October 16, 1882 It was Monday, a few days before the Durga Puja, the festival of the Divine Mother. Sri Ramakrishna was in a very happy state of mind, for Narendra was with him. Narendra had brought two or three young members of the Brahmo Samaj to the temple garden. Besides these, Rakhal, Ramlal, Hazra, and M. were with the Master. Narendra had his midday meal with Sri Ramakrishna. Afterwards a temporary bed was made on the floor of the Master's room so that the disciples might rest awhile. A mat was spread, over which was placed a quilt covered with a white sheet. A few cushions and pillows completed the simple bed. Like a child, the Master sat near Narendranath on the bed. He talked with the devotees in great delight. With a radiant smile lighting his face, and his eyes fixed on Narendra, he was giving them various spiritual teachings, interspersing these with incidents from his own life. MASTER: "After I had experienced samadhi, my mind craved intensely to hear only about God. I would always search for places where they were reciting or explaining the sacred books, such as the Bhagavata, the Mahabharata, and the Adhyatma Ramayana. I used to go to Krishnakishore to hear him read the Adhyatma Ramayana. "What tremendous faith Krishnakishore had! Once, while at Vrindavan, he felt thirsty and went to a well. Near it he saw a man standing. On being asked to draw a little water for him, the man said: 'I belong to a low caste, sir. You are a brahmin. How can I draw water for you?' Krishnakishore said: Take the name of Siva. By repeating His holy name you will make yourself pure.' The low-caste man did as he was told, and Krishnakishore, orthodox brahmin that he was, drank that water. What tremendous faith! "Once a holy man came to the bank of the Ganges and lived near the bathing-ghat at Ariadaha, not far from Dakshineswar. We thought of paying him a visit. I said to Haladhari; 'Krishnakishore and I are going to see a holy man. Will you come with us?' Haladhari replied, 'What is the use of seeing a mere human body, which is no better than a cage of clay?' Haladhari was a student of the Gita and Vedanta philosophy, and therefore referred to the holy man as a mere 'cage of clay'. I repeated this to Krishnakishore. With great anger he said: "How impudent of Haladhari to make such a remark! How can he ridicule as a "cage of clay" the body of a man who constantly thinks of God, who meditates on Rama, and has renounced all for the sake of the Lord? Doesn't he know that such a man is the embodiment of Spirit?' He was so upset by Haladhari's remarks that he would turn his face away from him whenever he met him in the temple garden, and stopped speaking to him. "Once Krishnakishore asked me, 'Why have you cast off the sacred thread?' In those days of God-vision I felt as if I were passing through the great storm of Aswin, (The Master referred to the great cyclone of 1864.) and everything had blown away from me. No trace of my old self was left. I lost all consciousness of the world. I could hardly keep my cloth on my body, not to speak of the sacred thread! I said to Krishnakishore, 'Ah, you will understand if you ever happen to be as intoxicated with God as I was.' "And it actually came to pass. He too passed through a God-intoxicated state, when he would repeat only the word 'Om' and shut himself up alone in his room. His relatives thought he was actually mad, and called in a physician. Ram Kaviraj of Natagore came to see him. Krishnakishore said to the physician, 'Cure me, sir, of my malady, if you please, but not of my Om.' (All laugh.) "One day I went to see him and found him in a pensive mood. When I asked him about it, he said: 'The tax-collector was here. He threatened to dispose of my brass pots, my cups, and my few utensils, if I didn't pay the tax; so I am worried.' I said: 'But why should you worry about it? Let him take away your pots and pans. Let him arrest your body even. How will that affect you? For your nature is that of Kha!' (Narendra and the others laugh.) He used to say to me that he was the Spirit, all-pervading as the sky. He had got that idea from the Adhyatma Ramayana. I used to tease him now and then, addressing him as 'Kha'. Therefore I said to him that day, with a smile: You are Kha. Taxes cannot move you!' "In that state of God-intoxication I used to speak out my mind to all. I was no respecter of persons. Even to men of position I was not afraid to speak the truth. "One day Jatindra (A titled aristocrat of Calcutta.) came to the garden of Jadu Mallick. I was there too. I asked him: 'What is the duty of man? Isn't it our duty to think of God?' Jatindra replied: 'We are worldly people. How is it possible for us to achieve liberation? Even King Yudhisthira had to have a vision of hell.' This made me very angry. I said to him: 'What sort of man are you? Of all the incidents of Yudhisthira's life, you remember only his seeing hell. You don't remember his truthfulness, his forbearance, his patience, his discrimination, his dispassion, his devotion to God.' I was about to say many more things, when Hriday stopped my mouth. After a little while Jatindra left the place, saying he had some other business to attend to. "Many days later I went with Captain to see Raja (A title conferred on