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  Speech on Holi Festival

March 8, 1974 - Ramanathpur, West Bengal

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It was the festival of Holi in 1974. Baba sat on the ashram porch just outside his room listening to the chanting of the kirtan singers. He wanted to explain to Premananda something about this celebration in which people all over India decorate each other with brightly colored powders and sprays.

As he spoke he went into a divine mood, speaking with eyes half-closed, motionless, the words seeming to come effortlessly and spontaneously. Premananda looked on in astonished joy, realizing he was witnessing bhav samadhi, something he had only read about in books.


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 Baba speaks:

On this Dol Purnima Premananda is here, who came earlier. Today is Sri Radha Krishna Dol Purnima's play. Spread out though all the whole of India. The name of this is Holi.

The meaning of the word Holi is the name of one demon. As when the devotee Prahlad was thrown into the fire, and when he started doing the Hari Kirtan the Holi demon was burned up, so we burn up the demon, "Holi". In Bengali we call it Buri Purana Chanchor (burning up the old), and in Hindi it is called "Holi". And so today I am saying:

Braje proshidhang
Nobo nitah chaurang
Brajaningananang [...etc.]

This is our play of Radha-Krishna's going to Brindavan, greeting them in love. And so today we have our Holi play. Since that first Radha Krishna lila a great many men and women devotees are playing this game of colors.

These colors, what kind are they? Red, yellow, white, many colors -- the main one is the red powder. This that is the Holi play, what is it? Assuming the form of maya we play this holi game. Krishna himself in the paradise of Braja, who stole Radha's heart away, Krishna in Brindavan was playing this Holi play.

Who was with him? The boys were Rakhal, Dham, Shudam, Boshudam, Madhumangal, and Dwadosh Gopal. Who was among the group of girlfriends? Lolita, Bishaka, Shudevi, Rangadevi, Tungavidya, Chomplkolata, Lobongalolita. This group of eight girlfriends together had played this game of colors, or spraying, or Holi lila.

This Holi is in a very high plane of the metaphysical world.One day Sri Ramakrishna, on this Dol Purnima, became completely absorbed in samadhi. Why? Because of today's Holi play. If someone would say Krishna's name in front of Thakur Ramakrishna he would go into samadhi just like that. From his eyes tears of love would flow profusely.

At Dakshineswar on this day, this day of "Holi" lila, with the devotees he played in many ways.

And he said "Look!, I am a beautiful woman! My one and only man is that very Madhana, the infatuating Sri Krishna Govinda!" So today my Thakur, many times what did he used to do? He would assume the habits and form of a woman. The one and only parampurush (great man) is Govinda. If I go to play that Holi sport in the Brindavan of the heart, then I will get the realization that in my heart, within me, is that radiant original self-born Govinda, the cause behind all causes. And how many kinds of play he is playing with this whole vast earth!

So today we are playing this game of "Holi". And yet the meaning of the word "Holi" is demon. Maya! Thakur used to say "If this play of maya is completed, the Holi demon will be burned up. In Bengali we call this "chanchor". It is a funny thing. But if we think profoundly, if we inquire deeply, we will get the real understanding and feeling about Holi.

Sri Sri venerable Thakur Ramakrishna, on this Holi day, went into deepest samadhi. He was sitting down. The group of devotees all came running to him to give him a portion of the red powder.

He was sitting with a woman's veil on his head. He was feeling the Holi play of that couple Sri Radha Krishna within his heart. So we play this game in the outher world.

This is tamasic. But on the other hand, without the tamasic play, there is no going to the inner kingdom.

Thakur used to say "Hey! First play with the doll! By playing with the outer doll, that doll in the heart will wake up!" Worship. Taking any thing at all for worship, meditate. If you do then that worshipful thing in the heart, that inner Parampurush which is gracefully present, then you will discover its mystery (secret).

And so in our Hindu Sanatan Dharma every single thing is spiritual. On the outer level, one type, and in the inner level, another type.

For this reason this Hindu Sanatan Dharma is so great. Swamiji, when he went to America, said with a shout, "Our Hindu Sanantan Dharma, its value, its greatness cannot be measured by measuring sticks." You cannot find the limit of the limitless. And so he gave a comparison.

There once was a frog who lived in a well, and a frog who lived in the ocean. The two met each other. The frog from the well said, "Hey brother, how big is the place where you live? Tell me the size of your home."

