MATHUR IN THE MOOD OF
THE SPIRITUAL TEACHER
I am the
Self residing in the hearts of all creatures; I am the
beginning, the middle and the end of beings.
— Gita X. 20.
There was great rejoicing that year on the occasion of the worship of Mother Durga at the Janbazar house of Mathur. For, although year after year the same indescribable bliss was shared by all — the old and the young, the ladies and gentlemen — here was something special this year at the time of the worship of the divine Mother of the universe — “father” had graced the occasion with his holy presence, and had enhanced that bliss a thousand times. There was, therefore, no limit to their rejoicings. Just as a child, beside itself with joy and free from fear, makes importunate requests to its mother and without a cause laughs, dances and does such other things before her, so did “father”, the unique child of the divine Mother, behave under the influence of his divine mood incessantly experiencing the direct manifestation of the Mother in the image. And the image appeared to be living and smiling and to be made of light. Again, the manifestation of the Mother in that image and the manifestation of the same Mother in the Master’s divine body and mind combined together to fill the atmosphere of the worship hall with an indescribable and indefinable divine Presence, felt even by the dullest minds. This evident Presence in the worship hall appeared to have illumined not only the hall, but the hearts of every member and every nook and corner of the entire house and lent a unique beauty everywhere.
And it could not but be so. For, just as the Rajasika devotion of the wealthy Mathur left nothing to be desired in the collection and arrangement of the material requisites of the worship (such as flowers, fruits, roots and sweets; the decoration of the image with valuable clothes and ornaments, and of the walls, doors and floors of the house with green leaves, flowers, flags and buntings; and the provision of musical instruments, such as flutes and the like), so again the divine spirit in the wonderful Master, penetrating all these inert material things, had indeed breathed a joyous life into them all. The calm beauty suggested by the ochre cloth of the austere monks in the sublime setting of the grand clumps of the evergreen deodars in the snow-covered Himalayas; the tender beauty of a beautiful suckling on the breast of a beautiful mother; and the wonderful glow that pure thoughts and sentiments produce in a beautiful face — had all combined together in the house of Mathur Babu. Need it be said that all these were due to the dawning of a unique good fortune on Mathur? Need it be said that the master of the house and his wife, in spite of their being busy in making proper arrangements for things pertaining to the worship, were constantly being filled with an indescribable bliss, and were feeling in their heart of hearts the grace and beauty of the holy atmosphere?
The worship during the day came to an end. They just snatched a little time somehow to offer flowers with great delight at the holy feet of “father” and of the divine Mother.
It was dusk. Now the Arati of the Mother of the universe would begin. “Father” was then in the inner apartment and had completely forgotten his male body under the influence of a maddening spiritual mood. The only thought that expressed itself through his words and actions was, that he had all his lives and throughout the ages, been a woman companion of the divine Mother. The divine Mother was his life, his mind, his all in all; it was for the service of the Mother alone that he had assumed a body and was living his mode of life. The Master’s face was brightened with spiritual emotion and love of the Mother, and his lips were beautified with a unique smile; his looks, the movements of his hands and feet, and his gestures resembled those of women. The Master was dressed in the beautiful silken cloth given by Mathur Babu and he had put it on in the manner of a sari. Who would say that he belonged to the male sex? The beauty and complexion of the Master at that time were so charming that they overflowed, as it were, all around. That complexion assumed a brighter hue when there was a spiritual emotion, as if a light came out of his body. People could not turn their eyes away when they saw that beauty in wonder. We have heard from the Holy Mother that the colour of his body and that of the golden amulet (symbolizing his chosen Ideal) which he used to put on his holy person mingled together as it were and became one. We have also heard from the Master himself, “Ah! There was such beauty then that people used to stare at me; the chest and the face used always to be red, as if a light emanated from the body. As people used to stare, I always kept the body covered with a thick wrapper and asked the divine Mother importunately, ‘Here is your external beauty, Mother, please take it back and give me internal beauty. ’ I used to pass my hand over the body and slapping it again and again say, ‘Go in, go in’. As the result of this the exterior became pale, as you see it.”
We remember another event in the Master’s life in connection with his personal beauty. At that time the Master used to go every year to Kamarpukur and spend there three or four months in the rainy season and then return to Calcutta. He went sometimes to the house of his nephew Hriday at the village of Sihar. The path leading to Sihar lay through Jayramvati, the village of his father-in-law. The people of that village made importunate requests to him to stay there for a few days, to which he agreed. Hriday, who was highly devoted to him, used to be always with him and served him in every way.
During the period of the Master’s stay at Kamarpukur, there used to be crowds of people there continually from morning to evening in order to see him and hear a few words from his lips. The women of the neighbourhood finished sweeping and cleaning their houses very early in the morning and came with pitchers on their hips to take water home after their bath. And placing the pitchers on the bank of the Haldar pond near the Master’s house they came to the Chatujyes’ house1 and sat there. They spent an hour or so in talks with the Master and the women of his house and then went to bathe. That happened every day. And if sweetmeats or other special preparations had been made the previous night in their houses, they kept portions of them for him before using them themselves and took that opportunity to bring and give them to him Fond of merry-making, he sometimes said to them on seeing them come when it was scarcely dawn: “The Gopis met Sri Krishna at Vrindavan at various times in various ways; we are told that they had their ‘pasture meeting’ at the time of going to the bank of the Yamuna to bring water, the ‘sunset meeting’ when the divine Lord returned with the cows after grazing them, then the ‘dance meeting’ at night and so on. So may I ask if it is your ‘bath-time meeting’?” The women rolled with laughter on the ground to hear it. The men of the village came to the Master after the women had gone home to do their day-time cooking and other duties. They sat and talked with him as long as they liked. The women came again in the afternoon and some of the menfolk also came in the night. Again men and women from distant places came very often in the afternoon and returned before sunset. Thus there used to be gatherings of people like those during the Car festival (Ratha) and the ‘swing’ festival (Dol).
