Swami Nityatmananda was a learned sannyasin-bhakta of Sri Ramakrishna. He served the Ramakrishna Math and Mission at Calcutta, Madras and Deogarh Vidyapeeth. Since his early youth, he had the privilege of sitting at the feet of M. for several years. During that period, he recorded the talks of M., an intimate householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the renowned writer of the 'Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna'. M. heard these records from his diary in Bengali and made corrections at places. SRI MA DARSHAN are narrations from these diaries in 16 volumes. This work is the result of twenty years of hard and incessant work and tapasya, on the banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh, in the Himalayas.
By the grace of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Deva, the book Sri Ma Darshan or M., the Apostle and the Evangelist has now been published, though after great difficulties.
Living in a thatched cottage on the bank of the river Ganges at Uttarakhanda in the Himalayas, satisfying his hunger with bread of charity, calling on the Lord with a heart full of yearning in a secret nook, my revered Master, Sri M. inspired deep longing and constant encouragement in the minds of sincere spiritual aspirants. This great and everlasting ideal of India had embodied itself in the life of Sri M, as well as the sannyasin children of Sri Ramakrishna.
After the demise of Sri M., when happy moments appeared in my life, and by his grace, I found joy and peace never tasted before in the life of holy begging in Rishikesh. I began to read through the diaries, a collection of the immortal words of the Master M., which had been preserved in a bundle for a long time, like the treasure of Yaksha. They appeared to be more precious. sweeter, and were a great source of solace for me. I began to copy them into notebooks in a well- arranged form. My friends were curious, but soon found out what I was writing. They asked for them and began to read with great earnestness. The all-renouncing spiritual aspirants of Rishikesh were charmed by reading them. And then insistent requests and demands to publish them began to pour in.
The manuscript was ready in the spring of 1943 in Rishikesh. It was read and heard constantly for three years by almost all the learned sadhus and devotees of the Ramakrishna Math, both senior and junior. They all praised it. In spite of the desire to publish, no effort was made because of lack of funds. Then, as if by the will of God, Acharya Mahendranath Sarkar, the great philosopher savant, paid a visit to Uttarakhanda. He read the manuscript and was so delighted with it that he took it to Calcutta for publication. However, because of political turmoil in Bengal, the book could not see print, though at times it looked as though it could. Nothing can ever happen without the will of God- which is why it has taken so long to reach the hands of the public.
The book contains some now facts about the Paramahamsa Deva and the Holy Mother, as well as the words of their intimate disciples, such as Swami Vivekananda. In addition, it contains a commentary by its writer on the Kathamrita, the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. And it contains an interpretation of the Upanishads, the Gita, the Bhagavata, the Purana, the Bible, and other holy texts, in the light of the life of Sri Ramakrishna.
The main inspiration for writing the book came from the special insistence of several sadhus of Belur Math. They knew that I possessed a record of M.’s words. The diary was very close to me, and I kept it to myself. I would read it to anybody who was interested in hearing it, but I had no desire to bring it out in book form. It was in deference to the wishes of the sadhus and devotees that I considered publishing it.
I have had the good fortune to live under the gracious care of revered Sri M. for a long time. Whatever I saw with my eyes or heard with my ears, I secretly recorded daily in my diary. I would then read it to myself, and also to devotees at their earnest request. I also read it to M., who made corrections at places. He gave me advice on how to keep in flawless. The entire material of this book has been taken from my own dairy. Its writing in not based on anything heard from anybody else or read from any other book.
The privilege of having M’s company was divine dispensation. When I was very young, I came across the first part of the Kathamrita, but could not understand much at the time. I had no attraction for M. All I knew was that he was its author. My attraction was for the great prophet and world- teacher Swami Vivekananda. I had heard his name since the beginning of the Swadeshi Movement seen his portrait while he was lecturing in Chicago, It was this lion of a hero, Vivekananda, who was the object of my worship. I used to think that he was born to liberate In dia. The love and reverence I had for him at the time were not those of a devotee but an admirer. From that time onward, Swamiji was my ideal. I tried to lead a pure life as far as possible and also to render service in the spirit of worship. I read the Gita, the Chandi and the like. Though I did not quite understand, leading an unsophisticated and simple life became my ideal. But the message that the highest ideal of human life is to realize God had not yet entered my heart. Thus time passed.
While in college, I once had a discussion with a friend about the intimate disciple s of Sri Ramkrishna. We students sometimes had such discussions. This friend was a devotee at Belur Math, initiated by Holy Mother. He said, “M. speaks of nothing but the word of Thakur”. For the sake of discussion, I said, “Why does he not talk about Swamiji? It is Swamiji who saved India and brought it on the path to freedom. It is because of his coming and preaching that the battle for freedom has taken this new turn. It is due to his inspiration that we are trying to lead a pure life. Why does he not talk about hi,? The discussion gradually became rather heated. The devotee- friend said, “why don’t you go one day and tell him this yourself if it is your conviction?” And this is what I decided to do.
I, who had gone to preach to M., was caught in the net of his teaching forever. It was in an afternoon in the month of Shravana and it had just stopped raining. I was seated with M. on the terrace of the third floor of the Morton School. After a few words, he fixed his divinely penetrating eyes upon my face for a minute, and then he began to talk about Swamiji. I thought it a little odd.
By the grace of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna Deva, the second part of Sri Ma Darshna is being published. Like the first part also contains some new talks of Paramahansa Deva and the Holy Mother and also those of Swami Vivekananda and other intimate disciples of the Master, and, it is a commentary of the “Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna” by the writer of the Gospel. Besides, it is a commentary of the Upanishad, the Gita, the Bhagavata, the Purana, the Bible and other scriptures in the light of the life of Sri Ramakrishna.
The scene of the First Part is laid in the Forest of Mihijam. Like the lion in a forest, free from all obstacles – it is the picture of M. there. Full of joy, he roams freely in the regions of his noble and lofty ideas. Sometimes even while coming down to the worldly plane, he engages his intellect and mind to commenting upon the Gita, the Upanishad and other holy books.
Establishing the life of the sadhu and brahmacharis on a firm footing formed also another function of M. at Mihijam. That is why M.’s image in Mihijam is that of teacher- full of bliss, vigour and robust holy optimism.
