Excerpts from
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
(source is here)

M. meets Sri Ramakrishna for the first time

The Kali Temple in Dakshineswar on the bank of the Ganga. The temple of the Mother Kali. Spring time, the month of February 1882. One day after the birthday of Thakur on Thursday, 23 February, Thakur went for a cruise on a steamer with Keshab Sen and Joseph Cook. It is a few days later. The evening shades are approaching. M. comes in Thakur Sri Ramakrishna's room. This is his first visit.

He sees a roomful of people, seated motionless and drinking the nectar of his words. Thakur is seated on the bedstead, his face towards the east. He is talking of Hari with a smiling face. The bhaktas are seated on the floor.

When does renunciation of karma take place?

M. looks in and stands speechless. He wonders as if it is Sukadeva talking of the story of the Lord and at that spot have gathered together all the places of pilgrimage. Or is it Sri Chaitanya sitting in the holy land of Puri singing the names and glories of Bhagavan (the beloved Lord) and seated before him are Ramananda, Swarup and other bhaktas! Says Thakur, "When just at the name of Hari or Rama your hair stand on end and tears flow from your eyes, know it for certain that sandhya[8] and other daily services will not be needed any more. And other daily services are over for you. You have then gained the right to give up karmas (work).  Karmas, indeed, fall off on their own. In that state mere repetition of the name of Rama, or Hari, or Omkar[9] is enough." And he adds, "Sandhya ends in Gayatri[10] and Gayatri in Om."

M. has come here walking from garden to garden with Siddhu[11] from Barahnagar. It is Sunday, 26 February, 15th Falgun. It is holiday, so he has come out for a walk. A little earlier he was having a stroll in the garden of Prasanna Bannerji. It was there that Siddhu said, "There is a beautiful garden on the bank of the Ganga. Will you like to see it? A paramahansa lives there."

Entering the garden through the main gate, M. and Siddhu came direct to Sri Ramakrishna's room. M. stands speechless as he beholds. He thinks, "How charming is this place! How charming is this man! How sweet is his talk! I don't feel like leaving this place!" After a while he says to himself, "But let me once see where I have come! I will then come back and sit here."

As he comes out of the room with Siddhu, the sweet sound of arati[12] starts. Cymbals, bells and drums all begin to sound together. From the southern side of the garden musical notes emerge from the Nahabat. Floating over the bosom of the Bhagirathi (Ganga), the musical notes begin to merge somewhere far far away. The breeze of the spring is gentle and fragrant with the sweet odour of many a flower. Moonlight starts spreading. It seems as if preparations for the arati of deities are afoot all around. Witnessing arati in the twelve Shiva temples and in the temples of Radhakanta and Bhavatarini, M. is filled with supreme joy. Siddhu says, "This is Rasmani's temple. Here the gods are ministered everyday from morning till evening. Many holy guests and the poor come here."

Both of them wend their way through the grand brick quadrangle, as they emerge talking out of Bhavatarini temple and again reach in front of Sri Ramakrishna's room. Now they find that the door of the room is closed.

The incense has been burnt a little while before. M.  is educated in English ways, he cannot enter the room all at once. Atthe door stands Vrinde (the maidservant). Asks M., "I say, is the sadhu maharaj (holy man) in the room now?"

Vrinde -- Yes, he is inside the room.

M. -- How long has he been here?

Vrinde -- Oh! many many years.

M. -- Well, does he read many books?

Vrinde -- Oh dear, books or such like that! They are all on his tongue.

M. is fresh from college. He is all the more surprised to hear that Thakur Sri Ramakrishna does not read books at all.

M. -- Well, perhaps he will now perform sandhya! Can we enter the room? Will you please tell him about us?

Vrinde -- Why, go in my children. Go inside and sit in the room.

Thereupon they enter the room and see that no other person is there. Thakur Sri Ramakrishna is seated alone on the bedstead in the room. Incense is burning in the room and all the doors are closed. M. folds his hands to pay his obeisance as he enters the room. At the bidding of Thakur Sri Ramakrishna, M. and Siddhu take their seats on the floor. Thakur asks, "Where do you live? What do you do? What has brought you to Barahnagar?" etc. M. answers all his queries but he notices that in the course of conversation, Thakur lets his mind go to some other object on which he is meditating. Later, he heard that this is called bhava[13]. It is like a man sitting with a fishing rod in his hand to catch a fish. The fish comes and begins to bite at the bait. The float trembles. The man is now all attention. He grasps the rod and looks at the float with a concentrated mind. He talks to no one. Sri Ramakrishna's state is exactly like this. Later, he hears and sees that Thakur goes into this state after sandhya (evening). At times, he loses all external consciousness.

M. -- You would now perform your sandhya. In that case, we may leave.

Sri Ramakrishna (in bhava) -- No. Sandhya! No, it is not that.

And after some conversation, M. offers obeisance and takes his leave.

Says Thakur, "Come again."

On his way back, M. says to himself, "Who may this god man be! How is that my soul longs to see him again! Can a man be great without reading books? What a wonder that I feel like visiting him again! He too has said, 'Come again.' I shall come tomorrow or day after in the morning."