Once there was a similar arrangement for his going to Jayramvati and Sihar from Kamarpukur. As the Master used constantly to be in ecstasy, his body became very soft like that of a boy or a woman. He could not travel even a small distance without a palanquin or a carriage. This was why a palanquin was brought for him to go to Sihar via Jayrambati. Hriday made ready to accompany him. In a red silken cloth and with the gold amulet symbolizing his chosen Ideal on his arm, he came chewing betel after his noon-day meal to get into the palanquin; he saw there was a big crowd on the road near the palanquin. Men and women were standing all round. Surprised to see it he asked Hriday, “What is such a big crowd for, Hriday?”
Hriday: “For what else? You will go there today; they (showing the people) will not have an opportunity of seeing you for some time; this is why they all have come to see you.”
The Master: “But they see me every day; do they see anything new today?
Hriday: “You look very handsome when you are dressed in silk cloth, chew betel and both your lips shine with a ruddy hue; that is why they want to see you; what else?”
The Master’s mind was filled with an unprecedented feeling. He thought, “Alas! They are all occupied with this ephemeral external beauty only and do not want to see Him who is residing within!” He had all along a sincere repugnance to physical beauty. It increased a thousandfold by this incident. He said, “What? Men to crowd thus to see a man! Hence! I will not go anywhere; for people will crowd thus wherever I go.” At once he went direct to his room in the inner apartment of the house, took off his dress and sat down, worried and afflicted. Filled with humility, the Master did not go to Jayramvati and Sihar that day. Hriday and all others of the household exhorted him in various ways, but all efforts were of no avail. Just once imagine, O reader, what a mean and contemptible idea this divine personage had of his own body! And think of ourselves; how mad after beauty we are! What rubbing and massaging! Looking glasses, combs, razors, brushes, powdered pulse, soap, and what a profusion of essences and pomades; and again, in imitation of the West, what an excessive indulgence in the delusion that this “cage of bones and flesh”2 is our self and what an inordinate scramble for plunging ourselves headlong into utter ruination through that! To be neat and clean, to have a pure and holy mind; and this excess — do you, my dear sir, take them to be the same? Let us, however, resume our topic.
The Arati of the divine Mother was about to begin, but that ecstasy of the Master did not come to an end. Srimati Jagadamba Dasi thought she would somehow or other bring the Master to normal consciousness and go to witness the Arati with the other ladies of the house; but she was at a loss to know what she should do when she found that the Master’s ecstasy did not end and she did not think it reasonable to leave him alone and go. She deliberated, “What shall I do? Once the Arati music begins, any one whom I might leave here to look after him would surely run to the worship hall there as fast as her legs would carry her. And ‘father’ also cannot take care of himself when he is in the grip of spiritual emotions. Thus devoid of normal consciousness, it happened once that he fell on a live charcoal and was not conscious of it. It was only after a great deal of care and treatment that the sore could be healed. If I leave him alone, any similar disaster might happen on this happy occasion, what then? And what will my husband think?” She was thinking thus when a plan suggested itself to her. Taking out hurriedly all her precious ornaments and putting them on his person she began to whisper again and again into his ears, “Let us go ‘father’; Mother’s Arati is to begin soon, will you not fan Mother with the Chamara?”
It was always observed that, however much the Master might have been devoid of normal consciousness under the influence of spiritual moods — however far his mind might have travelled from those things, persons or ideals on which his mind had begun to be concentrated — it was invariably attracted back to and understood those forms or ideas, if the names or expressions connected with those ideas or forms were uttered into his ears a few times. That such are the nature and behaviour of a concentrated mind is recorded briefly, if not at length, in the Yoga scriptures of Patanjali and others. The reader well versed in the scriptures, therefore, will not take long to understand such behaviour of the Master’s mind. And those who have as a result of many virtuous actions attained a little of mental concentration in their lives will more easily understand it. Let us, therefore, follow the subject of which we were speaking.
The words of Jagadamba Dasi entered the Master’s ears. And immediately he regained his normal consciousness to a great extent; and beside himself with joy in partial consciousness, he accompanied her. No sooner had they arrived at the worship hall than the Arati commenced. Surrounded by the ladies, the Master began to fan the image with a Chamara. The ladies stood on one side of the hall and the gentlemen including Mathur Babu on the other and were all witnessing the Arati of the divine Mother. As soon as Mathur Babu’s eyes fell on the ladies, he saw that a lady stood near his wife and was fanning the Mother with a Chamara, radiating wonderful beauty from her person, dress, and ornaments. Although he looked again and again he could not know who she was. He thought at last that she might be a friend of Jagadamba, some rich man’s wife who had perhaps come by invitation.
The Arati was over. The ladies saluted the divine Mother, went back to the inner apartments and were busy doing their duties. In that state of partial consciousness, the Master went into the inner apartment with Mathur Babu’s wife and came gradually to normal consciousness. He then took off the dress and ornaments, came out and sat with the menfolk and raising various religious topics, charmed all by his lucid explanation and apt illustrations.
A little afterwards, Mathur Babu went to the inner apartment on some business and asked his wife, in the course of the conversation, about the lady who had been standing near her and fanning the Mother with a Chamara at the time of the Arati. Mathur Babu’s wife smiled and said in reply, “Could you not know who she was? ‘Father’ in ecstasy was fanning the divine Mother thus; that is quite possible, for one cannot know ‘father’ to be a man when he puts on dress and ornaments like a woman.” Saying so she told Mathur Babu everything from beginning to end. He was very much surprised and said, “This is why I say, ‘Who is able to recognize ‘father’ even in trifling matters if he does not allow himself to be recognized?’ Don’t you see! I could not recognize him today, though I see him and am with him for all the twenty-four hours.”
