THE MASTER'S TRAINING OF HIS DISCIPLES
Dr. Sarkar on ecstasy — Master's humility — M. and Dr. Sarkar —
Master's conception of Kali — Depth of Sri Ramakrishna's experiences
— Futility of mere scholarship — Master on Bankim — Divine
Knowledge is inexhaustible — Master's unique experience — The will of
— Dr. Sarkar and Girish — Free will and God's will — God alone is the
agent — Dr. Sarkar on duty — Pure love — Narendra's poverty —
Master in samadhi — Narendra's singing — On knowledge and ignorance
— Brahman cannot be described — Egotism condemned — Master
scolds Shyam Basu — Master's prayer — Pairs of opposites — Dr. Sarkar
on expressing feelings — Cause of Master's illness.
Monday, October 26, 1885
IT WAS ABOUT TEN O'CLOCK in the morning when M. arrived at the
Syampukur house on his way to Dr. Sarkar to report the Master's
Dr. Sarkar had declared the illness incurable. His words cast gloom
over the minds of the Master's devotees and disciples. With unflagging
devotion and zeal they nursed the patient — their teacher, guide,
friend. A band of young disciples, led by Narendra, was preparing to
renounce the world and dedicate their lives to the realization of God
service of humanity. People flocked to the Master day and night. In
of the excruciating pain in his throat, he welcomed them all with a
face. There seemed to be no limit to his solicitude for their welfare.
face beamed as he talked to them about God. Dr. Sarkar, seeing that
conversation aggravated the illness, forbade him to talk to people.
not talk to others," the physician had said to the Master, "but you may
an exception in my case." The doctor used to spend six or seven hours
Sri Ramakrishna's company, drinking in every word that fell from his
MASTER: "I am feeling much relieved. I am very well today. Is it
of the medicine? Then why shouldn't I continue it?"
M: "I am going to the doctor. I shall tell him everything. He will
what is best."
MASTER: "I haven't seen Purna for two or three days. I am worried about
M. (to Kali): "Why don't you see Purna and ask him
KALI: "I shall go immediately."
MASTER (to M.): "The doctor's son is a nice boy.
Please ask him to come."
M. arrived at Dr. Sarkar's house and found him with two or three
DOCTOR (to M.): "I was talking about you just a
minute ago. You said
you would come at ten; I have been waiting for you an hour and a half.
Your delay has made me worry about him [meaning Sri Ramakrishna].
(To a friend) "Please sing that song."
The friend sang:
Proclaim the glory of God's name as long as life remains in you;
The dazzling splendour of His radiance Hoods the universe!
Like nectar streams His boundless love, filling the hearts of men with
The very thought of His compassion sends a thrill through every limb!
How can one fittingly describe Him? Through His abounding grace
The bitter sorrows of this life are all forgotten instantly.
On every side — on land below, in sky above, beneath the seas:
In every region of this earth — men seek Him tirelessly,
And as they seek Him, ever ask: Where is His limit, where His end?
True Wisdom's Dwelling-place is He, the Elixir of Eternal Life,
The Sleepless, Ever-wakeful Eye, the Pure and Stainless One:
The vision of His face removes all trace of sorrow from our hearts.
DOCTOR (to M
.): "Isn't it a beautiful song? How do
you like that line,
'Where is His limit, where His end?'"
M: "Yes, that's a very fine line. It fills the mind with the idea of
DOCTOR (tenderly, to M
.): "It is already late in the
morning. Have you
taken your lunch? I finish mine before ten and then begin my
calls; otherwise I don't feel well. Look here, I have been thinking of
a feast to you all [meaning Sri Ramakrishna's devotees] one day."
M: "That will be fine, sir."
DOCTOR: "Where shall I arrange it? Here or at the Syampukur house?
Whatever you suggest."
M: "It doesn't matter, sir. Wherever you arrange it we shall be very
to dine with you."
The conversation turned to Kali, the Divine Mother.
DOCTOR: "Kali is an old hag of the Sonthals."
M. burst into loud laughter and said, "Where did you get that?"
DOCTOR: "Oh, I have heard something like that." (M. laughs
They began to talk about the ecstasy that Vijay and the others had
experienced the previous day in the Master's room. The doctor also had
present on the occasion.
DOCTOR: "Yes, I witnessed that ecstasy. But is excessive ecstasy good
M: "The Master says that an excess of ecstasy harms no one, if it is
result of the contemplation of God. He further says that the lustre of
gives light and soothes the body; it does not burn."
DOCTOR: "Oh, the lustre of a gem! That's only a reflected light."
M: "He also says that a man does not die by sinking in the Lake of
Immortality. God is that Lake. A plunge in that Lake does not injure a
on the contrary it makes him immortal. Of course, he will become
only if he has faith in God."
DOCTOR: "Yes, that is true."
The doctor took M. in his carriage. He had to see a few patients on the
way to Syampukur. They continued their conversation in the carriage.
Sarkar referred to Mahima Chakravarty's pride.
M: "He visits the Master. Even if he has a little pride, it will not
long. If one only sits in the Master's presence awhile, one's pride
to pieces. It is because the Master himself is totally free from
cannot exist in the presence of humility. A celebrated man like Pundit
Chandra Vidyasagar showed great modesty and humility in the Master's
presence. The Paramahamsa visited his house; it was nine o'clock in the
evening when the Master took his leave. Vidyasagar came all the way
the library to the gate of his compound to see him off. He himself
the light to show the way. As the Master's carriage started off,
stood there with folded hands."
DOCTOR: "Well, what does Vidyasagar think of him?"
M: "That day he showed the Master great respect. But when I talked
with him later, I found out that he didn't much care for what the
call emotion or ecstasy. He shares your views on such things."
DOCTOR: "Neither do I care very much for any such display of emotion
as folding one's hands or touching others' feet with one's head. To me
head is the same as the feet. But if a man thinks differently of the
him do whatever he likes."
M: "We know that you do not care for a display of feelings. Perhaps you
remember that the Master now and then refers to you as a 'deep soul'.
said to you yesterday that when an elephant plunges into a small pool
makes a big splash, but when it goes into a big lake you see hardly a
The elephant of emotion cannot produce any effect at all in a deep
The Master says that you are a 'deep soul'."
