It was not only we who were beside ourselves with joy and saw wonderful new light in the spiritual world when we observed the Master’s ecstasy and his enjoyment of bliss during the Kirtan in the house of Manimohan of Sinduriapati, but our esteemed friend Varada Sundar felt similarly and kept on inquiring when and where the Master would come again to confer that kind of bliss. It was not long before his efforts were successful; for, two days later, on Wednesday morning, November 28, as soon as we met him he blurted out, “Sri Ramakrishna will come to Kamal Kutir to see Kesav Babu this afternoon and go to Jayagopal Sen’s house at the Mathaghasa quarter later at dusk. Will you go to see him?” It was known to us that Kesav was then very ill. Therefore, thinking that the presence at Kamal Kutir of strangers like us might possibly be a cause of annoyance, we decided to go at dusk to Jayagopal’s house to see the Master.
1. Jayagopal Sen’s house
We took Mathaghasa to be a part of Barabazar and went there first; then enquiring of people and pressing on and on, we reached Jayagopal’s house at last when the sun had already gone down. That day, as on the previous occasion at Manimohan’s house, there was a shower of rain in the afternoon. For, we remember distinctly that we made our way through mud on the road and reached our destination. Jayagopal Babu’s house, like that of Manimohan, was facing west and we remember to have entered the house turning eastward. As we passed the gate we saw a person and asked him if the Master had come. He received us cordially and asked us to proceed to the first floor by the southern flight of steps and enter the spacious parlour to the east extending north and south. Entering that hall we saw that it was neat and clean and well furnished: there was on the floor a large mattress covered with a white cotton sheet serving as the common seat for all and the Master was sitting on one part of it surrounded by a few Brahmo devotees. We remember that the two Acharyas of the New Dispensation, Chiranjiv Sarma and Amritalal Basu were among them Besides Jayagopal, the owner of the house, his brother, two or three friends of his living hard by, and one or two devotees of the Master who came with him, were present there. We remember also to have seen there the young devotee named the junior Gopal whom the Master used to call Hutko.1 Thus seeing only about a dozen men with the Master on that occasion, we felt that that day’s gathering was not meant for the public and to come there as we had done was not quite right for us. We therefore decided that we steal away from that place a little before all were called to take their food.
As soon as we entered the house, we bowed down at the holy feet of the Master. “How have you come here?” asked he. We replied, “We had news that you would come here today; so we have come to see you.” It seemed that he was pleased with that answer and asked us to sit down. We sat down and, freed from anxiety, noticed others and listened to his illuminating talk.
2. The Master’s method of teaching
Although we had had the good fortune of meeting the Master for the first time only very recently, we had felt an extraordinary attraction for his ambrosial words from the very first day of our meeting.
Of course, we did not then understand the reason for it; we find now how unique the method of his teaching was. In it there was no parade of scholarship, logic-chopping, nor festooning of fine phrases; neither was there in it any attempt to cause a small idea look big with turgid words; nor, as with the writers of philosophical aphorisms, an effort to express the deepest thoughts in the fewest possible words making them unintelligible. We cannot say whether the Master, who was the living embodiment of the ideas he expressed, paid any attention at all to the language he used. But, whoever have heard him speak even once have noticed how he held before them picture after picture drawn from the materials of daily occurrence, from the things and events the audience were familiar with, in order to imprint these ideas on their minds. The listeners also became fully freed from doubts and perfectly satisfied with the truth of his words, as if they saw them enacted before their very eyes. Going on to inquire how those pictures came immediately to his mind, we consider as the cause his extraordinary memory, his wonderful comprehension, his keen power of observation or his uncommon presence of mind. But the Master always said that the divine Mother’s grace was the only cause of it. He used to say, “Mother sits in the heart of him who depends entirely on Her and makes him say whatever he has to say by showing it to him through unmistakable signs. Mother always keeps his mind filled with a mass of knowledge which She continues supplying from Her never-failing store of wisdom, whenever it appears to run short. Thus it is that it never gets exhausted however much he may spend from it.” Going to explain this fact one day he mentioned the following event:
“There is a Government magazine to the north of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. Some Sikh soldiers lived there for keeping watch over it. All of them were very much devoted to the Master and sometimes they would take him to their lodgings and have various religious doubts cleared by him. The Master said, “One day they put the question, ‘How should a man live in the world so that he may realize God?’ And what I immediately saw was a picture of a husking machine before my eyes. Paddy was being husked and one person was very carefully pushing the paddy into the hole where the husking pedal was falling. As soon as I saw it I knew that Mother was explaining to me that one should live in the world as cautiously as that. Just as the person who sits near the hole and pushes up the paddy is always careful that the pedal does not fall on his hand, so, a man engaged in worldly activities should always beware that he does not get entangled in them, being conscious that the worldly affairs were not his. It is only then that he can escape bondage without being hurt and destroyed. As soon as I saw the picture of the husking machine, Mother produced this idea in my mind and it was this that I told them They also became highly pleased to hear it. Such pictures come before me when I talk to people.”