Sourindra by the Government of India. The word "raja" really means "ruler of a kingdom".) Sourindra Tagore. As soon as I met him, I said, 'I can't address you as "Raja", or by any such title, for I should be telling a lie.' He talked to me a few minutes, but even so our conversation was interrupted by the frequent visits of Europeans and others. A man of rajasic temperament, Sourindra was naturally busy with many things. Jatindra, his eldest brother, had been told of my coming, but he sent word that he had a pain in his throat and couldn't go out. "One day, in that state of divine intoxication, I went to the bathing-ghat on the Ganges at Baranagore. There I saw Jaya Mukherji repeating the name of God; but his mind was on something else. I went up and slapped him twice on the cheeks. "At one time Rani Rasmani was staying in the temple garden. She came to the shrine of the Divine Mother, as she frequently did when I worshipped Kali, and asked me to sing a song or two. On this occasion, while I was singing, I noticed she was sorting the flowers for worship absent-mindedly. At once I slapped her on the cheeks. She became quite embarrassed and sat there with folded hands. "Alarmed at this state of mind myself, I said to my cousin Haladhari: 'Just see my nature! How can I get rid of it?' After praying to the Divine Mother tor some time with great yearning, I was able to shake off this habit. "When one gets into such a state of mind, one doesn't enjoy any conversation but that about God. I used to weep when I heard people talk about worldly matters. When I accompanied Mathur Babu on a pilgrimage, we spent a few days in Benares at Raja Babu's house. One day I was seated in the drawing-room with Mathur Babu, Raja Babu, and others. Hearing them talk about various worldly things, such as their business losses and so forth, I wept bitterly and said to the Divine Mother: 'Mother, where have You brought me? I was much better off in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Here I am in a place where I must hear about "woman and gold". But at Dakshineswar I could avoid it.'" The Master asked the devotees, especially Narendra, to rest awhile, and he himself lay down on the smaller couch. Late in the afternoon Narendra sang. Rakhal, Latu, (A young disciple of the Master, who later became a monk under the name of Swami Adbhutananda.) M., Hazra, and Priya, Narendra's Brahmo friend, were present. The singing was accompanied by the drum: Meditate, O my mind, on the Lord Hari, The Stainless One, Pure Spirit through and through. How peerless is the light that in Him shines! How soul-bewitching is His wondrous form! How dear is He to all His devotees! . . . After this song Narendra sang: Oh, when will dawn for me that day of blessedness When He who is all Good, all Beauty, and all Truth, Will light the inmost shrine of my heart? When shall I sink at last, ever beholding Him, Into that Ocean of Delight? Lord, as Infinite Wisdom Thou shalt enter my soul, And my unquiet mind, made speechless by Thy sight, Will find a haven at Thy feet. In my heart's firmament, O Lord, Thou wilt arise As Blissful Immortality; And as, when the chakora beholds the rising moon, It sports about for very joy, So, too, shall I be filled with heavenly happiness When Thou appearest unto me. Thou One without a Second, all Peace, the King of Kings! At Thy beloved feet I shall renounce my life And so at last shall gain life's goal; I shall enjoy the bliss of heaven while yet on earth! Where else is a boon so rare bestowed? Then shall I see Thy glory, pure and untouched by stain; As darkness flees from light, so will my darkest sins Desert me at Thy dawn's approach. Kindle in me, O Lord, the blazing fire of faith To be the pole-star of my life; O Succour of the weak, fulfil my one desire! Then shall I bathe both day and night In the boundless bliss of Thy Love, and utterly forget Myself, O Lord, attaining Thee. Narendra sang again: With beaming face chant the sweet name of God Till in your heart the nectar overflows. Drink of it ceaselessly and share it with all! If ever your heart runs dry, parched by the flames Of worldly desire, chant the sweet name of God, And heavenly love will moisten your arid soul. Be sure, O mind, you never forget to chant His holy name: when danger stares in your face, Call on Him, your Father Compassionate; With His name's thunder, snap the fetters of sin! Come, let us fulfil our hearts' desires By drinking deep of Everlasting Joy, Made one with Him in Love's pure ecstasy. Now Narendra and the devotees began to sing kirtan, accompanied by the drum and cymbals. They moved round and round the Master as they sang: Immerse yourself for evermore, O mind, In Him who is Pure Knowledge and Pure Bliss. Next they sang: Oh, when will dawn for me that day of blessedness When He who is all Good, all Beauty, and all Truth Will light the inmost shrine of my heart? . . . At last Narendra himself was playing on the drums, and he sang with the Master, full of joy: With beaming face chant the sweet name of God . . . When the music was over, Sri Ramakrishna held Narendra in his arms a long time and said, "You have made us so happy today!" The flood-gate of the Master's heart was open so wide, that night, that he could hardly contain