Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna―Introduction
Book 1 = Sayings 1-226
Book 2 = Sayings 227-638
Book 3 = Sayings 639-1019
Book 4 = Sayings 1020-1120.
PAGE Introduction page 1
Maya as Woman and Gold 44
Maya as Ahamkara or Egotism 53
Bondage of Book-learning 63
Religious Teachers―False and True . 71
The Worldly-minded and Their Ways 78I
THE ASCENT OF MAN
Varieties of Aspirants and Their Ideals 91
Some Aids to Spiritual Life 112
Ways of Spiritual Life 126
.. Spiritual Aspirants and Religious Differences
XII Essentials of Spiritual Life 158
XIII: Yearning for God 190
MAN AND THE DIVINE
The Lord and His Devotees
Helpers in the Spiritual Path
Jñāna, Bhakti and Karma
Realization of the Divine
The Man of Divine Realization
Glimpses of the Masters Experiences in His Own Words
MAXIMS AND PARABLES
Prepared by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
THE sayings and parables of Sri Ramakrishna included in this volume speak themselves as far as their spiritual value and philosophic depth are concerned. The stamp of genius they bear cannot escape the notice of even a casual reader. But wise maxims and admirable reflections on life have been given also by great intellectuals and first-rate literary men. The sayings embodied in this volume should, however, be distinguished from the productions of such men. For with all their artistic beauty and sublimity of thought, the writings of one, who is merely an academic philosopher or a man of letters, lack authority in matters relating to God and spiritual life, since their author is on1y groping in the dark, just like any plain man, as far as these subjects of transcendental significance are concerned. The sayings of Sri Ramakrishna stand on quite a different footing in this respect, because Sri Ramakrishna possessed not only a great intellect and an artistic mind, but had the additional qualification that he had seen God face to face, talked with Him and shared the divine life. Hence his words on these transcendental themes come with a weight of authority derived from the Supreme Being Himself. Our excuse for writing the following brief life-sketch of his as an Introduction to this edition of his sayings. is that there may be among its readers persons who have had no occasion to study any detailed biography of his and to be acquainted with this unique aspect of his life and teachings.
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
Sri Ramakrishna was born in a poor Brahmin family of the village called Kamarpukur in Bengal, on the 11th February, 1836. His father Khudiram Chatterjee was a man of great piety and uprightness of character. His adherence to truth was so great that he would not break this cherished principle of his life even when he found that its observance meant utter ruin to himself and his family. Once when bidden by the landlord of the village to bear false witness in his favour, Khudiram refused to do so, and in his wrath at the defiance of this virtuous Brahmin the big man of the village despoiled him of all his earthly possessions. His mother Chandramani Devi too was a paragon of womanly virtues. And tradition has it that this pious couple had many Divine visions and experiences before the birth of Sri Ramakrishna indicative of the divinity of their Gadadhar, as they called their son in his early days.
From his infancy Sri Ramakrishna showed signs of the great power of personality that became a distinguishing feature of his in later life. As a boy he could easily fascinate people, and become the darling of his elders and the beloved leader of his own playmates. He had the soul of an artist that revelled in Nature s beauties and caught the subtle shades of difference in sounds and images as well as in the formation of the faces and muscles of men. The favourite pastimes of his boyhood therefore consisted in mimicry, portraiture, day-modelling, dramatic performances, devotional music and contemplation of epic heroes and heroines. And it was perhaps the artist in him that led him to revolt against the dull routine of the school and its curriculum of stereotyped studies, and show special dislike for exact sciences like mathematics. But his keen intellectual powers and prodigious memory more than compensated for this dislike of academic study. He educated himself in a higher sense by mastering the Hindu epics embodying. the great spiritual ideals of India through listening to their recital and exposition by scholars, and above all by going direct to Nature to study men and things through observation.
Among. the boys of his age he was noted for his courage and stubborn spirit of independence. Even from infancy he knew no shyness or timidity. Full of health and vigour, he would never allow himself to be bullied or put down by elders when he considered himself in the right. In the face of some of the influential elders of the village he defied the rules of Purdah (the system of secluding women) which he considered in themselves to be of no use in educating women in high ideals of character. He must have been considered a revolutionary by many in that conservative village when, on the occasion of his Upanayana ceremony (investiture with sacred thread), he insisted, in the face of much opposition, on receiving his first Bhiksha or alms from a blacksmith woman, according to the promise he made to her previously.
But the young rebel was not without the quality of reverence. For love of God was ingrained in him from childhood and both in the worship of the Deity in his own house as well as in the religious activities of the village in general, he took a leading part. From early life he had a fancy for wandering ascetics and he mixed and conversed with them freely whenever he got an opportunity. With the advance of years his devotional inclinations took a more definite form. Enwrapped in Divine contemplation, he was often seen to pass into high spiritual moods that culminated in ecstasy. The most noteworthy occasions of such occurrences in his early days were mainly three―once while observing a flight of snow-white cranes against a dark sky overcast with sombre thunderclouds, next in the course of enacting the part of Siva in a village drama, and again while singing songs in praise of the Deity during a pilgrimage. And it was this devotional strain that ultimately dominated over the leader, the artist and the rebel in him, and organized the diverse qualities of his personality in the service of the supreme spiritual ideal, the achievement of which made him one of the noted figures in modern times.
The proper environment for the full development of Sri Ramakrishnas personality was provided by the Kali temple of Dakshineswar in Calcutta, founded by the Rani Rasmani in 1855. The daily round of pious duties as the chief priest in the Divine mothers temple fanned the fire of devotion in him. He was observed to send hours in deep meditation and singing devotional songs. It was also found that he was spending a large part of his nights in contemplation in the jungly regions of the garden, quite bereft of all clothing and even the sacred thread. In his method of worship the rigid observance of rituals was noticed to give place gradually to an informality of procedure born of a sense of intimacy with the object of worship.
All this was only the sign of the storm that was raging in his soul-the passionate longing to know whether the Mother whom he worshipped was real or not. As days passed, this longing became so great that one day he was about to put an end to his own life in despair. Suddenly the screens that hid the Truth from his souls eyes disappeared, and passing into a state of ecstasy, he had a vision of the Divinity as a boundless, effulgent Ocean of Intelligence. The solace and the sense of Divine presence accompanying this experience did not however last for many days. He found that it gave him only a glimpse of the higher life, but did not enrich his consciousness with a perpetual experience of the Divinity. Hence this first flight of the soul only went to whet his appetite for the Divine, and in the period of dryness that soon followed, he was filled with a longing, even more powerful than the previous, to feel the presence of God everywhere and at all times. The intensity of the urge was so great that he practically lost all sense of reality for the external world. Without any thought of even food or sleep, he began to spend his whole time in praying to the Divine Mother in the agony of his soul. It became impossible for him to perform the daily worship of the Deity in the temple any longer. Therefore Mathuranath, the manager of the temple and son-in-law of Rani Rasmani, who had by this time contracted great affection and respect for Sri Ramakrishna, relieved him of his duties in the temple, and gave him every facility to pursue his spiritual inclinations. And Sri Ramakrishna utilized this opportunity to plunge himself into prayer, meditation and ascetic practices with an intensity of spiritual aspiration that has seldom been witnessed in the world. Often seized with a desperate longing, he was seen to rub his face on the ground until it bled.
Describing this insatiable longing of his soul for God, he said to his disciples in later days that it was something like the organic craving that a man kept under water felt for a breath of air. Again he used to say that one could have a hazy idea of that craving for God if one could imagine a concentration of these three types of attachments―a misers fondness for his hoarded wealth, a noble lady’s love of her husband, and a parents affection for an only child.
About this time he went on a visit to his village at Kamarpukar. His mother thought that if he married his madness for God and supreme unconcern for the world would be checked, and that he would naturally come back to normal ways of living in course of time. Accordingly in 1859 he was wedded to Saradamani Devi, a little girl of five, daughter of Ramachandra Mukhopadhyaya of a neighboring village. Though this marriage was destined to have important consequences in his later days, it did not have the intended effect of abating his zeal for Gog. For, immediately after his return to
Dakshineswar in 1860, his soul again caught in the same cyclonic passion of God-love.
Till now his spiritual strivings may be described as a solitary and unaided quest. From this time onwards many great spiritual teachers went to him, as if sent by Divine Providence, to help him in his search after God, and with their guidance he began to practice various spiritual disciplines as enjoined in the scriptures.
There are two (outstanding features that distinguish Sri Ramakrishna from other spiritual aspirants in this aspect of his life. One is the rapidity with which he attained success in each Sadhana (spiritual practice). which may be explained as due to the intensity of his quest. The other is the variety of Sadhanas he underwent, which is unprecedented in the spiritual history of mankind.
The first of his teachers to arrive was Bhairavi the Brahmani, who met Sri Ramakrishna in 1861. She was a middle-aged Brahmin woman of great learning and high spiritual attainments, and under her guidance he successfully underwent all the principal spiritual practices mentioned in the sixty-four Tantras of the Sakta cult. All these practices relate to the worship of the Deity as the Divine Mother of the universe, and several of them are so difficult to follow that none but those who are perfect masters of the senses and are capable of seeing the Divinity in everything, can practice them with advantage or safety. His successful pursuit of them gives one a fair idea of the great purity of his mind and his innate spiritual genius. Besides bestowing on him the realization of the Divine Mother in her diverse aspects, this discipline of Mother-worship established him in the conviction that every woman is a manifestation and a symbol of the Divine Mother in a special sense.
The Vaishnava form of Sadhana was another type of spiritual discipline that Sri Ramakrishna practised. The Vaishnavas worship the Deity by cultivating various forms of personal relationship with Him, known as Bhavas or attitudes, as those of the servant towards the Master (Dasya), of the friend towards friend (Sakhya), of the parent towards the child (Vatsalya), and of the beloved towards her sweet-heart (Madhura). Sri Ramakrishna adopted all these attitudes one after another, and while doing so, he used to identify himself with the classical personalities with whom a particular attitude has been traditionally associated―with Mahavir for Dasyabhava, with Radha for Madhura-bhava, and so on. During such periods of identification, he used to live like those very personalities and express in himself their consciousness and behavior. Thus for many months he lived like a woman in the company of women, while practising the Sakhya and Madhura forms of Sadhana; and neither he nor the ladies in whose company he lived felt any sense of strangeness or artificiality in this. So radical was the transformation he could effect at will on his consciousness and even on his physical life.
Next in 1864 he came into contact with a great Vedantin of the non-dualistic school, an itinerant monk named Totapuri. Sri Ramakrishna was initiated by him into the life of Sannyasa. Till now he was worshiping the deity as the Divine Personality endowed with attributes.
From Totapuri he learnt the method of contemplating on Him in His attributeless and impersonal aspect. So ripe was his mind for this highest form of spiritual discipline that within a period of three days after his initiation, he attained the Nirvikalpa-samadhi or the state of unconditioned consciousness, which the Advaita scriptures speak of as the goal of all the spiritual endeavors of man. And after Totapuri had left Dakshineswar at the close of nearly an years stay in the temple. Sri Ramakrishna remained in the non-dual state of Nirvikalpasamadhi continuously for six months,
In 1866 he received initiation in Islamic spiritual practices from a Sufi ascetic named Govinda, and discovered that that path also ultimately led to the same spiritual realisation which the Hindu systems of spiritual discipline had given him. Sometime later he meditated on Christ and his ideals, and found the goal of that path also to be identical with that of that other religions.
The long period of Sri Ramakrishnas spiritual practice came to a close in 1872 with the inspiring rite known as the Shodasi Pooja when he worshipped his own wedded wife as the symbol of the Deity, His girl wife, Saradamani Devi, had by this time grown up into a young woman. During these years she had seen her husband only on two or three occasions. In 1872 she went to Dakshineswar, anxious, as she was to serve her husband, whom the village gossip described as mad. Quite unlike ordinary ascetic, Sri Ramakrishna received her kindly, and did everything to educate her in secular and spiritual matters. Her presence, at Dakshineswar also helped him to test his own realization and sense-control, but in every form of crucial test, he found that he was above all bodily cravings, and that he could view every woman, including his own wife, as a manifestation of the Divine Mother. In token of this attainment, he placed his own wife before him as the Deity, offered her worship with all the proper rituals, surrendered all the fruits of his spiritual practices at the feet of the Deity manifest as the pure virgin, and at the close of the worship entered into deep Samadhi.
The Shodasi Pooja is Supposed to mark the close of Sri Ramakrishnas life as an aspirant (Sadhakabhava), and herald the period of his spiritual ministration as the world-teacher (Gurubhava). After this time his insatiable craving for practising spiritual disciplines abated. In place of it he felt the unshakable conviction of truth within himself. What was more, he began to have a vivid consciousness of the mighty spiritual power and wisdom that the Divine Mother was manifesting through his body and mind, and he felt an intense longing to minister unto the spiritual needs of men.
Indeed, a detailed study of his life-incidents would show that from his boyhood onwards there was present in him the inborn quality of a teacher, and that gleams of spiritual wisdom emanating from him used to enlighten the hearts of men every now and then. This became, more and more prominent in the course of his spiritual practices. His attitude towards Rani Rasmani and Mathuranath, the proprietors of Dakshineswar temple, was not that of an employee, but that of an intimate friend at ordinary times, and that of their lord and saviour in his exalted spiritual moods. Persons who came to teach him often learned from him more than what they taught him. By his contact, Bhairavi Brahmani had the defects of her character rectified and came to be endowed with supreme renunciation. From him, Totapuri, his spiritual preceptor in the path of Advaita learned the secret of the love of the Personal God, to which he was a stranger before. Besides, when he went on pilgrimage with Mathuranath in 1870, many an aspirant in the holy places he visited drew inspiration from his company.·And what was more, from time to time innumerable ascetics of various orders were flocking to Dakshineswar, and most of the sincere aspirants among them received spiritual help from him.
Among these aspirants were also some of the scholarly Pandits of those days like Vaishnavacharan, Padmalochan, Gauri and Narayan Sastri. who were so filled with inspiration in his company that they looked upon him as an Incarnation of Godhead.
Thus from his early days the mood of the teacher was present in him. But it was, however, occasional, the dominant attitude of his till now being that of a Sadhaka or spiritual aspirant. But after the Shodsi Pooja the ardour of the spiritual aspirant got transformed into the Intensity of the redeeming love of the world-teacher.
Sri Ramakrishna was now a Divya, a divine man. His awareness of God had become perpetual, and did not depend on any particular state of mind like ecstasy, although the phenomenon of ecstasy continued to be a frequent occurrence with him till the last. The state of mind that he had gained may be described in terms of Christian mysticism as theopathetic (religious emotion excited by the contemplation of God.) or in his own words as Bhava-mukha―a state in which the mind could ever dwell in the Divine both in His absolute and relative aspects, and yet without the least distraction of this union, apply itself actively to everyday concerns of life. That his experience of God was not an imaginary state or a degenerate sub-normal condition, we know from its effect on his character, which in its power and purity, stands in striking contrast with that of the so-called great and mighty men of the world. Unlike even the best and greatest of them, he was established in a state of peace, poise and radiant joy, which could not in the least be affected by any change of worldly fortune. He was absolutely free from carnality, and in all women, whether noble or fallen, he saw the expression of the Divine Mother. Nor had he any selfish attachment to possessions, ―a trait of character which he expressed by developing in himself a spontaneous inability to possess anything or even to touch any metal. For in the period of Sadhana he used to take mud and precious metal in hand and throw them both into the Ganges, discriminating within himself that, though their value differed in point of purchasing worldly goods, they were both alike, and to an equal degree worthless, in gaining for oneself the realization of God.
This idea went so deep into him that in course of time he began to feel even physical pain at the touch of any metal, and a violent shock in his body and mind when anybody offered him money or property. He was also devoid of all worldly snobbery and discrimination against men placed in low positions of life, and this he symbolized by cleaning the dirty places in the huts of scavengers with his own long matted hair. His adherence to truth was something phenomenal. Not only did his habit of truthfulness extended to the major issues of life, but even to petty matters like an agreement to visit a place on a particular day, or to take a medicine from a particular person and not another. Even if his conscious mind happened to forget a promise or an agreement, his body reminded him of it by refusing to act in any way that would be contrary to his words. Indeed, he said that when he surrendered everything to the Divine Mother, he could not surrender the virtue of Truthfulness: for, if that was done, the very truth of his self-surrender would be falsified. And withal, he possessed many wonderful powers of personality, of which we shall say more in the succeeding sections.
Although this phase of his life as the world-teacher might be said to have begun from 1872. his spiritual ministry reached its climax only after 1875 (age 39, born Feb1836) when he got acquainted with the great Brahmo leader Keshub Chandra Sen. Keshubs public utterances and writings about him attracted the notice of the educated men of Calcutta to him and a constant stream of them, both young and old, began to visit him, attracted by the power of his love and holiness. Among those who met him and held him in great respect may be mentioned the names of many of Indias best thinkers, writers and leaders of those days, like Keshub Chandra Sen, Pratap Chandra Mazumdar, Sivanath Sastri, Vijay Krishna Goswami. Devendra Nath Tagore, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Aswini Kumar Dutt, and Girish Chandra Ghosh.
From among the many earnest souls who went to him, a good many became very intimate with him, and formed into the group of his devotees through whom his message was destined to be transmitted to the world at large in later days. This group was formed of two sets of people ―one, of elderly, married, gentlemen settled down in life, and the other of young school and college boys who had not yet taken upon themselves the responsibilities of life. It was this second group that took to the life of Sannyasa afterwards, and formed into the Ramakrishna Order of monks under the leadership of Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendranath Datta. The Swami was the special object of Sri Ramakrishnas love and grace, and in later life spread his Masters message far and wide and made a lasting impression on the consciousness of his countrymen as the great patriot-saint of modern India.
The rest of Sri Ramakrishnas life was spent in teaching these devotees and in moulding their lives in the light of the highest spiritual ideal. The manner and method of his teaching as well as his relationship with his disciples, were in many respects unique. He never undertook the work of teaching in an egoistic sense. He was the humblest of men without any sense of ego in him, and he attributed all that he achieved to the Divine Mother of the universe. And it was because of this very fact of his having surrendered his ego completely to the Divine that the Guru Sakti (the redeeming power of the Lord) manifested itself through his body and mind in so remarkable a degree, sanctifying and enlightening all that came within their influence.
Before he accepted people as disciples, he subjected them to very minute tests and got a thorough understanding of their character. He would study their nature by observing their physical features―an art in which he was a past master. He would watch carefully the little actions of their daily life at unguarded moments, and besides gauge their worth by putting them questions and observing their reactions towards his teachings and ideals. In addition to these methods he would also sometimes use his Yogic powers to see into the hearts of men, or to put them into a sort of trance in which they revealed the innermost contents of their minds.
As for those whom he accepted as disciples, he made them his own by the power of his love, the like of which they never received even from their parents. He spared no pains in instructing them, and in seeing that they carried out his instructions into practice. Often by a touch or an act of will, he would obliterate any undesirable tendency he found in them, and bestow on them the highest experiences of spiritual life. The very contact with his dynamic personality, radiant with the flame of holiness, Divine love, imparted strength and steadiness to their aspiration for the Divine life. He never entered into arguments with people or delivered academic discourses to them, but just stated his settled convictions on spiritual matters in all humility, and left each person to understand and accept according to his capacity. He never forced his views on anyone. Those of his disciples who were critically minded were free to criticize his teachings, and also to test him just as he himself tested them. Such conduct on their part only brought his praise, never his displeasure.
He had the strange capacity to make himself interesting and intelligible to people of diverse temperaments and stages of intellectual development. He could astound learned Pandits like Sasadhar and Iswar Candra Vidyasagar by the profundity of his wisdom, and he could also bring himself to the intellectual level of the ignorant village woman who went to him to get the wounds of her heart healed, or to have her simple doubts cleared. Himself an orthodox Hindu in his life and thought, and quite innocent of modern scientific and social ideas, he could yet have appreciation and sympathy for the ideals and aspirations of champions of reform and rationalism. In his room could therefore meet on friendly terms a Viswanath-Upadhyaya and a Keshub Chandra, a Narendranath and a Nag Mahashay, a Dr Mahendra Lal Sircar and a Girish Chandra Gho. As in the practice of diverse religions with mutually conflicting traditions, here too the- unparalleled catholicity of his mind and heart could alone account for this wide range of his sympathy and his appeal as a teacher to men of diverse temperaments and outlooks. Truly he was the most universal yet most individual of men.
There was with him none of the formal features usually characteristic of the relationship between Guru and disciple, or did he demand any cringing reverence or any attitude of awful expectancy from those whom he taught. His disciples were more intimate with him than the members of a loving family, and he was to them dearer than their earthly parents. He preached no particular dogma, creed or philosophy. What he did was to convey to people a spirit that transformed their outlook on life and gave them, an insight into the ultimate nature of the world and of human personality. In doing this. he relied not on formal sermons and discourses, but on loving contacts, illustrations drawn from Nature, a life of purity and self-control, and above all the practice of silent Japa and meditation. He never failed to impress on disciples that the scrupulous observance of truth and absolute continence was the unavoidable condition for the realisation of spiritual ideals.
