Sri Ramakrishna desired to meet Pandit Iswara Chandra Vidyasagara [n1]. One afternoon he was seen coming in a carriage with some of his disciples all the way from Dakshineswara, a distance of about six miles, to pay a visit to the pandit at Badurbagan in Calcutta. As the carriage passed before Raja Rammohun Roy's [*+] [100} house, the bhagavan suddenly grew silent. His mind wais absorbed in meditation on the Divine Mother. One of his disciples, not perceiving the sudden change that had come over him, said: "This is Rammohun Roy's house." The bhagavan replied: "Ah! Now my mind is not on such things"; and at once he entered into the ecstatic state (bhava).
Ramakrishna's childlike nature. The carriage, a short while after, drew up in front of the pandit's house. Sri Ramakrishna alighted, supported by one of his disciples. Before reaching the staircase which led to the pandit's study, which was also the drawing-room, the bhagavan, putting his hand on his shirt, asked a disciple with some concern: "My shirt is unbuttoned; is it necessary to button it?" The disciple answered: "Do not trouble yourself, Lord; none will find fault with you on that [101} account." The bhagavan, like a child, seemed to be satisfied and did not think about it again. The party was then led upstairs into a room where the pandit was seated in a chair facing the south. A table after the European fashion, with books and papers lying about on it, was before him, and he was talking with some of his friends. As the bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna entered the room, the pandit rose to receive him. The Lord stood with his face to the west and with one hand resting on the table. He looked on the pandit intently as if he was an old acquaintance, and with a smile on his sweet, childlike radiant face, lost all sense-consciousness, and went into the ecstatic Samâdhi.
After a while, taking his seat on a bench, the bhagavan in his semiconscious state uttered, "I wish some water to drink." Thereupon Vidyasagara inquired of a disciple whether the bhagavan would also like some delicious sweetmeats which he had just received from Burdwan [**] Finding no objection, the pandit went into his inner apartments and returned with water and the sweetmeats. He placed them [102} before the Lord. The disciples partook of the sweetmeats, but when they were offered to one young man, Vidyasagara said: "Oh, he is a child of the house; do not trouble about him."
The bhagavan then said, referring to a young man who was sitting before him: "Yes, this young man is good. He is like the river Falgu, [**] covered with dry sand, but if you dig a little you will find a strong invisible current underneath. He has a spiritual current inside, although he does not show it on the outside."
Ramakrishna's love of humor. Then addressing Vidyasagara he continued: "Today I have at last reached the ocean (referring to the literal meaning of the word Vidyasagara, the ocean of knowledge). So long I have seen only canals, lakes, or, at most, rivers, but now I see the ocean itself.
Vidyasagara: Then, Sir, you are welcome to take some salt water from it.
Bhagavan: No, my dear sir, why salt water? You are not the ocean of Avidya (ignorance), [103} which leads away from God, but you are the ocean of milk, the ocean of Vidya, or true knowledge leading Godward.
Vidyasagara: Revered Sir, you may say that.
Good works and compassion for all. Bhagavan: Your Karma proceeds from the Sattwa element of nature. From it rises compassion. Whatever work is done for the good of others is absolutely free from fault. It may be called Rajasika, but it is the activity of Sattwa. There is no harm in such works. Sukadeva and others like him had compassion for all. They worked for humanity and helped mankind in the path of Divinity. You are giving free education and doing charitable works; that is good. He who performs good works through love, without seeking results, attains to God. But he who works for name, fame or any other selfish purpose remains bound. Further, I may say that you have already become Siddha (perfected).
Vidyasagara: Sir, how is that?
Bhagavan: You know that Siddha, or well-boiled potato, becomes soft and tender. Have you not become tender-hearted by your compassion for all? [104} Vidyasagara: But the paste of Kalai (a kind of pulse) when boiled (Siddha) becomes harder. Is it not so?
Book-learned pandits like vultures. Bhagavan, laughing: Yes, but you are not like that. Mere book-learned pandits (scholars) are hard-hearted. They do good neither to themselves nor to others. They are like vultures who soar high in the sky, but always search after carrion-pits. They may talk about Divine truths, but their minds are attached to woman and wealth. Their attachment is to worldly things (Avidya). Compassion, devotion (bhakti), Dispassion (Vairagya) these are the manifestations of Vidya.
Vidyasagara was listening to the words of wisdom with whole attention, while the eyes of other gentlemen present were fixed on the blissful face of Ramakrishna radiant with Divine glory.
Vidya and Avidya. The bhagavan continued: The Absolute Brahman is beyond the reach of Vidya (knowledge) as well as of Avidya (ignorance), which keeps one away from the realisation of the Absolute.