3. Another peculiar characteristic of his method of teaching
Another peculiar characteristic that was observed in the Master’s method of teaching was that he never confused the mind of his hearer by speaking unnecessary words. He discerned aright the subject and the aim of the inquirer’s question and answered it in a few homely sentences, giving the conclusion and by way of illustrations drawing pictures before him in the aforesaid manner. We call this the especial characteristic of his method of teaching “the statement of the conclusion”; for, he used to state as answer only that which he knew as true in his heart of hearts. He would not say in so many words that no other solution of that problem was possible. Nevertheless that impression would be firmly created in the mind of the hearer, because of his deep-seated conviction and the stress he used to lay on the expressions. If, on account of past education and impressions, any hearer brought forward contrary reasons and arguments and would not accept his conclusions, which he knew by Sadhana as true, he would wind up the topic saying, “I have said whatever came to my mind; take as much or as little of it as you like (or, literally translated, accept it minus the head and tail).” Thus he would never harm or destory the spiritual attitude of the hearer by interfering with his liberty. Did he think that the hearer could not accept the true solution of the subject under discussion, till he had reached a higher mental state by the will of God? It seems so.
Again, he did not stop there but reinforced his talk interspersed with songs composed by well-known Sadhakas and sometimes quoted examples from the scriptures. That used to remove the doubts of the enquirer who, firmly convinced of the truth of the solution, would readily engage himself in guiding his life accordingly.
4. The Master’s annoyance at the flow of words not backed by realization
It is necessary to say one word more here. The Master told us again and again that the aspirant arrives at the non-dual knowledge by realizing his identity with the object of his worship at his journey’s end, whether he treads the path of devotion or of knowledge. As proofs of this may be quoted his sayings, such as, “Pure devotion and pure knowledge are the same (thing)”, “There (in the ultimate state) all jackals howl alike (all men of knowledge speak of the same realization)”, and so on. Thus although he was of the opinion that Advaita knowledge was the ultimate truth, he always taught the general public, with its hankering for worldly objects, the truth of qualified monism, and not unoften, of the love of God after the manner of a dualist. He used to be greatly annoyed at persons who, having no high spiritual experience, nor even love for God, would, nevertheless, bandy arguments in favour of non-dualism or qualified non-dualism He did not hesitate often to condemn such actions of theirs with very harsh words. One day, the Master asked our friend, Vaikunthanath Sannyal, whether he had read the Panchadasi and some such books. Getting a negative reply, the Master said with a sense of relief, “Good that you have not. Some boys read those books and, giving themselves airs, come here; they will not practise anything; they simply come to argue. That is a torment to me.”
The reason that led us to quote the aforesaid words is that, at the house of Jayagopal, that day, a certain person put the question to the Master, “How should we live in the world to receive the grace of God?” The Master taught him the doctrine of qualified monism, punctuating the topic with a few songs on the universal Mother. We give below the substance of what he said:
5. The Master taught how to realize God in worldly life
As long as man looks upon the world as “mine” and acts accordingly, he becomes entangled in it, though he knows it to be transitory. He meets with suffering and can find no way out, even if he wants to flee from it. Saying that, the Master immediately sang, “So great is the Maya of Mahamaya that it has kept the whole world under a great delusion; even Brahma and Vishnu are under that delusion, let alone the Jiva not knowing it as such!” and so on. One, therefore, should associate this transitory world mentally with the divine Lord and perform every action accordingly. One must hold fast His
Lotus feet with one hand and go on working with the other and always remember that the persons and things of the world are His, not one’s own. If one can do that, he will not have to suffer from worldly attachment. There will then arise the idea that whatever one does is the Lord’s, and his mind will go forward towards Him In order to imprint it firmly in the mind of the enquirer, the Master sang, “O my mind, you do not know how to till (the soil of life)” and so on. The song finished, he continued, “If one lives his life in the world by having recourse to God in that manner, one will gradually feel that all the persons and things of the world are His parts. The aspirant then will serve his parents as he will the Parents of the universe (Brahman and His Power), see the manifestation of the boy Gopala and of the Mother of the universe in his sons and daughters and, knowing all others to be the parts of Narayana, will behave towards them with respect and devotion. A person who lives in the world in that spiritual mood is an ideal man in the world and the fear of death is rooted out from his mind. Such persons are rare indeed, but not altogether wanting.” Afterwards, pointing out the means to reach that ideal, the Master said, “One should have recourse to one’s discriminating intellect and thereafter perform all actions; one should go away now and again from the noise of the world and, engaging oneself in spiritual practices in a quiet place, should try to realize God.” It is in this manner only that one can bring into practice the said ideal in one’s life.1 Pointing out the means the Master sang the famous song of Ramprasad, “O mind, come let us go for a walk; you will get for the mere picking up the four fruits2 under the wish-fulfilling tree, Kali.” Again, when he used the expression “discriminating intellect”, he would explain what was meant by it. He said that, with the help of that intellect the aspirant knows God as the One eternal Substance, underlying the fleeting appearances, the totality of sights, tastes, etc., which is the world, and renounces it. But when he has known God, that very intellect teaches him that the One, who is the Absolute, has, in His play as the many, assumed myriads of forms as the individual things and persons of the universe; and the aspirant is blessed at last with the realization that God is both absolute and relative.