DOCTOR: "I don't deserve the compliment. After all, what is bhava? It
only a feeling. There are other aspects of feeling, such as bhakti.
runs to excess, some can suppress it and some cannot."
M: "Divine ecstasy may or may not be explainable; but, sir, it cannot
denied that ecstasy, or love of God, is a unique thing. I have seen in
library Stebbing's book on Darwinism. According to Stebbing the human
mind is wonderful, whether it be the result of evolution or of special
creation. He gives a beautiful illustration from the theory of light.
wonderful, whether you know the wave theory of light or not."
DOCTOR: "Yes. Have you noticed further that Stebbing accepts both
Darwin and God?"
The conversation again turned to Sri Ramakrishna.
DOCTOR: "I find that he is a worshipper of the Goddess Kali."
M: "But with him the meaning of Kali is different. What the Vedas call
the Supreme Brahman, he calls Kali. What the Mussalmans call Allah and
the Christians call God, he calls Kali. He does not see many gods; he
only one God. What the Brahmajnanis of olden times called Brahman, what
the yogis call Atman and the bhaktas call the Bhagavan, he calls Kali.
In Sri Ramakrishna one finds all the attitudes and ideals of religion.
That is why people of all sects and creeds enjoy peace and blessedness
presence. Who can fathom his feeling and tell us the depth of his inner
DOCTOR: " All things to all men.' I don't approve of it although St.
M: "Who can understand the state of his mind? We have heard from him
that unless one is engaged in the yarn trade, one cannot tell the
between number forty and number forty-one yarn. Only a painter can
appreciate another painter. The mind of a saint is very deep. One
understand all the aspects of Christ unless one is Christlike. Perhaps
realization of the Master is what Christ meant when He said: 'Be ye
as your Father in Heaven is perfect.'"
DOCTOR: "What arrangements have you made about having him nursed?"
M: "At present one of the older devotees is assigned every day to look
after him. It may be Girish Babu or Ram Babu or Balaram or Suresh Babu
or Navagopal or Kali Babu. It is that way."
It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when the doctor and M.
the Master's room on the second Boor. Sri Ramakrishna sat there,
as usual, completely forgetful of the fatal illness which was eating
away. Among the many devotees in the room were Girish, the younger
Naren, and Sarat. Sometimes they were motionless, like the snake before
its charmer, and sometimes they displayed great joy, like the bridal
the bridegroom. The doctor and M. bowed low before the Master and sat
the floor. At the sight of the doctor, the Master said, laughing,
have been feeling very well."
Then the Master went on with his soul-enthralling conversation.
MASTER: "What will mere scholarship accomplish without discrimination
and renunciation? I go into a strange mood while thinking of the Lotus
Feet of God. The cloth on my body drops to the ground and I feel
creeping up from my feet to the top of my head. In that state I regard
mere straw. If I see a pundit without discrimination and love of God, I
regard him as a bit of straw.
"One day Dr. Ramnarayan had been arguing with me, when suddenly I
went into that mood. I said to him: 'What are you saying? What can you
understand of God by reasoning? How little you can understand of His
creation! Shame! You have the pettifogging mind of a weaver!' Seeing
state of my mind he began to weep and gently stroked my feet."
DOCTOR: "Ramnarayan did that because he is a Hindu. Besides, he is a
believer in flowers, and sandal-paste. He is an orthodox Hindu."
M. (to himself
): "Dr. Sarkar says that he has
nothing to do with gong
is one of your pundits. I met him once. I asked him,
What is the duty of man?' And he had the impudence to say, 'Eating,
keeping, and sex gratification.' These words created in me a feeling of
aversion. I said: 'What are you saying? You are very mean. What you
day and night and what you do all the time come out through your lips.
a man eats radish, he belches radish.' Then we talked about God a great
deal. There was also much devotional music in the room, and I danced.
Then Bankim said to me, 'Sir, please come to our house once.' 'That
on the will of God', I replied. 'There also', he said, 'you will find
God.' I laughed and said: 'What kind of devotees are they? Are they
those who said, "Gopal! Gopal!"?'"
DOCTOR: "What is the story of 'Gopal! Gopal!'?"
MASTER (with a smile
): "There was a goldsmith who
kept a jewelry shop.
He looked like a great devotee, a true Vaishnava, with beads around his
neck, rosary in his hand, and the holy marks on his forehead. Naturally
people trusted him and came to his shop on business. They thought that,
being such a pious man, he would never cheat them. Whenever a party of
customers entered the shop, they would hear one of his craftsmen say,
'Kesava! Kesava!' Another would say, after a while, 'Gopal! Gopal!'
third would mutter, 'Hari! Hari!' Finally someone would say, 'Hara!
Now these are, as you know, different names of God. Hearing so much
chanting of God's names, the customers naturally thought that this
gold-smith must be a very superior person. But can you guess the
intention? The man who said 'Kesava! Kesava!'3
meant to ask, 'Who are these?
— who are these
customers?' The man who said 'Gopal! Gopal!'
conveyed the idea that the customers were merely a herd of cows. That
estimate he formed of them after the exchange of a few words. The man
who said 'Hari! Hari!' asked, 'Since they are no better than a
herd of cows
then may we rob them?
' He who said 'Hara! Hara!'
gave his assent,
meaning by these words, 'Do rob
by all means, since
they are mere cows!' (All laugh
"Once I went to a certain place with Mathur Babu. Many pundits came
forward to argue with me. And you all know that I am a tool. (All
The pundits saw that strange mood of mine. When the conversation was
over, they said to me: 'Sir, after hearing your words, all that we have
before, our knowledge and scholarship, has proved to be mere spittle.
we realize that a man does not lack wisdom if he has the grace of God.
fool becomes wise and the mute eloquent.' Therefore I say that a man
not become a scholar by the mere study of books.
"Yes, how true it is! How can a man who has the grace of God lack
knowledge? Look at me. I am a fool. I do not know anything. Then who is
it that utters these words? The reservoir of the Knowledge of God is
inexhaustible. There are grain-dealers at Kamarpukur. When selling
man weighs the grain on the scales and another man pushes it to him
a heap. It is the duty of the second man to keep a constant supply of
on the scales by pushing it from the big heap. It is the same with my
No sooner are they about to run short than the Divine Mother sends a
supply from Her inexhaustible storehouse of Knowledge.
