Sunday, October 22, 1882 It was the day of Vijaya, the last day of the celebration of the worship of Durga, when the clay image is immersed in the water of a lake or river. About nine o'clock in the morning M. was seated on the floor of the Master's room at Dakshineswar, near Sri Ramakrishna, who was reclining on the small couch. Rakhal was then living with the Master, and Narendra and Bhavanath visited him frequently. Baburam had seen him only once or twice. MASTER: "Did you have any holiday during the Durga Puja?" M: "Yes, sir. I went to Keshab's house every day for the first three days of the worship." MASTER: "Is that so?" M: "I heard there a very interesting interpretation of the Durga Puja." MASTER: "Please tell me all about it." M: "Keshab Sen held daily morning prayers in his house, lasting till ten or eleven. During these prayers he gave the inner meaning of the Durga Puja. He said that if anyone could realize the Divine Mother, that is to say, could install Mother Durga in the shrine of his heart, then Lakshmi, Sarasvati, Kartika, and Ganesa2 would come there of themselves, Lakshmi means wealth, Sarasvati knowledge, Kartika strength, and Ganesa success. By realizing the Divine Mother within one's heart, one gets all these without any effort whatever." Sri Ramakrishna listened to the description, questioning M. now and then about the prayers conducted by Keshab. At last he said to M.: "Don't go hither and thither. Come here alone. Those who belong to the inner circle of my devotees will come only here. Boys like Narendra, Bhavanath, and Rakhal are my very intimate disciples. They are not to be thought lightly of. Feed (Feeding a holy man is considered a meritorious act.) them one day. What do you think of Narendra?" M: "I think very highly of him, sir." MASTER: "Haven't you observed his many virtues? He is not only well versed in music, vocal and instrumental, but he is also very learned. Besides, he has controlled his passions and declares he will lead a celibate life. He has been devoted to God since his very boyhood. "How are you getting along with vour meditation nowadays? What aspect of God appeals to your mind — with form or without form?" M: "Sir, now I can't fix my mind on God with form. On the other hand, I can't concentrate steadily on God without form." MASTER: "Now you see that the mind cannot be fixed, all of a sudden, on the formless aspect of God. It is wise to think of God with form during the primary stages." M: "Do you mean to suggest that one should meditate on clay images?" MASTER: "Why clay? These images are the embodiments of Consciousness." M: "Even so, one must think of hands, feet, and the other parts of the body. But again, I realize that the mind cannot be concentrated unless one meditates, in the beginning, on God with form. You have told me so. Well, God can easily assume different forms. May one meditate on the form of one's own mother?" MASTER: "Yes, the mother should be adored. She is indeed an embodiment of Brahman." M. sat in silence. After a few minutes he asked the Master: "What docs one feel while thinking of God without form? Isn't it possible to describe it?" After some reflection, the Master said, "Do you know what it is like?" He remained silent a moment and then said a few words to M. about one's experiences at the time of the vision of God with and without form. MASTER: "You see, one must practise spiritual discipline to understand this correctly. Suppose there are treasures in a room. If you want to see them and lay hold of them, you must take the trouble to get the key and unlock the door. After that you must take the treasures out. But suppose the room is locked, and standing outside the door you say to yourself: 'Here I have opened the door. Now I have broken the lock of the chest. Now I have taken out the treasure.' Such brooding near the door will not enable you to achieve anything. "You must practise discipline. "The jnanis think of God without form. They don't accept the Divine Incarnation. Praising Sri Krishna, Arjuna said, 'Thou art Brahman Absolute.' Sri Krishna replied, 'Follow Me, and you will know whether or not I am Brahman Absolute.' So saying, Sri Krishna led Arjuna to a certain place and asked him what he saw there. 