Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna [2]

October 22, 1885

It was Thursday evening, a few days after the Durga Puja. Sri Ramakrishna sat on his bed in his room on the second floor, with Dr. Sarkar, Ishan, and other devotees. Although Dr. Sarkar was a very busy physician, he would spend a long time - sometimes six or seven hours - in Sri Ramakrishna's company. He had great love for the Master and looked on the devotees as his own kith and kin. A lamp was burning in the room. Moon-light illumined the outside world.

Addressing Ishan, a householder devotee, the Master said: "Blessed indeed is the householder who performs his duties in the world, at the same time cherishing love for the Lotus Feet of God. He is indeed a hero. He is like a man who carries a heavy load of two maunds on his head and at the same time watches a bridal procession. One cannot lead such a life without great spiritual power. Again, such a man is like the mudfish, which lives in the mud but is not stained by it. Further, such a householder may be compared to a waterfowl. It is constantly diving under water; yet, by fluttering its wings only once, it shakes off all trace of wet.

"But a man must practise some spiritual discipline in order to be able to lead a detached life in the world. It is necessary for him to spend some time in solitude - be it a year, six months, three months, or even one month. In that solitude he should fix his mind on God and pray with a longing heart for love of God. He should also say to himself: 'There is nobody in this world who is my own. Those whom I call my own are here only for two days. God alone is my own. He alone is my all in all. Alas, how shall I realize Him?'

"One can live in the world after acquiring love of God. It is like breaking the jack-fruit after rubbing your hands with oil; the sticky juice of the fruit will not smear them. The world is like water and the mind like milk. If you put milk in water it will mix with the water. But first keep the milk in a quiet place and let it turn into curd. Then from the curd extract butter. That butter you may keep in water; it will not mix with the water, but will float on it.

"Some members of the Brahmo Samaj said to me: 'Sir, our attitude toward the world is that of King Janaka. Like him, we want to enjoy the world in a detached spirit.' I said to them: To live in the world in a detached spirit is very difficult. By merely saying so you cannot be a King Janaka. How much austerity Janaka practised! How long he remained in one posture, with head down and feet up! You don't have to practise these extreme disciplines. But you need sadhana; you should live in solitude. You may lead the life of a householder after having attained divine knowledge and love in solitude. Milk turns into curd only when it is not disturbed. The curd does not set if the milk is often moved from place to place or is too much disturbed.'

"On account of his detachment from the world Janaka was also known as the 'Videha', that is, one free from consciousness of the body. Though living in the world, he moved about as a jivanmukta, a free soul living in a body. But for most people freedom from body-consciousness is something very far off. Intense spiritual discipline is necessary.

"Janaka was a great hero. He fenced with two swords, the one of knowledge and the other of work.

"You may ask, 'Is there any difference between the realizations of two jnanis, one a householder and the other a monk?' The reply is that the two belong to one class. Both of them are jnanis, they have the same experience. But a householder jnani has reason to fear. He cannot altogether get rid of his fear as long as he is to live in the midst of 'woman and gold'. If you constantly live in a room full of soot, you are sure to soil your body, be it ever so little, no matter how clever you may be.

"After extracting the butter, if you keep it in a new pot, then there is no chance of its getting spoiled. But if you keep the butter in a pot where curd has been kept, well, then it is doubtful whether it will keep its flavour. (Laughter.)

"When they parch rice, a few grains jump out of the frying-pan to the ground. These are white, like mallika flowers, without the slightest stain on them. But the grains that remain in the pan are also good, though not as immaculate as the fresh mallika flower. They are a little stained. In the same way, if a monk who has renounced the world attains divine wisdom, he appears as spotless as the white flower; but one who stays in the frying-pan of the world after attaining Knowledge may get a little blemish. (All laugh.)

"Once, a bhairavi came to King Janaka's court. At the sight of the woman, the king bent his head and cast his eyes to the ground. At this the bhairavi said, 'O Janaka, even now you are afraid of a woman!' Through Perfect Knowledge a man becomes like a child five years old; he does not know the distinction between a man and a woman.

"Although a jnani living in the world may have a little blemish, yet this does not injure him. The moon undoubtedly has dark spots, but these do not obstruct its light.

"After realizing God, some souls perform work in order to teach men. Janaka, Narada, and others like them, belong to this group. But one must possess power in order to be able to teach others. The sages of old were busy attaining knowledge for themselves. But teachers like Narada went about doing good to others. They were real heroes.
"A worthless stick floating on the water sinks under the weight of a bird; but a heavy and substantial log floating on the water can support a cow, a man, or even an elephant. A steamboat not only crosses the water itself but carries many human beings with it. Teachers like Narada may be compared to the heavy log of wood or the steamboat.

"One man, after eating a tasty morsel, removes every trace of it by wiping his face carefully with a towel, lest anyone should know. (All laugh.) Another, again, having got a mango, not only enjoys it himself but shares it with others.

"Even after having attained Perfect Knowledge, teachers like Narada retained love of God in their minds for the welfare of others."

DOCTOR: "Jnana makes a man speechless. He closes his eyes and sheds tears. Then he needs bhakti."

MASTER: "Bhakti may be likened to a woman who has access to the inner court of a house. Jnana can go only as far as the outer rooms."

DOCTOR: "All women are not allowed to enter the inner court, for instance, prostitutes. Hence the need of jnana."

MASTER: "A man may not know the right path, but if he has bhakti and the desire to know God, then he attains Him through the force of sheer bhakti. Once, a sincere devotee set out on a pilgrimage to the temple of Jagganath in Puri. He did not know the way; he went west instead of south. He no doubt strayed from the right path, but he always eagerly asked people the way, and they gave him the right directions, saying, This is not the path; follow that one.' At last the devotee was able to get to Puri and worship the Deity. So you see, even if you are ignorant, someone will tell you the way if you are earnest."

DOCTOR: "But the devotee in his ignorance did lose his way."

MASTER: "Yes, such a thing happens, no doubt. But a man reaches the goal in the end."

A DEVOTEE: "Has God a form or is He formless?"

MASTER: "God has form and, again. He is formless. Once upon a time a sannyasi entered the temple of Jagganath. As he looked at the holy image he debated within himself whether God had a form or was formless. He passed his staff from left to right to feel whether it touched the image. The staff touched nothing. He understood that there was no image before him; he concluded that God was formless. Next he passed the staff from right to left. It touched the image. The sannyasi understood that God had form Thus he realized that God has form and, again, is formless.

"But it is extremely difficult to understand this. Naturally the doubt arises in the mind: if God is formless, how then can He have form? Further, if He has a form, why does He have so many forms?"

DOCTOR: "God has created all these forms in the world; therefore He Himself has a form. Again, He has created the mind; therefore He is formless. It is possible for God to be everything."

