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Healing Through Faith and Love - A Case Study of Sri Ramakrishna

Article of the Month - July 2005
Viewed 50251 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
Patron Deity of Bengali Theatre
Patron Deity of Bengali Theatre

It is a little known fact that actors in Bengali theatre, prior to entering the stage, bow down before the image of an unshaved, rustic-looking, middle-aged man, who is now unofficially the patron deity of all dramatic performance in the region. It becomes all the more intriguing when we realize that the gentleman in question was an unlettered individual who was never formally related to theatre and saw only a few plays during his own lifetime.

The story of how this came to be about begins on February 28, 1844, with the birth of a boy named Girish at Calcutta. Girish lost his mother when he was eleven and his father at fourteen. From his boyhood, he was a voracious reader but left school since he found the formal atmosphere detrimental to the process of learning. Without the restraining hand of a loving guardian, Girish's life drifted into drunkenness, debauchery, waywardness and obstinacy. He had to earn his living through a succession of office jobs, which he found thoroughly boring. His spare time was devoted to the theatre, both as playwright and performer. He was, in fact, a bohemian artist. An early marriage proved unable to stabilize his lifestyle and his wife passed away when he was thirty. Thus did he lose his mother in childhood, father in boyhood and wife in early manhood.

For the next fifteen years he worked in various capacities in different offices. He continued to indulge his appetites but also remained devoted to writing and acting. In his late thirties, he had already begun to be recognized as the father of modern Bengali drama. He was single-handedly revitalizing the revival of theatre by producing a vast body of dramatic work in the Bengali language, and at the same time was molding the first generation of actors and actresses by leading from the front; in fact, such was his versatility that he often played two or three roles in the same play. In 1883, the Star Theatre was opened in Calcutta with his money; this later developed into an active center for the evolution of Bengali drama.

Girish Chandra Ghosh (1844-1912)
Girish Chandra Ghosh (1844-1912)

 

 

 

 

In Girish's case, talent and licentiousness gradually achieved a state of peaceful co-existence. He himself sized up his personality as follows: 'from my early boyhood I was molded in a different way. I never learned to walk a straight path. I always preferred a crooked way. From childhood it had been my nature to do the very thing I was forbidden to do.'


 

 

 

Kali Temple of Dakshineswar
Kali Temple of Dakshineswar

 

 

 

 

Skepticism

The course of Girish's tumultuous life continued till he read one day about a holy personality who was living in the famous shrine of Goddess Kali (Dakshineshwar) near Calcutta.

 

 

 

 

 

Sri Ramakrishna in Ecstasy
Sri Ramakrishna in Ecstasy

A skeptical Girish, without ever having met the sage, concluded that he was probably a fake. However, soon after he heard that the guru would be visiting his neighborhood and decided to see him firsthand. It was nearing sunset when Girish reached the place, and lamps were being brought into the room. Yet the ascetic kept asking, "Is it evening?" This confirmed Girish's earlier opinion, 'what pretentious play-acting, it is dusk, lights are burning in front of him, yet he cannot tell whether it is evening or not' thus murmuring under his breath and not recognizing the saint's super conscious stage, he left the premises. Thus was the first impression of Girish Chandra Ghosh, the father of modern Bengali theatre, regarding Sri Ramakrishna, the beloved saint and priest of one of India's most renowned Kali temples.

Some years later, Girish saw the holy man again, at the house of a common acquaintance. In his own words: 'after reaching there, I found that the sage had already arrived and a dancing girl was seated by his side and singing devotional hymns. Quite a large gathering had assembled in the room. Suddenly my eyes were opened to a new vision by the holy man's conduct. I used to think that those who consider themselves param-yogis or gurus do not speak with anybody. They do not salute anybody. If strongly urged they allow others to serve them. But his behavior was quite different. With the utmost humility he was showing respect to everybody by bowing his head on the ground. An old friend of mine, pointing at him, said sarcastically: "The dancing girl seems to have a previous intimacy with him. That's why he is laughing and joking with her." But I did not like these insinuations. Just then, another of my friends said, "I have had enough of this, let's go."' Girish went with him. He had half wanted to stay, but was too embarrassed to admit this, even to himself.

Lessons in Humility

Only a few days after this, on September 21, 1884, the saint and some of his devotees visited the Star Theatre, to see a play based on the life of the great Vaishnava devotee Shri Chaitanya, authored and directed by Girish. The latter reminisced: 'I was strolling in the outer compound of the theatre one day when a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna came up to me and said: "The guru has come to see the play. If you will allow him a free pass, well and good. Otherwise we will buy a ticket for him." I replied: "He will not have to purchase the ticket. But others will have to." Saying this, I proceeded to greet him. I found him alighting from the carriage and entering the compound of the theatre. I wanted to salute him, but before I could do so he saluted me. I returned his greeting. He saluted me again. I bowed my head and he did the same to me. I thought this might continue forever, so I let him perform the last salute (which I answered mentally) and led him upstairs to his seat in the box.'

This was Girish's third meeting with Ramakrishna; but his intellect continued to refuse to accept another human being as a guru. This is how he reasoned: 'after all, the guru is a man. The disciple also is a man. Why should one man stand before another with folded palms and follow him like a slave? But time after time in the presence of Sri Ramakrishna my pride crumbled into dust. Meeting me at the theatre, he had first saluted me. How could my pride remain in the presence of such a humble man? The memory of his humility created an indelible impression on my mind.'

Three days later, Girish was sitting on the porch of a friend's house when he saw Ramakrishna approaching along the street: 'No sooner had I turned my eyes towards him than he saluted me. I returned it. He continued on his way. For no accountable reason my heart felt drawn towards him by an invisible string. I felt a strong urge to follow him. Just then, a person brought to me a message from him and said: "Sri Ramakrishna is calling you." I went. He was seated with a number of devotees around him. As soon as I sat down I asked the following question:

"What is a guru?"