The seventh, eighth and ninth day of the fortnight passed in great joy. It was the morning of the tenth day (Vijaya Dasami). The priest was hastily finishing the Mother’s brief worship of the day, for the looking glass had to be immersed3 at the moment prescribed in the almanac. The image itself was to be immersed after sunset. There descended, as it were, a shadow of sadness over the minds of all the household of Mathur Babu, and there was a feeling of an indescribable, an undefined fear of an inevitable immediate separation from a very dear person. A penumbra of such sadness is always attached to even the purest bliss of this world! It is perhaps according to this law that the pain due to the separation from God is felt from time to time even in the life of the greatest lover of God. And even the hearts of strong people among us melt into tears when we go to immerse the image on the Vijaya day. The case of Mathur’s wife needs no mention. Since the morning she had often been removing the tears from her eyes with the end of her cloth, while she was engaged in her duties.
In the outer apartment, however, Mathur had yet no idea of the approaching moment. His heart was swelling with joy as before. Having brought the Mother of the universe to his house and enjoying the blessed company and grace of “father”, Mathur was experiencing a fulness of joy within himself and was forgetful of the outer world. Who was interested in what was to happen in the world? And where was the need? His days would undoubtedly pass in that way in the company of the divine Mother and “father”. Just at that time word came from the priest, that the “immersion ceremony” of the Mother was just about to take place, and would the Babu be pleased to come down and pay his obeisance and reverence to Her?
Mathur could not even understand at first what was said to him When he came to understand it after questioning those about him, he became conscious of the fact that it was the tenth day, the Vijaya. And as soon as knowledge dawned upon him, he was stunned, as if he had received a severe blow on his head. Filled with grief and pain, he began to think, “Mother to be immersed today? Why? By the grace of ‘father’ and the divine Mother I stand in need of nothing; the want of mental bliss that was there has, I feel, been removed by the holy advent of the Mother to my house. Why should I then court dejection by immersing the Mother? No, I cannot break up this ‘fair of bliss’. Oh! The immersion of Mother! I feel suffocation even to think of it.” Mathur was thus revolving such thoughts in his mind and shedding tears.
In the meanwhile, time was nearly up. The priest was sending word every now and then, “Babu, please do come once and stand, the Mother’s immersion will take place.” Mathur felt much annoyed and sent word, “I will never allow anyone to immerse the Mother. The worship will continue as it is going on now. If anybody immerses the Mother without my approval, a grievous disaster is sure to happen, there may even be bloodshed and murder!” Saying so, Mathur sat in a very stern mood. Seeing his master in this strange mood, the terrified servant moved away, and going to the worship hall told the priest everything. All held their breath!
All of them consulted together and sent those members of the household who were held in respect by Mathur to persuade him to agree to the immersion. They also went and tried, but failed to change his mind. The Babu said, “Why? I shall perform the daily worship of the Mother. As I have the means therefor by Her grace, why should I bid good-bye to Her?” What, therefore, could they do? They came back and arrived at the conclusion that his brain was deranged. That conclusion apart, what was now the way out? Everyone of the household knew the rash Mathur very well. Everyone knew that when angry he bade goodbye to his reason and understanding. Who was going to incur his displeasure by ordering the immersion ceremony of the Deity without his approval? Nobody came forward to do that. Exaggerated news reached the mistress of the house. Overwhelmed with apprehension and alarm she requested the Master to try to persuade him For who, but “father”, was there to save them from danger? Who knew if the Babu’s brain had not really been deranged?
The Master came and saw that Mathur was deeply absorbed in thought and pacing up and down the room with his face sombre and eyes red. As soon as he saw the Master, Mathur came up to him and said, “Let them say whatever they like, ‘father’, I cannot bid good-bye to Mother before I breathe my last. I have told them I shall perform Her daily worship. How can I do without Mother?”
Passing his hand over Mathur’s heart, the Master said, “Oh! Is this your fear? But who says that you will have to be without Mother? Moreover, where will She go even if the ceremony of immersion be gone through? Can a mother afford to be away from her child? Sitting in the outer hall She accepted your worship these three days; She will now be nearer to you, sit in your heart, and accept your worship.”
It is difficult to explain what a marvellous charming power there was in the words and touch of the Master! It was seen on many occasions that a visitor was engaged in a heated discussion with the Master and was by no means inclined to accept his conclusion, when the latter would cleverly touch the other’s person and immediately the strong tendencies of his mind due to which he had held contrary views would vanish, leading him to wind up the arguments and to accept the Master’s view unreservedly. He said to some of us on this matter: “Do you know why I touch people that way when I speak? I do it, so that the power by virtue of which that obstinacy is persisting in them might lose its force and they might realize the truth rightly and accurately.” We have seen and heard many instances of how, by a mere touch, he used to diminish, and sometimes even destroy for ever, the strength of powers standing as obstacles in the others’ path to the realization of truth, by drawing those powers to himself. We have noticed that the very words which, coming out of other people’s mouth, produced no emotion whatever in anybody’s mind, coming out from the Master’s mouth, have made deep impressions on others’ minds and changed the courses of their lives from that very moment. We shall try to tell the reader these things on some other occasion. Now let us go on with Mathur Babu’s story.
By the touch and words of the Master, Mathur gradually regained his normal consciousness. We do not know if he regained it as the result of any kind of vision produced by the Master’s will and touch. But we think this probable. It seems to us that the joy in his heart increased a hundredfold only because he saw the form of the divine Mother existing in the cavern of his heart illumining it with an effulgence never known before, as a result of which his keen eagerness to retain the image diminished. A true spiritual teacher thus draws the attention of the disciple to the splendour of a higher ideal. The spiritual moods and visions of a lower plane then fall off naturally from his mind.