The sea-frog said, "Brother, first you tell me how big is the place where you live?" The well frog hopped several jumps to show the size. "My place is this big!"

The sea frog said, "Brother, one lifetime will not be enough! Not unless I get endless lifetimes will I be able to show you how big is the place where I live!"

So today the Hindu Sanantan Dharma is a mixture of all religions. In it is Buddha, Jesus Christ, Mussalman, One religion! It has dived into all religions. The Hindu Dharma is: that Paramatma, that Parabrahma, that radiant being, feeling that, realizing that.

Today, Holi day, Premananda, American citizen, I am seeing his Holi bhav (feeling). How genuine and beautiful. But .. as Thakur used to say: If you don't love someone how can you know them? So today in this our land of India, Premananda is totally feeling our Holi lila. Ah! How high! How intense his heart. Indeed, this is God's grace.

Thakur used to say, our mind is a fly. That fly sits on rotten putrified things, then again, flying up, it sits on the top of the Narayana Salagram stone, where the sandalwood paste and the tulsi leaves are offered in worship. And, again this fly goes off and sits on filthy excrement or dung. Our mind is like that fly. On the other hand if this mind is brought under control... [ .... ?] Indeed all are Hindu! No one is not Hindu! Today in the presence of Premananda, I have spoken this little bit on the topic of "Holi".

Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna.
Ramakrishna Ramakrishna Ramakrishna trahimang,
Ramakrishna Ramakrishna Ramakrishna pahimang.

I bow to the feet of that most venerable Thakur Ramakrishna. He went into samadhi on Holi day. And how much abir, sandlewood, and other kinds of things the devotees offered to him. He was sitting under a veil. After that, calling Naren, he said "Oh Hey! Naren, I am Radha! Give me some vermillion to wear on my forehead!" Ah-ha! What an exalted state! Radha Krishna lila. Sweet Holi lila. How sweet! That is why he said:

Madhurang, madhurang, madhurang Krishna.
Madhurang, madhurang, madhurang Krishna.
Madhurang, madhurang, madhurang Krishna.

Exceedingly sweet, is it not, this that is ours? Right in front of us the sweet month is coming, the month of Chaitra. A new fresh springtime, the eleventh month of the Bengali year. The springtime. Sri Krishna, taking all his friends and followers (retinue) played this Holi sport in Brindavan. This is the benign breeze, the arrival of the new spring. Moreover, facing us is the sweet month. Its name is Chaitra. Indeed it is God's kindness, compassion.

So today, sitting in this Holi, if we think, we will understand our mind, our life, our body. The boys are doing alot, smearing colors, smearing the red powder on each other, intoxicated by the festivity. Tell me, isn't it beautiful? It is all one, not two. This is great. The "Holi" play is a blissful happy festival. In every house, in every village, in every province, in every place they are playing the Holi play. Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna, Ah-ha!

At Dakshineswar, on one side there is the Mother's temple, on another side, the temple of Radha Krishna. Thakur, sitting in the Nath Mandir, in the imagination (having a beautiful face), sitting by the Ganges, he saw this great thing (truth).

This day is our great wealth (glory). The wealth that is outside, this is lost, destroyed. But ths other wealth will never be destroyed. Why? As in the Satya Yuga there was Narayan, and in Tetreya [sp?] Yuga there was Ram, and in Dwapor [sp?] there was Krishna, so in the Kali Yuga there will be Kalangkya [sp?] Avatar. Or Sri Chaitanyadev, appearing, raising the Hem Donda (golden scepter) in his hands.. do you know what his dictum was?

(Sings): Hari bol, Hari bol, Hari bol, mon amar! (Oh my mind, sing Hari, sing Hari!) The golden scepter raised in his arm, intoning the name of Hari, janama Hari (stealing my birth), karma Hari, (stealing my actions), [..?] Hari (stealing speech). Stealing everything.. that's why He is called "Hari". So Thakur, or Chaitanyadev always said:

Kothay he hridoynotho, ekbar ashi dao he dekha.
Amar antore boshile Prabhu, Ami kobo duti kotha.
Kothay he hridoynotho, ekbar ashi dao he dekha.
Ashitechi feeray guray, tumi to deke feeray,
Mohr koto mormo betha.
Kothay he hridoynotho, ekbar ashi dao he dekha.
Amaro duhkha kahini, tumi ki kobhu jononi,
Jeler shuno bosho kothay.
Kothay he hridoynotho, ekbar ashi dao he dekha."