MASTER: 'These things do not become clear until one has realized God. He assumes different forms and reveals Himself in different ways for the sake of His devotees. A man kept a solution of dye in a tub. Many people came to him to have their clothes dyed. He would ask a customer, 'What colour should you like to have your cloth dyed?' If the customer wanted red, then the man would dip the cloth in the tub and say, 'Here is your cloth dyed red.' If another customer wanted his cloth dyed yellow, the man would dip his cloth in the same tub and say, 'Here is your cloth dyed yellow.' If a customer wanted his cloth dyed blue, the man would dip it in the same tub and say, 'Here is your cloth dyed blue.' Thus he would dye the clothes of his customers different colours, dipping them all in the same solution. One of the customers watched all this with amazement. The man asked him, 'Well? What colour do you want for your cloth?' The customer said, 'Brother, dye my cloth the colour of the dye in your tub.' (Laughter.)

"Once a man went into a wood and saw a beautiful creature on a tree. Later he told a friend about it and said, 'Brother, on a certain tree in the wood I saw a red-coloured creature.' The friend answered: 'I have seen it too. Why do you call it red? It is green.' A third man said: 'Oh, no, no! Why do you call it green? It is yellow.' Then other persons began to describe the animal variously as violet, blue, or black. Soon they were quarrelling about the colour. At last they went to the tree and found a man sitting under it. In answer to their questions he said: 'I live under this tree and know the creature very well. What each of you has said about it is true. Sometimes it is red, sometimes green, sometimes yellow, sometimes blue, and so forth and so on. Again, sometimes I see that it has no colour whatsoever.'

"Only he who constantly thinks of God can know His real nature. He alone knows that God reveals Himself in different forms and different ways, that He has attributes and, again, has none. Only the man who lives under the tree knows that the chameleon can assume various colours and that sometimes it remains colourless. Others, not knowing the whole truth, quarrel among themselves and suffer.

"Yes, God has form and, again. He has none. Do you know how it is? Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, is like a shoreless ocean. In the ocean visible blocks of ice are formed here and there by intense cold. Similarly, under the cooling influence, so to speak, of the bhakti of Its worshippers, the Infinite transforms Itself into the finite and appears before the worshipper as God with form. That is to say, God reveals Himself to His bhaktas as an embodied Person. Again, as, on the rising of the sun, the ice in the ocean melts away, so, on the awakening of jnana, the embodied God melts back into the infinite and formless Brahman."

DOCTOR: "Yes. When the sun is up, the ice melts; and what is more, the heat of the sun turns the water into invisible vapour."

MASTER: "Yes, that is true. As a result of the discrimination that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory, the aspirant goes into samadhi. Then, for him, the forms or attributes of God disappear altogether. Then he does not feel God to be a Person. Then he cannot describe in words what God is. And who will describe it? He who is to describe does not exist at all; he no longer finds his 'I'. To such a person Brahman is attributeless. In that state God is experienced only as Consciousness, by man's inmost consciousness. He cannot be comprehended by the mind and intelligence.

"Therefore people compare bhakti, love of God, to the cooling light of the moon, and jnana, knowledge, to the burning rays of the sun. I have heard that there are oceans in the extreme north and extreme south where the air is so cold that it freezes the water into huge blocks of ice here and there. Ships cannot move there; they are stopped by the ice."

DOCTOR: "Then in the path of bhakti the aspirant meets with obstacles."

MASTER: "Yes, that is true. But it does not cause the devotee any harm. After all, it is the water of the Ocean of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, that is frozen into ice. It will not injure you if you continue to reason, saying, for instance, that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory. This reasoning will awaken in you jnana, which, like the sun, will melt the ice of divine forms back into the infinite Ocean of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.

"In the samadhi, that comes at the end of reasoning and discrimination, no such thing as 'I' exists. But it is extremely difficult to attain it; 'I-consciousness' lingers so persistently. That is why a man is born again and again in this world.

"The cow suffers so much because she says, 'Hamba! Hamba!', that is, 'I! I!' She is yoked to the plough all day long, rain or shine. Or she is slaughtered by the butcher. But even that doesn't put an end to her misery. The cobbler tans her hide to make shoes from it. At last the carder makes a string for his bow from her entrails and uses the string in carding; then it says, 'Tuhu! Tuhu!', that is, 'Thou! Thou!' Only then does the cow's suffering come to an end.

"Likewise, only when a man says: 'Not I! Not I! I am nobody. O Lord, Thou art the Doer and I am Thy servant; Thou art the Master', is he freed from all sufferings; only then is he liberated."

DOCTOR: "But one must fall into the hands of the carder." (All laugh.)

MASTER: "If this ego cannot be got rid of, then let the rascal remain as the servant of God. (All laugh.)

"A man may keep this ego even after attaining samadhi. Such a man feels either that he is a servant of God or that he is a lover of God. Sankaracharya retained the 'ego of Knowledge' to teach men spiritual life. The 'servant ego', the 'Knowledge ego', or the 'devotee ego' may be called the 'ripe ego'. It is different from the 'unripe ego', which makes one feel: 'I am the doer. I am the son of a wealthy man. I am learned. I am rich. How dare anyone slight me?' A man with an 'unripe ego' cherishes such ideas. Suppose a thief has entered such a man's house and stolen some of his belongings. If the thief is caught, all the articles will be snatched away from him. Then he will be beaten. At last he will be handed over to the police. The owner of the stolen goods will say: 'What! This rogue doesn't know whose house he has entered!'

"After realizing God, a man becomes like a child five years old. The ego of such a man may be called the 'ego of a child', the 'ripe ego'. The child is not under the control of any of the gunas. He is beyond the three gunas. He is not under the control of any of the gunas - sattva, rajas, or tamas. Just watch a child and you will find that he is not under the influence of tamas. One moment he quarrels with his chum or even fights with him, and the next moment he hugs him, shows him much affection, and plays with him again. He is not even under the control of rajas. Now he builds his play house and makes all kinds of plans to make it beautiful, and the next moment he leaves everything behind and runs to his mother. Again, you see him wearing a beautiful piece of cloth worth five rupees. After a few moments the cloth lies on the ground; he forgets all about it. Or he may carry it under his arm. If you say to the child: 'That's a beautiful piece of cloth. Whose is it?', he answers: 'Why, it is mine. My daddy gave it to me.' You may say, 'My darling, won't you give it to me?' and he will reply: 'Oh no, it is mine. My daddy gave it to me. I won't give it to you.' Some minutes later you may coax him with a toy or a music-box worth a penny, and he will give you the cloth. Again, a child five years old is not attached even to sattva. You may find him today very fond of his playmates in the neighbourhood; he doesn't feel happy for a moment without seeing them; but tomorrow, when he goes to another place with his parents, he finds new playmates; all his love is now directed to his new friends, and he almost forgets about his old ones. Further, a child has no pride of caste or family. If his mother says to him about a certain person, 'This man is your elder brother', he believes this to be one hundred per cent true. One of the two may have been born in a brahmin family and the other may belong to a low caste, say that of the blacksmiths, but they will take their meal from the same plate. A child is beyond all ideas of purity and impurity. He is not bound by social conventions. He doesn't hesitate to come out naked before others.

"Then there is an 'ego of old age'. (Dr. Sarkar laughs.) An old man has many shackles: caste, pride, shame, hatred, and fear. Furthermore, he is bound by the ideas of worldly cleverness, calculating intelligence, and deceit. If he is angry with anybody, he cannot shake it off easily; perhaps he keeps the feeling as long as he lives. Again, there is the 'ego of scholarship' and tile 'ego of wealth'. The 'ego of old age' is an 'unripe ego'.