There is no doubt that Mathur’s devotion to and reliance upon the Master were the results of his variously testing him, strange though it might appear to us. He tested the Master in every manner, by offering him wealth, beautiful women and unlimited mastery over himself and all his household as also by freely spending money on his relatives, such as Hriday and others, and found that he was, unlike others, above all temptations. He saw also that before the Master’s discerning eye, the cloak of insincere love and devotion could not conceal its real nature for long. On the contrary, if, after committing misdeeds like homicide and other heinous offences, anybody sincerely and open-heartedly took refuge in him, he pardoned him all his offences and cordially accepted him, granting him the power of recognizing and comprehending higher ideals day by day. He would find to his surprise that what had been impossible became possible for him now by virtue of a wonderful unknown power, which was the Master.
Keeping the company of the Master and observing his experience of unlimited bliss, Mathur, though a worldly man, once had a desire to experience and understand for himself what that experience was. He then had the firm conviction that “ ‘father’ could make all persons experience it at his mere will. For the Master himself was all the Deities — Siva, Kali, Krishna, Rama. Where was then any obstacle to divine visions? Was it strange then that he could show by his grace to anyone any of his own forms?” This conviction was, in truth, a matter of no small wonder. All those who were in his intimate company came gradually to have that conviction. Everyone thought that he could by his will even make the impossible possible, that he could make anyone realize any truth of the spiritual world. It is ordinarily difficult for one to produce, such a conviction by virtue of one’s spiritual power and strength of pure character in the mind of even a single individual, not to speak of many. This is possible with the incarnations of God alone. This is no less than a proof of their being incarnations of God. And they know that in the name of incarnations much perjury and knavery will prevail on earth, this realm of untruthfulness, craftiness and fraud; and proclaim solemnly to the effect: “When I shall go beyond the ken of mortal eyes many hypocrites will appear before you and say, ‘I am an incarnation of God, I am the refuge and saviour of weak mortals.’ Beware of them all.”4
As soon as Mathur felt that desire he went to the Master and said importunately, “Father, you must do something that I may have ecstasy.” We confidently imagine that the Master said to him what he used to say to all others on similar occasions; “Oh, it will surely come at the right time. Does a seed sprout into a tree as soon as it is sown and can the fruits be eaten immediately? Why? You are all right. You are keeping a fine balance between God and the world. If you have those things your mind will give up the world; who will then take care of your estate and other property, which is sure to be plundered and enjoyed by all and sundry? What will you do then?”
But who gave ear to those words that day? Mathur was importunity itself; “father” must make him attain ecstasy. When he found that such dissuasion produced no result, the Master raised the topic to a higher pitch. “Ah,” said he, “do devotees want to see Him? It is the privilege to serve that they want. Direct experiences produce fear through the knowledge of the powers of God and love for Him gets suppressed. Krishna went away to Mathura and the Gopis were overwhelmed with the pang of separation and he sent Uddhava to console them. Uddhava was a person of Vedantic knowledge. He could not appreciate the spiritual attitude of the Vrindavan people, viz., shedding tears, feeding and dressing Krishna, and the like. He looked down upon the pure love of the Gopis as something inferior and within Maya. Uddhava also would learn by experience — that was also another consideration in sending him Uddhava came and began to console the Gopis, ‘Why do you behave this way and call on Krishna repeatedly? Do you not know that he is the divine Lord and is all-pervading? It cannot be that He is at Mathura and is not at Vrindavan. Instead of giving yourselves up to sorrow and despair, just once shut your eyes and see that that One, dark-blue like a newly-formed cloud, playing on His flute and with the garland of wild flowers on, is always there within your heart’. ‘Uddhava,’ said the Gopis, when they heard this, ‘You are a friend of Krishna and a man of knowledge, and you to speak like this! Are we persons given to meditation or persons of knowledge? Or have we got Him by practising Japa, austerities and so on like the Rishis and Munis? We actually adorned and beautified Him, fed and dressed Him; and yet are we to do these acts in meditation? Can we do so at all? Have we that mind with which we can meditate and perform Japa? It was long ago dedicated at the lotus feet of Krishna. Have we got anything to call our own so that we can attribute’ I ‘-consciousness to it and perform Japa?’ Uddhava was surprised to be told so. He then understood the depth and nature of the love of the Gopis for Krishna, saluted them as his spiritual teachers and returned. Consider — do true devotees want to see Him? They feel the highest bliss in His service only. Beyond that they do not want anything, visions and the like; they hamper their spiritual relation of love with Him”
When Mathur could not be dissuaded even by this, the Master said, “I know nothing, my dear; however, I shall tell Mother and She will do whatever She likes.”
Mathur then had ecstasy after a few days. The Master told us, “He sent for me. When I went I found that he was, as it were, a different man: his eyes were red and tears were flowing; speaking of God he was shedding floods of tears. And his heart was trembling with quick pulsation. When he saw me he clasped both my feet and said, ‘Excuse me, father, I admit my defeat; I have been in this condition for the last three days; I cannot apply my mind to worldly affairs in spite of all my efforts; everything is getting spoilt everywhere. Please take back the ecstasy conferred by you; I don’t want it’. ‘Why,’ said I, ‘did you not pray for ecstasy?’ He then said, ‘Yes, I did so and there is also bliss in it; but of what avail is it? Everything is going to be spoilt on this side. This ecstasy of yours, father, becomes you only. We don’t want all these things. Please take them back.’ I then laughed and said, ‘I told you so previously.’ ‘Yes, father,’ said he, ‘but did I understand then so clearly that something like a ghost would possess me and that I should have to take every step according to its whim all the twenty-four hours and could do nothing even if I had a mind to?’ I then passed my hand on his chest.”