Chapter Three

Akanda mandalakaram vyaptam yen characharam,
Tatpadam darshitam yen tasmaiya Sri Guruve namah.

- Vishveshwara Tantra  2

[Salutations to the guru who has made it possible to realize Him who pervades this entire universe of movable and immovable objects.]             

Second meeting and conversation between the Guru and the disciple

The second meeting. Eight o'clock in the morning. Thakur is going to have his shave. The winter cold is still lingering, so he wears a moleskin shawl. The shawl is hemmed with muslin. On seeing M., says he, "So you have come! Good, take your seat here."

He says this in the south-eastern verandah. The barber is there. Thakur sits in the same verandah for his shave and talks to M. in between.  He wears the shawl on his body in the same manner with slippers on his feet. His face is smiling. He stammers a little while talking.

Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) --Well, where do you live?

M. -- In Calcutta, sir.

Sri Ramakrishna -- To whom have you  come here?

M. -- I came here in Barahnagar to visit my elder sister, at Ishan Kaviraj's house.                


Keshab Chandra - Sri Ramakrishna weeps before the Mother

Sri Ramakrishna -- Well, how is Keshab doing at present? He was seriously ill.

M. -- I too heard the same, perhaps he is well now.

Sri Ramakrishna -- I made a vow to offer a green coconut and sugar to the Divine Mother for Keshab's recovery. I would sometimes wake up at midnight and cry before the Mother, saying, 'O Mother, grant that Keshab may get well. If Keshab does not live, whom shall I talk to when I go to Calcutta?' That is why I vowed to offer green coconut and sugar.

"I say, one Mr. Cook was here. Does he lecture? Keshab took me on board a steamer. Mr. Cook was there too."

M. -- Yes, I did hear of him but have not attended
any of his lectures. I do not know much about him.

Household and the duty of a father

Sri Ramakrishna -- Pratap's brother came here and stayed for some days. He had no work to do. He said that he would stay here. He had left his wife, son and daughter in the care of his father-in-law. He has many children. I took him to task. Just see, he has so many children! Should they be fed and looked after by others of the locality! He is not ashamed that somebody else should take care of his family and that they should be a burden to his father-in-law. I rated him rather severely and told him to look for work. It was then that he went away from here.

Chapter Fou r

Ajnana timirandhaysa jnananjan shalakaya,
Chakshu runmilitam yen tasmai Sri Guruve namah. 
- Vishveshwar Tantra 3

[Salutations to the Guru who with the collyrium stick of knowledge has opened the eyes of one blinded by the disease of ignorance.] 

M. is reprimanded - his egotism is crushed

Sri Ramakrishna (to M.) -- Are you married?

M. -- Yes, sir.

Sri Ramakrishna (startled) -- I say, Ramalal[14]! Ah me! He has already taken a wife.

M. gets confused and sits speechless, hanging down his head like one guilty of a serious offence.  He says to himself, "Is marrying so bad?" Thakur further asks, "Have you any children?"

M. can hear the beating of his own heart. Says he in fear, "Yes sir, I have children." Thakur rebukes M. all the more saying, "Alas, you have children too!" M. is stunned by this blow.

His egotism is getting crushed. After a while, Thakur Sri Ramakrishna looks at him kindly and speaks affectionately, ''See, you have some good signs. I can know it by looking at one's eyes and forehead."

"Well, what kind of wife you have? Is she vidya shakti[15], or avidya shakti2?"

What is jnana? Image worship

M. -- Sir, she is good but ajnani (ignorant).

Sri Ramakrishna  (sharply) -- And you are jnani (wise)!

What is jnana and what is ajnana, M. does not know. Till now, he only knows that a jnani is he who has received education and can read books. This false notion was afterwards taken away. Then he learnt that to know the Lord is jnana and not to know Him is ajnana. Thakur said, "Are you jnani?" M.'s egotism again receives a hard blow.

Sri Ramakrishna -- Well, do you believe in God with form or formless God?

M.  (confused, to himself) "Is it possible to have faith in the formless God and believing at the same time that He is with form? How can it be that while believing God to be with form, one can think of Him as formless. Can the two contradictory states coexist in the same substance? Can white things like milk be also black?

M. -- I only like the formless God.

Sri Ramakrishna -- That is good. Having faith in either of the two (aspects) is enough. To think of God as formless is quite right. Even so, don't think that only this idea is true and all others are false. Know this that the formless God is true and so is
God- with form. You must hold on to that what you believe.

Hearing again and again that both the ideas are true, M. is speechless. Never has he read such a thing in any of his books.

His egotism is crushed the third time but it is not yet completely knocked out. So, he advances with his reasoning a little further.

M. -- Sir, well, let one believe that God is with form but surely He is not an earthen image.

Sri Ramakrishna --- My dear sir, why earthen? It is the image of Spirit!

M. does not understand the significance of the 'image of the Spirit'. He says, "Well, should one not make it clear to those who worship the image of clay that there is no Lord in an earthen image and that while worshipping they should only keep God in view and not worship the clay."

