“Sakskhat Kathayatah Swayam”
“In His Own Words” Gita XVIII – 75”
With a fresh English translation of Bengali from M.’s Kathamrita, the English words as spoken by Sri Ramakrishna are in CAPITAL LETTERS. His actual rustic pronunciation of certain words is in parentheses. The number reflects how often M. records Sri Ramakrishna saying a particular English word in the Kathamrita.
Sri Ramakrishna, strolling near M. suddenly asked: “ Would you get me one or two MARKEEN (AMERICAN – Linen) shirts? I can’t wear every type of shirt. I thought to ask CAPTAIN, but I’d rather you do it.” M. got up saying: ‘Of course I shall’.
AQUA – 3
“The followers of every religion all call on One Being only. Some say Iswar, some Ram, some Hari, some Allah and some Brahma. The name is different, but it is only the One Being. A village pond has four bathing ghats. At one ghat the Hindus drink water and call it ‘jal’; at another ghat the Musalman says ‘pani’; at yet another ghat the CHRISTIANS say ‘WATER’ or ‘AQUA’. (All laugh). What is the need for argument? All are calling on the same God and all are going to Him”.
A bhakta: “Does God have form or is He formless?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Slow down! First go to Calcutta – then you will know where the Maidan is, where the ASIATIC SOCIETY and where the BANK of BENGAL. Why should one not perform sadhana on the formless? But it is very difficult. Unless one gives up lust and greed, it will never happen! Let go on the outside and the inside. One can never succeed if the mind hankers after even the smallest of objects. Performing sadhana on God with form is easy … but not that easy.”
BALLOON (BAYLUN) -2
“One day in CaIcutta I was strolling at the park (Maidan). A BAYLUN rose into the sky and a crowd gathered. Suddenly I happened to glance at the son of an Englishman leaning against a tree. His body was bent in three ways. The minute I saw that pose the image of Krishna was kindled in my mind and I passed into samadhi.”
BANK (see Financial Institution) – 3
“Look here, why did Keshab Sen change so much? Can you tell me? Well, he used to visit me a lot. It was here that he learned to bow down. One day I told him that sadhus didn’t have to make namaskara like that. Harish truly said that from here (meaning himself) all CHECKS had to PASS; then only would the BANK hand out the cash.” (Sri Ramakrishna then laughed).
BANK of Bengal
(see Asiatic Society)
BANK (of a river)
“During the sadhana phase one must make some effort, then the path becomes smooth and easy. After steering around the bend of a river BANK one gets a favorable wind and the boat sails freely.
BEHEAD – 2
(see SCIENCE )
Sri Ramakrishna in bhava samadhi remarked: “Thinking of Consciousness (Chaitanya) is it possible to become unconscious? Thinking of God can one ever become BEHEAD (out of his mind)? His very nature is Consciousness: Eternal, Pure, Enlightened by nature (Nitya, Shuddha Bodharupa).
In Vrindavan I wanted to visit Shyamkund and Radhakund which were located at a distance, so I was sent in a palanquin and provided with a lunch of luchis and jilapis. Crossing a meadow I began to cry and called out: “Hey Krishna! You’re not here, but all these sacred places remain. In this very meadow you used to herd the cows. Hriday was walking along behind the palanquin while I was drenched in tears and could not tell the BEARERS to stop.
To a Brahmo bhakta: “Hold steadily to one thing – God with Form or the Formless – then you will attain Him; otherwise not. You may eat a piece of cake straight up or sideways; it will be sweet either way. Do you know how God appears to the worldly? It is like a dandy gentleman who chews some paan while strolling through a garden with his walking STICK. Perchance he plucks a flower and shows it to his friend saying: ’What a BEAUTIFUL flower God has made!’ But this earthly view of God quickly vanishes like a drop of water on a blazing piece of iron!”
BOARD – 2
BOOT – 7
Sri Ramakrishna to a Brahmo bhakta on board the steamboat to Calcutta: “Have you not noticed if a person learns a little English he immediately begins to speak English: ‘EAT-MEAT’ (All laugh). Again he’ll wear a pair of BOOTS and begin to whistle and sing. All these things are the consequence. Similarly, a sanskrit pundit can’t help rattling off sanskrit shlokas. If you expose your mind to bad company you will begin to think and act accordingly. But if you keep the company of bhaktas then you will repeat the name of Hari and think of the Lord.
To Vijay: “By living with women one’s strength is diminished and one loses his independence. You have seen how by working for others this happens. No matter how many degrees you PASS, or if you speak fluent English, by accepting a boss you will have to submit to being kicked twice a day by his BOOTS. If you would practice a little dispassion and somehow find Him, then everything changes. You can then live in your home with no fear of women. If there are two magnets, one large and the other small, which will attract a piece of metal? The large one of course. God is the large magnet; next to Him a woman is a smaller magnet! What can she then do?”
“The very nature of a living being (jiva) is sat-cit-ananda. But by the force of maya the ego somehow is covered with limiting veils (upadhis) and the Self is forgotten. Even a single upadhi will cause changes in behaviour. By wearing a cloth with a fancy black border, a young dandy can’t help but hum the melody of Nidhu Babu’s latest love song. He loves to play cards and of course he must have a walking STICK. I have seen a sick man whose spleen was diseased put on a pair of BOOTS. He immediately began to whistle and bounded up the staircase like an ENGLISHMAN. If you hold a pen in your hand such is its power that you must grab a piece of paper and begin to scribble.
Money is a special kind of upadhi which completely changes a person. A certain Brahmin used to visit me and was rather humble. A few days later I went to Konnagar with Hriday. Upon coming ashore from the boat the first thing we saw was that Brahmin sitting on the bank of the Ganga enjoying some fresh air. When he saw us he called out: ‘Yo padre, what’s up? How yah doing?’ Hearing the tone of his voice I told Hriday: ‘O Hride! That fellow has come into some money so he speaks like this.’
Dr. Sarkar to Sri Ramakrishna: “I have heard that once a bad man kicked you with his boots when you were in an exalted state.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You must have heard this from MASTER (M). It was Chandra Haldar a priest from Kalighat. He used to visit Sejo (Mathur) Babu often. I was overcome, possessed by God, lying helplessly on the ground in the dark (at Mathur’s house in Janbazar). Chandra Haldar thought that I was laying there pretending, hoping to to find favour with the Babu. He came in the dark and began to kick me with his BOOTS. It left scars (bruises) on my body. Everyone said I should tell Sejo Babu. But I forbid them.
Sri Ramakrishna to Manilal Mallick: “Jay Narayan Pundit was very noble. I once visited him and saw that he was very magnanimous and had no ego to speak of. But his sons wore BOOTS. He used to say he would go to Kashi (Benares). What he said actually came to pass. He lived in Kashi and left his body there.” (Pandit Jay Narayan was born in 1804, retired to Kashi in 1869 and died in 1873. From M’s footnotes).
Sri Ramakrishna to Keshab: “When some people put on their BOOTS English words pour out of their mouths! “
BOTTLE – 7
“God is the real Doer: His mere wish causes everything to happen.” Hazra replied: “This is hard to understand. A sadhu from Bhu-Kailas died after being tormented. People found him in samadhi and tried to rouse him. First they buried him alive, then they submerged him in water, then they branded his body. Thus they tried to rouse his consciousness. As a result of this torture he gave up his body. Was it the people’s torture or the will of God that caused his death?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Whatever the karma; such is the fruit. But it was the will of God that caused the sadhu to give up his body. The kaviraj prepares the makar-dhvaja (a sublimate of mercury, sulfur and gold) in a BOTTLE which is covered with dirt and placed in an oven. Due to the heat the gold that is inside the BOTTLE gets completely mixed with the other ingredients to form the makar-dhvaja (elixir). Next the kaviraj takes the BOTTLE and slowly and carefully breaks it and retrieves the makar-dhvaja. Then what does it matter if the BOTTLE remains or goes. Similarly, people may have thought that the sadhu was killed; but perhaps his product (jinis) had already been prepared. After attaining God it doesn’t matter whether the body remains or goes.”
“The Bhu-Kailas sadhu was in samadhi. There are many types of samadhi. My condition corresponded nicely with a description I heard from a sadhu from Hrishikesh.
Sometimes the spirit (vayu) within moves like ants crawling; sometimes it leaps like a monkey from one branch to another; sometimes it glides like a fish. Whoever has experienced this will know. You’ll forget the world. When my mind comes down a bit I cry out: ‘Ma! Please help me, I want to speak.’”
“Only an Iswarakoti or an Avatar can return from samadhi. An Avatar holds the keys to liberation in His hands. He comes for the good of all beings. Not everyone wants to know every aspect of His glory. Why do I need to know how many gallons of wine are in the grog shop! For me one BOTTLE does the job. Who cares to know His Glory when the little I have consumed has made me drunk!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A little boy, wanting to buy a kite, tugged at his mother’s skirt asking for a few pennies. His mother was sitting with her daughters chatting and would not give in to his demand saying: ‘No, your father will not let you do this, but I will talk to him when he gets home. If you get a kite now you’ll just get into trouble.’ If that boy starts to cry and won’t stop pestering his mother, she will turn to her girls and say: ‘Sit still girls while I go and pacify this boy.’ Then she takes her key and clickety-clack (karaat-karaat) opens her money BOX and tosses him a coin. Like this boy you must pester your Divine Mother and She shall surely show Herself to you.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Pretending to be grief stricken and knowing that people will expect them to cry, some women will remove their nose-ring and other jewelry, open their valuables BOX and lock up their jewelry. Then they will fall on the ground and begin to weep, crying out: ‘O dear, what has happened to us!’”
Sri Ramakrishna to Dvija’s father: “ I always say that after having a spiritual awakening, one should resume life in the world. If, after great effort, one manages to find gold; then one can do what he likes: bury it underground, lock it in a safety BOX or even submerge it under water. Nothing can harm the gold.” (827)
(Witness, see JUDGE )
BUILDING – 2
To Shivanath and other bhaktas: “ When I see people who are not interested in God I tell them: ‘ Why don’t you go sit over there for a while?’ Or I may suggest that they might enjoy seeing the temple BUILDINGS.”
From a letter to M. from Aswini Kumar Datta. “One day in 1883 I took a few boys from Srirampur to Dakshineswar. When He saw the boys Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘Why have they come?’ I said: ‘They wanted to see you.’ He replied: ‘What’s the use in seeing me. Why don’t they go see the BUILDING-TUILDING’. I said; ‘They didn’t come to see that, they came to see you.’ Then He said: ‘I guess they must be flints. They must have some fire inside. Even after a thousand years submerged in water the moment they are struck the fire flashes out. They must be that type of soul. If you strike me, however, why doesn’t any fire come out?”
CAPTAIN – 27
Viswanath Upadhyaya was a Calcutta lawyer who represented the Raja of Nepal. Thakur called him CAPTAIN. Sri Ramakrishna respected Captain for his devotion and strict adherence to all the customs, rules and strictures of orthodox Hinduism and his vast knowledge of Vedanta, the Gita, Bhagavata and Adhyatma (much of it committed to memory and ever on display). His bhakti too was exuberant: “How carefully he escorted me to his home in Baranagore holding an umbrella over my head and how many fancy food items he served. Once I lost consciousness in his bathroom and with no hesitation he supported and extricated me from difficulty. He comes from a family of devotees: His father was a warrior (subedhar) for the British army who engaged in war worshipping Shiva with one hand and brandishing a sword or rifle in the other.”
Captain’s strict orthodoxy occasionally manifested as intolerance, especially towards Keshab Sen, and this the Master could not tolerate. Sri Ramakrishna to Captain: “Water is water whether it is at rest or flows in waves and bubbles. That One Saccidananda is the Primal Power: She creates, sustains and dissolves everything. Just as CAPTAIN is the same person even when he sits still: when CAPTAIN performs puja it’s still him, or when CAPTAIN goes to the British governor, it’s still him – only the upadhi has changed. I told the same thing to Keshab.”
Captain: “Keshab Sen has deviated from the right path, he only acts out of self interest. He’s a babu not a sadhu.” Sri Ramakrishna to the bhaktas: CAPTAIN has forbidden me to go see Keshab.” Captain: “ Sir, what can I do since you insist on going anyway.” Sri Ramakrishna (irritated): “You go to the governor for the sake of money and I can’t go see Keshab? He thinks of God and repeats His name. Isn’t it you who say “Isvara-maya-jiv-jagat: the Lord Himself has become the universe and all living beings!”
Captain’s narrow-minded outlook and disapproval was repeatedly manifested in disparaging remarks towards the young boys who visited Sri Ramakrishna. “Captain was highly pleased when I told him that in this world there was nothing but the interplay of Purusha and Prakriti. Narada said: ‘Hey Ram, every man I see has come from a portion of You and every woman from a portion of Sita.’ The very next moment CAPTAIN began to criticise the boys saying: ‘They’re studying English, they eat anything and everything and they always visit you – that’s not good – they’re going to spoil you. But Hazra is another matter; he’s a real man.’ At first I told him I couldn’t do anything about it; but then I hammered him so hard that his daughter began to laugh.
I said: ‘A worldly person is far away from God. If you are free from worldliness God is very close; in fact He is resting in the palms of your hands.’ CAPTAIN then criticised Rakhal for eating anywhere and everywhere. He must have heard this from Hazra. So I said: ‘You may perform japa and tapa a thousand times; still your worldly mind will achieve nothing. On the other hand you may consume the flesh of swine: if your mind rests in the Lord you will be blessed for you will attain Him. Hazra performs much japa all the while engaging in lawsuits.”
I reprimanded CAPTAIN saying: “You read too much and thus everything is spoiled. Don’t read any more!”
Observing my unusual moods CAPTAIN exclaimed: “Your spirit is soaring. The Jivatma is like a bird and the Paramatma the sky – a space composed of pure awareness. When your soul soars into that space then you have your samadhi.”
“CAPTAIN criticised the Bengalis saying: “Bengalis are unenlightened! They have a jewel lying in their midst and fail to recognize it!”
To M: “The truth of the matter is he is engaged in worldly activities day and night! He was totally hemmed in by his wife and children – every time I went there I could clearly see this! CAPTAIN used to say his wife was a jnani because she had memorized some Gita. On a rare occasion his mind would go towards God. He was like a raving fever victim whose delusion, temporarily lifted, would shout: ‘Give me water…I need water’; and then lapse back into unconsciousness! Therefore I used to tell him that he was a man of action.” He admitted that puja and his other duties filled him with joy. Finally I said: “ Will you remain absorbed in work forever? How long does the bee buzz – just as long as it is not sitting on the flower. When it sips nectar the buzzing ceases. CAPTAIN replied: ‘Unlike you, how could we ever give up puja and our other activities?’ Sometimes what he said made no sense: now and then he would blurt out ‘Everything is insentient’ – the next moment ‘Everything is filled with chaitanya’. I say that nothing is inert: everything is chaitanya.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to bhaktas): “Narendra, Bhavanath and Rakhal are all nityasiddha, Iswarkotis. Giving them instructions is superfluous. Have you noticed Narendra doesn’t CARE for anyone. Once he rode with me in CAPTAIN’S carriage. CAPTAIN told him to sit in a nice seat, but Naren didn’t even look at him. He doesn’t even pay attention to me! And the extent of his knowledge he carefully conceals lest I praise him in front of others. He has no illusions, no delusions – nothing can bind him!