It will not do simply to have Bhavasamadhi. How many are the people who can bear the power of its urge; how many can retain it? It is impossible to do so, as long as there is the slightest worldly desire. That is why the scriptures ask the pilgrim on the path to the realization of God to be free from desires even at the outset. “Tyagenaike amritatwamanasuh,”5 it is detachment and renunciation alone that can give immortality.” A Samadhi of a lower plane may be had by the momentary exuberance of emotions, but it cannot be maintained in a man in whom masses of desires for wealth, respect and the like abound. Acharya Shankara says:6
“The crocodile of desire clutches by the neck those who proceed to cross the sea of the world without taking with them the antidote of detachment for their journey; makes them turn round and forcibly drowns them in the unfathomable waters of that sea.”
We add below one of the many instances of this truth we had observed while we were with the Master. He was then staying at the Kasipur garden. One day a few Vaishnava devotees came with an absent-minded young man. We never saw them come before. The reason why they came was that they wanted to show the young man to the Master and know the Master’s opinion about the strange spiritual state that had suddenly come upon him Word was sent to the Master and he saw the young man. The face and chest of the young man were red; and he was seen taking the dust of the feet of all with humility. As he was repeating God’s names he was having frequent tremors and horripilations and both his eyes were reddish and a little swollen owing to an incessant flow of tears. He was of dark-blue complexion; was neither fat nor thin and had a tuft of hair on his head. His face and limbs were graceful and well-built. He was wearing a white cloth without borders which was not very clean and had, we remember, no wrapper for his upper garment and no shoes. He seemed quite indifferent to the cleanliness or preservation of his body. We were told the high-strung state had come on him suddenly when one day he was singing the praises of Hari. Since then he had been virtually taking no food and having no sleep; he was weeping day and night and rolling on the ground because God was not realized. He had been in that state during the last few days.
We have seen in nobody but the Master such a power of noticing and diagnosing physical changes produced in man by the prevalence of spiritual emotions. The spiritual teacher has been described in the Guru-gita and other books as “the physician of the world-disease.” We did not at all understand that such hidden meaning was there in it before we had the blessing of meeting the Master. We had no notion of the fact that Guru was indeed the physician of mental diseases and could diagnose at first sight the modifications of the human mind due to the influence of spiritual emotions. What is more, if, from the reading of the external signs, the Guru finds them favourable, he prescribes methods following which the aspirants can scale higher altitudes of spirituality. And if he finds them unfavourable, he devises means which slowly remove them without harming the aspirants. It is only because we saw the Master doing this every day that we have a firm conviction on this matter in our minds. When Swami Vivekananda attained the Nirvikalpa Samadhi for the first time, we saw the Master prescribe immediately, “Do not take food out of anybody’s hands now for some days; cook your own food. In this state one can at most take food out of one’s own mother’s hands; this state gets destroyed if one takes food out of anyone else’s hands. But there is no such fear when afterwards it becomes natural.” When he saw Gopala’s mother suffering physically, on the increase of the affection of the humour of wind in her body, he said, “That windy humour of yours is nothing but the humour of Hari; what will you occupy yourself with if it goes? It must continue. But when you feel the pain unbearable eat something.” When he saw that a certain devotee’s mind could not merge in God forgetting the body owing to a firm habit of observing external purification and attachment thereto, he prescribed privately, “Call on God once by making a mark on your forehead with the clay of the place where people answer nature’s calls.” Seeing that an unrestrained bodily agitation during Sankirtan was adverse to the progress of some one, he scolded him and said, “Ah, you wretch, you have come to show off your spiritual emotions to me! Do spiritual emotions ever produce these agitations? One then merges completely and becomes motionless. What is this? Be calm and tranquil. (To the others) Do you know what kind of spiritual emotions these are? They resemble a Chhatak7 of milk being boiled in a cauldron over the fire. One thinks it to be a large quantity, a cauldronful. You then take it down to find not a single drop there; the very little that was there has stuck to the sides of the cauldron.” Perceiving the mental inclination of some one else he said, “Enjoy to your heart’s content, you fellow; but don’t think that you do all these as acts of religion.”
The moment the Master saw the young man he said, “Ah! It is, I find, the commencement of the Madhurabhava.8 But this state will not last; he cannot retain it. It is very difficult to retain this state. As soon as a woman is touched (lustfully) this spiritual mood will vanish.” Be that as it may, the devotees who came felt a little consoled when they knew from the Master’s words that the young man’s brain was not deranged, and went back. A little afterwards news reached us that the Master’s prediction was perfectly fulfilled; the young man had been overcome by the fateful calamity. He had ascended fortunately to a very high plane indeed owing to the momentary excitement of Sankirtan, but alas, he came down to as low a plane owing to its reaction. Swami Vivekananda always favoured devotion with discrimination and taught people to practise that kind of devotion lest otherwise they should fall victims to that danger.
Just as there was nothing to be concealed by Mathur from “father”, so, “father” always had, except, at the time of ecstasy, an attitude towards Mathur like that of a child towards its mother or of a friend towards his friend — of speaking out everything, taking counsel, accepting advice cordially and depending on his love. We have already told the reader the scriptural statement that when a person ascends to the highest step of the supreme knowledge, he appears in the eyes of the ordinary people to be in the state of a mad person, or of a boy. What is more, as Sankara, the teacher adored by the world, has left behind him in his clear writings, such a person never loses his poise, whether he happens to be enjoying incomparable kingly wealth, or barely maintains himself by the food obtained by begging, having for his only possession a pair of Kaupinas to put on, whether he remains in a state which people in general regard as one of great misery or of happiness. Always dwelling in the bliss of the Self, he is absolutely content in the Self alone. Shankara says:9
“A liberated person roams in the world sometimes like an ignorant man, sometimes like a learned one and at other times again like one having the opulence of a king. He sometimes appears to be like one mad, and sometimes like one calm, quiet and intelligent. At other times again he is seen to be living like a boa, without asking even for the means to meet his daily needs such as food etc. Sometimes he is very much respected, in some places he is insulted and again in some other places he lives entirely unknown. He remains thus filled with supreme bliss, and steady under all circumstances.” When this is the case even with ordinary liberated persons, is it anything more than expected, that the supremely glorious incarnations of God remain steady under all circumstances and behave like children? Such behaviour, therefore, of the Master with Mathur is not at all surprising. But it was not a small good fortune for Mathur to have been so intimately connected with the Master for such a long time.
