The Master was very young when his father died. He was therefore brought up from his childhood under the affectionate care of his mother Chandradevi and his eldest brother Ram kumar. Ramkumar was about thirty-one years older than the Master. Therefore he received a part of the Master’s devotion which was due to a father. It is certain that the Master was very much grieved at the sudden death of his brother who was as affectionate to him as a father. The renunciation of the world on the part of Lord Buddha, an incarnation of God, at the sight of illness, old age and death is well known. Who will say how far his brother’s death contributed to the kindling up of the fire of renunciation in the Master’s pure mind, by producing in him a firm conviction of the transitoriness of the world? Be that as it may, he applied his mind more closely to the worship of the Mother of the universe from this time on and became anxious to know whether man thirsting for Her vision became really blessed with it. We are told that at this time he used to spend his days sitting with the divine Mother in the temple at the end of the worship and becoming absorbed in Her. He became overwhelmed with, and lost himself in, the love for the Mother while he was singing for Her the songs composed by devotees like Ramprasad and Kamalakanta. He was extremely reluctant to waste a single moment in vain talk now. And when the door of the temple was closed at midday or at night, he left all company, entered the jungle round the Panchavati and spent his time in the thought and meditation of the Mother of the universe.
These actions of the Master were not agreeable to Hriday. But what could he do? It was not unknown to him that from his childhood the Master accomplished whatever he wanted to accomplish and nobody could prevent him It was therefore of no avail to protest to him or hinder him. But Hriday could not help hinting to him his anxiety when he saw that mood growing with alarming rapidity every day. Hriday became very anxious on knowing that, instead of sleeping, he left his bed and went somewhere at night, for he would have to stand the hard labour of the divine service in the temple. Besides, the Master did not take now as much food as he once used to take. It was probable that under the circumstances, his health might break down if he did not sleep at night. So Hriday resolved to inquire about it and set things right as far as it lay in his power.
3. The condition of the Panchavati and the place around it at that time
The land surrounding the Panchavati was not even then as it is now. It was full of pits, ditches, low lands, jungles, etc. There grew an Amalaki tree among the wild trees and plants. It was a burial ground besides being a jungle. Therefore people hardly went there even in the daytime. If they went that way at all, they never entered the jungle. So, going there at night was out of the question. No one ventured there for fear of ghosts. We have heard from Hriday that the tree grew on a low piece of land. So, anyone sitting under that tree could not be seen from the high land outside the jungle. The Master used to sit under it for meditation at night.
4. Hriday asked, “What do you do in the jungle at night?”
One night, when the Master started for that place, Hriday followed him without his knowledge and saw him enter that jungle. He did not go farther lest the Master should be annoyed. But in order to frighten him he threw stones and some gravel so that they fell round about him for some time. Seeing that this did not bring the Master back, he could not do anything but return to his room. He asked the Master during his leisure the next day, “What do you do when you enter the jungle at night?” “There is,” replied the Master, “an Amalaki tree there. I sit under it and practise meditation. The scriptures say that anyone who meditates under an Amalaki tree, with whatever desire in his mind, gets it fulfilled.”
As soon as the Master sat for meditation under that tree after that event, there happened from time to time various kinds of disturbances like stone-throwing, for a few days. Although he knew that it was all Hriday’s doing, the Master never mentioned it to him But Hriday could not feel at ease when he found that he could not dissuade him by that means. One day he entered the jungle with a silent step shortly after the Master had gone to the tree and saw from a distance that he had put off his cloth and the sacred thread and was sitting at ease in meditation. When he saw this, he thought, “Has uncle gone mad? It is only mad people that would do so. If he wants to meditate, let him do it by all means; but why does he throw off the only cloth he has on?”
6. The Master said to Hriday “One must become free from all the bondages before one meditates”
Thinking so, he immediately approached him and said, “What is this? How is it that you have put off your thread and cloth and are stark naked?” When thus shouted at a few times, the Master gained his normal consciousness and heard Hriday put those questions to him. He said, “What do you know? Thus freed from all ties, one should practise meditation. From his birth man labours under ‘eight bondages’,1 of hatred, fear, shame, aversion, egoism, vanity, pride of noble descent, and obsession with formal good conduct. The sacred thread also is a ‘bondage’, for it is a sign of the egoism, ‘I am a Brahmin and superior to all.’ When one calls on Mother, one should discard these ‘bondages’ and call on Her with a concentrated mind. That is why I have put off these. I shall put them on again when I return at the end of meditation.” Hriday was aghast to hear these words which he had never heard before and unable to say anything in reply, left that place. A little while previously he had thought that he would convince his uncle of his mistake in various ways and scold him, but what he actually did was nothing of the kind.
7. The Master practised with both his body and mind (1) how to destroy egoism due to birth, (2) how to regard alike a clod of earth, a precious stone and gold, and (3) how to have the knowledge that Siva is in all Jivas
It is good to state one fact here in connection with the event mentioned above, for if that is known, we shall be able to understand many of the events that followed in the Master’s life. The Master could not, we saw, rest assured that by discarding the eight bondages only mentally, he could be freed from them; he renounced them physically also as far as possible. We see him behaving similarly with regard to all other matters in later life. Take for example the following facts:
In order to destroy vanity born of noble descent and thereby acquire true humility, he cleaned very carefully with his hands the place which is absolutely shunned as unclean by others.