To Shivanath and other bhaktas: “There are three types of worldly people.”
First the sattvic: Things may be broken in the home and often not fixed; Pigeons mess the courtyard by their family temple; They’re not aware that moss is growing on the staircase; The furniture is old; No effort is made to keep things spic and span; any old clothes will do . But the person is very peaceful, cultured, compassionate and not deceptive. He can’t harm anyone.
Next is the rajasic: “They have a fancy watch with a CHAIN and several rings on their fingers. Everything in their house is just so. There will be a picture of the QUEEN on the wall hanging near pictures of the raja’s son and some other big wigs. The walls of their home will be white-washed and free of stains. They have a variety of fine clothes. Even their servants will be nicely clothed in uniforms.
Finally the tamasic: “When not asleep they are filled with desire, anger and ego.”
(see BANK [Financial institution])
Sri Ramakrishna to Mahimacharan: “Listen to this story – it suits your mood.”
“There was a farmer who was an uncompromising jnani. He and his wife after a long time had a son named Haru. They loved this boy who was the apple of their eye (nilmani – blue jewel). Everyone in the village loved this virtuous farmer. One day as he worked in the field a messenger arrived with terrible news that Haru had CHOLERA. The farmer returned home and made every effort to treat the disease – but the boy died. Everyone at the house grieved, but the farmer acted as if nothing had happened. On the contrary, he began to explain to everyone that there was no sense grieving as it wouldn’t do any good. Then he returned to his work in the field.
When he returned home his wife cried out accusing him: ‘You’re so heartless – you couldn’t cry even once for our son? The farmer, steadying himself, then said: “I’ll tell you why I can’t cry. Last night I had a fantastic dream. I saw that I was a king with eight sons surrounded by every pleasure. Then I woke up and am now perplexed: ‘Shall I grieve for those eight sons or your Haru?’
CHRISTIAN – 10
Sri Ramakrishna was seated on the stairs of the Shiva temple in a Divine mood conversing with M, and suddenly began to speak with the Divine Mother: “Ma, everyone says “My watch is accurate’. CHRISTIANS, Brahma-jnanis, Hindus and Musalman: All say ‘Our religion is the real thing.’ But Ma, none of their watches are really accurate; for who can ever truly know you? But if with real longing anyone calls on you; then, through your Grace, every path can lead to you. Ma, I would like to once see how the CHRISTIANS call upon you in their church! But Ma, if I go inside what will people say? What if people create a scene? What if they won’t let me enter the temple again? I better just peek inside from the front door of the church.”
At Jagad-dhatri puja at Surendra’s house. Sri Ramakrishna: “Every path leads to Him. One God is called many names. Just like a bathing ghat where the Hindus drink water and call it ‘jal’, at another ghat the CHRISTIANS drink calling it WATER and at another ghat the Musulman drinks calling it ‘pani’.
Fall festival of the Brahmo Samaj at Beni Madhav Pal’s home. Along with Vijay and other invited Brahmo bhaktas was a certain Sub-judge.
Sub-judge: “Sir! I am a sinner, how can I say that God dwells within me?” Sri Ramakrishna: “Sin and more sin; that’s all you talk about! I guess this is the CHRISTIAN view. Someone once gave me their book (Bible). I had a little read out loud to me and kept hearing that one refrain: sin and sin! Whoever repeatedly says: ‘I am bound’ – in the end he truly is bound. I have taken His Name: Iswar, or Ram, or Hari – how can I again have sin! You must have such faith in the glory of His Name.” Sub-judge: “Sir! How can we have such faith?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Love Him…and weep. If your wife is sick or you’ve lost some money or you’re worried about your job then you cry a jug full of tears – but tell me, who really cries for God?”
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “I try to nurture whatever mood a person may have. Hindu, Musalman or CHRISTIAN are all different paths going to the same place. It is best in the beginning to adopt one religion. After reaching God you can then go back and forth: when you visit with Hindus they’ll think you are a Hindu; when you visit with Muslims they will think you are a Muslim; and again, when you visit CHRISTIANS they shall think you are a CHRISTIAN.
At the home of Adharlal Sen. The famous author Bankim Chatterjee is in attendance. Bankim to Sri Ramakrishna: “Guru! He eats the good mangoes and gives me the rotten ones.” (Laughter)
Sri Ramakrishna: “When all worldly pleasures taste like salt, when you no longer care for anything – money, name and fame, bodily comfort, sense pleasure – when you frantically cry out: Ma! Ma! … Then she’ll toss aside everything and come running to you. This is what is called ‘longing’. Whatever path you follow: Hindu, CHRISTIAN, Shakta, Brahma-jnani – The real question is do you have longing. He is the inner ruler. If you start down the wrong path, so what! If you have longing He’ll put you back onto the good path.”
At Govinda Mukherjee’s home in Belghoria. Sri Ramakrishna: “ Every day one must practice (abhyasa). At the CIRCUS I saw an English woman balancing on one foot and jumping through a hoop as her horse galloped. How much she must have practiced.”
(see MEDICAL COLLEGE HOSPITAL)
(see PANTALOON )
Sri Ramakrishna was living at Shyampukur for medical treatment. M. is putting socks on the Master’s feet. Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “ Why not cut the COMFORTER and wrap the pieces around my feet? It would be nice and warm.” (M. laughs).
COMPANY – 15
“In my village (Kamarpukur) there is a pond called Haldarpukur. Every morning some nearby residents came there to go to the bathroom. Those who later arrived for their bath got angry and complained loudly. The next morning the same thing happened. Finally the COMPANY (government) was informed. They sent an agent who posted a NOTICE which said ‘Whoever continues to use this area as a bathroom shall be punished!’ That ended the trouble. Everyone had to obey the COMPANY order. (All laugh). If we want to teach people we must have His seal of approval otherwise our efforts will be laughable. You yourself have nothing and would like to share it with others. Like the blind leading the blind the results will be the opposite of what you intend.”
“Most people think they have to read books in order to know God. But if I want to meet Jadu Mallick, do I have to know in advance how many homes, ponds and gardens, how much money or COMPANY paper (stocks) he owns? Somehow or other – either by singing his praises or if necessary even by jumping over a ditch or a fence or shoving the doorman out of the way – somehow I’ve got to get inside to meet the Master. Once you meet the Master the servants and doormen will all salute you. First comes Ram …. then the world and His glory.”
“He dwells inside every being. But you must apply to the GAS COMPANY then your home will get hooked up. Pray to him with longing.”
CORNICE – 2
“Nitai (nickname of Nityananda) would utilize any means to get people to repeat the name of Hari. Sri Chaitanya would say there is no limit to the glory of God’s name. It may not bear fruit right away but eventually the fruit must come. It is like a home where some seeds fell into a CORNICE. After a long time the house was reduced to clay. Then the seeds fell to the ground and became a tree which finally bore fruit.”
COT – 3
“Keshab was a samsari so he naturally was concerned to maintain his family. He managed to leave his family quite well off. His son-in-law was the Raja of Cooch Behar! When I visited his home I noticed the luxury. What a grand COT (bedstead). When you live in the world gradually everything piles up. Family life is the place of enjoyment.”
“There is no release until we learn to say ‘Thy will, Thy will be done.’ Otherwise you will have to be reborn. And what is the use of saying “I, me, me mine.’ The property manager of an aristocrat will exclaim ‘These are our gardens, our armchairs and our COT’; but if the babu fires him he can’t even take away a worthless box made of mango wood. ‘Me and mine’ veil the truth and prevent us from knowing.
“There is another characteristic of a jnani. Perhaps he lives in a grand home surrounded with luxury: a COUCH, armchairs, paintings and a horse and carriage. One day he tosses it all aside and goes to Benares.
DAMN – 11
After a lengthy explanation by Sri Ramakrishna of the harmony of Purusha and Prakriti in the images of Sri Krishna and Radha, the famous author Bankim Chatterjee and several of his friends began to quietly discuss the subject among themselves in English. Sri Ramakrishna asked them what they were talking about and Adhar replied they were discussing his interpretation of Krishna.
Sri Ramakrishna then laughed and addressed everyone in the room: “I remember a story and it makes me laugh. Listen, I’ll tell it to you. A barber went to the home of a gentleman to give him a shave. While shaving he accidentally nicked his customer who blurted out ‘DAMN!’ The barber did not know the meaning of DAMN so he set aside his razor and even though it was winter he rolled up his sleeves and in a challenging manner said; ‘You said DAMN to me – now tell me what it means.’ The gentleman replied; ‘Well, you can resume shaving – it doesn’t mean anything in particular – just shave a little more carefully.’ But the barber couldn’t let go. He then said; ‘If DAMN means something good, then I’m DAMN, my father is DAMN and fourteen generations of my ancestors are DAMN. (All laugh). But if DAMN means something bad, then you’re DAMN, your father is DAMN and fourteen generations of your family are DAMN.’”
DEPUTY – 9
Adhar Lal Sen was a deputy who earned 300 rupees per month. He recently applied for the post of Municipality Vice-Chairman which paid 1,000 rupees per month. Through his work Adhar knew many important personages.
Sri Ramakarishna: “Hazra asked me to pray to Ma so that Adhar might have the job. Even Adhar asked me. So I said to the Mother: ‘He comes often to visit You so let him have it if it is possible.’ But at the same time I had to say ‘Ma, what a dullard – instead of asking for bhakti and jnana he wants all this instead!’”
To Adhar: “Why don’t you continue with your present job? People who earn fifty rupees long for a salary of one hundred rupees and you are already making three hundred. At Kamarpukur I saw a DEPUTY named Ishwar Ghoshal. He wore a turban and people trembled in his presence. Is a DEPUTY a small position? So I say continue your present work. It is demeaning to have to work at the behest of a single person. Imagine if you had five bosses!”
To Adhar: “Look, you are so intelligent and you are a DEPUTY – yet at the same time you are caught in the net of a snub-nosed scheming woman. Go forward! Beyond the sandalwood forest is a silver mine, further on is a gold mine, and finally fabulous gems. You are a DEPUTY and it is only by God’s grace that you have this posting. Don’t forget Him and always remember that everyone must walk down the same road. We are here for just ‘two days’.” (From the footnotes of M we learn that Sri Ramakrishna wept when he heard the news that just eighteen months later Adhar passed away.)
A bhakta to Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, from what you say it appears to be very difficult to find God while living in the world. How many can do this – we don’t see anyone!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why should it be impossible? When I was growing up we heard of a DEPUTY, Pratap Singh, who was renowned for his many virtues: He gave in charity, was devoted to God and an adept in meditation. He once sent for me to visit. Certainly there are people like him.”
“It’s difficult to acquire discrimination and dispassion. I’m the doer and all these things belong to me … this ingrained attitude doesn’t leave us of its own accord. I know a DEPUTY who earns 800 rupees a month. He paid no heed to the conversation on God as he busied himself wandering here and there looking for the best seat for the child he dragged about with him.”
“A certain DEPUTY went to Keshab Sen’s home to attend a performance of Keshab’s drama Nava-Vrindaban. Rakhal and several other devotees accompanied me to the same performance and we all sat together. When Rakhal left his seat for a few moments that DEPUTY came and sat down putting his child in Rakhal’s seat. I said that he could not sit there – my attitude at that time caused me to do whatever the person nearby suggested so I would keep Rakhal nearby. During the entire performance all the DEPUTY could do was talk with his child. That rascal didn’t even once look at the THEATER! I’ve heard that he is a slave to his wife: ‘get up’…and he rises, ‘sit down’ and he sits. All this for the sake of that snub-nosed chimp of a boy!”
DILUTE – 2
“When I was a boy I loved SriRam Malick very much. Now, however, whenever he visits here I can’t even touch him. Night or day we were inseparable – even napping together. People used to say if one of us was a girl we’d get married. Now he owns a store in Chanak. He had no children so he adopted his brother’s son. SriRam grieved terribly at this loss of the boy, yet, at the same time he called his wife mad when she also grieved. He was completely DILUTED. There was nothing left of him and and that is why I could not touch him.”
Pandit Shashadhar followed the path of knowledge. Sri Ramakrishna was in an ecstatic mood and sang eleven songs all describing the Bliss of the Divine Mother Kali. The pandit was absolutely charmed and left as a changed man. Sri Ramakrishna laughingly observed: “He has been totally DILUTED in just one day! Just see how humble he was and did you notice how he accepted everything I said!”
DINGHY – 2
Sri Ramakrishna to Acharya Srijukta Becharam at a meeting of the Brahmo Samaj at Sinthi: “Do you know the nature of a devotee? He’ll say: ‘I’ll speak and you listen, then you can speak and I’ll listen!’ You are an Acharya – how many people you teach. You are a large ship, but I am a mere fishing DINGHY.” (All laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna then sang the following song:
(Dub-dub-dub) Dive! Dive! Dive! into the Ocean of Beauty, O my mind;
If you search the nether regions, my dear, you shall find the gem of love.
(Khunj-khunj-khunj) Search! Search! Search!
If you search you’ll find Vrindaban in the center of your heart.
(Dip-dip-dip) Light! Light! Light the Lamp of Wisdom
And let it shine in your heart every second.
(Dyang-dyang-dyang)Row! Row! Row your boat.
Do you know who really steers your DINGHY to the other shore?
Kubir says: (Shon-shon-shon) Listen! Listen! Listen up!
Meditate on your Guru’s Holy Feet.
(This is the only song Sri Ramakrishna sang that had an English word).
DISPENSARY – 12
“Shambhu once said ‘Please bless me that I may leave all my money for a good cause: a HOSPITAL, DISPENSARY, a SCHOOL, a road, bathing ghat or a well.’ I said it would be good if he could do so in an unattached manner but that it was very difficult. And this fact must be always borne in mind: the purpose of a human birth is to attain the Lord, not to build a HOSPITAL or DISPENSARY. Imagine that God has appeared before you and asks you to choose a boon. Would you ask him for a HOSPITAL or DISPENSARY or a SCHOOL: or would you rather say: ‘O Lord, May I have pure love for your feet and may I always see You.’ A HOSPITAL and DISPENSARY are transitory objects. God alone is the one true object. Everything else is ephemeral. If you attain Him then any number of HOSPITALS or DISPENSARIES can be built.
