4.2 THE MOOD OF THE
VARIOUS COMMUNITIES OF HOLY MEN
I am the origin of all, everything evolves out of Me. Knowing thus the
wise worship Me with profound attention to the supreme Truth.
— Gita X. 8
compassion for them, I, abiding in a particular
modification of their minds, destroy the darkness of delusion produced
by ignorance, by means of the luminous lamp of knowledge.
— Gita X. 11
Once the Master said to us, “Young Bengal,1 like you, started coming after Kesav Sen himself had been visiting this place for some time. Do you know how many Sadhus, the world-renouncing Sannyasins and Vairagis used to come here formerly? Since the construction of Railways, they do not come this way. But, before that, all holy men used to come by the road along the side of the Ganga to bathe in the confluence of the Ganga and the sea and pay their obeisance to Sri Jagannath at Puri. All of them, invariably came and rested for a couple of days at Rasmani’s garden. Some of them, again, stayed much longer. Do you know why? Sadhus do not stay at a place where Bhiksha2 (food by begging) and secluded places for answering nature’s calls are not easily available. They maintain their bodies by Bhiksha only. That is why they fix their seats where Bhiksha is easily available.
Again, during their journeys, when these holy men get tired, they halt for a day or two at a place in spite of the difficulty of getting Bhiksha there; but they never stay where there is scarcity of water or difficulty of getting secluded places for answering calls of nature. Good Sadhus do not perform these natural actions where all people do or where they may be seen by others; they go to secluded places far away for that purpose. Just hear a story told by Sadhus:
“A certain person was out in search of a holy man of true renunciation. He was told, ‘Know him to be a man of true renunciation whom you see performing the ‘natural functions’ at places far away from human habitation.’ Remembering that, the person was on the look-out for a Sadhu of that type in places considerably away from inhabited localities. One day he saw a Sadhu go farther than others for that purpose and followed him at a distance. Now, the daughter of the king of that country was told that a girl could have a good son if she could marry a true Yogi, for the scriptures say that Sadhus are born of Yogis. The daughter of the king came in search of a bridegroom after her heart to the place where Sadhus were staying. She chose that Sadhu, returned home and told her father that she wanted to marry him The king loved his daughter dearly and, as the girl persisted, he came to the holy man and tried to prevail upon him to marry his daughter, saying that half his kingdom would go with his dear daughter, and so on and so forth. But, the Sadhu was firm and could not be seduced. He left the place at night without anybody’s knowledge. The person who was watching this Sadhu saw his wonderful renunciation and realized that he had come across a holy man who was indeed a knower of Brahman. He then took refuge in him, and the Sadhu took pity on him and instructed him. Through his grace he attained genuine devotion to the Lord and had the aim of his life fulfilled.”
“It was convenient to have Bhiksha at Rasmani’s garden and there was no scarcity of water by the grace of the mother Ganga. Again, there were good secluded places to their liking in the neighbourhood. Sadhus, therefore, used to stay here in those days. Again, word travelled from mouth to mouth — one Sadhu spoke of the place to another and, meeting a third, coming in this direction, the second told him of it — and Rasmani’s garden became well known to the Sadhus as a good place of rest for them on the way to Gangasagar and Puri.”
“At particular times”, said the Master, “particular kinds of Sadhus gathered here in large numbers. At one time, the Sannyasins, the Paramahamsas — not the herd of vagabonds roaming about for the sake of bread — began to pour in. Large numbers of those good people were to be found in the room (his own room) day and night. And day and night were passed in the discussion of the Vedantic topics, such as the nature of Brahman and of Maya, and on ‘Being, Revealing, Endearing’3 (astibhati, priyam)”
When the Master used the words, “asti, bhati, priyam”, he would forthwith explain them thus, “Do you know, what they imply? It is the true nature of Brahman. It is thus explained in the Vedanta: That which is being, in other words, which really exists, is revealing, that is, manifesting Itself. Now, manifestation partakes of the nature of knowledge. The thing of which we have knowledge has manifested itself to us; and that, of which we have no knowledge, is unmanifested to us. Is it not so? That is why the Vedanta says that whenever we are conscious of the “existence” of anything, we become simultaneously conscious of it as revealed or manifested to us; that is, we become conscious of its nature as knowledge. And forthwith we are conscious of it as something dear, that is, the Bliss Itself residing in that thing gives rise in us to the idea that it is dear and attracts us to love it. Thus, whenever we have the consciousness of Existence, we have that of Knowledge Itself and Bliss Itself. Therefore, what is Existence is Knowledge and Bliss, what is Knowledge is Existence and Bliss and what is Bliss is Existence and Knowledge. For, the very nature of the substance, Brahman, from which the universe and all things and persons in it have sprung, is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss; in other words, It exists, is manifested and is dear. Therefore, when one acquires right knowledge, one feels, the Uttara Gita says, that the supreme Self exists in the place, person or thing to which your mind is attracted:
Yatra yatra mano yati,
Tatra tatra parampadam
Man’s mind, it is said in the Vedas also, runs towards sights and tastes because His parts are there in them.
“Hot discussions among them went on over these topics. I was then intensely suffering from dysentery and was having very frequent motions. Hridu placed an earthen pan in a corner of the room. I was suffering from such acute dysentery and at the same time listening to their discussions about the Vedantic knowledge. Mother raised from within and indicated simple solutions of those knotty problems on which they were unable to come to any conclusions. I told them of those solutions and their differences were removed forthwith.
“Once there came a Sadhu here. There was a beautiful glow on his face. He used to sit and smile only. He came out of his room once in the morning and once in the evening, gazed on everything — the trees, the plants, the sky, the Ganga and so on — and, beside himself with joy, danced with both his arms raised. He sometimes rolled with laughter and said, ‘Fine! How wonderful is Maya! What an illusion has been created!’ That is, what a beautiful Maya God has conjured up. That was his worship. He had the realization of Bliss.
“There came a Sadhu on another occasion. He was inebriated with divine Knowledge. He looked like a ghoul; he was nude, with dust all over his body and head, having long nails and long hair; on the upper part of his body there was a wrapper of shreds as if picked from where dead bodies are burnt. Standing before the Kali temple and looking at the image, he recited a hymn in such a way that it made the whole temple shake, as it were, and Mother looked pleased and smiling. He then went where the poor people, sat and took food. But, seeing that ghost-like figure of his, even they did not allow him to sit near them, and drove him away. I then saw him sharing with dogs the leavings in the leaf-plates thrown in a dirty corner. He placed one arm on the shoulder of a dog and he and the dog were eating from the same leaf. The dog did not bark nor did it try to flee, though a stranger threw his arm around its neck. I was afraid to see him, lest I should get into that state and have to live and roam like him
“Having seen it, I came and said to Hridu, ‘His is not an ordinary madness; it is the madness of supreme God-consciousness.’ When Hridu was told so, he ran to see him and found that he was going out of the garden. He followed him to a great distance and said, ‘Holy sir, please give me some instruction as to how I may realize God. ’ At first the Sadhu did not reply. But when Hridu, showing no sign of desisting, followed him, he said, showing Hridu the water in the drain by the road, ‘You will realize God when the water here and that of the yonder Ganga will appear the same, as equally pure.’
He said this much and no more. Hridu tried to hear a little more and said, ‘Sir, please make me your disciple and take me with you.’ He said nothing in reply. Having gone far, he looked back and saw Hridu still following him; looking angry, he picked up a brickbat and threatened to throw it at him. No sooner had Hridu fled, than he threw down the brickbat, left the road and slipped away. He could not be seen any more. Such Sadhus wander in that kind of guise lest people should annoy them. This Sadhu was in the state of a true Paramahamsa: the Sastras say, they live in the world like boys, ghouls or mad people. This is why Paramahamsas allow a band of boys to follow and play with and around them, and learn to be like them. They try to be detached from everything like boys who have no attachment for anything. Have you not seen how happy a boy feels when his mother dresses him with a piece of new cloth? If you say, ‘Will you please give me this cloth?’ he will immediately reply, ‘No, I will not; mummy has given it to me.’ Saying so, he will perhaps tighten his grip over it with all his force and with fearful eyes look at you, lest you should snatch it away, as if the whole of his heart then lay in that piece of cloth. But, seeing immediately afterwards a toy worth half a penny in your hand, he will perhaps say, ‘Give me that, I will give you the cloth.’ A little later, perhaps, he will throw the toy away and run to have a flower. He is as little attached to the toy as to the cloth. That is the case with the knowers of Brahman.