The absolute Brahman is beyond the reach of Maya, while Maya is either Vidya or Avidya. [105} Vidya-Maya and Avidya-Maya both exist in this world. As there are knowledge (jnana) and devotion (bhakti), so also there are lust and greed for wealth. Good and evil, virtue and vice, are to be found in this world of relativity; but Brahman is unaffected by them. They exist in relation to Jiva (individual ego), but cannot touch the Absolute Brahman.
Brahman untouched by good and evil. Brahman may be compared to the light of a lamp. As by the same light one may read the Holy Scriptures and another may forge a document, while the light remains unaffected by the good and evil deeds, so is the Absolute Brahman untouched by the good and evil of the world. He is like the Sun who shines equally on the virtuous and the wicked.
If you ask, misery, sin, suffering, unhappiness, whose are these? I should answer, they are for the Jiva. They do not affect the Brahman. Evil to Jiva is not evil to Brahman any more than the venom in the fangs of a snake is poison to the snake. Others may die of snake-bite, but as the poison does not hurt the snake, so indeed is the existence of sin and evil in relation to Jiva alone.
Brahman indescribable. Who can describe what the absolute Brahman is? Whatever [106} can be uttered by the mouth has become defiled as it were, like the leavings of food. The Revealed Scriptures, Vedas, Tantras, Puranas and all Holy Books, have become defiled as it were, like leavings of food, for they have been uttered by human mouths. But there is one thing that is never defiled in this manner and that is the Absolute Brahman. No one has ever succeeded in describing the Absolute by words of mouth. Brahman is unspeakable, indescribable, unthinkable.
Vidyasagara, interrupting, said to his friends: This is a grand idea. Today I have learned this truth, that the Brahman is the one substance that has never been defiled by the mouth.
Bhagavan: Yes, that is so.
Parable of the Vedic father and his two sons. A certain father had two sons. To instruct them in the knowledge of Brahman he sent them to an Acharya (preceptor). After a few years they returned home and saluted their father. The father was anxious to know how far they had learned about Brahman, so he asked his eldest son: "My dear son, you have studied all the Scriptures and philosophies, tell me what is Brahman like?" The eldest son then tried to describe [107} the Absolute Brahman by quoting various passages from the Vedas. The father kept silent.
Turning to his younger son he asked the same question. The younger son did not answer in words, but remained motionless and communed with the Brahman in silence. The father then exclaimed: "My dear child, you have approached the realisation of the Brahman. Your silence is a better answer than the recitation of a hundred texts of the Vedas, for Brahman is indescribable by words. It is indeed the Absolute Silence." The knowledge of the Absolute Brahman is attained in the state of Samâdhi. In that superconscious state Brahman is realised. Then all thoughts cease to rise and perfect silence prevails in the soul. Even the power of speech remains unmanifested. How can one describe Brahman by words of mouth? Man thinks that he has known the Absolute Brahman.
Parable of the ant and the sugar. An ant went to a mount of sugar. The ant did not realise how high was the mountain, but ate a small particle of sugar and was satisfied. It carried home another mount of particle in its mouth. On its way it thought: "Next time I will carry the whole mountain." Such, alas, is the thought of [108} small minds. They think that they have known the Absolute, not realizing that Brahman is beyond the reach of mind and thought. However great the mind may be it cannot fully comprehend the Absolute Brahman. Sukadeva [**] and other great spiritual teachers may be compared to large ants. They could carry in their mouth at utmost eight or ten grains from the mountain of sugar. It is as absurd to say that Brahman has been fully comprehended by a great man as it is absurd to say that the whole mountain of sugar was carried away by a large ant.
What the Vedas and other Scriptures have said about the Absolute is like the description of the ocean given by a man who saw the vast ocean. When asked what the ocean was like, he exclaimed in utter amazement: "Oh! what I have seen; how vast is the expanse! How big are the waves! What a thundering roar!"
Like to this is the talk about the Absolute Brahman. The Vedas declare that Brahman is [109} the ocean of the Absolute Existence, Intelligence and Bliss. Sukadeva and other great
spiritual teachers stood on the shore of that Infinite Ocean, saw it and touched its waters.
Some believe that even those great souls did not go into the Ocean, for whoever enters into that ocean of Brahman does not return to this mundane existence.
Parable of a salt doll. A doll made of salt once went to the ocean to measure its depth. It had a desire to tell others how deep was the ocean. Alas! Its desire was never satisfied. No sooner had it plunged into the ocean than it melted away and became one with the ocean. Who would bring the news regarding the depth? Similar is the condition of the Jiva (individual ego) who enters into the Infinite Ocean of the Absolute Brahman.
