panchatapa for three days. But I hesitate to live in a garden that belongs to worldly people."


Tarak and Prasanna were talking in the room of the "danas". Tarak had lost his mother. His father, like Rakhal's father, had married a second time. Tarak himself had married but had lost his wife. Now the monastery was his home. He too was trying to persuade Prasanna to live there.

PRASANNA: "I have neither jnana nor prema. What have I in the world for a support?"

TARAK: "It is no doubt difficult to attain jnana; but how can you say you have no prema?"

PRASANNA: "I have not yet wept for God. How can I say I have prema? What have I realized in all these days?"

TARAK: "But you have seen the Master. And why do you say that you have no jnana?"

PRASANNA: "What sort of jnana are you talking about? Jnana means Knowledge. Knowledge of what? Certainly of God. But I am not even sure of the existence of God."

TARAK: "Yes, that's true. According to the jnani, there is no God."

M. (to himself): "Ah! The Master used to say that those who seek God pass through the state that Prasanna is now experiencing. In that state sometimes one doubts the very existence of God. I understand that Tarak is now reading Buddhistic philosophy. That is why he says that according to the jnani God does not exist. But Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the jnani and the bhakta will ultimately arrive at the same destination."


Narendra and Prasanna were talking in the meditation room. Rakhal, Harish, and the younger Gopal were seated in another part of the room. After a while the elder Gopal came in.

Narendra was reading from the Gita and explaining the verses to Prasanna:

The Lord, O Arjuna, dwells in the hearts of all beings, causing them, by His maya, to revolve as if mounted on a machine. Take refuge in Him with all thy heart, O Bharata. By His grace wilt thou attain Supreme Peace and the Eternal Abode. Relinquishing all dharmas, take refuge in Me alone. I shall liberate thee from all sins. Grieve not.

NARENDRA: "Did you notice what Krishna said? 'Mounted on a machine.' The Lord, by His maya, causes all beings to revolve as if mounted on a machine. To seek to know God? You are but a worm among worms — and you to know God? Just reflect a moment: what is a man? It is said that each one of the myriads of stars that shine overhead represents a solar system. This earth of ours is a part of only one solar system, and even that is too big for us. Like an insect man walks about on this earth, which, compared to the sun, is only a tiny ball."

Narendra sang:

We are born, O Lord, in the dust of earth,
And our eyes are blinded by the dust;
With dust we toy like children at play:
O give us assurance. Thou Help of the weak!

Wilt Thou cast us out of Thy lap, O Lord,
For a single mistake? Wilt Thou turn away
And abandon us to our helplessness?
Oh, then we shall never be able to rise,
But shall lie for ever dazed and undone.

Mere babes are we, Father, with baby minds;
At every step we stumble and fall.
Why, then, must Thou show us Thy terrible face?
Why, Lord, must we ever behold Thy frown?

Small are we — oh, do not be angry with us,
But tenderly speak to us when we do wrong;
For though Thou dost raise us a hundred times,
A hundred times we shall fall again!
What else can one do with a helpless mind?

Then he said to Prasanna: "Surrender yourself at His feet. Resign yourself completely to His will."

Narendra sang again in an ecstatic mood:

O Lord, I am Thy servant, I am Thy servant! Thy servant am I!
O Lord, Thou art my Master, Thou art my Master! My Master art Thou!
From Thee I have received two pieces of bread and a kaupin;7
When I sing Thy name, devotion wells up in my heart and shields me from harm.
Thou art the Master, the All-compassionate; this I repeat, O Lord!
Thy servant Kabir has taken refuge at Thy feet.

Narendra said to Prasanna: "Don't you remember Sri Ramakrishna's words? God is the hill of sugar and you are but an ant. One grain is enough to fill your stomach, and you think of bringing home the entire hill! Don't you remember what the Master said about Sukadeva? Even Sukadeva was a big ant at the most. That is why I scolded Kali, saying: 'You fool! Do you want to measure God with your tape and foot-rule?'

"God is the Ocean of Mercy. Be His slave and take refuge in Him. He will show compassion. Pray to Him: 'Protect me always with Thy compassionate face. Lead me from the unreal to the Real, from darkness to Light, from death to Immortality. Reveal Thyself to me and protect me always with Thy compassionate face.'"