On the other hand, the stage of action of Part II is the great city of Calcutta. Here M. is surrounded by all kinds of devotees. The mind of the devotees is restless due to the undulations of pleasures and pains. Identifying himself with their feeling, M.is self-surrendering and prayerful- like the maid in a big house hold. By showering the ‘Kathmandu’- the Nectar of the Gospel, day and night, he is infusing life into the minds of the lifeless devotees. Breaking the fiery nest of despair, he is leading them on to the happy abode of joy and peace.
M. says, “Sri Ramakrishna is God Incarnated in a human body.” Assuring fearlessness to the devotees fallen into the burning fire of the world, Sri Ramakrishna says, “Hold on to me, meditate on me and me alone and that will do.” And again he declares in a loud voice his promise, “Verily, verily, I swear unto you, whosoever will think on me shall inherit my wealth even as a son does inherit his father’s wealth, and my wealth consists of jnana-bhakti, viveka-vairajya, shanti-sukha, prema-samadhi (knowledge and devotion, discrimination and dispassion, peace and happiness, deep love and realization of God).
M. shows the path to the bhaktas and promising hope, says: Sri Bhagavan came down in a human body only the other day. What fear? Establish a relationship of love with Him and live in the world. Decide by imagination one suitable relationship- such as father, mother, friend, the lord and the like – and begin the work. Later on this very relationship of imagination will assume the form of reality which will take possession of the mind and the heart of the devotee. Then the devotee will have two personalities –on the worldly man and the other the illumined man of God. When this man of the world, falling into the various whirlpools of pleasure and pain, will get drowned, his divine counterpart, the illumined man in him being awakened will transform this drowning weakling into a mighty hero.
Inspite of the repeated entreaties of M. Sri Ramakrishna, the avatara of this age at the instance of the Mother of the Universe, had commanded M. to live in the household and teach the ‘Bhagavata’ to the humanity, afflicted with the fire of the world. Like Prahlada, Janak and others having attained perfect sannyasa within, M. distributed day and night the Bhagavata, the nectar of the words of Sri Ramakrishna, the dispeller of worldly troubles and tribulations, for a long time, close upon half a century.
For God’s work, even though unable to embrace the Vedantic Sannyasa, M. was blessed with the Tantric Sannyasa by Sri Ramakrishna. M. said, “Thakur endowed Baburam and myself with Tantric Sannyasa on the same day.”
The desire for Vedantic Sannyasa kept itself awake in the mind of M. throughout his life. Thus we see that M., four or five times during his active life, having renounced all work, like a sannyasi, spent time in practicing tapasya now in Kamarpukur and jayrambati, now in Puri and Kashi and now in Haridwar and Rishikesh. The forest- stay of M. in Mihijam is also the result of his secret inner urgue for the Vedantic Sannyasa.
It is Sri Ramakrishna as God who has dispensed sorrow and pain in the world. It is again He as God incarnate who shows the path to the Life Eternal. Reading this book and accepting the dispensation of Sri Ramkrishna, may the humanity, broken down by worldly pains, attain the illumined state- the children of Immortal Bliss- is the prayer of the author of this book.
Our loving gift this time is the third part of ‘M., the Apostle and the Evangelist’. As in the previous two parts, in this volume too the reader is brought in close touch with the life and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna family: Thakur, Ma, Swamiji and others. And then there is the elucidation, according to Sri Ramakrishna’s line of thought, of the Upanishad, the Gita, the Bible, the Holy Quran and other scriptures. The third specialty of this work is the commentary of the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by the author himself. One of the intimate disciples of Sri Ramakrishna was Swami Abhedananda (Kali, the Ascetic). His learned talks and conversations also comprise the specialty of the present volume of ‘M., the Apostle and the Evangelist’.
As in the ‘Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’, there are also repetitions in ‘M., the Apostle and the Evangelist’. Though undesirable from literary point of view, this method is quite legitimate in a religious book. In religious literature, repetition has always found place as literary ornamentation. It’s not possible to escape it. The aim of all religious books is the realization of the Self, that is, attainment of godhood by the human-soul. This divinity is the real self of the jiva. Subjected to the Divine Maya, the jiva has forgotten its divine nature. Sri Bhagavan, coming down as guru, as avatara, has been telling him (the jiva) from age to age about his divinity. This time too, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna and his intimate disciple have repeated these very words. The echo of those words is still ringing in our ears. It’s, therefore, seen that repetition is an indispensable system in religious literature.
The self-realized teachers have been using this method of repetition in all ages- ‘I am He’, ‘I am Shiva’, ‘I am Brahman’, This soul in Brahman’, ‘Thou art That’ are the great axioms that they have always been asking to repeat and meditate upon. The significance of the japa is this: The uttering of the same great sacred formula again and again. Dhyana is also the same – constant thinking over the proved essential meaning of a great saying. The highest reach of this meditation is Samadhi, that is, the experiencing of the union of the jiva with Ishwara. This is the highest aim of the jiva. Thus one can see, can know, that repetition is the very soul of religious literature.
In religious literature, the same teaching is imparted to several persons many a time, especially during dialogues. The same will be found in ‘M., the Apostle and the Evangelist’. If, observing the rules of art, one were to give up this repetition, it would result in two new drawbacks. One, the accuracy of the living word would suffer; two, when the same teaching is imparted to many persons in different settings, what effect it had on whom would not be understood. Thus, repetition becomes indispensable. In the nectar- like Bhagavata of Veda Vyasa and the Bible of Christ one finds repetition.
By adopting this repetitive method, Acharya M. is offering again to the world- scalded jivas the words of Sri Ramakrishna. Loudly proclaims he: O jiva! You are not a human being; you are the child of the Life Eternal. Repeat this holy saying night and day, think on this mantra, worship this sacred formula, infuse life into this mantra. And by doing so, attain your divinity; attain the Life Eternal.
And, of those who have attained Life Eternal or are yearning to do so, of such teachers keep company. Render them service and surrender to them. This is the way to the Life Eternal. This is called the company of sadhus.