Those who find joy in building a HOSPITAL or DISPENSARY are good people who live at a certain level. But the pure bhakta who sees that God alone is real and prays to God to lessen his work is at an altogether different level.
(see HOSPITAL – 322)
“I forbade Naran to do certain things. Part of the sadhana for a sannyasi includes refraining from the following activities: Don’t tie knots or sew clothes, don’t pull up a curtain or lock a DOOR or a BOX with a key.
ENGINEER – 4
To Brahmo bhaktas: “Do you know my attitude? ‘I am the machine and She is the Operator; I am the room and She dwells within; I am the car and She is the ENGINEER; I am the chariot and She is the Charioteer. As She steers, in that direction I go, as She makes me do, that is what I do’.”
What the ENGLISHMEN call ‘free will’ is imbedded in our hearts by God. This innate sense of free will prevents those who have not realized God from committing even greater evil. But those who have realized Him understand that free will is just an appearance. The truth is He is the Operator and I am His instrument. He is the ENGINEER and I am the car.”
ENGLISHMAN – 7
M, who had been visiting Sri Ramakrishna for about two years, studied English: he would listen to lectures delivered by Keshab and other pandits, and was engrossed in studying European science and philosophy. Thakur now and then would call him ‘ENGLISHMAN’. Since he began to visit Sri Ramakrishna he found that lectures on science and philosophy now seemed insipid and his one desire was to visit Sri Ramakrishna (day or night) and listen to His inspired words.
Girish (Ghosh) had invited many devotees to his home to see Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna told Girish that Mahimacharan was a profound soul and that Girish only came up to his knees in the water. Today, at last, he had the opportunity to hear the two of them argue, but he insisted that neither of them should compromise. (All laugh). Hardly had the discussion begun than Ram interrupted saying ‘Enough of this! Let’s have some kirtan.’
Sri Ramakrishna replied: “No! No! There is a deeper meaning. They are ENGLISHMEN. Let’s see what they have to say.” Mahima’s position was that everyone could become Krishna through sadhana. Girish maintained that Sri Krishna was an avatar and that even by performing a thousand sadhanas a man could never become an avatar. Mahima said that a bel tree could become a mango tree if the obstacle (pratibandhaka) was removed through the special action (prakriya) of yoga. Girish stubbornly adhered to the position that only Krishna could be Krishna. After a brief discussion Mahima attempted to compromise saying that the paths of knowledge and devotion were both true.
Sri Ramakrishna concluded: “Do you see the faith of Girish. If you had not accepted his position he would have torn your throat like a dog tearing a piece of meat. It has been very interesting. You two now know each other and I have learned a lot.”
Sri Ramakrishna, in a happy mood, entertained the devotees by imitating various dramatic mannerisms, at once humorous and ludicrous, adopted by singers of kirtan.
All the devotees were convulsed with laughter and the young boy named Paltu was rolling on the ground. Sri Ramakrishna to Paltu: “Look here, don’t tell your father everything that goes on here or he’ll lose the little respect he has for me. Don’t you know he’s an ENGLISHMAN.”
“He (God) does everything. If you say then that people may freely commit any sin – the answer is No! People who have clearly understood that God is the Doer can never take a false step. What the ENGLISHMEN call free will has been implanted in us by God. Otherwise those who have not reached God would commit many more sins.
On a Sunday afternoon M arrived at Dakshineswar and bowed down to Sri Ramakrishna, who asked him how he had travelled. M replied that he had taken a car to Alambazar and then walked the rest of the way. Manilal Mallick exclaimed: “Uuh! it’s terribly hot.” Sri Ramakrishna laughed and said; “Maybe I’m not crazy. .. Maybe this is all true … otherwise why would the ENGLISHMEN take such trouble to see me?”
To M: “ I suppose you don’t believe in a shalagram (a stone emblem of Vishnu). ENGLISHMEN don’t believe in them. Well it doesn’t matter if you believe or not. There are shalagrams that have auspicious qualities: perhaps a perfect wheel (cakra) or the head of a cow (go-mukhi) – there are many such characteristics which make it suitable to be worshipped.”
M: “Yes sir, it’s similar to the case of a person endowed with auspicious qualities. In him there will naturally be a greater manifestation of God’s presence.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Narendra used to say these things were all mental delusions, but now he believes everything.”
“When arati was being performed I used to go to the roof of the kutir and shout:
‘O my bhaktas, whoever you may be and wherever you are, please come! Living with these worldly people is draining my life away!’ When I told this to the ENGLISHMEN they said this was all my mental delusion. But now it is all coming true – all the bhaktas are gathering together.”
Mani Mallick described the Exhibition that was being held at the Maidan in Calcutta. He mentioned that there was a beautiful image of Mother Yashoda holding Krishna on her lap. When Sri Ramakrishna heard this he began to weep, being overcome by the tender mood of Yashodas’s maternal love (vatsalya-rasa) for Krishna.
Mani to Sri Ramakrishna: “If you weren’t sick you could easily visit the Exhibition.”
Sri Ramakrishna replied: “If I went I wouldn’t be able to see everything! Most likely I would see something or other which would cause me to lose consciousness. Once they took me to the zoo: the minute I saw the lion I went into samadhi! Seeing the carrier of the Divine Mother kindled the vision of the Mother Herself! What other animal could I then see – so I had to return after seeing just the lion. This is why Jadu Mallick’s mother first said I should go to the EXHIBITION, then said there was no use in my going!”
Sri Ramakrishna to Pandit Shashadhar: “In the kali yuga one should practice bhakti yoga as taught by the sage Narada. One should simply repeat the Name of God – nothing more! Where is the time to perform all the activities that are prescribed in the shastras? In today’s feverish world there is no time for the kaviraj’s decoction of ten herbs to take effect – the patient will have expired before the treatment even commenced. In the modern age the FEVER MIXTURE is the only remedy. If the fever is too high what is the use of QUININE. First give a dose of FEVER MIXTURE – Let the patient purge his system and the fever be reduced, then give some QUININE. Some people manage to heal themselves even without QUININE. If you insist that work must be done; at the very least try to eliminate the head and the tail. I suggest that you not get bogged down repeating endless formal prayers. It will be more than enough to make japa of the Gayatri mantra.”
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Well, what kind of mood do think I am in?”
M (laughing): ‘On the surface you appear to be very simple – but inside very profound – it’s difficult to understand your state!’
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes, it’s like a paved FLOOR. People only see the surface and have no idea how many things lie below.”
FOOTPATH – 3
King Janaka didn’t acquire knowledge all of a sudden. He performed much austerity in solitude. Yes, you will have to occasionally leave your worldly life and go into solitude. If you could then cry for Him for three days that would be very good. Why, if the opportunity arose and you could think of Him for a single day, even that would be good. People shed a bucket of tears for their wives and children but who weeps for God? At the beginning of your spiritual life in the midst of your family, surrounded by work, there are too many obstacles which prevent your mind from becoming steady. It is like a tree growing next to a FOOTPATH which will be gobbled up by goats and cattle unless it is protected by a fence. In the beginning you need a fence; but when the trunk grows you won’t need the fence any longer. In fact you will then be able to tie an elephant to the trunk of the tree.
A bhakta to Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, what is the way?”
Sri Ramakrisha: “ Yes it is very difficult to perform sadhana while living in the world. I don’t have to tell you all the obstacles: Sickness, grief, poverty … and you may not get along with your wife … or your children are disobedient, foolish and stubborn. Still, there is a way. Now and then go into solitude and pray to Him; make a real effort to attain Him.”
A neighbor exclaimed: “Do we really have to leave our homes?” Sri Ramakrishna: “Not permanently. When the opportunity arises try to get away for a day or two. The main thing is to cut all attachment to worldly people and their worthless conversation. If you can’t get away then at least strive to have holy company.”
The neighbor: “How can we recognize who is holy?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Whoever gives their mind, energy and inner self to God, that person is a sadhu. Whoever gives up lust and greed is a sadhu. A sadhu never gazes at women with worldly eyes; rather he always sees what lies within; consequently when he comes across a women he regards her as his mother and offers mental worship.
A sadhu only thinks of God and speaks of nothing but God. Knowing that the Lord abides in all beings the sadhu serves all beings.”
The neighbor: “How long will we have to live in isolation?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Have you never seen a tree that has grown next to a FOOTPATH? As long as it is a sapling it needs a fence on all four sides or it will be devoured by goats and cattle. When the tree trunk is thick the fence is no longer needed. Then even an elephant can be tied to the tree and cause no harm. When you mature spiritually there is no more worry or fear. In the beginning make a real effort to acquire discrimination between what is real from what is not real.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why shouldn’t we succeed even while living in the world? If you can associate with good people, cry to Him, pray and now and then retire into solitude. You’ll need some sort of fence to protect the young tree growing by the FOOTPATH from the grazing goats and cattle.”
A neighbor: “What about those who live in the world, won’t they too succeed?” Sri Ramakrishna: “ Everyone shall attain mukti. But you must follow the advice of your guru. Otherwise, if you follow a winding path it is difficult to find your way home. In such a case your mukti will be delayed, perhaps for many more births.”
GAS – 5
Sri Ramakrishna: “ Everyone can acquire knowledge. There are living beings (Jivatma) and the Supreme Being (Paramatma). Just pray! All living beings can be united with the Supreme Self. The GAS pipe runs past every house and you can obtain GAS from the GAS company. First you must apply; then an arrangement for GAS service will be set up and at last the lights will shine in your home. Their OFFICE is in Sealdah (a district in Calcutta).” (All laugh).
A bhakta from Belghoria: “Sir, please have mercy on us.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He abides in every being. So why don’t you apply to the GAS company. Your home can quickly be hooked up. But you must pray with longing. There is a saying that you can see God if you can combine three attractions: a mother’s attraction for her child, a chaste woman’s attraction for her husband, and a worldly person’s attraction for all the objects of this world.”
GLASS – 5
Sri Ramakrishna was in a joyful mood while riding in a carriage returning from a boat trip with Keshab. Passing through a prosperous area he listened to English women playing the piano and singing. Suddenly he said: “ I’m thirsty … what shall we do.” Nandalal stopped at the India Club and went upstairs and brought a glass of water.
Sri Ramakrishna with a smile asked: “Did you wash the GLASS?” Nandalal said yes and Thakur then drank the water.
Sri Ramakrishna to Srish (the son of Ishan): “What do you think is the Essence?”
Srish: “God exists and He does everything. But it is not possible for us to understand His many attributes. His doings are infinite and amazing.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “How many trees are in the forest and how many branches are on each tree – why bother trying to keep track of all these details? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes, so just do that. One is born as a human just to obtain love and devotion for Him. So just eat the mangoes and move onwards. You have come to drink wine. What is the use in knowing how many gallons of wine are in the liquor store! One GLASS is all you need.”
Nangta (Tota Puri) once said there was a king who used to feed sadhus with a golden plate and a golden GLASS. In Benares I noticed the respect that the wealthy up-country people used to show to the mohants (leaders) at a certain monastery. They would stand with folded hands and say ‘Sir, what may we do for you?’ But a real sadhu, a real tyagi doesn’t care for a gold plate, nor does he care if anyone shows respect. The Lord Himself sees to it that such a person never lacks for anything. When you reach Him; then whatever is necessary He shall arrange and bring to you.” (All are silent).
Sri Ramakrishna (at Syampukur waiting for the arrival of Dr. Sarkar) privately spoke with M: “In a state of bhava do you know what I just saw? There is a road stretching 6 to 8 miles on the way to the village of Sihore. I was all alone there in a meadow. I once saw a 15 or 16 year old paramahamsa under the banyan tree (at the Panchavati at Dakshineswar?). Once again I saw the exact same thing. In every direction there was a fog saturated with bliss! In the midst of that fog emerged the face of a thirteen or fourteen year old boy that took the form of Purna. Both boys were naked! Together they ran and played in that field of bliss! After running for a while Purna became thirsty and drank water from a vessel. After drinking he came and offered some to me. I said: ‘Brother, I can’t drink your leftover.’ Then he laughed and washed the GLASS and brought me a fresh GLASS of water.”
HEADMASTER – 2
Sri Ramakrisna to Niranjan: “He (M.) is a HEADMASTER! He came to see you because I sent him.” To M. “Did you send Baburam to see me the other day?”
Tarak’s parents did not allow him to visit Sri Ramakrishna, who loved Tarak very much. Today Tarak came to visit Sri Ramakrishna accompanied by a tamasic youth who seemed rather dismissive of spiritual topics and Sri Ramakrishna. Tarak bowed down to Sri Ramakrishna who suggested that his friend should go see the temples. The friend observed that he seen all of that already. Sri Ramakrishna then asked the friend if he thought it was a bad thing for Tarak to come and visit him. The friend then replied that only Sri Ramakrishna would know that. Sri Ramakrishna then said pointing to M: “He is a HEADMASTER.”
The musician Nilkantha to Sri Ramakrishna: “Please bless me.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “When you chant His name tears come to your eyes so you have nothing to worry about; you already have love for God. To know many things is ignorance (ajnana); to know the One true Lord who abides in all beings is knowledge (jnana); and to speak with Him is realization (vijnana) … to attain Him and then love Him in many ways is called vijnana.
That song you sing is excellent: “Hoping for Mother Shyama’s feet … let the bank of the river be your seat.” That’s all you need. Everything depends on His grace. That being said, you still, however, have to call on Him. It does no good to sit there in silence. A lawyer must first make his case and then conclude by saying: “I’ve stated my case and now the verdict rests in your hands, your honor.”
After a while Sri Ramakrishna said: “You sang so much this morning and now you have taken so much trouble to come here. But here everything is HONORARY (i.e., they will not be paid to sing).
Nilkantha: “What do you mean?”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “I get it. It’s just like you say.”
Nilkantha: “Coming to you I return bearing a priceless gem!!!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You already have that priceless gem, otherwise I would not love your songs so much. Ramprasad was a perfected soul (siddha); thus people love his songs. Ordinary people are called men (manush); but those whose consciousness has been awakened are called enlightened (man-h’umsh). When I heard you would be singing I planned to come see you – then Niyogi came and invited me.
HOSPITAL – 19
Sri Ramakrishna: “Shambhu Mallik spoke about building HOSPITALS, clinics, SCHOOLS and ponds. I told him that one should not avoid duties that come of themselves, but even they should be performed in an unselfish manner. You may believe you are engaged in an unselfish activity, but out of nowhere comes the desire for name and fame.
To voluntarily get entangled in too many works is not good: it causes one to forget God. Suppose one were to go to Kalighat and spend all the time there passing out alms and thus forget to have the darshan of Mother Kali. (Laughter) First of all push and shove, somehow elbow your way through the crowd and have the vision of Mother Kali; then you may give in charity or not. The purpose of work is to attain God.