PRASANNA: "What kind of spiritual discipline should one practise?"

NARENDRA: "Repeat His name. That's enough. Don't you remember Sri Ramakrishna's song?"

Narendra sang:

O Syama, my only hope is in Thy hallowed name!
What need have I of kosa and kusi?8 What need of smiles and conventions?
Thy name dissolves death's bonds, as Siva has proclaimed,
And I myself am Siva's servant; whom else should I obey?
O Mother, come what may, I shall repeat Thy name;
Why should I fret myself to death? To Siva's words I cling.

He sang again:

Mere babes are we. Father, with baby minds;
At every step we stumble and fall.
Why, then, must Thou show us Thy terrible face?
Why, Lord, must we ever behold Thy frown?


PRASANNA: "Now you are saying that there is a God. Again, it is you who say that according to Charvaka and many other thinkers the world was self-created."

NARENDRA: "Haven't you studied chemistry? Who combines the different elements? It is a human hand that combines hydrogen, oxygen, and electricity to prepare water. Everybody admits the existence of an Intelligent Force — a Force that is the essence of Knowledge and that guides all these phenomena."

PRASANNA: "How are we to know that God is kind?"

NARENDRA: "The Vedas say, 'That which is Thy compassionate face.' John Stuart Mill said the same thing. He said, 'How much kindness must He have, who has implanted kindness in the hearts of men.' The Master used to say: 'Faith is the one essential thing. God exists. He is very near us. Through faith alone one sees Him.'"

Narendra sang:

Where are you seeking Me, My servant? I am very close to you.
Far away you still are seeking, though I am so very near.
I am not in skin or hair, I am not in bones or flesh,
Not in mosque and not in temple, not in Kasi or Kailas.
Never will you come on Me in Ayodhya or Dwaraka;
But you will be sure to find Me if you search where faith abides.
Not in pleasant tasks or yoga, not in vairagya or sannyas,
Yet I come without delaying if you only search for Me.

PRASANNA: "Sometimes you say that God does not exist, and now you are saying all these things! You are not consistent. You keep changing your opinions."

All laughed.

NARENDRA: "All right! I shall never change what I have just said. As long as one has desires and cravings, so long one doubts the existence of God. A man cherishes some desire or other. Perhaps he has the desire to study or pass the university examination or become a scholar, and so forth and so on.'

Narendra sang again, in a voice choked with emotion:

Hail to Thee, our God and Lord! Hail, Giver of every blessing!
Hail, Thou Giver of good!
O Redeemer from fear, from danger and suffering!
Upholder of the worlds!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

Unfathomable and infinite, immeasurable, beyond compare,
O God, none equals Thee!
Lord of the Universe! O All-pervading Truth!
Thou the Atman Supreme!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

O Thou, the All-compassionate One, adored by the whole universe,
I bow before Thy feet!
Thou art the only Refuge in life and death, O Lord;
Before Thy feet I bow!
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

This is our only prayer, O Lord! What other boon can we implore?
Thus do we pray to Thee:
Grant us true wisdom here, and in the life hereafter
Reveal Thyself to us.
Hail, Lord! Victory to Thee!

Again Narendra sang, describing how very near God is to us — as near as the musk to the deer — and exhorting his brother disciples to drink deep from the cup of Divine Bliss:

Drinking the Bliss of Hari from the cup of prema,
Sadhu, be intoxicated!
Childhood you spent in crying, and youth in women's control;
Now, in your old age, full of phlegm and wind,
You wait for the funeral couch to bear you to the cremation ground.

Within the musk-deer's navel the fragrant musk is found;
But how can you make it understand?
Without the proper teacher to guide him on his way,
Man, too, is blindly roaming through the world,
Deluded as the foolish deer that wanders round and round the woods.

M. heard all this from the verandah.

Narendra got up. As he left the room he remarked, "My brain is heated by talking to these youngsters."

He met M. on the verandah and said, "Please, let us have a drink of water."

One of the members of the math said to Narendra, "Why, then, do you say that God does not exist?"

Narendra laughed.