O jiva, if you are lying abjectly in the grihastha-ashram (family life), it is to untie your bonds that Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna showed an easy way only the other day. Serve your relatives as Bhagvan like a maid-servant in your house. ‘I am the master of this house,’ if this be your feeling, know that you have contracted bondage. The master of this house is Sri Bhagavan. You are His maid-servant. You have only the right to action, not to enjoyment. The maid-servant has to remain satisfied with what the mistress of the house gives her. If you accept this advice, your home and relatives, who would have been the cause of your bondage, will open the door to your liberation. That which was to be the house of sorrow and pain will turn into the market of divine bliss. The poison will change into nectar.
Friend, listen to these fear- dispelling words of Sri Ramakrishna: “Toder (grihastha bhaktader) janye amar bhavana beshi\ Tora sansar jadiai padechhis\ Tora amaai dharo- Amar chinta karo\ Aami ke aar tora ke aita janlaiee hobe\- For you, householder devotees, I am more worried. You have hot entangled into worldliness. Hold me. Think on me. Who I am and who you are, by knowing this you will attain.” And listen to this too; he is promising: “Verily, verily I swear to you, he who will think on me, will inherit my wealth just as the son inherits the wealth of his father. Jnana (spiritual wisdom) and bhakti (devotion), vivek (discrimination) and vairagya (dispassion), shanti (peace) and sukha (happiness), prema (love divine) and Samadhi (ecstatic union)- all these constitute my wealth.”
And then listen again, Brother, to the echo of Sri Ramakrishna from the lips of M. Live in the household like the lotus-leaf in water, or like butter over water, or like the mud- fish- it lives in water but keeps its mind attached to its eggs on the bank, or like the unfaithful wife- she carries out all the chores of her lover, or like the one who cuts the jack- fruit after besmearing the hand with oil, then you can make this very world the ‘home of happiness’ if only you work after listening to the echo od shri Ramakrishna, the teachings of M.
This offering is the fourth bouquet: the whole offering comprises fifteen bouquets of ‘M., the Apostle & the Evangelist’.
Like the three previous bouquets this one is also made up of four kinds of beautiful fragment flowers.
The first blossom gets fragrance from the words and lives of Thakur, the Holy Mother, Swamiji and others – the members of Sri Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual family. The second comprises a commentary on the Upanishad, the Gita, the Purana and the Tantra, the Bible and the Holy Quran and other holy scriptures, according to the ideas of Sri Ramakrishna’ by the writer of the Gospel is the third flower, and the fourth flower is the deep and learned discourses and talks of Swami Abhedananda, one of the intimate disciples of Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Bhagavan appears again and again in a human body to bring peace and happiness to living beings and shows the path of peace, happiness and bliss suited to the times.
The way for this age is to take refuge in Him. Reason: The ways of the past entailed so much of labour and (expense on) articles of holy offering and are therefore unsuitable for this age. Now, the life- span of man is shorter, he has to live on bread, his mind is restless and he is drowned in the enjoyment of the worldly sensory pleasures.
For this age, therefore, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna prescribed ‘the fever mixture’- the old time potions are no use now. That ‘fever mixture’ is nothing else than the great saying of Sri Ramakrishna: “Go secretly into solitude and weep yearningly, just as a child cries longingly for its mother. Say: Lord, I am without spiritual practice, without prayer, without devotion, without discrimination and renunciation. Do give me shelter at Thy Holy feet.”
The essence of the Veda and all other scripture is: ‘The soul is Shiva. To manifest this divinity in man somehow is the goal’. Sri Ramakrishna has drown out this divinity in living being in various ways- manjadivisikam.
The easy way by which he established divinity has to be followed by all: Weeping secretly in solitude with yearning. Without austerities divinity does not develop. The austerities of this age are to be practiced among human habitations, not in the Himalayas- in the garden of the Dakshineshwar Temple, not in the deep forest.
Sri Ramakrishna’s effort was to bring the Vedanta of the forest to the household. That’s why this change of places for tapasya. How far he has succeeded in bringing to the household, the Vedanta of the forest is exemplified by his own creation, the divine life of ‘M’., a beautiful fragrant flower of his own flower garden. ‘M., The Apostle and the Evangelist’ is the latest store- house of M.’s Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna.
In the present day world, the mad dance of the material civilization has made the mind restive. Sri Ramakrishna had the same affection for the non- believers as he has for the faithful.
Like a loving father, he has a sweet word of advice also for such of his children as are restless, godless and arrogant.
“If in the burning cauldron of the world, you find no way to peace, happiness and joy and get burns every day, then say: ‘If there is anybody behind this world, let him come to my help’. He will certainly come. You will then get peace, happiness and joy.” While science is busy with material truth, the attempt to establish the truth of the divinity of man is the pursuit of the true religion. Matter, mind and spirit, all these three are true. Only the one is more true than the other. If basically there is no contradiction, how can there be contradiction in their external manifestation?
The spiritual scientists of India have seen that within every person these three truths lie hidden. Every individual is composed of these three bodies- the material body, the mental body and the spiritual body.
If all human-beings were to proceed keeping these three truths before their eyes, there would be no contradiction. But if they consider them as different and mutually contradictions, confusion and hiatus that are in the world.
Sri Ramakrishna has synthesized all these three truths in his life. In the same way, he has synthesized all religious by hard spiritual exercise- by discovering ‘as many religious, so many paths’ and this great eternal truth, ‘ekam sat viprah bhudha vadanti’- there is but one truth; the learned speak of it i different ways’.
In ancient India, a perfect synthesis of these three truths was brought about. This synthesis of the gross, the intellectual and the causal took place in the lives of the heroes like Bhishma and Drona, Karna and Arjuna. Just as they were experts in material knowledge, so were they the knowers of spiritual knowledge- they were the knowers of Brahman.
It gives us great pleasure to present our readers the second edition of the fifth volume of “M., the Apostle and Evangelist.”
In this volume, Sri M. among other teachings teaches the Upanishads to the devotees.
In 1958 Srimati Ishwar Devi Gupta, the second president of Sri Ma Trust, discovered invaluable pearls in the Bengali “Sri Ma Darshan”. Thereafter, she started the herculean task of translating them into Hindi as a prayerful offering for her own sake and for Hindi- speaking brothers and sisters. Subsequently, these were translated into English by Sri Dhram Pal Gupta and this translation is now appearing as these volumes.