Then Acharya Chiranjiv began to sing with the help of his one-stringed instrument, “Make me inebriated, O Mother”, all singing it in chorus after him When the Kirtan thus began, the Master was in ecstasy and stood up. All the others also then stood round him and began to dance and sing. Finishing this song, Chiranjiv commenced singing, “Ah, the full moon of divine Love has risen in the firmament of Consciousness!” Dancing for a long time to the accompaniment of the song, they brought to a close that day’s Kirtan by bowing down to God and to His devotees. All of them took the dust of the Master’s feet and sat down. He danced sweetly on this occasion also, but he did not have here that kind of deep ecstasy lasting for a long time, which we saw at Manimohan’s place. The Kirtan over, the Master sat down and said to Chiranjiv, “When I heard that song1 of yours for the first time, I saw rising such a living, large full moon, ever so big, and would enter into ecstasy as soon as it was sung ever afterwards.”
Jayagopal and Chiranjiv were then talking to each other about Kesav’s illness. The Master, we remember, told some one on that occasion that Rakhal was then unwell. We do not know whether Jayagopal was a formally initiated Brahmo or not; but there is no doubt that he had great respect and reverence for Kesavchandra, the Brahmo leader, and love for the members of the Brahmo circle.
Kesav sometimes went to Jayagopal’s garden at Belgharia near Calcutta with his entire party and spent some time in spiritual practices. It was on one such occasion that he met the Master for the first time there, which led to the deepening of spirituality in Kesav’s life, culminating in the blossoming of the flower of the New Dispensation. Jayagopal also entertained great respect for the Master ever since that day. He enjoyed great bliss in religious conversation, sometimes by coming to the Master at Dakshineswar and sometimes by inviting him to his own house. For some time, Jayagopal, we were told, paid a great part of the expenses of the Master’s carriage-hire for going to Calcutta. All the members of his family also had much respect for him.
When, afterwards, we noticed that the night was well advanced, we took leave of the Master for the day and started home.
1. Literally, one who comes all on a sudden and disappears similarly.—Tr.
1. We are indebted to ‘M’, the esteemed author of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, for a part of the substance of this day’s conversation.
2. Namely, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha i.e., moral, economical and aesthetic excellence, as well as liberation.—Tr.
1. Ah, the full moon of divine Love has risen in the firmament of consciousness (Victory to the merciful One).
Behold the sea of the divine Love swollen high; Oh, the bliss of it!
Ah, the devotees like stars, glitter round Hari, the playful One and friend of the devotees.
Opening the door of heaven, the vernal breeze of the New Dispensation blows and raises waves of bliss.
The sweet smell of the nectar of divine Love spreads rapidly around and makes the Yogis inebriated with the bliss of holy contemplation.
In the shoreless sea of the world is dancing the lotus of the Dispensation, on which sits gracefully the blissful Mother.
The bees, the devotees, overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, drink the nectar of that lotus.
Lo! There is the Mother’s gracious, world-charming face so pleasing to the devotees’ minds. And merged in love, holy men in companies dance and sing at Her feet.
Oh, the beauty of it! Life has become cool and refreshed on seeing all this. Holding the feet of all, Premadas beseeches every one to sing victory to Mother.