Monday, May 9, 1887

The next morning M. was sitting alone under a tree in the garden. He said to himself: "Sri Ramakrishna has made the brothers of the monastery renounce 'woman and gold'. Ah, how eager they are to realize God! This place has become a veritable Vaikuntha, and the brothers living here are embodiments of Narayana. It is not many days since the Master passed away; that is why all the ideas and ideals he stood for are there, almost intact. The same Ayodhya — only Rama is not there.' The Master has made these brothers renounce their homes. Why has he kept a few in the world? Is there no way of liberation for them?"

From a room upstairs Narendra saw M. sitting alone under the tree. He came down and said with a smile, "Hello, M.! What are you doing?"

After a little conversation M. said to him: "Ah, you have such a sweet voice. Please sing a hymn."

Narendra sang the following hymn to Siva, in which the devotee prays for forgiveness for his sins:

Even before I saw the light of this world, my sins from previous births,
Through which I passed because of desire for the fruit of my deeds,
Punished me as I lay in my mother's womb.
There I was boiled in the midst of filthy things:
Who can describe the pain that afflicts the child in its mother's womb?
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

In childhood my suffering never came to an end;
My body was covered with filth and I craved for my mother's breasts.
Over my body and limbs I had no control;
I was pursued by troublesome flies and mosquitoes;
Day and night I cried with the pain of many an ailment, forgetting Thee, O Sankara!
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

In youth the venomous snakes of sound, sight, taste, touch, and smell,
Bit into my vitals and slew my discrimination;
I was engrossed in the pleasures of wealth, sons, and a youthful wife.
Alas! my heart, bereft of the thought of Siva,
Was filled with arrogance and pride.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

Now in old age my senses have lost the power of proper judging and acting;
My body, though still not wholly bereft of life,
Is weak and senile from many afflictions, from sins and illnesses and bereavements;
But even now my mind, instead of meditating on Siva,
Runs after vain desires and hollow delusions.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

The duties laid down in the smriti — perilous and abstruse — are now beyond me;
How can I speak of the Vedic injunctions for brahmins, as means for attaining Brahman?
Never yet have I rightly grasped, through discrimination,
The meaning of hearing the scriptures from the guru and reasoning on his instruction;
How then can I speak of reflecting on Truth without interruption? Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

Not even once have I finished my bath before sunrise and brought from the Ganges
Water to bathe Thy holy image;
Never, from the deep woods, have I brought the sacred vilwa-leaves for Thy worship;
Nor have I gathered full-blown lotuses from the lakes,
Nor ever arranged the lights and the incense for worshipping Thee.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not bathed Thine image with milk and honey, with butter and other oblations;
I have not decked it with fragrant sandal-paste;
I have not worshipped Thee with golden flowers, with incense, with camphor-flame and savoury offerings.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not made rich gifts to the brahmins, cherishing in my heart,
O Mahadeva, Thy sacred form;
I have not made in the sacred fire the million oblations of butter,
Repeating the holy 'mantra given to me by my guru;
Never have I done penance along the Ganges with japa and study of the Vedas.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

I have not sat in the lotus posture, nor have I ever controlled
The prana along the Sushumna, repeating the syllable Om;
Never have I suppressed the turbulent waves of my mind, nor merged the self-effulgent Om;
In the ever shining Witness-Consciousness, whose nature is that of the highest Brahman;
Nor have I, in samadhi, meditated on Sankara, who dwells in every form as the Inner Guide.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

Never, O Siva! have I seen Thee, the Pure, the Unattached, the Naked One,
Beyond the three gunas, free from delusion and darkness, absorbed in meditation,
And ever aware of the true nature of the world;
Nor, with a longing heart, have I meditated on Thine auspicious and sin-destroying form.
Therefore, O Siva! O Mahadeva! O Sambhu! forgive me, I pray, for my transgressions.

O mind, to gain liberation, concentrate wholly on Siva,
The sole Reality underlying the worlds, the Giver of good;
Whose head is illumined by the crescent moon and in whose hair the Ganges is hidden;
Whose fire-darting eyes consumed the god of earthly love; whose throat and ears are decked with snakes;
Whose upper garment is a comely elephant-skin.
Of what avail are all the other rituals?

O mind, of what avail are wealth or horses, elephants or a kingdom?
Of what avail the body or a house?
Know all these to be but momentary and quickly shun them;
Worship Siva, as your guru instructs you, for the attaining of Self-Knowledge.