The second edition of this volume has been printed after several improvisations. The Sanskrit text was originally in Devanagiri script. It has now been transliterated for the benefit of English- speaking readers. Over a period of time the translations have been made easier for the reader to assimilate as the phrases have been made more current in usage, for example the phrase ‘lust and greed’ is being globally used rather than ‘woman and gold’. Sri Ma Trust offers sincere gratitude to all those devotees and friends, who are helping in any way to finance produce, edit, publish and distribute the volumes.
Mother Kalli’s Temple at Dakshinesiwar. Thakur is seated on a mat in the south- east verandah. He has wrapped himself in a moleskin Shawl. His barber is there. He is going to shave him.
Today, it’s Tuesday, the 28th of February 1882 (A.D.), 8 a.m.
M. has been Sri Ramakrishna for the first time only two days ago, just for a while. They have had no particular talk. Since then, however, his mind has got bound to Sri Ramakrishna’s feet. This attraction has brought him a second time to see Thakur. As soon as he sees him, Thakur say lovingly: “You have come. Good, sit down here.” And M. sits with him on the mat. The barber shaves while Thakur, in between, says a word or two to M. Says he as to a very dear one: “I say, you have good sign. I can see them be looking at your forehead, eyes and so on.”
This unaccountable affection of Thakur makes M. bold to ask him with all humility: “How to fix the mind on God? Sri Ramakrishna answer:
“By always singing the name and glory of God.
“And by living in the company of the holy.
“By mixing with the devotees of God, or sadhus and serving them.
“While living in family night and day, the mind does not go to God. How can it do so when you always keep it immersed in worldly pursuits?
“It is most essential to go to a solitary place, in between, to think on Him. Without doing so it is impossible to fix the mind on God. just see, a small plant has to be protected in the beginning by enclosing it within a fence. When it grows into a big tree, even if an elephant is tied to it, no harm comes to it. But initially, one has to protect it carefully. The same with those who are somewhat inclined towards God, those who feel joy on hearing about Him. Their minds have also to be carefully protected by fencing them.
“If one lives in the world after attaining devotion to God, one does not get entangled so much in it. One does not get overwhelmed by worldly woes. So, first develop the love of God, then take to worldly pursuits.
“To gain devotion, one should go into solitude and call upon Him. The mind is like milk. If you wish to make curds, you have to keep it in one place- curd does set if it milk is disturbed. But once the curd is set, there is no fear. Then you may churn it and take out butter. The butter of the milk of mind is devotion and faith in God. God is real, the world is phenomenal- this is discrimination; as also the conviction that I am God’s son. By keeping this ‘I’, this butter of ‘I’, into the water of their world, it will no sink, it will swim.
“Just think of it: what is there in the world? Looking at it (casually) one finds so many things. But when one enters deep into their core, one finds only two things: One, woman (sex) and the other gold (greed). Gold can give food, clothing and shelter etc.; but cannot offer perpetual peace and happiness. Woman too cannot offer unadulterated joy. Unadulterated joy there is only in God. Therefore, the highest duty of man is to Keep the mind constantly in God, not in ‘woman’ and ‘gold’. Night and day one must sing God’s glories and thing on Him.
When M. heard this advice he was twenty- seven or twenty eight. After this we find his mind mostly with Thakur at Dakshineshwar; only for a short while he would attend to his worldly duties. Whenever he found leisure he would go to Dakshineshwar. Sometimes Thakur would keep him for a month or more with himself for teaching. He would then teach him many a secret sadhna, spritual practice. Besides, he would also instruct him on worldly matters: how to deal with distant and near relation, how to earn and utilize money, how to meet the common man and so on.
At the command of the Mother of the Universe, Thakur, having ‘commissioned’ M. to be a teacher of the Bhagavata, decided to retain him in the household so that he could teach people. That’s why it was necessary to impart to him various teachings relating to worldly matters. Theses teaching on worldly matters imparted by Sri Ramakrishna constitute a priceless treasure for the devotees. Sri Ma Darshan conveys this very message of his teachings. One does not find a clear exposition of his teachings in other holy books.
One day, Thakur made M. sit by his side in his room in Darshineswar and with the little finger of his right hand, taking the nectar like saliva from his own tongue traced something on M.’s tongue this made M. lose his awareness of the external world. M. saw the vision of his chosen Deity and remained in ecstasy of Samadhi for a long time.
M. told us that such was Thakur’s attraction at that time that the distance of five miles between Calcutta and Dakshineshwar never bothered him- it was like going from one room to the other. Even the inconvenience of travel, in heat, rain and cold had disappeared.
Even after the pass in away of Thakur, M. would spend three days in a week in Dakshineshwar where he would practice austerities. And for four days he would work. At times he would go to live with his monk brother- disciples in the Math. Once he spent six months at a stretch in the BaranagareMath in 1893 (A.D) Sometimes he would visit Jayrambati or Kamarpukur, and at other times he would go to Kashi, puri and Ayodhya. In his old age, the carried out tapasya in Haridwar and Rishikesh. The hut in which he carried out tapasya in the Swargashram (near Rishikesh) is still there in a dilapidated condition. Even today many sadhus and bhaktas visit it and get space. He went to the solitary, peaceful tapovana of Mihijam at the age of seventy to practice austerities. (See M. the Apostle and the Evangelist, Part 1, for a fuller disruption of his visit.) Thereafter he visited Puri.
Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna had taught M. on second visit: ‘You will do all worldly work but will keep the mind fixed on God’. He had said: ‘You will serve all (inmates) like a mind-servant in a wealthy home but your will keep thinking of God. You will keep in mind that they don’t belong to you, you don’t belong to them and that God alone is your and their eternal friend.’
When one lives in the world after having development love of God (bhakti) the mind always enjoys peace, happiness and joy. Sri Krishna also said the same to Arjuna in the Gita. Said He : He who hasn’t his God has neither intellect nor right feeling. Where feeling is not right there is no peace. And he who has peace cannot be happy.