(To the doctor) "There are a few men who cannot attain knowledge of God: men proud of their scholarship, proud of their education, or proud of their wealth. If you speak to such people about a holy man and ask them to visit him, they make all kinds of excuses and will not go. But in their heart of hearts they think: 'Why, we are big people ourselves. Must we go and visit someone else?'

'A characteristic of tamas is pride. Pride and delusion come from tamas.

"It is said in the Purana that Ravana had an excess of rajas, Kumbhakarna of tamas, and Bibhishana of sattva. That is why Bibhishana was able to receive the grace of Rama. Another characteristic of tamas is anger. Through anger one loses one's wits and cannot distinguish between right and wrong. In a fit of anger Hanuman set fire to Lanka, without thinking for a moment that the fire might also burn down the hut where Sita lived.

"Still another feature of tamas is lust. Girindra Ghosh of Pathuriaghata once remarked. 'Since you cannot get rid of your passions - your lust, your anger, and so on - give them a new direction. Instead of desiring worldly pleasures, desire God. Have intercourse with Brahman. If you cannot get rid of anger, then change its direction. Assume the tamasic attitude of bhakti, and say: 'What? I have repeated the hallowed name of Durga, and shall I not be liberated? How can I be a sinner any more? How can I be bound any more?' If you cannot get rid of temptation, direct it toward God. Be infatuated with God's beauty. If you cannot get rid of pride, then be proud to say that you are the servant of God, you are the child of God. Thus turn the six passions toward God."

DOCTOR: "It is very hard to control the sense-organs. They are like restive horses, whose eyes must be covered with blinkers. In the case of some horses it is necessary to prevent them from seeing at all."

MASTER: "A man need not fear anything if but once he receives the grace of God, if but once he obtains the vision of God, if but once he attains Self-Knowledge. Then the six passions cannot do him any harm.

"Eternally perfect souls like Narada and Prahlada did not have to take the trouble to put blinkers on their eyes. The child who holds his father's hand, while walking along the narrow balk in the paddy-field, may loosen his hold in a moment of carelessness and slip into the ditch. But it is quite different if the father holds the child's hand. Then the child never falls into the ditch."

DOCTOR: "But it is not proper for a father to hold his child by the hand."

MASTER: "It is not quite like that. Great sages have childlike natures. Before God they are always like children. They have no pride. Their strength is the strength of God, the strength of their Father. They have nothing to call their own. They are firmly convinced of that."

DOCTOR: "Can you make a horse move forward without first covering his eyes with blinkers? Can one realize God without first controlling the passions?"

MASTER: "What you say is according to the path of discrimination. It is known as jnanayoga. Through that path, too, one attains God. The jnanis say that an aspirant must first of all purify his heart. First he needs spiritual exercises; then he will attain Knowledge.

"But God can also be realized through the path of devotion. Once the devotee develops love for the Lotus Feet of God and enjoys the singing of His name and attributes, he does not have to make a special effort to restrain his senses. For such a devotee the sense-organs come under control of themselves.

"Suppose a man has just lost his son and is mourning his death. Can he be in a mood to quarrel with others that very day, or enjoy a feast in the house of a friend? Can he, that very day, show his pride before others or enjoy sense pleasures?
"If the moth discovers light, can it remain in darkness any longer?"

DOCTOR (with a smile): "Of course it cannot. It would rather fly into the flame and perish."

MASTER: "Oh no, that's not so. A lover of God does not burn himself to death, like a moth. The light to which he rushes is like the light of a gem. That light is brilliant, no doubt, but it is also cooling and soothing. That light does not scorch his body; it gives him joy and peace.

"One realizes God by following the path of discrimination and knowledge. But this is an extremely difficult path. It is easy enough to say such things as, 'I am not the body, mind, or intellect; I am beyond grief, disease, and sorrow; I am the embodiment of Existence Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; I am beyond pain and pleasure; I am not under the control of the sense-organs', but it is very hard to assimilate these ideas and practise them. Suppose I see my hand cut by a thorn and blood gushing out; then it is not right for me to say: 'Why, my hand is not cut by the thorn! I am all right.' In order to be able to say that, I must first of all burn the thorn itself in the fire of Knowledge.

"Many people think they cannot have knowledge or understanding of God without reading books. But hearing is better than reading, and seeing is better than hearing. Hearing about Benares is different from reading about it; but seeing Benares is different from either hearing or reading.

"Those actually engaged in a game of chess do not always judge the moves on the board correctly. The onlookers often judge the moves better than the players. Worldly people often think themselves very intelligent, but they are attached to the things of the world. They are the actual players and cannot understand their own moves correctly. But holy men, who have renounced everything, are unattached to the world; they are really more intelligent than worldly people. Since they do not take any part in worldly life, their position is that of onlookers, and so they see things more clearly."

DOCTOR (to the devotees): "If he [meaning Sri Ramakrishna] had studied books he could not have acquired so much knowledge. Faraday communed with nature; that is why he was able to discover many scientific truths. He could not have known so much from the mere study of books. Mathematical formulas only throw the brain into confusion and bar the path of original inquiry."

MASTER: "There was a time when I lay on the ground in the Panchavati and prayed to the Divine Mother, 'O Mother, reveal to me what the karmis (The ritualists.) have realized through their ritualistic worship, what the yogis have realized through yoga, and what the jnanis have realized through discrimination.' How much I communed with the Divine Mother! How can I describe it all?

"Ah, what a state I passed through! Sleep left me completely."

The Master sang:

My sleep is broken; how can I slumber any more?
For now I am wide awake in the sleeplessness of yoga. O Divine Mother, made one with Thee in yoga-sleep at last,
My slumber I have lulled asleep for evermore.
A man has come to me from a country where there is no night;
Rituals and devotions have all grown profitless for me.

He continued: "I have not read books. But people show me respect because I chant the name of the Divine Mother. Sambhu Mallick said about me, 'Here is a great hero without a sword or shield!'" (Laughter.)

The conversation turned to the performance of a drama by Girish Ghosh called The Life of Buddha. The doctor had seen the play and been much pleased with it.

DOCTOR (to Girish): "You are a very bad man. Must I go to the theatre every day?"

MASTER (to M.): "What does he say? I don't quite understand."

M: "The doctor liked the play very much."

MASTER (to Ishan): "Why don't you say something? (Pointing to the doctor) He does not believe that God can incarnate Himself in a human form."

ISHAN: "What shall I say, sir? I don't like to argue any more."

MASTER (sharply): "Why? Won't you say the right thing?"

ISHAN (to the doctor): "Our faith is shallow on account of our pride. It is said in the Ramayana that a crow named Bhushandi did not at first accept Rama as an Incarnation of God. Once it incurred Rama's displeasure. It travelled through the different worlds - the lunar, solar, and so forth - and through Mount Kailas, to escape Rama's wrath. But it found that it could not escape. Then it surrendered itself to Him and took refuge at His feet. Rama took the crow in His hand and swallowed it. Thereupon the crow found that it was seated in its own nest in a tree. After its pride had thus been crushed, the bird came to realize that though Rama looked like any other man, yet He contained in His stomach the entire universe - sky, moon, sun, stars, oceans, rivers, men, animals, and trees."