“Some time passed that way. Visits of Paramahamsas became few and far between. Ramawat “fathers”4 — men of fervent renunciation, devout and dispassionate “fathers” — began to pour in, in large numbers. Ah, what devotion and what faith they had and how steadfast was their service to the Lord! It was from one of them that Ramlala5 came to me. That is a long story.
“That ‘father’ served the image for a long time. He took it with him wherever he went. He cooked whatever he got by Bhiksha and offered the cooked food to it. That was not all; he actually saw that Ramlala ate or wished to eat something or wanted to go for a walk or insisted on the satisfaction of a fancy, and so on. In the company of the image he was beside himself with bliss and always remained ‘inebriated’. I also saw Ramlala doing all that. I sat all the twenty-four hours of the day with the ‘father’, and kept gazing on Ramlala.
“As days passed on, Ramlala’s love for me went on increasing. As long as I remained with the ‘father’, Ramlala felt happy — he played and sported; but as soon as I came away from that place to my room, he also followed me immediately there. He did not remain with the Sadhu although I forbade him to come. I at first thought it was perhaps a fancy of my brain. How could it otherwise be possible that the boy (in the image) loved me more than him — the boy worshipped by the Sadhu for a long time, whom he loved so dearly, and served so tenderly with devotion? But of what avail were these thoughts? I actually saw — just as I see you before me — that Ramlala accompanied me dancing, now preceding, now following me. Sometimes he importuned to be carried in my lap. Again, when I took him on my lap, he would by no means remain there. He would go down to run hither and thither, collect flowers in thorny jungles or go to the Ganga to swim and splash water there. I said over and over again, ‘My child, don’t do that, you will get blisters on your soles if you run in the sun; do not remain in water so long, you will catch cold and get fever.’ But he did not give ear to my words, however much I might forbid him. Unconcerned he went on with his pranks as if I was speaking to someone else. He would sometimes grin and look at me with his two eyes, beautiful like the petals of a lotus, or carry on his pranks with a vengeance. He would pout both his lips and grimace and make mouths at me. I would then actually be angry and scold him, ‘You rascal, wait, I will give you a sound beating today and pound your bones to powder.’ Saying so, I would pull him away from the sun or from the water and then cajole him by giving him this thing or that and then ask him to play within the room. Again, finding it impossible to restrain his naughtiness I would sometimes give him a slap or two. Thus beaten, he would pout his beautiful lips and sob and look at me with tears in his eyes, when I would feel pained. I then took him affectionately on my lap and cajoled him. I actually saw and acted thus.
“One day I was going to bathe, when he took an obstinate fancy to go with me. What could I do? I took him with me. Then he would not come out of the water. He turned a deaf ear to all my pleadings. At last I became angry, immersed him in the water and said, ‘Be now in the water as long as you like’; and I actually saw that he panted and writhed under the water. Seeing him suffer thus and thinking to myself ‘What have I done? ’ I took him out of water on to my lap.
“It cannot be described how much I felt pained for him on another occasion and how much I wept. That day Ramlala was obstinately demanding something to eat, and I gave him some parched paddy not properly husked, in order to pacify him. I then found that his soft and delicate tongue got lacerated by the husk of the paddy as he was eating. Dear me! What a great pain I felt then! I took him on my lap, wept loudly and taking hold of his chin, sobbed out the words, ‘I was so rash and foolish that I did not at all hesitate to put such contemptible food into the mouth which mother Kausalya used to feed solicitously with such soft delicacies as butter, thickened milk and cream, lest they should hurt him’.” As he was speaking these words, the Master’s past grief burst forth anew and he became restless in our presence and wept so bitterly that we could not restrain our tears though we did not understand a bit of his loving relation with Ramlala.
Chained in Maya, we Jivas, were dumbfounded to hear those words about Ramlala and looked at the image with awe, hopefully wondering if we too could see him living and moving. But, ah, we saw nothing but cold metal! And why should we? We had not got that loving attraction for Ramlala. The affection for Ramachandra had not been so intensified in our minds as to produce in us the eye of love like that of the Master, enabling us to see living Ramlala in and outside also. We see a small doll only and think, “Could what the Master said have happened or can it ever happen?” It is so with us regarding everything in the world and we are resting satisfied with our load of unbelief. Do you not see, the Rishi, the knower of Brahman, says, “Sarvam khalvidam Brahma, neha nanasti kinchana”6? That is, there is nothing in the world except the Reality of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. There is no real existence for any one of the persons or things that one sees. We thought it might be so. But looking at the world we do not find the slightest trace of the Reality of Brahman, the One without a second. What we see are wood and earth, house and door, man and cow, and other things of various colours, shapes and sizes. Or at most we see the green, dark-blue,7 snow-capped mountain arrogantly attempting to touch the deep-blue infinite sky, bedecked with stars, and the streams singing a sweet low murmuring note, flowing down, to teach it lowliness and scolding it with the words “So much arrogance is not good.” Or we see the infinite, tempestuous seas riding the high breakers and rushing forth to swallow everything, but unable to go beyond the shores in spite of a thousand efforts. There we come to the end of our tether and think, “Ha, the Rishi said so under the influence of strong intoxicants?” Suppose now the Rishi says, “No, children, practise self-control and purity and make your mind one-pointed and tranquil, then you will understand and realize what we have said — you will actually see that the world is an intensified manifestation of your own thoughts, and that you see diversity outside because it is there in your mind.“ To this we reply, ”Revered sir, where do we find the time for such practices, we who are restless under the tyranny of the senses and urgency of earning our livelihood?“ Or perhaps we say, ”Your list of duties to be carried out for qualifying to have a direct vision of your Reality called Brahman, cannot be followed in practice in a few days or months or even years. It is doubtful whether man can do it in a whole lifetime. Suppose we apply our minds to it in compliance with what you say, but fail to attain that Reality of Brahman, and see at long last that the attainment of infinite Bliss is but a sophism, we lose both here and hereafter. We are deprived of the enjoyment of worldly pleasures — transitory though they may be — as well as your infinite Bliss. What will happen to us then? No, sir; if you have got the taste of that infinite Bliss, well and good; go on enjoying it happily for the good of generations of your disciples; only allow us to enjoy the little pleasure that can immediately be had from sights, tastes, etc. Pray, don’t raise so much reasoning and so many arguments and invent casuistry to spoil that little enjoyment of ours.”
The scientist comes and says to us, “I can show you with the help of instruments that one all-pervading substance, a conscious power, exists uniformly in all things and beings — bricks and trees and plants, men and cattle — and is manifested variously.” We also find that the vibration of life is indeed observable in all beings. We say, “Bravo! Fine intellectual sweep! But what is the use of having that knowledge-only? The Rishis, the authors of our scriptures, told us all that long ago.8 You have, let us admit, demonstrated it now. But can you say that it will add to our enjoyments? It is then only that we can extol your wisdom” The scientist says, “Will it not? It is certain to do so. Just see, how convenient it is for you to get the news from various parts of the globe through the discovery of the power of electricity. How convenient it is for you to earn money, the basis of all your enjoyments, by trade and commerce carried on by means of ships, railways and mills, factories and other machines, all driven by the power of steam. And how convenient it is for you to destroy your enemies, who stand in the way of your enjoyment of pleasures, by the invention of guns and cannon through the understanding of the hidden laws of explosives. This all-pervading power with which you have thus become acquainted today, also cannot but be of some use in future.” We reply, “Well, you are right. But invent something as soon as possible, so that our only desideratum viz., our enjoyment, might be increased by the application of this newly discovered power. It is only then that your discovery will be hailed and your intelligence appreciated. Then alone we shall understand that you don’t speak under the influence of intoxicants like those authors of the Vedas and the Puranas.” The scientist listens, feels the trend of our thoughts and says, “So be it.”