He also said to Arjuna: ‘God resides within all and drives the mind and intellect of man.
Surrender completely to Him.’ As a result, by His grace you will always enjoy the highest peace in your heart and attain the Eternal Abode.
Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings impressed on M.’s mind that the lotus-feet of Sri Bhagavan constituted a mine of eternal peace and joy. That’s how, by the grace of Sri Ramakrishna and by his own effort, he was able to develop an unshakable love of God in his heart and was able to enjoy peace, happiness and joy in all states. We have seen him surrounded by worldly work and woes, yet peace always reigned supreme in his heart.
Once when one of his nearest relative was suffering for a serious illness, M. went on singing the praises of the Lord with his perfectly balanced and tranquil mind for a longtime in the group of everyday assembly of sadhus and devotees. On seeing the eyes or face of M. or listening to his tranquil solemn words nobody could have the slightest suspicion that downstairs in the house there was so much of suffering.
I noticed that in this daily working life also, he never lost consciousness of God. Even in the face of various problems of school administration his mind was in a tranquil state.
Daily, in the evening meetings, praise of God flowed out of his mouth as from a spring which made the afflicted minds of the devotees peaceful and calm.
By the blessings and teachings of Sri Ramakrishna, M. would perform his duties without even thinking of himself as the doer. Even when there was enough for mental agitation, it did not touch M.’S mind. The devotees wondered dumbfounded how he was able to drown and deep bottomless waters of the sea of tranquility in no time.
If in his body, mind and speech, a man can perceive that he is God’s servant and he like a servant, refuses willingly to enjoy worldly pleasures, accepting only what is necessary to keep the body going, and feeling content with it ‘like the maid servant in the rich man’s house’ who contentedly lives on simple food, clothing and living space, peace would always reign in his mind.
Real devotees have firm faith that God alone is the doer and that man is a non-doer. Therefore, they offer to God all good and bad fruits of their actions born of (the instrumentality of) the body, mind and intellect which are bestowed by Him. It’s like a trusted official who works for his master whole-heartedly knowing that the gain or loss are that of his master. That he is only an instrument. The devotee also keeps in mind that he is the machine while God is the machine-man, and that the reward of the work done by the machine belongs to the master, not to the machine. If one takes to all work in this spirit the mind remains ever at peace. Because of working like a maid-servant and a machine, joy, peace and happiness always ruled in M.’s mind amidst the dreadful storms of the world.
Why does peace not take permanent roots in the mind of the ordinary man? Reason? Because he thinks that the world comes first, God only next The true devotee, however, thinks that God comes first the world next. Hence the former’s restlessness.
Those who are unmindful of God think that peace results from good food, clothing and home. True they do get peace but this peace is only short-lived. How is it possible to achieve peace within controlling the natural human tendencies of lust, anger and so on? That’s why one finds, especially in modern times that the wealthiest community of the world suffers most from restlessness.
The Indian rishis had clearly seen that besides the gross (physical) body, man has two others, one beyond the other – the subtle and the causal. Beyond these there is the Great Cause or the Controller within.
The harmony of religions – this was the greatest contribution of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. His teaching that all religions lead to the same God, he imparted to all – the inner, the outer, the casual circles of his devotees and to all others who went to him. This liberal teaching of the oneness of all religions, he did not proclaim after studying the texts nor did he do so on hearsay. He proclaimed it, on the other hand, after experiencing it himself, after practicing the principal religions of the world and realizing their truth in his life.
Why did he proclaim this harmony of religions through his life in this age? What was the need the answer is only this: During the present age the whole world has become one under the influence of science. The distance of time and apace has almost disappeared. The whole has become as if it were one family. He realized that if the different countries, different communities, different languages, dresses, food and thoughts of the world were not tied together by the same thread, controversies and counter-controversies and counter-controversies would assume frightful proportions.
He discovered that this thread would have to be that of religion. The principal religions of the world proclaim: The aim of human life is riddance from the sorrow; in other words attainment of happiness. Only human beings seek happiness.The source of all happiness is the Great Truth behind the (Phenomenal) world. And this great Truth is the Self of human beings – sa ya eshah anima atmyam idam sarvam tat satyam sa atma, tat tvam asi shwetaketo. The rishis also knew that only a drop of happiness from this Self of happiness is the basis of all sense enjoyments. The great truth behind the world is otherwise known as ananda-swarupa (the Self of happiness), the Existence0-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute.
If the peoples of different countries are tied together by this ananda-swarupa in the thread of brotherhood – that the whole creation is born in the same womb and that all are therefore the children of the same father – all controversy, disputes, restlessness and distrust would vanish.
The Rigveda, the oldest scripture of the world says: Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti – There is but one Self or Truth, the Self of Happiness – Satchidananda is one. The devotees call it by different names.
With this aim view, Sri Ramakrishna practised different religions and having attained perfection, having realized the complete truth of this ancient great saying, proclaimed to the world in a loud voice that all religions are true, the all religions are but different; that one can approach God, the Self of man, by any of these path: Yato mata tato Path, mata path.
A pond has many bathing points. Coming from one point, the Hindu says: I have brought jala; the Mohammedan comes from a different point and calls and names it water. It is the same water called by so many names.
Because of difference in time, place and persons, God has given us so many religions. All faiths are paths but these faiths are not God. The same Supreme Being has been variously described as Ishwar, God or Allah by His devotees, in the manner they have understood Him.
Fish has been brought to the household. The mother of the family has five children. She cooks it in different way for each child and serves it as gravy or dry- spiced roast-in-rice or fried fish, according to the taste of each child.
While practicing different religions to realise their oneness, he (Thakur) first of all took to the Shakta creed of Hindus, Gradually he practiced the Vedantic paths, one by one arrived at the same great Truth. Then he practised two principal religions of the modern age, Christianity and Islam and again arrived at the same Truth. Buddhism he accepted only as different form of Hinduism, that’s why he didn’t practice it separately as a different discipline.
M., an intimate devotee of the inner circle of Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples is the immortal writer of the Kathamrita. He was also the chief person appointed by Sri Ramakrishna to spread his words. Having been blessed with one kala (one-sixteeth) of Her power by the Mother of the Universe, and at Her command, M. lived in his family as a sannyasi-in-the-household to educate humanity, as a teacher of the Bhagavata at the desire of Sri Ramakrishna.