Therefore I said to Shambhu, if God suddenly appeared to you would you say to him: ‘O Lord, please give me a HOSPITAL or DISPENSARY.’ A real bhakta would never say this; rather he would say: ‘O Lord, grant me shelter at your feet; keep me near you always and grant pure love for your feet.’”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) to Keshab: “There is a reason you are sick. You have had many experiences in this body. When these exalted states occur you don’t understand their significance. After many days the blow hits the body. I’ve observed large ships sail in the Ganges and disappear from sight without leaving a trace. But O Ma! in just a few minutes the waves come crashing on the bank; sometimes a portion of the bank breaks loose and tumbles into the river.
If an elephant enters a small hut he’ll tear it to pieces. When the elephant of ecstasy (bhava) enters the hut of the body it creates a huge upheaval. Do you know what it is like? When a house catches fire at first only a few objects burn; suddenly the whole building goes up in flames. Just so the fire of knowledge at first destroys the enemies – lust and anger – then comes the conflagration (dissolution of ego)!
You think these troubles will go away! But as long as you are sick He won’t let you go. You registered your name in the HOSPITAL so you won’t be released. As long as you manifest the slightest defect the DOCTOR-SAHIB won’t discharge you. Why did you register yourself in the first place! (All laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna: “CAPTAIN once told me that I did not have any occult powers (siddhi) because I ate fish. At one time my whole body shook out of fear that these powers would come. If that were to happen then this place would be turned into a doctor’s office and a HOSPITAL. People would gather and implore me to please cure their sickness. Can any good come from having powers?
M: “No sir. You yourself have said that possessing even one of the eight powers will prevent one from reaching God.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Surendra: “You should follow the teaching of Chaitanya: compassion to all beings, serve the devotees, and chant the name of the Lord. Why am I telling you this. You work in a trader’s HOUSE where you have to do many things. You have to tell lies at the OFFICE and yet I still eat your food. Why is that? Because you are charitable (dana) and meditate (dhyana). You give more away to others than you take in. People say that the seed is greater than the watermelon.” (In Bengali ‘tero’ – thirteen is greater – whether in inches or pounds – than ‘baro’ – twelve).
JAIL – 7
Sri Ramakrishna: “The very purpose of life is to experience pleasure and pain. In the Kavi-kankan Chandi there is the story of Kaluvir who was sentenced to JAIL, where a huge boulder was placed on his chest. Yet Kalubir was the favored son of the Goddess Bhagavati.
A clerk was once sent to JAIL and held in chains. When his JAIL sentence was over and he returned back from JAIL did he endlessly leap for joy or did he return back to his old job as a clerk?
If, by the grace of the guru, anyone acquires knowledge and becomes jivan-mukta (free while living) he can then easily live in the world. When a person acquires knowledge it makes no difference if he lives here or there. For him everything is the same. Whatever exists over ‘there’ also exists right ‘here”.
JEAN – 3
It was the beginning of the cold season and Sri Ramakrishna had asked M. to bring him a shirt. In addition to a shirt made of heavy material M. also brought a “jean” shirt, even though Sri Ramakrishna had not asked for one. Sri Ramakrishna: “You may take this extra shirt and wear it, there is no harm in that. Now, would you tell me what type of shirt I asked for?” M: “You asked for a plain shirt, not one made of ‘jean’ cloth.” Sri Ramakrishna: “You better return the ‘JEAN’ shirt then.”
“Dwarika Babu once brought me a shawl, some Marwaris also brought one, but I did not accept it….”
Vijay then interrupted, exclaiming: “Sir, it goes without saying that if you need something you will have to accept it. Someone or other will have to give it to you. Besides a man, who else could possibly give?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “God is the Giver! The mother-in-law said to her daughter-in-law: ‘Everyone has someone to serve them and it would be nice if you had someone to massage your feet.’ The girl replied: ‘Oh mother dear, the Lord Hari will massage my feet, I don’t need anyone else.’ Only someone whose bhakti has ripened into unceasing longing (bhava) can speak like this.”
JUDGE – 4
Sri Ramakrishna to a judge: “Once a drunkard gazed at the image of Mother Durga and suddenly exclaimed: ‘Ma, no matter how beautifully adorned you are now, in two or three days they will drag you and throw you into the river.’ (All laugh). Therefore I say to everyone: “You may be a JUDGE or anything else; it’s only for two days. So pride and ego need to be given up.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why does our mind not go towards God? Compared to God the power of mahamaya is greater, just like the SERGEANT-at-arms who appears to have more power than the JUDGE.” (All laugh).
Hajra: “Narendra is involved in another lawsuit.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He doesn’t believe in Shakti. If you have a body you must respect shakti.”
Hajra: “He (Naren) says that if he acknowledges Shakti then everyone else will – how can he possibly do that.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s not good to be so rigid, especially now when he has come under the jurisdiction of Shakti. Even the JUDGE-SAHIB must come down to the witness BOX to give evidence.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Surendra’s brother who was a judge: “You are a JUDGE and that is fine, but just remember everything is but the Shakti of the Lord. It is He who has given you this prestigious position. Yet people like to think they are big shots. Rainwater on the roof pours through the lion gargoyle’s mouth. But where does the water come from? When it rains the water from the clouds lands on the roof and then pours through the drain pipe. Finally it emerges from the mouth of the lion.”
JUMP – 7
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Look here, my mind feels very bad because I just received a letter from Hriday who is very sick. Is this delusion (maya) or compassion (daya)?” Not knowing what to say, M. kept quiet.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Do you know what maya is? It is love for your parents, brothers and sisters, wife and children, nephew and niece and other relatives. And daya means to love all beings. So what do I have: delusion or compassion? But Hriday did so much for me, what service he rendered – even cleaning me with his own hands when I had no body awareness – but at the end he began to scold me. He scolded me so much that I went to the embankment to JUMP into the Ganges and give up this body. Still, he did so much for me; if he could now get a little bit of money, my mind would be greatly relieved. But which rich gentleman (babu) could I ask? And who feels like asking! (M. himself took the hint and relieved Sri Ramakrishna by sending some money to Hriday).
Sri Ramakrishna to Pratap Majumbar: “Look here, I want to tell you something. You are educated, intelligent and a deep soul. You and Keshab are like two brothers – Gaur and Nitai. But haven’t you had enough of LECTURES, reasoning, arguments and arbitration? Do you still enjoy these things? Now is the time to gather your whole mind and offer it to God. Now just JUMP into Him.”
Pratap: “Yes Sir, there is no doubt I should do that. Still, I feel compelled to perpetuate the name of Keshab.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “You may say that you are doing everything in honor of Keshab, but in a few days that attitude will disappear. Listen to a story. A certain man had a humble hut on a hilltop; a mud hut that he had constructed with great effort. After a few days a large storm arrived and his hut began to shake. He then wracked his brains, wondering how he could save his hut. He cried out: ‘Hey Pavan (god of the wind), please see that my hut is not damaged!’ But Pavan did not listen! and the house began to vibrate. Then the man thought of a trick: he remembered that Hanuman was the son of the wind. No sooner did this thought occur than he blurted out: ‘Baba (father), don’t break this house; it belongs to Hanuman, please be gracious!’ But the house continued to shake. Nobody was listening. After repeatedly shouting ‘This is Hanuman’s house’, ‘Hanuman’s house,’ he saw that nothing was happening.
So he changed his cry to: ‘Baba this is Lakshman’s house’, ‘Lakshman’s house’ (He remembered that Hanuman was devoted to Ram and Lakshman was Ram’s brother).
When that too did no good he once again changed his cry: ‘Baba this is Ram’s house’, ‘Ram’s house’ ‘Please don’t break it, be gracious’. Still nothing happened and the house began to break apart. To save his life the man ran out of the hut while muttering: ‘Let the damn hut fall apart!’”
Sri Ramakrishna to Pratap: “You don’t have to preserve Keshab’s name. Whatever has happened, know it for sure – it is all by His wishes! By His wish it comes – by His wish it goes – what can you do? Your duty now is to give your whole mind to Him. JUMP into the ocean of Divine Love (prema).
Sri Ramakrishna: “Infinite are the paths leading to the ocean of immortality. It doesn’t matter how, but somehow you must fall into that ocean. Imagine a large vessel of nectar. If a little of that nectar falls into your mouth you shall become immortal. Now you yourself may JUMP in, or slowly descend by a staircase or someone may shove you in – the fruit is the same. By tasting a little of that nectar you become immortal.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “There are fixed debts that must be discharged: to the gods, the sages, to the mother, the father, and to one’s wife. He who does not look after his parents will never attain anything in life. After attaining knowledge one actually sees that his wife is none other than the goddess Bhagavati.
But there is something else to consider. If one becomes mad with Divine love then who is one’s father, mother or wife … So much love for God that one becomes like a madman. Then there are no further duties, nor any debts to be settled. What is this madness of prema like? In that state one forgets the world and one’s own body which all hold so dear. Chaitanya had it: he JUMPED into the ocean totally unaware of his surroundings. Over and over he stumbled and fell to the earth – no hunger, no thirst, no sleep – completely unaware of his body.
Sri Ramakrishna: “ In order to teach mankind an avatar retains the attitude of devotion (bhakti) and devotee (bhakta). It is just like using a staircase to go up and down from the roof. For most people the path of devotion is such a staircase, enabling them to get to the roof. When your natural tendencies (vasanas) have been extinguished then you may remain on the roof. A shopkeeper can find no sleep until he has squared away his accounts. When the accounts tally then he can sleep. Sooner or later you must JUMP in! If you JUMP in you will succeed.”
LANTERN (LANTHAN) – 3
Sri Ramakrishna was invited to Jadu Mallick’s garden home near Dakshineswar. He turned to Latu and said: “Light up a LANTHAN and let’s go.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The seven stages of Vedanta correspond to the six chakras of yoga. When the mind rises to the fourth or heart level (anahata chakra), the jivatma appears like a tongue of fire and one has the vision of light. He can’t help but cry out: ‘What is this! What is this!’
When the mind ascends to the fifth plain (vishuddha chakra), one only wants to hear talk of God. At the sixth plain (ajna chakra) one has the vision of God – but it is like seeing the light inside a LANTHAN. You can’t touch it because of the glass barrier.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Manilal Mallick (a member of the Brahmo Samaj, which did not believe in avatars): “If you are going to meditate on Him, try to visualize Him without any limiting adjuncts (upadhis). He is beyond the reach of mind and speech. But it is very difficult to reach perfection (siddha) through this type of meditation.
He has incarnated as a human being and thus made it easy for us to meditate – Narayan dwells in a human form. His body is like a veil and He is like the light shining inside a LANTHAN. Or you can consider Him to be like a mirror, wherein many precious items may be seen.”
LECTURE – 29
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Have you heard of a man named Cook who delivers LECTURES? He was on the ship when I went for the boat ride with Keshab. M. to Sri Ramakrishna: “Someone should explain to people who worship images that the earthen image is not God and while seated in front of an image they need to direct their puja to Him, not the image. It’s not good to worship an image.”
Sri Ramakrishna (irritated) to M: “You Calcutta people are all the same. You only know how to deliver LECTURES and make others understand. But who is there to help you understand? He who has created this universe – He is the inner ruler (antaryami) – and He is pleased knowing that the image worshipper is only calling on Him. Instead of worrying about these things you had better strive to acquire knowledge and devotion yourself.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It is very difficult to teach others. Only if God appears directly before you and gives you the command can you be a true teacher. Narada, Shukadeva Shankara and a few others received such a command. Without such a command who will listen to you? The people of Calcutta are fond of sensations; as long as the fire burns the milk in a pot will bubble over; but remove the fire and there is nothing left.
Seeking water they will begin to dig a well, but if they strike a rock they quit. Digging in another place they run into sand and once again quit.
And it won’t do to simply imagine you have the authority to teach. It is the absolute truth (satya-satya) that God can and does appear and even talk with us. Then, by His command, you may speak – words that will have the power to move mountains.
A mere LECTURE? People may listen for a few days and then forget everything. Certainly no one will ever practice or follow those teachings.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Vijay: “It is very difficult to be a teacher. Without the command (adesh) you cannot instruct (upadesh). First engage in spiritual practice and somehow get a hold of God. Then with His permission you may LECTURE. With His permission comes His power which is essential if one is to become a teacher.
Sri Ramakrishna: “One day Keshab and his disciples came here (Dakshineswar) to visit and I said: ‘Let me listen to you LECTURE’. We all sat in the Chandni and listened to the LECTURE. Afterwards, we all sat around the bathing ghat and spoke about many things. I said that He who is Bhagavan, He Himself is the bhakta in another form, and He is also the sacred scripture (Bhagavatam). Please let me hear you all say ‘Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan’. Keshab and all of his followers then repeated: ‘Bhagavata-Bhakta-Bhagavan’. When I said: ‘Now repeat ‘Guru-Krishna-Vaishnav’ Keshab replied: ‘Revered Sir, today I can’t go that far; otherwise people shall say that I am orthodox.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Pratap Majumdar: “You know, by listening to your Brahmo Samaj LECTURE one can easily understand a person’s real nature. I was taken once to a Hari Sabha where the acharya was a pundit named Samadhyayi. Can you believe he said that God is devoid of sweetness (niras), and that it was up to us to make him sweet with our devotion and ecstasy. When I heard this I was stunned! Then I remembered a story. A child once said that there were many horses in his uncle’s cattle barn. What will people think when they hear this kind of incongruous talk.
Certainly that there are no horses.”
A bhakta: “No horses and no cows either (all laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just imagine – He who is the very essence of bliss is said to be tasteless. From this you can understand he has never experienced what God is.”
Sri Ramkrishna: “Have you not heard the song ‘Dive deep into the ocean of God’s Beauty?’ You’ve had enough of LECTURES and arguments. Now dive deep!”
Gazing at Pundit Shashadhar Sri Ramakrishna was deeply moved. After awhile he began to laugh and remarked: “Good … very good!” A bit later he asked: “Well, what type of LECTURE do you give?”
Pundit: “Sir, I try to give out the teachings of the shashtras.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “In the kali yuga Narada’s path of bhakti is best. Where is the time to perform all the works prescribed in the shashtras?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “You may give a thousand LECTURES but they won’t help worldly people at all. Can you drive a nail into a brick wall? You will smash the head of the nail before you penetrate the wall. If you strike an alligator with a sword you cannot pierce his hide. A monk’s drinking vessel (kamandalu) may visit the four sacred corners but will remain as bitter as ever. Your LECTURE is of no use to a worldly person. Gradually you will learn. A calf struggles to stand up: over and over it stumbles, again it gets up, and finally learns how to stand.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “ Light a lamp and hordes of fireflies will gather without being invited. Whoever has a commission from God will not have to advertise saying at such and such a time there will be a LECTURE. Then, everyone from king to commoner, will arrive in groups saying: ‘What would you like? Mangoes, sandesh, money, a SHAWL – we’ve brought these things for you so please take what you like.’ I say to them: ‘Get out of here – I don’t like these things nor do I want them’.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Without His command what good is a LECTURE. Someone at the Brahmo Samaj, while giving a LECTURE said: ‘Brothers, how much wine I used to drink, and I engaged in so much mischief.’ Hearing this, people began to whisper: ‘what is that fool blathering about?’ Only a LECTURE by a good person can be of help.”