Someone asked: Bhagavan, is it true that the man who has entered into Samâdhi, or who has acquired Brahma jnanam, does not speak?
Brahman is silence. Ramakrishna to Vidyasagara: Yes, he who has realised Brahman becomes silent. Discussions and argumentations exist so long as the realisation of the Absolute does not come. If you melt butter in a pan over fire, how long does it make a noise? [110} So long as there is water in it. When the water is evaporated it ceases to make further noise. Again if you throw a piece of dough in that hot clarified butter (Ghee) there will be noise until the cake is thoroughly fried. The soul of a seeker after Brahman may be compared to fresh butter. It is mixed with the water of egoism and worldliness. Discussions and argumentations (Vichara) of a seeker are like the noise caused during the process of purification by the fire of knowledge. As the water of egoism and worldliness is evaporated and the soul becomes purer, all noise of debates and discussions ceases and absolute silence reigns in the state of Samâdhi.
Egoism of a saint. Thus realizing the Absolute Brahman in silence, the soul comes down on the plane of relativity to help others and to teach mankind the highest wisdom of Brahman. Then he talks again and makes a noise again, as the hot Ghee does when in contact with a piece of dough. Such a soul retains the sense of "I" simply to help mankind. Sankaracharya and other spiritual teachers kept the purified sense of "I" without which all teaching is impossible.
Sages teach for the good of others. The bee buzzes so long as it is outside the [111} lotus and does not settle down in its heart to drink of the honey. As soon as it tastes of the honey all buzzing is at an end. Similarly all noise of discussion ceases when the soul of the neophyte begins to drink the nectar of Divine Love in the Lotus Feet of the Almighty. Sometimes, however, the bee after being intoxicated by the honey makes a sweet humming sound. So the God-intoxicated soul sometimes speaks for the good of others.
A pitcher makes a noise when it is being filled with water in a tank. But all noise stops as soon as the pitcher is full to the brim. The noise will be heard again if some water of the pitcher be poured into another pitcher. (Here water means the water of the Divine Wisdom, and the soul of a wise man is the pitcher.)
Relation between Guru and disciples. The question flow arises, how do we explain the relation between a perfect Guru and his disciples? The Guru must talk in order to drive away the ignorance of his disciples. This kind of discrimination, however, does no harm. The boiling butter after it is clarified ceases to make any noise; but if the raw cake made of flour is thrown into it, it will produce much noise because [112} of the water in the cake. The noise will continue until the cake is properly fried. The unfried cake may be compared to the disciple, and the boiling butter to the Guru, the spiritual teacher. The sound of teaching is heard so long as the disciple is not perfectly enlightened.
Non-attachment. Sri Ramakrishna continued: So long as the individual soul has the slightest attachment to the world of senses and desires it cannot attain to Brahma-jnana. He is a jnani who relinquishes all worldly desires and sense-pleasures by saying, "not this, not this," and then realizes the Supreme Brahman in Samâdhi.
A jnani knows that all phenomena of the universe which are subject to evolution, whether physical or mental, are within the realm of Maya; they are unreal and transitory like the objects of vision in a dream. Therefore as one climbs the stairway step by step until the roof is reached, so he rises above them step by step, saying "not this," until he reaches the Absolute Brahman, which is the roof of the phenomenal universe.
All phenomena unreal. A jnani goes so far as to realise that Brahman is the Absolute Reality and all phenomena unreal. A Vijnani, however, goes farther and [113} realizes more. He sees that the roof and the steps are all made of the same substance. Few can stay long on the roof (the realm of the Absolute). All those who reach this state of Samâdhi must return to lower planes, just as no one can sing on "Si," the highest note of the gamut, for a long time. The sense of "I" drags one down. But when a Vijnani returns from Samâdhi to a lower plane of consciousness and perceives the world of relativity, he sees the Brahman everywhere, and that the same Absolute Being appears as Jiva and all the phenomena of the universe. He realizes, "I am Brahman," "I am he."
Jnana-yoga and bhakti-yoga. There are various paths which lead to the realisation of the Absolute Brahman. The path of a jnani is as good as that of a bhakta. Jnana-yoga is true; so is bhakti-yoga. There is another path of bhakti mixed with jnana which is equally true. So long as the sense of "I, me, mine" remains in the devotee, the path of bhakti is easier for him.
A Vijnani, however, realizes the Absolute Brahman as the unchangeable Reality of the universe, firm and immutable like the Mount Sumeru. It is beyond all activity of Maya [114} he also sees that the world has evolved out of the three Gunas (Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas) of the Prakriti or Cosmic energy.