If the human mind could not regard alike a clod of earth, a stone and gold, that is, if it could not regard metals like gold and precious stones to be as worthless as a clod of earth, it could not, he was told, free itself from the desire of enjoying bodily pleasures, completely turn towards God and fix itself in Yoga. As soon as he heard this, the Master took in his hand a few coins and clods of earth and threw them into the Ganga, repeating over and over again, “rupee—earth, earth—rupee”.
In order to make firm his knowledge that Siva (God) is in all Jivas (creatures), he ate and put on his head, as Prasada, a little of the leavings from the leaf-plates of the poor people after they had been fed at the Kali temple. Afterwards, he carried those leaves on his head to the bank of the Ganga, took a broom and swept and washed the place clean with his own hands. He felt happy to think that a little of the service of God had been performed with the help of that mortal body of his.
8. The sequence of the Master’s renunciation
Many similar events may be mentioned. It is seen in all these cases that he did not rest satisfied with mere mental renouncing of the obstacles on the path to the realization of God, but discarded them at first in their gross forms also. In other words, he kept his body and senses away from them as far as possible, and compelled them forcibly to act contrary to their natural inclinations. It is seen that acting thus his mind had all its past impressions destroyed completely and it grasped the new contrary ones so firmly that it could not act against them He did not admit that new ideas had properly been grasped and contrary ones given up, till at least a little of the former had been converted into practice with the help of the body and the senses.
9. An objection that this method of Sadhana is a fancied one, and its refutation
Wholly averse to giving up past impressions, we think that there was no need of such actions on the part of the Master. In the course of discussing such actions of his, some have that this method gone to the length of saying, “His actions such as cleaning dirty abominable places, throwing into the Ganga the coins and the clods of earth repeating ‘rupee—earth, earth—rupee’, seem to be whims of his fancy. The mental development that he obtained through those extraordinary means could be obtained more quickly through far easier ones.” In reply we have to say: It all sounds very well. But how many people up till now have been able to become completely averse to sights, tastes and other worldly objects and have devoted their whole minds to God by adopting your so-called easier means of mentally giving up sensuous objects, without having recourse to external practices? It can never be. One cannot succeed in any great undertaking, let alone the realization of God, when one’s mind has one idea and moves in a particular direction while the body acts contrary to that idea and moves in a different direction. But, eagerly longing for the enjoyments of sight, taste, etc., man does not realize the truth of this statement. Under the control of past impressions, he does not try to give up with his body and senses any of their objects, even when he realizes that it is good to renounce it, but goes on thinking, “Let the body do as it will, but let the mind soar high.” Eager to have Yoga and Bhoga simultaneously, he deceives himself, for, like light and darkness, these two things can never coexist. No one has so far been able to discover an easy method in the spiritual world through which God and the world of lust and gold, can be served at the same time.1 Therefore the scriptures repeatedly teach us, “Whatever ought to be given up, has to be given up with body, mind and speech, and whatever ought to be accepted, has to be accepted similarly. Then and then only will the aspirant be fit to realize God.” That is why the sages say, “Man can never have the realization of the Self with the help of knowledge, unaided by practice and without putting on emblems,2 which give rise to spiritual attitudes.” It is also reasonable to believe that the human mind reaches the subtle state from the gross, and the causal from the subtle. “There is no other path to the realization of the supreme goal.”3
10. The manner in which the Master performed worship etc., at this time
We have said before that the Master applied his mind more closely, to the worship of the divine Mother after the death of his eldest brother. With faith in his heart he was now eagerly doing whatever he knew to be favourable to the attainment of Her vision. We were told by the Master himself that he regarded as an auxiliary to his daily worship the singing for the goddess of the songs composed by perfected devotees like Ramprasad. His mind was filled with zeal when he sang those songs with his heart full of profound spiritual emotion. He thought, “Devotees like Ramprasad had the vision of the Mother. So it is certain that the Mother of the universe is realizable; why can I not then be blessed with Her vision?” He used to say with an eager heart, “Thou showed Thyself to Ramprasad, Mother, why then shouldst Thou not reveal Thyself to me? I don’t want wealth, friends, relatives, enjoyment of pleasure, and the like. Do show Thyself to me.” He would pray and cry this way, while his bosom was flooded with streams of tears from his eyes, and the heaviness of his heart lessened a little. Urged by a fond hope, he would be somewhat reassured like a child and become ready to please the goddess by singing for Her again. He thus went on spending his days in worship, meditation, and the singing of devotional songs. His love and longing for Her increased daily.