Lecture and Thakur Sri Ramakrishna

Sri Ramakrishna  (sharply) -- It is fashionable for Calcutta people to lecture and bring others to light. How to bring light to themselves, they do not know. Who are you to teach others? He who is the Lord of the universe will Himself teach. He who has made this universe, the moon, the sun, the seasons, the human beings and the beasts, He who has made provision of food for men and beasts, and parents to rear and love will Himself teach. He has made this much, will He not arrange it too? If there is a need to teach, God Himself will surely make them understand. And then, God is antaryamin (knower of heart within). If there is some mistake in worshipping the clay image, does He not know that He Himself is being called upon? He is pleased with this very worship. Why should you have headache over it? Seek that you may yourself have jnana and develop bhakti.

This time M.'s egotism is completely crushed.

He says to himself, "What he says is indeed true. What need have I go about preaching to others? Have I myself known the Lord? Nor have I developed bhakti for Him. 'Bidding my friend Shankra to lie down on my bed when I have nowhere to lie upon.' Knowing nothing, listening to none and yet going out to preach to others! It would indeed be shameful, a great folly. Is this Mathematics, or History, or Literature that you can teach to others? It is the science of the Lord. Whatever he (Thakur) is saying s fully appeals to me.

This was M.'s first and last attempt to argue with Thakur.

Sri Ramakrishna -- You were talking of worshipping the clay images. Even if made of clay, these need to be worshipped. The Lord Himself has provided various forms of worship. He who is the Lord of the universe has made all this - to suit men in different stages of life. The mother so arranges the food for her children that everyone gets, what agrees with him.

"Say, a mother has five children and she has fish to cook. She makes different dishes out of it and gives each one of her children what suits him. Pulao[16] with fish for one; fish with sour tamarind for another; charchari[17] of fish yet for another, and fried fish still for another - she prepares exactly what they like, exactly what agrees with their stomach. Understand?

M. -- Yes, sir.                                                                                    

Chapter Five

Sansararnavaghore yahe karnadharswarupakah,
Namostu Ramakrishnaye tasmai Sri Gurve namah. 

[Salutations to Sri Ramakrishna, salutations to that Guru who is the pilot to take across the deep sea of the world.]

How to gain bhakti?

M.  -- How may one fix one's mind on the Lord?

Sri Ramakrishna -- One must chant without ceasing the name of the Lord and His glories. And keep company of the holy - one must frequently go to God's bhaktas, or sadhus. One's mind does not fix itself on the Lord while living night and day in the midst of worldly activities and family life. Hence, one must go into solitude now and then to meditate on God. In the first stage it is very hard to fix the mind on the Lord unless one frequently goes into solitude.

"When the plant is young, it needs a hedge around it. Without the hedge goats and cows eat it up.

"The mind, the solitary corner and the forest are the places where you will meditate. And you will always have good thoughts in your mind. The Lord alone is real, i.e. the eternal substance, and all else is unreal, i.e. transitory. Discriminating thus, you will shake off attachment to the perishable things of the world."

M. (humbly) -- How to live in the household?

Sannyasa in the household - the way - sadhana in solitude

Sri Ramakrishna -- You will do all your duties but keep your mind fixed on God. Wife, son, father and mother - you will live with them all and serve them as if they are your own. But you will know in your heart that they are really not yours.

"A rich man's maidservant attends to all her duties but her mind is always set upon her own home in the village. Besides, she nurses her master's children as if they were her own. She calls out: 'My Rama, my Hari,' but all the while she knows fully well that they are not hers.

"The tortoise moves about in water but do you know where its mind abides? On the bank of the river, on the dry land, where its eggs are laid. You will attend to all your worldly work but take care that your mind rests on the Lord.

"If you enter the world (household) before you have acquired bhakti for the Lord, surely you will get entangled more and more. Misfortune, grief and ills of the world will make you lose your balance of mind. And the more you think of worldly matters, the more will come the attachment.

"Rub your hands with oil before you break the jack-fruit, otherwise its milky exudation will stick to your hands. First get the oil of bhakti for the Lord and then engage into the affairs of the world (household).

"But to acquire bhakti, solitude is needed. If you want to make butter, the curds have to be set in some lonely corner. The curds will not set if disturbed. Then you have to sit in a quiet place, giving up all other work and churn the curds. Only then you can get butter.

"Besides, by giving your mind to God in solitude, you gain jnana (spiritual wisdom), vairagya (dispassion) and bhakti. But if you give the same mind to the world, it becomes vulgar. In the world there is nothing but the thoughts of 'woman and gold[18]'.

"The world is like water and the mind like milk. If the milk is poured in water, it will get mixed with water and become one. You will not be able to get pure milk, howsoever much you may try. But if the milk is turned into curds and butter made out of it, it will swim over water when placed in it. So, first get the butter of jnana and bhakti by practising sadhana (spiritual disciplines) in a solitary place. This butter when put in the water of the world will not mix with it. It will swim on its surface.