Maya. Maya or Prakriti consists of Vidya and Avidya. Vidya is that energy which leads Godward. It manifests itself as discrimination (Viveka), non-attachment (Vairagya), devotion and love of God (bhakti, Prema). But Avidya leads to worldliness. This energy expresses itself as various passions, desire for wealth and honour, ambition, work with attachment, selfishness. All these Vidya and Avidya forces rise from the Divine Energy of Brahman they cannot affect the Brahman
Vijnani and bhakta. The Vijnani realizes that the same Absolute. Brahman appears as the Personal God (Iswara), that he who is beyond all attributes is also the Personal God with all attributes and blessed qualities. The Vijnani sees that Jiva (individual ego), phenomenal world, mind, intellect, bhakti, dispassion, knowledge all these are the glory of the supreme Personal Deity. If these manifestations of the Divine Glory did not exist, who would have worshipped him as the Lord of the universe? If a rich man does not possess wealth and property, but becomes bankrupt, nobody will call him rich. [115} Do you not see how beautiful is this world? How many varieties of phenomena the Sun, moon, stars, various kinds of animals and vegetables, things large and small, good and bad, some men with great powers, others with few.
Vidyasagara: Is it then true, Revered Sir, that God has given to some greater powers than to others? Is the Lord partial?
Unity in diversity. Bhagavan: The Lord dwells as the all-pervading Being (Vibhu) equally within all living creatures great or small, nay, even in the smallest ant or animalcule. The difference lies in the manifestation of powers (Sakti), otherwise how will it be possible for one strong man to defeat ten men in a hand-tohand fight, while a weakling will run away from the presence of an ordinary mortal?
If there were no difference in powers, why should people respect and honour you? You have no monstrosity, like two horns on the forehead, that people will come to see you out of curiosity. You have more compassion, more wisdom than others, therefore people come to see you and pay respects to you. Do you not think so?
Book-learning. There is nothing in mere book-learning. [116} One should study books simply to find out the ways by which he (the Absolute Brahman) can be realised.
A holy man had a manuscript with him. Someone asked what it contained. The saint opened it and showed that on every page was written the sacred formula "Om Rama, "the holy name of the Lord.
True meaning of Gita. Take the sacred book of Bhagavad Gita. What does it teach? If you wish to know it repeat the name "Gita" ten times in quick succession "Gi-ta, gi-ta, gi-," etc. It will sound like "tagi, tagi," which has the same meaning as the Sanskrit word "Tyagi," that is, one who has renounced everything of the world for the sake of the Lord. One truth which Bhagavad Gita teaches is this: "O Jiva, giving up attachment to objects and pleasures of the world, struggle to realise God." The mind of a man (whether a saint or a householder) must be free from all attachment to the world. Then and then alone the heart will be purified and the Absolute will be realised.
Chaitanya Deva [**] (God Incarnate of Nuddea), [117} when travelling on a pilgrimage in the Deccan (Southern India), saw in one place a man reading aloud the texts of the Gita. At a little distance another man, with unrestrainable tears running down his cheeks, was listening. Chaitanya Deva asked him whether he understood the meaning of the texts. The poor man replied: "My Lord, I do not understand one word of what the pandit is reading." Chaitanya Deva questioned him: "Why are you weeping, then?" The devotee answered: "I see the chariot of Arjuna, and the Blessed Lord Krishna is speaking before him. This Divine vision brings tears of love to my eyes."
Sense of "I." Sri Ramakrishna continued: You may ask why does a Vijnani prefer to have bhakti (love and devotion)? The answer is Because it is difficult for one to be free from the sense of "I." In the state of Nirvikalpa Samâdhi, [**] it may vanish for the time being, but it comes back again; while for ordinary individuals it is almost impossible to eliminate this sense of "I, me and mine." However many times you may cut [118} off the branches of the Aswatthwa tree, so long as the root is alive new branches will sprout; similarly you may try to get rid of the sense of "I, "but so long as the root is alive it will sprout up again and again. Even after acquiring Brahma-jnana the emancipated soul is forced back to the plane of this "Aham" sense of "I."
If you dream of a tiger you will tremble in every limb and your heart will throb violently. When you wake up you may realise that it was a mere dream, but still your heart will go on palpitating all the same. Similarly the sense of "I" remains even after the realisation of the Absolute.
Thus, if the sense of "I" is the cause of all troubles and it is impossible to he free from it, let it stay on as "I," the servant of the Lord.