Ah, how sweet was the relation existing between Mathur and the Master! If the Master required anything, he immediately asked Mathur for it at the time of his Sadhana and even afterwards. About the visions or the spiritual moods that were experienced by him at the time of ecstasy or at other times he used to ask Mathur, “Will you please tell me why such a thing happened? Please say what you think of that”, and so on. The Master kept an eye on Mathur’s welfare, so that his money might be properly utilized; so that his money meant for the service of the Deity might be spent for that purpose and there by guests, poor people, holy men and others might be maintained and great merit, conducive to his good, might accrue to him. We have heard similar things even at the time when we were living with the Master long after the virtuous Rani Rasmani and Mathur had passed away; we got indications of that attitude of the Master from time to time. It will not be out of place here to give one example:
From the time of Mathur it had been arranged that daily after the food offering and other services in the temples of Kali and Radha-Govinda had come to an end, a big plateful of boiled rice and other preparations and another plateful of fruits, sweets, etc., should be sent to the Master’s room, so that the Master himself and others with him might partake of that consecrated food. Besides that, a part of the especial food that was offered on especial occasions to Mother Kali and Radha-Govinda used to be sent to the Master.
It was the rainy season — the day of the worship of Phalaharini. It was customary to celebrate the occasion on a small scale in the temple every year. There used to be a special worship of Kalika, the Mother of the universe, and various kinds of fruits and roots were offered to her. On this occasion also the same celebration was gone through. Flutes and other musical instruments were being played in the Nahabat. Swami Yogananda and some other devotees were there with the Master that day.
Particular characteristics of particular deities used to be manifested in the Master’s body and mind on particular ceremonial occasions. On Vaishnava occasions the characteristics of Vishnu and on Sakta days those of Sakti would be manifest. For example, on the Occasion of the worship of Sri Durga, especially at the time of the “juncture worship” or during the worship of the Mother Kali, the Master used to feel identified with the Mother of the universe, so much so, that he used to be motionless and sometimes his hands would assume the gestures, like those of Kali, offering a boon and protection against all fears. Similarly, on ceremonial occasions like Janmashtami, the eight Sattvika Vaishnava signs like trembling, horripilation, etc., were seen in him, so absorbed in the thoughts of Radha and Krishna would he be on those days. Again those spiritual moods used to come on him naturally, without any effort whatever. It was seen that just when on those occasions he became quite engrossed in diverse conversations with us and completely forgot that they were days of the special manifestations of God, his mind would suddenly withdraw from external matters and get identified completely with those aspects of the deity, as if some external power forcibly made him do it. At Shyampukur in Calcutta, we have seen many similar instances. Once, engrossed in conversation with a large number of men including Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar, the Master suddenly entered into such an ecstasy at the time of the “juncture worship” of Sri Durga. Having then seen his luminous face beaming with that splendour of smile who would say that he had any illness or he was the same person with the pale face, indicative of the suffering from illness, seen a moment ago?
There was a similar manifestation of a mood in the Master’s body and mind that day — the day of the worship of Phalaharini. Sometimes filled with bliss, he, like a boy of five, danced, and sang Mother’s name. All were charmed, gazing at the unprecedented beauty of his face. They were, moreover, experiencing in their hearts, various wonderful divine emotions by virtue of the company of the god-man. The night came almost to an end when Mother’s worship was finished. So nobody could take any rest. It was dawn.
The next morning, at about eight or nine, the Master saw that the fruits etc., offered to the deities that were to reach his room had not yet arrived. He called his nephew Ramlal, the priest of the Kali temple, and asked him the reason; but he could not say anything. “All the offered articles”, said he, “have, as usual, been sent to the chief officer at his office. They are being distributed from there and every one is getting the share he is entitled to, according to the established custom; but I cannot say why it has not reached here even now.” The Master was uneasy, nay, troubled, about it. He asked many persons one after another, “Why has Prasada not yet come from the office?” and went on talking about it. He waited a little but when he found that it had not reached him even then, he put on his slippers and himself went to the chief officer. He asked the officer, “ Hallo, how is it that the Prasada due to that room (showing his room) has not yet been sent as usual? Has there been a mistake? It is wrong that such a long standing arrangement should be upset through a mistake.” The officer looked small and said, “Has it not yet reached there? It is very wrong! I am just now sending it.”
Swami Yogananda was then a boy. He was of course a little proud as he was born in the ancient and respectable family of Savarna Chaudhuris. The chief official, other officers, priests and others of the temple did not count at all in his estimation. But he had completely surrendered himself at the holy feet of the Master on account of the latter’s disinterested grace and love; and his home being adjacent to Rasmani’s garden, it was convenient for him to visit the Master daily. And how could he refrain from visiting? For, the strange attraction of the Master took him by force, as it were, to him at the fixed time every day. But was it possible for him to be familiar with the people of the temple only because he had respect for the Master? So, when he found that the Master was anxious to know the reason why the fruits, roots and the like offered to the deities had not been sent, he blurted out, “What does it matter if they don’t come? Ah, how precious the articles are! These things again never suit your stomach; you take nothing of these; under such circumstances is there any harm if they are not sent at all?” But the Master had not at all given ear to what he said and had gone in a short time to ask the chief officer for the reason. Yogin then thought, “How strange! why is he so anxious today about those trifling fruits, roots and sweets? Why is he in this state of mind today, whom I never saw agitated under any circumstances?” When after a good deal of reflection he could not find out any special reason whatever for it, he came at last to the conclusion, “Oh, I see it now; it is the family tradition that tells, whether he be the divine Lord Himself or any other great personality. He is born in the family of priests accustomed generation after generation to ‘bundle rice and plantain’. Will not a little at least of the tradition of that family cling to him? What can it be but that? He never feels uneasy about matters of great concern; but he has become so restless about this trifling matter. If that were not the fact, why is he so anxious for those things which he will not eat or otherwise use himself? It cannot but be the habit inherited from his ancestors.”