"Along with this the practice of discrimination is also needed. 'Woman and gold' are transitory, the Lord is the only reality. What does money give? It gives us food (rice and dal), clothes and a place to live in - thus far, no further. But it does not help attain Bhagavan. So money cannot be the end of life. This is the process of discrimination. Do you see this?"

M. -- Yes, sir. I have recently read in Prabodh Chandrodaya (a Sanskrit play) about discrimination.

Sri Ramakrishna -- Yes, discrimination. Just think, what is there in money or in a beautiful body? Think over it, in the body of a beautiful woman also there are mere bones, flesh, fat, urine and excreta - all these. Why does a man give his mind to such a thing and lose sight of the Lord? Why does he forget the Lord?           

How to see the Lord?

M. -- Sir, can the Lord be seen?

Sri Ramakrishna -- Yes. There is no doubt about it. Going into solitude from time to time, chanting His name and His attributes, practising discrimination - these are the means one should employ.

M. -- What state of mind leads to God-vision?

Sri Ramakrishna --- Cry with a very yearning heart and you shall see God. People shed pitcherfuls of tears for wife and children, they weep streams of tears for money. But who cries for the Lord? 'Call out to God with a longing and yearning heart.' Saying this Thakur sings a song -

Call out with a yearning, O mind! I'll see, how will Mother Shyama hold Herself from you?

How will Shyama stay away? How can Kali remain away?

O mind, if you are within yourself take hibiscus flowers and bel leaves.

Smear them with sandal paste of bhakti, and make a handful offering of them at Her feet.

"Yearning in the heart brings the dawn. Thereafter, the sun is visible. After longing comes God-vision.

"You can see God if you have these three attachments put together: The attachment of a worldly man to the things of the world, the attachment of a mother to her child, and the attachment of a chaste wife to her husband. If these three attachments are put altogether (for God) in a man, the power of these attachments makes one see God.

"The real thing is that you must love the Lord the way a mother loves her son, a chaste wife her husband, and a worldly man the things of the world. When you have the combined intensity of love of all these three persons for the Lord and you put together all these three attachments, you will see Him.

"One should call upon God with a yearning heart.

"The kitten knows only to cry mew, mew to its mother. Wherever the mother keeps it, it remains there - now in the kitchen, now on the floor, and now on the bed. When it feels hurt, it simply cries 'mew,' 'mew' and knows nothing else. Wherever the mother may be, it comes on hearing its mew, mew.'  "                                  

Chapter Six

Sarvabhutastham atmanam sarvabhutani cha atmani,
Ikshati yogayuktatma sarvatra samadarshanah.
- (Gita 6:29)

[His mind being harmonized by yoga, he sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself; he sees the same in all.]

Third meeting - Narendra Nath, Bhavanath and M.

M. was then putting up at his sister's house in Barahnagar. Ever since he saw Sri Ramakrishna, M. thought of him every moment -- as if he always has before his eyes the same joyful image and listening to his words, sweet as nectar. He says to himself: How has this poor brahmin ascertained all these deep truths? M. has never seen earlier anybody explaining so clearly all those things. He thinks day and night when will he go to him and meet him again.

Not long after it is Sunday, 5 March. He reaches the garden of Dakshineswar with Nepal Babu of Barahnagar at four o'clock. He finds Sri Ramakrishna in the same room, seated on the smaller bedstead. The room is filled with bhaktas. It is Sunday, so the bhaktas have time to see him. M. does not yet know any of them. He takes a seat aside in the assemblage and observes that Thakur is talking to the bhaktas with a smiling face.

Addressing a young man of nineteen years old, Thakur looks at him and joyfully talks on a number of matters. The young man is Narendra (Vivekananda). He is a college student and often visits the Sadharan Brahmo Samaj. His words are all full of spirit. His eyes are bright and the looks of a bhakta.

M. sees that the subject of the talk is the conduct of worldly men attached to the pleasures of the world; people who ridicule those who seek the Lord and religion. And how many wicked people there are in the world and how to deal with them, such is the topic of conversation.

Sri Ramakrishna (to Narendra) -- What do you say, Narendra? Worldly men say all sort of things. But see, when the elephant wends its way, so many animals bark and make such other noises from behind. But the elephant does not even look at them. If someone condemns you, what will you think of him?

Narendra -- I shall think that the dogs are barking.

Sri Ramakrishna (smiling) -- No, my child, you mustn't go that far. Know that the Lord lives in all things. Even so, you must mix with the good and keep distance from the bad even while living with them. Narayana (God) is present even in a tiger but surely you cannot hug him for that reason. (Laughter.) If you say that the tiger is also Narayana, why should I run away? To this, the answer is - he who says, 'Run away' is also Narayana. Why should you not listen to him?

