Compiled by Swami Yogeshananda
Most of this information comes from Swami Chetanananda’s book, God Lived with Them — biographies of 16 monastic disciples of Sri Ramakrishna. A wonderful book. I often use his exact language without giving credit, so I am giving it here.
Reminiscence by Swami Adbhutananda:
On the day after Sri Ramakrishna died, “Golap Ma told us (the monastic disciples) that the Master had appeared to Holy Mother in a vision and had forbidden her to remove her bracelets. He said, ‘Have I gone to another place? Here I am. I have just passed from one room to another.’ When those who were mourning heard this from Golap Ma, they cast away their doubts. ‘Service to the Master is to be continued as before,’ they said.”
A few weeks after the death of Sri Ramakrishna, Surendra Nath Mitra, who was the biggest contributor toward the expenses at Cossipore, was meditating in his shrine. Sri Ramakrishna appeared to him and said, “What are you doing here? My boys are roaming about without a place to live. Attend to that before anything else.” Surendra hurried to (Swamiji) and told what had happened. He promised to provide the same amount of money every month as he had given for the Cossipore house prior to Sri Ramakrishna’s passing.
Swami Premananda recalled, “In Baranagore, Swamiji used to cry for him (Sri Ramakrishna) so much secretly at night that his pillow would get wet and I would put it in the sun in the morning to dry.”
In Chicago Swamiji was told at the lecture Bureau that he could not speak at the Parliament of religions because the time for accepting delegates was already passed and he did not have credentials. That night he was writhing in agony on the floor of his room, thinking he had come to the West in vain. Sri Ramakrishna appeared to him and said, “Hut! Get up man! Those men are mere worms!”
While on the lecture circuit Swamiji would be sometimes exhausted and wonder what he would speak about the next day. A voice would come booming at him with the contents of what he should say the next day. Or sometimes there would be two voices debating a subject, which he would then speak about. Sometimes these would be topics about which he knew nothing.
He said his mind had become his guru. Later he said, “They only work who trust help will come while they are on the field of work.”
Swamiji wrote from America on 1-11-18 95 to GG Narasimhachariar of Madras. Among other things he wrote, “ I am slowly exercising an influence in this land greater than all the newspaper blazoning of me can do. The orthodox (Christians) feel it, but they cannot help it. It is the force of character, of purity, and of truth – of personality. So long as I have these things, you can feel easy; no one will be able to injure a hair of my head. If they try, they will fail, saith the Lord.”
The missionaries were furious at Swamiji. Contributions to the missionary funds had decreased by a million pounds as a result of his preaching. All sorts of lies were created to discredit him. Once, in Detroit, he was at a dinner and, as he was about to sip from his cup of coffee, he saw Sri Ramakrishna standing at his side. He said, “Don’t drink! That is poison!” He related this to Sw Vijnanananda. He felt divinely protected.
Once V. asked how Swamiji could associate so closely with women while in the West. Didn’t this contradict the Masters teachings? “He emphatically told me not to be close to women, however devoted they might be.”
Swamiji became grave and crimson with anger. Finally he said, “Well Peshan, do you think that what you have understood about the Master is all that he is? . . . He eradicated the idea of the difference between male and female from my mind. . . . Did he come to liberate only men? Whatever the Master told you is true; you follow that implicitly. But to me his instructions were different. . . . He clearly showed me everything. He holds my hands—whatever he makes me do, I do.”
In December 1889 he and Subodhananda went to Omkaranath on the bank of the Narmada River. Brahmananda was continuously in samadhi for six days. They visited various places of pilgrimage and he saw the living presence of Gods and Goddesses in these holy places. Later he said, “Spiritual life begins after nirvakalpa samadhi.”
On March 29, 1890 he wrote to Balaram, “I am praying to God that I may be absorbed in the thought of the Master. That is the one desire of my heart.” He was feeling the agony of separation from the Master. He plunged into deep meditation and most of the time remained in an indrawn mood.
Later he met Turiyananda in Hyderabad. There was famine there. They had a painful experience with kachu, a root, where their throats burned and their tongues swelled. Finally a lime found out of season cured this. Brahmananda prayed to Sri Ramakrishna, “Master, why did you take me from home if you could not provide a morsel of food? Tomorrow morning if I get hot khichuri and pickles I shall understand you are with me.” This happened. A monk had the vision of Rama after 24 years of tapas. Rama commanded him to make khichuri and pickles for Him and give the prasad to Brahmananda and Turiyananda.
Much later, when Brahmananda was president, he was putting together the Master’s teachings. Sometimes he would get up at midnight and ask his attendant to bring the manuscript to him. Once after making a correction, he said, “The Master came and told me: “I didn’t say that. I said this.”
As President he was asked, “Do you see the Master nowadays?” He replied, “Yes, I see him whenever he shows himself out of his mercy. Anybody who has his grace can see him. But how many people have that love and longing to see him.”
He recalled his time as a wandering monk. He said, “Many a night I slept under a tree. I had a feeling of great dispassion and never thought about physical comfort, finding joy in austerity alone.
I wandered a great deal, carrying no possessions, but was never in any trouble. The Master stayed by me and protected me from all dangers and difficulties, and I never went hungry.”
In June 1926 in Ootacumund he said, “The other day as I sat silently watching the blue mountain ranges I experienced something. I saw a luminous figure coming out of this body and it grew and grew till at last it enveloped the whole world. (deep sigh) The Master is my Paramatman, the Supreme Self. It is He who pervades this whole universe.”
In Varanasi in 1927 or ‘28 he said to one of the monks, “Look here, I had a very delightful experience last night. It was dead of night, and I was in bed, when I suddenly saw a person of white complexion with matted hair and three eyes; he came and stood before me. His divine effulgence lighted up the whole place. Ah, what a beautiful and lovely appearance he had, and how compassionate was his look! The vision pressed all my spiritual energy upward, so that my whole being soon became stilled in divine absorption and full of bliss.
“Just then, I saw that form vanishing and the Master standing there instead, with a smiling face. Pointing to me with his hand, he said: ‘You have to continue in this body, for you have still something more to do.’ As the Master said so, the mind started coming down to the normal plane and my body began functioning as usual. It is all his will. As for myself, I felt very happy all the time. The Master is none other than Vishvanatha (Shiva of Varanasi) himself.”
SWAMI YOGESHANANDA has been an American monk of the Ramakrishna Order for over 60 years. He lived in monasteries in the US, India, and England, before moving to Atlanta in 1992 to reestablish a Vedanta Center there. He is now at Trabuco Monastery in Southern California.