"During my boyhood God manifested Himself in me. I was then eleven
years old. One day, while I was walking across a paddy-field, I saw
something. Later on I came to know from people that I had been
and my body totally motionless. Since that day I have been an
different man. I began to see another person within me. When I used to
conduct the worship in the temple, my hand, instead of going toward the
Deity, would very often come toward my head, and I would put flowers
there. A young man who was then staying with me did not dare approach
me. He would say: 'I see a light on your face. I am afraid to come very
"You know I am a fool. I know nothing. Then who is it that says all
these things? I say to the Divine Mother: 'O Mother, I am the machine
and Thou art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I
the chariot and Thou art the Charioteer. I do as Thou makest me do; I
speak as Thou makest me speak; I move as Thou makest me move. It is not
I! It is not I! It is all Thou! It is all Thou!' Hers is the glory; we
Her instruments. Once Radha, to prove her chastity, carried on her head
pitcher filled with water. The pitcher had a thousand holes, but not a,
of water spilled. People began to praise her, saying, 'Such a chaste
tlie world will never see again!' Then Radha said to them: 'Why do you
praise me? Say: "Glory unto Krishna! Hail Krishna!'' I am only His
"Once in that strange mood of mine I placed my foot on Vijay's chest.
You know how greatly I respect him — and I placed my foot on his body!
What do you say to that?"
DOCTOR: "But now you should be careful."
MASTER (with folded hands
): 'What can I do? I become
unconscious in that mood. Then I do not know at all what I am doing."
DOCTOR: "You should be careful. No use folding your hands now and
MASTER: "Can I do anything myself
in that mood?
What do you think of
this state? If you think it is a hoax, then I should say that your
'science' and all that is bosh!"
DOCTOR: "Now listen, sir! Would I come to see you so often if I thought
it all a hoax? You know that I neglect many other duties in order to
here. I cannot visit many patients, for I spend six or seven hours at a
MASTER: "Once I said to Mathur Babu: 'Don't think that I have achieved
my desired end because you, a rich man, show me respect. It matters
little to me whether you obey me or not.' Of course you must remember
that a mere man can do nothing. It is God alone who makes one person
obey another. Man is straw and dust before the power of God."
DOCTOR: "Do you think I shall obey you because a certain fisherman4
obeyed you? . . . Undoubtedly I show you respect; I show you respect as
MASTER: "Do I ask you to show me respect?"
GIRISH: "Does he ask you to show him respect?"
DOCTOR (to the Master
): "What are you saying? Do you
explain it as the
will of God?"
MASTER: "What else can it be? What can a man do before the will of
God? Arjuna said to Sri Krishna on the battle-field of Kurukshetra: 'I
not fight. It is impossible for me to kill my own kinsmen.' Sri Krishna
replied: 'Arjuna, you will have to. fight. Your very nature will make
fight.' Then Sri Krishna revealed to Arjuna that all the men on the
battle-field were already dead.5
"Once some Sikhs came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. They said:
'You see, the leaves of the aswattha tree are moving. That too is due
will of God.' Without His will not even a leaf can move."
DOCTOR: "If everything is done by the will of God, then why do you
chatter? Why do you talk so much to bring knowledge to others?"
MASTER: "He makes me talk; therefore I talk. 'I am the machine and He
is the Operator.'"
DOCTOR: "You say that you are the machine. That's all right. Or keep
quiet, knowing that everything is God."
GIRISH (to the doctor
): "Whatever you may think,
sir, the truth is that
we act because He makes us act. Can anyone take a single step against
the Almighty Will?"
DOCTOR: "But God has also given us free will. I can think of God, or
not, as I like."
GIRISH: "You think of God or do some good work because you like to.
Really it is not you who do these things, but your liking of them that
makes you do so."
DOCTOR: "Why should that be so? I do these things as my duty."
GIRISH: "Even then it is because you like to do your duty."
DOCTOR: "Suppose a child is being burnt. From a sense of duty I rush
to save it."
GIRISH: "You feel happy to save the child; therefore you rush into the
fire. It is your happiness that drives you to the action. A man eats
being tempted by such relishes as puffed rice or fried potatoes." (Laughter
MASTER: "A man must have some kind of faith before he undertakes a
work. Further, he feels joy when he thinks of it. Only then does he set
about performing the work. Suppose a jar of gold coins is hidden
First of all a man must have faith that the jar of gold coins is there.
He feels joy at the thought of the jar. Then he begins to dig. As he
the earth he hears a metallic sound. That increases his joy. Next he
corner of the jar. That gives him more joy. Thus his joy is ever on the
increase. Standing on the porch of the Kali temple, I have watched the
ascetics preparing their smoke of hemp. I have seen their faces beaming
with joy in anticipation of the smoke."
DOCTOR: "But take the case of fire. It gives both heat and light. The
no doubt illumines objects, but the heat burns the body. Likewise, it
an unadulterated joy that one reaps from the performance of duty. Duty
has its painful side too."
M. (to Girish
): "As the proverb goes: 'If the
stomach gets food, then the
back can bear a few blows from the host.' There is joy in sorrow also."
GIRISH (to the doctor
): "Duty is dry."
DOCTOR: "Why so?"
GIRISH: "Then it is pleasant." (All laugh
M: "Again we come to the point that one likes opium for the sake of
the relishes that are served with it."
GIRISH (to the doctor
): "Duty must be pleasant; or
why do you perform it?"
DOCTOR: "The mind is inclined that way."
M. (to Girish
): "That wretched inclination draws the
mind. If you speak
of the compelling power of inclination, then where is free will?"
DOCTOR: "I do not say that the will is absolutely free. Suppose a cow
tied with a rope. She is free within the length of that rope. But when
feels the pull of the rope —"
MASTER: "Jadu Mallick also gave that illustration. (To the
) Is it mentioned in some English book?