"Listen to a story -

"In a certain forest lived a sadhu. He had a number of disciples. One day he taught them saying, 'Narayana is in all things. Knowing this you will offer namaskar to all.' One day a disciple went out to collect firewood for homa (sacrificial fire). Suddenly, there was a shout, 'Run, run away wherever you may be - a mad elephant is rushing out.' Everyone ran away except this disciple. He reasoned, 'There is Narayana in elephant too, why should I then run away?' Thinking thus, he kept standing there. Offering namaskar to the elephant (as the Lord), he started offering prayers. The mahut (driver of the elephant), on the other hand, shouted, 'Run away, run away.' Still the disciple did not move. At last, the elephant came and seized him with his trunk, threw him aside and went away. The disciple stunned, scratched and torn, lay unconscious.

"Hearing this, his guru and other disciples carried him to the ashrama and gave him medicines. After sometime when he came to himself, one of them asked him, 'Why did you not move away even when you heard that an elephant was coming?' He answered, 'Because gurudeva told us that Narayana Himself is present in all human beings and other living creatures. Seeing the elephant Narayana coming I did not, therefore, quit the spot.' At this the guru said, 'My son, indeed, it is true that the elephant Narayana was coming but my child, Mahut Narayana (the driver God) had warned you. If everybody is Narayana, why did you not listen to the latter? You should have paid heed to the Mahut Narayana.'

"The scriptures say, 'Apo Narayana (water is God).' But some water is used for divine service while some of it is used only for washing the face, mouth and hands, and also utensils or clothes, but the latter cannot be used for drinking or divine service. Similarly, Narayana is in the hearts of all holy men as well as unholy men, bhaktas and non-bhaktas. But one cannot have dealings with unholy, non-bhaktas and bad people. One cannot be close to them. With some one may only have nodding acquaintance while with others, even that is not possible. One must live apart from such people."

A Particular Bhakta -- Sir, when a bad person comes to harm us or actually does so, should we do nothing then?

The household and tamoguna

Sri Ramakrishna -- To live in the world and save oneself from the hands of bad people, one should make a show of tamoguna (the spirit of resisting evil). But it will not be right to harm anyone thinking that he may harm you.

"A cowboy used to graze his cattle in a field. In that field was a terrible venomous serpent. Everybody was very cautious because of the danger of the reptile. One day a brahmachari was passing through that field. The cowboys ran up to him and said, 'Holy man, please don't go this way. There is a terrible venomous snake there.' The brahmachari said, 'Child, never mind. I am not afraid of it. I know a mantra (a spell to ward off this danger).' Saying so, the brahmachari moved towards that direction. No cowboy accompanied him out of fear. And here came the snake raising its hood moving swiftly. But as it came near, the brahmachari muttered a mantra and lo! the snake fell at his feet like an earthworm. 'Well,' said the brahmachari, 'Why do you go about harming others? Come, I'll give you a mantra. By repeating this mantra you will develop bhakti for Bhagavan, you will attain Him and your desire to harm others will leave you.' Saying so, he gave the mantra to the snake. Having received the mantra, the snake bowed before the guru and asked, 'Sir, what sadhana (spiritual practice) should I carry out, please tell me this.' The guru said, 'Repeat this mantra and also don't harm anybody. I shall come again,' said the brahmachari before leaving.

"Some days passed thus. The cowboys noticed that now the snake did not bite. Even when they struck it with stones, it did not feel angry. It had become like an earthworm. One day a cowboy went near it and catching hold of its tail whirled it round and round and dashed it several times against the ground. The snake vomited blood and became unconscious. It could not move. The cowboys thought that it was dead. So they left the place.

''Late at night, the snake regained conscious-ness. Slowly it dragged itself into its hole with great difficulty. Its body broke and it had no strength to move. After a few days when its body was reduced to a mere skeleton, it would come out of its hole once in the night to look for food; for fear (of the boys) it did not come out during the day. After its initiation with the mantra it ceased to harm anybody. It lived as well as it could on leaves and fruits fallen on the ground from the trees.

''Almost after a year the brahmachari came that way again. As he reached the spot, he looked about for the snake. The cowboys said that it was dead. But the brahmachari found it hard to believe. He knew that the snake had taken the mantra and so the death was out of question before it has seen God. So he made a search and called out for it in the same direction by the name he had given it. Hearing the voice of its guru, the snake came out of its hole and bowed down reverently before him. The brahmachari asked, 'How are you?' The snake replied, 'I am quite well, sir.' The brahmachari asked, 'But why are you so weak?' The snake said, 'Holy sir! You had asked me not to harm anybody. So I live on leaves and fruits. Perhaps this is the reason why I have grown weak.' The snake had developed the quality of sattva (the quality leading one Godward), you see. That's why it did not get angry with anyone. It had forgotten that the cowboys had tried to kill it. The brahmachari said, 'Your food alone could not have brought you to this pass. Surely there is something else. Just think over it.' The snake then recalled that the cowboys had once whirled it round and round and dashed it against the ground. So it said, 'Holy sir! Now I see it all. The cowboys one day threw me violently on the ground. They are ignorant. They do not know what change has come over my mind. How could they know that I was not going to bite anybody or do any harm?' The brahmachari said, 'Fie! You are so stupid that you don't even know how to save yourself. What I forbade you was to bite any creature. I didn't ask you not to hiss at anybody. Why did you not frighten them away by hissing?'