“So I say that LECTURES given by wishy-washy people can yield no good. Without the badge of authority people will pay no respect to what is said. Sri Chaitanya was an avatar. Tell me how much is left of all that he accomplished?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The Gita says (X, 41) that to whomsoever people show respect – whether for their learning, musical skill, or any skill whatsoever … even giving a LECTURE – know for certain it is because the special Shakti of the Lord is present.”
Vijay to Sri Ramakrishna: “With your permission Sir I will go to the altar and speak.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Be free from pride and everything will be alright. ‘I’m giving a LECTURE and you all listen’ – if that attitude is absent everything will turn out right. Does ego come from jnana or ajnana? Whoever is free from ego; that person alone has real knowledge. In low places water accumulates; it flows down from on high.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Dr. Sarkar (after a discussion about theosophy):
“There is one thing I want to tell you, and please don’t take offense. You’ve had enough of these things: money, name and fame and LECTURES. Now, for a few days give your mind to God. And now and then come here so you can hear inspiring talks about God and other spiritual matters.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Surendra (after a discussion about various followers of Keshab who broke away and formed their own groups): “Govinda Adhikari does not keep talented actors in his yatra company – he might have to pay them more money.
(All laugh). One of Keshab’s followers attended a play at Keshab’s home. I saw him dancing around with a child in his arms. And I hear he gives LECTURES. Who shall teach him – nobody knows!”
On the western verandah of Sri Ramakrishna’s room at Dakshineswar, Mahimacharan was rather loudly instructing the doctor. Seated inside his bedroom Sri Ramakrishna laughed and said to M: “There, listen to him rattle on. Rajo-guna! From rajas one likes to display one’s panditry a little bit and wishes to deliver LECTURES.
From sattva-guna one becomes introspective and keeps (his knowledge) hidden. Still, he’s quite a person. He speaks about God with great zest!”
Sri Ramakrishna to Pundit Shashadhar: “What is the sign of knowledge: firstly, a peaceful nature; and secondly, freedom from pride and ego. You have both these signs. A jnani has a few more characteristics: when he is with sadhus he displays renunciation; when it is time for action such as giving a LECTURE he is like a lion; when with his wife he becomes a king of humor, always displaying his cleverness. (All laugh). But a man of wisdom (vijnani) is different. Like Chaitanya he will by turns be like a boy, a madman, an inert object or even a ghoul.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I once went to a gathering of the Brahmo Samaj at Nandan-bagan. After the worship someone sat up by the altar and began to LECTURE. He wrote something that he read from. He would read a little then look around; then he would meditate a bit and again open his eyes and glance around the room! If one has not seen God, the instruction will never be appropriate or effective. He may say something right and the next moment land in a mess of confusion.”
LIKE – 5
A hatha yogi had been staying at the panchavati for a few days. He only took milk and opium and practised hatha yoga; but. he lacked any money for these two supplies. The hatha yogi asked Rakhal to speak with the paramahamsa (Sri Ramakrishna) about making arrangement. Sri Ramakrishna replied that he would see whether any of the gentlemen (babus) from Calcutta would help out.
Sri Ramakrishna to the bhakta Prankrishna: “I guess you don’t LIKE the hatha yogi?” Prankrishna remained silent and the hatha yogi left the room.
“The Bauls in the country call a perfected soul a siddha and refer to everyone else as “creatures” (jiva). When a stranger comes into their midst they will hush up saying, ‘a creature is here’. They also called the perfected state the ‘natural state’ (sahaj-avastha). There is a group of Bauls who wander around crying out ‘sahaj-sahaj’.
There are two distinguishing features of a person in this natural state: first, he won’t have the ‘smell of Krishna’ (Krishna gandha) anywhere about him – this means he keeps his feelings entirely inside and won’t even chant the name of Hari out loud; and second, like a bee he will sit on a lotus, but not sip any nectar – this means he can live with a woman without attachment since his sense organs have been subdued.”
“They don’t LIKE the worship (puja) of God in an image; they prefer a living man. One group is called kartabhaja: they worship the guru as the only Doer (karta), and identify him with God whom they worship (puja).”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Vaishnavcharan follows the kartabhaja path. When I went to Shyambazar I told them theirs was not my mood, for I looked upon all women as the Divine Mother. I noticed they like to talk big but engage in immoral practices with other men’s wives. The don’t LIKE image worship. They prefer to worship a living man.”
Sri Ramakrishna wanted to visit the pundit Shivanath Shastri and so he asked the Mukherjee brothers if they would take him in their carriage. After they agreed to set a date, Sri Ramakrishna remarked to all the bhaktas: “What do you think – will he LIKE me or not? So many of them (members of the Brahmo Samaj) criticize people who believe in God with form.”
Sri Ramakrishna to a certain bhakta (M?): “Narendra doesn’t even LIKE you. Why didn’t he come to Adhar’s house? How many qualities Narendra has: he sings, plays musical instruments, and is very learned! The other day we left here in CAPTAIN’S carriage. CAPTAIN spoke continuously while sitting next to Narendra who moved to the other seat and didn’t even look at him.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “When Narayan Shastri stayed at Dakshineswar, Michael (Madhusudan Dutt – a famous poet) came for a visit along with Mathur’s oldest son Dwarika Babu. They were preparing for a lawsuit with the SAHIB (British) owners of the powder MAGAZINE (which was adjacent to the Dakshineswar temple compound). Thus they wanted to consult with Michael.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He has placed you in this world of samsara so what can you do? Offer everything to Him – offer yourself to Him – then no trouble will remain. Then you will see that He alone is doing everything. Everything is ‘the will of Rama.’”
A bhakta: “Can you tell us the story about ‘the will of Rama’ ?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “In a certain village there lived a righteous weaver who was beloved of one and all. He would sell his cloth in the market and when the customers would ask his price he would say: ‘By the will of Rama the thread is one rupee, by the will of Rama the cost of labor is four annas (quarter of a rupee) and by the will of Rama the profit is two annas. So the total cost of the cloth, by the will of Rama, is one rupee and six annas. The villagers trust in the weaver was so great that they would immediately pay him. The weaver’s habit was to retire to the Chandi temple after dinner and spend a long time repeating the Lord’s name.
One evening it was very late but the weaver could not sleep. He sat there meditating and smoking when suddenly a group of thieves came down that road. As they lacked a porter they told the weaver that he must come with them, grabbed a hold of his arm and forced him to come with them. After committing a robbery they placed the stolen goods on the weaver’s head. The POLICE arrived and the thieves fled, leaving the weaver standing with the goods on his head. They kept him in detention for the night so that in the morning the MAGISTER-SAHIB (judge) could decide what to do.
When the villagers heard the news they all assembled and told the judge: ‘Your Honor, this man could never have committed a robbery. The SAHIB then asked the weaver: ‘Well my friend, tell me what happened.’ The weaver replied: ‘Your Honor, by the will of Rama, I finished my dinner and, by the will of Rama, I was sitting in the temple until, by the will of Rama, it was very late in the evening. By the will of Rama I was thinking of Him and repeating His name. Suddenly, by the will of Rama, a group of robbers came down that path and, by the will of Rama, grabbed a hold of me and dragged me along with them. By the will of Rama they robbed a villager and, by the will of Rama, placed the stolen goods on my head. Very soon, by the will of Rama, the POLICE arrived and, by the will of Rama, I was apprehended and, by the will of Rama, the POLICE detained me overnight. This morning, by the will of Rama, they brought me before Your Honor.’”
“Seeing such a righteous man the SAHIB gave the order to release the weaver.
Surrounded by his friends in the street the weaver said: ‘By the will of Rama I have been released.’” Whether you live in the world (samsara) or give up everything and become a monk (sannyas); it is all due to ‘the will of Rama’. So just offer everything to Him and perform your work in this world.
MARBLE – 3
Sri Ramakrishna: “People have different natures according to the gunas. Tamasic traits are egotism, sleep, over-eating, lust and anger.”
“Rajasic people work too much. Their clothes and home are all spic and span with, perhaps, a photo of the QUEEN in the parlour. When they meditate they will wear a white silk cloth, and around their neck they have a rudraksha rosary interspersed with gold beads. If someone comes to their home they proudly show them the MARBLE floor in their shrine room and the sixteen pillars surrounding the nat-mandir (large room for singing facing a temple). They proudly display their charitable activities.”
“Sattvic people are cultured and peaceful. They wear ordinary clothes and their salary is just sufficient to provide room and board; they never flatter anyone for the sake of money. Their home may need some repairs. They don’t worry about the opinions of others. Their meditation and charity are done secretly. They meditate inside the mosquito net and so people will say: ‘The babu (gentleman) must not have slept well; that is why he has overslept’.”
“Sattva guna is the final step of the staircase. After that one reaches the roof. When sattva guna comes you should know that it won’t be long before you reach God. Just go a little further and you will find Him.”
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Why should the world be considered to be false (mithya)? That is the view of those who engage in philosophical speculation. If you actually see Him, then you will understand that He has become the universe and all living beings. It was actually shown to me in the Kali temple that the Mother alone has become everything. And She is not just inside of us – She is inside and outside!”
“I was made to see that everything is conscious (chinmay)! The image was chinmay! – the foil (chumki) decoration on the image was chinmay! – I was chinmay! – the altar chinmay! – the copper vessels chinmay! – the doorsill chinmay! – the MARBLE floor – everything was pure consciousness!”
“Inside the room I then saw everything drenched in bliss (rasa): the bliss of sacchidananda. I saw a wicked man standing in front of the Kali temple; but even in him I saw nothing but the divine Shakti pulsating and glowing (jval-jval) within!”
“So I couldn’t refrain from feeding the sacrificial food (luchi) to a cat – I saw that the Mother had become everything including the cat. Then the caretaker of the temple wrote to Mathur that the young priest was feeding the food offerings to a cat. Mathur understood my condition and replied: ‘Whatever he does, don’t say a word.’”
“If anyone attains Him, then he would truly see the Lord alone is the jiva, the jagat and also the twenty-four cosmic principles.”
MEDICAL COLLEGE HOSPITAL
Sri Ramakrishna to Trailokya: “Those who have money should give. Jaygopal Sen is wealthy and should be more generous. It is a shame that he is not. Some wealthy people are just miserly: who knows who will end up spending their money? One day Jaygopal came here by carriage. The LANTERN on the carriage was broken – the horse appeared too have been just released from the charnel pit while the driver was just discharged from the MEDICAL COLLEGE HOSPITAL – and for his offering he brought two rotten pomegranates.” (Everyone laughs).
MEETING – 2
Sri Ramakrishna to Adharlal Sen: “My dear boy, why have you not come for these past few days?
Adhar: “Well Sir, I was enmeshed in all kinds of work. I had to attend several conferences and other meetings at school.
Sri Ramakrishna: “So SCHOOL and MEETINGS caused you to forget everything else?
Adhar (humbly): “Everything else was put on hold. How is your arm?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just look and see, it’s still not healed. I’m taking medicine from Dr. Pratap.” A few minutes late Sri Ramakrishna suddenly said to Adhar: “Look here: this is all temporary – MEETINGS, SCHOOL, OFFICE – none of it lasts. God alone is the real thing (vastu), and everything else is insubstantial (avastu). You ought to gather your whole mind and give it to Him.”
Adhar sat in silence.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Nothing lasts: the body is here one moment and gone the next. Quickly call on Him while you can.” (M.’s footnote: Adhar died several months later).
Narendra conversing with M. after Sri Ramakrishna’s death: “I always did what I wanted and he (Sri Ramakrishna) never interfered. You may remember that I was a member of the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj?”
M: “Of course I do.”
Narendra: “Well, he knew that women used to attend their meetings. As a general rule men should not meditate in front of women, and he therefore criticized this practice of the Brahmo Samaj. But he never said a word to me! One day he merely said not to tell Rakhal that I was a MEMBER of the Samaj; otherwise he too would wish to join.”
M: “Your mind is very strong so he did not forbid you to go there.”
MIXTURE – 2
Sri Ramakrishna, gazing at Pandit Shashadhar, passed into an ecstatic mood and uttered “Very good!’ ‘Very good!’. A bit later he said: “Well, what kind of LECTURES do you give?”
Pundit: “Sir, I try to help people understand the teachings of the shastras.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “In this kali yuga one should practise bhakti yoga as taught by Narada. Where is the time to practise all the karma that is set forth in the shashtras? The fever in this present time will not be cured by an ayurvedic concoction composed of ten roots. The patient will die before this old medicine begins to work. Today people need a FEVER MIXTURE. If you must tell people to work – at least eliminate the head and tail.”
“I tell people who want to perform sandhya-vandana to skip over the preliminary invocations such as ‘Apo-dhanya…’ and just repeat the Gayatri mantra for that is the essential prayer … When the fruit ripens the flowers fall away. Bhakti is the fruit – karma is the flowers.”
“The sandhya merges into the Gayatri. The Gayatri then dissolves into the Pranava (Om) which in turn merges into samadhi. It is just like the sound of a bell: Dong – d… o… n… g. Piercing through the sound of Om the yogis dissolve into the supreme Brahman. This is also how the jnanis give up all karma.”
Sri Ramakrishna to some Marwari bhaktas: “In the kali yuga where is the time to perform the karma prescribed in the Vedas? Therefore the bhakti of Narada is a preferred path. Karma yoga is very difficult because it leads to bondage unless one is free from desire (nishkama). Everyone spends so much time eating so there is no time left to follow the rules concerning vedic karma. One who relies on the ayurvedic concoction composed of ten roots will most likely die before the medicine takes effect.
Therefore take the FEVER MIXTURE of Narada’s path of love: Just repeat His Name and sing His glories. Karma yoga is not the most efficacious path for the kali yuga. Bhakti yoga is the right way. But as long as you wish to enjoy the world, so long shall you have to work. We need to acquire love: repeat His name and your work will fade away. You won’t have to work forever. The more pure love grows the less work remains; until finally you reach Him and all work is given up. The mother-in-law reduces the household chores of the pregnant daughter-in-law. Then when the baby is born she won’t have to do anything.”