Another remarkable feature of his method was its unconventionality, and its intermingling of the serious and the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Almost every day, centering round him, were enacted in his room scenes that by turn inspired, entertained, instructed and consoled those who were present. He would sing devotional songs with an ecstatic abandon, and dance with the joy of the Mother's name. This might be followed by simple and luminous exposition of abstruse metaphysical and ethical problems lie the relation between the Impersonal and the Personal God, or the compatibility of Gods goodness with the existence of evil in the world. From these thoughts on transcendental wisdom, he could with the utmost ease, come to sound practical instruction on conduct in the world. He taught the simple-minded Yogen about the ways of bargaining in the market; checked the impetuous Niranjan in his rash actions; taught Hari, the disciple who hated women, to be considerate towards the fair sex; consoled old Mani Mallick in the bereavement of his only son; and reprimanded the brother of S. for neglecting his duty towards wife and children. His instructions, whether on philosophy, devotion or conduct, would take the form of witty sayings, striking analogies and illuminating parables couched in his rustic conversational Bengali of a highly expressive type, and delivered in his sonorous voice with a slight though delightful stammer in it. Often these talks were punctuated with humorous remarks that creates sidesplitting laughter among his hearers and with masterly caricatures of men and things―of the Kirtaniya (professional singer of religious songs) receiving rich visitors, of the idle talks of pilgrims going for bath in the Ganges, of hypocritical devotees bargaining with fish mongers of domineering widows asserting authority in their brothers houses, of hen-pecked husbands submissive only to their wives, and of several other features of daily life which revealed great powers of observation and of healthy criticism. In the midst of all this fun and frolic, a slight suggestion would set his mind to a high spiritual pitch, and he would lose himself in devotional fervor, or in deep Samadhi, radiating the influence of his powerful thought on all who were around.
But with all his ecstasy and Divine intoxication, few men could excel him in attention to the minute details of life. He was very particular about personal cleanliness and about the orderliness of the things kept in his room. He disliked to see people going about with torn clothes and shoes, or keeping their houses insufficiently lighted. Whenever he went anywhere on a visit, he always carried the few things required for his personal use, and he advised his disciples never to go to a place at a time or in a manner calculated to cause inconvenience to their host. It is also remarkable that never in his life he came away from a place leaving behind any of his things in forgetfulness, be it shoe, umbrella or cloth. And in spite of all his Samadhi and self-forgetfulness in the thought of God, the powers of his senses were so very keen that when he entered a room, his eagle eyes would at a glance observe all objects present there, and he could even long after, give exact descriptions of the shape and position oven such of those things as were hardly noticed by others accompanying him.
Thus this great teacher of men spent his life holding forth before the world the ideal of a perfect man, and actively ministering to the spiritual needs of those who flocked to him, until his delicate frame broke down under the strain of constant teaching. In 1885 he had an attack of cancer of the throat. About a few months later, his devotees took him to Calcutta and put him under the treatment of the famous doctor Mahendra Lal Sircar. With the passing of days, the disease got only aggravated in spite of the best medical aid. But even the prolonged tortures of this excruciating disease could not in the least affect the joy and serenity of his mind, or disturb his perpetual consciousness of the Divine Presence everywhere.
Moreover, this period of physical suffering formed also the most active part of his ministry. For, the Divine Power that was working through his body and mind in its fullest expression during this period. By 1884 (Age 48) his name had already become widely known in Calcutta, and therefore his presence in the city for treatment attracted large crowds to him. Though he was prohibited by doctors from speaking, his great love of men made him go against medical restrictions and give himself up entirely to the service of his visitors, quite regardless of its fatal effect on his own health. ,
The period of his illness was also the occasion for the spiritual advancement of his intimate devotees, and for the formation of a spirit of brotherhood among them, which later on fructified into the Ramakrishna order of monks. For while the expenses of his stay and treatment were defrayed by the householder devotees, his young disciples under the leadership of Narendranath (Swami Vivekananda) undertook to stay with him and nurse him in his illness. Thus at the bedside of their sick Master the disciples formed themselves into a community, unified by their common devotion to him and their earnestness to realize the spiritual ideal.
In spite of his physical illness, Sri Ramakrishna was like a living spiritual dynamo during this period. He blessed many of his devotees with higher experiences. Especially on the 1st of January 1886, he was in a highly exalted mood, and by an act of will he roused the latent spiritual powers of all the devotees who went to him for blessings. A few days after, he imparted the experience of Nirvikalpa Samadhi to Swami Vivekananda. ..
After a period of nearly one year's illness, he gave up the body in the early hours of Monday the 16th August, 1886 (50½ yrs), leaving behind him a new spirit to be broadcast in this world by his disciples, especially by the young men who took to the life of renunciation, following in his footsteps.
What did Sri Ramakrishna teach? Evidently he taught more by his life than by words. He never wrote or lectured, but imparted all his teachings in the shape of informal conversations, some of which have been faithfully recorded by his disciples. By their very nature, even these original sources of information cannot claim to exhaust his teachings. Whatever he taught by words, and whatever of it has been recorded by his direct disciples ―of that the present book is a faithful and fairly comprehensive summary, consisting as it does of all the precious instructions lying scattered in a voluminous literature. Being a Collection of extracts from various contexts, the subject matter of the present book is bound to appear fragmentary in spite of all attempts to give it a logical sequence by devices of arrangement. While no effort has been spared to arrange the sayings logically, we trust the general reader would find it easier to follow their trend of thought if we give below a summary of the fundamental principles embodied in them. The following brief summary should not, however, be taken as the statement of a creed―for the Master taught no special creed or dogma― or as an exhaustive exposition of his teachings, but only as a guide of their detailed study.
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
Reality is in essence a principle of Intelligence. It is this one Intelligent Principle that is variously known as God, Allah, Buddha, Siva, Vishnu, Brahman, etc. in the different religions of the world. It is both personal and impersonal, with attributes and without attributes. Impersonal does not mean less than personal, but without the limitations of personality.
While Reality transcends every form of relation in its absolute nature. it is in its cosmic aspect, intimately related to the world of living and non-living beings as their cause, support and substratum. In this aspect the Intelligent Principle is spoken of as He or She as Father or Mother of the universe. Both the Jivas (living beings) and the Jagat (non-living beings) are the manifestations of this Father-Mother Divinity. He is the source alike of what is pleasing and terrific in Nature.
For the devotee, however, He is the God of Love, the pains and terrors of life being only the devices. He employs to draw His careless and forgetful children to His feet. He is present in every being, but is very near to a devoted heart in a special sense. He hears the sincere prayers that well up from the heart of man. and responds to them in His infinite mercy.
As the Impersonal, He can be approached through Knowledge and as the Personal, through Love, but the path of Love and self-surrender is easier and more natural, and on one who treads this path, He confers also the fruit of Knowledge―the sense of identity with the Absolute. In the path of Love He may be looked upon as Father, Mother, Friend, Child, Lover or any other intimate form of human relationship. According to the devotees attitude, He manifests Himself in various forms of beauty and holiness to his purified vision.
A special form of Divine mercy is the Incarnation. From time to time He embodies Himself as a human being of great holiness and spiritual power in order to show mankind the way of holy and righteous living. The founders of all the great religions, who have opened new paths of spiritual-life to men of different ages and climes, are either such special Divine manifestations, or are souls specially commissioned by Him. To worship them and to meditate on their life and doings form one of the most effective forms of spiritual upliftment.
The human personality is intimately related to the
Cosmic Intelligence; for it is a manifestation of that Intelligence. through the limitations of matter. Every soul is therefore, potentially Divine, and the goal of life is to manifest this indwelling Divinity by controlling Nature within and without. All forms of righteous activity in life can aid this process, provided the proper attitude of mind is brought to bear on it. Religion embodies the methods evolved by mankind for the attainment of life's goal, and does not consist in mere intellectual assent to dogmas or creeds, or performance of rituals. Religion, in a vital sense means the realization or the actualization of the great spiritual truths in our consciousness and daily activities. We shall have to do this through work, worship, psychic control, or philosophy―through one or all of these.
Strength is one of the most essential requirements of spiritual life. For strength is virtue and weakness is sin. Faith is the source of all strength―faith in God and faith in oneself. Self-depreciation, or morbidly dwelling upon ones essential sinfulness, is no part of true religion, and should by all means be avoided; for sin is not overcome by dwelling on thoughts of sin but by contemplating the inherent Divinity of the soul. Man is no sinner but a child of God. An abiding consciousness of this is the true faith, the source of all strength and therefore of all virtue.
Spiritual life is impossible without a sound moral basis. The underlying principle of all morality is unselfishness. A man cannot be unselfish unless he is imbued with the spirit of renunciation. Renunciation means the giving up of Kama and Kanchana― lust and greed. The spirit of renunciation manifests in life as purity of character, as devoted service to fellow beings, and as a strong and steady aspiration for the Divine. The vision of God dawns in a heart in which the spirit of renunciation and the intensity of aspiration have reached their maturity. If a man does not reach this goal, or at least make some progress towards its realization, his life on earth, as a man, has surely been in vain.
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
MAN AND THE WORLD
Chapter 1 Man
Chapter 2 Māyā
Chapter 3 Māyā as woman and Gold
Chapter 4 Māyā as Ahaṁkāra or Egotism
Chapter 5 Bondage of Book-learning
Chapter 6 Religious Teachers―False and True
Chapter 7 the worldly-minded and their Ways
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna―Introduction
Book 1 = Sayings 1-226. Ch 1-7.
Book 2 = Sayings 227-638. Ch 8-13.
Book 3 = Sayings 639-1019. Ch 14-20.
Book 4 = Sayings 1020-1120. Ch 21-22.
Man and the World
Presented by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
The destiny of man―Real nature of man―Man in bondage―Death and reincarnation,
THE DESTINY OF MAN
1. You see many stars in the sky at night, but not when the sun rises, Can you therefore say that there are no stars in the heavens during the day? O man, because you cannot find God in the days of your ignorance, say not that there is no God,
2, He is born in vain who having attained the human birth, so difficult to get, does not attempt to realise God in this very life.
3. A man is rewarded according to his thoughts and motives. The Lord is like Kalpataru, the wish-yielding tree of heaven. Everyone gets from Him whatever he seeks. A poor man's son, having received education and become a judge of the High Court by hard work, is apt to think, ''Now I am happy, I have reached the highest rung of the ladder, It is all right now. To him the Lord says, ''Do thou remain so, But when the judge of the High Court retires on pension and reviews his past, he understands that he wasted his life, and exclaims, ''Alas what real work have I done in this life!'' To him the Lord also says, ''Alas! what hast thou done!''
4. Man is born in this world with two tendencies―Vidya, the tendency to pursue the path of liberation, and Avidya, the leaning towards worldliness and bondage. At his birth, both these tendencies are, as it were, in equilibrium like the two scales of a balance, The world soon places its enjoyments and pleasures in one scale, and the Spirit, its attractions in the other. If the mind chooses the world, the scale of Avidya becomes heavy, and man gravitates towards the earth; but if it chooses the Spirit, the scale of Vidya becomes heavier and pulls him towards God.
5. Know the One, and you will know the all. Ciphers placed after the figure one gets the value of hundreds and of thousands, but they become valueless if you wipe out that figure. The many have value only because of the one. First the One and then the many. First God, and then the Jivas and the Jagat (creatures and the world).
6. First gain God, and then gain wealth; but do not try to do the contrary, If, after acquiring spirituality, you lead a worldly life, you will never lose your peace of mind.
7. Do you talk of social reform? Well, you may do so after realizing God. Remember, the Rishis of old gave up the world in order to attain God, This is the one thing needful. All other things shall be added to you, if indeed you care to have them. First see God and then talk of lectures and social reforms.
8. A newcomer to a city should first secures a comfortable room for his rest at night, and after keeping his luggage there, he may freely go about the city for sightseeing. Otherwise he may have to suffer much in the darkness of night to get a place for rest. Similarly, after securing his eternal resting place in God, a new-comer to this world can fearlessly move about, doing his daily work. Otherwise, when the dark and dreadful night of death comes over him, he will have to encounter great difficulties and sufferings.
9. At the doors of large granaries are placed traps containing fried rice (Moori) to catch mice. The mice, attracted by the flavour of the fried rice, forget the more solid pleasure of tasting the rice inside the granary, and fall into the trap. They are caught therein and killed. Just so is the case with the soul. It stands on the threshold of Divine bliss, which is like millions of the highest worldly pleasures solidified into one; but instead of striving for that bliss, it allows itself to be enticed by the petty pleasures of the world and falls into the trap of Māyā, the great illusion, and dies therein.
10. A Pandit: The Theosophists say that there are, Mahatmas. They also say that there are different planes and spheres like astral plane, Devayanic plane, solar sphere, lunar sphere, etc,, and that man's subtle by can go to all these places. They say many other such things. Well, Sir, what is your opinion on Theosophy?
The Master: Bhakti alone is supreme. Bhakti or devotion to God. Do they care for Bhakti? If they do, that that is well, if they have God-realization their aim and goal, But remember, to be engrossed in such trivial things as solar sphere, lunar sphere, astral sphere, etc,, is not genuine search after God. One has to do Sadhanas (spiritual practices) in order to get devotion to His lotus feet; one has to weep for Him with the intense longing of the heart. The mind should be gathered up from the different objects and concentrated exclusively on Him. He is not in the Vedas or Vedanta or in any scripture. Nothing will be achieved unless one's heart yearns for him. One has to pray to Him with intense devotion, and practice Sadhanas. God cannot be realized so easily. Sadhanas are necessary.
11. Will all men see? No man will have to fast for the whole day; some get their food at 9 a,m, some at noon, others at 2 p,m, and others again in the evening or at sunset. Similarly, one time or other, in this very life or after many more lives, all will, and must, see God.
12. Little children play with dolls in the outer room Just as they like, without any care or fear or restraint; but as soon as their mother comes in, they throw aside their dolls and run to her crying, ''Mamma mamma,'' You too, O man, are now playing in this material world, infatuated with the dolls of wealth, honour, fame, etc,, and do not feel any fear or anxiety. If, however, you once see your Divine Mother, you will not afterwards find pleasure in all these. Throwing them all aside, you will run to Her.
13. There art pearls in the deep sea, but, you must hazard all perils to get them. If you fail to get at them by a single dive, do not conclude that sea is without them. Dive again and again, and you are sure to be rewarded in the end. So also in the quest for the Lord, if your first attempt to see Him proves fruitless, do not lose heart. Persevere in the attempt, and you are sure to realize Him at last.
14. Meditate upon the Knowledge and the Bliss Eternal, and you will have bliss. The Bliss is indeed eternal, only it is covered and obscured by ignorance, The less your attachment to the sense-objects the more will be your love for God, -
15. Mere possession of wealth does not make a man rich. The sign of a rich man's house is that a light burns in each room. The poor cannot afford the oil; therefore, they do not arrange for many lights.
This temple of the body should not be kept in darkness; the lamp of Knowledge must be lighted in it. ''Light the lamp of Knowledge in your room, and look at the face of the Mother, Divine.'' Everyone can attain Knowledge. There is the individualized self and there is the higher Self. Every individual is connected with the higher Self. There is a gas connection in every house, and gas can be had from the Gas Company. Only apply to the proper authorities, and the supply will be arranged. Then you will have gaslight in your room.
REAL NATURE OF MAN
16. The digit one may be raised to a figure of any value by adding zeroes after it; but if that one is omitted, zeroes by themselves have no value. Similarly so long as the jiva (individual soul) does not cling to God, who is the One, he has no value, for all things here get their value from their connection with God. So long as the Jiva clings to God, Who is the value-giving figure behind the world, and does all his work for Him, he gains more and more thereby; on the contrary, if he overlooks God and adds to his work many grand achievements, all done for his own glorification, he will gain nothing therefrom.
17. As a lamp does not burn without oil, so a man cannot live without God.
18. God is to man what a magnet is to iron. Why does He not then attract man? As iron thickly imbedded in mud is not moved by the attraction of the magnet, so the soul thickly imbedded in Maya does not feel the attraction of the Lord, when the mud is washed away with water, the iron is free to move. Even so, when, by the constant tears of prayer and repentance, the soul washes away the mud of Maya that compels it to stick to the earth, it is soon attracted by the Lord to Himself.
19. The union of the Jivatman with the Paramatman is like the union of the hour and the minute hands of a watch once in every hour. They are interrelated and interdependent, and though usually separate, they may become united as often as favourable opportunities occur.
20. The soul enchained is man, but when free from the chain (Maya), it is the Lord.
21. What is the relation between the Jivatman and the Paramatman? As a current of water seems to be divided into two when a plank of wood is placed against it edgewise, so the Indivisible appears divided into to two, the Jivatman and the Paramatman, due to the limitation of Māyā.
22, Water and a bubble on it are one and the same. The bubble has its birth in the water, floats on it, and is ultimately resolved into it. So also the jivatman and the Paramatman are one and the same, the difference between them being only one of degree. For one is finite and limited while the other is infinite; one is dependent while the other is independent.
23. The idea of an individual ego is just like enclosing a portion of the water of the Ganges and calling the enclosed portion ones own Ganges.
24. As a piece of lead thrown into a basin of mercury soon becomes an amalgam with it, so an individual soul loses its limited existence when it falls into the ocean of Brahman.
25. God is the infinite Being, while Jiva is only a finite being. How then can the finite grasp the Infinite? It is like a doll made of salt trying to fathom the depth of the ocean. In doing so the salt doll is dissolved into the sea and lost. Similarly the Jiva, in trying to measure God and know Him, loses its separateness and becomes one with Him.
26. The Lord Himself is playing in the form of man. He is the great juggler and this phantasmagoria of Jiva and Jagat is His great jugglery, The Juggler alone is true, the jugglery is false.
27. The human body is like a pot, and the mind, the intellect and the senses are like water, rice and potato. When you place a pot containing water, rice and potato on fire, they get heated, and if any one touches them, his finger is burnt even though the heat does not really belong to the pot, or the water, or the potato, or the rice. Similarly it is the power of, Brahman in man that causes the mind and the intellect and the senses to perform their functions; and when that power ceases to act, these also stop work.
Man in Bondage
28. The true nature of the Jiva is eternal Existence-Knowledge-Bliss (Sat-Cit-Ananda). It is due to egotism that he is limited by so many Upadhis (limiting adjuncts), and has forgotten his real nature.
29. The nature of the Jiva changes with the addition of each Upadhi. When a man dresses like a fop, wearing the fine black-bordered muslin, the love songs of Nidhu Babu spring to his lips. A pair of English boots inflates even a languid man with the delight of vanity; he begins to whistle immediately, and if he has to ascend a flight of stairs, he leaps up from one step to another like a Saheb. If a man holds a pen in his hand, he will go on scratching carelessly on any paper he happens to get.
30. As the snake is separate from its slough, even so is the Spirit separate from the body.
31. The Self is not attached to anything. Pleasure, pain, sinfulness, righteousness, etc., can never affect the Self in any wav; but they can affect those who identify themselves with the body, as smoke can blacken only the wall but not the space enclosed within it.
32. The Vedantins say that the atman is completely unattached. Sin or virtue, pain or pleasure cannot affect it; but they can inflict sufferings on those who have attachment to the body. The smoke can soil the walls, but can do nothing to the sky.
33. Men are of different natures according to the preponderance of Sattva, Rajas, or Tamas in them.
34. Though all souls are one and the same in their ultimate nature, they are of four classes according to their respective conditions. They are Baddha or bound, Mumukshu or struggling for liberation, Mukta or emancipated, and Nityamukta or ever-free.
35. A fisherman cast his net into the river and had a large haul. Some fish lay in the net calm and motionless not exerting in the least to go out of it. Others struggled and jumped but could not extricate themselves, while a third class of fish somehow managed to force their way out of the net. In the world men too are thus of three kind―those who are bound and never strive to be free, those, who are bound but struggle for freedom, and those who have already attained freedom.
36. There are three dolls―the first made of salt, the second made of cloth, and the third of stone. If these dolls are immersed in water, the first will become dissolved and lose its form, the second will absorb a large quantity of water but retain its form, and the third will remain impervious to water. The first doll represents the man who merges his self in the universal and all-pervading Self, and becomes one with It; he is the liberated man. The second represents the Bhakta or the true lover of God, who is full of Divine bliss and knowledge. And the third represents the worldly man who will not admit even a particle of true knowledge into his heart.