MASTER (to the doctor): "It is very difficult to understand that God can be a finite human being and at the same time the all-pervading Soul of the universe. The Absolute and the Relative are His two aspects. How can we say emphatically with our small intelligence that God cannot assume a human form? Can we ever understand all these ideas with our little intellect? Can a one-seer pot hold four seers of milk?

"Therefore one should trust in the words of holy men and great souls, those who have realized God. They constantly think of God, as a lawyer of his lawsuits. Do you believe the story of the crow Bhushandi?"

DOCTOR: "I accept as much as I want to. All difficulties come to an end if only God reveals His true nature to the seeker. Then there can be no confusion. How can I accept Rama as an Incarnation of God? Take the example of His killing Vali, the monkey chieftain. He hid Himself behind a tree, like a thief, and murdered Vali. This is how a man acts, and not God."

GIRISH: "But, sir, such an action is possible only for God."

DOCTOR: "Then take the example of His sending Sita into exile."

GIRISH: "This too, sir, is possible only for God, not for man."

ISHAN (to the doctor): "Why don't you believe in the Incarnation of God? Just now you said that God has form since He has created all these forms, and that God is formless since He has created the mind, which is without form. A moment ago you said that everything is possible for God.

MASTER (laughing): "It is not mentioned in his 'science' that God can take human form; so how can he believe it? (All laugh.)

"Listen to a story. A man said to his friend, 'I have just seen a house fall down with a terrific crash.' Now, the friend to whom he told this had received an English education. He said: 'Just a minute. Let me look it up in the newspaper.' He read the paper but could not find the news of a house falling down with a crash. Thereupon he said to his friend: 'Well, I don't believe you. It isn't in the paper; so it is all false.'" (All laugh.)

GIRISH (to the doctor): "You must admit that Krishna is God. I will not let you look on Him as a mere man. You must admit that He is either God or a demon."

MASTER: "Unless a man is guileless, he cannot so easily have faith in God. God is far, far away from the mind steeped in worldliness. Worldly intelligence creates many doubts and many forms of pride - pride of learning, wealth, and the rest. (Pointing to the doctor) But he is guileless.

"How guileless Keshab Sen was! One day he visited the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. At about four in the afternoon he went around to the guest-house, where the poor are fed, and asked when the beggars would be fed. He didn't know that it was too late in the day for the feeding of the poor. As a man's faith increases, so does his knowledge of God. The cow that discriminates too much about food gives milk in dribblets. But the cow that gulps down everything - herbs, leaves, grass, husks, straw - gives milk in torrents. (All laugh.)

"God cannot be realized without childlike faith. The mother says to her child, pointing to a boy, "He is your elder brother.' And the child at once believes that the boy is one hundred per cent his brother. Again, the mother says that a bogy man lives in a certain room, and the child believes one hundred per cent that the bogy man lives in the room. God bestows His grace on the devotee who has this faith of a child. God cannot be realized by the mind steeped in worldliness."

DOCTOR (to the devotees): "It is not right, however, to make the cow yield milk by feeding her all sorts of things. One of my cows was fed that way. I drank its milk and the result was that I became seriously ill. At first I was at a loss to know the cause. After much inquiry I found out that the cow had been given the wrong things to eat. I was in a great fix. I had to go to Lucknow for a change to get rid of the illness. I spent twelve thousand rupees. (Roars of laughter.)

"It is very difficult always to find out the precise relationship between cause and effect. A child of seven months, in a wealthy family, had an attack of whoopina-cough. I was called in for consultation. Even after much effort I could not find out the cause of the illness. At last I learnt that the child had been given the milk of an ass that had been drenched in the rain." (All laugh.)

MASTER (to the devotees): "How strange'. It is like saying that a man has an acid stomach because he passed, in his coach, under a tamarind tree." (All laugh.)

DOCTOR (with a smile): Let me tell you another. The captain of a ship had a bad headache. After consultation, the doctors on board had a blister applied to the side of the boat." (All laugh.)

MASTER (to the doctor): "For the seekers of God the constant company of holy men is necessary. The disease of worldly people has become chronic, as it were. They should carry out the instruction of holy men. What will they gain by merely listening to their advice? They must not only take the prescribed medicine, but also follow a strict diet. Diet is important."

DOCTOR: "Yes, it is the diet. more than anything else, that causes the cure."

MASTER: "There are three classes of physicians: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The interior physician feels the patient's pulse, merely asks him to take medicine, and then goes away. He doesn't bother to find out whether the patient has followed his directions. The mediocre physician gently tries to persuade the patient to take the medicine. He says: 'Look here. How can you get well without medicine? Take the medicine, my dear. I am preparing it with my own hands.' But the superior physician follows a different method. If he finds the patient stubbornly refusing to swallow the medicine, he presses the patient's chest with his knee and forces the medicine down his throat."

DOCTOR: "There is a form of treatment that does not require the physician to press the patient's chest with his knee. For instance, homeopathy."

MASTER: "There is no fear if a good physician presses the patient's chest with his knee.

Like the physicians, there are three classes of religious teachers. The inferior teacher is content with merely giving spiritual instruction; he doesn't bother about the student after that. The mediocre teacher explains the teaching again and again for the good of the student, that he may assimilate it; he persuades the student through love and kindness to follow it. But the superior teacher uses force, if necessary, on the stubborn student.

(To the doctor) "The renunciation of 'woman and gold' is meant for the sannyasi. He must not look even at the picture of a woman. Do you know what a woman is to a man? She is like spiced pickle. The very thought of pickle brings water to the tongue; it doesn't have to be brought near the tongue.

"But this renunciation is not meant for householders like you. It is meant only for sannyasis. You may live among women, as far as possible in a spirit of detachment. Now and then you must retire into solitude and think of God. Women must not be allowed there. You can lead an unattached life to a great extent if you have faith in God and love for Him. After the birth of one or two children a married couple should live as brother and sister. They should then constantly pray to God that their minds may not run after sense pleasures any more and that they may not have any more children."

GIRISH (to the doctor, with a smile): "You have already spent three or four hours here. What about your patients?"

DOCTOR: "Well, my practice and patients! I shall lose everything on account of your paramahamsa!" (All laugh.)

MASTER: "There is a river called the 'Karmanasa'. (Literally, "destroyer of duties.") It is very dangerous to dive into that river. If a man plunges into its waters he cannot perform any more action. It puts an end to his duties." (All laugh.)

DOCTOR (to Girish, M., and the other devotees): "My friends, consider me as one of you. I am not saying this as a physician. But if you think of me as your own, then I am yours."

MASTER (to the doctor): "There is such a thing as love for love's sake. It is very good if one can grow such love. Prahlada loved God for the sake of love. A devotee like Prahlada says: 'O God, I do not want wealth, fame, creature comforts, or any such thing. Please grant me the boon that I may have genuine love for Thy Lotus Feet.'"