"One should hiss to bad persons to frighten them away, so that they may not harm you later on. One must not inject poison into them and injure them."

Are all men equal? Their natures differ

"In the Lord's creation there are different types of creatures and plants. Amongst the animals, there are bad as well as good ones. There are beasts like tigers who kill others. Amongst the trees, some bring forth fruit sweet like nectar, while the others yield poisonous fruit. In the same way, there are good men and bad men; holy as well as unholy;   men attached to the world and then bhaktas also.

"People can be divided into four classes - worldly people bound to the world, seekers after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-free.

"The ever-free, like Narada and others - they are those who abide in the world for the good of mankind, to teach truth to others.

"The bound souls - they are attached to worldly objects. They forget God and never give a thought to Him.

"The seekers after liberation - they try to get liberated. But only some of them attain liberation, the others  cannot.

"The liberated ones - they are not attached to 'woman and gold', for example sadhus and mahatmas (great spiritual personalities). In their mind there is no attachment for the worldly things. They always meditate on the lotus feet of Hari[19].

"Suppose a net is cast into a tank. Some of the fish are too clever never to be caught in the net. They can be likened to the ever-free ones. However, most of the fish get caught in the net. Of these, some try to escape. They are like the seekers after liberation. However, not all the fish can escape - only a few are able to leap out of the net. The boys then shout: Look here! A big fish has escaped. But most of the fish caught in the net cannot escape - they don't even try to do so. And what is more, they hold the net with the mouth and lie quietly hiding themselves in the mud of the tank. They think, 'We are quite safe now; there is no danger.' But they do not know that the fisherman would haul them up with a jerk and throw them out on the river bank. They may indeed be compared to worldly men."

 Worldly men - bound in fetters

"Worldly men remain bound to 'woman and gold' of the world. They are bound hand and foot. And they think that they can find happiness only in 'woman and gold' of the world and feel secure in it. They know not that they will die in that alone. When a worldly man is on his deathbed, his wife says to him, 'You are departing. What have you done for me?' Besides, maya is such that on seeing a lamp burning for long the bound man says, 'Oil will get consumed, lower the wick.' And here he is lying on the deathbed!

"The worldly man does not think of the Lord. If he has leisure, even then he indulges either in empty talk or engages himself in useless activities. Upon being asked he says, 'I am not able to sit idle, so I am setting a hedge.' Perhaps when the time hangs heavy on him, he starts playing cards." (All laugh.)

Chapter Seven

Yo mam ajam anadim cha vetti lokamaheshvaram,
Asammudhah sa martyeshu sarvapapaih pra-muchyate.
- Gita 10:3

[He who knows Me as unborn and beginningless, and the great Lord of the worlds, he is no more deluded amongst mortals and freed from all sins.]

The way - faith

A Bhakta -- Sir, is there no way out for such a worldly man?

Sri Ramakrishna -- Certainly there is a way. Now and then one must seek the company of holy men and at times one should go to meditate upon God in solitude. And one should practise discrimination and pray to God: 'Grant me bhakti and faith.'

"Once you acquire faith, your work is done. There is nothing higher than faith.

(To Kedar) "You have heard of the power of faith! The Purana says that Ramachandra, the Perfect Brahman and Narayana, had to build a bridge to reach Lanka. But Hanuman by dint of his faith in the name of Rama jumped across the sea. He had no need for a bridge. (All laugh.)

"Vibhishana wrote the name of Rama on a leaf and tied it within the folds of the cloth of a man who wanted to cross the sea. Vibhishana said to him, 'Fear not. Have faith and walk across the sea. But mind you, as soon as you lose your faith you will drown.' This man was walking nicely on the sea till he was seized with an intense desire to see just once what was there in the folds of his cloth. He untied the folds of his cloth and saw that it was just the name of Rama written on the leaf. Then he said to himself, 'What! Just the name of Rama written thereon!' And on the instant with the loss of faith, he went under the water.

"One who has faith in the Lord can be redeemed of great sins no matter he may have committed the vilest sins - killed a cow, a brahmin or a woman. Let him only say, 'I shall not do so again,' he need not fear anything."

Saying so, Thakur sings.

The vilest sin and the great importance of Name

Mother, If I die with the Name of  Durga on my lips,

I shall see, O Shankari, how You shall not redeem me?

If I kill the cow, or a brahmin, or destroy the child in the womb;

If I indulge in drinking wine and the like, killing woman,

For all these sins I care not the least,

As I can get at the feet of Brahman in a moment.

 Narendra - the Homa bird

"You all see this boy. He is so different here. When a naughty boy is in the presence of his father, he behaves as if there is a goblin in front. But when he plays in the chandni, he is quite different. A boy like this belongs to the class of the ever-perfect. They never get attached to the world. When they get a little older, they feel an awakening within the heart and move Godward at once. They come to the world to teach mankind. They have no love for things of the world. Their mind never goes towards 'woman and gold'.