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
37. Men are like pillow-cases. The colour of one may be red, that of another blue, and that of a third black; but all contain the same cotton within. So it is with man; one is beautiful, another is black, a third holy, and a fourth wicked; but the Divine Being dwells in them all.
38. The outer layers of cakes are made of rice flour, but inside they are stuffed with different ingredients. The cake is good or bad according to the quality of its stuffing. So all human bodies are made of one and the same material, yet men are different in quality according to the purity of their hearts.
39. A Brahmins son is no doubt a Brahmin by birth; but some of these born Brahmins grow up into great scholars, some become priests, others turn out cooks, and still others roll themselves in the dust before courtesans' doors.
40. It is true that God is even in the tiger; but we must not therefore go and face that animal. It is true that God dwells even in the most wicked beings, but it is not proper that we should associate with them.
41. The Deity Narayana (God) broods over the water, but every kind of water is not fit for drinking. Similarly, though it is true that God dwells in every place, yet every place is not fit to be visited by man. One kind of water may be used for washing our feet. another for purposes of ablution, and a third for drinking, while there are still others which are unfit even to be touched. Similarly, there are different places, of which some may be approached and others visited, while there are still others which should only be saluted from a distance and bidden goodbye.
42. Beware of the following: the garrulous man; the man who is not open-hearted; the man who makes a parade of his devotion by sticking sacred Tulsi leaves on his ears; the woman who wears a long veil; and the cold water of the stagnant pool overgrown with rank vegetation, which is very injurious to health.
Death and Reincarnation
43. Even at the time of death the bound souls speak of worldly matters only. There is no use in visiting places of pilgrimage, or bathing in the holy Ganges, or counting beads; if there are worldly attachments in the heart, they are sure to manifest themselves at the dying moment. Hence bound souls indulge in random talks even at that time. A parrot may ordinarily sing the holy name of RadhaKrishna, but when it is attacked by a cat, it cries out 'Kang', 'Kang' ―its natural cry.
44. Man suffers so much simply for want of devotion to God. One should therefore adopt such means as would help the thought of God to arise in the mind at the last moment of one's life. The means is practice of devotion to God. If this is done during one's life-time, the thought of God is sure to occur to one's mind even at the last hour.
45. A man's rebirth is determined by what he has been thinking about just before death. Devotional practices are therefore very necessary. If, by constant practice, one's mind is free from all worldly ideas, then the thought of God, which fills the mind in their place, will not leave it even at &e time of death.
46. When an unbaked pot is broken, the potter can use the mud to make a new one; but when a baked one is broken, he cannot do the same any longer. So when a person dies in a state of ignorance, he is born again; but when he becomes well-baked in the fire of true knowledge and dies a perfect man, he is not born again.
47. A grain of boiled paddy does not sprout again when sown. Only unboiled paddy sends forth the shoot. Similarly when one dies after becoming a Siddha, a perfect man, he has not to be born again, but an Asiddha, an imperfect man, has to be born again and again until he becomes a Siddha.
[Maya as the Cosmic Power of the Lord―Maya as the deluding power (Avidya)―Maya as the liberating power (Vidya)
MAYA AS THE COSMIC POWER OF THE LORD
48. Maya is to Brahman what the snake in motion is to the snake at rest. Force in action is Maya, force in potency is Brahman.
49. As the water of the ocean is now calm and next agitated into waves, so are Brahman and Māyā. The ocean in the tranquil state is Brahman, and in the turbulent state, Maya.
50. The relation of Brahman to Sakti is that of fire to its burning property.
51. Siva and Sakti (Intelligence and Energy) are both necessary for creation. With dry clay no potter can make a pot; water also is necessary. Siva alone cannot create without the help of Sakti.
52. Desirous of seeing Maya I had one day a vision: A small drop slowly expanded and formed itself into a girl; the girl became a woman and gave birth to a child; and as soon as the child was born, she took it up and swallowed it. In this way. many children were born to her and were devoured by her. Then I knew that she was Maya.
53. The snake itself is not affected by the poison in its fangs; but when it bites, the poison kills the creature bitten. Likewise, Maya is in the Lord but does not affect Him, while the same Maya deludes the whole world.
MAYA AS THE DELUDING POWER (AVIDYA)
54. A certain Sadhu lived for sometime in a room in the temple of Dakshineswar. He did not speak to anybody and spent his whole time in meditation on God. One day, all of a sudden, a cloud darkened the sky, and shortly afterwards, a light wind blew away the cloud. The holy man now came out of his room and began to laugh and dance. Upon this the Master asked him, ''How is it that you, who spend your days so quietly in your room, are dancing in joy and feeling so jolly today?'' The holy man replied, ''Such is Maya that envelops this life! No trace of it was there before; but suddenly it appears in the serene sky of Brahman, creating the whole universe, and is dispersed by the breath of Brahman.
55. Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana went to the forest as exiles. Rama walked in front, Sita in the middle, Lakshmana behind her. Lakshmana was very anxious to have always a full view of Rama; but as Sita was in the middle, he could not have it. Then he prayed to Sita to move aside a little; and as soon as she did so, Lakshmana's wish was fulfilled, and he saw Rama. Such is the arrangement of Brahman, Maya and Jiva in this world. So long as the illusion of Maya does not move aside. the creature cannot see the Creator―man cannot see God.
56. A holy man used to look and smile at the chandelier prism day and night. The reason for his doing so was that he saw various colours through the prism―red, yellow, blue, etc. Knowing these colours to be false, he realized with a smile that the world also was equally false.
57. Hari, wearing the mask of a lion's head, looks indeed very terrible. He goes where his little sister is playing, and yells hideously. She is shocked and terrified, and shrieks out in pain to escape from the frightful creature. But when Hari puts off the mask, the frightened girl at once recognizes her loving brother and runs up to him, exclaiming, ''Oh, it is my dear brother after all.'' Such is the case with all men. They are deluded and frightened, and made to do all sorts of things by the inscrutable power of Maya or nescience, behind which Brahman hides Himself. But when the veil of Maya is removed from the face of Brahman, one does not see in Him a terrible and uncompromising Master, but one's own most beloved inner Self.
58. If God is omnipresent, why do we not see Him? Observing from the bank of a pool thickly covered with scum and weeds, you will not see the water in it. If you desire to see the water, remove the scum from the surface of the pond. With eyes covered with the film of Māyā, you complain that you cannot see God. If you wish to see Him, remove the film of Maya from your eyes.
59. As the cloud covers the sun, so Maya hides the Deity. When the cloud moves away, the sun is seen again; when Maya is removed, God becomes manifest.
60. The mythical swan can separate milk from the water with which it is diluted, and drink only the milk, leaving the water behind. Other birds cannot do this. God is intimately mixed up with Maya. Ordinary men cannot see Him apart from Maya. Only the Paramahamsa can reject Maya and reach God in His purity.
61. If you can find out the nature of Māyā, the universal illusion, it will leave you just as a thief runs away when detected.
MAYA AS THE LIBERATING POWER (VIDYA)
62. In God there are both Vidya, Maya, and Avidya Maya. The Vidya Maya takes man towards God, whereas the Avidya Maya leads him astray. Knowledge, devotion, dispassion, compassion―all these are expressions of Vidya Maya; only with their help can one reach God.
63. It is Maya which reveals Brahman. Without Māyā, who could have known Brahman? Without knowing Sakti, the manifested power of God, there is no means of knowing Him.
64. It is only due to Maya that the attainment of supreme knowledge and final beatitude becomes possible for us. Otherwise who could even dream of all this? From Maya alone spring duality, a relativity; beyond Māyā, there is neither the enjoyer nor the object of enjoyment.
65. The cat catches her kitten with her teeth and they are not hurt; but when a mouse is so caught. it dies. Thus Maya never kills the devotee, though it destroys others.
MAYA AS WOMAN AND GOLD 1
The bondage of sex―Sex end spiritual progress―How to conquer sex? Riches and the spiritual aspirant
THE BONDAGE OF SEX
66. What is Maya? It is lust which forms an obstacle to spiritual progress.
67. Is it Maya or Meye (woman, sex) which has devoured everything?
68. Souls enmeshed in worldliness cannot resist the temptation of woman and gold and direct their minds to God, even though these things bring upon them a thousand humiliations.
69. Be careful, O householders! Put not too much confidence in women; they establish their mastery over you very insidiously!
70. You cannot lie in a sooty room, and at the same time escape being somewhat blackened in spite of all your caution. So also, if a man lives in the company of women, some carnality however little, is bound to arise in him, even though he may be very circumspect and has his senses under control.
1 In reading the sayings contained in this chapter and others, wherever reference is made to Kamini-Kanchana, woman and gold, one must specially bear in mind that the Master is propounding no cult of woman-hatred. The study of his sayings in their entirety, as well as a perusal of his Introduction to this Volume, will show that his attitude towards womankind was one of profound respect bordering on worship. For he saw in them a symbol of the Divine Mother of the universe in a special sense. It was in this light that he himself viewed all women, and he wanted his devotees also to cultivate the same attitude. But at the same time he impressed on his disciples that when viewed with a sensual eye, woman was the greatest danger to the spiritual aspirant. Of course, by 'woman' he meant 'sex or carnality'; but the great teacher that he was, with deep insight into the workings of the human mind, he preferred to use the concrete for the abstract, and always spoke of the bondage of 'woman' and not of 'sex'. His motive must have been purely psychological; for speaking on the same subject to his women devotees, he used to warn them against the dangers from 'man'. Since his teachings were all recorded by men devotees, we naturally get warnings against dangers from woman only and not from man. Just as woman stands for sex, gold stands for the acquisitive instinct, and is a concrete representation of all the material things that men value and like to possess. The correct English expression for it is 'wealth' or 'riches.'
71. If pitchers of ice-cold water and bottles of savory sauces are placed near a man who is suffering from very high fever and is semi-delirious, do you think that it is possible for him, thirsty and restless that he is, to resist the temptation of drinking the water or tasting the sauces? Similarly the worldly man who suffers from the high fever of lust, and is thirsty for sensual pleasures, cannot resist temptations when he is placed between the charms of beauty on one side, and those of wealth on the other. He is sure to deviate from the path of devotion.
72. Once a Marwari gentleman approached Sri Ramakrishna and said, ''How is it, Sir, that I do not see God although I have renounced everything?''
The Master: Well, haven't you seen leather Jars for keeping oil? If one of them is emptied of its contents, still it retains something of the oil as well as its smell. In the same way there is still some worldliness left in you, and its odor persists.
73. 'Woman and gold', remember, keep men immersed in worldliness and away from God. It is strange that no one has anything but praise for his own wife, be she good, bad or indifferent.
74. As the monkey sacrifices its life at the feet of the hunter, so does a man at the feet of a beautiful woman.
SEX AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
75. Those who wish to attain God or make progress in their devotional practices should particularly guard themselves against the snares of lust and wealth. Otherwise they will never attain perfection.
76. Nityananda asked Sri Chaitanya, ''Why is it that all my teaching of Divine love produces no tangible result on the minds of men?'' Sri Chaitanya replied, ''Because, due to their association with women, they cannot retain the higher teachings. Listen, Brother Nityananda, there is no salvation for the worldly-minded.
77. When does the indicator of a balance move away from the pointed needle attached to the top? When one of the scales becomes heavier than the other. Similarly, the mind runs away from God and gets unbalanced when the pressure of woman and wealth is placed upon it.
78. If there is a small hole at the bottom of a jar of water, the whole water will leak out. Similarly, if there is the smallest tinge of worldliness in the aspirant, all his exertions will come to naught.
79. Try to gain absolute mastery over the sexual instinct. If one succeeds in doing this, a physiological change is produced in the body by the development of a hitherto rudimentary nerve known as Medha (the function of which is to transmute the lower energies into the higher). The knowledge of the higher Self is gained after the development of this Medha nerve.
80. The mind steeped in affection for woman and gold is like the green betel-nut. So long as the betel-nut is green, its kernel remains adhering to its shell, but when it dries up shell and nut are separated, and the nut moves within, if shaken. So when the affection for woman and gold dries up, the soul is perceived as quite different from the body.
81. When the mind is free from attachment to sense objects, it turns to God and is fixed on Him. The bound soul becomes free in this way. That soul is bound which takes the path, leading away from God.
82. When attachment for wealth and sex is wiped out from the mind, what else is left in the soul? Only the bliss of Brahman.
HOW TO CONQUER SEX?
83. As persons living in a house infested with venomous snakes are always alert, so should men living in the world be always vigilant against the allurement of lust and greed. •
84. On coming across a snake usually we say, ''Mother Manasa please move away showing your tail and hiding your head.'' So also it is wiser to hold aloof from such influences as have a tendency to excite sensuality. It far better not to come into contact with them than to gain experience by a fall.
85. A disciple once asked Sri Ramakrishna how he was to conquer lust; for, though he was passing his days in religious contemplation, evil thoughts were arising in his mind from time to time. To him the Master said: ''There was a man who had a pet dog. He used to caress it, carry it in about his arms, play with it and kiss it. A wise man, seeing this foolish behavior of his, warned him not to lavish such affection on a dog. For it was, after all, an irrational brute, and might bite him one day. The owner took the warning to heart and putting away the dog from his arms, resolved never again to fondle or caress it. But the animal could not at first understand the change in his master, and would run to him frequently, to be taken up and caressed. Beaten several times, the dog at last ceased to trouble his master any more. Such indeed is your condition. The dog that you have been cherishing so long in your bosom will not easily leave you, though you may wish to be rid of it. However, there is no harm in it. Do not caress the dog any more, but give it a good beating whenever it approaches you to be fondled, and in course of time you will be altogether free from its importunities.''
86. Woman and gold have drowned the whole world in sin. woman is disarmed when you view her as the manifestation of the Divine Mother. God cannot be seen so long as ones passion for woman and gold is not extinguished.
87. Once a man attains God through intense Vairagya (freedom from worldly passions), temptations of sex disappear, and he finds himself in no danger even from his own wife. If there are two unequal magnets at an equal distance from a piece of iron, which of them will draw it with greater force? Certainly the larger one. Verily, God is the larger magnet. What can the smaller magnet, woman, do against it?
88. Snakes are venomous reptiles. If you try to catch them, you are sure to be bitten. But to the man who has learnt the art of snake-charming by the use of magnetized dust, it is not a very difficult affair to catch them. He can play even with seven of them twisted together and coiled round his neck. (Similarly a man of realization is immune from the dangers of worldly life.)
89. One day a Marwari gentleman went to Sri Ramakrishsa and asked him for permission to present him with some thousands of rupees. But the Master had nothing but a stern refusal for this well-meant offer. He said, I shall have, nothing to do with your money; for if I accept it, my mind would always be dwelling on it. The gentleman then proposed to invest the amount in the name of one of Sri Ramakrishna's relatives to be used by him in the Master's service. To this the Master replied, ''No, it would be double-dealing. Moreover, it would always be in my mind that I am keeping my money with so-and-so''
But the Marwari still persisted in hi, proposal, quoting one of Ramakrishna'’s sayings, 'If the mind is like oil, it will float even upon an ocean of woman and gold.''
At this the Master retorted, ''That is true indeed, but if the oil floats on water for a considerable length of time, it becomes putrefied. In the same way, even if the mind were only to float over the ocean of woman and gold, the continuous contact of the latter for a long period would surely tend to vitiate the mind and make it give out an evil odor.''
RICHES AND THE SPIRITUAL ASPIRANT
90. Referring to the fact that the pursuit of wealth diverts an aspirant from the path of God, the Master, once said to a young disciple, ''Like a man of the world you have accepted a paid appointment. But you are working for your mother. Otherwise I should have said, 'For shame! For shame!' ''He repeated this several times and then said, ''Serve the Lord alone.''
91. Referring to the degradation that service undertaken for the sake of money brings about, the Master said to a young disciple, ''A change for the worse has come over his face. A dark shadowy film seems to have spread over it. All this is due to office work. There are the accounts and hundred other matters to attend to.
92. Money is an Upadhi (a deceptive influence) of a very strong nature. As soon as a man becomes rich, he is thoroughly changed. A Brahmin who was very meek and humble used to come here (Dakshineswar) every now and then. After some time he stopped his visits, and we knew nothing of what happened to him. One day we went to Konnagore in a boat. As we were getting down from the boat, we saw him sitting, on the bank of the Ganges, where in the fashion of big folk, he was enjoying the pure breeze of the river. On seeing me, he accosted me in a patronizing tone with the words, ''Hallo, Thakkur! How do you do now?'' At once I noticed the change in his tone and said to Hriday who was with me, ''I tell you, Hriday, this man must have come by some riches. See what a great change has come over him!'' And Hrida burst into laughter.
93. Money can fetch you bread alone. Do not consider it as your sole end and aim.
94. There are some who boast of their wealth and power of their name and family and high status in society; but all these are for a few days only. None of these will follow them after death.
95. On two occasions the Lord smiles: First when the doctor comes to the bed-side of a patient who is seriously taken ill and is about to die, and says to his mother, ''Why madam, there is no cause for anxiety at all. I take upon myself the responsibility of saving your son's life.'' Next He smiles when two brothers, who are busy partitioning their land, take a measuring tape, put it across the land and say, ''This side is mine, that side is yours''
96. There is nothing to be proud of in money. If you say you are rich, there are richer and richer men than you in comparison with whom you are a mere beggar. After dusk when the glow-worms make their appearance, they think,
''We are giving light to the world. But when the stars begin to twinkle, the pride of the glow-worms is humbled. Now the stars begin to think, ''We are illuming the universe.'' But after a while the moon ascends the sky and her silvery light humiliates the stars and they pale away in sadness. Again. the moon grows proud and thinks that by her light the world is lighted and bathed in beauty. But presently the dawn proclaims the ascent of the sun on the eastern horizon. And where is the moon now!
If they who think themselves rich ponder over these facts of Nature, they would never, never boast of their riches and power.
97. Water always flows out under a bridge but never stagnates; so money passes through the hands of the free, and is never hoarded by them.
98. He is truly a man to whom money is only a servant; make proper use of it. On the other hand those who do not how to make proper use of it, hardly deserve to be called men.
BOOK 1 CHAPTER IV
MAYA AS AHAMKARA OR EGOTISM1
Evils of egotism―The difficulty of conquering egotism― Ripe ego and unripe ego―How to conquer the ego―Ego in the man of realization
EVILS OF EGOTISM
99. The sun can give heat and light to the whole world, but he cannot do so when the clouds shut out his rays. Similarly as long as egotism veils the heart, God cannot shine upon it. .
100. Egotism is like a cloud which keeps God hidden from our sight. If it vanishes by the mercy of the Guru, God is perceived in all His glory. For instance, you see in the picture that Sri Ramachandra, Who is God, is only two or three steps ahead of Lakshmana (the Jiva), but Sita (Maya), coming in between the two, prevents Lakshmana from having a view of Rama.
IAhamkara and Aham―These two words have been variously translated here, accordingly to context, as egotism, the sense of 'I', the 'I', the ego, the I-ness and so on. None of these is perhaps an exact equivalent. Indian philosophy and system of spiritual discipline understand by it the basic principle of individuation giving rise to the sense of 'I', the concomitant feeling of separation from God and from other individual, and all other psychical and physical development following from it. The aim of spiritual life is to root out this prime source of all worldliness, and realize the unity of all existence.
101. Q. Sir, why are we in bondage like this? Why do we not see God?
A. Man's ego itself is Maya. It is the veil that shuts out the Light. Verily, with the death of the 'I' aIl troubles cease. If by the grace of the Lord a man once gains the knowledge that he is not the doer, then he assuredly becomes a Jivanmukta, one freed in this very life, and transcends all fear. Jivanmukta = One who attained liberation while alive in body.
102. If I hold this cloth before me, you cannot see me anymore, though I am still as near you as ever. So also though God is nearer to you than anything else, because of the scree of egotism, you cannot see Him.
103. As long as there is egotism, neither Self-knowledge (Jnana) nor liberation (Mukti) is possible; and there is no cessation of birth and death.
104. Rice, pulse, potatoes and other things put in cold water in an earthen vessel can be touched with hand until
they are heated on a fire. The same statement applies to the Jiva. This body is the earthen vessel; wealth and learning, caste and lineage, power and position are like rice, pulse and potatoes. Egotism is the heat. The Jiva is made hot (haughty) by egotism.
105. Rain-water never stands on the high ground but runs down to the lowest level. So also the mercy of God remains in the hearts the lowly, but drains off from those of the vain and the proud.
106. Egotism is so injurious to man that as long as it is not eradicated there is no salvation for him. Look at the young calf and the troubles that come upon it through egotism. As soon as it is born, it cries, 'Hāmbā'―'I am'. The result of its egotism is that, when it grows up, if it is an ox, it is yoked to the plough to drag carts full of heavy load; if a cow, it is kept tied to its post and is sometimes even killed and eaten. But still, in spite of all this punishment, the animal does not lose its egotism; for drums that are made of its hide produce the same sound of 'Ham', 'l'. The creature does not learn humility until the cotton-carder makes bow-strings out of its entrails; for it is then that the animals intestines sing out 'Tuhu' ―'Thou art'. The 'l' must go and give place to the 'Thou'; and this is not achieved until man becomes spiritually awakened.