"A guru is like the matchmaker who arranges for the union of the bride with his bridegroom. Likewise a guru prepares for the meeting of the individual soul with his beloved, the Divine Spirit." Actually, Sri Ramakrishna did not use the word matchmaker, but a slang expression, which left a more forceful impression. Then he said: "You need not worry, your guru has already been chosen."

Girish, however, was a complex personality: a mixture of shyness, aggression, humility and arrogance. Although in one corner of his heart he did believe that Ramakrishna was the guru who he had hoped for, another part of his old self revolted against the idea. On December 14th of the same year, the playwright was in his dressing room when a devotee came up to inform him of Ramakrishna's arrival. "All right," Girish said rather haughtily, "take him to the box and give him a seat."

"But won't you come and receive him personally?" The devotee asked.

"What does he need me for? " said the annoyed Girish. Nevertheless, he followed the disciple downstairs. At the sight of Ramakrishna's peaceful countenance Girish's mood changed. He not only escorted the saint upstairs but also bowed down before him and touched his feet. Later Girish said: 'seeing his serene and radiant face, my stony heart melted. I rebuked myself in shame, and that guilt still haunts my memory. To think that I had refused to greet this sweet and gentle soul! Then I conducted him upstairs. There I saluted him touching his feet. Even now I do not understand the reason, but at that moment a radical change came over me and I was a different man.'

Closeup of Ramakrishna's face in Samadhi cropped from a photograph taken on 21 September 1879
Closeup of Ramakrishna's face in Samadhi cropped from a photograph taken on 21 September 1879

The Transforming Power of Faith

'Soon he started conversing with me. He spoke of several things while I listened longingly. I felt a spiritual current passing, as it were, through my body from foot to head and head to foot. All of a sudden Sri Ramakrishna lost outer consciousness and went into ecstasy, and in that mood he started talking with a young devotee. Many years earlier I had heard some slandering remarks against him, made by a very wicked man. I remembered those words, and at that moment his ecstasy broke and his mood changed. Pointing towards me, he said, "There is some crookedness in your heart." I thought, 'Yes indeed. Plenty of it - of various kinds." But I was at loss to understand which kind he was particularly referring to. I asked, "How shall I get rid of it?" "Have faith," Shri Ramakrishna replied.

On another occasion when Ramakrishna offered Girish a spiritual discourse, the latter stopped him short saying: "I won't listen to any advice. I have written cartloads of it myself. It doesn't help. Do something that will transform my life." Girish had a writer's skepticism about the authority of the written word. Ramakrishna was highly pleased to hear his view and asked a disciple to sing a particular song whose words went like this: "Go into solitude and shut yourself in a cave. Peace is not there. Peace is where faith is, for faith is the root of all." At that moment Girish felt himself cleansed of all impurities and doubts: 'my arrogant head bowed low at his feet. In him I had found my sanctuary and all my fear was gone.'

Girish's faith however required constant strengthening; years of suffering and torment had damaged it severely. In a later meeting he again directed the question to Ramakrishna:

"Will the crookedness of my heart go?"

"Yes it will go."

Girish repeated the question and received the same reply. The process was replayed twice until one of the other disciples reprimanded Girish: "Enough. He has already answered you. Why do you bother him again?" The theatre veteran turned towards the devotee to rebuke him since no one who dared criticize him ever escaped the lash of his tongue. But he controlled himself thinking: 'my friend is right. He who does not believe when told once will not believe even if he is told a hundred times.'

Venerating with Poison

One night, while Girish was in a brothel with two of his friends, he felt a sudden desire to see Ramakrishna. Despite the lateness of the hour he and his friends hired a carriage to Dakshineshwar. They were very drunk and everyone was asleep. But when the three tipsily staggered into Ramakrishna's room, he received them joyfully. Going into ecstasy, he grasped both of Girish's hands and began to sing and dance with him. The dramatist thus described his feelings: 'here is a man whose love embraces all - even a wicked man like me, whose own family would condemn me in this state. Surely, this holy man, respected by the righteous, is also the savior of the fallen.'

Girish, however, was not always so pleasant when drunk. Once at the theatre he publicly abused Ramakrishna, using the coarsest and most brutal words. All those present were shocked and advised the sage to sever all links with the playwright.

It is interesting to read what Girish himself says about this incident:

'Although I had come to regard Sri Ramakrishna as my very own, the scars of past impressions were not so easily healed. One day, under the influence of liquor, I began to abuse him in most unutterable language. The devotees of the master grew furious and were about to punish me, but he restrained them. Abuse continued to flow from my lips in a torrent. Sri Ramakrishna kept quiet and silently returned to Dakshineshwar. There was no remorse in my heart. As a spoiled child may carelessly berate his father, so did I abuse him without any fear of punishment. Soon my behavior became common gossip, and I began to realize my mistake. But at the same time I had so much faith in his love, which I felt to be infinite, that I did not for a moment fear that Sri Ramakrishna could ever desert me.'

Subduing the Polluter of River Yamuna
Subduing the Polluter of River Yamuna

A common friend reminded Ramakrishna of the story of the serpent Kaliya, who, while battling Krishna, spewed enormous quantities of venom and said: "Lord you have given me only poison, where shall I get the nectar to worship you?" Similarly, Girish too had worshipped Ramakrishna with abuse, which was in accordance with his nature.

Ramakrishna smiled and immediately asked for a carriage to go to Girish's house, where he found the latter repentant. Seeing the guru, Girish was overwhelmed. He said, "Master if you had not come today, I would have concluded that you had not attained that supreme state of knowledge where praise and blame are equal, and that you could not be called a truly illumined soul." On another occasion Ramakrishna had told Girish: "You utter many abusive and vulgar words; but that doesn't matter. It's better for these things to come out. There are some people who fall ill on account of blood poisoning; the more the poisoned blood finds an outlet, the better it is for them. You too will be purer by the day. In fact, people will marvel at you."