Yogin, or as he was afterwards known, Swami Yogananda, had arrived finally at that conclusion when the Master returned and said to him, “Do you know why I did so? Rasmani has bequeathed so much property that holy men and devotees may get Prasada after the articles of food have been offered to the deity. It is the devotees, coming here to know God, who eat the articles offered to the deity. That answers the purpose of Rasmani’s gift. But do you think that what they (the priests of the temple) take away are utilized in the same way? They sell the rice for money; some of them again keep prostitutes; they take these fruits etc., and feed them. I fight so much only in order that a little at least of Rasmani’s intentions might be fulfilled.” Swami Yogananda was surprised to hear it and thought, “Oh, such is the hidden meaning even of this act of the Master!”
Ah, what a sweet relation the Master thus established with Mathur! It is very clear that by virtue of the motiveless grace of the Master, Mathur’s love was so intensified that “father” became his very life. Besides that, it was his behaviour like that of a boy, which attracted Mathur in no small measure. Who is there, whose mind is not attracted towards a boy inexperienced in everything of the world? Is there any one who, being near him, does not keep an eye of concern on his sweet motiveless movements and go forward to protect him lest he should be harmed in the excitement of play? And, again, there was not the slightest artificiality in the boy-like behaviour of the Master. When he was in that mood, he was felt to be a boy really incapable of protecting himself. Is it, therefore, strange that there naturally arose in the powerful, vigorous and intelligent Mathur an effort to protect him in all circumstances? Therefore, just as on the one hand, he depended on the Master’s divine power, so, on the other hand, he always kept himself ready to protect “father” whom he knew to be like an inexperienced boy. When Mathur saw that there was thus a strange juxtaposition in “father” of the allknowing nature of the spiritual teacher and the little-knowing nature of a boy, he perhaps came to some such conclusion as this, that he would have to protect “father” as regards all worldly matters including his personal safety, while “father” would protect him regarding subtle spiritual things lying beyond human vision and power. We, therefore, see clearly that Mathur’s love for “father” assumed an unintelligible nature; the strange “father” was a wonderful meeting ground of a very complex aggregate of contrary, attributes such as Godhood and manhood, all-knowingness and littleknowingness. Although “father”, established in Bhavamukha with his hands in the posture10 symbolic of bestowing boons and protection from fear, was the chosen Ideal of Mathur, the latter had, however, sometimes to divert and console the very “father” in his childlike mood, who was then an embodiment of simplicity and dependence.
The love of Mathur for him endowed him with the power of providing plausible explanations for all the queries and doubts of “father”. One day “father” went out suddenly when he was talking with Mathur and returned with a sad face. He then asked Mathur, “Will you Please tell me what this disease is? I saw a worm going out from my body with the urine. Nobody, I am sure, has such worms within his body. What is it that has happened to me?” The very “father” who perhaps, a little while ago, was charming everybody with wonderful explanations of the hidden spiritual truths was now beside himself like a boy with causeless anxiety, depending wholly on Mathur’s intelligence and words of assurance. No sooner had Mathur heard this than he said, “It is very good, ‘father’, that it has happened so. Every one has a worm that generates lust in his body. It is this lust-worm that produces various bad thoughts in him and makes him commit evil actions. That lust-worm has left your body by the grace of the Mother. Why are you so uneasy about it?” As soon as “father” heard it he was consoled and said, “Ah! You are right; how lucky it was that I asked you!” Saying so, he expressed his joy like a boy.
“You see,” said “father” one day in the course of conversation to Mathur, “Mother has shown and convinced me that there are many devotees of mine who are to form an inner circle. They will all come and hear and know of God from ‘here’ and will have direct knowledge of Him, realize Him, and be blessed with divine love and devotion. Mother will sport in various ways with this case and will do good to many; this is why She has not broken it and has kept it even now. What do you say? Are all these mere hallucinations of the brain or real and true perceptions? Please tell me that,”
“Why, father,” said Mathur, “should they be hallucinations? When Mother has not shown you anything deceptive up to this time, why should this only be wrong? This also will prove to be true. But why is mere this delay in their coming? Let them by all means come soon; let us be happy with them”
“Father” was also convinced that the divine Mother had shown him true things. He then said, “I don’t know when they will come; Mother has said so. She has shown me that. Whatever is to happen by Mother’s will, will happen.”
Rani Rasmani had no son, but had four daughters. Mathur Babu married the third and after her death, the youngest daughter. The intelligent Rani fixed and marked in her life-time the share of the estate for each of the sons- in-law, lest there should arise a dispute among them over the estate. One day after the estate had been thus divided, Mathur Babu’s wife, or as she was known in the family, the “third mistress” went to bathe in a pond in another’s share of the estate, saw a luxuriant growth of the green Susni there, plucked some and brought it away with her. It was the Master only who saw her do it. As soon as he saw her doing that he was extremely worried. “The ‘third mistress’,” thought the Master, “has taken another’s property without asking her for it; it is immoral; she did not think it an act of theft to take another’s property without her knowledge. And, again, why should she covet another’s property?” He was thinking thus when he met that daughter of the Rani to whose share the said pond had fallen. The Master narrated to her immediately the whole incident. She could not control her laughter at hearing it and seeing that serious mood of the Master as if the “third mistress” had acted very wrongly, she said humorously, “Ah, the ‘third mistress’ acted very wrongly, ‘father’.” Just at that time the “third mistress” also happened to come there. She also said jokingly when she knew the reason of her sister’s laugh, “Father, is it proper for you to expose me? I stole the green and secretly took it away lest she should see it; you have thus put me out of countenance!” Saying so the two sisters raised a roar of laughter. The Master then said, “I don’t know your worldly ways. But when the property has been divided, it is not good to take anything without the knowledge of the owner. This is why I told her all this so that she might know it and settle matters as she liked.” The daughters of the Rani began to laugh all the more at his words, and thought how frank and naive “father” was.