All the difficulties that arose in the spiritual world, were due only to the fact that the Rishis, the preachers of the knowledge portion of the Vedas, could not thus say, “So be it.” They, therefore, had to live in jungles far away from the bustle of the world and remain satisfied in the company of a few people who were adverse to the enjoyment of worldly pleasures. But it does not seem probable that in the spiritual world in India no attempt at saying “So be it” has ever been made. Remember the latter part of the Buddhistic age when the Tantric Kapalikas were spreading the processes of rites for killing others, driving others distracted, subduing others and so on. There was a great fuss about alleviating and curing bodily and mental diseases by means of various propitiatory ceremonies and about exorcising evil spirits like ghosts and ghouls. At that time you could not be recognized even as a religious man till you could show some superhuman miraculous power produced by your austerities and feign the power of controlling the destinies of your disciples in such a way that they might have the enjoyment of worldly pleasures without any obstacle. For once, at that time, the religious world girded up its loins to preach to the worldly people that the truths hidden in religion were helpful in fulfilling the desires of enjoyment. But how could light and darkness co-exist? Consequently, the Kapalikas forgot Yoga in a short time, came down to the plane of Bhoga and secretly preached, in the name of religion that liberates one from bondage, desires for extensive enjoyments which bind one tighter to the world of matter. The truly religious people of the country then understood once more that the two, Yoga and Bhoga, were contradictory to each other and could by no means co-exist in one and the same receptacle. When they understood it, they were again in favour of the path of knowledge preached by the seers and began to realize that knowledge in practical life.
Where is the opportunity for us to concur with the worldly people in their opinions, and say, “So be it”. For, we have begun to tell the story of the Master — one who is not of this world, in whose mind the idea of renunciation was so deep-rooted that his hand would become contracted and insensible at the touch of a metal even during deep sleep, that his respiration stopped and he felt a terrible pain. He was one on whom flashed the knowledge of images of the divine Mother Herself the moment his eyes fell on any female figure — the knowledge which no amount of efforts and temptations9 on the part of many persons could remove. He was one who was so grievously pained and so terribly angry at the suggestion of Mathur’s making a gift of a property worth several thousand rupees that he ran hither and thither with a stick in his hand to beat Mathur who was supremely devoted to him. He was one who got excited while he was afterwards describing the pain he felt at a similar proposal of Lakshminarayan Marwari, and said, “I felt as if my head was being sawn through!” And he was one in whose mind no objects of worldly enjoyments such as sights, tastes, etc., could ever bring the dark blot of attachment and produce the slightest break in his experience of the super-sensuous bliss of ecstasy. We knew long ago, O man ever eager to enjoy the pleasures of the world, that we would have to put up with much abuse and reproach when we chose to tell you the story of this extraordinary Master. That is not all. We knew also that you would not hesitate to slander this godly character, if any simple-hearted among your sons and grandsons, friends and relatives, would be actually attracted by our words towards that wonderful character and try to renounce the world and worldly enjoyments. But when once we have set our hand to this undertaking, we are not able to desist from it nor are we able to hide the truth even partially. We have to narrate what we know. There is, otherwise, no peace; some one as it were, forces us to speak out. Let us therefore narrate, as far as we know, the story of this extraordinary god-man. Accept as much of this story as you can digest, and “omit the head and tail.” Or if you like, you may throw the book away, thinking that a few cock-and-bull stories have been narrated in it by a hemp-smoker, and everyday run to sip honey from new flowers of worldly objects. Afterwards when you fall into the terrible whirlpool of the world and ever arrive at a state, owing to bad luck — or would you like to call it good luck? — wherein you find that “the honey of worldly objects and the flowers of lust” etc., have become stale and insipid, read the life-story of this extraordinary person; you will then find solace yourself and appreciate the worth of our Master too.
In the course of his description of that wonderful behaviour of Ramlala, the Master said, “On some days the holy ‘father’ would cook food and offer it to Ramlala but could not find him. Wounded at heart, he would then run up here (to the Master’s room) and find him playing in the room. With his feeling of love wounded, he would then scold him, ‘I took so much trouble to cook food for you and am searching for you hither and thither; and free from care and forgetful of everything, you are here! That has ever been your way. You do as you fancy. You have no kindness or affection. You left behind your father and went to the forest; your poor father died of weeping but, still you did not return to show yourself to him.’ With these and other similar words he used to drag Ramlala to his place and feed him. Time passed in that way. The Sadhu was here for a long time, for Ramlala did not like to leave this place (i.e., me) and go away. He also could not leave behind Ramlala whom he had loved so long.
“Dissolved in tears, the ‘father’ then came one day and said, ‘Ramlala has shown himself to me in the way I wanted to have his vision and has thus quenched the thirst of my life. Moreover, he said he would not go from here; he does not like to leave you behind here and go away. My mind is now free from sorrow and pain. He lives happily with you and plays and sports; I feel beside myself with bliss to see it. I am now in such a state that I feel happy at his happiness. Therefore, I can now leave him with you and go elsewhere. Thinking he is happy with you, I will be happy.’ Saying so and giving Ramlala to me he bade good-bye. Ramlala has been here since then.”
We understood that the holy man had the taste of love free from the slightest tinge of selfishness by virtue of the divine company of the Master and was convinced that on account of that affection there was no fear of separation from the object of his love. He understood that his chosen Ideal, the embodiment of pure love, was always with him and that he could see him whenever he liked. It is doubtless that on that assurance alone, the “father” could leave behind Ramlala who was as dear to him as his life.
The Master said, “On another occasion there came a Sadhu who had absolute faith in the name of God. He also belonged to the Ramawat denomination. He had nothing with him except a water-pot and a book. The book was very dear to him He used to worship it daily with flowers and open and read it now and then. When I became acquainted with him, one day I persuaded him to lend me the book. When I opened it, I found that the only thing written in it with red ink in big letters, was ‘Aum Ramah’. He said, ‘What is the use of reading a large number of books? For, it is from the one divine Lord, that the Vedas and Puranas have come out; He and His name are non-separate. Therefore, what is contained in the four Vedas, the eighteen Puranas and all the other scriptures, is there in any one of His names. That is why His name is my only companion.’ Such was the Sadhu’s faith in the name of God!
Thus did the Master tell us of a great many Sadhus and sing for us, from time to time, the devotional songs he had learnt from them. Take for example the songs:
“You have not, O mind, recognized my Rama,
what then have you recognized?
And what have you known?
One, who tastes the bliss (derived from taking
the name of) Rama, is a true Sadhu.
But what is he, who tastes the pleasures of
A true son is he, who delivers the family (from
But what are other sons worth?
“Worship Ramachandra, the
consort of Sita,
lord and king of the Raghus,
The protector of Ayodhya; there is no second
(object of worship).
His smile and words, His gait and naughty bearing,
His face and long eyes,
His nose and forehead beautiful with boyish
frowns and a mark of saffron,
And sandal-paste, giving the appearance of
the morning sun,
His dazzling ear-rings, His necklace of pearls shining
like stars and dangling on His broad chest
“Like the Ganga coming out, piercing the peak of
the mountain, green with flora.
This hero of the dynasty of the Raghus, is there
walking with His friends on the bank of the Sarayu;
Tulsidas is beside himself with joy gazing and feasting
on His beauty and craves for the dust of those lotus feet.
“He really lives in the world who worships
He really lives in the world who adores Him
And the fourth:
“There is no one, except Rama, who can save me.”
We have forgotten the other lines of these two sweet songs.
Some times he recited for us the couplets he had learnt from those Sadhus. He said, “Sadhus always teach that one should protect oneself against the dangers of committing a theft, of being in women’s company and of telling a lie.” Saying so, he would forthwith ask us to listen to what was said in Tulsidas’s couplet:
‘Tulsidas stands security, if God be not realized by truthfulness, obedience and lack of covetousness regarding others’ wealth. Tulsidas is a liar, if God be not realized by truthfulness, obedience and looking upon others’ wives as mothers.’
“Do you know what obedience is? It is humility. When the right humility comes, egoism is destroyed and God is realized. It is also in Kabir Das’s song:
‘Service, worship and humility will make one easily realize the Lord of the Raghus. Be steadfast, O brother, joyfully’.”