Binding Through Freedom

One night, Girish drank himself into unconsciousness at the house of a prostitute. In the morning, he hastened to visit Ramakrishna. He was full of remorse but had not neglected to bring a bottle of wine with him in the carriage. On arriving at Dakshineshwar, he wept repentantly and embraced Ramakrishna's feet. Then, suddenly, he felt in urgent need of drink, and discovered, to his dismay, that the carriage had already driven off. But presently a smiling Ramakrishna produced not only the bottle, but Girish's shoes and scarf as well; he had privately asked a devotee to bring them from the carriage before it left. Girish could not control himself; he drank shamelessly before them all - and, having done so, was again remorseful. "Drink to your heart's content" Ramakrishna told him, "It won't be for much longer." Girish said later that this was the beginning his abstention from intoxicating drinks. But the abstention was gradual; and this was certainly not the last time that Girish was drunk in his guru's presence. Sri Ramakrishna never forbade Girish to drink because he knew that it takes time to change deep-rooted habits. Yet the silent influence of the guru's love worked wonders. In the playwright's own words: 'from my early childhood it had been my nature to do the very thing that I was forbidden to do. But Sri Ramakrishna was a unique teacher. Never for a moment did he restrict me, and that worked a miracle in my life. He literally accepted my sins and left my soul free. If any of his devotees would speak of sin and sinfulness, he would rebuke him saying, "Stop that. Why talk of sin? He who repeatedly says, 'I am a worm, I am a worm,' becomes a worm. He, who thinks, 'I am free,' becomes free. Always have that positive attitude that you are free, and no sin will cling to you."'

The Power of Attorney

One day Girish finally surrendered himself at the feet of Ramakrishna and asked him for instruction. "Do just what you are doing now," said the guru. "Hold on to god with one hand and to the material world with the other. Think of god once in the morning and once in the evening, no matter how much work you have pending." Girish agreed that this sounded simple enough. But he then reflected on his disorganized life, so much on the mercy of impulses and emergencies and realized that he did not even have fixed hours for eating and sleeping; how then could he promise to remember god? Making a false commitment was out of the question.

Ramakrishna, as if reading his mind said: "Very well, then remember god just before you eat or sleep. No matter what time of the day it is." Girish however, couldn't even make this simple promise, the fact being that any kind of self-discipline was repugnant to him. "In that case," said Ramakrishna, "give me your power of attorney. From this moment on, I'll take full responsibility for you. You won't have to do anything at all."

Girish was overjoyed. This is what he had been wanting all the time; to be rid of responsibility and guilt forever. He readily agreed to the suggestion and thought to himself, 'now will I be as free as air.' He was however mistaken - as he soon found out. By consenting, he had turned himself into Ramakrishna's slave. Whenever Girish indulged himself, he was forced to think of the tremendous moral burden he would be placing on his guru. In fact, he found it hard to not constantly think of Sri Ramakrishna before performing any action.

The Garlic Container

One day he went to a brothel intending to spend the night there. At midnight however, he experienced an unbearable burning sensation all over his body and had to immediately leave the place to return home. Girish was reminded of the time when Ramakrishna had compared him to a cup of garlic paste. Though such a container may be washed an umpteen number of times, it is not possible to get rid of the smell altogether. "Will my smell go?" Girish had enquired. "Yes it will. All offensive odor vanishes when the vessel is heated in a blazing fire." Was this the same heat that was tormenting him now? So wondered the playwright.

In later years he would tell young devotees that the way of complete self-surrender was actually much harder than the way of self-reliance and effort: "Look at me, I'm not even free to breathe, Sri Ramakrishna has taken full possession of my heart and bound it with his love."

The Guru as Mother (In Girish's Own Words)

'One day, when I arrived at Dakshineshwar, Sri Ramakrishna was just finishing his noonday meal. He offered me his dessert, but as I was about to eat it, he said: "Wait. Let me feed you myself." Then he put the pudding into my mouth with his own fingers, and I ate as hungrily and unself-consciously as a small baby. I forgot that I was an adult. I felt like a child whose mother was feeding him. But now when I remember how these lips of mine had touched many impure lips, and how my guru had fed me, touching them with his holy hand, I am overwhelmed with emotion and say to myself: "Did this actually happen? Or was it only a dream?" I heard from a fellow devotee that Sri Ramakrishna saw me as a little baby in a divine vision. And from then, whenever I was with him, I would actually feel like a child.'

Here it is also relevant to observe that though Girish had the company of his mother till the age of eleven, he only had a limited interaction with her. This restriction was due to an innate fear on the part of the parent that if she came near her children she would lose them; blaming herself for the many such bereavements she had already suffered before Girish.

The Vision of Bhairava

Long before he had met the dramatist, Sri Ramakrishna had a vision, which he described as follows: 'One day, when I was meditating in the Kali temple, I saw a naked boy skipping into the temple. He had a tuft of hair on the crown of his head, and was carrying a flask of wine under his left arm and a vessel of nectar in his right. "Who are you?" I asked. "I am Bhairava," he replied. On my asking the reason for his coming, he answered, "To do your work." Years later when Girish came to me I recognized that Bhairava in him.'