Rama Chandra (the God Incarnate) once asked his great devotee Hanuman: "My son, in what relation do you regard me?" The devotee replied: "When I think of myself as embodied, I am your servant and you are the Lord. When I think of myself as the Jiva (Ego) I am your part and you are the Universal Whole; but when I think of myself as the [119} Atman, I am one with you. Then I realise 'I am you and you are I.'"
If the sense of "I" clings to one so persistently, let it remain like that of a true bhakta who thinks of himself as the servant of the Lord.
Ajnanam and jnanam. "I" and "mine" these two are the signs of Ajnanam, ignorance. My house, my wealth, my learning, my glory, all these are mine this idea proceeds from ignorance of one's true Self, but jnanam or divine knowledge means that state where Jiva realizes: "O Lord, you are the Master of all; house, family, children, friends, relatives, nay, whatever exists in the universe belongs to you." "Whatever is mine is your." "Nothing belongs to me" such ideas rise from true knowledge.
It is good for everyone to remember that after death nothing of this world will remain with us. We have come here simply to perform certain Karma and gain some experience. Just as country people come to a big city like Calcutta to do some work, so we have come to fulfil our desires according to the tendencies with which we were born.
Parable of the rich man and his Sircar. A rich man has given the charge of his beautiful [120} garden to his Sircar (steward). When visitors come to see the garden the Sircar waits on them attentively. He shows them the beautiful parts of the garden with luxurious fruit-trees, flower-beds, palace-like buildings, lakes, etc., saying. "These are, gentlemen, our mango-trees. This is our orchard; this is our lake; how beautiful are our flowers! Here you see is our drawing-room with most expensive furniture, fine paintings by the best artists all these belong to us." The same Sircar may be found fault with and dismissed by his master at any time with peremptory order to leave the garden at once. He will not be allowed sufficient time to pack up his trunk and take his own baggage with him. Such is the miserable plight of those who lay claim on things which do not in reality belong to them.
Everything belongs to the Lord. It is ridiculous for man to say, "I am Karta" (the doer), "All these things are mine."
The Lord smiles on two occasions. On two occasions the Lord cannot help smiling: A person is taken seriously ill and is about to die. The physician says to the mother of the patient: "Mother, there is no cause for fear. I shall save [121} your son's life." The physician forgets that the will of the Lord is at the root of every event of life and death. The Lord then smiles, thinking: "How foolish this man must be who boasts of saving the life of his patient when the latter is dying under my will." The Lord smiles again when two brothers are engaged in partitioning their estate. They take a measuring-tape and, putting it out across the land, say: "This portion is mine, and that is yours." The Lord smiles, thinking: "The whole Universe belongs to me, but these foolish brothers say: 'This portion is mine and that is yours.'"
"O Lord, you make everything and you are my nearest and dearest One. This house, this family, these relatives, these friends of mine, nay, this whole universe belongs to you, O Lord." Such is the nature of true jnana (knowledge). But "I do everything, I am the doer. My house, my family, my children, my friends, everything belongs to me"; all this proceeds from Ajnana (ignorance).
The Lord alone is your own. A guru was giving this instruction to his disciple: "The Lord alone is your own and no one else belongs to you." The disciple replied: "But my mother and my wife, who take such good care of me, who love [122} me and feel extremely unhappy when they do not see me, are also my own, are they not?" The guru answered: "In this you are mistaken. I will show you that none of them truly cares for you. Never believe for a moment that your mother or wife will sacrifice her life for your sake. You can try and see. Go home and feign excruciating pain and I will come and show you." The disciple acted accordingly. Doctors were called in, but no one could afford relief. The mother of the patient was sorrowing and sighing. The wife and children were weeping. At this moment the sannyasin (guru) appeared. "The disease is of a serious nature," he said, "and I do not see any chance of the patient's recovery unless someone come forward to give his or her life for the patient." At this all of them looked aghast. The sannyasin, addressing the old mother of the sick man, said: "To live or to die will be the same thing to you, if in your old age you lose your son who earns for himself and for you all. If you can give your life in exchange for his, I can save your son. If you, as mother, cannot make this sacrifice for him, who else in the world will care to do it?" The old woman stammered through her tears: "Revered father, I am ready to do [123} anything you order for the sake of my son. But the thing is, my own life and what is my life in comparison to that of my son? The thought what will become of my little ones after my death, makes me a coward. Unfortunate that I am, these little ones are in my way!"
While listening to this dialogue between the sannyasin and her mother-in-law, the wife wept bitterly and, addressing her parents, said: "For your sake, dear father and mother, I cannot make the sacrifice." In this way everyone found an excuse. Then the sannyasin turned to the patient and said: "Do you see, no one here is ready to sacrifice his life for you. Do you understand now what I meant by saying that there was no depending on anybody?" When the disciple saw all this, he abandoned his so-called home and followed the sannyasin, his guru.