Mani Mallick and Bhavanath were speaking about the Exhibition that was being held in 1883-84 next to the Asiatic Museum. They said: “Many rajahs have sent valuable items like golden beds. It’s quite a sight.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) to the devotees: “Indeed, you’ll gain something valuable by going there. You’ll see that all these golden items and royal paraphenalia are nothing but trash. That’s a huge gain. Hride, when I went to Calcutta once, took me to see the Viceroy’s house and exclaimed: ‘Uncle, look at the Viceroy’s house with the big columns’. The Mother showed me that it was nothing but a pile of bricks.”
“The Lord and his glories. The glory lasts for two days, but He alone is real. The magician and his magic! People are amazed to witness the magic; but it is all illusory – the magician alone is real. The babu and his garden. One should try to find the owner of the garden.
Mani Mallick: “And what huge electric lights. It caused me to wonder how great that person is who made the electric lights!”
Sri Ramakrishna to Manilal: “There is another point of view: God Himself has become all of this – even those who say this is nothing but He. Iswara, maya, jiva, jagat.”
The conversation returned to the Exhibition.
Sri Ramakrishna: “I once visited the MUSEUM. There was a display of fossils: living animals had turned into stone. Just look at the power of association! Imagine what would happen if you constantly kept the company of the holy.”
Mani Mallick (laughing): “If you would go there again we could have ten to fifteen more years of spiritual instructions.”
(The Ochterlony Monument – built in 1825 – is named after a victorious British general. Standing 157 feet high it is a prominent landmark in Calcutta located at the northeast corner of the Maidan or parade grounds. In 1969 it was renamed the Shaheed Minar or Martyrs Monument.)
Sri Ramakrishna to M. and Prankrishna: “Many people love to talk about the knowledge of Brahman, but all the while remain occupied with lower things: houses, money, prestige and sense pleasures. As long as you remain at the base of the MONUMENT so long will you notice horses, carriages, SAHIBS and their ladies. If you climb to the top then you only see the sky and the ocean stretching endlessly! Then you will no longer care for homes, horse and carriages and men who appear to be little more than ants.”
NOTICE – 4
Bankim to Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir, why don’t you do some preaching?”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “Preaching! That’s nothing but pride – and a man is such a tiny creature! He who has created the sun and moon which light up this world: He can preach. Is it an easy task to preach? Without a direct contact with the Lord, without receiving his command – there can be no true preaching. Yet it is possible.”
“You haven’t received His command, yet you wander around babbling; so in two days everyone forgets what you said. It’s nothing more than a passing fancy. As long as you go on speaking everyone says ‘Oh, how nicely he speaks.’ But when you stop nothing remains.”
“As long as the milk is on the stove it bubbles over due to the fire beneath; but remove the fire and the milk remains as it was. You must perform sadhana to increase your strength if you hope to preach. You have no place to lie down yet you call your friend to join you.”
“By the side of the Haldarpukur people used to go to the bathroom every morning. People complained but nothing happened. Finally they lodged a complaint with the COMPANY (government) who posted a NOTICE forbidding further use of the area as a bathroom under pain of punishment. Then the trouble was over. Everyone had to obey the COMPANY’S order.”
“Similarly, if you contact God and get his order, then you can preach and people will benefit; otherwise why would they listen to you.”
NUMBER – 3
Sri Ramakrishna to Vaidyanath (an educated lawyer at the Calcutta High court): “It’s not good to argue – what do you say?”
Vaidyanath: “That’s right Sir, a man who attains knowledge loses the desire to argue.
Sri Ramakrishna: “THANK YOU (everyone laughs). You shall succeed. You may speak about God, but no one will believe you. If a great soul says that he has seen God, still ordinary people will not believe him. They will think: ‘If he has seen God then let him show Him to us.’ But can you learn how to check the patient’s pulse in a day? You will have to accompany a doctor for quite a while in order to learn who has the phlegm (kaph), who has air (vayu) and who has bile (pitta). (Ayurvedic medicine believes sickness results when these three are out of balance).
“Off the top of your head how could you recognize which NUMBER thread is in a sample. You would need to be in the yarn business. Go and work there for a few days then you will be able to quickly say which is NUMBER forty and which is NUMBER forty-one.”
OFFICE (APIS – 13)
(see GAS – 205, HOUSE – 696, and MEETING – 413)
At the end of the kirtan, Sri Ramakrishna was seated with some bhaktas taking refreshments when the young boy Niranjan entered and bowed down. Thakur smiled at the boy and remarked to M: “Look at this boy: he is completely guileless (saral). Such innocence is only seen in those who have performed much tapasya in previous lives. Those who are hypocritical or of a calculating nature can never reach God. Just see how the Lord is only born in families that are guileless. How simple were Dasharatha and Nanda (the fathers of Rama and Krishna). Why even today people have the saying: ‘He is so simple, just like Nanda Ghosh’.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Niranjan: “Look here, it appears as though a dark cloth is covering your face. It’s because you are working in an APIS. In the APIS you have to do so many things and worry about various matters. You are now working just like an ordinary worldly person. But there is this one difference: you have accepted the job for the sake of your mother. Your mother is worthy of respect – she is none other than the Mother of the Universe (Brahma-mayi-swarupa).”
Sri Ramakrishna: “ An ordinary person cannot return from samadhi. But when the Lord Himself becomes a man (avatar), He holds the key to liberation. He can return from samadhi for the good of the world.”
Hazra: “If one can please God that is sufficient. What need is there for avatars?
Sri Ramakrishna: (laughing) “Yes, yes. There is a big REGISTRY APIS in Vishnupur. If you can manage to REGISTER there, you won’t have any further troubles at Goghat (a small village).
A bhakta: “Sir, what state (avastha) must one be in, in order to see God?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Can anything be gained if one cannot gather the whole of one’s mind? The Bhagavata Purana describes Shukadeva as one whose gaze was fixed, who appeared to walk ahead like an unsheathed sword. He was totally focussed on God – this is called yoga. Whoever has this type of yoga can see God.
Before the curtain goes up at the THEATER you will hear lots of talk about home-life, APIS gossip, SCHOOL affairs, etc. But the minute the curtain goes up all conversation ends. The play has begun and everyone gazes with full attention. After a long while if a few words are said, they will only be about the play. A drunkard, after consuming several drinks, only speaks of the joy (ananda) of his intoxication.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Dwijas’s father who objected to his son’s visiting Sri Ramakrishna): “A good son is proof that the father has some merit. If a lotus pond has good water it is a credit to the owner. A child is called atma-ja (born of one’s self). There is no difference between you and your son. In another form you have become the son. In one form you are a worldly person, working at the APIS and enjoying life – and in another form, as your son, you yourself are a bhakta. I’ve heard that you are a very worldly person – but that’s not the case! (Laughing) But you already know all this. Still, you are a very clever person. I see you nodding your head in agreement. (Dwija’s father laughed). Your son comes here and he learns what a valuable thing his father is. Whoever practices dharma while leaving his parents in the lurch – he will get nothing but ashes!”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Those who are engaged in work, whether at an APIS or any other business, should also observe the truth. ‘Speaking the truth is the austerity of the kali yuga’.”
A bhakta: “How does holy company help us?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It brings us love for God – we learn to love Him. Without longing nothing will ever happen. By continuous contact with a holy person we develop longing. This longing is similar to what people feel when a family member is sick: they are preoccupied with helping that person get better. Or suppose a person loses his job; he trudges from APIS to APIS yearning for another job – it’s just like that. If one APIS has no work; once again, on the following day, he will inquire if perhaps today there is a vacancy.”
At Adhar’s home many bhaktas have gathered hoping Sri Ramakrishna will speak a few words.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Samsara and mukti are both the result of God’s will. He is the one who covers us with ignorance and places us in this world; and again, when He wishes, He will call us to Himself and set us free. A child is busy playing, but at dinner time his mother will call him. When He wishes to set us free He will lead us to holy company; furthermore, in order that we may attain Him, He gives us longing.”
A neighbour: “Sir, what kind of longing?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just like a clerk who has lost his job! Every day he will go to the APIS to inquire if there is any work. Yearning makes one restless; constantly one wonders: ‘How can I find God?’ Then there are those who sit idly with their legs crossed, twirling their mustaches, chewing paan – seemingly without a care in the world – they will never attain Him.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “All religions contain errors. Everyone says that his watch is accurate; but none are ever perfectly correct … every now and then they all have to be adjusted to the sun. So what if your religion contains errors. There may be mistakes; yet if you are sincere, and call on Him with longing, He will certainly hear your prayer.
Suppose there is a father who has many children, young and old. They can’t all say ‘baba’ (father). Some say ‘baba’, some say ‘ba’, while some can only say ‘PA’. Will the father ever be angry at the ones who can’t say ‘baba’? (All laugh). No, a father loves all his children equally.
… “Older children can clearly say ‘Baba’ or ‘PAPA’ while the younger ones can hardly say ‘Ba’ or ‘PA’…
Sri Ramakrishna: “The people of upper and western India have great bhakti – they greatly respect sadhus. Jung Bahadur’s sons and a nephew who was a COLONEL came here. How fearfully he removed the PANTALOONS of his uniform.
PASS – 3
(see BOOT, BANK )
Sri Ramakrishna to a youth from the neighborhood: “My dear boy, what do you think? What is a man’s duty?” Everyone sat silently wondering what Thakur would say: surely it would be that the attainment of God is the goal of life.
(Next Sri Ramakrishna makes a play on words comparing and contrasting ‘PASS’ (to pass an exam) with ‘pash’ (a bondage). Sri Ramakrishna to Narayan: “Have you not PASSED yet? My child, Shiva is free from bondage (pash-mukta Shib), all others are bound (pash-baddha jib).”
PENSION – 3
Sri Ramakrishna: “At all times keep your mind fixed on God. In the beginning you will have to work hard at it; then you will enjoy your PENSION.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “There is a saying that if you serve others for twelve years you end up being their slave – you even acquire their nature. Rajasic and tamasic traits such as harming others and engaging in luxuries become engrained – just from service.
And the service is not the end of it; finally you will have the PENSION as well.”
Sri Ramakrishna (smiling): “Rakhal is now enjoying his PENSION. After returning from Vrindaban he is at home with his wife. On the other hand he tells me that he will not accept any job where he would have to serve others even if it paid a thousand rupees a month.”
PHILOSOPHY – 3
Shyam Basu to Sri Ramakrishna: “Sir! If God does everything then why is there punishment for sin?
Sri Ramakrishna: “How clever you are – just like a goldsmith!”
Narendra: “In other words you are ‘calculating’ just like a goldsmith!
Sri Ramakrishna: “My foolish boy (Podo), why don’t you just eat the mangoes! How many hundred trees, how many thousand branches and how many million leaves are in the orchard; what use is all this? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes, just eat them and be on your way.”
To Shyam Basu: “You have attained a human birth so that you might practice sadhana which will take you to God. Make an effort to acquire love for His feet. Why do you busy yourself with all this work? What good is there in arguments and PHILOSOPHY? Don’t you see that a half cup of wine will make you drunk. Why do you need to know how much wine is in the liquor store?”
Sri Ramakrishna to Pundit Shashadhar: “ You may study a cartload of shastras and what will be the result? PHILOSOPHY! (Everyone laughs).
Pundit: “Philosophy indeed!
Sri Ramakrishna: “Unending discussion and what is the result? If you want to learn archery first aim at the trunk of a banana tree; then a reed; then a wick of a candle; and finally aim at a bird flying in the sky. This is why it is better to first try to fix your mind on God with form.”
A bhakta named Chaudhuri asked: “How can we have His darshan?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “He can’t be seen with these eyes. He gives divine eyes (divya cakshu) – then He may be seen. Sri Krishna gave divine eyes to Arjuna so he could have the Divine Vision of the Lord in His Cosmic Form.” (Gita XI-8) Your PHILOSOPHY is nothing more than an accountant’s ledger. He can’t be reached that way.”
PHOTOGRAPH – 2
Marwari bhakta to Sri Ramakrishna: “Maharaj, what is the meaning of worshipping the personal God with form (sakar)? And what is the use of worshipping the formless (nirakar) impersonal God who is free from qualities?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Just as we are reminded of our father when we see his PHOTOGRAPH, similarly by worshipping God in an image the real form of God is awakened in us. Do you know what God with form is like? From the very middle of a vast reservoir of water some bubbles can be seen rising to the surface. In that great space of awareness (chid-akasha from within the mahakasha)) a form emerges and can be seen! An avatar is such a form. The activities (lila) of the avatar are nothing but the play (khela) of that primal power (adya-shakti).”
Sri Ramakrishna: “A real bhakta has certain qualities. Hearing the instruction from the guru he becomes very still. A venomous snake becomes still while listening to the song of the charmer; but not a cobra. Another quality is the power to understand and assimilate. If an image falls on glass it cannot be retained; but if the image falls on glass that is layered with black ink, then you will have a PHOTOGRAPH. Bhakti is that ink.”
Sri Ramakrishna to Vijay: “As long as real love for Him does not take birth in our hearts bhakti is considered to be ‘unripe’. When that love begins to flow then the bhakti becomes ‘ripe’. Those of ‘unripe’ devotion cannot hold on (dharana) to spiritual instruction. Those whose devotion is ‘ripe’ can retain and assimilate instruction. If you rub black ink on the PHOTOGRAPHER’S glass, whatever image falls upon the glass will be retained. Without the ink you may cast a thousands images upon the glass and not one will be retained. The minute the object is removed the glass remains as it was. Similarly without love for God one simply cannot understand any instruction.”
POLICE – 9
May 9, 1887 – (Nine months after Sri Ramakrishna passed away.) Rabindra, a twenty year-old youth born in a highly respected Calcutta family, was a dear devotee of Sri Ramakrishna because of his sweet and gentle disposition. Today he arrived at the monastery barefoot, clad in a half-torn cloth, half-crazed with the pupils of his eyes whirling. He blurted out: “I’ll never return to that house; I want to live here with you. A five year habit of drinking I gave up for eight months just for her and she betrayed me!”
After taking Rabindra for a bath in the Ganges to cool off, M. learned that Rabindra had earlier spent three days living with Sri Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar. At that time Sri Ramakrishna had predicted: “You will realize later on, for now you still have some enjoyment left to experience! Nothing will happen for you now. When a robbery is about to be committed there is nothing the POLICE can do – but wait just a little bit then the POLICE will arrive and make an arrest.” Today, Rabindra had been deluded by a prostitute at Baranagore. Yet he had many virtues: he gave to the poor, and he meditated on God. Now he came seeking solace with the brothers at the monastery, but could not meditate for long as his mind was too restless.
“Falling under the spell of maya a man forgets his own nature, forgets that his father’s infinite treasure is his inheritance. This maya is composed of the three gunas who are nothing but thieves: they steal everything and cause us to forget our real nature. Sattva guna can point out the path to God, but cannot accompany us there.