(To the doctor
) "Look here. If a man truly believes
that God alone does
everything, that He is the Operator and man the machine, then such a
is verily liberated in life. 'Thou workest Thine own work; men only
theirs.' Do you know what it is like? Vedanta philosophy gives an
Suppose you are cooking rice in a pot, with potato, egg-plant, and
vegetables. After a while the potatoes, egg-plant, rice, and the rest
jump about in the pot. They seem to say with pride: 'We are moving! We
are jumping!' The children see it and think the potatoes, egg-plant,
are alive and so they jump that way. But the elders, who know, explain
the children that the vegetables and the rice are not alive; they jump
themselves, but because of the fire under the pot; if you remove the
wood from the hearth, then they will move no more. Likewise the pride
man, that he is the doer, springs from ignorance. Men are powerful
of the power of God. All becomes quiet when that burning wood is taken
away. The puppets dance well on the stage when pulled by a wire, but
cannot move when the wire snaps.
"A man will cherish the illusion that he is the doer as long as he has
seen God, as long as he has not touched the Philosopher's Stone. So
he know the distinction between his good and bad actions. This
of distinction is due to God's maya; and it is necessary for the
running His illusory world. But a man can realize God if he takes
under His vidyamaya and follows the path of righteousness. He who knows
God and realizes Him is able to go beyond maya. He who firmly believes
that God alone is the Doer and he himself a mere instrument is a
a free soul though living in a body. I said this to Keshab Chandra Sen."
GIRISH (to the doctor
): "How do you know that free
DOCTOR: "Not by reasoning; I feel it."
GIRISH: "In that case I may say that I and others feel the reverse. We
feel that we are controlled by another." (All laugh
DOCTOR: "There are two elements in duty: first, the 'oughtness' of a
second, the happiness, which comes as an after-effect. But at the
this happiness is not the impelling motive. I noticed in my childhood
great worry of the priest at the sight of ants in the sweets offered
Deity. He did not, at the outset, feel joy at the thought of the
of all he worried about them."
M. (to himself
): "It is difficult to say whether one
feels happiness while
performing the duty or afterwards. Where is the free will of a man if
performs an action, being impelled by a feeling of happiness?"
MASTER: "What the doctor is speaking of is called love without any
motive. I do not want anything from Dr. Mahendra Sarkar; I do not need
anything from him, but still I love to see him. This is love for love's
But suppose I get a little joy from it; how can I help it?
"Ahalya once said to Rama: 'O Rama, I have no objection to being born
even as a pig. But please grant that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus
Feet. I do not want anything else.'
"Narada went to Ayodhya to remind Rama that He was to kill Ravana. At
the sight of Rama and Sita, he began to sing their glories. Gratified
Narada's devotion, Rama said: 'Narada, I am pleased with your prayer.
a boon.' Narada replied, 'O Rama, if Thou must give me a boon, then
that I may have pure love for Thy Lotus Feet and that I may not be
by Thy world-bewitching maya.' Rama said, 'Ask something more.' 'No,
Rama,' answered Narada, 'I do not want anything else. I want only pure
love for Thy Lotus Feet, a love that seeks no return.'
"That is Dr. Sarkar's attitude. It is like seeking God alone, and not
Him for wealth, fame, bodily comforts, or anything else. This is called
"There is an element of joy in it, no doubt; but it is not a worldly
is the joy of bhakti and prema, devotion to God and ecstatic love of
I used to go to Sambhu Mallick's house. Once he said to me: 'You come
here frequently. Yes, you come because you feel happy talking with me.'
Yes, there is that element of happiness.
"But there is a state higher than this. When a man attains it, he moves
about aimlessly, like a child. As the child goes along, perhaps he sees
grass-hopper and catches it. The man of that exalted mood, too, has no
(To the devotees
) "Don't you understand the doctor's
inner feeling? It is
the prayer of a devotee to God for right purpose, that he may have no
inclination for evil things.
"I too passed through that state. It is called dasya, the altitude of
servant toward his master. I used to weep so bitterly with the name of
Divine Mother on my lips that people would stand in a row watching me.
When I was passing through that state, someone, in order to test me and
also to cure my madness, brought a prostitute into my room. She was
beautiful to look at, with pretty eyes. I cried, 'O Mother! O Mother!'
out of the room. I ran to Haladhari and said to him, 'Brother, come and
who has entered my room!' I told Haladhari and everyone else about this
woman. While in that state I used to weep with the name of the Mother
my lips. Weeping, I said to Her: 'O Mother, protect me! Please make me
stainless. Please see that my mind is not diverted from the Real to the
unreal.' (To the doctor
) This attitude of yours is
also very good. It is the
attitude of a devotee, one who looks on God as his Master.
"When a man develops pure sattva, he thinks only of God. He does not
enjoy anything else. Some are born with pure sattva as a result of
prarabdha karma. Through unselfish action one finally acquires pure
Sattva mixed with rajas diverts the mind to various objects. From it
the conceit of doing good to the world. To do good to the world is
difficult for such an insignificant creature as man. But there is no
doing good to others in an unselfish spirit. This is called unselfish
action. It is
highly beneficial for a person to try to perform such action. But by no
all succeed, for it is very difficult. Everyone must work. Only one or
renounce action. Rarely do you find a man who has developed pure
Through disinterested action sattva mixed with rajas gradually turns
into pure sattva.
"No sooner does a man develop pure sattva than he realizes God, through
"Ordinary people cannot understand pure sattva. Hem once said to me:
'Well, priest! The goal of a man's life is to acquire name and fame in
world. Isn't that true?'"
Tuesday, October 27, 1885
Sri Ramakrishna was seated in his room. Narendra and other devotees
were with him. The Master was conversing with them. It was about ten
o'clock in the morning.
NARENDRA: "How strangely the doctor behaved yesterday!"
A DEVOTEE: "Yes, the fish swallowed the hook but the line broke.'
): "But the hook is in its mouth. It
will die and float
on the water."
Narendra went out for a few minutes. Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M.
MASTER: "The devotee looking on himself as Prakriti likes to embrace
and kiss God, whom he regards as the Purusha. I am telling this just to
Ordinary people should not hear these things."
M: "God sports in various ways. Even this illness of yours is one of
sports. Because you are ill new devotees are coming to you."
): "Bhupati says, 'What would people
have thought of
you if you had just rented a house to live in, without being ill?'
Well, what has happened to the doctor?"
M: "As regards God he accepts for himself the attitude of a servant. He
says, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' But then he asks me,
Why do you apply the idea of God to a man?'"