Bhairava
Bhairava

In fact, Ramakrishna had often chided his disciples who derided Girish's enchantment with the bottle, saying, "What harm can alcohol possibly cause to someone who embodies Bhairava himself? None other than our beloved Mother Kali can ever judge or restrain him. We, who are her mere servants, may not even dare to do so. Girish is not a hypocrite, he is the same, inside and outside." The analogy with Bhairava is both apt and instructive. Bhairava was generated from the wrath of Shiva, when the latter was forced to listen to the vain boastings of another deity (Brahma). Having such provocative origins, holding within himself a simmering potential, Bhairava is thus visualized in Indian thought as an ambivalent, excitable and dangerous character, reflecting the emotions aroused at his birth, and even today is worshipped with offerings of alcohol in many shrines across India.

The bonding through sharing of food was further strengthened when one day Girish went to the house of a friend, who too was a devotee of Ramakrishna. He found the host cleaning rice. Now, the latter was a rich landlord with many servants, but nevertheless he was performing this unaccustomed job himself. Girish was amazed and enquired of the reason. The householder replied: " The master is coming today, and he will have his lunch here. So I am cleaning the rice myself."

Girish was touched by this extraordinary devotion. He reflected on his own ability to be of such service to Ramakrishna. He returned home and lay on the bed thinking, 'Indeed, god comes to the home of those who have devotion like my friend. I am a wretched drunkard. There is no one here who can receive the master in the proper manner and feed him.' Just then there was a knock on his door. Startled he jumped up. In front of him stood the master. "Girish I am hungry, could you give me something to eat?" There was no food in the house. Asking Sri Ramakrishna to wait, he rushed to a restaurant nearby and brought home some fried bread and potato curry. The food, coarse and hard, was much different from what the frail guru's constitution permitted. Nevertheless, he relished it with visible joy and delight.

A Unique Solution

The House where the Unwell Master was Taken
The House where the Unwell Master was Taken

As time progressed and age took over Ramakrishna, his health began to deteriorate. On the advise of doctors he was moved outside the city where the air was felt to be better.

An arrangement was made whereby the householder disciples contributed money for his treatment, food and rent. The younger, unmarried devotees, who later would establish the Ramakrishna Mission, managed the household, including the nursing and shopping. After a while however, some of the householders felt that the expenditure was getting out of hand and demanded that a strict accounting system be maintained. The youngsters felt offended and decided not to accept any more money from them. When the situation reached a flashpoint, Girish came forward with a solution. He simply set fire to the account book in front of everybody. Then he told the householders to each contribute according to his means and that he would make up the shortfall. To the unmarried monks he said: "Don't worry. I shall sell my house if the need arises and spend every bit of the money for the master." Whatever might have been the fate of Ramakrishna's physical well being, one thing was certain - Girish's healing was complete - and he later remarked in humor: 'Had I known that there was such a huge pit in which to throw one's sins, I would have committed many more.' It was this transformed soul who began the practice of paying homage to Sri Ramakrishna before the commencement of a theatrical performance.


References and Further Reading

  • Blurton, T. Richard. Hindu Art: London, 1992.
  • Chetanananda, Swami. Ramakrishna As We Saw Him: Calcutta, 1999.
  • Chetanananda, Swami. They Lived with God (Life Stories of Some Devotees of Sri Ramakrishna): Kolkata, 2002.
  • Isherwood, Christopher. Ramakrishna and His Disciples: Kolkata, 2001.
  • M. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna (Tr. into English by Swami Nikhilananda): Madras, 1996.
  • M. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 2 vols. (Tr. into Hindi by Suryakant Tripathi Nirala): Nagpur, 2004.
  • Mishra, Krishanbihari. Ramakrishna Paramhamsa Kalpatru ki Utsav Lila (Hindi): New Delhi, 2004.
  • Muller, F. Max. Ramakrishna His Life and Sayings: Kolkata, 2005.
  • Ramakrishna Sri. Sayings of: Madras, 2004.
  • Ramakrishna Sri. Tales and Parables of: Chennai, 2004.
  • Rolland, Romain. The Life of Ramakrishna: Kolkata, 2003.
  • Saradananda, Swami. Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play (Tr. by Swami Chetanananda): St. Louis, 2003.
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  • "..............The Lord comes even before he is saught...........He is much attached to his devotees.........there is non more intimate and affectionate than God"-- Sri Ramakrishna
    by Douglas Gray on 10th Dec 2013
  • Dear Sirs,
    I had vision of Jesus 16 years
    ago. I reached by means of Hare Krishna, Ohm
    and Hare Rama.
    Sincerely
    Bedrich Kalina
    by Bedrich Kalina on 2nd Aug 2011
  • I have been reading and appreciating your wonderful pieces for years now, and everytime you and your beautiful pieces have struck me when and where I needed to be struck - in the Heart like an arrow sliding through ... the Sweetest of Joys to read your pieces, Beloved Nitin.

    We are blessed by your presence, and your devotedness at sharing these wonderful, so wise-wonderful works with us. Deep bows to you, Dear Brother.

    God is Love - Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa

    "If you must be mad, be it not for the things of the world.
    Be mad with the love of God. Many good sayings are to be found
    in holy books, but merely reading them will not make one religious.
    One must practice the virtues taught in such books in order to
    acquire love of God."

    God is True Knowledge

    "If you first fortify yourself with the true knowledge of the
    Universal Self, and then live in the midst of wealth and
    worldliness, surely they will in no way affect you. When the divine vision
    is attained, all appear equal; and there remains no distinction of
    good and bad, or of high and low. Good and evil cannot bind him who has
    realized the oneness of Nature and his own self with Brahman."

    God is in Your Heart

    "Because of the screen of Maya (illusion) that shuts off God from
    human view, one cannot see Him playing in one's heart. After
    installing the Deity on the lotus of your heart, you must keep the
    lamp of remembering God ever burning. While engaged in the affairs
    of the world, you should constantly turn your gaze inwards and see
    whether the lamp is burning or not."

    God is Truth

    "Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the
    soul of truth. One must be very particular about telling the truth.
    Through truth one can realize God."