"There is a mention of a bird called Homa in the Vedas. It lives high above in the sky. There in the sky itself it brings forth its egg. As soon as the egg is brought forth, it begins to fall. But it is so high that the egg goes on falling for days. During the fall it breaks and then the young bird coming out of it goes on falling. While it is going down, its eyes and wings open out. Just as it opens its eyes it sees that it is falling and shall soon be smashed on touching the earth. Then it suddenly shoots upward towards its mother and attains a great height."

Narendra rises and leaves.

Kedar, Pranakrishna, M. and many others are in the room.

Sri Ramakrishna -- You see, Narendra excels in everything - singing, playing on musical instruments, reading and writing. The other day he had a discussion with Kedar. He just chopped off  Kedar's argument. (Thakur and all others laugh.) (To M.) Is there a book in English on reasoning?

M. -- Yes, sir. It is called 'Logic' in English.

Sri Ramakrishna -- Well, give me some idea of it.

M. now finds himself in a difficult situation. Says he, "One part of logic is reasoning from the general proposition to a particular. For example: All men will die. Pundits are men. So pundits will also die.

"Another division deals with reasoning from a particular illustration, or an event to a general proposition. Such as:

This crow is black,

That crow is black, 
(And so) all the crows I see are black. 
Hence, all crows are black.

"But to arrive at a conclusion in such a way is open to fallacy, for it is possible that you may find a white crow somewhere while looking for it. An another illustration: When there is rain, there was a cloud or still it is there. So the general proposition is that the rain comes from the cloud. Yet another illustration: This man has thirty two teeth. That man also has the same number. And then, everybody we see has thirty two teeth. Thus all men have thirty two teeth.

"So there are such general propositions in the English Logic."

Sri Ramakrishna just heard it all. As he was listening, his mind went elsewhere. So, there was no further talk on this subject.

Chapter Eight

Shrutivipratipanna te yada sthasyati nishchala.

Samadhav achala buddhih tada yogam avapsyasi.

- Gita 2: 53

[When your intellect tossed about by the conflict of opinions has become poised and firmly fixed in equilibrium; then you shall get into yoga.] 

In samadhi

The meeting ended. The bhaktas are walking about here and there. M. too is walking in the Panchavati and  other places. It is about five o'clock. Coming back after some time to Sri Ramakrishna's room he comes upon a strange sight in the small verandah, north of the room.

Sri Ramakrishna is standing still. Narendra is singing a hymn and bhaktas are standing there. M. is charmed to hear the song. Never and nowhere has he heard such a sweet voice except that of Thakur. As he looks at Thakur, he becomes speechless with wonder. Thakur is standing motionless, his eyes move not; it is difficult to say whether he is breathing or not. When asked, a bhakta tells him that it is known as samadhi (divine ecstasy). M. had never seen or heard anything like this. Speechless, he says to himself: Is it possible that the thought of Bhagavan can make one lose so much of outer-consciousness? How great must be one's bhakti and faith who is put into such a state! The song is as follows:

Meditate you upon Hari (the Lord), O my mind! He is the essence of the spirit. He is free from all impurity!

Without equal is His glory, beautiful is His shape, how very beloved He is in the hearts of His bhaktas!

Behold, His beauty is enhanced by fresh manifestations of love! It throws into shade the effulgence of a million moons!

Verily, the lightning flashes out of His glorious beauty! His blessed vision causes hairs to stand on end.

Sri Ramakrishna is deeply touched when this line of the hymn is chanted. The hairs on his body stand on end. His eyes are bedewed with tears of joy. Now and then He smiles, it appears on seeing something. One cannot say what a vision of unequal beauty he is enjoying which puts into shade the effulgence of a million moons! Is this called the vision of the conscious form of Bhagavan? What must be the intensity of the spiritual discipline and austerities, how much bhakti and faith must be there which can bring about such a vision! The song goes on -

Worship His holy feet on the lotus of your heart!

Gaze you upon the matchless beauty of that beloved form. Now that the mind enjoys peace and the eyes are filled with divine love.

That bewitching smile once more! His body becomes motionless in the same manner; eyes fixed! But it seems as if he is beholding some strange vision! And having seen this wonderful vision, he swims in supreme joy.

Now the song comes to an end. Narendra sang:

Inspired with love divine be you immersed, O my mind, in the sweetness of Him who is the fountain of Absolute Intelligence and Bliss.

(O! the joy of the Supreme Consciousness, the joy of love.)

Carrying with him this unique picture of samadhi and the bliss of love in his heart, M. wends his way back home. The heart intoxicating sweet music bubbles up from time to time in his heart -

Inspired with Love divine be you immersed in the fountain of His love. (Be intoxicated in the love of Hari.)

Chapter Nine

Yam labdhva chaparam manyate nadhikah tatah,
Yasmin sthito na dukhena guruna api vichalyate.
-  Gita 6:22

[And having gained which, he thinks that there is no greater gain than that, wherein established he is not shaken even by the heaviest affliction.]

Fourth visit - merry making with Narendra, Bhavanath and others

The next day (6 March) is also a holiday. M. has come  again at three o'clock in the afternoon. Thakur Sri Ramakrishna is seated in the same aforesaid room. A mat is spread on the floor. Narendra, Bhavanath and two other bhaktas are seated there. Some are young men, nineteen or twenty years old. Thakur is sitting on the smaller bedstead and with a smile playing on his face is conversing merrily with the boys.