MASTER: "Just see! Are you going to him today?"
M: "I shall see him if it is necessary to report your condition.'
MASTER: "How do you find this boy Bankim? If he cannot come here
you may give him instruction. That will awaken his spiritual
Narendra entered the room and sat near Sri Ramakrishna. Since the death
of his father he had been very much worried about the family's
condition. He now had to support his mother and brothers. Besides, he
preparing himself for his law examination. Lately he had served as a
in the Vidyasagar School at Bowbazar. He wanted to make some
for his family and thus get rid of all his worries. Sri Ramakrishna
all this. He looked affectionately at Narendra.
MASTER (to M
.): "Well, I said to Keshab, 'One should
be satisfied with
what comes unsought.' The son of an aristocrat does not worry about his
food and drink. He gets his monthly allowance. Narendra, too, belongs
high plane. Then why is he in such straitened circumstances? God
provides everything for the man who totally surrenders himself to Him."
M: "Narendra, too, will be provided for. It is not yet too late for
MASTER: "But a man who feels intense renunciation within doesn't
calculate that way. He doesn't say to himself, 'I shall first make an
for the family and then practise sadhana.' No, he doesn't feel that way
has developed intense dispassion. A goswami said in the course of his
'If a man has ten thousand rupees he can maintain himself on the
income; then, free from worries, he can pray to God.'
"Keshab Sen also said something like that. He said to me: 'Sir, suppose
a man wants, first of all, to make a suitable arrangement of his
estate and then think of God; will it be all right for him to do so? Is
anything wrong about it?' I said to him: 'When a man feels utter
he looks on the world as a deep well and' his relatives as venomous
Then he cannot think of saving money or making arrangements about his
property.' God alone is real and all else illusory. To think of the
world instead of God!
"A woman was stricken with intense grief. She first tied her nose-ring
the corner of her cloth and then dropped to the ground, saying, 'Oh,
what a calamity has befallen me!' But she was very careful not to break
All laughed. At these words Narendra felt as if struck by an arrow, and
lay down on the floor. M. understood what was going through Narendra's
mind and said with a smile: "What's the matter? Why are you lying down?"
The Master said to M., with a smile: "You remind me of a woman who
felt ashamed of herself for sleeping with her brother-in-law and
understand the conduct of those women who lived as mistresses of
By way of excusing herself she said: 'After all, a brother-in-law is
But even that kills me with shame. And how do these women dare to live
M. himself had been leading a worldly life. Instead of being ashamed of
his own conduct, he smiled at Narendra. That was why Sri Ramakrishna
referred to the woman who criticized the conduct of immoral women,
she herself had illicit love for her brother-in-law.
A Vaishnava minstrel was singing downstairs. Sri Ramakrishna was
with his song and said that someone should give him a little money. A
devotee went downstairs. The Master asked, "How much did he give the
singer?" When he was told that the devotee had given only two pice, he
said: "Just that much? This money is the fruit of his servitude. How
he had to flatter his master and suffer to earn it! I thought he would
give at least four annas."
The younger Naren had promised to show Sri Ramakrishna the nature
of electricity with an instrument. The instrument was exhibited.
It was about two o'clock. Sri Ramakrishna and the devotees were sitting
in the room. Atul brought with him a friend who was a munsiff. Bagchi,
famous painter from Shikdarpara, arrived. He presented the Master with
several paintings. Sri Ramakrishna examined the pictures with great
Bagchi had long hair like a woman's. Sri Ramakrishna said: "Many days
ago a sannyasi came to Dakshineswar who had hair nine cubits long. He
used to chant the name of Radha. He was genuine."
A few minutes later Narendra began to sing. The songs were full of the
spirit of renunciation. He sang:
O Lord, must all my days pass by so
utterly in vain?
Down the path of hope I gaze with longing, day and night. . . .
He sang again:
O Mother, Thou my inner Guide, ever awake within my heart;
Day and night Thou boldest me in Thy lap.
Why dost Thou show such tenderness to this unworthy child of Thine? . .
Then he sang:
O gracious Lord, if like a bee
My soul cannot imbed itself
Deep in the Lotus of Thy Feet,
What comfort can I find in life?
What can I gain with wealth untold,
Neglecting Thee, supremest Wealth?
I take no pleasure in the sight
Of the most lovely infant's face,
If all its loveliness reveals
No trace of Thy dear features there.
Moonlight is meaningless to me
As darkest night, if Thy love's moon
Rise not in my soul's firmament.
The purest wife's unspotted love
Is stained, if in it is not set
The priceless gem of love divine.
O Lord, whenever doubt of Thee,
Born of base error and neglect,
Assails my mind, I writhe in pain
As from a serpent's poisonous fangs!
What more, O Master, shall I say?
Thou art my heart's most precious Jewel,
The Home of Everlasting Joy.
It was halt past five in the afternoon when Dr. Sarkar came to
Master's room at Syampukur, felt his pulse, and prescribed the
medicine. Many devotees were present, including Narendra, Girish, Dr.
the younger Naren, Rakhal, M., Sarat, and Shyam Basu.
Dr. Sarkar talked a little about the Master's illness and watched him
the first dose of medicine. Then Sri Ramakrishna began to talk to Shyam
Basu. Dr. Sarkar started to leave, saying, "Now that you are talking to
Shyam Basu, I shall say good-bye to you."
The Master and a devotee asked the doctor if he would like to hear some
DR. SARKAR (to the Master):
"I should like it very much. But music
makes you frisk about like a kid and cut all sorts of capers. You must
suppress your emotion."
Dr. Sarkar took his seat once more, and Narendra began to sing in his
sweet voice, to the accompaniment of the tanpura and mridanga:
This universe, wondrous and infinite,
O Lord; is Thy handiwork;
And the whole world is a treasure-house
Full of Thy beauty and grace. . . .
He sang again:
In dense darkness, O Mother, Thy formless beauty sparkles;
Therefore the yogis meditate in a dark mountain cave.
In the lap of boundless dark, on Mahanirvana's waves upborne,
Peace flows serene and inexhaustible.
Taking the form of the Void, in the robe of darkness wrapped,
Who art Thou, Mother, seated alone in the shrine of samadhi?