Day by day does man come nearer to death;
His youth wears away; the day that is gone never returns.
Almighty Time devours everything;
Fickle as lightning is the goddess of fortune.
O Siva! O Giver of shelter to those that come to Thee for refuge!
Protect me, who have taken refuge at Thy feet.

I salute the ever auspicious Siva, the Home of Peace,
Who sits in the lotus posture; who has five mouths and three eyes;
Who holds in both His hands weapons and gong and drum;
Who is bedecked with many an ornament;
Whose skin is clear as crystal; who is Parvati's Lord.

I salute the self-effulgent Guru of the gods, the Lord of Uma;
I salute the Cause of the Universe;
I salute the Lord of beasts, adorned with snakes;
I salute Siva, whose three eyes shine like the sun, the moon, and fire;
I salute the Beloved of Krishna; I salute Sankara, who bestows boons on His devotees and gives them shelter;
I salute the auspicious Siva.

O Siva! White is Thy body, covered with ashes; white shine Thy teeth when Thou smilest!
White is the skull Thou boldest in Thy hand; white is Thy club, which threatens the wicked!
White is the bull on which Thou ridest; white are the rings that hang from Thine ears!
White appear Thy matted locks, covered with the foam of the Ganges;
White shines the moon on Thy forehead!
May He who is all white, all pure, bestow on me the treasure of forgiveness for my transgressions!
O Siva, forgive all the sins that I have committed
With hands or feet, with words or body, with ears or eyes, with mind or heart;
Forgive my sins, those past and those that are yet to come!
Victory unto Siva, the Ocean of Compassion, the Great God, the Abode of Blessedness!

After the hymn Narendra and M. talked again.

NARENDRA: "You may speak of leading a detached life in the world, and all that, but you will not attain anything unless you renounce 'woman and gold'. Don't you feel disgusted with your wife's body?

Fools enjoy the contact of the body, filled with filth, peopled with worms, foul of smell by nature, made of flesh, blood, bone, and marrow; but the wise shun it.

"Vain is the life of a person who does not take delight in the teachings of Vedanta and drink the Nectar of Divine Bliss. Listen to a song."

Narendra sang:

O man, abandon your delusion! Cast aside your wicked counsels!
Know the Lord and free yourself from earthly suffering!
For a few days' pleasure only, you have quite forgotten Him
Who is the Comrade of your soul. Alas, what mockery!

"No liberation is possible for a man unless he puts on the loin-cloth of a sannyasi. The world must be renounced."

Narendra sang from the Five Stanzas on the glory of the monk's loin-cloth:

Roaming ever in the grove of Vedanta,
Ever pleased with his beggar's morsel
Ever walking with heart free from sorrow,
Blest indeed is the wearer of the loin-cloth. . . .

Continuing, Narendra said: "Why should a man be entangled in worldliness? Why should he be ensnared by maya? What is man's real nature? He is the blessed Siva, the Embodiment of Bliss and Spirit."

He sang Sankaracharya's Six Stanzas on Nirvana:

Om. I am neither mind, intelligence, ego, nor chitta,
Neither ears nor tongue nor the senses of smell and sight.
Nor am I ether, earth, fire, water, or air:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva! . . .

Narendra recited another hymn, the Eight Stanzas on the glory of Krishna:

I am consumed with false desires and wrapped in the sleep of lust:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Thou art my only Refuge, Lord! I have no other salvation.
I am entrapped in the mire of sin:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

I am ensnared in the net of love for children, wife, and home:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
I am without devotion, helpless, smitten by wrong desire,
Afflicted with grief and misery:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

Lord, I have neither master nor place of shelter to call my own:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Utterly wearied out am I by all this going and coming
Along the endless road of life:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

From this hard and unavailing journey through life and death,
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Many the births that I have seen in many a bodily form,
And painful it is in the mother's womb:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

To Thee I come for salvation out of the cycle of existence:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
For I am terrified alike of old age and of death:
I come to Thee for shelter, Lord!
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

Never a good deed have I done, but many have been my sins:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
Headlong have I fallen into the mire of worldliness;
Countless the births I have endured:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

I have lorded it over men, but happiness is not there:
Save me, O Madhusudana!
What my words have promised, my deeds have never carried out;
Lord, I am full of wretchedness:
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

If as a man or a woman I must be born again and again —
Save me, O Madhusudana! —
May my devotion be unswerving to Thy feet, O Lord!
From the delusion of this world,
O Madhusudana, redeem me!