'I see a huge tree,' said Arjuna, 'and on it I notice fruits hanging like clusters of blackberries.' Then Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Come nearer and you will find that these are not clusters of blackberries, but clusters of innumerable Krishnas like Me, hanging from the tree.' In other words, Divine Incarnations without number appear and disappear on the tree of the Absolute Brahman. "Kavirdas was strongly inclined to the formless God. At the mention of Krishna's name he would say: 'Why should I worship Him? The gopis would clap their hands while He performed a monkey dance.' (With a smile) But I accept God with form when I am in the company of people who believe in that ideal, and I also agree with those who believe in the formless God." M. (smiling): "You are as infinite as He of whom we have been talking. Truly, no one can fathom your depth." MASTER (smiling): "Ah! I see you have found it out. Let me tell you one thing. One should follow various paths. One should practise each creed for a time. In a game of satrancha a piece can't reach the centre square until it completes the circle; but once in the square it can't be overtaken by any other piece." M: "That is true, sir." MASTER: "There are two classes of yogis: the vahudakas and the kutichakas. The vahudakas roam about visiting various holy places and have not yet found peace of mind. But the kutichakas, having visited all the sacred places, have quieted their minds. Feeling serene and peaceful, they settle down in one place and no longer move about. In that one place they are happy; they don't feel the need of going to any sacred place. If one of them ever visits a place of pilgrimage, it is only for the purpose of new inspiration. "I had to practise each religion for a time — Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. Furthermore, I followed the paths of the Saktas, Vaishnavas, and Vedantists. I realized that there is only one God toward whom all are travelling; but the paths are different. "While visiting the holy places, I would sometimes suffer great agony. Once I went with Mathur to Raja Babu's drawing-room in Benares. I found that they talked there only of worldly matters — money, real estate, and the like. At this I burst into tears. I said to the Divine Mother, weeping: 'Mother! Where hast Thou brought me? I was much better off at Dakshineswar.' In Allahabad I noticed the same things that I saw elsewhere — the same ponds, the same grass, the same trees, the same tamarind-leaves. "But one undoubtedly finds inspiration in a holy place. I accompanied Mathur Babu to Vrindavan. Hriday and the ladies of Mathur's family were in our party. No sooner did I see the Kaliyadaman Ghat than a divine emotion surged up within me. I was completely overwhelmed. Hriday used to bathe me there as if I were a small child. "In the dusk I would walk on the bank of the Jamuna when the cattle returned along the sandy banks from their pastures. At the very sight of those cows the thought of Krishna would Bash in my mind. I would run along like a madman, crying: 'Oh, where is Krishna? Where is my Krishna?' "I went to Syamakunda and Radhakunda (Places near Mathura associated with the episode of Krishna and Radha.) in a palanquin and got out to visit the holy Mount Govardhan. At the very sight of the mount I was overpowered with divine emotion and ran to the top. I lost all consciousness of the world around me. The residents of the place helped me to come down. On my way to the sacred pools of Syamakunda and Radhakunda, when I saw the meadows, the trees, the shrubs, the birds, and the deer, I was over- come with ecstasy. My clothes became wet with tears. I said: 'O Krishna! Everything here is as it was in the olden days. You alone are absent.' Seated inside the palanquin I lost all power of speech. Hriday followed the palanquin. He had warned the bearers to be careful about me. "Gangamayi became very fond of me in Vrindavan. She was an old woman who lived all alone in a hut near the Nidhuvan. Referring to my spiritual condition and ecstasy, she said, 'He is the very embodiment of Radha.' She addressed me as 'Dulali'. When with her, I used to forget my food and drink, my bath, and all thought of going home. On some days Hriday used to bring food from home and feed me. Gangamayi also would serve me with food prepared by her own hands. "Gangamayi used to experience trances. At such times a great crowd would come-to see her. One day, in a state of ecstasy, she climbed on Hriday's shoulders. "I didn't want to leave her and return to Calcutta. Everything was arranged for me to stay with her. I was to eat double-boiled rice, and we were to have our beds on either side of the cottage. All the arrangements had been made, when Hriday said: 'You have such a weak stomach. Who will look after you?' 'Why,' said Gangamayi, 'I shall look after him. I'll nurse him.' As Hriday dragged me by one hand and she by the other, I remembered my mother, who was then living alone here in the nahabat of the temple warden. I found it impossible to stay away from her, and said to Gangamayi, 'No, I must go.' I loved the atmosphere of Vrindavan." About eleven o'clock the Master took his meal, the offerings from the temple of Kali. After taking his noonday rest he resumed his conversation with the devotees. Every now and then he uttered the holy word "Om" or repeated the sacred names of the deities. After sunset the evening worship was performed in the temples. Since it was the day of Vijaya, the devotees first saluted the Divine Mother and then took the dust (A form of reverent salutation in which one touches the feet of a superior with one's forehead.) of the Master's feet.