On another occasion, the Master said, “At one time a desire arose in my mind that I should supply the aspirants of all communities with all the necessities of Sadhana. They would get all those things, become free from anxiety and practise Sadhana for the realization of God; and I would see it and be happy. I consulted Mathur about it. He said, ‘Where is the difficulty, father? I’ll arrange everything just now. Give whatever you like to anyone. Over and above the already existing arrangement about supplying of uncooked rice, pulses, flour, etc., to each Sadhu, according to his liking, from the store of the temple, Mathur made provision for water-pots, Kamandalus, blankets, seats and even intoxicants, such as hemp and hemp-leaves for those who would take them, and wine etc., for the Tantric worshippers. Many Tantric aspirants used to come at that time and hold Chakras, the holy circles. I used to supply them with peeled ginger and onion, parched rice and pulses which were necessary for their Sadhanas, and look on, while they worshipped the divine Mother with these and called on Her. Again, on many occasions they took me to their circle and placed me at the head of it. They requested me to take consecrated wine, but desisted from making such requests when they came to know that I felt God-intoxicated at the very mention of wine and, therefore, could not take it. As one who sat with them had to take consecrated wine, I put a mark of it on my forehead, smelt it, or, at most, sprinkled it with my fingers into my mouth and poured it into their drinking cups. As soon as they drank it, some applied their minds, I found, to the thought of the Goddess, became absorbed in counting beads or meditation on Her, while others, far from calling on the divine Mother, greedily drank too much and at last became drunk. One day they behaved too improperly, when I stopped giving them wine etc., any more. But I always saw Rajkumar10 sit for Japa and abstain from applying his mind to anything else as soon as he took it. But afterwards he had, it seemed, some inclination for name and fame. It was quite natural, for he had his wife and children and on account of wants at home he had to pay a little attention to the acquisition of money. In any case, he used to take wine, only because it was helpful to his Sadhana. He, I saw, never took it greedily or behaved improperly.”
21. The Master was switched to spiritual emotion and inebriation at the very mention of the word “hemp” or “wine” and entered into Samadhi at the utterance of what are regarded as obscene words or songs
Many thoughts are cropping up in our minds in connection with the Master’s inability to take wine. Many were the occasions on which we actually saw that mentioning the words “hemp,” “wine”, etc., in the course of conversation, he became filled with divine inebriation and even entered into Samadhi. Many a time we saw the wonderful Master enter into Samadhi uttering the name of that part of the female body, at the very name of which, our rougish minds, proud of culture, are filled with the idea of vile enjoyment; or, knowing that such ideas were sure to arise in their minds, those who consider themselves refined, call it obscene, shut their ears against it or protect themselves by flying to a distance. Again, as soon as he got down from the plane of Samadhi and regained a little normal consciousness, we heard him saying in this connection, “Mother, Thou hast indeed assumed the forms of the fifty letters.11 Those letters of Thine constitute also the obscene and indecent words. The ka, kha12 of Thy Veda and Vedanta, and those of obscene and indecent words, surely are not different. The obscene and indecent words as well as the Veda and Vedanta are verily Thyself.” Saying so, he entered into Samadhi once more. Alas, who will understand, far less explain, what an indescribable wonderful Light beyond the grasp of our minds and intellects there was in the eyes of that extraordinary god-man, that used to illumine all the things, good and bad, of the world! Who can have those eyes to get the vision of the world, which he enjoyed? Be attentive, O reader, cherish these words carefully in your heart with awe and reverence and think how deep and incomprehensible was the mental purity of that wonderful Master!
Ramprasad, on whom the grace of the universal Mother was bestowed, sang:
“I don’t drink wine but nectar, crying, ‘Victory to Kali’ which makes my mind God-intoxicated. Wine-bibbers regard me as drunk with wine...” Before we saw the Master, we could not even conceive that without taking intoxicants, a man by virtue of divine Bliss alone could be in such a drunken state. We remember it very well, when, in our life, we considered the author of a book to be superstitious and foolish when he described Sri Chaitanya as losing his normal consciousness at the utterance of the Lord’s name, Hari. During that period there flowed a current of unbelief and doubt of this nature regarding everything in the minds of all the young men of the city. And immediately afterwards we happened to meet this extraordinary Master. Not only did we meet him, but observed him at all times, day and night, and with the eyes of sceptics. We saw his unrestrained dance and constant loss of normal consciousness in the bliss of Kirtan (singing aloud the songs of the Lord’s name and divine sports); his losing consciousness of the outside world in pain at the touch of a coin or any metal; his deep inebriation at the mention of intoxicants by their association with the inebriation of divine bliss. And what did we see of him at the mention of the Lord’s name or those of His incarnations;? Why? The utterance of the word that rouses the basest animal passion in ordinary men, by its association with the female organ of generation, sent him into divine immaculate supersensuous ecstasy, bringing before his mind the womb of the blissful Mother of the universe from which worlds are created every moment. Are we still to tell you, reader, what qualities of this extraordinary god-man dazzled our eyes for ever in a way that led us to adore him in our hearts as a divine incarnation?
Many a time the Master came with his devotees to the Simla (Calcutta) house of his great devotee, Ramchandra Darta and enjoyed great bliss together with the devotees. After enjoying for some time the bliss arising from talking on God, one day, he started for Dakshineswar. Ram Babu’s house was situated in a lane.13 Carriages could not come to the front of the house. One had to leave one’s carriage on the main road a little to the east or to the west of the house and walk up to it. A carriage was waiting on the western main road to take the Master to Dakshineswar. The Master started in that direction and the devotees followed him. But the Master was staggering, on account of divine bliss, so much that he could not go those few steps without being helped by others. Two devotees on the two sides caught hold of his hands and helped him to walk slowly. There were some people standing at the bend of the lane. How could they understand the state of the Master? They were talking among themselves, “Oh, how dead-drunk the man has become”. Though the words were spoken low, we could hear them and could not but smile and say to ourselves, “Indeed!”
(ii) Second example: in the presence of the Holy Mother at Dakshineswar
One day in the day-time, the Master asked our supremely revered Holy Mother to prepare a few rolls of betel leaf, brush his bedding and sweep clean the room, and went to the Kali temple to pay his obeisance to the Mother, of the universe. She had quickly finished almost all those things when the Master returned from the temple, as if in a completely drunken state; his eyes were red, steps hopelessly unsteady and his words indistinct and inarticulate. He entered the room and came staggering up to the Holy Mother. The Holy Mother was then attentively doing the household work and could not at all know that the Master had come to her in that mood. The Master, like one drunk, then pushed her person and said to her, “Ah, have I drunk wine?” She looked back and was astonished to see the Master in that state. She said, “No, no; why should you drink wine?”
The Master: “Why do I stagger then? Why can I not speak? Am I drunk?”
The Holy Mother: “No, no; why should you drink wine? You have drunk the nectar of Mother Kali’s love.”
The Master: “You are right.” Saying so he expressed joy.
(iii) The third example: at Kasipur on seeing a drunkard
Since the devotees of Calcutta came to the Master and had his grace, the Master would go once or twice a week to the house of one or other of the devotees. If any body could not come to him at the fixed time and if he could not get news of his welfare from anyone else, the merciful Master would personally go to see him. Again, his mind sometimes would become restless and he would go to Calcutta to see some one if the latter did not come to Dakshineswar at the fixed times. But his auspicious visits, it was invariably seen, were for the good of those devotees. He had not the slightest self-interest. Beni Saha had some good hackney-carriages at Baranagar. As the Master came very often to Calcutta, it was arranged with him that he should send a carriage to Dakshineswar on the Master’s order. He should not raise any objection however late at night the carriage might return from Calcutta. Of course, he should get extra hire at the fixed rate for the extra time. This carriage hire was paid successively by Mathur Babu, Mani Sen of Panihati, Sambhu Mallick and Jayagopal Sen of Sinduriapati, Calcutta. But the devotees to whose house he went, paid the carriage hire for that day if they were in a position to do so.
One day the Master was to go to Jadu Mallick’s house at Calcutta to see his mother who had great devotion for him, for he had no news about the family for a long time. The Master had finished his meal and a carriage arrived when our friend, A., came by boat from Calcutta to pay him a visit. As soon as the Master saw A., he made enquiries regarding his welfare and said, “It is very nice that you have come. I am going to Jadu Mallick’s house today. I shall get down at your house on my way and see G. He could not come here for a considerable time on account of pressure of work. Come, let us go together.” A., who was then newly acquainted with the Master, agreed. He had seen him only on a few occasions in a few places. He, therefore, had not known well that the extraordinary Master had ecstasy, at any place and at any time, when he saw even those things or persons that we call contemptible or detestable or unworthy of touch or look.