M. remained spellbound as he listened to these hymns sung by Narendra. He said to himself: "How intense Narendra's dispassion is! This is how he has infused the spirit of dispassion into the hearts of the other brothers of the monastery. The very contact with them awakens in the hearts of the Master's householder devotees the desire for renunciation of 'woman and gold'. Ah, how blessed are these all-renouncing brothers! Why has the Master kept us few in the world? Will he show us a way? Will he give us the spirit of renunciation, or will he delude us with worldliness?"


After the meal all were resting. The elder Gopal was copying some songs. Niranjan was on a visit to his mother. Sarat, Baburam, and Kali were in Puri.

Narendra, with one or two brothers, left for Calcutta. He had to see to his lawsuit. He was going to return in the evening; the brothers could not bear his absence.

In the afternoon Rabindra arrived, looking like a mad person. He was barefoot and had only half of his black-bordered cloth round his waist. His eyeballs were rolling like a madman's. All asked him anxiously what was the matter.

"Let me recover my breath!" he said. "I shall tell you everything presently. I am certainly not going back home; I shall stay at this very place with you all. She is certainly a traitor! Let me tell you something, friends. For her sake I gave up my habit of drinking, which I had indulged for five years. I have not taken a drop for the last eight months. And she is a traitor!"

The brothers of the math said: "Be calm, please! How did you come?"

RABINDRA: "I have come barefoot all the way from Calcutta."

The brothers asked him where he had lost the other half of his cloth.

RABINDRA: "When I was leaving her place she began to pull at my cloth. That is how half of it was torn off."

The brothers told him to bathe in the Ganges and cool off; then they would hear his story.

Rabindra belonged to a respectable kayastha family of Calcutta. He was twenty or twenty-two years old. He had first met Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar temple and had received his special blessing. On one occasion he had spent three nights with the Master. His disposition was very sweet and tender, and the Master had loved him dearly. Once he had said to Rabindra: "You will have to wait some time; you have to go through a few more experiences. Nothing can be done now. You see, the police can't do much just when the robbers attack a house. When the plundering is almost over, the police make their arrests."

Rabindra had many virtues. He was devoted to God and to service of the poor. He had many spiritual qualities. But he had walked into the snare of a prostitute. Now, suddenly, he had discovered that the woman was being unfaithful to him. Therefore he had come to the math in this dishevelled state, resolved not to go back to the world.

A devotee accompanied Rabindra to the Ganges. It was his inmost desire that Rabindra's spiritual consciousness should be awakened in the company of these holy men. When Rabindra finished his bath, the devotee took him to the adjacent cremation ground, showed him the corpses lying about, and said: "The brothers of the math come here every now and then to meditate on God. It is a good place for meditation. Here one sees clearly that the world is impermanent."

Rabindra sat down in the cremation ground to meditate. But he could not meditate long; his mind was restless.

Rabindra and the devotee returned to the math. They went to the worship room to salute the Deity. The devotee said to him, "The brothers of the math meditate in this room."

Rabindra sat there to meditate, but could not meditate long there either.

DEVOTEE: "How do you feel? Is your mind very restless? Is that why you have got up from your seat? Perhaps you could not concentrate well."

RABINDRA: "I am sure I shall not go back to the world. But the mind is restless."

M. and Rabindra were talking. No one else was present. M. was telling him stories from the life of Buddha. At that time the members of the math regularly read the lives of Buddha and Chaitanya. M. said to Rabindra that Buddha's spiritual consciousness was first awakened by hearing a song of some heavenly maidens.

M. sang the song:

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. . . .

That night Narendra, Tarak, and Harish returned from Calcutta. They said, "Oh, what a big meal we had!" They had been entertained by a devotee in Calcutta.

The members of the monastery assembled in the room of the "danas". Narendra heard Rabindra's story. He sang by way of giving instruction to him:

O man, abandon your delusion! Cast aside your wicked counsels!
Know the Lord and free yourself from earthly suffering!
For a few days' pleasure only, you have quite forgotten Him
Who is the Comrade of your soul. Alas, what mockery!