    God is above all Arguments

    "If you desire to be pure, have firm faith, and slowly go on with
    your devotional practices without wasting your energy in useless
    scriptural discussions and arguments. Your little brain will
    otherwise be muddled."

    ~ Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa
    by Mazie on 23rd Aug 2008
  • A beautiful man, and one whom we praise Mother Kali for bringing on this earth so that his wise words, compassion, tolerance and his modesty should be a light to us all no matter what path one follows. For anyone wishing a shorter version of the Gospel According To Sri Ramakrishna, I highly recommend the Selections from the gospel published by Skylight Illuminations.
    by AlannahBabalon156 (bringeroflight31@aol.com) on 26th Jul 2007
  • tell me my e-mail id
    please!!!! love me.Please) you know,( Who)
    by HARVEST (my sweetie) on 15th May 2007
  • Really its too touching article,
    I enjoyed reading this article. Just wonderful.
    I don't dare to say that I will not share it with many of my friends
    Thank you so much!for sharing it
    by Mahesh Naragund on 11th May 2007
  • Whenever I read about Girish Babu,I feel there is a Girish Babu inside me who wants to break up from the chains ,I feel ashamed of myself thinking that "Being a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna I am doing all these filthy things which would cause embarrassment to his name" . But Girish Babu always gives me a hope that some day time will come and I will be united with Thakur ...

    Jai Sri Ramakrisha... Jai Maa
    by Amit on 25th Nov 2006
  • I have surrendered to Sri Ramakrishna a long time ago. And happily because that is the most wonderful thing that can happen to any one. He is the only God I know of and Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi is the only Mother as my constant companion. The story of Girish though well known, is well presented and refreshing. One feels the presence of Sri Ramakrishna through the computer screen enacting His divine play. Spirit of Girish is in all of us, the rebell, controversial, egotist, self opinionated. But the only salvage is Faith. If that is in us, we are sure to recieve His golden touch. I hope this story will inspire many.
    by Das on 16th Sep 2006
  • I very much enjoyed reading this article. Just wonderful. Thanks
    by krishna kartha on 28th Aug 2006
  • Reading thi artcle brings tears from my eyes, without my knowledge.
    Reading this article, is a great joy and sweet.

    I am sure, this acrticle will tarsform the souls of many.

    Sri Paramahansa is watching us.Lets pray.
    by Guru Mamani on 2nd Jun 2006
  • Thank you Kamakshi for correcting the stereotypical misunderstanding expressed in Robin's note.
    by A. (any@unknown.com) on 25th May 2006
  • Ramakrishna shows us the way to find antaryamin bhagwan (indwelling Lord). For me he is a much beloved saint - a rare breath of fragrance.
    by Dwight Kulkarni on 24th Mar 2006
  • i have often asked myself of the connectedness of people, and because i was raised a western christian i often reflect in the same manner, something i remember about people is their ability or lack of it to see our connectedness,,,their is a certain axion in the bible a this article brings a light to it <<<the stone in which the builders rejected, even that stone has become the cornerstone, those who stumble upon it are broken but those on which it falls shall be ground to dust...>>>i have had a misfortune to know an aspiring fim maker who is very much stumbling...i wish he should this name "sri ramakrsna" before it falls on him...shukrati
    by victor gutierrez on 2nd Dec 2005
  • very good picture i liked them a lot!
    by Kali on 22nd Nov 2005
  • From the passages below I gather the message is the strength in balance of the anima and the animus, the physical and the spiritual and the light and the dark. So bringing the dark into the physical brought the light into the spiritual: The marriage of the souls between the guru and the follower becomes on another level an exchange of power from physical to spiritual.

    Whenever Girish indulged himself, he was forced to think of the tremendous moral burden he would be placing on his guru. In fact, he found it hard to not constantly think of Sri Ramakrishna before performing any action.

    This is something also physically manifested in BDSM, where the "power" is actually held by the slave (within) is more enjoyable than the physical manifestation of the role of master.

    'From my early boyhood I was molded in a different way. I never learned to walk a straight path. I always preferred a crooked way. From childhood it had been my nature to do the very thing I was forbidden to do.'

    This is what he had been wanting all the time; to be rid of responsibility and guilt forever. He readily agreed to the suggestion and thought to himself, 'now will I be as free as air.' He was however mistaken - as he soon found out. By consenting, he had turned himself into Ramakrishna's slave.

    "Look at me, I'm not even free to breathe, Sri Ramakrishna has taken full possession of my heart and bound it with his love."

    In other words the magic is in the opposite manifested duality, the faith not the physical act.

    'Had I known that there was such a huge pit in which to throw one's sins, I would have committed many more.'

    "There are some people who fall ill on account of blood poisoning; the more the poisoned blood finds an outlet, the better it is for them. You too will be purer by the day. In fact, people will marvel at you."

    Girish's balance was on two separate planes, physical and spiritual... while his master's was balanced within him

    "Do just what you are doing now," said the guru. "Hold on to god with one hand and to the material world with the other. Think of god once in the morning and once in the evening, no matter how much work you have pending."

    "'I am a worm, I am a worm,' becomes a worm. He, who thinks, 'I am free,' becomes free. Always have that positive attitude that you are free, and no sin will cling to you."'

    This reversed at the end, on joining with the master the roles reverse animus and anima.

    The bonding through sharing of food was further strengthened when one day Girish went to the house of a friend, who too was a devotee of Ramakrishna. He found the host cleaning rice 'Indeed, god comes to the home of those who have devotion like my friend.

    This "clean" food would not bring balance of energy because the masters is clean, no sin would cling...no power would cling to it.

    I am a wretched drunkard. There is no one here who can receive the master in the proper manner and feed him.' brought home some fried bread and potato curry. The food, coarse and hard, was much different from what the frail guru's constitution permitted. Nevertheless, he relished it with visible joy and delight.