Once a wealthy man was passing through a forest and was surrounded by three thieves who took all his possessions. One thief said,’What is the use of leaving him here? Let’s kill him.’ The second thief replied, ‘There is no need to kill him. Let’s just tie him up so that he will not be able to report us to the POLICE.’ So they tied him up and left. After a short time the third robber returned and commiserated, saying, ‘Oh, you must be suffering a lot. I will untie you.’ He then took him to the nearest highway and made his farewell saying, ‘This road will take you safely to your home.’ The man then insisted, “You’ve helped me so much so please come with me and enjoy yourself at my home.’ The thief replied, ‘No, if I go near there the POLICE will detain me.’
“The first thief was tamo-guna which only seeks to destroy. The second thief was rajo-guna which binds a man in samsara with all kinds of work and causes us to forget God. Satvva-guna, however, shows us the path to God: compassion, dharma, bhakti and the like all come from sattva. Sattva-guna is the last step on the staircase, then one reaches the roof. Man’s true home is the supreme Brahman. Only by going beyond these three gunas can one attain the knowledge of Brahman.”
QUEEN – 12
(see CHAIN, MARBLE)
Sri Ramakrishna: “When an avatar comes ordinary people cannot recognize him, because he comes in secret. Two or four intimate (antaranga) bhaktas can recognize him! Only a dozen rishis knew that Ram was the infinite Brahman and also a full avatar. The other rishis would only say: ‘Hey Ram, we know you to be the son of Dasharatha.’
Can everyone grasp the undivided satchitananda? Well, there is the case of people whose bhakti has matured; after reaching the eternal they voluntarily descend to this world to enjoy the Divine sport. He who returns from England after seeing the QUEEN can truly repeat the QUEEN’S words and describe the QUEEN’S activities – his account of the QUEEN will be accurate. Bharadhvaja praised Rama saying: ‘Hey Ram, You are the undivided Satchidananda. You have come to the earth in this human form to be with us. Actually, relying on your maya you simply appear like a human being.’ Bharadhwaja was a supreme bhakta of Rama. His devotion was fully ripe.”
Sitting on the small cot in his bedroom at Dakshineswar, Sri Ramakrishna would now and again gaze at the many pictures hanging on the walls. On his left was Saraswati playing the vina; next was the picture of Gaur and Nitai singing kirtan with the bhaktas; directly in front of Sri Ramakrishna were the pictures of Dhruva and Prahlada along with the image of Mother Kali; on the right wall was the image of the Divine Mother Raja-rajeswari; the picture of Jesus hung on the wall behind him – Peter was sinking and Jesus lifted him up. Suddenly Sri Ramakrishna remarked to M: ‘Look here, it is good to keep pictures of sadhus and sannyasis in your home. When you get up in the morning it is good to gaze at the pictures of holy people before doing anything else.
English people too hang pictures on their walls: the wealthy, the king, the QUEEN, the QUEEN’s son, aristocratic ladies strolling about – this all flows from rajo-guna. The company you keep will determine who you become. In fact your very nature forces you to select certain types of people as friends. A paramahamsa likes to keep a few five-year-old children nearby just because they are completely unaffected by any of the gunas.
Sri Ramakrishna: “You must admit that there is such a thing as power (shakti). Vidyasagar asked me if God had given more power to some than others. I replied: “How is it possible that one man can defeat a hundred? Would QUEEN Victoria be so famous if she had no power? Ultimately he had to agree.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “While being heated the ghee will hiss and crackle; but when it is fully heated it becomes silent. As is your mental outlook, so shall you see God. In the homes of the wealthy I have seen pictures of the QUEEN – in the homes of the bhaktas you will see pictures of gods and goddesses.
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Well, can you tell me why more people went to see Keshab and so few come here? And how many people honored and respected Keshab, even in England. Why the QUEEN herself met and spoke with Keshab! The Gita says that whoever is honored surely has some Divine power. But here there is not so much. M: “Worldly people used to visit Keshab.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “ That’s for sure. They were indeed worldly.”
M: “ What Keshab has accomplished – will it last?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Why, he has written a rule book filled with instructions for his followers (the Brahmo Samaj)! “Keshab was quite a pandit. He delivered LECTURES in English and was widely admired; even QUEEN Victoria granted him an audience. But he came here bare-bodied in all humility, with fruit in hand as one should when visiting a holy man. He was totally devoid of any sense of pride or ego.”
QUININE – 4
(see FEVER MIXTURE)
A neighbor: “Sir, can one attain God while living in samsara?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Certainly He can be reached. But like I said, you need to keep holy company and pray to Him constantly. Go near Him and weep. When the mental dirt has been washed away, His vision can be had. The mind is like a needle covered with mud. God is the magnet – until the needle is cleansed of the mud it cannot be united with the magnet. Go on weeping and wash the mud away: the mud of lust, anger, greed; and also the sense of sin and finally the sense of this world. When the mud is washed away the magnet will attract the needle: one may have His vision. The mind becomes pure and He is attained.
You’ve had a fever – the body was filled with poison and thus the QUININE medicine could not work. Why shouldn’t you succeed while living in this world? Keep the company of the holy, cry to Him, and now and then go into solitude. If you don’t erect a fence the tender sapling near the FOOTPATH will be eaten by goats and cattle.”
The neighbor: “So even those living in the world will succeed?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Everyone will attain mukti. But make sure you follow the instructions of your guru. If you lose yourself in a twisted path it will be difficult to get back on the right path and your liberation will be greatly delayed – it may not happen in this life…you may have to wait many lives.”
RAIL – 2
Sri Ramakrishna, in the mood of a child, cried and called on the Mother of the universe: “Brahmamayi! Why have you done this to me? My arm hurts so much.”
To Rakhal, Mahima and Hazra he asked: “Will I be all right?” As they might pacify a child, they sought to console him saying, ‘Of course you’ll feel better!’
Sri Ramakrishna (to Rakhal): “Even though you are here to protect this body, it’s not your fault; because, even if you were with me, you would not have gone up to the RAIL.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “I’ve heard from various people that Narayan Shastri has given up his body. There is a rumor that a bhairava cut off his head as a form of tapasya. On the other hand, some folks say they had just left him at the RAIL (train) station.”
REFINE – 3
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahimacharan and other householder disciples): “Spilling one’s seed causes a loss of strength. But there is no harm if it happens during sleep while dreaming – that is simply due to food. The remaining energy is more than enough to accomplish your purpose. This doesn’t mean, however, that one should seek out the company of women.”
“In the long run the vital energy becomes very REFINED. In Kamarpukur the Laha family used to keep a large vessel of molasses with a tiny hole in the bottom for the water to run out. At the end of a year they would open the vessel and find everything had crystallized like sugar. The moisture had all leaked out. To permanently renounce women is only for monks. You have been living with women and there is no harm in that.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Once a baul came here and I asked him: “Have you finished preparing the syrup? Have you removed the pot from the stove? The more you cook the syrup the more REFINED it will become. First comes the sugarcane, then molasses, then ‘dolo’(?), then raw sugar; finally sugar candy and rock candy. Little by little it becomes more REFINED.”
“When should you take the pot off the stove? In other words when will your sadhana be over? When you have achieved mastery over your senses. Just as a leech automatically lets go and drops off when lime is poured on it; similarly the sense organs become loosened. Then one may ‘commingle yet not cohabit’ with a woman.(Ramanir sange thaake, naa kare raman).”
(see OFFICE )
Sri Ramakrishna: “I once had to go to the REGISTRY office to record some land to be used to maintain the family deity Raghuvir. I was asked to sign a document but I couldn’t sign. I could in no way think that this was ‘my land’.
SCHOOL – 9
(see DISPENSARY, HOSPITAL, MEETING, OFFICE)
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Would it be all right if one day I go to your SCHOOL to see…” M. thought the Master wished to visit his school to see the younger Naren so he interrupted and said that could be accomplished just by visiting M.’s house. Sri Ramakrishna replied: “No, I actually have another idea in mind. I’d like to see if there any more boys like him.”
Sri Ramakrishna asked M. about Purna: “If I could see Purna one more time my longing for him would be reduced. How clever he is! And what a strong attraction he feels towards me: he confided that he would feel something peculiar in his heart whenever he thought about seeing me. If his family removes him from your SCHOOL will that harm you?”
M: “If they confront me saying that it is my fault his family removed him, I have a response:
Sri Ramakrishna: “What will you say?”
M: “I shall say that when one sees a holy man he will automatically think of God which is by no means a bad thing. Furthermore your textbook itself states that one should love God with his whole heart.” (Sri Ramakrishna laughed).
Sri Ramakrishna (at Balaram’s house) to M: “Has younger Naren come? Perhaps he thought I had left.” (To Mahendra Mukherjee): “How astonishing! He (younger Naren) used to come home from SCHOOL when he was just a boy and weep for God. Is it a small thing to cry for God? He is very intelligent and resembles a bamboo with a large open space inside!”
SCIENCE – 11
Sri Ramakrishna (to Mahima): “What will you learn from a book? Before you reach the marketplace you can only hear an indistinct ‘ho-ho’ sound. But it’s quite different when you arrive at the market; then you will see and hear clearly: ‘Take your potatoes’ and ‘Pay me what you owe’. At a distance away from the ocean you again can only hear that ‘ho-ho’ sound; but go near and you will see how many ships are sailing, seagulls flying and waves crashing.”
“From a book you can’t have the true experience. There is a huge difference. After seeing Him books, scriptures and SCIENCE seem like dry straw.”
Ishan has asked Dr. Sarkar why he does not believe in an avatar.
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “That God can become an avatar is not mentioned in his SCIENCE! So how could he possibly believe in it?” (All laugh). “Listen to a story. Someone from the nearby neighborhood arrived and shouted: ‘Hey, I am coming from the village where I just saw so-and-so’s house crash to the ground!’ Now the person he spoke with happened to be English educated and he said: ‘Hold on a second while I check the newspaper.’ After glancing at the paper and seeing no such news he said: ‘I’m afraid I cannot believe you since there’s no mention of it in the paper. It’s just a lot of bunk.’ (Everyone laughs).
After a lengthy kirtan Dr. Sarkar witnessed Sri Ramakrishna and several devotees (younger Naren and Latu) in a state of ecstasy (bhava samadhi).
Sri Ramakrishna (to the doctor): “Well, what does your SCIENCE have to say about spiritual rapture (bhav)? I guess you imagine it’s all a hoax?”
Doctor (to Sri Ramakrishna): “As it has happened in such a natural way to so many people, I do not think it is pretense.” (To Narendra): “When you sang ‘Oh Mother make me mad (De Maa paagal kare), what use have I with knowledge and reasoning?’ I could hardly contain myself and almost leaped to my feet! With great effort I controlled my emotion thinking that I should not display my feelings.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing, to the doctor): “You are indeed unshakeable (atal) and immovable(achal), just like Mount SuMeru.” (All laugh).
M. had recently visited the doctor and was describing his home: “After feeding the goldfish with husks of cardamom and tossing some flour balls to the birds the doctor observed: ‘Just see how the fish don’t see the cardamom and swim away, and notice the sparrows flying away from the flour pellets. This shows that first knowledge is needed and then only can there be bhakti.
Sri Ramakrishna: “ As for your SCIENCE: if you mix ‘this’ you get ‘that’; if you mix ‘that’ you will get ‘this’ – better to be unconscious than think like this: everything is just inert matter rubbing up against itself.”
Question: “What is the proof that there is a soul (atma) separate from the body?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Proof? God can be seen! If you practice some tapasya, by His grace He may be seen. The rishis directly experienced the atma. The reality of God can never be known through SCIENCE. SCIENCE only tells us that by mixing this with that you get something else. It can only give us news about the world we perceive with our senses.
To Bankim: “Some people think that without first reading books and studying SCIENCE, it is impossible to reach God. Well what do you think: first SCIENCE or God first?”
Bankim: “How can we hope to know God unless we first learn many things about this world?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “The only thing you need to do is find God! Why are you so pre-occupied with this universe, creation and SCIENCE-PHAYENCE*? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes, not count the trees, branches and leaves.”
Bankim: “Where can we get the mango?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Call on him with longing and if you are sincere He will surely hear you. Perhaps you will come in contact with a good person and things will become easier for you. He may even tell you that if you follow a certain path you will reach Him.”
Bankim: “Who? A guru! He eats the good mangoes and gives us the spoils!
Sri Ramakrishna: “The guru is Satchidananda. And we must have the simple faith of a child in His words. And longing: No matter what religion you practise if there is longing He will hear your prayer for He is the inner witness (antaryami). Even if we are on the wrong path He will lift us up and put us back on a good path.”
SCREW – 6
Sri Ramakrishna: “A jnani may attain wisdom but his body remains as it was. But his enemies such as lust are all burned in the fire of knowledge. Many years ago the Kali temple was struck by lightning and we all went to see if there was any damage. We found that the doors of the temple were undamaged, but the heads of the SCREWS were blasted away. The door is the body and the longing for pleasure is the SCREWS.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Iswarakotis and other great souls like an avatar can free themselves by a mere thought. But ordinary people (jivakotis) cannot do this; they are bound by lust and greed which are like SCREWS, which bolt shut the windows and doors. How can they possibly get out?…The body only lasts for a couple of days. When I broke my arm I cried out: ‘Ma! It really hurts!’ Then she showed me a train and the ENGINEER. The car had a few loose SCREWS; nevertheless, whichever way the ENGINEER drove, the car followed – it had no power of its own.”
“Even an avatar has bodily awareness. Maya means assuming a body. Rama wept for Sita. But the avatar freely covers his eyes with a cloth like children playing blindman’s bluff, and when the mother calls the game is over. But the game is different for ordinary people: the cloth covering their eyes is fastened tightly to their backs with eight SCREWS which are called the eight fetters: shame (lajjaa), ghrinaa (contempt), bhay (fear), jaati (caste), ethnicity (kula), conduct (shila), grief (shoka), disgust( jugupsaa). You will never succeed unless the guru releases these fetters.”
“He who sees God constantly is a Vijnani and he or she is like a child who is always free from the eight fetters. After seeing God one enters this state. It is like a ship passing near a ‘magnetic mountain’ – all the SCREWS and hardware come loose.”
“If He once turns his light around and shines it on His face then we will see Him.
The SAARJAN SAHIB (SERGEANT) carries a LANTHAN (LANTERN) while making his nightly rounds. In the darkness nobody can see his face, yet he can see everyone’s face, and and by his LANTHAN all the people can see one another. If anyone wants to see the SAARJAN they will have to pray to him like this: ‘Sahib, have mercy and just once turn your light on your own face so that I may once see you.”