DOCTOR: "You are right, sir. I have seen people bowing down before the image of Kali. They seek worldly objects from the Goddess, such as a job, the healing of disease, and so forth.

(To the Master) "The illness you are suffering from does not permit the patient to talk with people. But my case is an exception. You may talk with me when I am here." (All laugh.)

MASTER: "Please cure my illness. I cannot chant the name and glories of God."

DOCTOR: "Meditation is enough."

MASTER: "What do you mean? Why should I lead a monotonous life? I enjoy my fish in a variety of dishes: curried fish, fried fish, pickled fish, and so forth! Sometimes I worship God with rituals, sometimes I repeat His name, sometimes I meditate on Him, sometimes I sing His name and glories, sometimes I dance in His name."

DOCTOR: "Neither am I monotonous."

MASTER: "Your son Amrita does not believe in the Incarnation of God. What is the harm in that? One realizes God even if one believes Him to be formless. One also realizes God if one believes that God has form. Two things are necessary for the realization of God: faith and self-surrender. Man is ignorant by nature. Errors are natural to him. Can a one-seer pot hold four seers of milk? Whatever path you may follow, you must pray to God with a restless heart. He is the Ruler of the soul within. He will surely listen to your prayer if it is sincere. Whether you follow the ideal of the Personal God or that of the Impersonal Truth, you will realize God alone, provided you are restless for Him. A cake with icing tastes sweet whether you eat it straight or sidewise.

"Your son Amrita is a nice boy."

DOCTOR: "He is your disciple."

MASTER (with a smile): "There is not a fellow under the sun who is my disciple. On the contrary, I am everybody's disciple. All are the children of God. All are His servants. I too am a child of God. I too am His servant. 'Uncle Moon' is every child's uncle!"


Master's visions - The doctor and M. - Influence of holy company - Master's mystic experiences - About miracles - Soul is different from body - Guilelessness of the young devotees - Hard rules for sannyasis - "Woman and gold" - Preaching without God's command - Confusion of mere scholars - Dr. Sarkar explains samadhi - Narendra's music - Mahima's three paths - On japa - Dr. Sarkar on Mahima - Vijay Goswami - Master in ecstasy - Use of scriptures - God's Incarnation as man - The duty of a physician - Cultivating holy company - Narendra sings - Doctor suppresses his emotion.

Friday, October 23, 1885

IT WAS THE DAY of the full moon following the Durga Puja, the worship of the Divine Mother. At ten o'clock in the morning Sri Ramakrishna was talking to M., who was helping him with his socks.

MASTER (smiling): "Why can't I cut my woolen scarf into two pieces and wrap them around my legs like socks? They will be nice and warm."

M. smiled. The previous evening Sri Ramakrishna had a long conversation with Dr. Sarkar. Referring to it, the Master said laughingly, "I told him the story of the calf, and about egotism being the cause of all suffering."

The younger Naren reminded Sri Ramakrishna that he, the Master, had told the doctor about people's suffering from the threefold misery of the world and still bragging of their well-being. The disciple said, "That was a very nice thing you said yesterday about the thorn, and also about burning it in the fire of Knowledge."

MASTER: "I had direct visions of those things. One day I was passing back of the kuthi when my whole body burst into flames, as it were, like the fire in a homa. Padmalochan once said to me, 'I shall convene an assembly of pundits and proclaim your spiritual experiences before all.' But he died shortly after."

At eleven o'clock M. went to Dr. Sarkar's house to report Sri Ramakrishna's condition. The doctor showed great eagerness to hear about him.

DOCTOR (laughing): "How well I told him yesterday that in order to be able to say 'Tuhu! Tuhu!', 'Thou! Thou!', one must fail into the hands of an expert carder!"

M: "It is true, sir. One cannot get rid of egotism without the help of a capable teacher. How well he spoke last night of bhakti! Bhakti, like a woman, can go into the inner court."

DOCTOR: "Yes, that is very nice. But still one cannot give up jnana."

M: "But he does not say that. He accepts both knowledge and love, the Impersonal Truth and the Persona! God. He says that through the cooling influence of bhakti a part of the Reality takes the solid form of the Personal God; and with the rise of the sun of jnana the ice of form melts again into the formless water of the Absolute. In other words, you realize God with form through bhaktiyoga, and the formless Absolute through jnanayoga.

"You must have noticed that he sees God so near him that he always converses with Him. When suffering from illness, he says to God, like a small child, 'Oh, Mother, it is hurting me!'
"How wonderful his power of observation is! He saw a fossil in the museum. At once he gave it as an example of the effect of companionship with holy persons. Just as an object is turned into stone by remaining near stone, so does a man become holy by living with a holy man."

DOCTOR: "Yesterday Ishan Babu talked of the Incarnation of God. What is that? To call man God!"

M: "Everyone has his own faith. What is the use of interfering with it?"

DOCTOR: "Yes, what is the use?"

M: "How the Master made us laugh when he told us about a certain man who refused to believe that a house had collapsed, because it was not published in the newspaper!"

Doctor Sarkar remained silent. Sri Ramakrishna had said to him, "Your 'science' does not speak of God's Incarnation; therefore you say that God cannot incarnate Himself as man."

It was midday. Doctor Sarkar took M. with him in his carriage. He was going to visit Sri Ramakrishna after seeing his other patients.

A few days before, at Girish's invitation, Doctor Sarkar had seen his play about Buddha's life. He said to M.: "It would have been better to speak of Buddha as the Incarnation of Compassion. Why did he speak of him as an Incarnation of Vishnu?"

The doctor set M. down at the corner of Cornwallis Square.

It was three o'clock in the afternoon. One or two devotees were seated near Sri Ramakrishna. He became impatient, like a child. Repeatedly he asked the devotees, "When is the doctor coming?" "What time is it now?" Doctor Sarkar was expected in the evening.

Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna was overwhelmed with a strange mood. He placed his pillow on his lap. Filled with maternal love, he began to caress it and hold it to his breast as if it were his child. He was in an ecstatic mood. His face was lighted with a childlike smile. He put on his cloth in a strange manner. The devotees looked at him in amazement.

A little later Sri Ramakrishna was in his normal mood. It was time for his meal. He ate a little boiled farina.

He was talking to M. about his mystic experiences.

MASTER (to M., aside): "Do you know what I saw just now in my ecstatic state? There was a meadow covering an area of seven or eight miles, through which lay the road to Sihore. I was alone in that meadow. I saw a sixteen-year-old paramahamsa boy exactly like the one I had seen in the Panchavati.

"A mist of bliss lay all around. Out of it emerged a boy thirteen or fourteen years old. I saw his face. He looked like Purna. Both of us were naked. Then we began to run around joyfully in the meadow. Purna felt thirsty. He drank some water from a tumbler and offered me what was left. I said to him, 'Brother, I cannot take your leavings.' Thereupon he laughed, washed the glass, and brought me fresh water."

Sri Ramakrishna was again in samadhi. He regained consciousness and began to talk to M.