Narendra sang again:

Drinking the Bliss of Hari from the cup of prema,
Sadhu, be intoxicated! . . .

A few minutes later the brothers went to Kali Tapasvi's room. Girish Ghosh had just sent two of his new books to the monastery: the Life of Buddha and the Life of Chaitanya.

Since the founding of the new math Sashi had devoted himself heart and soul to the worship and service of the Master. All were amazed at his devotion. Just as he had tended Sri Ramakrishna's physical body during his illness, so now, with the same unswerving zeal, he worshipped the Master in the shrine room.

A member of the monastery was reading aloud from the lives of Buddha and Chaitanya. He was a little sarcastic while reading Chaitanya's life. Narendra snatched the book from his hand and said, "That is how you spoil a good thing!"

Narendra read the chapter describing how Chaitanya gave his love to all, from the brahmin to the pariah.

A BROTHER: "I say that one person cannot give love to another person."

NARENDRA: "But the Master gave it to me."

BROTHER: "Well, are you sure you have it?"

NARENDRA: "What can you understand about love? You belong to the servant class. All of you must serve me and massage my feet. Don't flatter yourselves by thinking you have understood everything. Now go and prepare a smoke for me."

All laughed.

THE BROTHER: "I surely will not."

M. (to himself): "Sri Ramakrishna has transmitted mettle to all the brothers of the math. It is no monopoly of Narendra's. Is it possible to renounce "woman and gold' without this inner fire?"



May 10, 1887


It was Tuesday, a very auspicious day for the worship of the Divine Mother. Arrangements were being made for Her special worship at the monastery.

M. was going to the Ganges to take his bath. Rabindra was walking alone on the roof. He heard Narendra singing the Six Stanzas on Nirvana:

Death or fear I have none, nor any distinction of caste;
Neither father nor mother nor even a birth have I;
Neither friend nor comrade, neither disciple nor guru:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva!

I have no form or fancy; the All-pervading am I;
Everywhere I exist, yet I am beyond the senses;
Neither salvation am I, nor anything that may be known:
I am Pure Knowledge and Bliss: I am Siva! I am Siva!

Rabindra went to the Ganges to take his bath. Presently he returned to the monastery clad in his wet cloth.

Narendra said to M. in a whisper: "He has bathed in the Ganges. It would be good to initiate him now into sannyas."

Both Narendra and M. smiled.

Prasanna asked Rabindra to change his wet cloth and gave him a dry gerrua cloth. Narendra said to M., "Now he is going to put on the cloth of renunciation."

M. (with a smile): "What kind of renunciation?"

NARENDRA: "Why, the renunciation of 'woman and gold'."

Rabindra put on the ochre cloth and entered Kali Tapasvi's room to meditate.

  1. ^The monastic names of the Master's intimate disciples who renounced the world soon after his death were as follows: Narendra — Swami Vivekananda, Rakhal — Swami Brahmananda, Jogin — Swami Jogananda, Niranjan — Swami Niranjanananda, Latu — Swami Adbhutananda, Baburam — Swami Premananda, Tarak — Swami Shivananda, Hari — Swami Turiyananda, Sarat — Swami Saradananda, Sashi — Swami Ramakrishnananda, Kali — Swami Abhedananda, Gangadhar — Swami Akhandananda, Gopal (elder) —Swami Advaitananda, Sarada Prasanna — Swami Trigunatitananda, Subodh — Swami Subodhananda, Tulasi — Swami Nirmalananda
  2. ^The night of Siva. On this day the devotees observe fast and spend the whole night in meditation, prayer., and other spiritual exercises.
  3. ^Advaita and Nityananda were intimate companions of Chaitanya.
  4. ^Sarada Prasanna, one of the Master's young disciples, was addressed as Prasanna by Sri Ramakrishna and his disciples.
  5. ^Rakhal was addressed as "Raja" by all the brothers. "Rakhal-Raj", the "King of the cowherd boys", is one of the names of Sri Krishna, and Sri Ramakrishna often spoke of Rakhal as one of the intimate companions of Krishna.
  6. ^A small town only a few miles from Baranagore, on the other side of the Ganges.
  7. ^Loin-cloth of a monk.
  8. ^Metal articles used in the temple worship.