Sri Thakur Ramakrishna has gone. Again, our Chaitanyadev, raising the golden scepter in his arm, in the dress of Radha, on Holi day, adopting the attitude of a female companion of Krishna, dancing, became completely intoxicated. So today on our "Holi" topic, this little bit.. just so much as He has by his grace make me speak, so much I have spoken. Because I have no power whatever to make a speak. Because that which he makes us speak, that we speak. Didn't Tulsidas say:

"Bhat ke acha bolne chalna, bora ke acha chup.
Bhek ke acha borosha badur, aj ke acha du."

Perhaps I by my mouth I have spoken a lot but Thakur has said, "Hey, listen! That which is spoken by mouth has no power. That which is useful (powerful) cannot be spoken in words." If there is a strong work (shakti kaj), that cannot be revealed by words. Speech is one of the senses. When we are merged in that great state, when we re seeing that great radiant truth, absorbed in samadhi, then... That is beyond the range of speech. Speech has lapsed (is dead). Basha, pasha. ("Words are dice-play"). That's what speech is.

But on the other hand, there is a need for speech. Why? As, if you give manure to a plant, it will become strong, in the same way this "Sat Upadesh," (the teachings of truth), "Sat Sanga," (the company of the true), "Sat kotha" (telling the truth), "Hari Kotha" (talk of God), "Govinda kotha" (talk about Govinda), and all other kinds of "Mahapurush kotha" (talk about great men). Listening to that ..

Our mind, which is a drunk elephant, which is unsteady, this mind will become still, at peace. When the mind becomes still, then there is no need for any more speech. So for the stilling of the mind there is Sat Sanga. For this reason Tulsidas has written something more:

Sadguru pao, beda batau,
Gyan kori upadesh.
Koila ki moila bhoray,
Jut kore Ag porobesh.

When our discrimination will wake up, then there will be complete absorption in love. Then our inner impurities, our inner darkness, our inner blemishes will be completely melted away. Then there will be "Holi." Yes, then there will be Holi. The meaning of the word "holi" is "ho-li". And we are swinging Bhagavan in the cradle. The swinging of the samsar maya. This toy swing that we push, in that swing we are really swinging God. Today we are playing Holi! What wonderful fun!

Here Bhagavan has told us about Holi. Sri Krishna by his own mouth, calling everyone has said "Come, come! Everyone come quickly! We will play this game of colors." Syringe, colors. What fun play! See what an amusing game samsar is playing. How much they are playing the color game.

Sometimes we are laughing, sometimes we are crying, sometimes thinking, and again sometimes attacked by disease. We lie down, call the doctor, and again after a time, we are finished! Brothers, friends, one's own people come, tie up the catuli [ the cot for carrying the dead to the fire]. And when they take one away, what do they say? "Hari bol!" Ah! What sport! This play of samsar is the Holi play. Whatever you can play, play. Keep your aim on the root, that beginningless beginning, Govinda. Keep your aim on the Lord, Govinda. Then your Holi play will be "ripe". This is not Holi. In this outer world it is the Holi of the inner world. The Holi demoness, Maya! That "me," "me" is maya, the silver (?) demoness. She is devouring all, she must be burned up. Burn it up, that we must do. then Holi will be realized (attained).

As Sri Krishna, coming to Nandalal, drinking from the Putna [sp?] demon's breast.. if it was a demon, so what? She held Sri Krishna to her breast and died. When her body was set on the funeral pyre, then from her body there came the smell of sandalwood, and the smoke, that flame of the fire, what a beautiful scent of sandalwood went rising up. Garga Rishi was asked by the group of cowherds, "Thakur, this is a demoness. What is the reason for such a beautiful scent of the wind?" Then Garga said, "Oh, don't you know? Taking Gopal to her breast, she has given up the body. Her whole body, fanned by the vernal southern breeze, has been changed into sandalwood.

And so in our Hindu community we give our children names like Ram, another we name Narayan, another Govinda, or Keshav, or Gopal, and so on. Why? [ .... sanscrit] So that at the time of our death we can one time remember and say the name of God. This is japa-tapas. [....?]. This was the real reason. That when the time of departure comes, when we are seized by death, if we then fall into a lapse [..?] then we will not be able to say his name.

And so Thakur used to say, "Oh practice, practice! If you practice, then at that time, in a time of need, you will remember. Nitai used to say that too. [..sanscrit] If you don't practice, why will you remember at the last hour?

(End translation)