Seeing M. enter the room, Thakur laughs loudly and says suddenly to the boys, "Look, he is here again!" As he says so he laughs and all join him. M. comes in, salutes him by prostrating himself on the ground and takes a seat. Previously, he had been saluting Thakur while standing with folded hands, after the manner of English educated persons. But today he has learnt to salute by lying down at his feet. As he takes his seat, Sri Ramakrishna tells Narendra and other disciples what has made him laugh.

"Listen, some opium was given to a peacock at four o'clock in the afternoon. Next day the same peacock arrived punctually at four in the afternoon. It has become an addict of opium, so it came punctually for a dose of opium." (All laugh.)

M. says to himself, "He is right. I go back home but my mind, day and night, abides in him alone thinking - when shall I see him, when shall I see him! It seems as if somebody has pulled me to this place. I cannot go anywhere else even if I want to, I have to come here." M. thinks in this way while Thakur amuses himself with the boys as if they are of his age. Peels of laughter begin to rise as though it is a mart of joy.

M. is speechless as he is looking at this unique character. Says he to himself, "Is he the same person whom I saw yesterday in samadhi and in the joy of divine love never seen before? Is he the same man behaving like an ordinary person today? Is it he who on my first visit scolded me while teaching me? Didn't he tell me that God with form and the formless God are both true? Didn't he say to me that the Lord alone is real and all else in the world is transitory? Didn't he advise me to live in the world like a maidservant?"

Thakur Sri Ramakrishna is having great fun and is glancing at M. every now and then. He sees that M. is sitting in silence. Addressing Ramalal he says, "You see, he is a little older, therefore he is somewhat grave. These people are laughing and making so much merry but he is sitting quiet." M. was then about twenty seven years old.

During the conversation they talk of Hanuman, the great bhakta. There is a picture of Hanuman on the wall of Thakur's room. Thakur says: See, the state of mind of Hanuman! He wants none of these: Wealth, honour, bodily comforts. He only longs for Bhagavan. When he was running away with Brahmastra (a heavenly weapon of the Brahma) taken from the crystalline pillar, Mandodari started showing him many kinds of fruits. She thought that tempted by fruits he might climb down and drop the weapon, but Hanuman could not be tricked. He said -

Sri Rama, the Kalpataru (wish fulfilling tree)

Do I stand in need of fruits?
I have got the fruit that has made my life fruitful, 
The tree of the fruit of liberation - Rama - is planted in my heart. 
I sit under the Kalpataru (wish fulfilling tree) of Sri Rama
Whenever I desire any fruit I get it. 
But you speak of the fruit; O woman, I am not bargaining for.
I go leaving the bitter fruit to you.

In samadhi

Thakur sings this very song. And again he goes into the same samadhi. Again his body is motionless, eyes fixed, and he sits still. He is seated the way as if a picture in the photograph. Only just now the bhaktas were laughing and making merry, now they are all gazing at this unique state of Thakur. It is for the second time that M. sees the state of samadhi. After some time a change comes in this state - his body is relaxed and a smile plays on his face. The senses begin to function again in a normal way. Shedding tears of joy from the corners of his eyes, he utters the name, "Rama!  Rama!"

M. says to himself,  "Is this the same great saint who was making fun with the boys! At that time he was as if a child of five years."

Returning to his earlier natural state, Thakur again behaves like an ordinary man. Addressing M. and Narendra says he, "I would like to hear both of you talk in English, and question and reason amongst yourselves."

M. and Narendra both laugh at his words. They talk a little but in Bengali. It is not possible for M. to argue any more before Thakur. His entire tendency to argue, in a way, has been erased by Thakur's grace. How can he argue then? Thakur presses them once again but the talk in English does not come about.  


[1] Hindus who worship God as the Primal Divine Energy

[2] Hindus who worship God as the Preserver (Vishnu)

[3] Offered food

[4] Food offering to Gods

[5] Nectar of divine feet

[6] A fan made of the white hair from the tail of the cow called Chamari.

[7] Consecrated pitcher placed to win Divine favour

[8] Daily service morning, noon and evening, as laid down for the twice-born.

[9] Om, the Vedic symbol for the Supreme Being

[10] The Vedic mantra (sacred text) that the brahmins and other twice-born Hindus repeat everyday while meditating on the Supreme Being

[11] Siddheswar Majumdar. He has his house in north Barahnagar

[12] Waving of lights before sacred images along with singing of hymns

[13] God-consciousness

[14] Ramalal, nephew of Sri Ramakrishna and the priest of Kali Temple

[15] Of divine nature leading to God and to light

[16] A highly spiced fish dish of rice and meat boiled in clarified butter

2 Dry fish with spiced vegetables soaked in oil


[18] Lust and greed

[19] Lord the Preserver

[20] Anna - sixteen annas make one rupee

[21] Rejoicing in that Companionship