Initiated by Sri Ramakrishna, M. was an outstanding teacher of Brahman-jnana. Many devotees took their lesson in Brahman-jnana from him before they embraced sannyasa. He is the great model, the ideal of Sri Ramakrishna’s conception of a true householder. Whatever was laid by Sri Ramakrishna as the way for a household blossomed perfectly in M.’s life.
It was for this reason that Sri Ramakrishna repeatedly taught M. the above mentioned liberal precept of oneness of religions, namely, ‘As many religions so many paths. ‘How M. followed his Master’s teachings and exhortation in his own life and imparted it to the devotees may now be presented to the readers by the following illustrations.
Not only did M. visit the temples of all the Hindu creeds, accompanied by the devotees he would also regularly go to all the three centers of the Brahmo Samaj – the Adi, the Sadharana and the Navavidhan. Likewise he would also visit the church, the mosque, the Bhuddha-vihara, the Jain temple, the Arya Samaj and the Gurudwara.
In 1924, during Christmas he went with the devotees to the Church of Mr. Long, the Saint Cathedral situated close to his residence in the Amherst Street. Besides he visited the Methodist Church and some others in Dharmatala area in the same period. To his evening congregation he said: Did I possess this liberal insight – thinking of all belonging to us? No it was Thakur’s kind gift. Thakur told us: Christ, Gauranga and I are one and the same. That’s why all Christian devotees as one’s own dear ones.
And then the same year he went with monks and devotees, on birth anniversary of Bhagavan Buddha, to the Buddha Vihara of Kapalitola and the College Square on the thrice-blessed day of Vaishakha Purnima, the day of the full moon.
In 1922, in the month of January, he took part along with devotees in the prayer meeting of the Adi Brahmo Samaj. On coming out he said, It was at this spot that Thakur had seen Keshab Sen in meditation for the first time. He (Keshab) was then twenty-seven. Thakur said: ‘The float of the fishing line of this lad has gone deep into the water; the fish is nibbling at the bait of the hook.’ The Adi Samaj has another attraction: the recitation of the Veda in the Vedic intonation and singing of the songs composed in Vedic phrases.”
On seeing him, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna had recognized M. in the very beginning as the principle attendant in the divine play of the avatara. And he had decided at the command of the Mother of the Universe that he would keep him in the household to narrate the Bhagvata to the world- scorched people. That’s why, on his second visit itself he taught M. how to live in the household.
M.’s first visit to Sri Ramakrishna took place on Sunday, the 26th of February 1882. On his second visit on the 28th of February, Thakur said to M., “You will attend to all work but keep the mind fixed on God. You will live with wife and son, father and mother and all others, and render them service as your near and dear ones. But in your mind you will know that they do not belong to you and you do not belong to them. Only God is truly theirs as He is yours.”
“ The maid in a rich man’s house attends to all chores but her mind dwells in the village, in her house, where live her children.
The tortoise lives in the water but its mind, do you know where is it? On the ground where its eggs are laid.
“You will live in the world after attaining devotion. For attaining devotion, sadhna (spiritual practice) in solitude is necessary.”
Reverentially accepting these teachings of the Master, M. tried to live in the world like a maid- servant. Thakur would also help him to do so. Sometimes he made him stay with him and taught him how to advance on the path of God- realization while living in the household. He would reassure him, and say again AND AGIN: You will attain only by coming here- you will gain devotion and love of God.
Thakur knew quite well that he himself was God, and he also knew that loving him was loving God. And devotion is nothing but loving God.
M.’s education continued. As directed by Thakur, M. ate only self- cooked and boiled sunned rice with ghee (clarified- butter) for a long time. And he began to live away from family at intervals, either in some mess or in a hostel, helping himself in all work concerning his own upkeep as instructed by Thakur.
Living away from home he warned his livelihood by working as a headmaster. For some time he worked as the headmaster of three schools concurrently, for an hour at each school. And at another time he taught in the City, the Ripon and other colleges.
Living away from home he would work for his family but not accept service from them. Why for Thakur had taught him to live in the world like a maid- servant. So he tried to live like a maid. Whenever he had opportunity he would not fail to visit Thakur.
After the passing away of Thakur he would donate one- third and at time two third of his income for the service of sadhus, brother- disciples and the Holy Mother. During Thakur’s illness in Cassirer also, he lovingly gave monetary help in the same way beyond his means.
But more the time passed, the better he began to realize the truth of Thakur’s great saying: The world is a burning cauldron of fire.
Even before coming to Thakur, M. had beemn scorched by this ‘cauldron’. So he had decided to put an end to his llife. But when was about to do so he found God- Bhagavan Himself in the form of man as Sri Ramakrishna.
As days passed he very well realised in his heart that the world was in fact a burning fire. For this reason, the seed of desire to renounce the world and embrace sannyasa began to germinate in a corner of his mind. He began to see that Sri Ramakrishna wanted to established community of Sannyasa through Narendra.
Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna used to say to his intimate disciples, "Whatever is here is all for educating you, for making you attain the essence of Brahman ... " 'Whatever is here' means Sri Ramakrishna's conduct. And he would often say, "Just by coming here you will attain." In other words, by coming here, there would be direct contact with his words and conduct. His conduct, seen from another point of view, was the conduct of the Mother of the Universe. He and the Mother were the same.
Thakur used to say, ''Ma, I am seeing that in this body, mind, intellect and all, it's You who are residing. It's You who are getting everything done through this body, mind and intellect."
Sometimes he would say, "Ma, I am the house, You are the housewife, I am the chariot, You the charioteer; I do as You make me do, I speak as You make me speak."
For M., Sri Ramakrishna's conduct comprised his appearance, speech and practices - all these. That's why he always followed the Master in his conduct. And he would exhort the doubting bhaktas whose minds had been affected by modern foreign education to do likewise. As for himself, till his late years he considered even the minutest details of Thakur's conduct as priceless wealth.