Now the Master got into the carriage. The boy-devotee, Latu, now known as Adbhutananda, took with him the Master’s bag, towel and other necessary articles and followed the Master into the carriage. Our friend A. also got into the carriage. The Master sat on one side of the carriage and Latu and A. on the other. The carriage started, gradually went beyond Baranagar bazar and was passing by the Mati lake. Nothing particular happened on the way. The Master saw this or that on his way and was asking Latu or A. about it like a boy; or he raised this topic or that and was going on merrily as in the ordinary normal condition.
There was something like an ordinary bazar to the south of the Mati lake. And farther south there were a wine shop, a dispensary, a few stables and some tiled houses forming a warehouse for rice for sale. To the south of this place the broad road to the well-known temple of Sri Sarvamangala and Chitreswari led to the bank of the Ganga. One had to keep that road to the right to go to Calcutta.
Some drunkards were then sitting in the grog shop, drinking wine and were noisily making merry. Some of them were singing joyfully; and some dancing with gesticulations. And the owner of the shop, having engaged his servant in selling wine to them was standing absent-mindedly at the door of the shop. There was a big mark of vermilion on his forehead.. Now, the Master’s carriage was passing before the shop. The shop-keeper seemed to know the Master, for, when he saw him, he raised his hands and saluted him
The noise attracted the Master’s attention to the shop, and he happened to see the drunkards expressing their joy noisily. As soon as he saw their merry-making due to the drinking of wine (Karana), the memory of the blissful nature of the universal Cause arose in his mind through association. It was not the memory alone, but its direct experience also followed and he was completely filled with inebriation and his words became indistinct. That was not all. He brought out suddenly a part of his person and his right leg out of the carriage, placed his foot on the foot-board and stood there. Like one drunk, he expressed joy at the sight, moving his hands; and making gesticulations of his body cried out loudly, “Very nice, fine enjoyment, bravo, bravo!”
A. said, “We had no previous indication that the Master would suddenly be in that state. He had been talking like one in the normal state. But no sooner had he seen the drunkards than he was in that condition. I was benumbed with fear. In a great hurry I stretched my arms with a view to dragging his body into the carriage and making him sit, when Latu interfered and said, ‘Nothing need be done; he will control himself and will not fall down.’ I therefore remained quiet, but my heart went on throbbing violently for some time. I thought, ‘How very wrong it was for me to drive in the same carriage with this mad Master! I’ll never do so again.’ All these events, of course, took much less time to happen than to describe. The carriage left that shop behind and the Master sat quiet within it and happening to see the temple of Sri Sarvamangala, said, ‘There is Sarvamangala. She is an awakened deity. Salute Her.’ Saying so, he himself saluted the Devi when we also did so in imitation of him from that distance. Then, I looked at the Master and saw him in quite a normal state smiling gently. But the throbbing of my heart did not come to an end for a long time, thinking he might have fallen and even died.
“When afterwards the carriage came and stood at the gate of the house, he said to me, ‘Is G. in? Please go and see!’ I went and came back to say, ‘no’. He then said, ‘Well! I cannot see G.; I thought of asking him to give today’s extra carriage hire. But I am now acquainted with you, will you give a rupee? Jadu Mallick, you know, is a miserly man; he will not pay more than the fixed rate of two rupees and four annas only. But who knows how late at night I shall return after meeting the devotees? Again, the driver repeatedly asks us to make haste and annoys us when we are very late. Therefore, it has been arranged with Beni that the driver should not create any disturbance if three rupees and four annas be paid, however late it may be before I return. Jadu will pay two rupees and four annas, and there will remain no difficulty for today’s hire if you pay one rupee. That is why I say so. Hearing all this I handed over a rupee to Latu and saluted the Master when he went to see Jadu Mallick.”
Such a “drunken” state came daily at any time on the Master. Alas, how few of these examples can we record and tell the reader! Thus on many occasions the Master narrated, not only to us but to many other people, the stories of many monks and aspirants that came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. There are many people living even now who can bear testimony to it. We were then studying in the St. Xavier’s college. It remained closed on two days a week, Thursday and Sunday. As there was a crowd of devotees with the Master on Saturdays and Sundays, we used to go to him on Thursdays also which gave us the opportunity of hearing of various events of his life from his own lips. From the description of all these events, we could clearly understand that, besides the Bhairavi Brahmani, Swami Tota Puri, the Muslim Govinda, the monk who came providentially to Dakshineswar14 to save the body of the Master by forcibly feeding him during his stay in the highest Nirvikalpa plane continuously for six months, and one or two others, each one of the monks and aspirants of various denominations, that had visited Dakshineswar before we went there, had come to have new spirit infused into his religious life with the help of the light of the Master’s extraordinary divine life. Having thus reached the acme of their life, they got the opportunity of showing the true aspirants of their denominations, thirsting for spirituality, how to realize God along their own paths. Each of them came only to learn and, having perfected his knowledge, went away to his own place. Although the Bhairavi Brahmani, Tota Puri and some others, were very fortunate in coming and helping the Master in his spiritual life, they too were blessed to realize, on the strength of the divine life and power of the Master, those hidden spiritual truths which they were unable to experience in their own lives in spite of their life-long Sadhanas.
It does not take one long to understand another truth when one studies the order of the coming of those Sadhus and Sadhakas to the Master at Dakshineswar. And because it will be convenient to study the order in which they came, we have in this chapter tried to tell the reader the narratives of the Master in his own language as far as possible and in their proper order and sequence, exactly as we heard them from him We heard from the Master himself that, whenever he engaged himself in the discipline and worship of particular aspects of God and realized them, the true aspirants of those communities, devoted to those aspects of the deity, began to pour in, in groups, for some time; and days and nights were passed with them in the discussion of those divine aspects. As soon as he attained perfection in the worship of the Mantra of Rama, the monks of the Ramawat denomination started coming to him in large numbers. No sooner had he been established in each of the devotional moods of Santa, Dasya, etc., spoken of in the Vaishnava books of Bengal, than devotees practising those moods streamed in. The then eminent Tantric aspirants of this part of the country came to him, when he had completed the discipline prescribed in the sixty-four Tantras, with the help of the Bhairavi Brahmani. Hardly had he perfected himself and attained immediate experience of Brahman, according to the non-dual doctrine, when the good Sadhakas of the Paramahamsa denomination came to him in large numbers.
Even a boy will not take long to understand that there is a hidden meaning in the fact that the aspirants of different denominations came thus to have the divine company of the Master. At the auspicious advent of the incarnation of the age, it always happened thus in the world in the past and will happen so in the future. According to a mysterious law of the spiritual world, these incarnations are born in every age in order to avert the decline of religion or to brighten up the almost extinguished light of spirituality. But, when we study their lives we find that there is a difference in the manifestation of power in them, and it becomes clear that some of them came to remove the want of a particular part of a country, or of a few particular communities, while others came to remove the lack of spirituality in the whole world. But, all of them, it is seen everywhere, promulgate their own doctrines and the knowledge discovered by them, and keep intact the authenticity of the spiritual teachings of the preceding sages, teachers and incarnations, instead of destroying them. For, through their divine Yogic powers, they see an order of succession and a relation amongst the previous spiritual doctrines and faiths. That history of the spiritual world and the relation amongst the ancient religious doctrines always remain hidden from our vision which is blinded by attachment to worldly objects. They see the previous religious doctrines as strung together “like a string of gems,”15 and add the next required gem to it in the light of their experiences of spirituality and quietly pass out.
We shall understand this clearly by the study of the history of some foreign religions. Take for example, Jesus, who came and promulgated the truths experienced by him and kept intact the religious doctrines preached by the Jewish teachers. Again, Mohammad came a few centuries later and preached his own doctrine without destroying the doctrines promulgated by Jesus. This does not prove that the doctrines preached by the Jewish teachers or by Jesus are imperect; in other words, this does not prove that by following those doctrines one cannot realize those aspects of God which they realized. That can surely be done. Again, by following the doctrine preached by Mohammad, one can also realize that aspect of God which Mohammad did. This is the law everywhere in the spiritual world. It must be understood that the same law applies to the religious doctrines of India too. You will realize any particular aspect of God by rightly following that particular doctrine, preached for that purpose by the Vedic Rishis or the great teachers, the authors of the Tantras and the Puranas. The Master engaged himself in the disciplines according to the doctrines of all denominations one after another, realized this grand truth just mentioned, and communicated it to us.