Thus the wonderful worshipper’s scheduled period of time for performing the worship and service of the goddess went on increasing day by day. He sat for worship and, placing a flower on his head according to scriptural injunction, perhaps remained motionless like the trunk of a tree meditating for two long hours. After offering cooked food and other things to the Mother, he perhaps spent a long time thinking that She was taking them. Again, perhaps he spent a long time every morning in decorating the Goddess with garlands made of flowers plucked with his own hands. Or he remained engaged for a very long time in performing the evening Arati with a heart filled with loving devotion. Again, singing for the Mother of the universe in the afternoon, or at the end of the Arati, he sometimes became so much absorbed in and overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, that he could be made to perform the Arati or the evening services of food offering, etc., only when he had been reminded again and again that it was getting late for those services. The worship continued thus for a time.
It is clear that the attention of the people of the temple was drawn towards the Master when they saw such devotion, eagerness and spiritual steadfastness on his part. People at first deride and ridicule a person who is seen to give up the path generally followed by them and conducts himself or does something, in a novel way. But with the passage of time and as the person goes firmly forward on his path, their attitude changes and reverence takes its place. The Master’s case was no exception to this rule. Scarcely had he performed the worship this way for some time, when he became the object of many people’s derision. Sometime later some people began to revere him It is said that Mathur saw the Master’s worship etc., at this time and said with delight to Rani Rasmani, “We have got an extraordinary worshipper; the Goddess will be awakened very soon.” The Master never deviated from his own course on account of the opinions of the people. Like a river flowing to the sea, his mind was from now on progressing incessantly towards the holy feet of the divine Mother of the universe.
As days went by, the devotion and eagerness of the Master increased more and more. And the course of his mind pointing incessantly in one direction began to manifest itself in various symptoms in his body. The amount of his food and sleep decreased. As the blood in his body was always moving speedily to his chest and brain, his chest appeared constantly reddish and his eyes became sometimes suddenly filled with tears. He felt a great eagerness for the realization of the Divine, and there existed in his mind an incessant anxiety, as to what he should do and how he could have Her vision. Therefore there was seen in his body a state of restlessness and a lack of tranquillity at all times other than those of meditation, worship, etc.
We were told by the Master himself, that one day at that time, he was singing for the divine Mother and very eagerly prayed and wept to have Her vision. He prayed to Her saying, “Dost Thou not, O Mother, hear even a little of so many prayers I say to Thee? Thou didst show Thyself to Ramprasad. Why shouldst Thou not then reveal Thyself to me?”
He used to say, “There was then an intolerable anguish in my heart because I could not have Her vision. Just as a man wrings a towel forcibly to squeeze out all the water from it, I felt as if somebody caught hold of my heart and mind and was doing so with them. Greatly afflicted with the thought that I might never have Mother’s vision, I was dying of despair. Being in an agony I thought that there was then no use in living this life. My eyes suddenly fell upon the sword that was there in the Mother’s temple. I made up my mind to put an end to my life with it that very moment. Like one mad, I ran and caught hold of it, when suddenly I had the wonderful vision of the Mother, and fell down unconscious. I did not know what happened then in the external world—how that day and the next slipped away. But, in my heart of hearts, there was flowing a current of intense bliss, never experienced before, and
I had the immediate knowledge of the Light that was Mother.”
On another occasion the Master described to us in detail his wonderful vision spoken of before. He said, “It was as if houses, doors, temples and all other things vanished altogether; as if there was nothing anywhere! And what I saw was a boundless infinite conscious sea of light! However far and in whatever direction I looked, I found a contiuous succession of effulgent waves coming forward, raging and storming from all sides with a great speed. Very soon they fell on me and made me sink to the unknown bottom. I panted, struggled, and fell unconscious.” The Master told us that at the time of his first vision he saw a conscious sea of light. But what about the divine Mother’s form consisting of pure consciousness only — the form of Hers with hands that give boons and freedom from fear? Did the Master then have the vision of that form also in that sea of light? It appears that he had, for as soon as he had the slightest consciousness at the time of his first vision, he, we are told, uttered repeatedly the word “Mother” in a plaintive voice.
When that vision came to an end, there arose in the heart of the Master an eager, incessant cry of lamentation for a constant immediate vision of the divine Mother’s form, consisting of consciousness only. Although it was not always manifested in external symptoms like weeping, etc., it always existed in his heart. Sometimes it increased so much that, unable to suppress it, he fell on the ground and struggled in pain. He wept so much, saying, “Bestow Thy grace on me Mother, show Thyself to me,” that people gathered all round him! Even a shade of a concern for what they would think of such restlessness did not arise in his mind at that time. He used to say, “Although people stood all round, they appeared unreal like shadows or pictures painted on canvas, and the slightest sense of shame or hesitation did not touch the mind on that account. But immediately after I lost consciousness on account of unbearable anguish, I saw that form of the Mother with hands that give boons and freedom from fear —the form that smiled, spoke and consoled and taught me in endless ways!”
1. Vide Glossary.
1. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. The Holy Bible. Math. VI. 24.
2. Tapasovapyalingat.— Mundaka Upanishad, 3. 2. 4.
3. Svetasvatara Upanishad, 6. 15.