MASTER: "My mind is undergoing a change. I cannot take prasad any more. The Real and the Appearance are becoming one to me. Do you know what I saw just now? A divine form - a vision of the Divine Mother. She had a child in Her womb. She gave birth to it and the next instant began to swallow it; and as much of it as went into Her mouth became void. It was revealed to me that everything is void. The Divine- Mother said to me, as it were: 'Come confusion! Come delusion! Come!'"

This reminded M. of Sri Ramakrishna's saying that the magician alone is real and all else unreal.

MASTER: "Well, how is it that the other time I tried to attract Purna but failed? This weakens my faith a little."

M: "But to attract a person is to work a miracle."

MASTER: "Yes, a downright miracle."

M: "You remember, one day we were returning to Dakshineswar in a carriage from Adhar's house, when a bottle broke. One of us said to you: 'Does this mean that any harm will befall us? What do you think?' You said: 'What do I care? Why should I bother about it? That would be miracle-working.'"

MASTER: "Yes, people lay ailing children down on the ground where men chant the name of God, in order that they may be cured; or people cure disease through occult powers. All this is miracle-working. Only those whose spiritual experience is extremely shallow call on God for the healing of disease."

It was evening. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on his bed, thinking of the Divine Mother and repeating Her hallowed name. The devotees sat near him in silence. Latu, Sashi, Sarat, the younger Naren, Paltu, Bhupati, Girish, and others were present. Ramtaran of the Star Theatre had come with Girish to entertain Sri Ramakrishna with his singing. A few minutes later Dr. Sarkar arrived.

DOCTOR (to the Master): "I was much worried about you last night at three o'clock. It was raining. I said to myself, 'Who knows whether or not the doors and windows of his room are shut?'"

"Really?" said Sri Ramakrishna. He was much pleased at the doctor's love and thoughtfulness for him.

MASTER: "As long as there is the body, one should take care of it. But I find that the body is quite separate from the Self. When a man rids himself entirely of his love for 'woman and gold', then he clearly perceives that the body is one thing and the Self another. When the milk inside the coconut is all dried up, then the kernel becomes separated from the shell; you feel the kernel rattling inside when you shake the coconut. Or it is just like a sword and its sheath. The sword is one thing and the sheath is another.

"Therefore I cannot speak much to the Divine Mother about the illness of the body."

GIRISH (to the devotees): "Pundit Shashadhar said to him [meaning the Master]: 'Please bring your mind to bear on the body during samadhi. That will cure your illness.' And he, the Master, saw in a vision that the body was nothing but a loose mass of flesh and bones."

MASTER: "Once, a long time ago, I was very ill. I was sitting in the Kali temple. I felt like praying to the Divine Mother to cure my illness, but couldn't do so directly in my own name. I said to Her, 'Mother, Hriday asks me to tell You about my illness.' I could not proceed any farther. At once there flashed into my mind the Museum of the Asiatic Society, and a human skeleton strung together with wire. I said to Her, 'Please tighten the wire of my body like that, so that I may go about singing Your name and glories.' It is impossible for me to ask for occult powers.

"At first Hriday asked me - I was then under his control - to pray to the Mother for powers. I went to the temple. In a vision I saw a widow thirty or thirty-five years old, covered with filth. It was revealed to me that occult powers are like that filth. I became angry with Hriday because he had asked me to pray for powers."

Ramtaran began to sing:

Behold my vina, my dearly beloved,
My lute of sweetest tone;
If tenderly you play on it,
The strings will waken, at your touch,
To rarest melodies.
Tune it neither low nor high,
And from it in a hundred streams
The sweetest sound will flow;
But over-slack the strings are mute,
And over-stretched they snap in twain.

DOCTOR (to Girish): "Is it an original song?"

GIRISH: "No, it is an adaptation from Edwin Arnold."

Ramtaran sang from the play, The Life of Buddha:

We moan for rest, alas! but rest can never find;
We know not whence we come, nor where we float away.
Time and again we tread this round of smiles and tears;
In vain we pine to know whither our pathway leads,
And why we play this empty play.

We sleep, although awake, as if by a spell bewitched;
Will darkness never break into the light of dawn?
As restless as the wind, life moves unceasingly:
We know not who we are, nor whence it is we come;
We know not why we come, nor where it is we drift;
Sharp woes dart forth on every side.

How many drift about, now gay, now drowned in tears!
One moment they exist; the next they are no more.
We know not why we come, nor what our deeds have been,
Nor, in our bygone lives, how well we played our parts;
Like water in a stream, we cannot stay at rest;
Onward we flow for evermore.
Burst Thou our slumber's bars, O Thou that art awake!
How long must we remain enmeshed in fruitless dreams?
Are you indeed awake? Then do not longer sleep!
Thick on you lies the gloom fraught with a million woes.
Rise, dreamer, from your dream, and slumber not again!
Shine forth, O Shining One, and with Thy shafts of light
Slay Thou the blinding dark! Our only Saviour Thou!
We seek deliverance at Thy feet.

As Sri Ramakrishna listened to the song he went into samadhi. Ramtaran sang again:

Blow, storm! Rage and roar! . . .

When the song was over, Sri Ramakrishna said to the singer: "What is this? Why this decoction of bitter neem-leaves after the rice pudding? The moment you sang -

Shine forth, O Shining One, and with Thy shafts of light
Slay Thou the blinding dark!

I had a vision of the Sun. As He arose, the darkness vanished, and all men took refuge at His feet."

Ramtaran sang again:

O Mother, Saviour of the helpless. Thou the Slayer of sin!
In Thee do the three gunas dwell - sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Thou dost create the world; Thou dost sustain it and destroy it;
Binding Thyself with attributes, Thou yet trandescendest them;
For Thou, O Mother, art the All.
Kali Thou art, and Tara, and Thou the Ultimate Prakriti;
Thou art the Fish, the Turtle, the Boar, and all other Avatars;
Earth, water, air, and fire art Thou, and Thou the sky,
O Mother of the Absolute!

The Samkhya, Patanjala, Mimamsaka, and Nyaya
For ever seek to fathom Thee and know Thine inmost nature;
Vedanta and Vaiseshika are searching after Thee;
But none of them has found Thee out.
Though free of limitations, beginningless and without end,
Yet for Thy loving bhaktas' sake Thou wearest varying forms.
The terrors of this world Thou dost remove, and Thou dost dwell
Alike in present, past, and future.

Thou dost appear with form, to him who loves Thee as a Person;
Thou art the Absolute, to him who worships formless Truth.
Some there are who speak alone of the resplendent Brahman;
Even this, O Blissful Mother, is nothing else but Thee!
Each man, according to his measure, makes his image of the Truth,
Calling it the Highest Brahman.
Beyond this does Turiya shine, the Indescribable;
O Mother of all things, who dost pervade the universe,
Every one of these art Thou!
Then he sang:

Dear friend, my religion and piety have come to an end:
No more can I worship Mother Syama; my mind defies control.
Oh, shame upon me! Bitter shame!
I try to meditate on the Mother with sword in hand,
Wearing Her garland of human heads;
But it is always the Dark One (Krishna) wearing His garland of wild wood-flowers
And holding the flute to His tempting lips,
That shines before my eyes.