SHAWL – 2
“What kind of meditation do you do? I clearly saw many visions while sitting beneath the bel tree. One day I saw the following just in front of me: money, a SHAWL, a plate of sweets (sandesh) and two women; one of them wore a fancy nose ring. I asked myself: ’O mind, do want any of these things?’ The sandesh turned into excrement. As for the women, I saw everything inside and out: intestines, bodily excretions, flesh and bones, blood. My mind didn’t want any of it.”
“When the lamp is lit swarms of moths will gather without any invitation. Similarly one who receives the divine command (adesh) does not call anyone or post a time for a LECTURE. People come of their own accord drawn by an irresistible attraction. Then groups of gentlemen, and even the king will come and say to him: ‘What would you like: mangos, sweets (sandesh), money, a SHAWL – we’ve brought all these things for you. I say to them: ’Get out of here, I don’t care for these things, I don’t want anything.’”
SIGNBOARD – 3
To Vijay at the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj: “I’ve heard that you’ve posted a SIGNBOARD here, and that whoever doesn’t believe in your doctrines shall not be admitted! Narendra says there’s no sense going to the Samaj; it would be better to go to Shivanath’s house.” I say everyone is calling on Him. There’s no need to argue and fight. Dogmatism is never good. Rather one should say: “My beliefs are true; but whether other beliefs are good or bad, true or false, I cannot know. Until you actually have a direct experience of Him, you can never know his true form. Kabir says: ‘God with Form is my Mother and the Formless my Father. Who to to praise and who to blame: both pans of the scale are equal’!
Sri Ramakrishna to M. regarding the meaning of His illness: “ I can no longer instruct others. I now see everything filled with Ram. Now and then I think who can I tell this to. Don’t you see how many people are coming since this place (Cossipore) was rented. Just don’t post a SIGNBOARD like KrishnaPrasanna Sen or Shashadhar, announcing “At such a time there will be a LECTURE.’” (Thakur and M both laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna to Balaram’s father: “There are various types of sadhakas. Sattvik sadhana is done in secret. People think he is just an ordinary person; not knowing he meditates secretly in his mosquito net. The rajasik sadhak likes a lot of external show: he’ll display his japa mala around his neck, he may wear gerua or a silk cloth, perhaps his japa mala will have beads of gold. He might as well post a SIGNBOARD.”
SOCIETY – 4
“ A bhakta likes to see the form of God and to speak with Him. But God does what He likes and if it pleases Him He may choose to bestow knowledge along with devotion even though a bhakta usually does not want brahma-jnana. It is like traveling to Calcutta: one may then see many things – the Maidan and the SOCIETY (Asiatic Society Museum). Here’s the thing: Right now how can I get to Calcutta.”
“The body lasts for two days: He alone is real. Many years ago when I was suffering terribly from stomach problems (dysentery), Hriday suggested that I should just once pray to the Mother to restore my health. This is what I said to Her: ‘Ma, at the SOCIETY I saw a skeleton held together with wires to resemble a human being. Would you tighten up my body like that so that I can continue to repeat your name and sing your praises.’”
Sri Ramakrishna to bhaktas: “Just see, Rakhal is sick. Do you think he will get better if he takes some SODA? What’s going to happen! Rakhal, you better eat some prasad of Lord Jagannath.”
“It’s good to prepare yourself for death, In the final stage of life one should go into solitude and just think of the Lord and repeat His name. If, after bathing, the elephant is taken directly into the STABLE then he will not be sullied by dust or mud.” (Balaram’s father, Mani Mallick and Beni Pal are all elderly. Is Thakur giving this advice especially to them for their welfare?)
STEAMBOAT – 4
“Narada and Shukadeva are nitya-jivas: They resemble a STEAMBOAT that can cross a river and ferry many people, even an elephant across at the same time. They are like managers of an estate who go from one place to another to enforce the rules. Then there are the mumukshas: they earnestly strive to free themselves from the net of samsara. Among this group one or two manage to free themselves from the net. They are the mukta-jivas. The nitya-jiva is like a very clever fish who never falls into the net.”
“Acharyas like Narada are like huge logs capable of ferrying many people, just like a STEAMBOAT. Some people wipe away all trace of food from their mouths so as to not have to share. But certain people who get a mango like to cut it into slices and share it with others. Acharyas like Narada for the welfare (mangalam) of others practice bhakti even after attaining jnana.”
“The rishis of old were timid. Do you know their attitude? Forget about other people; let me somehow or other reach the goal. A small piece of wood may just manage to stay afloat, but it sinks if a small bird attempts to perch on it. Narada was like a huge log – a STEAMBOAT – who easily ferried many beings to the other shore. Teachers like Narada are Vijnanis who are bolder than the ordinary rishis. They resemble expert players in the game of satrancha (a game similar to backgammon). ‘What do you need – six or a five?’ Every throw is a winner! Now and then they twirl their mustache with a flourish.” Mere jnanis are afraid. They are like unskilled players, desperate to quickly and safely reach the goal. Vijnanis have no fear. They experience God both with and without form; they even speak with Him – they enjoy Divine bliss. Thinking of Him, at times their minds are absorbed in the Indivisible; then again they are equally blissful in His play (lila).
Sri Ramakrishna (at Cossipore) to M: “Would you buy a ‘TOOL to be used here?
How much will it cost?”
M: “Sir, not more than two to three rupees.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “If a jalpiri (small wooden stool for holding a pitcher of water) only costs twelve annas (three quarters of a rupee), why should it cost so much?”
M: “It shouldn’t be very much.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “In the beginning Keshab Sen did not have very much contact with sadhus. Once Hriday accompanied me on a visit to Keshab’s home in Kalutola (Calcutta). We were given a seat on the floor of his office while Keshab sat at his TABLE writing something. After a while he set aside his pen and sat on the floor with us. But he didn’t make salutation (namaskar). He gradually began to visit me at Dakshineswar. One day in an ecstatic mood I told him one should not cross one’s legs in front of a sadhu as it only increases one’s rajas. Whenever Keshab and his followers would visit I would bow down to them, and slowly they too learned to bow.
TAX – 3
Sri Ramakrishna: “One day I went to see Krishna-Kishore and found him lost in thought, so I asked him what’s the matter. He replied: ‘The TAX man was just here and so I am worried. He said if I don’t pay up they will auction off my household goods.’ I said ‘Let them bind you and take you away – they can never take you away – you are ‘kha’ (the Indivisible). (Narendra and others laugh). Kishna-Kishore used to say I am like the space (akasha), this is what he read in the Adhyatma Ramayana. Now and then I would tease him saying you are ‘kha’ (the sky). TAXES can never pull you down.”
Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra two and half years later): “You are ‘Kha’. Too bad you have to worry about TAXES. (Everyone laughs). One day I went to Krishna-Kishore’s home and saw him sitting there glumly, barely speaking. When I asked him what’s the matter, he said that the TAX man said that if I didn’t pay then everything would be taken and sold, so I’m very worried. I laughed and told him to let the scoundrels take his pots and pans – it wouldn’t bother him at all for he is ‘Kha’
TELEGRAPH – 3
Sri Ramakrishna: “The mind is scattered: some in Dhaka, some in Delhi, and some in Cooch Bihar. That mind must be gathered and fixed in one place. If you want a one rupee cloth you will have to pay the full price. Even a small obstacle will prevent yoga (union), just as a small break in a TELEGRAPH wire will prevent the news from being transmitted.”
“When the mind is purified, then attachment for all objects disappears and longing appears – then your prayer will reach the Lord. If the TELEGRAPH wire is broken or defective in any way then the news cannot be transmitted. I used to go off by myself and just cry. Where is Narayan – this thought alone made me weep. Crying like this I became unconscious – I merged in the great wind (Mahavayu)!
THEATER – 9
Sri Ramakrishna: “If the mind is not totally gathered can yoga ever occur? Whoever succeeds in gathering the mind may be able to see God. When you go to the THEATER before the screen is lifted everyone engages in all kinds of talk: household gossip, OFFICE chatter and school affairs, but the moment the screen goes up all talk ceases. Everyone is focused on the play. After awhile if anyone should speak it will only be about the performance. A drunkard only enjoys talking about the bliss of his inebriation.”
“Once Rakhal accompanied me to see a play. At that time I was in a mood whereby I had to do whatever anyone nearby said, so I was careful to keep Rakhal sitting next to me. When Rakhal left me briefly a DEPUTY MAGISTRATE and his little boy sat down next to me and the rascal went on chattering with that monkey of a boy.
That scoundrel didn’t even once look at the THEATER.
At the THEATER an actor who plays the part of a sadhu will behave just like a sadhu, and not like the role of the raja. Once a mimic (bahurupi) disguised himself in the role of an all-renouncing monk. His role was so skillfully portrayed that at the end of the play a gentleman came forward and offered the actor a rupee. He wouldn’t touch the money and left the stage muttering ‘unh-unh’. Later in his street clothes he returned to the stage and said ’Give me the rupee or at least give me a quarter of a rupee’. The gentleman said ‘Just now you wouldn’t take the rupee, and now you want it?’ The actor replied: ‘Then I was dressed as a sadhu and couldn’t take it.’ The same holds true for God when He becomes a man: He behaves just like a man: hunger and thirst, disease and grief and sometimes even fear. Ramchandra became distressed and wept due to his grief for Sita.”
A bhakta: “What is it like to see God?
Sri Ramakrishna: “Have you not seen a performance at the THEATER? People are talking but when the curtain rises everyone directs their attention to the stage. No one sees whats going on outside: This is called absorption in samadhi (samadhi-stha).
When the curtain drops then once again we see outside. When the curtain of maya descends a man can only see outside.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing) to Ramlal: “If you make friends with Girish Ghosh you’ll get to go to the THEATER.
Sri Ramakrishna to Girish: “Is this THEATER yours or does it belong to all of you?
Girish: “Sir, it is ours.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “It’s good to say ‘ours’ – it’s not good to say ‘mine’. Some people proclaim their arrival saying, ‘Here I am’. Only low-minded egotistical people speak like that.”
THANK YOU – 5
Narendra (speaking in English to M.) “I have read Hamilton who says ‘A learned ignorance is the end of philosophy and the beginning of religion.’
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “What does that mean?”
Sri Ramakrishna: “THANK YOU! THANK YOU!”
Sri Ramakrishna to Vaidyanath (a lawyer of the High Court of Calcutta): “It’s not good to argue; what do you say?
Vaidyanath: “Yes sir, the urge to argue vanishes when one attains knowledge.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “THANK YOU (all laugh).
Sri Ramakrishna: “Vaishnavas and Shaktas all go to the same destination, only the path is different. A true Vaishnava will not criticise a Shakta.
Goswami (laughing): “Hara (Shiva) and Parvati are our Father and Mother.”
Sri Ramakrishna (laughing): “THANK YOU … Yes, Father and Mother”.
Sri Ramakrishna tells two Vedantic parables to Dr, Sarkar. “If you dream of a tiger your heart will go on trembling even after you wake up. Similarly the illusion (bhrama) that this world is real will persist even after you acquire knowledge.
Doctor: “What you say is very good.”
Sri Ramakrishna: “Yes! What kind of words are they?”
Doctor: “Very fine”.
Sri Ramakrishna: “Then give me a THANK YOU”.
UNDER – 3
Sri Ramakrishna to M: “Responsibility (kartritva)! Ram! Ram! Shukadeva and Shankaracharya kept the ‘ego of knowledge’. Compassion does not come from men – it flows from the Lord. It is an aspect of ‘the ego of knowledge’ and the Lord Himself is ‘the ego of knowledge’. A jnani may see this world as magic a thousand times, nevertheless he remains UNDER (the control of maya). There is no escape. You are not independent – as She directs … so shall it be done. When that primal shakti bestows brahma-jnana, then only will brahma-jnana exist, then only will the play of magic be seen – otherwise not. As long as the slightest trace of ego remains, so long shall you remain in the jurisdiction of the Primal Power – UNDER Her – there is no escape. With Her assistance only the avatar-lila unfolds: Her shakti is the avatar.
The avatar does his work, but it is all Mother’s shakti.”
“Sri Ramakrishna: “At first (my nephew) Hriday used to say – and at that time I was UNDER Hriday – that I should ask the Mother for some power. When I entered the Kali temple to ask for the power I suddenly had a vision of a 30 to 35 year-old prostitute lifting her sari and moving her bowels. I was very angry at Hriday for teaching me to ask for powers (siddha).
WATER – 11
“A large pond will have several bathing ghats: at one ghat the Hindus drink water and call it ‘jal’, at another ghat the Muslims drink and call it ‘pani’, at another ghat the English drink and call it ‘WATER’, others drink and call it ‘AQUA’ All are the same, only the name is different! Some call Him ‘Allah’, some ‘God’, some say ‘Brahma’, some ‘Kali’ and some say ‘Ram’, ‘Hari’, Jisu (Jesus) or ‘Durga’.
“With God’s name a man is purified, therefore one should repeat His name.I said to Jadu Mallick’s mother: ‘At the time of death all your worldly thoughts will come: You’ll think of your family and children, you’ll think of making a WILL – all these thoughts will come; but the thought of God won’t come.’ The only way out is to repeat His name. If you repeat His name then at the time of death His name will come to your lips. When a cat catches a bird, the bird will cry out ‘kyaan-kyaan’ … it forgets how to chirp ‘Ram-Ram’ or ‘Hari-Krishna’.
Sri Ramakrishna (in an ecstatic mood): “Look here, if you call on Him with complete sincerity your true form (swa-swarup) can be seen. But, to the extent you are predisposed towards sense pleasures, to that extent you will fall short..
M: “Yes Sir, it’s like you say – you have to JUMP in.
Sri Ramakrishna (joyfully): “IYAA (YEAH)!
YOU – 5
(see THANK YOU)
Dhruva (Bill Gootjes) studied with Swami Bhashyananda, in the Chicago IL and Ganges MI centers of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society, during the 1960s and 70s. He served as a monk at the Belur Math from 1971 to 1974. Dhruva now spends much of his time in South Georgia; he can be reached at email@example.com.
This is a wonderful compilation that gives us insight into Thakur’s colloquial, “rustic” language. We read about it, but rarely get to sample its flavor because most translations are in formal, even elegant, English, most especially Swami Nikhilananda’s standard translation. This article gives us greater insight into Thakur’s language, and through it, into his mindset. It really ought to be published as a booklet. One question: The author mentions at the outset a “fresh English translation of Bengali from M’s Kathamrita.” What is the title of this new translation, who is its author, and where can we get a copy?
Mother willing, this will be published as a booklet. It is Dhruva who did this translation, with some help from a young Bengali couple who live here in the U.S. More to come, mehopes!
I enjoyed reading this page for many days, coming back to it from where I left off.
I love to read the lessons and conversations of Ramakrishna, it is so calming and timeless.
I feel transported to a gathering of people that could be from any time in human history. It is like a living story.
Ramakrishna says what my heart feels but I don’t have the words or understanding for