Self-surrender and prayer. Sri Ramakrishna continued: The Absolute Brahman cannot be known by reasoning. Be his servant and taking refuge with him pray to him with earnestness and sincerity. He will surely reveal himself to you. Book-learning or intellectual discussions cannot reveal the Divinity.
Thus saying the Blessed One sang: [124}
THE GLORY OF THE DIVINE MOTHER
The blessed one [Ramakrishna], referring to this song, said: See how Ramaprasad describes that books and reasoning cannot reveal the Divine Mother. Faith is necessary.
The omnipotence of faith. Reason is weak. Faith is omnipotent. Reason cannot go far enough and must stop short of the goal. Faith will work wonders.
The parable of a Brahmin priest and his boy. There was a certain Brahmin priest who served in a household chapel. Once he went away leaving the charge of the service to his son. He told the boy to place the daily offering of food before the Deity and see that he ate it. The boy, following the instructions of his father, placed the offering before the image and silently waited. But the image neither spoke nor ate. The boy watched for a long tinge. He had firm faith that the Deity would come down from the altar, take the seat before the offering and eat it. Then he prayed: "O Lord, come and eat. It is [126} getting very late; I cannot wait any longer." But the Lord did not speak. Then the boy began to cry, saying: "Lord, my father told me to see that you didst eat the offering. Why do you not come. You comest to my father and eatest his offering. What have I done that you do not come to me and eat my offering?" he cried bitterly and for a long time. Then as he looked up at the seat, he saw the Deity in a human form eating the offering. When the service was ended and the boy came out, the members of the household said to him, "If the service is over, bring out the offering." The boy replied: "Yes, but the Lord has eaten everything." In amazement they asked: "What did you say?" With absolute innocence the boy repeated: "Why, the Lord has eaten all that I offered." Then they entered the chapel and were dumbfounded at the sight of the empty dishes. Such is the power of true faith and true yearning!
Yes, faith will enable a man to cross the mighty ocean itself without the least difficulty. In the epic Ramayana it is said: Rama Chandra (God Incarnate) worked hard to throw a bridge over the part of the sea separating Lanka (Ceylon) from the mainland of India. But as if [127} to prove the majesty, the omnipotence of faith, he gave it to his bhakta, the great Hanuman, [**] to jump across the ocean by the unaided power of faith.
It is also told that once a bhakta, a friend of Vibhishana, [*+] wanted to go across the sea. Vibhishana, to whom he appealed for help, had the name of Rama (God) written on a leaf, without the knowledge of his friend. He then said to the bhakta: "Take this and be careful that you have it tied to the end of your cloth. It will enable you to walk across the ocean in safety. But mind, never look inside, for you will go under the water if you open it." The bhakta put faith in his friend's words and walked on the ocean in safety for some time, but unfortunately his curiosity became his enemy. He wanted to see what precious thing Vibhishana had given him that had the power [128} of taking him unhurt over the mighty deep. When he opened it he discovered a leaf with the name of Rama written on it. He thought what a trifling thing it was; no sooner did that thought arise in his mind than he was drowned.
Those who belong to this class of Jivas cannot easily have faith in God, but those who are born with Divine qualities possess the highest faith naturally. When Prahlada [**] tried to write the first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet, "K," it brought up before his mind the name Krishna, and he began to cry. The natural tendency of a Jiva is to doubt and to become sceptical. Hazra [*+] will not believe in the truth that Brahman and Divine Mother, the Absolute and his Energy, are one and the same. Yet, faith is omnipotent. Before it all the powers of nature shrink and give way. It carries one over seas and mountains with perfect ease. Sin and [129} iniquity, worldliness and ignorance all vanish before true faith.
The bhagavan sang:
THE NAME OF THE LORD
Yes, faith is at the root of all spiritual progress. You can do without all other things, only you must have faith. Have but faith in the Lord and you shall become at once free from the vilest, the blackest, of all sins.
The one thing needed is faith and bhakti love, devotion, prayerfulness, self-surrender. It [130} is exceedingly difficult, especially in this age, for a man with his limited faculties to come to my Mother through Vichara (of the Real Brahman from the unreal phenomenal universe), unaided by the Divine Person. Verily has Prasad, the "Sweet Psalmist" of Bengal, laid stress on this difficulty in his well-known song:
THE DIVINE MOTHER AND THE ABSOLUTE BRAHMAN
There was a deep silence at the close of this song, which had been listened to with rapt attention. Everyone was moved.