I think of the Mother with Her three eyes, but alas! I see
Him alone with the arching eyes, and I forget all else!
Oh, shame upon me! Bitter shame!
I try to offer fragrant flowers at the Mother's feet
But the ravishing thought of His graceful form unsettles my helpless mind,
And all my meditations meant for the Naked One (Syama) are drawn away by the sight of His yellow scarf.

Sri Ramakrishna was in an ecstatic mood as he listened to the song.

The musician sang again:

O Mother, who has offered these red hibiscus flowers at Thy feet?
I beg of Thee, O Mother, place one or two upon my head.
Then I shall cry aloud to Thee, "Oh, Mother! Mother!"
And I shall dance around Thee and clap my hands for joy,
And Thou wilt look at me and laugh, and tie the flowers in my hair.

The singing was over. Many of the devotees were in a rapturous mood. There was a deep silence in the room. The younger Naren was absorbed in meditation. He sat like a stump. Pointing him out to the doctor, Sri Ramakrishna said, "A very pure soul, unstained by the slightest touch of worldliness."

MANOMOHAN (to the doctor): "He (pointing to the Master) says of your son, 'I don't care for the father if I have the son.'"

DOCTOR: "Ah, you see! That is why I say that you forget everything else when you have the 'Son'."

MASTER (smiling): "I don't say that I do not want the Father."

DOCTOR: "Yes, I understand you. How can you save your face unless you say a few things like that?"

MASTER: "Your boy is quite guileless. One day Sambhu's face became red as he said, 'God will surely listen to a man's prayer if he prays to Him with sincerity.'

"Why am I so fond of the boys? They are like unadulterated milk: only a little boiling is needed. Moreover it can be offered to the Deity. But milk adulterated with water needs much boiling. It consumes a large quantity of fuel.

"The boys are like fresh earthen pots, good vessels in which one can keep milk without any worry. Spiritual instruction arouses their inner consciousness without delay. But it is not so with the worldly-minded. One is afraid to keep milk in a pot that has been used for curd. The milk may turn sour.

"Your boy is still free from worldliness, untouched by 'women and gold'."

DOCTOR: "That is because he is living on his father's earnings. I should love to see how free he would keep himself from worldliness if he had to earn his own livelihood."

MASTER: "Yes, yes. That is true. But God is far, far away from the worldly-minded. For those who have renounced the world He is in the palm of the hand.

(To Dr. Sarkar and Dr. Dukari) "But renunciation of 'woman and gold' is not meant for you. You may renounce these mentally. That is why I said to the goswamis: 'Why do you speak of renunciation? That will not do for you. You have to attend the daily worship of Syamasundar.'

"Total renunciation is for sannyasis. They must not look even at the picture of a woman. To them a woman is poison. They must keep themselves at least ten cubits away from her; and if that is not possible, at least one cubit. And they must not talk much with a woman, no matter how devout she may be. Further, they should choose their dwelling at a place where they will never, or scarcely ever, see the face of a woman.

"Money, too, is like poison to a sannyasi. If he keeps money with him, he has worries, pride, anger, and the desire for physical comforts. Money inflames his rajas, which brings tamas in its train. Therefore a sannyasi must not touch 'gold'. 'Woman and gold' makes him forget God.

"For householders money is a means of getting food, clothes, and a dwelling-place, worshipping the Deity, and serving holy men and devotees.

"It is useless to try to hoard money. With great labour the bees build a hive; but a man breaks it and takes the honey away."

DOCTOR: "Whom shall we hoard for? - For a wicked son, perhaps."

MASTER: "It is not a wicked son alone. Perhaps the wife is unchaste. She may have a secret lover. Perhaps she will give him your watch and chain!

"You should not renounce woman completely. It is not harmful for a householder to live with his wife. But after the birth of one or two children, husband and wife should live as brother and sister.

"It is attachment to 'woman and gold' that begets pride of learning, pride of money, and pride of social position.

"One cannot attain divine knowledge till one gets rid of pride. Water does not stay on the top of a mound; but into low land it flows in torrents from all sides."

DOCTOR: "But the water that flows into the low land from all sides contains good water and bad water, muddy water and ditch-water. Again, there are hollows on mountain-tops as well, as at Nainital and Manasoravar. These contain only pure water from the sky."

MASTER: "Only pure water from the sky - that is good!"

DOCTOR: "Further, from an elevated place the water can be distributed on all sides."

MASTER (smiling): "A certain man came to possess a siddha mantra. He then went to the top of a hill and cried aloud. 'Repeat this mantra and you will realize God.'"

DOCTOR: "Yes."

MASTER: "But you must remember one thing. When his soul feels restless for God, a man forgets the difference between good water and ditch-water. In order to know God, he sometimes goes to good men, sometimes to imperfect men. Dirty water cannot injure an aspirant if God's grace descends on him. When God grants him Knowledge, He reveals to the aspirant what is good and what is bad.

"There may be hollows on the top of a hill, but they cannot exist on the hill of the 'wicked ego'. Only if it is an 'ego of Knowledge' or an 'ego of bhakti', does the pure water from the sky collect there.

"It is true that the water from a hill-top may flow in all directions, but that is possible only from the hill of the 'ego of Knowledge'.

"One cannot teach men without the command of God. After attaining Knowledge, Sankaracharya retained the ego of Knowledge' in order to teach mankind. But to lecture without realizing God! What good will that do?

"I went to the Nandanbagan Brahmo Samaj. After the worship the preacher gave a lecture from the raised platform. He had written it at home. As he read from the manuscript he looked around. While meditating he opened his eyes from time to time to look at people.

"The instruction of a man who has not seen God does not produce the right effect. He may say one thing rightly, but he becomes confused about the next.

"Samadhyayi delivered a lecture. He said: 'God is beyond words and mind; He is dry. Worship Him through the bliss of your love and devotion.' Just see, he thus described God, whose very nature is Joy and Bliss! What will such a lecture accomplish? Can it teach people anything? Such a lecturer is like the man who said, 'My uncle's cow-shed is full of horses.' Horses in the cow-shed! (All laugh.) From that you can understand that there were no horses at all."

DOCTOR (smiling): "Nor cows either!" (All laugh.)

In the mean time the devotees who had been in a rapturous state had regained their normal mood. The doctor was highly pleased with them and asked M. about them. M. introduced to him Paltu, the younger Naren, Bhupati, Sarat, Sashi, and the other youngsters. About Sashi, M. said, "He is going to appear for the B. A. examination."

The doctor was a little inattentive.

MASTER (to the doctor): "Look here! Listen to what he is saying."

The doctor heard from M. about Sashi.

MASTER (to the doctor, pointing to M.): "He instructs the school-boys."

DOCTOR: "So I have heard."

MASTER: "I am unlettered and yet educated people come here. How amazing! You must admit that it is the play of God."

It was nine o'clock in the evening. The doctor had been sitting there since six o'clock, watching all these things.

GIRISH (to the doctor): "Well, sir, does it ever happen to you that, though you do not intend to come here, you are drawn as if by a subtle force? I feel that way; that is why I am asking you."