From the Lotus of Thy fear-scattering Feet flash Thy love's lightnings;
Thy Spirit-Face shines forth with laughter terrible and loud!
Dr. Sarkar said to M., "This song is dangerous for him." Sri
asked M. what the doctor had said. M. replied, "The doctor is afraid
this song may throw your mind into samadhi."
In the mean time the Master had partially lost consciousness of the
world. Looking at the physician, he said with folded hands: "No, no.
should I go into samadhi?" Hardly had he spoken these words when he
into a deep ecstasy. His body became motionless, his eyes fixed, his
speechless. He sat there like a statue cut in stone, completely
of the outer world. Turned inward were his mind, ego, and all the other
organs of perception. He seemed an altogether different person.
Narendra continued his songs, pouring his entire heart and soul into
What matchless beauty! What a bewitching Face I behold!
The Sovereign of my soul has entered my lowly hut;
The springs of my love are welling forth on every side.
Tell me, my Beloved! O Thou, the Lord of my heart!
What treasure shall I lay before Thy Lotus Feet?
Take Thou my life, my soul; what more can I offer Thee?
Take everything that is mine. Deign to accept my all.
O gracious Lord, if like a bee
My soul cannot imbed itself
Deep in the Lotus of Thy Feet,
What comfort can I find in life? . . .
As the doctor heard the words, "The purest wife's unspotted
love", his eyes
were filled with tears. He cried out, "Ah me! Ah me!"
Narendra sang again:
Oh, when will dawn the blessed day
When Love will waken in my heart?
When will my tears flow uncontrolled
As I repeat Lord Hari's name,
And all my longing be fulfilled? . . .
In the midst of the singing Sri Ramakrishna had regained
of the outer world. When Narendra finished the song, the Master
his conversation, keeping them all spellbound. The devotees looked at
face in wonder. It did not show the slightest trace of the agonizing
his illness. The face shone with heavenly joy.
Addressing the doctor, the Master said: "Give up this false modesty.
should you feel shy about singing the name of God? The proverb says
truly: 'One cannot realize God if one is a victim of shame, hatred, or
Give up such foolish notions as: 'I am such a great man! Shall I dance
the name of God? What will other great men think of me on hearing of
They may say that the doctor, poor fellow, has been dancing uttering
name of Hari, and thus pity me.' Give up all these foolish notions."
DOCTOR: "I never bother about what people say. I don't care a straw
MASTER: "Yes, I know of your strong feeling about that. (All
"Go beyond knowledge and ignorance; only then can you realize God. To
know many things is ignorance. Pride of scholarship is also ignorance.
unwavering conviction that God alone dwells in all beings is jnana,
To know Him intimately is vijnana, a richer Knowledge. If a thorn
gets into your foot, a second thorn is needed to take it out. When it
both thorns are thrown away. You have to procure the thorn of knowledge
to remove the thorn of ignorance; then you must set aside both
and ignorance. God is beyond both knowledge and ignorance. Once
Lakshmana said to Rama, 'Brother, how amazing it is that such a wise
as Vasishtha wept bitterly at the death of his sons!' Rama said:
who has knowledge must also have ignorance. He who has knowledge of
one thing must also have knowledge of many things. He who is aware of
light is also aware of darkness.' Brahman is beyond knowledge and
virtue and vice, merit and demerit, cleanliness and uncleanliness."
Sri Ramakrishna then recited the following song of Ramprasad:
Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kali, the Wish-fulfilling Tree,
And there beneath It gather the four fruits of life. . . .
When will you learn to lie, O mind, in the abode of Blessedness,
With Cleanliness and Defilement on either side of you?
Only when you have found the way
To keep your wives contentedly under a single roof,
Will you behold the matchless form of Mother Syama. . . .
SHYAM BASU: "Sir, what remains after
one throws away both thorns?"
— the Eternal and
Consciousness. How can I make it clear to you? Suppose a man who has
tasted ghee asks you, 'What does ghee taste like?' Now, how can you
that to him? At the most you can say: 'What is ghee like? It is just
ghee!' A young girl asked her friend: 'Well, friend, your husband is
What sort of pleasure do you enjoy with him?' The friend answered: 'My
dear, you will know it for yourself when you get a husband. How can I
explain it to you?'
"It is said in the Purana that Bhagavati, the Divine Mother, was once
as the daughter of King Himalaya. After Her birth She showed Her father
Her many forms. The Lord of the mountains, after enjoying all these
said to the Divine Mother, 'May I have the vision of Brahman as It is
described in the Vedas!' Then the Divine Mother answered, 'Father, if
want to have the vision of Brahman you must live in the company of holy
"What Brahman is cannot be described in words. Somebody once said
that everything in the world has been made impure, like food that has
touched the tongue, and that Brahman alone remains undefiled. The
is this: All scriptures and holy books — the Vedas, the Puranas, the
Tantras, and so forth — may be said to have been defiled because their
contents have been uttered by the tongues of men; but what Brahman is
tongue has yet been able to describe. Therefore Brahman is still
One cannot describe in words the joy of play and communion with
Satchidananda. He alone knows, who has realized it."
Addressing Dr. Sarkar, Sri Ramakrishna continued: "Look here. One
cannot attain Knowledge unless one is free from egotism. There is a
When shall I be free?
When 'I' shall cease to be.
'I' and 'mine' — that is ignorance. 'Thou' and 'Thine' — that
is Knowledge. A
true devotee says: 'O God, Thou alone art the Doer; Thou alone doest
I am a mere instrument; I do as Thou makest me do. All these — wealth,
possessions, nay, the universe itself — belong to Thee. This house and
relatives are Thine alone, not mine. I am Thy servant; mine is only the
to serve Thee according to Thy bidding.'
"Those who have read a few books cannot get rid of conceit. Once I had
a talk with Kalikrishna Tagore about God. At once he said, 'I know all
that.' I said to him: 'Does a man who has visited Delhi brag about it?
a gentleman go about telling everyone that he is a gentleman?'"
SHYAM: "But Kalikrishna Tagore has great respect for you."