Ramakrishna's samadhi. At the end of this song the bhagavan was once more found to be in that indescribable state of Samâdhi. His sweet divine voice became still. His eyes remained fixed and steadfast. But his spiritual eye was feasting on the beatific Vision of the Divine Glory! There was left just enough of self-consciousness to bring the soul face to face with the Divine Mother. This blessed Vision the bhagavan enjoyed for a long time. His face was radiant with celestial light and expressed by sweet smiles the unbounded happiness which he was enjoying within himself, and [132} in his semiconscious state he uttered these words:
What is bhakti? Bhakti, or devotion, means whole-hearted love for the Lord. The Absolute Brahman is called "Divine Mother" by the Psalmist. Prasad asks his mind to understand it by hints; he who is described in the Vedas as the Absolute Brahman is my Divine Mother; I am praying to Her.
Brahman impersonal and personal. That which is the Absolute (Nirguna), impersonal beyond all attributes, is also the same as the Personal God who is with all attributes and blessed qualities. The Absolute Brahman again is inseparable from the Divine energy (Sakti).
The term "Brahman" refers to that aspect of Divinity which is impersonal and which is beyond all activity. But when we think of him as creating, preserving and destroying all phenomena, then we call him the Personal God, Divine Mother or Kali.
Brahman and Sakti are one. In reality there is no distinction between "Brahman," or the Impersonal Absolute, and "Sakti," the Divine Mother. The Brahman and the Sakti are one just as fire and its burning power are one. As by the word fire we understand its power of burning, [133} so by the latter we know that it is the same as fire. By realizing the one both are realised.
They are one just as much as milk and its whiteness are one. We cannot conceive the milk without the whiteness.
They are one just as a gem and its brightness are one. We cannot conceive a gem without the brightness.
They are one just as the serpent and its sinuous motion are one. We cannot conceive of the serpent without the serpentine movements.
He who knows what "light" is has the knowledge of darkness also. He who has the conception of the phenomenal world must have also some conception of the Absolute Noumenon. He who knows the Sakti, or the Personal aspect of the Absolute Being, knows also the Impersonal Brahman. Again, he who has realised the Absolute Noumenon has also realised the phenomenon. He who has realised Brahman has also realised the Personal God or Divine Mother (Sakti).
The power the Divine Mother. This Divine Mother bestows the highest of knowledge of Brahman (Brahma-jnana) by bringing her devotee into the state of Samâdhi. She it is who brings him down on the plane of sense-consciousness [134} and allows him to retain the sense of "I" and "me."
By the power of my Divine Mother all mortals (Jiva) possess the sense of "I" and "mine." She again reveals to the soul of one who is in Samâdhi, that all living beings, nay, the whole universe, is but the manifestation of the Divine Energy.
It is She who makes one reach the Brahma-jnana, the highest knowledge of the Absolute, and She again makes another Her beloved devotee who surrenders himself to Her omnipotent Will. This truth is the great secret of all secrets. Therefore the Psalmist says: "Shall I disclose it in the Chator?"
Vidyasagara asked his friend who was sitting near by: "Do you understand the meaning of Chator?" The friend replied: "I know that 'Chattara' means a courtyard within a house."
Vidyasagara: Exactly. It may also mean a public market-place. So Rama Prasad does not want to make this secret known to the public.
Bhagavan with his smiling face spoke to Vidyasagara: "Oh, you are a pandit, a great scholar, you must know all this." When I sing the praise of my Divine Mother I refer to the [135} same Absolute Brahman. The term "Mother" is very sweet. Therefore I like to call him "Mother." We must learn to love the Personal God (Iswara). Through love he can be easily attained. Love, devotion and faith are the most valuable. Listen to another song. The bhagavan sang again:
LOVE FOR THE DIVINE MOTHER
The Lord, the Ocean of Immortality. He who can dive into the sea of Bliss becomes immortal. The Lord is described in the Vedas as the Ocean of Immortal Bliss. Whosoever enters into it becomes free from death. Some people have a wrong idea that too much meditation on [136} the Absolute will unbalance the mind. No one becomes unbalanced by meditating on the Absolute.
Devotional exercises, rituals, ceremonials, sacrifices or the pouring of oblations into the sacred fire such works are needless when true love for the Lord comes in the heart of the devotee. A fan is needed so long as there is no breeze. So when the breeze of Divine Love blows all ritualistic works become unnecessary.