107. Freedom will come when your 'l-hood' (egotism) vanishes and you yourself are merged in the Divinity.
108. When does a man attain salvation? Only when his egotism dies.
109. Q. When shall I be free? A. When that 'I' vanishes from you. 'I' and 'mine'―this is ignorance; 'Thou' and 'Thine' ―that is true knowledge. The true devotee always says, 'O Lord, Thou art the doer (Karta). Thou doest everything. I am a mere instrument in Thy hands, I do whatever thou makest me do. All this is Thy glory. This home and this family are thine, not mine; I have only the right to serve as Thou ordainest.'
The Difficulty of conquering Egotism
110. The vanities of all others may gradually die out, but the vanity of a saint regarding his sainthood is hard indeed to wear awav.
111. The cup in which garlic juice is kept retains the odor, though washed several times. Egotism is such an obstinate aspect of ignorance that it never disappears completely, however hard you may try to get rid of it.
112. The dyspeptic knows only too well that sour things are injurious to him, but such is the force of association that the sight of them is enough to make his mouth water. So, even if one tries hard to suppress the idea of 'l-ness' and 'mine-ness' yet when one begins to act, the 'unripe' ego asserts itself.
113. There are few who can attain Samadhi and get rid of the Aham―the feeling of 'I' within. Generally it does not go. You may reason and discriminate without end, yet this 'I' comes back again and again. Today you may cut down the Pepul tree, but tomorrow you will see it sprouting again.
Peepul tree = Ficus religiosa is a large dry season-deciduous or semi-evergreen tree up to 30 metres (98 ft) tall and with a trunk diameter of up to 3 metres (9.8 ft). The leaves are cordate in shape with a distinctive extended drip tip; they are 10–17 cm long and 8–12 cm broad, with a 6–10 cm petiole. The fruits are small figs 1–1.5 cm in diameter, green ripening to purple.—Wikipedia.
114. Those who seek name and fame are, under a delusion. They forget that everything is ordained by the Great Dispenser of all things and that all is due to the Lord and the Lord alone. The wise man says always 'It is Thou'. O Lord. 'It is Thou'; but the ignorant and the deluded say, 'It is I', 'it is I'.
RIPE EGO AND UNRIPE EGO
115. There are two types of egoes, one 'ripe' and the other 'unripe'. ''Nothing is mine, whatever l see or feel, or hear, nay. even this body itself is not mine; I am always eternal, free and all-knowing''― such ideas arise from the 'ripe' ego. ''This is my house, this is my child, this is my wife, this is my body''―thoughts of this kind are the manifestation of the 'unripe' ego.
116. The ego that asserts I am the servant of God is characteristic of the true devotee. It is the ego of Vidya (Knowledge), and is called 'the ripe' ego.
117. What is the mischievous 'I'? The 'I' which says, ''What! Don't they know me? I have so much money! Who is so wealthy as I am? Who dares to surpass me?''
118. The 'I' which makes a man worldly and attached to lust and wealth is mischievous. The individual soul and
the Universal Being are separated because this 'I' comes in between them. If a stick is placed on the surface of water, the water will appear to be divided into two sections. The stick is the Aham―the 'I'. Take that away, and the water becomes again undivided.
HOW TO CONQUER THE EGO
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
119. If one ponders over this word 'I', trying to track it down, one sees that it is only a word which denotes egotism. But it is extremely difficult to shake it off. So one must say, ‘‘You wicked 'I' if you will not go by any means, remain as the servant of God. The ego that feels itself to be the servant of God is called the 'the ripe I'.
120. Sankaracharya had a disciple who had been serving him for a long time but was not still given any instruction by him. Once, while seated alone, Sankara heard the footsteps of someone coming behind. So he called out, ''Who, is there?'' The disciple answered, ''It is I.'' The Acharya thereupon said. ''If this 'I' is so dear to you, then either expand it to infinity (i.e. know the universe as yourself) or renounce it altogether.''
121. If you find that you cannot drive off this feeling of I, then let it remain as the 'servant I'. There is not much to fear from the ego which is centered in the thought, ''I am the servant of God; I am His devotee.'' Sweets cause dyspepsia, but not sugar candy which is an exception. The servant 'I', the 'I'of a devotee, the 'I' of a child―each of these is like a line drawn with a stick on the surface of water. I does not last long.
122. Just as sugar candy has no unwholesome effect like other sweets, so also help 'ripe' ego which considers itself to be the servant or worshipper of God causes none of those evil consequences characteristic of the unripe ego. On the other hand it leads to God and signifies that one has progressed in Bhakti Yoga or the path of devotion.
123. What is the nature of the feelings and impulses of one who has the attitude of the 'servant I'? If his conviction is true and sincere, then there remains only the forms, the appearance of his former feelings and impulses. Even if the 'ego of the servant' or the ego of the devotee remains, one who has realized God can hurt none. The whole sting of individuality vanishes from him. The sword becomes gold by a touch of the philosopher's stone. It retains its former shape, but can no longer hurt anyone.
124. If you feel proud, let it be in the thought that you are the servant of God, the son sof God. Great men have the nature of children. They are always children before Him; so they are free from pride, All their strength is of God, and not their own. It belongs to Him and comes from Him.
125. A person who is convinced that everything is done by the will of God, feels himself to be a mere tool in His hands. He is then free from all bondage even in this very life. ''Thou doest Thy work, Lord; but man says, 'I do it.'
126. As long as one says. ''I know'' or 'I do not know,'' one looks upon oneself as a person. My Divine Mother says: ‘‘It is only when I have effaced the whole of this Aham (I-ness) in you, that the Undifferentiated Absolute (My impersonal aspect) can be realized in Samadhi. Till then there is the 'I' in me and before me.
127. After a process of severe struggle with one's lower nature and the assiduous practice of spiritual discipline leading to Self-knowledge, one attains the state of Samdhi. Then the ego with all its train vanishes. But it is very difficult to attain Samadhi; the ego is very persistent. That is why we are born again and again in this world.
128. So long as one is not blessed with the vision Divine, so long as the touch of the philosophers stone has, not transmuted the base metal in one into gold, there will be the illusive feeling: 'I am the doer.' And until this illusion ceases, there will persist the idea that gives the sense of distinction between 'I have done this good work,' and 'I have done that bad work.' Maya means this sense of distinction, and it is because of it that the world continues. One reaches Him if one takes refuge in Vidya Maya―-that aspect of Divine Power having the preponderance of Sattva―which leads one by the right path. He alone crosses the ocean of Māyā, who comes face to face with God―realizes Him. A man is truly free, even here in this embodied state, if he knows that God is the true agent and he by himself is powerless to do anything.
THE EGO OF THE MAN OF REALISATION
129. Will the sense of 'I' never die away completely? The petals of the lily drop off in time, but they leave their mark behind. So the ego of man entirely disappears (when he realizes God), but traces of its former existence remain; this. however does not produce any evil effect.
130. The truly wise man is he who has seen the Lord. He becomes like a child. The child no doubt, seems to have an individuality, a separateness, of its own. But that individuality is a mere appearance, not a reality. The self of the child is nothing like the self of the grown-up man.
131. Some great souls who have reached the seventh or the highest plane of Samadhi and have thus become merged in God-consciousness, are pleased to come down from that spiritual height for the good of mankind. They keep the ego of Knowledge (the Aham of Vidya), which is the same as the higher Self. But this ego is a mere appearance. It is like a line drawn across water.
132. As a piece of rope, when burnt, retains its form, but cannot serve to bind, so is the ego which is burnt by the fire of supreme Knowledge.
133. A man dreams that someone is coming to cut him to pieces. Frightened, he awakens with a groans and sees, that the door of his room is closed from within and that no one is inside it. Even then, his heart continues to beat fast for some minutes. So does our Abhimana, or sense of 'I', leave behind it some momentum even when it has departed.
134. After the attainment of Samadhi some still retain the ego―the 'I' of the servant or worshipper of God. Sankaracharya kept the ego of Vidya (knowledge) for the teaching of others.)
135. Hanuman was blessed with the vision of God both with form and without it (Sakara and Nirakara). But the retained the ego of a servant of God. Such was also the case with Narada, Sanaka, Sananda and Sanatkumara.
A devotee: Were Narada and others only Bhaktas, or were they Jnanis also?
The Master: Narada and others had attained the highest Knowledge (Brahmajnana). But still they went on like the murmuring water of the rivulet, talking and singing the praise of God. This shows that they too kept this ego of Knowledge, a slight trace of individuality, to mark their separate existence from the Deity, for the purpose of teaching others the saving truths of religion.
136. Once the Master asked a disciple of his in a playful mood, ''Well, do you notice in me any Abhimana (pride arising from the sense of 'I' )? Have I any Abhimana ?
The Disciple: Yes, Sir a little; but that little has been kept for the following purposes: firstly for the preservation of the body: secondly, for the practice of devotion to God; thirdly, for mixing with the company of devotees; and fourthly, for giving instruction to others. At the same time, it must be said that you have retained it only after a
good deal of prayer. I mean, the natural state of your soul is capable of being described only by the word Samadhi. Hence I say that the Abhimana or egoism which you possess is the result of your prayer.
The Master: Yes, but it has been retained not by me but by my Divine Mother. It lies with my Divine Mother to grant the prayer.
BONDAGE OF BOOK-LEARNING
Barrenness of mere book-learning―Vanity of disputation―The true end of learning
BARRENNESS OF MERE BOOK-LEARNING
137. One day the late Keshab Chandra Sen came to Sri Ramakrishna in the temple bf Dakshineswar and asked him, ''How is it that even learned people remain so profoundly ignorant of things that truly matter in spiritual life, although they have read a whole library of religious books?'' The Master replied, ''The kite and the vulture soar high up in the air, but all the time their eyes remain fixed on charnel-houses in search of putrid carcasses; similarly the minds of the so-called learned men are attached to the things of the world to lust and wealth, in spite of their erudition in sacred lore and hence they cannot attain true Knowledge.
138. That knowledge which purifies the mind and heart alone is true Knowledge, all else is only a negation of Knowledge. .
139. What is the use of mere book-learning? The Pandits may be familiar with plenty of sacred texts and couplets. But what is the good of repeating them? One must realize in one life the truths embodied in the scriptures. Mere reading will not bring Knowledge or salvation as long as one is attached to the world, as long as one is fond of woman and gold.
140. Our so-called Pandits will talk big. They will talk of Brahman, of God, of the Absolute, of Jnana Yoga, of philosophy of ontology, and the rest. But there are very few who have realized what they talk about. The rest are dry and hard, and good for nothing.
141. It is easy to utter 'sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni' with the mouth, but it is difficult to play them on an instrument. So it is easy to talk on religion, but difficult to practice it.
142. A parrot repeats by rote the holy name of Radha-Krishna, but as son, as it is caught by a cat it screams 'kang, kang', betraying its natural cry. Worldly wise men sometimes repeat the name of Hari (God) and perform various pious and charitable deeds with the hope of worldly gains, but when misfortune, sorrow, poverty and death overtake them, they forget Him and all such deeds.
143. Can love of God be acquired by reading holy books? In the Hindu almanac it is mentioned that on a particular day there will be twenty Adas (a unit of measure) of rain-water. But you will not be able to squeeze out of the almanac a single drop! So also 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.
144. In the kingdom of God, reason, intellect and learning are of no avail. There, the dumb speak, the blind see, and the deaf hear.
145. To explain God after merely reading the scriptures is like explaining to a person the city of Benares after seeing it only in a map.
146. The intoxication of hemp is not to be had by repeating the word hemp even a thousand times. Get some hemp, pound it with water into a solution and drink it; you will then really get intoxicated. What is the use of crying aloud. ''O God, O God!'' Regularly practice devotion, and you will see God.
147. This knowledge of God comes not to the person who is proud of his learning or wealth. You may say to such a person, ''There is a holy man in a certain place. Do you like to see him.'' He is however, sure to put forward excuses and say that he cannot go. He thinks he is too big a man to pay a visit to such a person. Such pride is born of ignorance.
148. Those who have read a little become puffed up with pride. I had a conversation with a certain person on God. He said. ''Oh. I know all this.'' I said to him, ''Does one who had been to Delhi go about boasting of it? Does a gentleman ever tell that he is a gentleman?''
149. Grantha does not always mean a holy scripture, but often it comes to mean a Granthi, or a knot. If a
man does hot read it with an intense desire to know the Truth, and renouncing all vanity, the mere reading of books only gives rise to pedantry, presumption, egotism etc., which will be an encumbrance on his mind like so many knots.
150. Water is dried up at once if poured in a heap of ashes. Vanity is like this heap of ashes. Prayer and contemplation produce no effect upon the heart puffed up with vanity.
VANITY OF DISPUTATION
151. Water poured into an empty vessel makes a bubbling noise, but when the vessel is full, no sound is heard. Similarly, the man who has not found God is full of vain disputation about His existence and nature. But he who has seen Him, silently enjoys the bliss Divine.
152. Common men talk 'bagfuls' of religion but do not act even a grain of it. The wise man speaks little, even though his whole life is religion expressed in action.
153. When a large number of guests are invited to a feast, you first hear a tremendous noise produced by them; but it continues only till they commence eating. When the dishes are served and the guests fall to, three-fourths of the noise subside. Then comes the course of sweetmeats. The more they are served, the more does the noise subside, and finally when the turn comes for curds (the last course) only one sound is heard viz. 'soop-soop'. The feast over, the next thing for the guests is to go to steep!
The nearer you come to God, the less you are disposed to questioning and reasoning. When you actually attain Him. when you behold Him as the reality,―then all noise, all disputations come to an end. Then is the time for sleep, i.e., for enjoyment which comes in Samadhi, the ,state of communion with the Divine.
154. So long as the bee is outside the petals of the flower and has not tasted the sweetness of the nectar within. it hovers round humming; but when it gets into the flower. it drinks it noiselessly. So long as a man disputes’‘!lh(mt doctrines and dogmas: he has not tasted the
155. One who has just taken to the study of a foreign language, while talking constantly resorts to words belong- ing to that language in order to make a show of his attainments; but he who knows the language well seldom uses it when speaking in his own mother tongue. Such indeed is the ease with those who are well advanced in religion.
156. At a distance from the market, we hear only a loud buzzing noise; but entering the market, we hear it no longer and perceive the bargains that are being carried on. Similarly, so long as a person is far away from God, he
cannot but be in the midst of the confusion of sophistry, vain argument and discussion; but once he approaches God. all arguments and discussions cease, and he gains a clear and vivid perception of the mysteries of God.
157. Throw an unbaked cake of flour into hot ghee, and it will make a sort of noise. But the more it is fed, the less is the noise; and when it is fully fried the bubbling ceases altogether. So long as a man has a little knowledge, he goes about talking and preaching; but when the perfection resulting from true Knowledge is gained, he no more makes vain display.
158. When the grace of the Almighty descends on any one, he immediately understands his mistakes; knowing this, you should not dispute.
THE TRUE END OF THE LEARNING
159. Sacred books only point out the way to God. Once you have known the way, what is the use of books? Then comes the time for the culture of the soul in solitary communion with God. A person received a letter from his village-home, asking him to send certain things to his kinsmen. When he was going to order for them, he wanted to ascertain from the letter the articles requisitioned. So he searched for the letter, which was then missing. At last, to his great delight, it was found out after a long search. He took it up eagerly, and went through the contents, which ran as follows, ''Please send five seers of sweetmeats, a hundred oranges and eight pieces of cloth. Knowing the contents, he threw the letter aside and set about procuring the articles.
How long then does one care for such a letter? So long as one does not know the contents. The contents being
known once, the next step is to put forth the necessary effort to get the things desired. Similarly the sacred books tell us only the way to God. i.e., of the means for the realisation of God. That being once known, the next step is to work one's way to the goal. Realisation is the goal.
160. Para-vidya. i.e., higher knowledge is that by which we know God. All else, mere scriptures, philosophy, logic, or grammar as such only burden and puzzle the mind. The Granthas (books) are sometimes Granthis (knots). They are good only when they lead to the higher knowledge. .
161. Many think that knowledg4l of God. cannot be attained except through the study of books. But higher than reading is hearing, and even higher than hearing is seeing or realizing. The hearing of the truth from the lips
of the preceptor makes a greater impression on the mind than the mere reading of books; but seeing makes the greatest impression, Better than reading about Benares is hearing about the place from the lips of one who has actually visited it; but the best is to see Benares with one's own eyes.
162. Only two kinds of people can attain to self-knowledge: those who are not encumbered at all with learning, that is to say, whose minds are not over-crowded with thoughts borrowed from others; and those who, after
studying all the scriptures and sciences have come to realize that they know nothing.
163, People talk of errors and superstitions. and feel proud of their book-learning; but the sincere devotee finds
the loving Lord ever ready to lend him a helping hand. It matters not if he had been walking along a wrong path for a time. The Lord knows what he wants and in the end fulfils his hearts desires.
164. Two friends went into an orchard. One of them possessing much worldly wisdom, immediately began to count the mango trees there and the number of mangoes each tree bore, and to estimate what might be the approximate value of the whole orchard. His companion went to the owner, made friendship with him, and then quietly going to a tree, began, at his hosts desire to pluck the fruits and eat them. Whom do you consider to be the wiser of the two? Eat mangoes. It wil1 satisfy your hunger. What is the good of counting the trees and leaves and making calculations? The vain man of intellect busies himself uselessly with finding out the why and wherefore of creation, while the humble man of wisdom makes friends with the Creator and enjoys His gift of supreme bliss.
165. One ray of light from my Divine Mother, Who is verily the Goddess of Wisdom, has power to cow down even the most learned of Pandits and make him appear like an insignificant worm crawling on the earth.
166. Utter the word Gita in quick succession a number of times―Gi-ta-gi-ta-gi-tagi. It is then virtually pro-
nounced as 'Tagi', 'Tagi,' which means one who has renounced the world for the sake of God. Thus, in one word, the Gita teaches, ''Renounce the world-bound men. Renounce everything and fix the mind on the Lord.''
167. In the course of his pilgrimage through the southern parts of India. Chaitanya Deva came across a certain devotee who was in tears all the while a pandit was reading from the Gita. Now this devotee knew not even the alphabet. He could not follow a single text of the Gita. On being asked why he shed tears, he replied. ''It is indeed true that I do not know a word of the Gita. But all the white it was being read, I could not help seeing with my inner eye the beautiful form of my Lord Sri Krishna seated before Arjuna on a chariot in the field of Kurukshetra, and giving out all those sublime thoughts embodied in the Gita. This it was that filled my eyes with tears of joy and love.''
This man, who knew not letters, had the highest Knowledge, for he had pure love for God and could realize Him.
RELIGIOUS TEACHERS-FALSE AND TRUE
Pitfalls of teachership―True teachers
PITFALLS OF TEACHERSHIP
168. Do you, O preacher, carry the badge of authority? The humblest servant of the king, authorized by him, is heard with awe and respect, and can quell a riot by showing his badge; so must you, O preacher, first, obtain your commission and inspiration from God Himself. So long as you do not have this badge of Divine inspiration, you may preach all your life, but it will be mere waste of breath.
169. None has patience or desire to dive deep into Divine love. None cares for discrimination and dispassion for worldly things (Viveka and Vairagya) or for devotional practices (Sadhana). On the other hand, all will rush to lecture and to teach with only a bit of book-learning. Strange indeed! To teach others is the most difficult of tasks. He alone can teach, who gets a commission from God after having realized Him.
Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
170. What do you think of the man who is a good orator and preacher, but whose spiritual powers are undeveloped? He is like the person who squanders another's property entrusted to him. He can easily advise others, for it costs him nothing since the ideas he expresses are not his own but borrowed.
171. A well-known speaker was lecturing once in a Harisabha (religious association). In the coarse of his speech he said. ''The Lord is totally devoid of Rasa (sweetness); we must make Him sweet by lending to Him the sweetness of our own nature. By Rasa he meant love and other divine attributes. When I heard this, I was reminded of the boy who said that his mother's brother had many horses, and sought to convince his hearers by explaining that they occupied a whole cowshed. Of course, the intelligent could at once see that cowsheds are not meant for horses, that the youngster was telling a lie, and that he had no experience or knowledge of horses.
To say that God is devoid of Rasa was an absurdity, which proved that the speaker was totally ignorant of what he was saying. He had never realized the Supreme Being, Who is the very fountain of eternal love, wisdom and joy.
172. What is your opinion about the method employed by present-day religious preachers ? It is like inviting a hundred persons to a dinner with food enough only one. It is only pretending to be a great religious teacher with a small stock of spiritual experience.