himself for joy. It was eight o'clock in the evening. Intoxicated with divine love, he paced the long verandah north of his room. Now and then he could be heard talking to the Divine Mother. Suddenly he said in an excited voice, "What can you do to me?" Was the Master hinting that maya was helpless before him, since he had the Divine Mother for his support? Narendra, M., and Priya were going to spend the night at the temple garden. This pleased the Master highly, especially since Narendra would be with him. The Holy Mother, (By this name Sri Ramakrishna's wife was known among his devotees.) who was living in the nahabat, had prepared the supper. Surendra (The name by which Sri Ramakrishna addressed Suresh Mitra, a beloved householder disciple.) bore the greater part of the Master's expenses. The meal was ready, and the plates were set out on the southeast verandah of the Master's room. Near the east door of his room Narendra and the other devotees were gossiping. NARENDRA: "How do you find the young men nowadays?" M: "They are not bad; but they don't receive any religious instruction." NARENDRA: "But from my experience I feel they are going to the dogs. They smoke cigarettes, indulge in frivolous talk, enjoy foppishness, play truant, and do everything of that sort. I have even seen them visiting questionable places." M: "I didn't notice such things during our student days." NARENDRA: "Perhaps you didn't mix with the students intimately. I have even seen them talking with people of immoral character. Perhaps they are on terms of intimacy with them." M: "It is strange indeed." NARENDRA: "I know that many of them form bad habits. It would be proper if the guardians of the boys, and the authorities, kept their eyes on these matters." They were talking thus when Sri Ramakrishna came to them and asked with a smile, "Well, what are you talking about?" NARENDRA: "I have been asking M. about the boys in the schools. The conduct of students nowadays isn't all that it should be." The Master became grave and said to M. rather seriously: "This kind of conversation is not good. It isn't desirable to indulge in any talk but talk of God. You are their senior, and you are intelligent. You should not have encouraged them to talk about such matters." Narendra was then about nineteen years old, and M. about twenty-eight. Thus admonished, M. felt embarrassed, and the others also fell silent. While the devotees were enjoying their meal, Sri Ramakrishna stood by and watched them with intense delight. That night the Master's joy was very great. After supper the devotees rested on the mat spread on the floor of the Master's room. They began to talk with him. It was indeed a mart of joy. The Master asked Narendra to sing the song beginning with the line: "In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full." Narendra sang, and other devotees played the drums and cymbals: In Wisdom's firmament the moon of Love is rising full, And Love's flood-tide, in surging waves, is flowing everywhere. O Lord, how full of bliss Thou art! Victory unto Thee! On every side shine devotees, like stars around the moon; Their Friend, the Lord All-merciful, joyously plays with them. Behold! the gates of paradise today are open wide. The soft spring wind of the New Day raises fresh waves of joy; Gently it carries to the earth the fragrance of God's Love, Till all the yogis, drunk with bliss, are lost in ecstasy. Upon the sea of the world unfolds the lotus of the New Day, And there the Mother sits enshrined in blissful majesty. See how the bees are mad with joy, sipping the nectar there! Behold the Mother's radiant face, which so enchants the heart And captivates the universe! About Her Lotus Feet Bands of ecstatic holy men are dancing in delight. What matchless loveliness is Hers! What infinite content Pervades the heart when She appears! O brothers, says Premdas, I humbly beg you, one and all, to sing the Mother's praise! Sri Ramakrishna sang and danced, and the devotees danced around him. When the song was over, the Master walked up and down the northeast verandah, where Hazra was seated with M. The Master sat down there. He asked a devotee, "Do you ever have dreams?" DEVOTEE: "Yes, sir. The other day I dreamt a strange" dream. I saw the whole world enveloped in water. There was water on all sides. A few boats were visible, but suddenly huge waves appeared and sank them. I was about to board a ship with a few others, when we saw a brahmin walking over that expanse of water. I asked him, 'How can you walk over the deep?' The brahmin said with a smile: 'Oh, there is no difficulty about that. There is a bridge under the water.' I said to him, 'Where are you going?' 'To Bhawanipur, the city of the Divine Mother', he replied. 'Wait a little', I cried. 