DOCTOR: "I don't know whether I feel that. But the heart alone knows the promptings of the heart. (To Sri Ramakrishna) Besides, there isn't much use in speaking about it."

October 24, 1885

It was about one o'clock in the afternoon. Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the second floor of the house at Syampukur. Dr. Sarkar, Narendra, Mahimacharan, M., and other devotees were in the room. Referring to the homeopathic system of medicine, the Master said to Dr. Sarkar, "This treatment of yours is very good."

DOCTOR: "According to homeopathy the physician has to check up the symptoms of the disease with the medical book. It is like Western music. The singer follows the score.

"Where is Girish Ghosh? Never mind. Don't trouble him. He didn't sleep last night."

MASTER: "Well, when I am in samadhi I feel intoxicated as if I were drunk with siddhi. What have you to say about that?"

DOCTOR (to M.): "In that state the nerve centres cease to function. Hence the limbs become numb. Again, the legs totter because all the energy rushes toward the brain. Life consists of the nervous system. There is a nerve centre in the nape of the neck called the medulla oblongata. If that is injured, one may die."

Mahima Chakravarty began to describe the Kundalini. He said: "The Sushumna nerve runs through the spinal cord in a subtle form. None can see it. That is what Siva says."

DOCTOR: "Siva examined man only in his maturity. But the Europeans have examined man in all stages of his life from the embryo to maturity. It is good to know comparative history. From the history of the Sonthals one learns that Kali was a Sonthal woman. She was a valiant fighter. (All laugh.)

"Don't laugh, please. Let me tell you how greatly the study of comparative anatomy has benefited men. The difference between the actions of the pancreatic juice and bile was at first unknown. But later Claude Bernard examined the stomach, liver, and other parts of the rabbit and demonstrated that the action of bile is different from the action of the pancreatic juice. Therefore it stands to reason that we should watch the lower animals as well. The study of man alone is not enough.

"Similarly, the study of comparative religion is highly beneficial.

"Why do his [meaning the Master's] words go straight to our hearts? He has experienced the truths of different religions. He himself has practised the disciplines of the Hindu, Christian, Mussalman, Sakta, and Vaishnava religions. The bees can make good honey only if they gather nectar from different flowers."

M. (to Dr. Sarkar): "He (pointing to Mahimacharan) has studied science a great deal."

DOCTOR (smiling): "What science? Do you mean Max Muller's Science of Religion?'

MAHIMA (to the Master): "You are ill. But what can the doctor do about it? When I heard of your illness, I thought that you were only going to pamper the doctor's pride."

MASTER (pointing to Dr. Sarkar): "But he is a very good physician. He is very learned too."

MAHIMA: "Yes, sir. He is a ship and we are only small boats."

Dr. Sarkar folded his hands in humility.

MAHIMA: "But here in the Master's presence all are equal."

Sri Ramakrishna asked Narendra to sing. Narendra sang:

I have made Thee, O Lord, the Pole-star of my life;
No more shall I lose my way on the world's trackless sea. ...

Then he sang:

Ever insane with pride am I, and many the cravings of my heart! . . .

He sang again:

This universe, wondrous and infinite,
O Lord, is Thy handiwork;
And the whole world is a treasure-house
Full of Thy beauty and grace. . . .

Narendra continued

O Father of the Universe, upon Thy lofty throne,
Thou dost enjoy the music of the worlds,
As Thy creation's praise they sweetly sing.
Behold, I too, though born of earth, have come with feeble voice
Before the portal of Thy House.

I seek alone Thy vision. Lord! I crave no other boon.
Here I have come to sing my song for Thee;
From a far corner ot the mighty throng
Where sun and moon are hymning Thee, I too would sing Thy praise:
This is Thy lowly servant's prayer.
He sang another song:

O King of Kings, reveal Thyself to me!
I crave Thy mercy. Cast on me Thy glance!
At Thy dear feet I dedicate my life,
Seared in the fiery furnace of this world.

My heart, alas, is deeply stained with sin;
Ensnared in maya, I am all but dead.
Compassionate Lord! Revive my fainting soul
With the life-giving nectar of Thy grace.


Be drunk, O mind, be drunk with the Wine of Heavenly Bliss!
Roll on the ground and weep, chanting Hari's sweet name! . . .

MASTER: "And sing that one - 'All that exists art Thou.'"


Narendra sang:

I have joined my heart to Thee: all that exists art Thou;
Thee only have I found, for Thou art all that exists. . . .

The singing was over. Dr. Sarkar sat there almost spellbound. After a time, with folded hands, he said very humbly to Sri Ramakrishna: "Allow me to take my leave now. I shall come again tomorrow."

MASTER: "Oh, stay a little. Girish Ghosh has been sent for. (Pointing to Mahima) He is a scholar, yet he dances in the name of Hari. He has no pride. He went to Konnagar just because we were there. He is wealthy; he is free; he serves nobody. (Pointing to Narendra) What do you think of him?"

DOCTOR: "Excellent!"

MASTER (pointing to a devotee): "And him?"

DOCTOR: "Splendid!"

MAHIMA: "It can by no means be said that one knows philosophy unless one has read Hindu philosophy. The European philosophers do not know the twenty-four cosmic principles of the Samkhya philosophy. They cannot even grasp them."

MASTER (smiling): "What are the three paths you speak of?"

MAHIMA: "The path of Sat, which is the path of knowledge. Next, the path of Chit, of yoga, of karmayoga, which includes the duties and functions of the four stages of life. Last, the path of Ananda, the path of devotion and ecstatic love. You are an adept in all three paths; you can speak of them all with authority."

Sri Ramakrishna laughed.

Dr. Sarkar took his leave. It was evening, the first night after the full moon. Sri Ramakrishna stood up, lost in samadhi. Nityagopal stood beside him in a reverent attitude.

Sri Ramakrishna took his seat. Nityagopal was stroking his feet. Devendra, Kalipada, and many other devotees were seated by his side.

MASTER (to the devotees): "My mind tells me that Nityagopal's present state will undergo a change. His entire mind will be concentrated on me - on Him who dwells in me. Don't you see how Narendra's whole mind is being drawn toward me?"

Many of the devotees were taking their leave. Sri Ramakrishna stood up. Referring to japa, he said to a devotee: "Japa means silently repeating God's name in solitude. When you chant His name with single-minded devotion you can see God's form and realize Him. Suppose there is a piece of timber sunk in the water of the Ganges and fastened with a chain to the bank. You proceed link by link, holding to the chain, and you dive into the water and follow the chain. Finally you are able to reach the timber. In the same way, by repeating God's name you become absorbed in Him and finally realize Him."

KALIPADA (smiling, to the devotees): "Ours is a grand teacher! We are not asked to practise meditation, austerity, and other disciplines."

Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna said, "This is troubling me." The Master's throat was hurting him. Devendra said, "Your words cannot fool us any more." He thought that the Master feigned illness to hoodwink the devotees.

Most of the devotees departed. It was arranged that a few of the younger men should stay to nurse the Master by turns. M. also was going to spend the night there.