173. First install God in the temple of your heart; first realize Him. Speeches, lecture, and the rest may be taken up after you have seen God, not before. People talk glibly of God and Brahman, while they are attached to the things of the world. What does all this amount to ?Mere blowing of the conch (Sankha) for Divine Service without God to worship within the temple.
174. One day as I was going through Panchavati, I heard the frightful croaking of a frog. I guessed it must have been caught by a snake. When after a long time I was returning that way. I again heard the same noise. Peeping through the bushes, I saw a water snake with a frog in its mouth. It could neither swallow it, nor let it go, and there was no end to the agony of the frog. Then I thought, ''Well, had it been the victim of a cobra, it would have been silenced forever after three croaks at the most (and then there would have been no more suffering either for the frog or the snake). But here the snakes suffering is almost equal to the frogs. So if an unenlightened man takes upon himself in his foolhardiness the responsibility of saving another, there is no end to the misery of both. Neither does the ego of the disciple vanish, nor are his worldly ties cut asunder. If the disciple comes under the
influence of an unworthy teacher, he never gets liberation. But under a competent teacher the egotism of the Jiva perishes with three croaks.
175. There was a professional preacher who could rouse strong devotional feelings in the hearts of his hearers whenever he delivered religious discourses; but personally he was not a man of character. Pained at the kind of life he led, I asked him one day how it was that he moved so many hearts to devotion, while he himself lived such an unworthy life. The man bowed and said. ''Yes, Sir, the broom though a contemptible thing, removes the dust and dirt on the floor and the street! Of course I could not answer him.I
I This need not be taken as a contradiction of the main theme of this chapter. For the effect which preaching of this type produces is temporary and unlike the permanent change which the words of men of true spiritual realization produce in their disciples.
WHO IS A TRUE TEACHER?
176. He alone is the true teacher who is illumined by the light of true Knowledge.
177. As many people have merely heard of snow but not seen it, so many religious preachers have only read in books about the attributes of God, but not realized them for themselves. And as many others have seen snow but not tasted it, so many religious teachers have obtained only a glimpse of Divine glory but have not understood its real essence. Only he who has tasted the snow can say what it is like. Similarly, he alone can describe the attributes of God, who has associated with Him in His different aspects in the relationship of a servant, a friend and a lover, and has realized his oneness with Him in complete absorption in Him.
178. If one has the idea that one is a leader and has formed a sect. one's ego is 'unripe.' But if one gets commission from God after realizing Him, and preaches for the good of others, there is no harm. Sukadeva had such a commission to reveal the Bhagavata to Parikshit.
179. When the jar is full, it does not make noise any more. So the man of realization too does not talk much. But what then about Narada and others? Yes, Narada, Sukadeva and a few others like them came down several steps after the attainment of Samadhi, and out of mercy and love they taught mankind.
180. There are two classes of perfect men in the world―those who on attaining Truth, become silent and enjoy it all by themselves without any thought of others, and those who attain Truth, but finding no pleasure in keeping it to themselves, cry out in a trumpet voice to all―Come ye and enjoy the Truth with us.
181. Bees come of themselves to the full blown flower when the breeze wafts its fragrance all around. Ants come of themselves to the spot where sweets are placed. No one need invite the bee or the ant. So when a man becomes pure and perfect, the sweet influence of his character spreads everywhere and all who seek the Truth are naturally drawn towards him. He need not go in search of an audience to listen to him.
182. Ants gather of themselves where the sweetmeats have fallen. Try to become sugar candy, i.e. have within yourselves the sweetness of an enlightened spiritual consciousness. and the ants (devotees) will come to you of themselves. If you preach without commission from God. your preaching will be powerless, and none will listen to it. One must attain God by devotion or by any other means, and then, if one receives His word, one may teach and preach anywhere and everywhere. For only thus can one get power and strength from Him, and only then can one rightly discharge the responsible duties of a preacher.
183. When fire burns, the moths come, one knows not whence, and fall into it. The fire never goes about inviting the moth. Such is the preaching of the perfect. They do not go about inviting others, but hundreds and thousands of their own accord go to them―one knows not whence seeking instruction from them.
184. What is true preaching like? Instead of preaching to others, if one worships God all the time, that is preaching enough. He who exerts himself to attain emancipation from birth and death is the real preacher. To him who is free, hundreds of people come from all sides anxious to be taught. When a rose blossoms, bees come from all sides, uninvited.
185. When corn is measured out to a purchaser from the granary of a big merchant, the man engaged in measuring out goes on unceasingly with his work, having a constant supply of grain. A petty dealers store, on the other hand, is soon exhausted. Similarly, it is God Himself Who unfailingly inspires thoughts and sentiments in His devotees, and that is why they are never lacking in what is new and wise. But the book-learned, like petty grocers. soon find themselves short of thoughts and ideas.
l86. Gas-light illumines different parts of the city in varying degrees. But the life of the light, namely the gas, comes from one common source. So the true religious teachers of all climes and ages are like lamps through which is revealed the life of the Spirit flowing constantly from the one source, the Almighty Lord.
187. Rain-water falling upon the roof of a house flows down to the ground through spouts shaped grotesquely like a tiger's head. One gets the impression that the water comes from the tiger's mouth, but in reality it descends from the sky. In the same way the holy teachings that come from the mouths of godly men seem to be uttered by those men themselves, while in reality they proceed from God.
THE WORLDLY-MINDED AND THEIR WAYS·
Characteristics of the worldly-minded-Fickle devotion of the worldly-minded-The worldly-minded and the spiritual practices
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE WORLDLY-MINDED
188. Men are of two classes―men in name only (Manush) and the awakened men (Man-hush). Those who thirst after God alone belong to the latter class: those who are mad after woman and gold are all ordinary men―men in name only.
189. As one mask may be worn by various persons, so also various kinds of creatures have donned the garb of humanity. Some are tearing wolves, others are ferocious bears, and some again are cunning foxes or venomous snakes, though they all look like men.
190. Just as it is the nature of the sieve to reject the fine grains and to keep the coarse ones. so it is the nature of evil souls to reject the god and retain the evil. Just the opposite is the nature of the winnowing basket and of good souls.
191. There are people who are so situated in life that naturally they have nothing in the world to attract them, but would yet create for themselves some attachment and get themselves bound by it. They neither want nor like to be free. A man who has no family to care for, nor relatives to look after, generally takes a cat or a monkey or a dog or a bird for a pet and fondles it, and thus 'slakes his thirst for milk with mere whey.' Such is the snare that Maya's charm has set for humanity.
192. The new-born calf looks very lively and gay. It runs and frisks about all day long, only stopping now and then to suck the sweet milk from its dam. But no sooner is the rope tied round its neck than it begins to pine away gradually, and far from being merry, wears a dejected and sorrowful look, and gets emaciated. In the same way, so long as a boy has no concern with the affairs of the world, he is quite merry and gay. But when he once gets himself locked in the world as it were, with the strong bar of wedlock, and is harnessed with the responsibilities of family life, all his joy vanishes. He wears a look of dejection, care and anxiety; no more is there the glow of health on his cheeks, and deep wrinkles gradually furrow his forehead. Blessed is he that remains a boy throughout his life, free as the morning air fresh as a newly opened flower, and pure as a dew-drop.
Dam = a female parent (used esp. of four-footed domestic animals).
193. As a little boy or girl can have no idea of conjugal pleasure, even so a worldly man cannot at all comprehend the ecstasy of Divine communion.
194. The worldly man cannot easily resist the lure of woman and gold, and turn his mind to God, although he may be relentlessly buffeted by the miseries and sufferings of life.
195. A worldly man is best known by his antipathy to whatever savors of religion. Not only does he himself dislike to hear any hymn or sacred music or the chanting of the holy name of God, but he dissuades others from listening to them. He who scoffs at prayers, religious societies and pious men, is indeed a true worldling.
196. Sometimes I see worldly-minded men coming to me with pious devotees. These worldly men have no liking for religious conversations. So they become very impatient and restless while the others are having long talks (about God and spirituality. They find it very difficult even to sit still and hence whisper in their friends ears, ''When are you going? How long will you stay?''
Occasionally their friends would say, ''Wait a little. We are coming presently. Disgusted with their words, these worldly men would reply. ''Then you had better continue your talk. We shall go now and wait for you in the boat (which was to take them back to Calcutta).
197. While talking with a worldly man, one can see early how his heart is stuffed with all kinds of worldly thoughts and desires, just as the crop of the pigeon is filled with grain.
198. The heart of a sinful man is like curly hair. You will never succeed in straightening it, howsoever you may try. So also the heart of the wicked cannot be easily made upright and pure.
199. The mendicant's calabash jug (Kamandalu) may have been to the four Dhamas (the four places of pilgrimage which a Sadhu is expected to visit), yet it remains as bitter as ever. Such is the nature of worldly-minded men.
calabash = the dried, hollowed-out shell of any of these fruits (bitter gourds), used as a container or utensil.
200. The potter shapes various forms with unburnt clay, but he cannot work the clay that has once been burnt. In the same way the heart that has been burnt in the fire of worldly desires cannot be acted upon by any higher sentiment, and is incapable of being moulded into any lovely form.
201. As water can never soak a piece of stone, so religious teachings can produce no impression on a soul in bondage (Baddha-jiva).
202. As a nail cannot be driven into a stone but enters easily into the earth, so the advice of the pious does not affect the soul of a worldly man while it goes deep into the heart of a believer.
203. As soft clay easily takes an impression but not hard stone, so also Divine wisdom impresses itself on the heart of a devotee, but not on a bound soul.
204. As the water under a bridge enters from one side and passes out at the other, so religious advice given to the worldlings enters the mind through one ear and goes out by the other without leaving any impression.
205. What is the characteristic of the worldly-minded man? He is like the mongoose in the tamer's pot. The mongoose-tamer fixes a pot high up in a wall to serve as a nest for the animal. He ties one end of a rope round the neck of the mongoose while the other end is fastened to a weight. Coming out of the pot, the mongoose goes down the wall and wanders about here and there, but when frightened, runs back into the pot to hide itself there. Unfortunately it cannot stay there long as the weight at the other end of the rope drags it down from its comfortable home. Similarly, the worldly man is often forced by the chastening influence of the sufferings and miseries of life to soar high above the world and take refuge in God, but the dead weight of the world with all its attraction soon pulls him down.
206. Seeing the gleaming water pass through the valve of the bamboo trap placed in rice fields, small fish enter the trap with great glee. But having once entered, they cannot come out. Similarly, foolish men enter the meshes of the world, lured by its false glitter; but it is much easier to enter than to escape; and they are caught like little fish and imprisoned for good.
207. The fettered ones―the worldlings―are never awakened. How sorrows assail them. how frauds deceive them, and how dangers threaten them ! Yet they do not wake up even as the camel so fond of the prickly bush and the nettle, does not cease browsing on them though they make its mouth bleed. The man of the world suffers much yet in a few days he forgets everything. Perhaps his wife has died or proved faithless; and lo he marries again, Or perhaps his child has died, and he weeps; but in a short while everything has slipped out of his memory. And the mother of the child, who has been so overwhelmed with grief, is again looking to her toilet and wearing ornaments and jewel. Parent are impoverished by their daughters marriage, and yet annually children are born to them. And these men, though ruined by law-suits, will yet go for litigation. They have not the wherewithal to provide well for their children. yet they will beget more children every year.
The worldling is sometimes like a snake that has caught hold of a mole which it can neither swallow nor throw out. Possibly he has come to see that there is nothing substantial in the world, that it is all skin and stone like sour-sop (Amrah fruit), yet he cannot forget the world and set his heart on God. If you remove him from worldly environment and place him in holy surroundings, he will lose heart and pine away, even as a worm which lives and thrive on filth will die if kept in a pot of rice.
208. None would keep milk in an earthen pot which has once been used for preparing curd lest the milk should get curdled. Nor can it be safely used for cooking, because it may crack upon the fire. It is therefore almost useless. So also a good and experienced Guru does not entrust valuable and exalted precepts to a worldly man, for he is sure to misinterpret and misuse them for his own mean ends. Nor will he ask him to do any useful work which may cost a little labour lest he should think that the preceptor is taking undue advantage of him.
209. Man cannot renounce the world even if he wishes, because he is thwarted by the Karmas that are bearing fruit in the present birth and by the impressions of previous actions left on the mind (Prarabdha and Samskara). Once a Yogi asked a king to sit down near him and meditate upon God. To him the king replied, ''No Sir, that cannot be. If I remain near you, but still the thirst for worldly enjoyment will be with me. If I remain in this forest. perhaps there will arise a kingdom within it, as I am still destined to enjoy.''
FICKLE DEVOTION OF THE WORLDLY·MINDED
210. Worldly persons may perform many pious and charitable acts in the hope of earthly rewards, but at the approach of misfortune, sorrow and poverty, their piety and charity forsake them. They are like the parrot that repeats, 'Radha-Krishna, Radha-Krishna' the livelong day, but cries, 'Kang, Kang' when caught by a cat, forgetting the Divine name.
Therefore, I say unto you, preaching religion to such men will prove useless. In spite of all your sermons they are sure to remain as worldly as ever.
211. A spring cushion is pressed down when one sits upon it but soon resumes its shape when the pressure is removed. So it is with worldly men. They are full of religious sentiment as long as they hear religious talk, but as soon as they enter upon the routine of their daily life they forget all those high and noble thoughts, and become impure as before.
212. Iron appears red-hot in the furnace, but becomes black soon after it is taken out. In the same way worldly men are full of religious emotion as long as they are in a temple or in the society of the pious; but no sooner do they leave these associations, than the flood of devotion in them subsides.
211. As the fly now sits on an unclean sore and next on offerings to God, so the mind of the worldly man is at one time engaged in religious topics and at the next loses itself in the pleasures of wealth and lust.
214. The heart of the worldly man is like the worm in a dung-hill. The worm always lives in the dung and loves to live therein. If by chance someone takes it out of that filthy habitation and put it on a lotus flower, it will soon die of the fragrance of the flower. So the worldly man cannot live even for a moment outside the dirty atmosphere of worldly thoughts and desires.
215. Do you know what worldly peoples idea of God is like? It is like the children's prattle while they play among themselves. Sometimes they swear saying, ''By God, I say.'' They learn this from their elders when they hear them taking an oath. Or at best, it is like the utterance of the dandy who with all his foppish airs goes to a garden in one of his idle promenades, whistling and twirling his stick about, and picks up a flower and exclaims ''O what a beautiful flower God has made! It is only a momentary mood like the sprinkling of a drop of water on a bar of red-hot iron. So I say, you must thirst for Him. You will have to take a deep plunge into the ocean.
THE WORLDLY.MINDED AND SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
216. A husbandman was watering a sugar-cane field throughout the day. After finishing his task he saw that not a drop of water had entered the field; all the water had run underground through several big rat-holes. Such is the state of the devotee who worships God, secretly cherishing ambitions and worldly desires in his head (heart).
Though he may be praying daily, he makes no progress, because his entire devotion runs to waste through the rat-holes of these desires, and at the end of his lifelong devotion, he remains the same as before.
217. Why does the mind become unsteady when engaged in contemplation? The fly sits at times on the sweetmeats kept exposed for sale in the shop of the confectioner, but when a scavenger passes by with a basketful of filth, the fly leaves the sweets and at once settles on the filth. On the other hand, the bee in search of honey sits only on flowers and never on filthy objects. Worldly men, like flies get occasionally a momentary taste of the sweetness of Divine love, but their natural hankering after filth soon brings them back to the dung-hill of worldliness. The great Paramahamsas are, however always absorbed in the contemplation and enjoyment of Divine love.
218. An evil spirit is exorcised by throwing charmed mustard seeds on the possessed; but if the evil spirit has possessed the mustard seeds themselves, how can they be of any use in exorcising it? If the mind with which you contemplate the Deity is tainted with the vicious thoughts of the world, how can you expect to do your religious devotions successfully with such a corrupt instrument?
219. A wet match does not ignite, however hard you may strike it; it only smokes. But a dry match lights at once even with the slightest rubbing. The heart of the true devotee is like the dry match; the slightest mention of the name of the Lord kindles the fire of love in his heart, while the mind of the world1y man, soaked in lust and attachment for wealth resists all warmth like the moistened match. Though God may be preached to him several times, the fire of Divine love can never be kindled in him,
220. A worldly man may be endowed with as much intelligence and knowledge as a jnani, may take as much pains and trouble as a Yogi, and may make as great sacrifices as an ascetic; but all his exertions are in vain since his energies are misdirected, and since he does all these for the sake of worldly honour and wealth and not for the sake of the Lord.
221. The soiled mirror never reflects the rays of the sun; similarly those who are impure and unclean at heart and are deluded by Maya never perceive the glory of the Lord. But the pure in heart see the Lord as the clear mirror reflects the sun. Therefore be pure.
222. When a certain quantity of pure milk is mixed with double the quantity of water, it requires a good deal of time and labour to condense it into Kshira (condensed milk). The mind of a worldly man is largely diluted with the filthy water of evil and impure thoughts, and he has to work long and hard to purify it and give it the proper strength and consistency characteristic of a truly pious heart.
223. Q. Why is it that worldly men do not give up everything to find God?
A. Can an actor coming on the stage throw off his mask at once? Let worldly men play out their part and in time they will throw off their false appearance.
224. The soul that is wholly world-bound is like the worm that lives for ever in filth, and dies there and has no idea of anything batter. The soul whose worldliness is of lesser intensity is, however, like the fly that sits now on filth and now on sugar. The free soul alone is like the bee that always drinks honey and tastes nothing else.
225. The worldly man is like the alligator. As the body of the alligator is not pervious to the strokes of any weapon, and as it cannot be put to death except by striking at the belly. so no matter how much good advice you give to the worldly man and no matter how much self-disgust you arouse in him, he will never realize his situation fully unless you wean him from the objects of his attachment.
226. Worldly men will not act up to your advice if you ask them to renounce everything and devote themselves to the lotus-like feet of the Lord. Hence, after much deliberation as to how to attract such souls, Gour and Nitai1 hit upon a plan of alluring them, and said, ''Come, take the name of Hari, and you will have a nice soup of Magur fish and the caress of a young damsel.'' These two items tempted many to join them and take the name of the Lord. When by and by they came to have a little taste of the nectar of the holy name, they understood the hidden meaning of Nitai's teaching. The soup of the Magur fish is nothing but the streams of tears they shed in love of God. The earth is the young damsel, and to be caressed by her, means to roll on earth in the rapture of Divine love. 1Lord Chaitanya and his companion Nityananda.
BOOK II THE ASCENT OF MAN
Chapter 8. Varieties of Aspirants &Their Ideals
Chapter 9. Some Aids to Spiritual Life
Chapter 10. Ways of Spiritual Life
Chapter 11. Spiritual Aspirants and Religious Differences
Chapter 12. Essentials of Spiritual life
Chapter 13. yearning for God
Presented by Veeraswamy Krishnaraj
BOOK II THE ASCENTOF MAN
Sayings 227- 638
He who has not given up sinful ways, whose senses have not been restrained, who is unmeditative, and whose mind is devoid of peace, cannot attain Him even by a highly cultivated intelligence.
O good-looking youth, taking hold of that bow, the mighty weapon of scriptural wisdom (embodied in Om, the sound symbol of the Most High) and fixing the arrow (of the self) rendered sharp by devoted worship, draw it with the mind absorbed in His thought, and hit the mark―even that Imperishable Being.
He in whom are woven the heaven, the earth, the sky, and the mind together with the vital energies, know Him, that Atman alone, and give up all other vain talk. This is the path to Immortality.― The Upaniṣads
VARIETIES OF ASPIRANTS AND
Some types of aspirants―Characteristics of true aspirants-Kinship of the spiritually-inclined―Ideals of the aspirant entangled in the world―Ideals of the Sannyasin
SOME TYPES OF ASPIRANTS
227. Out of the myriads of paper kites that are seen flying in the air, only one or two gets free by the snapping of the string. So out of hundreds of aspirants practicing spiritual disciplines only one or two gets free from worldly bondage.
228. There is a fabled species of birds called ' Homa'. They live so high up in the heavens and love those high regions so dearly that they never come down to the earth. And it is said that they even lay their eggs in the sky, and that their young ones are hatched in mid-air as the eggs fall, pulled down by gravity. No sooner do these fledglings find out that they are falling downwards, than they immediately change their course and instinctively fly up towards their home. Men like Sukadeva, Narada, Jesus and Sankaracharya are like these birds. Even in their boyhood they become free from all attachment to the things of the world and betake themselves to the highest regions of true Knowledge and Divine light.
229. There are two classes of Yogis, hidden and open. The former go through religious practices in secret and keep themselves hidden from public gaze. The latter carry about them the external symbols of the Yogi, such as a staff, and converse freely on spiritual subjects.