'I shall accompany you.'" MASTER: "Oh, I am thrilled to hear the story!" DEVOTEE: "The brahmin said: 'I am in a hurry. It will take you some time to get out of the boat. Good-bye. Remember this path and come after me.'" MASTER: "Oh, my hair is standing on end! Please be initiated by a guru as soon as possible." Shortly before midnight Narendra and the other devotees lay down on a bed made on the floor of the Master's room. At dawn some of the devotees were up. They saw the Master, naked as a child, pacing up and down the room, repeating the names of the various gods and goddesses. His voice was sweet as nectar. Now he would look at the Ganges, now stop in front of the pictures hanging on the wall and bow down before them, chanting all the while the holy names in his sweet voice. He chanted: "Veda, Purana, Tantra; Gita, Gayatri; Bhagavata, Bhakta, Bhagavan." Referring to the Gita, he repeated many times, "Tagi, tagi, tagi." (This word is formed by reversing the letters of "Gita". "Tagi" means "one who has renounced". Renunciation is the import of this sacred book.) Now and then he would say: "O Mother, Thou art verily Brahman, and Thou art verily Sakti. Thou art Purusha and Thou art Prakriti. Thou art Virat. Thou art the Absolute, and Thou dost manifest Thyself as the Relative. Thou art verily the twenty-four cosmic principles." In the mean time the morning service had begun in the temples of Kali and Radhakanta. Sounds of conch-shells and cymbals were carried on the air. The devotees came outside the room and saw the priests and servants gathering flowers in the garden for the divine service in the temples. From the nahabat floated the sweet melody of musical instruments, befitting the morning hours. Narendra and the other devotees finished their morning duties and came to the Master. With a sweet smile on his lips Sri Ramakrishna was standing on the northeast verandah, close to his own room. NARENDRA: "We noticed several sannyasis belonging to the sect of Nanak in the Panchavati." MASTER: "Yes, they arrived here yesterday. (To Narendra) I'd like to see you all sitting together on the mat." As they sat there the Master looked at them with evident delight. He then began to talk with them. Narendra asked about spiritual discipline. MASTER: "Bhakti, love of God, is the essence of all spiritual discipline. Through love one acquires renunciation and discrimination naturally." NARENDRA: "Isn't it true that the Tantra prescribes spiritual discipline in the company of woman?" MASTER: "That is not desirable. It is a very difficult path and often causes the aspirant's downfall. There are three such kinds of discipline. One may regard woman (Woman is the symbol of the Divine Mother.) as one's mistress or look on oneself as her handmaid or as her child. I look on woman as my mother. To look on oneself as her handmaid is also good; but it is extremely difficult to practise spiritual discipline looking on woman as one's mistress. To regard oneself as her child is a very pure attitude." The sannyasis belonging to the sect of Nanak entered the room and greeted the Master, saying "Namo Narayanaya." ("Salutations to God." This is the way sadhus greet one another.) Sri Ramakrishna asked them to sit down. MASTER: "Nothing is impossible for God. Nobody can describe His nature in words. Everything is possible for Him. There lived at a certain place two yogis who were practising spiritual discipline. The sage Narada was passing that way one day. Realizing who he was, one of the yogis said: 'You have just come from God Himself. What is He doing now?' Narada replied, 'Why, I saw Him making camels and elephants pass and repass through the eye of a needle.' At this the yogi said: 'Is that anything to wonder at? Everything is possible for God.' But the other yogi said: 'What? Making elephants pass through the eye of a needle — is that ever possible? You have never been to the Lord's dwelling-place.'" At nine o'clock in the morning, while the Master was still sitting in his room, Manomohan arrived from Konnagar with some members of his family. In answer to Sri Ramakrishna's kind inquiries, Manomohan explained that he was taking them to Calcutta. The Master said: "Today is the first day of the Bengali month, an inauspicious day for undertaking a journey. I hope everything will be well with you." With a smile he began to talk of other matters. When Narendra and his friends had finished bathing in the Ganges, the Master said to them earnestly: "Go to the Panchavati and meditate there under the banyan-tree. Shall I give you something to sit on?" About half past ten Narendra and his Brahmo friends were meditating in the Panchavati. After a while Sri Ramakrishna came to them. M., too, was present. The Master said to the Brahmo devotees: "In meditation one must be absorbed in God. By merely floating on the surface of the water, can you reach the gems lying at the bottom of the sea?" Then he sang: Taking the name of Kali, dive deep down, O mind, Into the heart's fathomless depths, Where many a precious gem lies hid. But never believe the bed of the ocean bare of gems If in the first few dives you fail; With firm resolve and self-control Dive deep and make your way to Mother Kali's realm. Down in the ocean depths of heavenly Wisdom lie The wondrous pearls of Peace, O mind; And you yourself can gather them. If you but have pure love and follow the scriptures' rule. Within those ocean depths, as well, Six alligators lurk1 lust, anger, and the rest — Swimming about in search of prey. Smear yourself with the turmeric of discrimination; The very smell of it will shield you from their jaws. Upon the ocean bed lie strewn Unnumbered pearls and precious gems; Plunge in, says Ramprasad, and gather up handfuls there! Narendra and his