“When the flower blossoms, bees come.” The Master told us many a time that this was the law in the spiritual world also. It is according to this law that as soon as an incarnation of God gets illumination or realizes the truth of the spiritual world, those thirsting for religion are attracted to him in order to know and learn it. The reason why the aspirants of all denominations came to the Master, group after group, and not merely those of one denomination only, is that, having trod all denominational paths and having realized all the aspects of God realizeable through them, he could give specific information about each of them But all of these aspirants did not achieve perfection in the practice of their own doctrines nor could they recognize the Master as the “incarnation of the age”. It was the best of them only who could do so. But each of them made progress along his own path by virtue of the divine company of the Master and was perfectly convinced that he would certainly realize God at the right time if he went on his own path. It is superfluous to add that decline in religion arises through loss of faith in one’s own path, which makes it impossible for the aspirant to realize spirituality in his own life.
There is wide-spread talk nowadays that the Master learnt the methods of Sadhana leading to God-realization from those monks, engaged himself in too severe austerities and went mad at one time, that his brain became deranged and there came on him a permanent physical disease of losing normal consciousness under the influence of excessive emotion of any kind. My God! We are such a herd of learned fools! The race of the Rishis of India showed in their own lives and explained to us through the Vedas and the Puranas, that the normal consciousness vanished, as one ascended to the plane of Samadhi through the complete concentration of mind. They left, behind for us the full explanation of the scriptures relating to Samadhi, which does not exist among any other people anywhere. And all the great souls who have till now been regarded in the world as incarnations of God and been receiving the reverence of human hearts in all countries experienced, in their own lives, this loss of consciousness and explained to us again and again that it was inevitable in spiritual progress. But, in spite of all this, if we still speak or listen to and believe those hollow words, God help us! O reader, if you think it is desirable, you may hear those meaningless words credulously; may you and those who say so prosper! But kindly allow us the liberty of lying at the feet of this wonderful, God intoxicated man. And try once more to understand it well, before you decide it one way or the other. See that the state described by the ancient author of the Upanishad,16 does not come on you:
“Just as, one blind man guided by another, meets with disaster, so, people, devoid of discrimination, who consider themselves to be intelligent and well versed in the scriptures, live in ignorance and pass through various transmigrations.”
It is not a new thing that the Master’s Bhavasamadhi is called a disease. Many persons educated in the Western way said so, even while the Master was living. But as time passed on, the “insane” talks and predictions of that divinely inebriated man came true more and more; and the more his extraordinary ideas were eagerly sought and accepted by the people all over the world, the more did their statement lose its force. It met with the same fate as a handful of dust thrown at the moon. And fully discovering that all such statements were erroneous, people came to the certain conclusion that the Master’s words were true and preserved their tranquillity of mind. It will happen so now also, for truth cannot be kept covered any more than fire, by a piece of cloth. It is therefore not necessary for us to make any effort to expound it further. We would quote a word or two of the Master himself on this topic and pass on to another.
Our revered friend Sri Sivanath Sastri, who was one of the teachers of the General Brahmo Samaj, said to some of us during the life-time of the Master, that the Master’s Bhavasamadhi was a disease (hysteria or epileptic fits) produced by nervous disorder and simultaneously expressed the opinion that he became unconscious at the time like ordinary people suffering from that disease. This remark gradually reached the Master’s ear. Much earlier, Sivanath used to visit the Master from time to time. One day when he came to Dakshineswar, the Master raised that topic and said to him, “Look here, Sivanath, is it true that you call these a disease and say that I become unconscious at that time? Ah, you people remain all right, although you apply your minds night and day to insentient things like brick, wood, earth, money, etc., and I, who think night and day of Him whose consciousness makes the whole universe conscious, become unconscious! Where have you borrowed your intellect from?” Sivanath remained silent.
The Master used the words “divine madness”, “madness of knowledge”, etc., to us every day and freely said to all that a powerful storm of divine love raged in his life for twelve years. He used to say, “Ah, just as, when dust is raised by a storm, all things look alike and trees like the mango, jack-fruit, etc., cannot be seen, far less distinguished from one another, even so a state came on me which did not allow me to know good from bad, praise from blame, cleanliness from uncleanliness! There was one thought, one idea only, viz., how to realize Him This was what occupied the mind every moment. People said, ‘He has become mad’.”
Some of the learned aspirants that came to the Master at Dakshineswar in those days were, owing to their excessive devotion, initiated in Mantras and even in Sannyasa by him before they left. Pandit Narayan Sastri was one of them We were told by the Master himself that the Pandit lived with his teachers like the orthodox Brahmacharins of ancient days, and studied various Sastras continuously for twenty-five years. He had always a strong desire to have equal knowledge of and mastery over all the six Darsanas and lived with different teachers at Kasi and other places in the north-western part of the country and had the complete mastery of five of them But if he did not finish his study of the Nyaya philosophy with the well-known teachers of Nyaya at Navadwip in Bengal, he could not have complete mastery over that system and so could not be regarded as one of the eminent scholars of Nyaya. He, therefore, had come to this part of the country about eight years before he visited the Master at Dakshineswar. He lived for seven years at Navadwip and finished his studies in the Nyaya philosophy. He was ready to go home. Perhaps he entertained doubts whether he would be able to visit these parts of the country over again. So he came to see Calcutta and visited Dakshineswar situated near that city, when he had the privilege of meeting the Master.
Sri Sastri had been known as a scholar in the country even before he came to Bengal to study Nyaya. Hearing the name of Sri Sastri at one time, the Maharaja of Jaipur, we were told by the Master himself, had a desire to appoint him as his court-pandit, and respectfully invited him with the promise of a high salary. But Sri Sastri’s thirst for knowledge had not yet been quenched; and his eager desire for getting complete mastery over the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy yet remained unfulfilled. So he had to reject the Maharaja’s cordial invitation. Sri Sastri, we infer, belonged formerly to some province near Rajputana.
Narayan Sastri was not like ordinary scholars. Detachment from the world was gradually growing in his heart along with the knowledge of the scriptures. He could clearly understand that no one could have real mastery of the Vedanta and other scriptures by a mere study without practice. Therefore, even before he finished his studies, there arose in his mind from time to time the idea, “I am afraid, I am not acquiring right knowledge in this way. I’ll practise Sadhana for some time and try to realize what the scriptures say.” But he suppressed the desire of engaging himself in Sadhana and applied his mind again to his studies, lest he should lose both, by thus giving up half-finished a subject which he had been trying to master. Now, as he had acquired a thorough knowledge of the six philosophical systems, that long-cherished desire of his was fulfilled. He now wanted to return home. He had already decided in his mind that he would do what was considered proper on his going back home. At this auspicious moment of his life he met the Master and, as soon as he saw him, he felt drawn towards him, rather in a mysterious way.
We have already said that, at the Dakshineswar Kali temple, there were good arrangements for the boarding and lodging of guests, Fakirs, Sadhus, Sannyasins, Pandits and so on. No wonder therefore that he was respectfully allowed to live there as long as he liked; for, besides being a Brahmin Brahmacharin, belonging to a distant part of the land, he was a good scholar. It was a beautiful place providing food and other necessities and affording the company of such a god-man! Sri Sastri made up his mind to spend some time there before going away. And what else could he do? The more intimately he mixed with the Master, the more did a certain feeling of love for him grow in his heart and the more intensely did a desire to know him deeper and deeper prevail in him The Master too expressed his joy on getting the simple-hearted, magnanimous Sastri for a companion and spent much time with him in conversation about God.
Sastriji had read about the seven planes spoken of in the Vedanta. He knew from his study of the scriptures that, as soon as the mind ascended to higher and higher planes of consciousness, there came wonderful experience and visions followed at last by the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. And it was in that state that man got merged in the immediate experience of the reality of Brahman, the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Itself, and that the delusion of the world clinging to him for ages without beginning, vanished altogether. He saw that the Master had the immediate knowledge of what Sastriji merely had read about in the books and got by heart. He found that he himself merely uttered the words Samadhi, immediate knowledge, etc., while the Master was actually experiencing what they meant, at any time during day and night in course of his conversation about God. Sastriji thought, “Ah, how wonderful! Where else shall I have such a person to teach and explain the hidden meanings of the Sastras? This opportunity must not be missed. The means of immediate knowledge of Brahman must be obtained from him at any cost. Life is uncertain indeed. Who knows when this body will come to an end? Shall I die before attaining right knowledge? That cannot be. At least one sincere effort to realize God must be made. Let home and all that go for the present.”