In the Dakshineswar Temple, M. would de exactly as Thakur did before the Mother Bhavatarini or Radhakanta - he would put his cloth round his neck and lie prostra te on the ground before them. And like Thakur, he would put the holy vermilion mark on his forehead, take charanamrita (sacramental water), pray humbly with folded hands, make an offering of a coin and so on.
Seeing him do so, the modern educated young men would be wonder-struck. Some of them leaving aside hesitation would say in his presence, "What use is all this? This sort of thing is done by the uneducated rustic widows. What use is it for the educated?" In reply, M. would humbly say, ''This if what is known as bhakti."
By imitating the avataras in the performance of rituals, their influence keeps getting imprinter unknowingly on the mind. This influence, these repetitions when followed and repeated again ant again become powerful. The adverse influence of the earlier sanskaras (tendencies and impressions and of the earlier education, which has taken hole of the mind, comes in clash with these practices of the avatara. This gains a renewed speed by the contact of whole-time men, who have taken the vow to follow the life, teachings and the practices of that God-man and devotees. Man's own effort combined with the teachings and ever imitation-worthy actions of the all-renouncing sadhus and bhaktas help rid him of his previous sanskaras.
Thakur used to say, "Don't try perforce to give up your conduct born of your sanskaras. When the time comes, they will free you themselves." Man's life is the sum total of various tendencies born of sanskaras. These tendencies are first inherited from the parents and the other near ones. Then, they are formed by the company one keeps and the education one has received. Besides, there are the sanskaras of the previous births, which come in the shape of prarabdha. Only the practices and teachings of a great man can save one from the powerful and mighty education evil effects of these false teachers. The avatara is the greatest of great men, such as Sri Ramakrishna.
This very conflict between the two powerful forces constitutes the bhakta's -life, the divine life. Man cannot always remain submerged in higher thoughts. Food, sleep and so on, the natural functions of man pull him down to lower levels; By force they immediately take him in the opposite direction of his weak good thoughts. Sri Krishna said so to Arjuna: Prakritisvam niyokshyati [Nature will compel you. (Gita:18:59)]. Nature is nothing but the aggregate of the former sanskaras. It can only be conquered by God in human form. That is why the rituals of the avataras or the great men must be imitated.
Thakur said again and again, ''You must bring the musical notation to your fingers." Sri Ramakrishna had brought to his fingers to perfection the notation of the music of human life. This is what is known as sadachara (the right conduct) in the Vedas. In religious life, they are of utmost importance, especially in modern times ill the beginning, when one takes to spiritual practices.
If one peels a raw mango, the mango is lost. If the husk is taken off before paddy is ripe, there is no grain; one does not get the life-sustaining rice of all the rituals, the rituals of the avatara are worth following, worth imitating.
Rituals, mythology and philosophy, i.e. the practices, the history of the life of the ancient great souls and the narration of the essence of the Self- all these three are needed in religious life. B) discarding rituals and the lives of the ancient great men, philosophy will only terminate at the intellectual level, it will not enter the heart and will not bear any fruit in life. The lives of the great' pundits of scriptures prove it.
"O Mother, everybody says my watch is correct. Christian, Brahmo, Hindu, Muslim - everyone says that his religion alone is correct.
But, Mother, the truth is - nobody's watch is correct. Who can know You correctly? But yes, if someone calls You longingly, one can know You by Your grace, and to whatever path one may subscribe to."
Sri Ramakrishna spoke thus to the Mother of the Universe. M. was sitting by his side at that time. Thakur was sitting at the steps of the north of Shiva Temple, the third from the bottom, two and a half arm’s length away from the north end. Thakur always used to sit at this place.
M. had come to visit Thakur. It was a day in the first half of March 1882, but later than March 11. It was between 4 and 5 p.m. This was M.'s fifth visit. His first darshan was on Sunday, 26th of February. Second on 28th February. On that day itself intimate things were discussed with M. During the course of the talk, Thakur understood that M. was impressed by the thought of Brahmo Samaj and he believed in God-without-form, but with qualities.
Before M. saw Sri Ramakrishna, he was impressed by the qualities of Keshab Sen. He was trying to live life based on the teachings of the Acharya of the devotees, Keshab Sen. He used to say, 'I would longingly yearn for when I could see Keshab Babu. This started happening two classes after the Entrance. This attraction gradually increased. Wherever he used to deliver lecture, I would go (here three hours beforehand. But as soon as I saw Thakur, I understood he is still higher a man, like Chaitanya Deva. Sitting near him, one would feel God to be in one's hand. Whereas hearing the lecture of Keshab Babu, the divine being carrying the ouch of words and thought of Thakur and inspite of having an attraction for him though, it seemed God is quite high and far away.'
M. discovered the Chaitanya literature from Keshab Babu, due to high praise showered on Chaitanya in his lectures - Chaitanya Bhagavata, Chaitanya Leelamrita, Chaitanya Chandrodaya etc., all these authentic scriptures. M. carefully studied all that literature. M. used to admire Chaitanya Deva before he met Thakur. Even then M. did not know that he was an intimate disciple of Chaitanya in the age of Chaitanya avatara.
On seeing M. Sri Ramakrishna immediately recognized that he was his disciple in the Chaitanya avatara as well. He told this to M. after he met M. He said, 'I saw with these very eyes the Chaitanya sankirtan in Bakultala. You too, I saw there.' After this M.'s love for Chaitanya increased a thousand times. Later Thakur himself told M. that he and Chaitanya were one.
M. was born with catholic sanskaras. Inspite of having natural bhakti towards deities, Brahmin and idols, he was profusely impressed by Keshab Sen's religion.
With the arrival of British, the educated Hindu society in Calcutta was coloured in Christianity to a large extent. A large number of learned people converted to Christianity. Brahmo Samaj was born to stop this flow. The Young Bengal' was quite attracted by this Brahmo Samaj as well as the life and word of Keshab Sen. The crest jewel of Sri Ramakrishna, Narendranath (later Swami Vivekananda), was also attracted by Brahmo Samaj and was a member of Brahmo Samaj.