230. Though it is the general rule that flowers appear first and then fruits, there are some plants and creepers which bear fruits first and then flowers. Similarly, ordinary persons have to go through Sadhanas before they realize God but there is a class of aspirants who realize God first. and then perform the Sadhanas.
231. Of the grains of paddy fried in a frying pan, the few that leap out of the pan and burst outside are the best fried, for they are without any mark of charring. On the other hand, everyone of the properly fried grains in the pan is sure to have some charred mark on it, however small. So of all good devotees, those few who give up the world altogether and go out of it are perfect without any spot, while even the best of those who are in the world must have at least some small spot of imperfection in their character.
232. Butter churned early in the morning is the best; that churned after sunrise is not so good. Addressing his young disciples who became Saṁnyāsins later on, the Master used to say, ''You are like butter churned early in the morning, while my householder disciples are like butter churned late in the day."
233. The young bamboo can be easily bent, but the full grown bamboo breaks when it is bent with force. It is easy to bend the young heart towards God, but the untrained heart of the old escapes the hold whenever it is so drawn.
234. The parrot cannot be taught to sing when the vibrating membrane in its throat has hardened too much due to age. It must be taught to sing while young, before the collar line appears on its neck. So in old age it is difficult to learn how to fix the mind on God, but it can be easily learnt in youth.
235. A ripe mango may be offered to God or used for some other purpose, but if it is pecked by a crow even once, it is unfit for any use. It can neither be offered to the Deity, nor presented to a Brahmin, nor may it be eaten by the pure. So boys and girls should be dedicated to the service of God before the impurities of worldly desires taint their hearts. Once worldly desires enter their minds, or the demon of sensual pleasures casts his baneful shadow over them, it is very difficult indeed to make them tread the path of virtue.
236. The love in the heart of a boy is whole and undivided. When he gets married in time, half of his heart, if not more, is given away to his wife, and when children are born to him, he loses another quarter thereof, while the remaining quarter is divided among father, mother, honour. fame. Pride, dress, and the rest; therefore he has love left to offer to God. Hence if the undivided mind of a boy is directed early enough to God. he may gain His love, and realize Him easily. But it is not quite so easy for grown-up people to do so.
237. If you ask whether there is any difference between the Jnanis who live in the world and those who renounce it. I would say that the two are the same. Both of them have the same Jnana in common, But if the Jnani is in the world, he has cause to fear; for life in the midst of sensual attractions is attended with the fear of fall, slight as it is. If you live in a sooty room, you are sure to get a little tainted by the soot, however careful you may be.
238. To some one the. Master said: ''Well, you have now come to seek God when you have spent the best part of your life in the world. Had you entered the world after realizing God, what peace and joy you would have found."
239. Q. What is the difference between the Sattvic, the Rajasic and the Tamasic ways of worship?
A. The man who worships from the very depth of his heart without the least ostentation or vanity is a Sattvic worshipper. The man who gives much attention to decorating his house, makes much fuss about music and dancing, and makes all costly and elaborate arrangements for a rich feast when celebrating the worship of the Deity is a Rajasic worshipper. The man who immolates hundreds of innocent goats and sheep on the altar, has dishes of meat and wine for offerings, and is absorbed only in dancing and singing while conducting worship, is a Tamasic worshipper.
CHARACTERISTICS OF TRUE ASPIRANTS
240. The flint may remain for myriads of years under water and still not lose its inner fire. Strike it with steel whenever you like, and out flashes the glowing spark. So is the true devotee firm in his faith. Though he may remain surrounded by all the impurities of the world, he never loses his faith in and love of, God. He warms up with devout enthusiasm as soon as he hears the 'name' of the Lord.
241. Just as gold and brass are tested by a touchstone, so are the sincere and the hypocritical Sadhus distinguished by persecution and calumny.
242. The railway engine easily drags with it a train of heavily loaded carriages. So the loving children of God, firm in their faith and devotion feel no trouble in passing through life in spite of all troubles and anxieties, and at the same time they lead many to God along with them.
243. When does the attraction of the pleasures of the sense die away? When one realizes the consummation of all happiness and of all pleasures in God―the indivisible, eternal ocean of bliss. Those who enjoy Him can find no attraction in the cheap, worthless pleasures of the world.
244. He who has once tasted the refined crystal of sugar candy finds no pleasure in tasting the dirty treacle (molasses). He who ha's slept in a palace will not find pleasure in lying down in a dirty hovel. The soul that has tasted the sweetness of Divine bliss finds no happiness in the vulgar pleasures of the world.
245. The lady, who has a king for her lover will not accept the addresses of a street beggar. The soul that has found favour in the eyes of the Lord does not fall in love with the paltry things of the world.
246. It is the nature of the winnowing basket to reject whatever is light and useless, and retain whatever is weighty and good. Such is the nature of all pious souls.
247. Sugar and sand may be mixed together, but the ant rejects the sand and carries away the grains of sugar. So the holy Paramahamsas and pious men successfully sift the good from the bad.
248. The water of a rapid stream moves round and round in eddies and whirlpools in some places; but passing these it resumes again a straight and swift course. So the heart of the devotee is caught every now and then in the whirlpool of despondency, grief and unbelief; but this is only a momentary aberration and does not last long.
249. Wherein is the strength of a devotee? He is a child of God, and his devotional tears are his mightiest weapon.
250. The more you scratch the part affected.by ringworm, the greater grows the itching, and the more the pleasure you derive from scratching. So the worshippers of God never get tired of singing His praise.
251. That man whose hair stands on end at the mere mention of the 'name' of God, and from whose eyes flow tears of love―he has indeed reached his last birth.
252. What happens when an impure woman tempts a pious man and tries to cast her evil influence upon him. Just as the skin of a ripe mango, when pressed hard, is left in the hand, the stone and the kernel having slipped out of it, so does the mind of the pious man glide away to God, leaving behind its earthly tabernacle to be acted on by the woman.
253. The truly religious man is he who does not commit any sin even when he is alone, and when no man observes him., because he feels that God sees him even then. He who can resist the temptations of a young and seductive woman in a lonely forest, where he is unobserved by human eye, through the fear that God sees him and who, through such fear, will not even cast an immoral glance at her,― he is truly a religious man. He who finds a bag full of gold in a lonely and uninhabited house, and resists the temptation of appropriating it, he is a truly religious man. But he who practises religion for the sake of show. through fear of public opinion, cannot be called truly religious. The religion of silence and secrecy is the true religion, but it is all sham and mockery when attended with vaunting and vanity.
KINSHIP OF THE SPIRITUALLY-INCLINED
254. The spiritually-minded belong to a caste of their own, beyond all social conventions.
255. A woman naturally feels shy to relate to all the conversation she daily holds with her husband. She neither communicates it to anyone nor feels inclined to do so, and if it gets divulged in any way, she feels annoyed. But she would herself relate it to her intimate companion without reserve; nay, she would even be impatient to relate her experience to her and would find pleasure in doing so. Similarly, a devotee of God does not like to relate to anyone but a true Bhakta the ecstatic joy that he experiences in Divine communion; nay, sometimes he is impatient to relate his experiences to such a person and feels happy to do so.
256. If a strange animal were to approach a herd of cows. it would soon be driven off by the combined attack of the whole herd. But let a cow come and all the cows would make friends with her. With much mutual licking of bodies. Thus, when one devotee meets another devotee, both experience much delight and are loth to part from each other. But when a scoffer enters their circle, they sedulously avoid him. Sedulous = assiduous
257. Why is it that one who loves the Lord does not like to live in solitude? The hemp smoker finds no pleasure in smoking without company. The pious man, like the hemp smoker finds no pleasure in chanting the sacred name of God away from the company of other devotees.
IDEALS OF THE ASPIRANT ENTANGLED IN THE WORLD
258. It is said that, when a Tantrika tries to invoke the Deity through the medium of the spirit of the dead, he sits on a fresh human corpse and keeps near him food and wine. In the course of the invocation, if at any time the corps is, as they say, vivified temporarily and opens its mouth, the intrepid invoker must pour the wine and thrust the food into its gaping mouth to appease the elemental that has for the time being taken possession of it. If he does not do so, the invocation is interrupted by the elemental. and the higher spirit does not appear. So, remaining on the carcass of the world, if you desire to attain beatitude, first provide yourself with all the things necessary to pacify the clamour of worldly demands on you; otherwise your devotions will be broken and interrupted by the cares and anxieties of life.
259. There is necessity of money, no doubt, in worldly life; but do not ponder much over it and other material gains. Contentment with what comes of its own accord is the best attitude. Do not be anxious to hoard. Those who dedicate their very life and soul to Him, those who are His devotees and have taken refuge in Him, can never think of such worldly matters. With them, expenditure is commensurate with income. As money comes into their hands in one way, it is spent in another.
260. A householder disciple: 'Sir, may I try to earn a larger income?
The Master: 'Yes, if you mean to devote it to the life in the family based on discrimination. But take care that you earn money by honest means. For it is not earning money but the service of the Lord that is your aim; and wealth devoted to God is beyond cavil.
Disciple: How long, Sir, have I obligations to the family?
The Master: So long as the family is not provided with enough to maintain itself. But if your children can support themselves, you have no more duty to them.
261. To some householder devotees the Master said: ''You will look up money only as a means of getting food, clothes and shelter of worshipping the 'Deity and serving Sadhus and devotees. But it is wrong to hoard it. Bees labour hard to build their hives, but man comes and robs them. You need not renounce 'woman' completely. But after a few children are born, you and your wife should live like brother and sister."
262. Q. How can I go through my devotional practices, when I have always to think of my daily bread?
A. He for whom you work will supply you with your necessaries, God made provision for your support before He sent you into this world.
263. We possess home, family and children for a short time, but these are all ephemeral. The palm tree itself is real, but when one or two of its fruits fall to the ground, why should we regret it?
264. Renunciation of ‘woman and gold' has been laid down only for those that lead a monastic life. Monks must not even look at the pictures of women. Even the thought of spiced pickles causes the mouth to water―not to speak of the sight or the touch of those dainties. But, this hard rule is not meant for men of the world like you (addressing the householder devotees present); it is intended
purely for monks. As for you, you may go amongst women with a mind unattached and fixed upon God. That your mind may be thus unattached and fixed upon God, it is good that you should often retire into solitude―a place away from either men or women; a place where you may be left absolutely to yourself, praying to the Lord with a yearning heart for true knowledge; a place where you may
stay for three days, if not more, or for at least one day, if not three.
Your path, again, as married men, is to live with your wife just as brother and sister, after one or two children are born to you, and to pray to the Lord constantly that hoth of you may have strength to live a perfect life of spirituality and self-control.
265. Live in the world, but be not worldly. As the saying goes, make the frog dance before the snake, but let not the snake swallow the frog.
266. A boat may stay in water, but water should not stay in the boat. An aspirant may live in the world. But the world should not live within him.
267. It matters not if you live the life of a householder, only you must fix your mind on God. Do your work with one hand, and hold the feet of the Lord with the other. When you have no work in the world to do, hold His feet fast to your heart with both your hands.
268. What is the state of a man who is in the world but is free from its attachments? He is like a lotus-leaf in water or like a mud-fish in the marsh. Neither of these is polluted by the element in which it lives. The water wets not the leaf, nor does the mud stain the glossy coat of the fish.
269. It does not matter much whether you are a family man or not. Always perform your duties unattached with your mind fixed on God. As for instance, the man who has got a carbuncle on his back talks with his friends and others and even carries out undertakings, but his mind is all the while on his pain.
270. Living in the world one is safe, if one has Viveka (discrimination of the Real from the unreal), and Vairagya (dispassion for worldly things), and along with these intense devotion to God.
271. What are you to do when you are placed in this world? Give up everything to Him, resign yourself to Him, and there will be no more trouble for you. Then you will come to know that everything is done by His will.
272. It may be given even to the householder to see God. It was the case with Raja Janaka, the great royal sage. But one cannot rise to the height of Raja Janaka all of a sudden. Janaka spent many long years in solitude, away from the din and bustle of the world, practicing devotional exercises. Thus it would do infinite good to men of the world, if they will retire now and then into solitude, even for three days at a time, so that God might be realized.
273. Some Brahmo boys once told me that they followed Janaka's example―they lived in the world but quite unattached to it. I said to them that it was easy to say one was Janaka but quite a different matter to be actually one. It is so hard to move among worldly objects without being contaminated. What terrible austerities did not Jnaka practise at the outset! But I do not advise you to go through similar hardships. What I want you to do is to practice devotion, and to live alone for some time in some quiet place. Enter the world after gaining Jnana and Bhakti. The best curd is formed when the milk is left quite still; shaking, or even changing the pot, spoils it. Janaka was unattached; hence one of the epithets applied to him is Videha―literally 'bodiless'. He led the life of a Jivan-mukta. The annihilation of the idea of the body is exceedingly difficult to accomplish. Truly Janaka was a great hero. He handled with ease the two swords ―one of Knowledge (Jnana) and the other of work (Karma).
274. Men always quote the example of king Janaka as a man who lived in the world and yet attained spiritual illumination. But throughout the whole history of mankind he is the solitary example of this type. He was not the rule but the exception. The general rule is that no one can attain spiritual perfection without renouncing 'woman and gold'. Do not think yourself to be a Janani. Many centuries have rolled away, and the world has not yet produced a second Janaka.
275. If you desire to live in the world unattached, you should first practice devotion in solitude for some time ―a year, six months, a month, or at least twelve days. During this period of retirement, you should constantly meditate upon God and pray to Him for Divine love.
You should think that there is nothing in the world which you may call your own, that those whom you consider as your own are sure to pass away some day or other. God alone is really your own. He is your all-in-all. How to obtain Him? ―this should be your only concern.
276. When you are engaged in devotional practices, keep aloof from those who scoff at them, and also from those who ridicule piety and the pious.
277. If you first smear your palms with oil and then cut open the jack, the milky exudation of the fruit will not stick to your hands and inconvenience you. 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.
278. The magnetic needle always points to the North, and hence it is that the sailing vessel does not lose her direction. So long as the heart of man is directed towards God, he cannot be lost in the ocean of worldliness.
279. In the game of hide-and-seek, if the player succeeds in touching the 'Grand-dame' (Boori), he is no longer liable to be made a thief by the seeker. Similarly by once seeing God, we are no longer bound by the fetters of the world. Just as the person touching the Boori is free to go about, wherever he chooses. 'Without being pursued and made a 'thief' so also in the world's playground there is no fear for him who has once touched the feet of God. He attains freedom from all worldly cares and anxieties. and nothing can ever bind him again.
280. Alligators love to float on water but as soon as one rises up, it is made a mark by the hunters. Necessarily it is obliged to remain under water and cannot rise to the surface. Yet, whenever it finds a safe opportunity, it rises with a deep whizzing noise, and swims happily on the expanse of water. O man, entangled in the meshes of the world. you too are anxious to swim on the surface of the ocean of bliss but are prevented by the importunate demands of your family. Yet be of good cheer. Whenever you find leisure, call upon God eagerly, pray to Him earnestly and tell Him all your sorrows. In due time, He will surely emancipate you and enable you to swim merrily on the ocean of bliss.
281. When you are forced by circumstances to go to a place of temptations, always remember the Divine Mother. She will protect you from the many evils that may be lurking even in your heart, The presence of the Mother will shame you away from evil deeds and evil thoughts.
282. The world and God―how is it possible to harmonize these two? Look at the carpenter's wife. how diversely busy she is! With one hand she stirs the flattened rice in the mortar of a Dhenki, with the other hand she is nursing her child, and at the very same time she bargains with the customer about the flattened rice. Thus, though her occupations are many her mind is fixed on the one idea that the pestle of the Dhenki does not fall on her hand and bruise it. So be in the world, but always remember Him. and never go astray from His path.
283. As a boy holding to a post or pillar whirls about it with headlong speed without any fear of falling, so perform your worldly duties, fixing your hold firmly upon God, and you will be free from danger.
284. As the village maidens in India carry four or five pots of water placed one over the other upon their head talking all the way with one another about their joys and sorrows, and yet do not allow a single drop of water to spill, so must the traveler in the path of virtue walk along his route. In whatever circumstances he may be placed, let him always take heed that his heart does not swerve from the true path.
285. As an unchaste woman, busily engaged in household affair, will all the while be thinking of her secret lover, so do you O man of the world perform your round of worldly duties, but let your heart be fixed always on God.
286. As a wet-nurse in a wealthy family brings up her master's child, loving it as if it were her own. yet knowing well that she has no claim upon it. so you also think that you are but trustees and guardians of your children whose real father is the Lord Himself.
287. As the street minstrel plays the guitar with one hand and with the other strikes a drum, while at the same time he sings a song, so do you, O man of the world, perform all your worldly duties with your hands, never forgetting to repeat and glorify the 'name' of the Lord with all your heart.
288. The maidservant says with reference to her master's house, ''This is our house." All the while she knows that the house is not her own, and that her own house is far away in a distant village of Burdwan or Naddia. Her thoughts are all really directed to her village home. Again, referring to her master's child in her arms, she says, ''My Hari has grown very naughty." or... ''My Hari likes to eat this or that'' and so on. But all the while she knows for certain that Hari is not her own. I tell those who come to me, to lead a life unattached like the maid-servant. I tell them to live unattached to this world ―to be in the world, but not of the world―and at the same time to have their mind directed to God. The heavenly home whence all come. I tell them to pray for Bhakti and base their lives on it.
289. Always consider that your family concerns are not yours; they are God's and you are his servant come here to obey his commands. When this idea becomes firm, there remains nothing indeed that a man may call his own.
290. He is a true hero who performs all the duties of the world 'with his mind fixed' on God. None but a strong man can, while carrying a load of two maunds (more than a hundredweight) on his head, stop to admire a bridal procession passing his way.
291. Those who live in the world and still try to gain salvation are like the soldiers that fight from behind the ramparts of a fort, while the ascetics who renounce the world in search of God are like the soldiers fighting in the open field. To fight the enemy from within the fort is more convenient and far safer than to fight in the open field.
292. Before soldiers go out to meet the enemy, they learn the art of fighting in their barracks, where they do not have to put up with the hardships incidental to action in the open field. So avail yourselves of the conveniences of your Horne life to raise your spiritual condition before you take to the austerities of an ascetic life.
293. He indeed is blessed, in whom all the qualities of head and heart are fully developed and evenly balanced. He acquits himself admirably well in whatever position he may be placed. He is full of guileless faith and love for God, and yet his dealings with others leave nothing to be desired. When he is engaged in world affairs, he is a thorough man of business. In the assembly of the learned he establishes his claims as a man of superior learning, and in debates he shows wonderful powers of reasoning. To his parents he is obedient and affectionate; to his relations and friends he is loving and sweet; to his neighbors he is kind and sympathetic and always ready to do good; to his wife he is the god of love. Such a man is indeed perfect.
IDEALS OF THE SANNYASIN
294. The first birth of a man is from his father; Upanayana marks his second birth, and Sannyasa the third.
295. The mind is much wasted while one is engaged in worldly pursuits. And that loss can be made good, only if one takes to the life of renunciation (Sannyasa).
296. Who is a fit candidate for the holy order of Sannyasins? He who gives up the world altogether without having any thought of the morrow, as to how he will eat or how he will be clothed, is fit to be a true Sannyasin. His mentality must be like that of a man who can, if need be, let himself fall fearlessly from the top of a tall tree, without any thought of saving his own life or limbs.
297. Yogins and Sannyasins are like snakes. The snake does not dig out a hole for itself, but lives in the hole made by the mouse. When one hole becomes uninhabitable, it enters into another hole. Just so Yogins and Sannyasins make no house for themselves, They pass their days in other men's houses―today in one house, tomorrow in another.
298. Sadhus never settle down in a place, where there are no jungles nearby and where food and drink is hard get. 'Jungles' means solitary spots for answering the calls of nature; and 'food and drink' means alms. Sadhus live on alms, they select only those places for their temporary residence where alms can be easily procured. When they get tired in the course of their journey they may halt at a place for a day or two, in spite of the difficulty of procuring alms. But they never stay anywhere if there is scarcity of water and of solitary spots for answering the calls of nature. Good Sadhus never attend to these matters of physical cleanliness in places where they may be observed by others. They finish these things in solitude, far away from the haunts of men.
299. If a white cloth is stained even with a small spot, the stain appears very ugly indeed. So the smallest fault of a holy man becomes painfully prominent.
300. A Sannyasin may himself be perfectly unattached and may have full control over his senses. Yet to set an example to mankind he must make a rigorous renunciation of 'woman and gold.' For only when they notice the thoroughness of the Sannyasin's renunciation, will men take courage, only then will they make efforts to renounce sex and riches. And who indeed will impart this lesson on renunciation, if not the Sannyasin?