    The visible joy and delight because when he takes the "course" within it transforms to the opposite "joy"

    Here we see the master has taken in the slave "the course" and regained his power "delight" internally, but in the sacrifice, the physical gift of the food from Girish put him in the master role. The power being beheld by the slave "joy" internally.

    Let me take your eastern story and reflect western :

    The strongest tree (Girish)

    has roots that reach as deep into the Darkness (Earth)

    as the branches reach onto the Light (Air), (physical)

    and nourishes from a deep well (Water) (spiritual)

    springs forth leaves of life (power)

    to behold the Sun (Sri Ramakrishna ) (Fire).

    "Go into solitude and shut yourself in a cave. Peace is not there. Peace is where faith is, for faith is the root of all." The tree grows up from the earth (power) because it has faith the sun will shine (love). (Without that faith the seed would not manifest).

    Some food for thought;)

    Blessings
    by Sheila on 24th Aug 2005
  • Somehow, i stumbled upon this article today and as i read it, i experienced such profound vibrations of joy, bliss and love. The story of this man's experience of Ramakrishna brought such tears to my eyes and great laughter to my lips.

    Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful piece!

    Love & bliss to all,
    xox lil woo
    by lil woo on 23rd Aug 2005
  • If I may, I would like to respond to Robin’s feedback posted below.

    Robin said:

    “…..it may be problematical for many of today's Pagans to get beyond the asceticism he recommended..... This is not to invalidate the value of Sri Ramakrishna's way, but it is to point out a particular difficulty many may find.”

    Robin said he/she was typing after being up for a long time and his facts might be a little off. Perhaps he/she has Ramakrishna confused with some other teacher or sage. It is quite clear that Ramakrishna did not teach that the world is a “snarl of baits and traps.” HE did not consider women or gold or sex and wealth as undesirable or unfit for a “spiritual” life, but rather that it is ALL manifestations of Mother’s Mahamaya. “It is ALL Her Play, Her delirious Play.”

    So, I thought I might take the liberty of correcting this information by quoting from the book: Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna by Lex Hixon

    Visitor: Honored sage, should we take the way of monastic renunciation after our social and family responsibilities are completed?

    Ramakrishna: The path of monastic discipline is not necessary for everyone who longs to awaken. The passion for external renunciation is like a bolt of lightning. It may strike at any time. It is not a reasoned choice. But why not renounce all sense of limitation, even the limitation of monastic forms? Why not enjoy all possible dimensions of human experience as already merged in God? Can one get completely inebriated on just a few pennies’ worth of wine? Fill up the whole pitcher!

    This radical response surprises the questioner, who had already tacitly assumed a traditional, pious answer. He gazed, speechless, at the laughing sage, and then asks with astonishment: “A spiritual practitioner should lead a worldly life?”

    Ramakrishna: Why not? What is there to fear or avoid when Divine Reality is know to be all-embracing………..Relatively few persons have the destiny to drop social and personal connections entirely in order to enter the external state of sannyasa-wandering aimlessly in the ecstasy of knowledge and love, taking no direct responsibility for educating or serving society in pragmatic ways……..

    Visitor: Master, what does it mean to say that a person has reached the end of worldly enjoyments?

    Ramakrishna: ……….To come to the end of worldly enjoyments is to EXPERIENCE Divine Bliss flowing through EVERY ACTION, EVERY PERCEPTION.

    Visitor: How can I get rid of sexual passion?

    Ramakrishna: Why get rid of it? Turn its powerful energy in another direction. Lust is blind, but the Great Delight conferred by the Goddess is ever-pure and resplendent.

    The new questioner is also disconcerted by such a radical response delivered with such wonderful laughter. This seeker has been conditioned by the teaching that cultivates liberation by categorically rejecting what ever appears as ignorance, limitation, or bondage. Intrigued by the relaxed, all-embracing tantric attitude of the Goddess-worshiping sage, drawn deep into inquiry by this magnet of Divine Mother’s Knowledge and Love, this visible form of the dancing Kali-the seeker cries in consternation: “Please, most revered Master, why would a benign Deity project the power of ignorance and limitation?”

    Ramakrishna melts into laughter, his eyes swimming in ecstasy, his body, like burnished gold, glowing with heavenly light. This response emanates directly from Mother Mahamaya, beyond reason, religion, philosophy. Now our Master is weeping tears of pure love: “It is ALL Her Play, Her delirious Play. OM KALI, OM KALI, OM KALI!”

    (Please forgive me for the length of this post, but I would love to quote just one more passage…. Simply for it’s pure beauty)

    Visitor: Beloved Paramahamsa, who is really to blame for sexual obsession and its bondage? Men or women?

    Ramakrishna: You are male, so I will speak to you about women. To women, I give the same teachings about the spiritual danger and the spiritual potential of men. A women who has awakened in her body and mind the energy of transcendent wisdom, which is the brilliant healing and enlightening presence of the Goddess, can be a tremendous blessing for a male practitioner-as a tantric consort, as consecrated wife, or simply as the inspiring friend of his soul. But a woman who has developed exclusively her biological and social drives is filled with a subtle energy that can be detrimental to the progress of a male aspirant. Eventually-without either person recognizing any danger-she can stifle his aspiration by drowning him in the forces of the limited ego world. Precisely the same facts must be explained to women concerning men………The brilliant feminine energy of wisdom, which incarnates through the bodies and minds of both men and women, cultivates the refined taste for sweet spiritual companionship, for knowledge of oneness, for tears of pure love, for ecstatic union with various revealed forms of Divinity, and for refreshing renunciation of all deceptive, habitual expectations. By contrast, the energy of limitation consists of the random, compulsive play of the mind and senses with their objects-an instinctual drive for experience that lacks both subtlety and harmony and causes the heart to forget the delight of Divine Reality, the communion that is natural to the human soul. But, both currents-the energy of wisdom and the energy of limitation-are simply Mother’s Energy. When only God exists, who is there to praise and whom to blame?”