MASTER: "Oh, how vanity turns a person's head! There was a scavenger
woman in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. And her pride! And all
because of a few ornaments. One day a few men were passing her on the
and she shouted to them, 'Hey! Get out of the way, you people!' If a
scavenger woman could talk that way, what can one say about the vanity
SHYAM: "Sir, if God alone does everything, how is it that man is
for his sins?"
MASTER: "How like a goldsmith you talk!"
NARENDRA: "In other words, Shyam Babu has a calculating mind, like
a goldsmith, who weighs things with his delicate balance."
MASTER: "I say: O my foolish boy, eat the mangoes and be happy. What
is the use of your calculating how many hundreds of trees, how many
of branches, and how many millions of leaves there are in the orchard?
You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat them and be contented.
(To Shyam) "You have been born in this world as a
human being to
worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do
trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by
discussing philosophy'? Look here, one ounce of liquor is enough to
you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of
liquor there are in the tavern?"
DOCTOR: "Quite so. And what is more, the Wine in God's Tavern is beyond
all measure. There is no limit to It."
MASTER (to Shyam): "Why don't you give your power of
God? Rest all your responsibilities on Him. If you entrust an honest
with your responsibilities, will he misuse his power over you? God
knows whether or not He will punish you for your sins."
DOCTOR: "God alone knows what is in His mind. How can a man guess
it? God is beyond all our calculations."
MASTER (to Shyam): "That's the one theme of you
Calcutta people. You
all say, 'God is stained by the evil of inequality', because He has
person happy and another miserable. What these rascals see in
they see in God, too.
"Hem used to come to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Whenever he
chanced to meet me, he would say: 'Well, priest, there is only one
worth having in this world, and that is honour. Isn't that so?' Very
indeed say that the goal of human life is the realization of God."
SHYAM: "We hear a great deal about the subtle body. Can anyone show
it to us? Can anyone demonstrate that the subtle body, when a man dies,
leaves the gross body and goes away?"
MASTER: "True devotees don't care a rap about showing you these things.
What do they care whether some fool of a big man respects them or not?
The desire to have a big man under their control never enters their
SHYAM: "What is the distinction between the gross body and the subtle
MASTER: "The body consisting of the five gross elements is called the
body. The subtle body is made up of the mind, the ego, the
faculty, and the mind-stuff. There is also a causal body, by means of
one enjoys the Bliss of God and holds communion with Him. The Tantra
calls it the Bhagavati Tanu, the Divine Body. Beyond all these is the
Mahakarana, the Great Cause. That cannot be expressed by words.
"What is the use of merely listening to words? Do something! What will
you achieve by merely repeating the word 'siddhi'? Will that intoxicate
You will not be intoxicated even if you make a paste of siddhi and rub
over your body. You must eat some of it. How can a man recognize yarns
of different counts, such as number forty and number forty-one, unless
in the trade? Those who trade in yarn do not find it at all difficult
describe a thread of a particular count. Therefore I say, practise a
discipline; then you will know all these — the gross, the subtle, the
and the Great Cause. While praying to God, ask only for love for His
"When Rama redeemed Ahalya6
from the curse. He said to her, 'Ask a
boon of Me.' Ahalya said, 'O Rama, if You deign to grant me a boon,
please fulfil my desire that I may always meditate on Your Lotus Feet,
even though I may be born in a pigs body.'
"I prayed to the Divine Mother only for love. I offered flowers at Her
Lotus Feet and said with folded hands: 'O Mother, here is Thy ignorance
and here is Thy knowledge; take them both and give me only pure love
Thee. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness; take them both
and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy virtue and here is Thy
sin; here is Thy good and here is Thy evil; take them all and give me
pure love for Thee. Here is Thy dharma and here is Thy adharma; take
them both and give me only pure love for Thee.'
"Dharma means good actions, like giving in charity. If you accept
you have to accept adharma too. If you accept virtue, you have to
sin. If you accept knowledge, you have to accept ignorance. If you
holiness, you have to accept unholiness. It is like a man's being aware
light, in which case he is aware of darkness too. If a man is aware of
he is aware of many too. If he is aware of good, he is aware of evil
"Blessed is the man who retains his love for the Lotus Feet of God,
though he eats pork. But if a man is attached to the world, even though
lives only on boiled vegetables and cereals, then —"
DOCTOR: "He is a wretch. But let me interrupt you here and say
something. Buddha once ate pork and as a result had colic. To get rid
of the pain
he would take opium and thus become unconscious. Do you know the
meaning of Nirvana and such stuff? Buddha would become stupefied after
eating opium. He would have no consciousness of the outer world. This
what they call Nirvana!"
All laughed to hear this novel interpretation of Nirvana. The
conversation went on.
MASTER (to Shyam): "There is no harm in your leading
the life of a
householder. But do your duties in an unselfish spirit, fixing your
the Lotus Feet of God. You must have noticed that a man with a
on his back speaks to others in his usual way; perhaps he attends to
duties also; but his mind is always on the carbuncle. It is like that.
"Live in the world like an immoral woman. Though she performs her
household duties, her mind is fixed on her sweetheart. (To the
you understand that?"
DOCTOR: "Never having had such an experience myself, how can I
SHYAM: "Oh, yes! You understand a little." (All laugh.)
MASTER: "Moreover he has had long experience in that trade. Isn't that
so?" (All laugh.)
SHYAM: "Sir, what do you think of Theosophy?"
MASTER: "The long and short of the matter is that those who go about
making disciples belong to a very inferior level. So also do those who
occult powers to walk over the Ganges and to report what a person says
a far-off country and so on. It is very hard for such people to have
pure love for God.
SHYAM: "But the Theosophists have been trying to re-establish the Hindu
MASTER: "I don't know much about them."
SHYAM: "You can learn from Theosophy where the soul goes after death
—whether to the lunar sphere or the stellar sphere or some other
MASTER: "That may be. But let me tell you my own attitude. Once a man
asked Hanuman, 'What day of the lunar fortnight is it?' Hanuman
'I know nothing about the day of the week, the day of the lunar
the position of the stars in the sky, or any such things. On Rama alone
meditate.' That is my attitude too."
SHYAM: "The Theosophists believe in the existence of mahatmas. Do you
believe in them, sir?"