301. What is the sign of a genuine Sannyasin and a Tyagi? Both must be entirely unconnected with lust and gold. Should they feel an attachment for gold or be troubled by pollution even in a dream, all their spiritual exercises could come to naught.
302. When one has taken up the garb of a Sannyasin, one has to conduct oneself precisely like a true sadhu. Don' t you see in the drama how the person playing the part of a king always acts like a king and how he who is in the roll of the minister always plays the minister? Once a village clown put on the garb of a Sannyasin and appeared before the Zamindar of the place. The Zamindar wanted to present him with a purse, but he refused to accept it and went away. After a while he came back, having washed himself and changed his dress, and asked for the money that the Zamindar wanted to give. When he dressed like a Sadhu, he could not even touch the money, but now he was ready to feel gratified even with a four-anna bit.
303. A person went to a holy man to get some medicine for his sick child. Carrying the little patient in his arms. The holy man asked him to come next day. Next day, when the man went, the Sadhu said, ''Give no sweets to the child and the child will soon be cured." The man replied, ''Sir, you could have told me this yesterday itself." The Sadhu said.''Yes. I could have, but yesterday I had a quantity of sugar lying before me and seeing that your child would have thought that the Sadhu who advised others not to take sugar but ate it himself was a hypocrite."
304. The man who becomes an ascetic owing to some misunderstanding with his father, or mother. or wife may be called an ascetic-by-disgust. His asceticism is momentarv: he gives up the ascetic way of life as soon as he gets a good lucrative job in a wealthy family.
305. A disciple: How can we recognize a truly pious man (Sadhu)? The Master: He is truly pious "whose heart and soul are wholly dedicated to God. Truly pious is he who has renounced 'woman and gold'. The truly pious man never views women in the ordinary worldly light. He always remains at a distance from them, and if they happen to come near, he looks on them as his mother and shows respect to them. He thinks constantly of God, and serves all creatures, knowing that He resides in all. These are the general traits of the truly pious.
306. Trust not a Sannyasin, who practices medicine, uses spells and incantations, receives money and displays his piety with the sign-boards of elaborate external marks.
307. Forgiveness is the true nature of the ascetic,
SOME AIDS TO SPIRITUAL LIFE
Caste and external observances― Worship of images― Value of pilgrimages―Pious company―Repetition of Divine 'names'
CASTE AND EXTERNAL OBSERVANCES
308. Honour both spirit and form, the sentiment within as well as the symbol without.
309. In a grain of paddy the germ is commonly considered to be the only thing necessary for germination and growth, while the husk is regarded as of no importance; but if the husked grain is sown it will not sprout and grow up into a plant and yield rice. To get a crop one must needs sow the grain with its husk intact. If, however, one wants to get the pure grain itself for eating purposes. One must remove the husk from the seed. So rites and ceremonies are necessary for the growth and perpetuation of a religion. They are the receptacles that contain the germinating seeds of truth; and consequently every man must perform them till he reaches the central truth therein.
310. The oyster that contains the precious pearl is in itself of very little value, but it is essential for the growth of the pearl. The shell itself may prove to be of no use to the man who has secured the pearl. So ceremonies and rites may not be necessary for him who has attained the highest truth, namely God.
311. Rituals are to be observed. But when one advances in spirituality, it is not necessary to observe them for long. Then the mind gets concentrated on God, resulting in communion with Him.
312. When a wound is perfectly healed, the scab falls off of itself; but if the scab be taken off earlier, it bleeds. In the same way, with the advent of Divine illumination all distinctions of caste vanish; but it is wrong for the ignorant to override such distinctions, lest they should lead to undesirable consequences.
313. A fruit that has ripened on the tree and fallen down of itself tastes very sweet, but the one that has been picked and ripened artificially is not so sweet, and soon shrivels up. In like manner, the rules of caste fall away of themselves from him who has attained perfection and has realized the unity of all things; but those who have had no such exalted experience cannot escape the consciousness of superiority and inferiority in others, and have to observe caste distinctions. If in this state of ignorance a man feigns perfection by overriding all caste distinctions and by living a free life, he is surely like the green fruit artificially ripened.
314. It it proper for one who has attained Divine wisdom to keep the Brahminical thread? When the knowledge of the Self is gained, all fetters drop off of themselves. Then there is no distinction between Brahmin and Sudra, between high caste and low caste. Thus the sacred thread, a sign of caste, falls off of itself. But so long as a man is conscious of any distinction and difference, he should not forcibly throw it away.
315. While a storm is blowing, we cannot distinguish between an Asvattha (fig tree) and a Vata (banyan tree). So when the storm of supreme Knowledge blows, there can be no distinction of caste.
316. A true devotee who has drunk deep of Divine love is like a veritable drunkard, and as such cannot always observe the rules of propriety.
317. Once Krishna Kishore asked me. "Why have you cast1 off the sacred thread." When this change came over me, everything was blown away, as if by the great cyclone of Ashvin.2 The old landmarks were swept away. There was no outward consciousness itself. What to speak, then, of taking care of either the holy thread or even of the piece of cloth I used to wear? Lost in intense God-consciousness, I could not even know that I was nude for the greater part of the day. Therefore when Krishna Kishore took me to task for having parted with the sacred thread, I only observed. "You will see it all clearly if you are once seized with madness for the Lord."
1Through God vision and spiritual realization.
2The great cyclone of 1864 in Bengal.
318. Those who utter the 'name' of God are holy. Krishna Kishore was a holy man of Ariadaha. Qnce he had been to Brindavan on a pilgrimage., There, one day, in the course of his walk he felt thirsty, and seeing a person standing near a well, he asked him to draw a little water for him. The man said that he was of a very low caste and so was not fit to draw water for a Brahmin. Krishna Kishore said, ''Will you pronounce the name of God and thus make yourself pure?" The man did so and fetched some water for him; and he an orthodox Brahmin drank the water. How great was the power of his faith!
319. As a drunkard sometimes puts his coat on his head and at other times uses it as breeches, so the God-intoxicated man behaves as if he is not conscious of the external world.
320. People of this age care for the essence of everything. They will accept the essentials of religion and not its non-essentials (that is, the rituals. ceremonials. dogmas and creeds).
321. Those who take fish do not want the useless head and tail of the fish, but only the soft middle portion of it; so the ancient rules and commandments of our scriptures must be pruned of all their accretions to make them suit modern times.
322. While raising a building, the scaffolding' is indispensable; but when the work is completed, no one feels the necessity of it. So also image-worship is necessary in the beginning, but not afterwards.
323. As a man begins to learn writing by drawing big scrawls before he tries to write a smaller hand. so a person must acquire through power of concentrating his thoughts by fixing the mind first upon forms, and then, after succeeding therein, by fixing it upon the formless.
324. A marksman learns to shoot by first having big objects to shoot at; and as he acquires more and more facility in shooting, he aims more and more easily at the smaller marks on the target. So when the mind has been trained to focus on images having form, it is easy for it to do so on things having no form.
325. As a toy fruit or a toy elephant reminds one of the real fruit and the living animal, so do the images that are worshipped remind one of God Who is formless and eternal.
326. The Master once said to a disciple of his, ''You were talking of images made of clay. There arises a necessity for them too. These various forms used for worship have been provided to suit the needs of different men at different stages of spiritual evolution."
327. The mother so arranges food for her children that each one gets what agrees with him. If she has five children and she gets a big fish to cook, she makes different dishes out of it, and gives each one what suits him exactly. One is given rich Polao with fish; another, of weak digestion, only a little soup; and so on, according to the digestive power of each. (The same in the case with the various symbols and disciplines prescribed for spiritual aspirants.)
328. A disciple: One may believe that God is 'with form'. But surely He is not the earthen image that is worshipped.
The Master: Why call it an earthen image? The Divine image is made of the Spirit.
329. The Master once said to Keshab Chandra Sen, who was a great iconoclast in his days: ''Why do these images rouse the idea of mud and clay, stone and straw, in your mind? Why can you not realize the presence of the eternal blissful, all-conscious Mother, even in these forms?''
330. If a worshipper is convinced that the images of the Deity in the shape of various Gods and Goddesses are verily divine, he reaches God by their worship. But if he holds them to be nothing better than mud and straw and clay, to him the worship of such images does no good.
331. If there is anything wrong in image-worship, does He not know that all worship is meant for Him? He will surely be pleased to accept the worship, knowing that it is meant for Him alone. Love God; that is the duty nearest to you.
332. When one sees God. one realizes that everything, images and all, is a manifestation of the Spirit. To him the image is not made of clay but of Spirit.
VALUE OF PILGRIMAGES
333. The Milk of the cow in reality pervades the whole body of the animal through its blood, but you cannot milk it by squeezing the ears or the horns; you can get the milk only from the teats. Similarly, God pervades the universe everywhere, but you cannot see Him everywhere. He manifests Himself more readily in sacred temples which are full of the spirit of devotion diffused by the life and spiritual practices of the devotees of former times.
334. Know that there must be manifestation of God in Places where countless people have for long practiced austerity. Japa, meditation, prayer and worship with a view to realize Him. Through their devotion, spiritual ideas are present in these places in a solidified form, as it were. Hence there man easily feels the awakening of spirituality and realizes Him. From time immemorial. numberless Sadhus, devotees and men of realization have come to these holy places to have a vision of God, and have prayed to Him with an outpouring of their hearts, setting aside all worldly desires. Therefore, though equally present everywhere, God manifests Himself specially in these places. Water can be had anywhere by digging into the earth. When, however, there is a well or a tank or a lake, one has not to dig for water. but can get it whenever one likes.
335. As cows. after eating their fill, lie down quietly at a place and chew the cud, so after visiting a sacred spot or a place of pilgrimage. you must take hold of the holy thoughts that rose in the mind while there, sit down in a solitary corner and think of them till you are immersed in them. You must not devote yourself to the pursuit of the senses and drive away such higher ideas from your mind immediately after you leave those places.
336. Travel in all the four quarters of the earth, you will find nothing (no true religion) anywhere. Whatever there is, is only here (i.e. in one's own heart) .
337. When the Master was alive, many of his disciples used to express to him their desire to visit holy places, and to them he used to reply: "Well, he who has got it (spirituality) here (i.e. in the company of the Master or within himself) has got it there (i.e. in holy places) also. Whereas he who has not got it here, has not got it there either", or ''He who has got the spirit of devotion already within his heart, will find it more intensified in holy places. But of what profit will it be to him who has no devotion at all? We often hear that the son of so-and-so has run away from home and has gone to Benares or some such place. But later on we hear again that with great effort he has managed to secure a job there, and has sent money and news about himself to his family. People go to live in some sacred place, but many
there are who open shops there and take to business. Going to the western provinces in the company of Mathuranath, I found the environment there just the same as here. The mango trees, the tamarind trees or the bamboo groves―they were exactly similar to those of these parts. Hence I told Hriday, ''Well what have we come to see here? Things are just the same here as well as there, with this one point of difference, that the inhabitants of these places seem to have better digestion.'
BENEFITS OF PIOUS COMPANY
338. Milk and water. when brought into contact, are sure to get mixed, and the milk can never be separated again. Similarly if the aspirant thirsting after self-improvement mixes indiscriminately with all sorts of worldly people, not only does he lose his ideal, but also his former faith, love and zeal; they die away imperceptibly.
339. The companionship of the holy and the wise is one of the main elements of spiritual progress.
340. Many warm themselves in the fire kindled by someone else who has taken the trouble of collecting the firewood and other necessary things: similarly, many fix their mind on the Lord by associating with, and following the instruction of, holy men who have come to know the Lord after a good deal of hard penance.
,341. If a man sees a pleader. he naturally thinks of lawsuits and courts. Similarly, on seeing a pious devotee, one is reminded of God and of the life hereafter.
342. How should one pass one's life? As the fire in the hearth is stirred from time to time with a poker to make it burn brightly and prevent it from going out, so the mind should be occasionally invigorated by the society of the pious.
343. As the blacksmith keeps alive the fire of his furnace by blowing the bellows, so the mind should be kept clean and glowing with the help of pious company.
344. The society of pious men is like the water in which rice is washed. This rice-water has the potency of dissipating alcoholic intoxication. So does the society of the pious relieve worldly men, drunk with the wine of vain desires, from their intoxication.
345. The agent of a rich Zemindar, when he goes into rural localities away from the seat of his master, tyrannizes over the tenants in various ways. But when he comes back to the headquarters, and is under the eyes of his master, he changes his ways, becomes very pious, treats the tenants kindly, investigates into all their grievances fully, and tries to mete out justice impartially to all. The tyrannical agent becomes good through the fear of the master and also by reason of his society. Similarly does the society of the pious make even the wicked righteous, awakening awe and reverence in them.
346. Even moist wood placed upon a fire soon becomes dry and finally begins to burn. Similarly, the Society of the pious drives away the moisture of greed and lust from the hearts of worldly persons, and then the fire of Viveka (discrimination) burns steadily in them.
347. In the Puranas we are told that when Uma, the Mother of the universe, incarnated Herself as the daughter of the Himalayas. She blessed Her father with the vision of the various manifestations of the omnipotent Mother. But when Giriraj (the king of mountains) asked Her to show him the Brahman of the Vedas. Uma said, ''O father, if you wish to realize Brahman, you must live in the company of holy men―men who have entirely given up the world!
348. If you wash an elephant well and leave it at large, it is sure to make itself dirty in no time; but if, after the wash, you tie it down in its stable, it will remain clean. So, if by the good influences of holy men you once become pure in spirit, and then allow yourself to mix freely with worldly men, you are sure to lose that purity soon; but if you keep your mind fixed on God, you will never more get soiled in spirit.
REPETITION OF DIVINE NAMES
349. The best thing for people whose minds are attracted by sense-objects is to cultivate the dualistic attitude and chant loudly the 'name' of the Lord as mentioned in Narada-pancharatra (a work of devotion).
350. The Master said to a devotee: ''Through the path of devotion, the subtle senses come readily and naturally under control. Carnal pleasures become more and more insipid as Divine love grows in your heart. Can the pleasures of the body attract a husband and wife on the day their child has died?
Devotee: But I have not learnt to love Him.
The Master: Take His name constantly, This will cleanse all sin, lust, anger and all desire for the pleasures of the body will vanish.
Devotee: But I do not find delight in His 'name'.
The Master: Then pray with a yearning heart that He may teach you to relish His 'name'. Undoubtedly He will grant your prayer… ''I find no delight in Thy 'name'!― If a delirious patient loses all taste for food, you must despair of his life. But if he relishes food even slightly, you may hope for his recovery. So I say, ''Find joy in his 'name.' "Durga, Krishna, Siva―any name will do. And if you daily feel a greater attraction for taking His 'name' and a greater joy in it, you need fear no more. The delirium must get cured, and His grace will surely descend on you.
351. Why is the 'name' insignificant? He and His 'name' are not different. Satyabhama failed to balance the Lord with gold and jewels. But Rukmini succeeded when she placed a Tulsi leaf and the 'name' of Krishna in the other pan of the balance.
352. If you wish to see God, have, firm faith in the efficacy of repeating the 'name' of Hari and try to discriminate the real from the unreal.
353. Sri Chaitanya has said: ''Very powerful indeed is the Lord's 'name.' It may not bring about immediate result, but it must one day bear fruit, just as we find that a seed left long ago on the cornice of a building at last reaches the ground, germinates, grows into a tree, and bears fruit, perhaps when the building cracks and is demolished.
354. Knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, in whatever state of mind a man utters God's 'name', he acquires the merit of such utterance. A man who voluntarily goes to a river and bathes therein gets the benefit of the bath; so does he also who has been pushed into the water by another, or who, when sleeping soundly, has water thrown upon him.
355. In whatever way one falls, whether consciously or unconsciously, into the lake of immortality, one becomes immortal by the mere immersion. Whoever utters the 'name' of God, howsoever pronounced, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, finds immortality in the end.
356. To a religious teacher who said that His 'name' alone is sufficient for Divine realization, the Master said: ''Yes, no doubt the holy 'name' is very effective; but is it sufficient without Love? The soul must hunger for God. What will it avail if I repeat His 'name' while I allow my mind to be attached to 'woman and gold'? Mere muttering of magic incantations will not heal up a scorpion sting. You must also apply the smoke of burning cowdung.1 No doubt, man is purged of his sins by once uttering His 'name'. But the next moment he takes to various sinful ways of living. He has no strength of mind to take a vow that he will no more commit any sin. Ablutions in the Ganges take away all sins, but little do they avail. The story goes that the sins lie in ambush on the trees on the banks, and when the man returns after his bath, those old sins jump down on his shoulders. So, you see, before he has proceeded a few steps, they are on him again, they have possessed him once more. Therefore take the 'name' of the Lord always, but pray to him at the same time that you may gain love for Him, and that your attachment to money, fame and physical comforts―all transient things―may grow less and less.
1 The reference is to a simple recipe of the village housewife for scorpion sting.
357. Sing with Bhakti the hallowed 'name' of the Lord, and the mountain of your sins will vanish, just as a mountain of cotton will burn to ashes and disappear if but a spark of fire falls on it.
358. The devotional practices of the worldly-minded are only for the time being. They leave no lasting impression behind. But those who are solely devoted to God chant His 'name' with every breath. Some chant 'Om Ram Om' constantly within themselves. The votaries of the path of Knowledge chant ''So'ham''. Of some, again, the tongue moves constantly (i.e., utters prayers of some Mantra) .
359. Japa means repeating the 'name' of the Lord silently, sitting in a quiet place. If one continues the repetition with concentration and devotion, one is sure to be blessed to have God-realization with Divine visions ultimately. Suppose big log of wood is immersed in the Ganges with one end attached to a chain, which is fixed on the bank. Following the chain, link by link, you can gradually dive into the water and trace your way to it. In the same manner, if you become absorbed in the repetition of His holy name, you will eventually realize Him.
360. The Master would often say: "Chant the 'name' of Hari (God) morning and evening, clapping your hands all the while; all your sins and afflictions will then leave you. If you clap your hands standing under a tree, the birds perching on it will fly away. So if you chant the 'name' of Hari clapping your hands at the same time, the birds of evil thoughts will fly away from the tree of your body."
WAYS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE
Some obstacles to spiritual life―Influence of past impressions―Pitfalls of occult powers―Alms and charity―Dress and food―Attitude towards the body―Attitude towards sufferings―Forbearance―Reticence―Humility and self-respect―Simplicity―Conquest of desires―Attitude towards women―Devotee and his family―Prayer and devotion.
SOME OBSTACLES TO SPIRITUAL LIFE
361. God comes not where reign timidity, hatred and fear.
362. The heavier scale of a balance goes down while the lighter rises up. Similarly, he who is weighed down by the many cares and anxieties of the world sinks down into it, while he who has fewer rises up towards the feet of the Lord.
363. One who spends his time in discussing the good and bad qualities of others simply wastes his own time.
For it is time spent neither in thinking about one's own self nor about the Supreme Self, but in fruitless thinking of others' selves.
364. In what condition of mind is the vision of God obtained? When the mind is perfectly tranquil. When the sea of one's mind is agitated by the wind of desires, it cannot reflect God and then God-vision is impossible.
365. Though a person's stomach may be full and he is suffering from dyspepsia in addition his tongue will water naturally at the sight of sweet delicacies and savory sauces. Similarly a man may not have the slightest covetousness in him; yet the sight of wealth and other objects of temptation will unsettle his mind, howsoever holy he may be.
366. Be not like the frog in the well. The frog in the well knows nothing bigger and grander than its well. So are all bigots. They do not see anything better than their own creed.
367. The great Sankaracharya had a foolish disciple who used to imitate his Master in all matters. Sankara uttered ''Sivo'ham'' (I am Siva); the disciple also repeated "Sivo'ham''. To correct his disciple's folly, Sankara one day, while passing by a smithy, took a potful of molten iron and swallowed it; and then he asked that disciple also to do the same, Of course, the disciple could not imitate this act of his Master, and thenceforward he left off saying ''Sivo'ham''. Base imitation is always bad, but an attempt to correct one's own self by the noble examples of the great ones is always good.
INFLUENCE OF PAST IMPRESSIONS
368. How strong is the influence of Samskaras (impressions of the Past) ? In a certain place there were seated some Sannyasins, when a young woman chanced to pass by. All of them continued as before to mediate upon God except person, who stole a glance at her. This man who was attracted by her beauty had been a householder formerly and was the father of three children when he became a Sannyasin.
369. Once I saw two castrated bulls at a certain place, just then a cow passed that way, and I noticed that at the sight of it one of the bullocks got excited with passion while the other remained quiet. Seeing the strange behaviour of this bullock, I made enquiries into its past history, and came to know that it was castrated after it had grown up and had mated with cows, while the other was castrated quite young. Such is the effect of the impressions of past habits on the mind. The Sadhus who renounce the world without enjoying sexual pleasures never get excited at the sight of women, but those who assume the yellow garb in their advanced age, after having tasted the pleasures of family life are liable to have the impressions of their past revived, even after years of self-control.