    Om Tat Sat…..
    by Kamakshi on 21st Aug 2005
  • It is very significant for me that you should post your article at this time. I have enjoyed it more than you can know. Thank you for sharing it.

    I AM a "born seeker" and at one point in the fall of 2001, all of the seeking lead up to my going on a 30 day temple pilgrimage to India. The opportunity came up very suddenly. I really did not know WHY I was going. It's just that when the opportunity arose, I knew I was going. And so, I went. As the trip unfolded, all of the myriad reasons I was there became self evident. And without a doubt, the most significant for me was my meeting of Ramakrishna.

    It was within the first week of our journey. My head was spinning from the long flight from Michigan to Chennai. We arrived at midnight in the pouring rain. The next morning, after only a few hours of sleep and with only the cloths on our backs, we hit the road running. Immediately I found my self immersed, engulfed and embraced in the wonders of India. We drove from Chennai to Kanyakumari at the southern most tip of the country, stopping at MANY temples along the way. We visited the Kanyakumari Temple where we sat in meditation on the sparkling, jeweled eyes of the Virgin Goddess.
    http://www.geocities.com/india_images/kanyakumari.html <--- Check out the 360 degree panoramic view.

    Near there we also walked the peaceful gardens of the Vivekananda Ashram. The "teacher" we were traveling with, handed us tickets to take a boat ride out to the little rocky island called Memorial Rock. On this rock is built a shrine to Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna.

    I had never heard of either of them before. I remember going into a large room where there was a bigger than life statue of Vivekananda. It was interesting....... Just interesting, until I turned around to leave the room. Then, there on either side of the big doors going out of the room were two huge portraits. I was immediately drawn to the big picture hanging on the wall to the right side of the door. It pulled me into it like a magnet. Gazing at this picture..... deep into the eyes of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa..... tears streamed down my cheeks. My heart was filled with LOVE and I fell into what I can only describe as a state of bliss. I can remember thinking. Who is this man whom I do not know....... Who's picture emits such LOVE that it causes me to weep. I don't know how long I stood there, fixed on this image of Divine Love. Time stood still. At one point we moved into a meditation room, where still in this altered bliss state, I sat silently with tears streaming down my cheeks for what seemed like forever with my eyes fixed on a lighted OM that hung on the wall in front of me.

    When it was time to go. I tried to get some written literature about this man. They were out of the english translations and so I left with only a little tri-fold silver picture frame holding the images of Vivekananda, Sri Ramakrishna and the Divine Mother, Sarada Devi.

    When we returned home from India I placed the pictures on my alter. I could PROFOUNDLY FEEL HIS PRESENCE in the room. I could feel him watching me as I moved about. I would turn around and say to him.WHAT !!!! What is it you are trying to tell me??? Who are you and what is it you want me to know?

    Well, to make a very long story short...... Over the past 4 years, the PRESENCE of Sri Ramakrishna has PROFOUNDLY effected my life. HE has lead me to meet amazing people in amazing places and to have amazing experiences of Advaita that have transformed my life forever.

    Recently, in the past few weeks. I have NO IDEA WHY, HE has thrust HIS PRESENCE back into my life. Over the past few weeks, a series of circumstances have drawn my attention powerfully back to HIM. I have taken out some of HIS books that I bought but had not read and am now reading them. During morning and evening sadhana....... From my altar, HIS PENETRATING PRESENCE draws me into powerful states of Love and Bliss....... Weeping and weeping at the PRESENCE of This DIVINE LOVE.

    HE has been speaking directly to me from the pages of, The Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna. Please allow me to share some with you.

    Some practitioners are still ordinary brushwood, others sandalwood, still others gold, while the mature of the mature have become clear diamond. Ramakrishna's only function is to accelerate this alchemical process. He often remarks: "I would sacrifice twenty thousand incarnations to encourage even a single seeker of Truth."

    From my altar...... HE has done this for me.

    Ramakrishna always makes it clear that the contemplative practices of every variety in which he engaged during the vertiginous sixteen years of his sadhana were undertaken solely in order to generate evolutionary energy for his intimate companions throughout time and for all conscious beings. As he often remarks: "I have kindled the fire. Now please come enjoy it's warmth." In this sanctifying flame called Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, all limits falsely imposed by the narrow ego and conventional society have been consumed.

    This too, HE has done for me.

    These liberated lovers accept all possible states of consciousness as transparent manifestations of the astonishing power and radiance of the Lord of Love. They accept the entire universe, in its magnificent and confusing detail, as sheer Divine Manifestation.

    ..... among these ecstatic lovers know for certain that the Divine Mother has displayed Her own Heart as this entire living, conscious creation and as the cosmic principles and laws by which it manifest coherently. These souls fall in love with immanence, not with transcendence. The lover of God wants to taste the ineffable sweetness of sugar, not too become a transparent crystal of sugar.

    By HIS Grace the Sweetness is tasted.

    Om Tat Sat Om......…
    by Kamakshi on 19th Aug 2005
  • While it is true that Sri Ramakrishna had a profound influence, especially through his disciples, such as Swami Vivekananda and Swami Brahmananda, and because of the large work about him by a follower, "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna," it may be problematical for many of today's Pagans to get beyond the asceticism he recommended.

    Ramakrishna held that the world is a snarl of baits and traps, and he counseled his followers to avoid "women and gold." Essentially, he regarded sex and wealth as undesirable for those striving to lead the spiritual life. As a renunciate, this makes sense, for the tradition in India of releasing attachments is ancient, but in our time this approach only will appeal to some, not very many. And since most Neo-Pagans don't adhere to this strict renunciation, there is some difficulty in venerating a teacher who does.