As days passed on, detachment and eagerness to know Truth grew more and more in Sastriji as a result of the divine company of the Master. The desires such as, “I shall startle all by my scholarship”, “I shall become a Mahamahopadhyaya17, and acquire name, position, fame, etc., more than others”, appeared to be contemptible aims of life to be shunned and avoided by all means; and they gradually vanished altogether from his mind. Sastriji lived with the Master like a disciple in a mood of true humility, listened attentively to his nectar-like words and thought, “The mind must not be applied any more to anything else; there is no knowing when the body will meet with its end; now, when there is yet time, efforts must be made to realize God.” He reflected on the Master, “Ah, how free from anxiety he lives, knowing what one should know and understand in life! Even death has been conquered by him; it can no longer hold before him the horrible shadow of the ‘night of destruction’. Well, the author of the Upanishad18 says that all the wishes of such great souls become fulfilled and that, if one can truly obtain their grace, one’s desire of experiencing the world again and again vanishes and one attains the knowledge of Brahman. Why then should I not importune him for this grace? Why should I not take refuge in him? Sastriji went on pondering this way and lived with the Master at Dakshineswar. But, he could not, all on a sudden, make any request to him lest he should consider him to be unfit and refuse to take him under his shelter. Time rolled on thus.
The following event proves that detachment from the world was becoming intense in Sastriji’s mind day after day. Michael Madhusudan Datta, a great and glorious poet of Bengal, was, at that time, conducting a case on behalf of Rasmani. One day he had to come to the Dakshineswar Kali temple with a descendant of the Rani in order to know everything about the case precisely. After he had finished his business regarding the case, he came to know in the course of the conversation that the Master was there, and expressed a desire to see him When word was sent to the Master, he at first sent Sastriji to speak with Madhusudan and himself went a little after. While he was talking with him, Narayan Sastri asked him the reason why he gave up his own religion and accepted that of Jesus. Michael said in reply that financial pressure compelled him to do so. We cannot say whether, reluctant to reveal his own story to a stranger, he replied to the question in that manner. But it appeared to the Master and the others present that he was actually speaking out his own mind and did not say so by way of joke or sarcasm to hide the truth about himself. Be that as it may, Sastriji became much annoyed with him to hear that answer. He said, “What, to give up one’s own religion for the sake of maintaining oneself in this ephemeral world! What a mean consideration! Die one must some day; you should rather have died.” He thought, “And yet people call him a great man and read his books with appreciation!” A great abhorrence came upon Sastriji’s mind and he desisted from speaking any more to him.
Madhusudan then expressed a desire to listen to some religious instruction from the Master. The Master said to us, “My mouth was pressed as it were by someone, and I was not allowed to speak anything.” Hriday and some others say that that mood of the Master left him a little afterwards, and he moved Madhusudan’s mind by singing in his sweet voice a few songs of Ramprasad, Kamalakanta and other eminent Sadhakas, and taught him thereby that devotion to God was the only essential thing in the world.
Even after Michael had bidden good-bye, Sri Sastri discussed and denounced Michael’s playing the renegade and wrote with a piece of charcoal in big letters on the wall of the verandah to the east of the door leading to the Master’s room that to give up one’s own religion under the stress of one’s monetary needs was a very mean act. Sri Sastri’s opinion on this matter, written on the wall in distinct big Bengali characters, attracted our notice and produced curiosity in us. One day we made an enquiry and came to know everything. As Sri Sastri had-lived in this part of the country for a long time, he had learnt Bengali very well.
Now comes the last thing known in Sri Sastri’s life. One day he happened to meet the Master in a secluded place, took that opportunity to express the desire of his heart and insisted tenaciously that he should be initiated in Sannyasa. The Master agreed on account of his eagerness and initiated him on an auspicious day. After that Sastriji left the Kali temple. He expressed to the Master the desire of his heart that he would make a strenuous effort to realize Brahman at Vasishthasrama, till his aim was fulfilled. Dissolved in tears, he asked for the Master’s blessings, worshipped his feet and left Dakshineswar behind for ever. No certain news of Narayan Sastri was received after this; some say that he lived at Vasishthasrama practising severe austerities, which resulted in a physical disease due to which he died.
Again, the Master felt a desire to see the monks, aspirants and devotees of all communities whenever he heard of their stay in the neighbourhood. When he felt that desire, he used to go unasked to them and spend some time in talks about God. At that time no consideration such as “Would people think ill or well of it”, “Would the Sadhakas unknown to me be pleased or displeased with my visit” or “Would I myself be properly respected”, would ever cross his mind. He would go somehow or other to the aspirants and would not rest till he had formed a correct idea regarding their spiritual attitudes, their progress towards the goal and other relevant matters. The Master also behaved very often in the same way, when he heard of scholars learned in the scriptures, who were also aspirants. He paid such visits to Pandit Padmalochan, Dayananda Saraswati and many others and narrated stories about their lives to us now and then. We are now going to tell the reader about Padmalochan first of all.
The study of the Vedanta was very rare in Bengal before the advent of the Master. Although Acharya Sankara had defeated the Tantrics of this province in theological polemics many centuries ago, he could scarcely establish his own doctrine among the people in general. Consequently, the Tantras accepted as true the radical principle of non-dualism spoken of in the Vedanta, introduced a little of it into their own process of meditation and prescribed worship and other ceremonies amongst the public as before. And the Pandits of Bengal devoted the whole energy of their fertile brain to the study of the Nyaya philosophy, created the Navya Nyaya, Neo-Logic, and brought about an extraordinary revolution in the realm of that system. Was it due to the fact that the people of Bengal were defeated and humiliated in argumentation by Sankara, that the study of that philosophy became so much prevalent amongst them? Who can say? But many a time has the world witnessed it that, defeated in a certain field by a particular nation, the defeated and humiliated have nursed a desire and made an effort, to surpass all in that same field.
Although the study of the Vedanta was so scarce in Bengal, the nursery of Tantra and Nyaya, it was not as if no one was attracted to the study of the liberal conclusions of the Vedanta. Pandit Padmalochan was one who was attracted. After he had acquired efficiency in Nyaya, the Pandit had a desire to study the Vedanta. He went to Kasi, lived with his teachers and studied that philosophy for a long time. Thereupon, he became famous as a Vedantin in a few years. On his return home, he was invited by the Maharaja of Burdwan and was appointed as a court-pandit. As the wonderful genius of the Pandit went on unfolding, he was gradually promoted to the post of the principal court-pandit. His fame spread throughout Bengal.
It will not be out of place here to mention a remark by the Pandit indicative of his wonderful genius. Expatiating on the theme that narrow opinions in spiritual matters were due to meanness of nature, the Master sometimes quoted to us the Pandit’s remarks on the subject. For, the extraordinary, truthful Master always remembered whatever he heard from any one expressive of the liberal doctrine after his heart and, while quoting it in the course of conversation, he mentioned the name of the person from whom he had heard it first.
Once upon a time, the Master said, there arose a great controversy amongst the scholars of the court as to who was greater, Siva or Vishnu. Padmalochan was not present there. The scholars who were present grew noisy in their disputation, some supporting the one and some supporting the other, according to their own knowledge of the scriptures, or perhaps according to their own temperamental preference. Thus a quarrel went on between the two parties, the Saivas and the Vaishnavas. No solution of the problem could be found. Therefore, the principal court-pandit was summoned to decide the question. Pandit Padmalochan arrived at the assembly. And when he heard the question, he said, “None of my forefathers up to the fourteenth generation saw either Siva or Vishnu. How can I, therefore, say who is superior and who is inferior? But if you want to know what the scriptures say, it has to be said that the Saiva scriptures call Siva greater and the Vaishnava ones, Vishnu. So, one’s own chosen Ideal is greater than all other deities.” With this remark, the Pandit quoted as proofs verses indicating that both were greater than all other deities and concluded that both were equally great. This conclusion of the Pandit brought the quarrel to an end and everybody thanked him. We get a definite proof of his genius in this outspokenness and frank and unpretentious knowledge of the scriptures and get the clue to his great name and fame.