Sitting just five miles away from Calcutta in Dakshineswar tapovana, Sri Ramakrishna was looking at the religious and social changes in the Hindu society after arrival of the British. And he was preparing his 'war-strategy.' He was collecting weapons for destroying the demon of doubt that had geared up its head with the arrival of western culture. He had understood that Keshab Sen would be required in this religious battle. He had understood that Keshab, like John the Baptist, had already paved the way for his arrival.
Keshab first saw Thakur at the Adi Samaj. Seeing him absorbed in dhyana, Thakur said, 'This boy's fatana has already sunk.' Fatana, the hook of fish catching device, is sunk when a fish is caught. Keshab was then twenty-seven. Second time Keshab saw him in December 1872/73. Swami Dayananda of Arya Samaj was then camping at the Nainan garden of Thakurs. Keshab Sen went to meet him there. Sri Ramakrishna was also present there. Thakur went into samadhi on seeing Keshab.
Third time Keshab saw him at the garden of Jaigopal Sen at Belgharia in 1875. Keshab was practising tapasya with his disciples in the tapovana. Only at this place an intimate introduction took place. Thereafter for five-six years Keshab was related like a dear one to Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna knew that his intimate disciples were almost all the new educated boys ( Keshab's group. That's why he injected spiritual energy into Keshab without his knowing it. And h established a contact with his would be intimate ones with this power. M. used to say whenever h saw Thakur, he used to think about why Keshab Babu and his talk would fascinate him. Thakur bhava would percolate from within Keshab to touch him. Keshab was younger to Thakur by six-seven years. Keshab left his mortal coil at the age ( forty-two in 1884. Thakur was then forty-eight Keshab had more of knowledge, but less of tapasy: Sri Ramakrishna was all tapasya, and almostilliterate in education. Keshab impressed the heart of the Young Bengal with his character, oration tapasya and knowledge. This very Young Bengal offered itself to fight the demon of doubt and realized the Self with the help of Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna, the God-incarnate of this age, waited for 22-23 years in Dakshineswar, the land of his divine sport, for his intimate disciples to come to him. The Mother of the Universe told him: Wait, pure sattvic devotees will come as helpers in your divine sport. Many of these intimate disciples were shown to him 22-23 years ago. By the will of the Mother of the universe, one of these intimate disciples, M., also came to him.
As soon as Thakur saw M., he understood that he is one of his intimate disciples. He said, "By seeing your eyes, face and forehead, I knew that you were a great yogi in your previous life. You are my own - one existence, like father and son." Within seven days of first visit, he had said to M., giving loving fearlessness, "God forbid! Why would you commit suicide? You have gained the Guru. This body and mind are of the guru. Even the unthinkable, unknown problems, beyond even one's dreams, are solved by the Magician in the blinking of the eyelid."
Thereafter, he told M. of his real self. He said, "I saw the dance party of Chaitanya and his apostles with these physical eyes near Bakul-tala. I saw you too there." He also said, "For so many days, you had forgotten yourself. No more. Be established on your real self." Thakur is Bhagavan in human form. For him it was not a big thing to recognize M. as his own. But for the disguised apostle to recognize Thakur's reality and his own Self was difficult indeed.
M. would try to impress upon his own mind regarding the real self that Thakur had indicated about him - 'the Apostle of Chaitanya' using his intellect. But he did not have much success. That is what Thakur pointed out. Therefore, to firmly establish M. on his real self, Thakur took recourse to various means.
One day, he said, "Do you know what your state is? Like a tiger in the company of goats. A tiger-cub that grew up in a herd of goats would act the way goats do. Eating grass, saying "main main" like goats, agitated with fear - the goat would do all these. One day, a jungle tiger attacked and carried him away to a water source. The reflection of both the tigers fell into water. The jungle tiger showed the reflection to the tiger-cub and said, "See, your face is like mine. You are a tiger, like me, not a goat. Your food is not grass but meat." Saying so, he thrust a piece of meat into the cub's mouth. The cub's innate forgotten taste came back and he left the herd of goats and went along with the jungle tiger. Herd of goats i.e. common men, who act like animals, reduced to eating, sleeping, procreation and fear. That deluded man has forgotten his true self amrtasya putra, And the jungle-tiger is the Guru, Lord.
The same day, he told M. of another story - of a fish stealing great man. A fish thief entered a garden in the darkness of night and cast his net in the pond. Because of its sound, the guards of the garden lit up torches and started searching for him. But, they could not find the thief. They saw an ash- smeared sadhu engrossed in meditation in a yogic posture. The guards, leaving aside the search for the thief, became busy with the worship and service of the sadhu. That sadhu was the fish-thief himself. Fearing the shame, he had entered into the nearby pile of ashes with his wet body. Then he feigned meditation in a yogic posture natural to a sadhu. By the worship of the guards, the know ledge of his self-came back. He started thinking, "Alas, I am a thief All this honour and worship has come about just by donning the garb of a sadhu. By becoming a real sadhu, I don't know, how much of honour, worship, peace and happiness will come." Thinking so, he decided, "I will become a real sadhu." He did not go back home. Becoming a sadhu, he engaged himself with spiritual disciplines in the company of sadhus and great men for the realization of the Self.
M. heard this story and started thinking: I see that if I have to gain the knowledge of the Self, I have to give up everything and become a sannyasi. Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna, the controller of the minds, became worried at M.'s thought. The Lord in human form becomes joyful at such thoughts and resolutions of his intimate apostles. The reason - giving up everything, realizing the knowledge of the oneness of the Self with Brahman is the highest ideal of human life. But he became worried at the M.'s attempt for knowledge of the oneness of the Self with Brahman after taking up sannyasa.
Why is He worried? Because, the Mother of the Universe while bringing M. to him had given this instruction - I shall get a little work (bringing the thumb and the index-finger together indicating a very small amount) done by this apostle. You will instruct and educate him how to stay in the grihastha ashrama. He will be a helper towards Self-realization for the people burnt in the blazing fire of the world by making them hear the story of the Lord. Thus, these people will be able to get eternal peace and eternal happiness. You will appoint him in the important job of instructing about the Lord. Looking at M.'s inner resolution regarding renunciation of the world at one hand and remembering the command of the Mother of the Universe on the other, Sri Ramakrishna became worried. Therefore, he instructed M. in the following manner.
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