On the one hand, “father” had such a childlike nature depending on Mathur; on the other hand, when there was a fight with cudgels between two parties and there was a murder committed at the orders of Mathur during a quarrel with another landlord and Mathur was in great danger, and came and said importunately, “Save me ‘father’,” — “Father” grew angry at first and scolded Mathur much. “You wretch,” said he, “you will create an affray every day and come and say, ‘save me’; what can I do, you wretch? Go and suffer the consequences. What do I know?” Then on account of his importunities he said, “Well, whatever is to happen by Mother’s will, will happen.”11 And as a matter of fact that danger passed away.
Many are the examples that can be given of both kinds of characteristics of the Master. Having had these experiences, Mathur was firmly convinced that by the grace of the multiform “father” it was that he possessed whatever he had, namely, wealth, respect, power and everything. Therefore there is nothing to be surprised at in the royal honour that Mathur paid to the Master, as an incarnation of God, and unflinching devotion to and steadfast faith in him The extent of worldly men’s devotion is gauged by the amount of money they spend for the objects of their devotion. Besides, Mathur was a little miserly, as clever, calculating and intelligent worldly people generally are. But it is very clear that Mathur’s faith and devotion were indeed sincere when we see how unstintedly he spent money on “father”. Mathur once dressed him in beautiful attire and seated him to witness a Yatra performance placing before him full one hundred rupees or more in stacks of ten rupees each for him to give as rewards to the singers and actors. “Father” went on listening to the Yatra and when he experienced deep spiritual emotions or was charmed with some captivating songs or speech of an actor he immediately pushed the entire sum of money with his hand towards the person concerned and rewarded him with that. Mathur was not at all annoyed at it. He expressed his joy saying, “A reward just befitting the high mind of ‘father’.” He placed stacks of coins over again in similar rows before him How long could that money last with “father”, who had become established in Bhavamukha and had always been absolutely free from covetousness owing to his conviction, “money is earth, earth is money”? Beside himself with the overwhelming inebriation of the divine emotions, he would give away once more the whole amount at once. Afterwards finding no money near him he took off the shawl from his person and the highly precious cloth put on by him and gave them away and remained motionless in Samadhi in the garment of divine consciousness12 only! Mathur, filled with bliss, thought that his money had been put to its proper use and began to fan him.
Many are the examples of the liberality of the miserly Mathur in connection with the Master. He took the Master with him when he made his pilgrimage to Kasi, Vrindavan and other holy places. At Kasi he obeyed his words and like a wish-fulfilling tree made free gifts; he gave to everyone whatever necessary articles were asked for. He requested the Master to ask for something at that time but the latter could find nothing of which he was in need. He said, “Give me a water-pot (Kamandalu).” Mathur’s eyes were wet with tears to see his spirit of detachment.
The Master’s heart was filled with compassion to see the poverty and misery of the village people when going through a village near Vaidyanath at the time of his pilgrimage to Kasi, Vrindavan and other holy places with Mathur. “You are”, said he to Mathur, “but a manager of Mother’s estate. Give these people sufficient oil to cool their heads and a piece of cloth to each and feed them to their fill once.” At first Mathur was a little hesitant and said, “Father, the pilgrimage will require much money and they are, I find, many; I may later be in want of money if I begin to do all that. What do you advise under these circumstances?” But who gave ear to it? There was an incessant flow of tears from the Master’s eyes to see the misery of the villagers and his heart was filled with an unprecedented compassion. “You wretch, I will not go to your Kasi. I will remain here with them; they have none to call their own; I will not leave them behind and go.” Saying so, he became obstinate like a boy and went and sat down amongst the poor people. Seeing such compassion in the Master, Mathur had cloth brought from Calcutta and did as “father” asked him to do. Beside himself with joy to see the villagers happy, “father” also bade good-bye to them and started gladly with Mathur on his journey to Kasi. We are told that the Master went on another occasion with Mathur to a certain village in his estate near Ranaghat where he was seized with a similar compassion to see the miserable plight of the villagers and he made Mathur do likewise once again.
Identified with the divine Consciousness and Power as the spiritual teacher, the Master bound Mathur to himself for ever in a sweet relationship. Such unprecedented relation with Mathuranath was the mature result of the Master’s prayer to the divine Mother at one time during his Sadhana under the influence of a sudden strange mood. He had prayed, “Mother, do not make me an austere Sadhu; keep me enjoying (the necessities of life). For, as the result of that prayer, the divine Mother showed him four persons (the suppliers of provisions) who had been sent with him into the world for the maintenance of his body by providing for the necessities of his life, and Mathuranath was the first and the foremost of them Could this relation remain unimpaired for so long a time if it had not been determined by Providence? Alas! O world, how many such pure and sweet relations have you seen so far? And alas! O desire for enjoyment, with what an adamantine chain have you bound man! Although we have seen and established our relationship with such a wonderful Master — of a pure, awakened and free nature, a veritable image of selfless love — our minds even now cast a longing lingering look at lower objects. While one day a friend was listening attentively and with amazement to the story of Mathuranath from the Master himself, thinking of Mathur’s great good fortune, the friend asked him, “What has happened to him, sir, after death? It is certain, he will not have to be born again!” Questioned so, the Master answered, “He must have taken birth as a king somewhere; for, he had the desire of enjoyment.” Saying so he immediately started another topic.