It was not only because he travelled far into the great wood of multitudinous words that the Pandit became so famous. Acquainted in their daily life with the repeated manifestations of his noble qualities of liberality, non-attachment, good conduct, practice of austerities, steadfast devotion to his chosen Ideal, etc., people came to the conclusion that he was an unusually great Sadhaka and lover of God. The co-existence of true scholarship and profound devotion to God is rare indeed in the world. So, people are attracted towards a person in whom both these are found. It was therefore no wonder that, when the Master heard of him, he had a desire to see that good soul who had been adorning the court of Burdwan for a long time and was approaching his old age.
Whenever there was any desire in the Master’s mind, he, like a boy, became anxious to fulfil it immediately. The Master’s mind acquired that trait, perhaps because he had taught his mind since his childhood, “Life is ephemeral, do quickly what has to be done” and performed every action with intense eagerness. Again, a little thinking brings out the fact that the mind becomes endowed with that disposition as the result of practising one-pointedness and steadfastness. Anyway, seeing the Master eager, Mathuranath was thinking of sending him to Burdwan when the news came that, as Pandit Padmalochan had been ill for a long time, he had been brought to a garden near Ariyadaha, on the bank of the Ganga for a change of climate and that, owing to the pure fresh air of the place, he had improved a little. Hriday was sent to know whether the news was true.
He returned and confirmed the news. The Pandit had heard of the Master and was very eager to see him He showed great respect to Hriday knowing that he was a relative of the Master. A day was then fixed. The Master started to see the Pandit; Hriday accompanied him
Hriday said that the Master and Padmalochan were pleased to see each other when they met for the first time. The Master could find him to be a Sadhaka, of a liberal nature, amiable and well versed in the Sastras. The pandit also had the conviction that the Master was a great soul and was in an extraordinary state of spirituality. He could not refrain from shedding tears to hear the name of the divine Mother sung by the Master in his sweet voice. The Pandit became speechless on seeing the Master lose normal consciousness in ecstasy over and over again and on hearing what experience he had in that state. The Pandit, well versed in the scriptures, tried, we can clearly understand, to compare the spiritual states of the Master with those recorded in the scriptures. But it is also certain that, in doing so, he felt a difficulty that day and could not come to any certain conclusion. For, not finding the ultimate experiences of the Master recorded in the Sastras, he could not perfectly ascertain whether what were written in the Sastras or the experiences of the Master, were true. Therefore, the discriminating mind of the Pandit, always accustomed to arriving at sure conclusions in all spiritual matters with the help of scriptural knowledge and keen intellect, experienced a sort of restlessness in the midst of joy like a spot of darkness in light.
On account of the love and attraction which sprang up during their first acquaintance with each other, the Master and the Pandit met together a few times more. Consequently, the conviction of the Pandit about the Master’s spiritual state grew deeper and profounder. We heard from the Master himself that there was a special reason why the Pandit had that firm conviction.
Pandit Padmalochan had been practising for a long time the disciplines prescribed by the Tantras along with the Vedantic discussion on knowledge and had some realization of their results. The Master said that the divine Mother revealed to him the secret of the Pandit’s power attained through spiritual practices. He came to know that it was only because the Devi, the Pandit’s chosen Ideal, was pleased with him on account of his Sadhana and granted him a boon, that he became invincible in innumerable meetings of scholars and could keep secure his superiority. Padmalochan had always with him a towel and a spouted-pot filled with water. It was a favourite habit with him to take them in his hand, walk a few steps hither and thither, come back and wash his mouth and sprinkle his head with that water before he went forward to solve any problem Nobody had ever any curiosity to inquire into the reason for this queer habit of his, and nobody ever thought that it had a hidden purpose. The Pandit never disclosed it to anybody, not even to his wife, that he used to do so according to the advice of his chosen Ideal and that, when he did so, intelligence, scriptural knowledge and presence of mind were completely awakened in him through divine grace and made him invincible to others. The Devi advised him privately in his heart of hearts to do so. From that time he followed that advice perfectly for a long time and experienced its result without the knowledge of others.
The Master said that he could know all this by the grace of the divine Mother. And one day, finding an opportunity he concealed the Pandit’s towel and spouted-pot. Padmalochan could not engage himself in the solution of the problem under discussion in the absence of those things and was busy searching for them. When, afterwards, he came to know that the Master had concealed them, his astonishment knew no bounds; when, again, he understood that the Master had come to know everything before he had done so, the Pandit could not help reciting hymns to and singing praises of the Master as his own chosen Ideal. The Pandit came to regard him as an incarnation of God from that time and was devoted to him accordingly. The Master said, “ Though Padmalochan was so great a scholar, he had so much faith in and devotion to ‘here’ (me)! He said, ‘When I shall come round, I’ll convene a meeting of all the scholars and tell them all that you are an incarnation of God. I’ll see who can refute my word.’ Mathur, at one time, for another reason, was going to convene a meeting at Dakshineswar of all the scholars. Padmalochan, an unavaricious Brahmin, who was of a virtuous orthodox disposition, would never accept a gift from a Sudra. Thinking that he would not come to the meeting, Mathur asked me to request him to be present there. At the request of Mathur, I asked the Pandit affectionately, ‘Will you not come to Dakshineswar?’ He said, ‘I may go to a sweeper’s house with you and take my food there. Is it too much that I should go to a meeting in the house of a person of the caste of fishermen?’”
But the Pandit was not to come to the meeting convened by Mathur Babu. Before the meeting could be called, his physical illness increased. He bade good-bye to the Master with tears in his eyes and went to Kasi. It is said he passed away there shortly after.
When, long afterwards, the Calcutta devotees of the Master took refuge at his holy feet and in their exuberance of devotion, some of them were calling him publicly an incarnation, the Master came to know of it and sent them word not to do so. He got the news a few days later that they had not desisted from doing so. Annoyed at this, he said to us, “One is a doctor and another is the manager of a theatre; they come here and call me an incarnation! They think they extol me by calling me such. But what do they understand of what is called an incarnation? Long before they came here and called me an incarnation, many persons like Padmalochan, who spent their whole lives in the study of these things — some well versed in the six philosophical systems, some in three — came here and called me an incarnation. To be called an incarnation has become contemptible to me. What will they add to me by calling me such?”
Besides Padmalochan, the Master met some other famous scholars from time to time. He told us now and again, in the course of conversation, the special noble qualities he saw in them It will not be out of place here to narrate briefly the stories of a few such scholars.
Once Swami Dayananda Saraswati, the founder of the Arya Samaj, came to Bengal on a tour and lived for some time in a gentleman’s garden in the village called Sinthi in Baranagar, situated to the north of Calcutta. Although he was very well known as a good scholar, he did not then preach his own doctrine and had not founded his organization. On hearing of him, one day the Master came there to pay him a visit. In the course of a conversation on Dayananda, the Master said to us on one occasion, “I went to see him in the garden of Sinthi; I found that he had acquired a little power; his chest was always red. He was in the state of Vaikhari, speaking on scriptural subjects night and day; he misapplied grammar and twisted the meanings of many words. He had in his mind the egoism, ‘I’ll do something, I’ll found a doctrine.’”
The Master said about Pandit Jayanarayan, “Although a great scholar, he was free from pride. He had foreknowledge of the time of his death and said that he would go to Kasi and pass away there. And so it happened.”
The Master mentioned many times the great devotion to Sri Ramachandra of Krishnakishore Bhattacharya of Ariyadaha. He used to visit his house. The highly devoted wife of Krishnakishore also had much devotion for the Master. The Master said that Krishnakishore had great devotion even to the Mantra, “mara” as a great one, imparted by the Rishi, let alone his devotion to the name, “Rama”. For, that word as a Mantra was, it is written in the Purana, imparted by the Rishi Narada to Valmiki, then a notorious highwayman. And as the result of its repeated utterance with devotion, the extraordinary divine play of Sri Ramachandra was manifested in Valmiki’s mind and this made him the poet and author of the Ramayana. Krishnakishore met with much grief and misery in the world. Two of his grown-up sons died. The effect of the grief due to the death of one’s son, the Master said, was so great that, even Krishnakishore, although a great devotee, could not control himself and was overwhelmed with grief.
Besides the Sadhakas mentioned above, the Master, saw Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Pandit Iswarchandra Vidyasagar and others. He spoke to us occasionally of the Maharshi’s liberal devotion and Iswarchandra’s attachment to the Yoga of action.