    This is not to invalidate the value of Sri Ramakrishna's way, but it is to point out a particular difficulty many may find.

    On the other hand, Ramakrishna was convinced that each religion, each approach to the divine, was something of worth and could be experienced. He proclaimed he had experienced the essence of Christianity, Islam, and many other sects. His greatest joy, it seems, was to have the vision of Kalima, and Mother Kali gave him an initiation of a kind. Therefore, it can be seen that this guru worshipped the Goddess, and he saw Her as Kali, something many of us do as well.

    Ramakrishna didn't live a long life.having been born in 1836 and dying, or attaining MahaSamadhi, in 1886. He was only fifty when he got a tumor in his throat, and this was how he passed away. (A lot of this is just from memory, so one can look into the facts should one so choose. I am typing while having been up a very long time)

    May the long-time Sun shine upon you...All Love surround you... And the pure Light within you---Guide your Way on...
    ~~~
    Namasté and Blessed Be!
    by Robin on 4th Aug 2005
  • This article was the perfect gift to me on Guru Purnima. It has deeply increased my understanding of Guru and disciple.

    May God and Guru continually bless you.

    Jai Gurudev!
    by Maheshwari on 24th Jul 2005
  • This is a well done article. What is nice about it is that it is told from the standpoint of Girish Gosh himself. How he came to know Sri Ramakrishna and what this relationship did with him. I shall certenly distribute this article among Dutch devotees.
    Elisheva Loots, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    by Elisheva Loots on 22nd Jul 2005
  • This article illustrates that both western and eastern egoity runs &quot;hell deep&quot; and only the relationship to an authentic heart Master of Humility heals the heart and melts the mind in His Great Divine Heart!!!
    by Sharon Gilbert (lcveggies@hotmail.com) on 21st Jul 2005
  • "Sublime article". One step further towards this great spiritual soul. Thank you very much.
    by Raj H on 20th Jul 2005
  • What a wonderful way to start the day. I enjoyed reading the article and its picturesque details.

    Peace is all about faith and love inside - this article did a great job to reflect on this principle.

    Thanks for e-mailing the article to the readers.
    by Sudebi on 20th Jul 2005
  • I found the article on Girish enthralling and profound. Thank you so much!
    by Doug Olmstead on 20th Jul 2005
  • The article about Girish is most wonderful. Thank you. I will share it with many friends.

    There is a story that once Girish was travelling by carriage one cold winter day in Calcutta and happened to see a poor woman outdoors without proper clothes or a blanket. He stopped the carriage and gave her his good woolen shawl. I don't know if there are other stories like this, but this one is very touching. Someone (Ramakrishna?) said - if this is what is in this man's heart - he cannot be all bad!

    Again, thanks.
    by Akhandaprana on 19th Jul 2005
  • I want to thank the person that put forward the article of this month.

    I have also been extremely blessed this lifetime in having met my root guru. Unfortunately, he passed away last year, much to the devastation of his close students. He too was a man of much humility, kindness and understanding and I miss him every day. It was very touching to read of a man's personal relationship with his guru, which I feel is the most intimate relationship that any can experience and it brought tears to my eyes to hear of some of his recounting of his experiences and in some way, I could relate.

    These precious beings, what would become of us with out them?

    Thanks again
    by Puspa on 18th Jul 2005
  • Oh thank you,

    I am a devotee of Swami Muktananda and was initiated by Him in Siddha Yoga in 1972. I loved your story very much and it reminds me a lot of my path. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL AND I'LL FORWARD IT TO MY Friends.

    Thank you again.

    All the best,
    by Tom Shinault on 17th Jul 2005
  • I overlooked the title and started reading the text, then looked at the picture and thought &quot;Oh, but that's Sri Ramakrishna, isn't it? How come he's become a Theatre Deity?&quot;

    Yes, a very good article indeed, and so very typical for him :)
    by Wolfgang (qilin@gmx.net) on 17th Jul 2005
  • Pretty long story. I "loved it". It reminds me of our relationship, only I suspect I am worse than the playright. Or at least a tougher case. My faith and love are not rock solid, so I appreciate the mortor of your LOVE, great wall builder of the "No wall too tall" tradition. H.

    To Sri Rama, who is my spiritual teacher.
    by H. on 16th Jul 2005
  • Another interesting article.

    When I was in India visiting the Sai Baba Ashram, I heard of Sri Ramakrishna and saw his smiling face on an old photo. I am sure all man were made with the same amount of pride, lust,arrogance, selfishness and hate, balanced by the sense of justice, equality, love and consideration and respect for others. It is up to us to discard or cling to the senses that we hold most dear, that makes us all what we now are.

    Who is born free of sin, and who is born free of sanctity? Few, very very few people in this country can handle the strata of higher thought. Most just gravitate towards the most basic of human peoccupations. Here they have their Summer Holidays, designer clothes, latest gadgets ,cars and anything else that may better their neighbour.
    by Dr. Jan, Ireland. on 16th Jul 2005
  • It was a beautiful piece of info for us, seeking peace in life.
    Thanks for the wonderful article-Keep up this good work .

    Wish we could be as patient as Sri Ramakrishna but being normal human beings
    we tend to lose our anger at the slightest incident even if we do not wish to.

    Hope more articles like this would surface for readers like us.
    by Neela on 16th Jul 2005
  • I was touched by the article on Girish and Ramakrishna, and felt a blessing
    there, some little grace along the way.

    Thank you,
    by T on 16th Jul 2005
  • mahakali ki jai
    shri ramkrishna ki jai
    very good article
    by vikram (vikramdeepsingh@hotmail.com) on 15th Jul 2005
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