friends came down from their seats on the raised platform of the Panchavati and stood near the Master. He returned to his room with them. The Master continued: "When you plunge in the water of the ocean, you may be attacked by alligators. But they won't touch you if your body is smeared with turmeric. There are no doubt six alligators — lust, anger, avarice, and so on — within you, in the 'heart's fathomless depths'. But protect yourself with the turmeric of discrimination and renunciation, and they won't touch you. "What can you achieve by mere lecturing and scholarship without discrimination and dispassion? God alone is real, and all else is unreal. God alone is substance, and all else is nonentity. That is discrimination. "First of all set up God in the shrine of your heart, and then deliver lectures as much as you like. How will the mere repetition of 'Brahma' profit you if you are not imbued with discrimination and dispassion? It is the empty sound of a conch-shell. "There lived in a village a young man named Padmalochan. People used to call him 'Podo', for short. In this village there was a temple in a very dilapidated condition. It contained no image of God. Aswattha and other plants sprang up on the ruins of its walls. Bats lived inside, and the floor was covered with dust and the droppings of the bats. The people of the village had stopped visiting the temple. One day after dusk the villagers heard the sound of a conch-shell from the direction of the temple. They thought perhaps someone had installed an image in the shrine and was performing the evening worship. One of them softly opened the door and saw Padmalochan standing in a corner, blowing the conch. No image had been set up. The temple hadn't been swept or washed. And filth and dirt lay every where. Then he shouted to Podo: You have set up no image here, Within the shrine, O fool! Blowing the conch, you simply make Confusion worse confounded. Day and night eleven bats Scream there incessantly. . . . "There is no use in merely making a noise if you want to establish the Deity in the shrine of your heart, if you want to realize God. First of all purify the mind. In the pure heart God takes His seat. One cannot bring the holy image into the temple if the droppings of bats are all around. The eleven bats are our eleven organs: five of action, five of perception, and the mind. "First of all invoke the Deity, and then give lectures to your heart's content. First of all dive deep. Plunge to the bottom and gather up the gems. Then you may do other things. But nobody wants to plunge. People are without spiritual discipline and prayer, without renunciation and dispassion. They learn a few words and immediately start to deliver lectures. It is difficult to teach others. Only if a man gets a command from God, after realizing Him, is he entitled to teach." Thus conversing, the Master came to the west end of the verandah. M. stood by his side. Sri Ramakrishna had repeated again and again that God cannot be realized without discrimination and renunciation. This made M. extremely worried. He had married and was then a young man of twenty-eight, educated in college in the Western way. Having a sense of duty, he asked himself, "Do discrimination and dispassion mean giving up 'woman and gold'?" He was really at a loss to know what to do. M. (to the Master): "What should one do if one's wife says: 'You are neglecting me. I shall commit suicide.?" MASTER (in a serious tone): "Give up such a wife if she proves an obstacle in the way of spiritual life. Let her commit suicide or anything else she likes. The wife that hampers her husband's spiritual life is an ungodly wife." Immersed in deep thought, M. stood leaning against the wall. Narendra and the other devotees remained silent a few minutes. The Master exchanged several words with them; then, suddenly going to M., he whispered in his ear: "But if a man has sincere love for God, then all come under his control — the king, wicked persons, and his wife. Sincere love of God on the husband's part may eventually help the wife to lead a spiritual life. If the husband is good, then through the grace of God the wife may also follow his example." This had a most soothing effect on M.'s worried mind. All the while he had been thinking: "Let her commit suicide. What can I do?" M. (to the Master): "This world is a terrible place indeed." MASTER (to the devotees): "That is the reason Chaitanya said to his companion Nityananda, 'Listen, brother, there is no hope of salvation for the worldly-minded.'" On another occasion the Master had said to M. privately: "Yes, there is no hope for a worldly man if he is not sincerely devoted to God. But he has nothing to fear if he remains in the world after realizing God. Nor need a man have any fear whatever of the world if he attains sincere devotion by practising spiritual discipline now and then in solitude. Chaitanya had several householders among his devotees, but they were householders in name only, for they lived unattached to the world." It was noon. The worship was over, and food offerings had been made in the temple. The doors of the temple were shut. Sri Ramakrishna sat down for his meal, and Narendra and the other devotees partook of the food offerings from the temple.