MASTER: "If you believe in my words, I say yes. But now please leave
these matters alone. Come here again when I am a little better. Some
will be found for you to attain peace of mind, if you have faith in me.
must have noticed that I don't accept any gift of money or clothes. We
not take any collection here. That is why so many people come. (Laughter.)
(To the doctor) "If you won't take offense, I shall
tell you something. It
is this: You have had enough of such things as money, honour,
and so on. Now for a few days direct your mind to God. And come here
now and then. Your spiritual feeling will be kindled by hearing words
After a little while, as the doctor stood up to take his leave, Girish
Ghosh entered the room and bowed low before the Master. Dr. Sarkar was
pleased to see him and took his seat again.
DOCTOR (pointing to Girish): "Of course he would not
come as long as
I was here. No sooner am I about to leave than he enters the room."
Girish and Dr. Sarkar began to talk about the Science Association
established by the latter.
MASTER: "Will you take me there one day?"
DOCTOR: "If you go there you will lose all consciousness at the sight
the wondrous works of God."
MASTER: "Oh, indeed!"
DOCTOR (to Girish): "Whatever you may do, please do
not worship him
as God. You are turning the head of this good man."
GIRISH: "What else can I do? Oh, how else shall I regard a person who
has taken me across this ocean of the world, and what is still more,
ocean of doubt? There is nothing in him that I do not hold sacred. Can
ever look on even his excreta as filthy?"
DOCTOR: "This question of excreta doesn't bother me. I too have no
feeling of repugnance. Once a grocer's child was brought to my office
treatment. His bowels moved there. All covered their noses with cloths;
sat by his side for half an hour without putting a handkerchief to my
Besides, I cannot cover my nose when the scavenger passes by me with a
tub on his head. No, I cannot do that. I know very well that there is
difference between a scavenger and myself. Why should I look down on
him? Can't I take the dust of his [meaning Sri Ramakrishna's] feet?
The doctor saluted Sri Ramakrishna and touched the Master's feet with
GIRISH: "Oh, the angels are saying, 'Blessed, blessed be this
DOCTOR: "What is there to marvel at in taking the dust of a man's feet?
I can take the dust of everybody's feet. Give me, all of you, the dust
of your feet."
The doctor touched the feet of all the devotees.
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "We think of him [meaning
the Master] as
a person who is like God. Do you know, sir, what it is like? There is a
point between the vegetable creation and the animal creation where it
very difficult to determine whether a particular thing is a vegetable
animal. Likewise, there is a stage between the man-world and the
God-world where it is extremely hard to say whether a person is a man
DOCTOR: "Well, my dear young friend, one cannot apply analogies to
NARENDRA: "I do not say that he is God. What I am saying is that he is
a godlike man."
DOCTOR: "One should suppress one's feelings in such a matter. It is bad
to give vent to them. Alas! No one understands my own feelings. Even my
best friend thinks of me as a stern and cruel person. Even people like
will perhaps one day throw me out after beating me with your shoes."
MASTER: "Don't say such a thing! They love you so much! They await
your coming as eagerly as the bridesmaids in the bridal chamber await
the coming of the groom."
GIRISH: "Everyone has the greatest respect for you."
DOCTOR: "My son and even my wife think of me as a hard-hearted
person. My only crime is that I do not display my feelings."
GIRISH: "In that case, sir, it would be wise for you to open the door
your heart, at least out of pity for your friends; for you see that
cannot otherwise understand you."
DOCTOR: "Will you believe me when I say that my feelings get worked
up even more than yours? (To Narendra) I shed tears
(To Sri Ramakrishna) "Well, may I say something?
When you are in
ecstasy you place your foot on others' bodies. That is not good."
MASTER: "Do you think I know at that time that I am touching another
with my foot?"
DOCTOR: "You feel that it is not the right thing to do, don't you?"
MASTER: "How can I explain to you what I experience in samadhi? After
coming down from that state I think, sometimes, that my illness may be
to samadhi. The thing is, the thought of God makes me mad. All this is
result of my divine madness. How can I help it?"
DOCTOR: "Now he accepts my view. He expresses regret for what he does.
He is conscious that the act is sinful."
MASTER (to Narendra): "You are very clever. Why
don't you answer?
Explain it all to the doctor."
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Sir, you are mistaken. He
is not expressing regret
for touching the bodies of his devotees during samadhi. His own body is
pure, untouched by any sin. That he touches others in this way is for
good. Sometimes he thinks that he may have got this illness by taking
sins upon himself.
"Think of your own case. Once you suffered from colic. Didn't you have
regrets at that time for sitting up and reading till very late at
that prove that reading till the late hours of the night is, in itself,
thing? He [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] too may be sorry that he is ill.
that does not make him feel that it is wrong on his part to touch
Dr. Sarkar felt rather embarrassed and said to Girish: "I confess my
defeat at your hands. Give me the dust of your feet." He saluted Girish.
DOCTOR (to Narendra): "Whatever else one may say
[meaning Girish], one must admit his intellectual powers."
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "You may look at the thing
standpoint. You can devote your life to scientific research without
thought to your health or comfort. But the Science of God is the
of all sciences. Isn't it natural for him to risk his health to realize
DOCTOR: "All religious reformers, including Jesus, Chaitanya, Buddha,
and Mohammed, were in the end filled with egotism. They all said,
'Whatever I say is alone true.' How shocking!"
GIRISH (to the doctor): "Now, sir, you are
committing the same mistake.
You are accusing them all of egotism. You are finding fault with them.
that very reason you too can be accused of egotism.
Dr. Sarkar remained silent.
NARENDRA (to the doctor): "We offer worship to him
bordering on divine worship."
At these words the Master laughed like a child.
are used by the Hindus in the temple for worshipping the Deity.
Chandra Chatterji, the celebrated writer of Bengal.
names of God have a double meaning in Bengali. The second meaning of
each word is given in italics.
to Mathur Babu, who belonged to the low caste of the fishermen.
to the eleventh chapter of the Gita.
beautiful and devoted wife of a great sage named Gautama. India, the
king of heaven, infatuated with her beauty, seduced her, impersonating
The sage, coming to know of this, cursed her and turned her into a
stone; but he
said that the touch of Rama's feet would restore her human form. Indra,
received his share of the curse, as a result of which he had a thousand
his body. Hence he is known as the "thousand-eyed god".