Selfless works purify the heart. Referring to Vidyasagara the bhagavan continued: The works which you are doing are good works. If you can perform them without seeking their result and without thinking that you are the "doer, "then it will he still better. The highest result of works done in this selfless manner is the attainment of true love for God. Such works purify the heart and bring God-consciousness in the end. But as your love for the Lord becomes more and more intense, your religious works will become less and less. A married woman diligently performs the household duties, but she is not allowed to do any heavy work when she is about to give birth to her child. You are doing charitable works and other works for the good of humanity. In [137} reality, however, they are of great help to yourself. They will purify your heart and bring unselfish love for God.
❖ Opposed to "Get rid of little and lose little." Also: "Let God do it so that the teaching fits . . .".
Doing good to the world. Man has no power to do good to the world; the Lord does everything. He who has made the Sun and the moon, he who has given affection in the hearts of parents, he who has bestowed compassion on the great souls, he who has brought unselfish love and devotion in the hearts of saints and sages, does everything for the good of his world; who else has the power to perform any good act? Whosoever performs good works without holding any desire for their fruits will do good for himself.
There is gold inside, under the cover of earth. You have not discovered it yet. If you once realise this secret treasure your worldly duties will vanish and you will not care for other works, just as a mother loves nothing better than to fondle and kiss her new-born baby. Go onward and do not stop in one place. Remember the parable [**] of the wood-cutter and stop not until the goal is reached. The goal is the realisation of God. By his grace his true [138} devotee can see him and can talk with him just as I am talking with you.
Absolute silence prevailed when the Blessed Lord spoke these words with fire and eloquence. Everyone's heart was moved by that divine love which was flowing with mighty force within the soul of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna.
With a smiling face the bhagavan said: You know all that I have told, but you do not realise how much you possess, in the same manner as Varuna, the Lord of the ocean, does not care to know how many beautiful and valuable jewels there are in his boundless treasury of the deep.
Vidyasagara: Revered Sir, you can say so.
Bhagavan: Yes; do you not know that very often a millionaire Babu does not know even the names of his own attendants? he does not remember in what places his valuable things are kept.
Everyone was listening to this interesting conversation when Bhagavan suddenly asked Vidyasagara: "Will you not come to the Temple garden? It is a beautiful place."
Vidyasagara: O yes; certainly. You have been so kind as to come to me, shall I not return my visit to you? [139}
Bhagavan: A visit to me! Oh, for shame! for shame!
Vidyasagara: My dear Sir, this from you! I wish to know why do you say so?
Humility of Ramakrishna. Bhagavan: Well, we are like fishing-boats, small and light enough to row about on ponds, narrow canals or even on large rivers, but you are like a big steamer. Who can tell? you might founder on the sand-bank if you venture too far up the stream; but now at this season steamers may go up without much danger.
Vidyasagara: Oh I see; this is the rainy season.
At about eight in the evening it was announced that the carriage was ready to take Sri Ramakrishna back to the Thakurbadi at Dakshineswara. The bhagavan became absent-minded for a while; perhaps his mind was fixed on the Divine Mother, or perhaps he was asking Her blessing on his kind host. The bhagavan then rose to bid him farewell and Vidyasagara, with a lighted candle in his hand, led the way down-stairs and through the compound of his house to the gate. Outside the gate a carriage was waiting to receive the honoured guest and his devoted companions from the Thakurbadi. An unexpected sight greeted the eyes of the [140} party as they came out. It was a man who might have been a little under forty standing before the gate with folded hands. He was dressed in white and wore a white turban on his head. He had a fair complexion and expressive eyes and a smile was on his face. No sooner did he see the bhagavan than he fell at his feet with his head touching the ground.
The bhagavan said: Is it you, Balaram? How is it that I find you here?
Balaram [**] replied, smiling: O Revered Sir, I have been waiting for some time here at the gate to see you.
Bhagavan: Why did you not come in?
Balaram: I came late, so I would not interrupt you, but thought it better to stay here.
The bhagavan then stepped into the carriage with his companions.
Vidyasagara asked a disciple: Shall I see the carriage hire paid?
The disciple replied: No, Sir, you need not [141} trouble yourself. It has already been paid by a friend.
Ramakrishna leaves Vidyasagara. The pandit then folded his hands and bent his body to make his Pranama (Salutation) to the bhagavan. All assembled about the carriage did the same. The little group at the gate, with the venerable Vidyasagara at their head still holding the lighted candle in his hand, stood for a while looking in the direction of the carriage, wondering who this God-intoxicated Man might be, so wise yet so child-like, so full of joy, so sweet, so godly! Verily a Light come down to set ablaze the dry bones of a workaday world! Embodied Love, like the dew of heaven falling on the dry thirsty heart of man! A Voice crying to sunken, self-weary man, "You must be born again and love!" A Healer from another clime of this strange disease of modern life! A Man among men, eager to solve for them the enigma of the universe!