370. When the mind dwells in the midst of evil propensities, it is like a high-caste Brahmin living in the quarters of the outcastes, or like a gentleman dwelling in the slums of a big town.
371. A person once said, ''After my boy Harish has grown up. I shall get him married, and then leaving the family in his charge. I shall renounce the world and take to the practice of Yoga." At this, the Master remarked, ''You will never find any opportunity to cultivate devotion to God. You will hereafter say, 'Harish and Girish are very much attached to me. Oh, they will miss my company if I retire from the world. Let Harish have a son first, and let me see his son also married.' Thus there will be no end to your desires."
PITFALL OF OCCULT POWERS
372. Visit not miracle-mongers and those who exhibit occult powers. These men are stragglers from the path of Truth. Their mind have become entangled in psychic powers, which are like veritable meshes in the way of the pilgrim to Brahman. Beware of these powers., and desire them not. 373. Those that are of low tendencies seek for occult powers which help in healing diseases, winning lawsuits, walking on the surface of water and such other matters. True devotees seek nothing but the lotus-feet of the Lord.
374. Krishna once said to Arjuna, ''If you desire to attain Me, know that it would never be possible so long as you possess even a single one of the eight psychic powers (Ashta Siddhis)." For occult powers increase man's egotism and thus make him forgetful of God.
375. A man, after fourteen years of hard penance in a solitary forest, obtained at last the power of walking on water. Overjoyed at this acquisition, he went to his Guru and said, ''Master, I have acquired the power of walking on water," The Guru rebuked him, saying: ''Fie upon you. Is this the result of your fourteen years of labour? What you have attained is only worth a pice. What you could accomplish only after fourteen years of labour ordinary men can do by paying a pice to the boatman."
376. Siddhis or psychic powers are to be avoided like filth. These come of themselves by virtue of Sadhanas or religious practices, and Samyama or control of the senses. But he who sets his mind on Siddhis remains stuck thereto, and he cannot rise higher.
377. There was a man named Chandra1 who acquired the power called Gutika-siddhi. Keeping an amulet (Gutika) with him. he could roam anywhere at will or penetrate into any place without being seen by any person. The man was at first devoted to God and was austere in his spiritual disciplines, Later on, however, when he came to possess that power, he began to use it for satisfying the demands of his lower nature. I warned him against doing so, but he paid no heed. He used to frequent unseen a gentleman's house and had illicit amour with a young lady of the family. He lost all his power thereby, and became a fallen soul.
I This Chandra also was a disciple of the Master's Guru Bhairavi, the Brahmana woman, of whom we have made mention in the Introduction. Thus the Master had occasion to be acquainted with him.
378. Sometimes it is very dangerous to have occult powers. Tota Puri told me that once a great Siddha (a spiritual man possessing psychic powers) was sitting on the seashore when there came a great storm. The Siddha. being greatly distressed by it, exclaimed, ''Let the storm
cease." and his words were fulfilled. Just then a ship was going at a distance with all sails set, and as the wind suddenly died away, it capsized. drowning all who were on board the ship. Now the sin of causing the death of so many persons accrued to the Siddha, and for that reason he lost all his occult powers and had to suffer in purgatory.
379. At the time of my practising austere Sadhanas under the Panchavati, a man named Girija1 came there. He was a great Yogi. Once when I wanted to come to my room in the dark night, he raised his arm and a strong light emanated from his armpit and lighted the whole path. On my advice he gave up using that power and turned his mind to the realization of the highest Reality. He lost that power subsequently, no doubt, but gained in true spirituality. 1 This Girija too was a disciple of the Bhairavi Brahmani.
380. A beggar would indeed be acting very foolishly were he to go to the kings palace and beg for such insignificant things as a gourd or pumpkin. Similarly, a devotee would be acting foolishly were he to appear at the threshold of the King of kings and beg for psychic powers, neglecting the priceless gifts of true Knowledge and love of God.
381. A youthful disciple of the Master once acquired facility in thought-reading. Overjoyed at this he spoke to the Master about his attainment. The Master thereupon rebuked him, saying, ''Shame on you, child; do not 'waste your energies on these petty things."
382. A disciple once told Sri Ramakrishna that in the course of his meditation he could see things as they actually happened at a distance and also what some people were doing at the time, and that on subsequent enquiry the visions proved to be true. The Master said to him, ''My boy, for some days don't meditate. These powers are obstacles to the realization of God."
ALMS AND CHARITY
383. Why is it that people are fed at a religious feast? Do you not think that it is the same as offering a sacrifice to God, who is the Fire of Life in all creatures? But bad men, not God-fearing, guilty of adultery and so forth, should on no account be entertained at such feasts. Their sins are so great that even several cubits of earth under where they sit become polluted.
384. Once a butcher was taking a cow to a distant slaughter-house. Being ill-treated by the butcher, the cow got unruly on the way, and the man found it very difficult to drive her. After several hours, he reached a village at noon, and being thoroughly exhausted, he went to an alms-house near by and partook of the food freely distributed there. Feeling himself quite refreshed after a full meal, the butcher was able to lead the cow easily to the destination. Now, a part of the sin of killing that cow fell to the donor of the food distributed at the alms-house. So even in giving food and alms in charity, one should discriminate and see that the recipient is not a vicious and sinning person likely to use the gift for evil purposes.
385. Thus goes the law: Those who made large charities in former life are born rich in this. But then this world is His Maya, and the process of Maya is beset with many irregularities―none can comprehend it.
DRESS AND FOOD
386. What is the good of wearing the orange coloured dress of an ascetic? What is there in the dress? The orange dress brings with it pure associations. The wearing of worn out shoes and torn clothes brings thoughts of one's low state into the mind; dressing smartly in trousers and coats with patent leather shoes on, makes one naturally feel rather elated with pride and vanity; by wearing the black-bordered Dhoti of fine muslin, one feels impelled to be lively and to sing love songs perhaps. The wearing of the orange garb of the Sannyasin causes sacred thoughts naturally to rise in the mind. Every kind of dress has its own associations, although dress in itself has no special significance.
387. A young plant should always be protected against goats and cows and the mischief of little urchins by a fence. But when it becomes a big tree, a flock of goats or a herd of cows can freely find shelter under its spreading boughs and fill their stomachs with its leaves. So when your faith is yet in its infancy, you should protect it from the evil influences of bad company and worldliness. But when you grow strong in faith, no worldliness or evil inclination will dare approach your holy presence, and many who are wicked will become godly through your holy contact.
388. Once a student questioned Sri Ramakrishna: ''Sir, as the same God dwells in every being, what harm is there in accepting food from any and every man's hands? In reply the Master asked him whether he was a Brahmana. When the student said, ''Yes", the Master remarked, ''That is why you put me the question. Suppose you light a match and heap over it a lot of dry wood. What would become of the fire?" The student replied, ''The fire will get extinguished, being choked by the pile." Again the Master said, ''Suppose a wild fire is blazing and you throw into it a lot of green banana trees, What would' become of these trees. The student replied, ''Surely they will be reduced to ashes in a moment. ''Similarly,'' said the Master, '' if the spirituality in you is very weak, there is every danger of its being smothered by eating indiscriminately from all hands. But if it is strong, no food will affect you."
389. Once I was initiated by a Mohammedan teacher and was given the 'name' of Allah to repeat. I repeated the 'name' for several days, strictly observing their ways, and eating their food. During that period, I could not go to the temple of Mother Kali, or take the names of Hindu gods and goddesses.
390. Eat not in the feast given at a funeral ceremony; for such food destroys all devotion and Love. Also do not take food in the house of a priest who lives by conducting sacrificial rites for others.
391. Q. As regards eating, should not one eat what one gets?
A. That depends upon the spiritual state. In the path of Jnana it produces no harm. When a Jnani eats, he offers the food as an oblation in the fire of Kundalini. But for a Bhakta, it is different. A Bhakta should eat only pure food, such food as he can freely offer to his beloved Lord. Animal food is not for a Bhakta. At the same time I must say that if a man loves God, even while living upon pork, he is blessed; and wretched is he who lives on milk and rice or on Havishyanna (unspiced food) but whose mind is absorbed in 'woman and gold'.
392. He who eats simple non-stimulating vegetable food. but does not desire to attain God, ―for him that simple food is as bad as beef. But he who eats beef and desires to attain God, ―for him beef is as good as the food of the gods.
393. Eat to your satisfaction in the day, but let your meal at night be light and small in quantity.
394. That food alone should be taken by the devotee which does not heat the system or unsettle the mind.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE BODY
395. Q. How is one to conquer the love of the body?
A. The human frame is made up of decaying matter. It is a collection of flesh, bonemarrow, blood and other unclean substances subject to putrefaction. By such constant analysis of the body one's love of it vanishes.
396. One does not care for the cage when the bird has flown away from it. And when the bird of life flies away, no one cares for the body left behind.
397. If this body is worthless and transitory, why do pious and devout men take care of it? No one takes care of an empty box, but all protect with care a chest full of precious jewels, gold and costly articles. The pious soul cannot help taking care of the body because God dwells in it. All our bodies form the treasure-house of the Deity.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS SUFFERING
398. Disease is the tax which the soul pays for the use of the body, as the tenant pays house-rent for the use of the house.
399. Iron must be heated again and again and hammered a hundred times before it becomes good steel. Then only it becomes fit to be made into a sharp sword, and can be bent in any way you like. So man must be heated several times in the furnace of tribulations and hammered with the persecutions of the world before he becomes pure and humble, and fit to enter the presence of God.
400. The Master once said to Keshab Chandra Sen while the latter was ill, ''You are suffering; but your illness has a deep meaning. In this body you have gone through various stages of spiritual development; the body is now suffering from the reaction. When the spiritual waves arise, the consciousness of the body vanishes, but it tells upon the body in the end. When a big steamer plies on the Ganges, the waves dash against the shore for sometime after the steamer has passed. The larger the boat, the bigger the waves, and sometimes they even break down the banks. If an elephant enters a small hut, the hut shakes and falls down. So also the experience of spiritual ecstasy shakes and sometimes shatters the body of the devotee. Do you know the consequence of this? If a house catches fire, many things are burnt. Similarly, the fire of Divine wisdom burns all passions, anger and other evils, and in the end destroys the consciousness of 'I, me and mine'. The body suffers then a severe shock and is shattered. You may think, that everything is finished, but as long as there is the least vestige of the ego, He will not make you free. If you are admitted as a patient in a hospital, you will not be discharged unless you are perfectly cured."
401. The Master said to Keshab, while the latter was ill: ''The gardener sometimes exposes the roots of rose bushes, so that the dew may fall upon them. Sometimes he trims off some of the roots, so that the flowers may become larger. Perhaps, the Lord is preparing you to do greater works."
402. Expressing his own attitude towards illness, the Master said: ''Let the disease run its course and let the body suffer, but, O mind, be thou ever in bliss."
403. The power and glory of Knowledge and faith never fail a true devotee, whatever be the joy and suffering his body undergoes. His Knowledge and faith never get dim. See how severe were the tribulations that visited the Pandavas, yet not for a moment did the light of Knowledge desert them.
404. In the Bengali alphabet no three letters are alike in sound except the three sibilants (Sa, Sha, and Sa); and they all mean for us. • forbear', forbear', . forbear'. (In Bengali Sa means forbear. It is derived from the Sanskrit root Sah.) This shows that even from our childhood we are made to learn forbearance through our very alphabet. The quality of forbearance is of the highest importance to every man.
405. Look at the anvil of a blacksmith―how it is hammered and beaten; yet it moves not from its place. Let men learn patience and endurance from it.
406. Keep your own sentiments and faith to yourself. Do not talk about them abroad. Otherwise, you will be a great loser.
407. The more a person conceals his devotional practices from others, the better for him.
HUMILITY AND SELF-RESPECT
408. It is a great degradation to be conceited. Look at the crow―how wise it thinks itself to be! It never falls into a snare. It flies off at the slightest approach of danger, and steals food with the greatest dexterity. But the poor creature cannot help eating filth. This is the result of being over-wise or having the wisdom of a pettifogger.
409. To become great one must be humble. The nest of the sky-lark is on the earth below, but it soars high into the sky. High ground is not fit for cultivation; low ground is necessary, so that water may stand on it.
410. The tree laden with fruits always bends low. If you wish to be great, be lowly and meek.
411. Our duty is to fall down and adore where others only bow.
412. One should not entertain egotistical feeling, such as the conceit of the preacher, ''I am lecturing, hear me, all of you!" Egotism exists in ignorance, not in Knowledge. He attains the Truth who is devoid of conceit. The rain water stands in low places, but runs off from high places.
413. In a balance, the scale that is heavy bends down, but the lighter one rises up. So the man of merit and ability is always humble and meek, while the fool is puffed up with vain conceit.
414. Be as devoid of vanity as the cast-away leaf carried by the high wind.
415. If you wish to thread a needle, make the thread pointed and remove all protruding fibers. Then it will easily pass through the eye of the needle. So, if thou wish to concentrate your heart and soul on God, be meek, humble and poor in spirit and remove all the spreading filaments of desire.
416. Many a man with a show of humility says, ''I am like an earthworm groveling in the dust." In this way thinking themselves always to be worms, in time they became weak in spirit like worms. Let not despondency ever enter into your heart. Despair is the greatest enemy in the Jfath of progress. As a man thinks, so he becomes."
417. A true man (Manush) is only he who is a Manush―one endowed with a sense of self-respect. Others are men only in name.
418. No pride is pride that expresses the glory of the soul. No humility is humility that humiliates the self.
419. Till one becomes simple like a child, one cannot get divine illumination. Forget all the worldly knowledge that you have acquired and become as ignorant of it as a child; then you will get the knowledge of the Truth.
420. Simple-mindedness takes one easily to God. If a person is simple, spiritual instructions easily fructify in him, as seeds germinate easily and grow to bear fruit soon when sown in tilled soil free from stones.
421, The Master used to say, ''People become simple-minded only in consequence of much penance. God can never be attained except with a simple mind. It is to the simple-minded that He reveals His own nature." But to safeguard people from developing into simpletons in the name of simplicity and truthfulness, the Master would also sound a note of warning: " You are to be a devotee but not a simpleton on that account." or again, ''Always you must discriminate in your mind between the true and the false, the eternal and the transient;
and then leaving aside all that is transient, you should fix your mind upon that alone which is eternal."
CONQUEST OF DESIRES
422. He is a true man who is dead even in this life ―that is, whose passions and propensities have been curbed to extinction as in a dead body.
423. So long as the heavenly expanse of the heart is troubled and disturbed by the gusts of desire, there is little chance of our beholding therein the brightness of God. The beatific vision dawns only in the heart that is calm and rapt in Divine communion.
424. God cannot be seen so long as there is the slightest taint of desire. Therefore have your minor desires satisfied, and renounce the major ones by right reasoning and discrimination.
425. As one who is standing by the brink of a deep well is always careful lest he should fall into it, even so should one living in the world be always on his guard against its temptations. He who has once fallen into the well of the' world, so full of temptations, can hardly come out of it uninjured and stainless.
426. On being asked when the enemies of man, such as lust. anger. etc., will be vanquished, the Master replied: ''So long as these passions are directed towards the world and its objects, they behave like enemies. But when they are directed towards God, they become the best friends of man, for then they lead him unto God. The lust for the things of the world must be changed into the hankering for God, the anger that man feels in relation to his fellow man should be turned toward God for not revealing Himself to him. One should deal with all the passions in the same manner. These passions cannot be eradicated but can be educated."
427. Mandodari told her royal husband Ravana, ''If you are so intent upon having Sita as your queen, why don't you impose on her by assuming the form of her husband Rama with the help of your magical powers? " ''Fie on you!" explained Ravana, ''Can I stoop to the pleasures of the senses while I am in the holy form of Rama―a form the very thought of which fills my heart with such unspeakable joy and blessedness that even the highest heaven appears to me worthless?
428. When an elephant is let loose, it goes about uprooting trees and shrubs; but as soon as the driver applies the hook on its head it becomes quiet. So the mind, when unrestrained, wantons in the luxuriance of idle thoughts, but becomes at once calm when pulled up with the goad of discrimination.
429. The more a man's attachment to the world, the less he is likely to attain Knowledge. The less his attachment to the world, the more is the probability of his gaining Knowledge.
430. When butter is produced by churning curds, it should not be kept in the same vessel with the buttermilk, for then it will lose something of its sweetness and hardness. It should be kept in pure water and in a different vessel. Similarly after attaining partial perfection in the world, if one still continues to mix with the worldly and remains in the midst of the temptations of the world, one is likely to become tainted, but one can remain pure by living out of the world.
431. Q. How may we conquer the old Adam that is in us?
A. When the flower develops into fruit. the petals drop off of themselves. So, when the divinity in you increases, the weakness of human nature in you will vanish of its own accord.
432. If once through intense Vairagya (dispassion) one attains God, then the inordinate temptations of lust fall off, and a man finds himself in no danger from his own wife. If there are two magnets at an equal distance from a piece of iron. which of them will draw it with a stronger force? Certainly the larger. Verily God is the larger magnet; what can the smaller magnet (' woman') do against it?
433." Q. How does the attraction of sensual pleasures die away?
A. In God, who is at once the embodiment of all happiness and pleasures. They who realize Him can find no attraction in the mean and worthless pleasures of the world.
434, Taking Helancha (a medicinal herb) is not the same as taking a pot-herb, and taking a piece of sugar candy is not the same as taking common sweets; for Helancha and sugar candy are not injurious to health and even a sick man may use them. The mystic Pranava, too, is no mere word but a phonetic symbol of the Divinity. In the same way the desire for holiness and devotion cannot be deemed to be equal to the common polluting desires of the world.
ATTITUDE TOWARDS WOMEN
435. All women are parts of' the Divine Mother, and therefore they should be looked upon as mothers by all.
436. Women, whether naturally good or not, whether chaste or unchaste, should always be looked upon as images of the blissful Divine Mother.
437. Q. How should we look upon the fair sex?
A. He who has known the Real, who is blessed with the vision of God, does not regard them with any fear. He sees them as they really are―parts of the Divine Mother of the universe. So he not only pays all honour and respect to women, but actually worships them as a son does his mother.
438. Q. How can we conquer lust?
A. Look upon all women as your own mother. Never look a woman in the face, but always look at her feet. All evil thoughts will then flyaway.
439. The woman who observes continence even while living with her husband, is veritably the Divine Mother Herself.
440. Q. Sir, what do you think of the mode of devotional practices in the company of women, as enjoined by the Tantras ?
A. Those are not safe paths; they are very difficult and are often attended with slips. There are three ways of practicing devotion (according to the Tantras)―one may cultivate the attitude of the 'hero', or the 'hand-maid, or the 'son' towards the Divine Mother. Mine is the attitude of the son. To think of oneself as the hand-maid of the Divine Mother is also good, but the path of the 'hero'1 is fraught with danger. Very pure is the path of ''sonship" (i.e. thinking of oneself as the son of the Divine Mother).
I It is called Virachara in the Tantras. In this path the devotee has to worship the Goddess as his Divine Consort, taking a woman as the vice deus.
441. Do you aspire after Divine grace? Then propitiate the Mother, the Primal Divine Energy (Sakti). Yes, She is Mahamaya Herself. She it is Who has deluded the whole world, and is conjuring up the triple device of creation, maintenance and dissolution. She has spread a veil of ignorance over all, and unless She unbars the gate, none can enter the 'Inner Court'. Left outside, we see only the external things, but the Eternal One, Sachchidananda, remains ever beyond our ken.
The Divine Sakti has two aspects― Vidya and Avidya. Avidya deludes and is the mother of Kamini Kanchana, 'woman and gold'; and it binds. But Vidya is the source of devotion, kindness, knowledge and love, and it takes us towards God.
This Avidya has to be propitiated, and hence the institution of Sakti worship. Various are the ways of worship, for gratifying Her―as Her 'handmaid', or 'hero', or 'child'. Sakti-sadhana is no joke, there are very strenuous and dangerous practices in it. I passed two years as Mother's 'hand-maid' and 'friend'. Mine, however, is the mood of the 'child', and to me the breasts of any women are like unto my mother's.
Women are so many images of Sakti. In the western parts of this country the bridegroom holds a knife in his hand during marriage, and in Bengal, a nut-cracker. The idea is that he will cut the bonds of Maya with the help of the bride who is Sakti Herself. This is Virabhava, 'the way of the hero'. But I never practised it. Mine is the attitude of the 'child'.
DEVOTEE AND HIS FAMILY
442. Q. Suppose a wife tells her husband who is given to religious practices. If you do not look after me properly, I will commit suicide.' What should one do in that case?
A. One should give up such a wife―the wife that stands in the way to God-realization. Let her commit suicide or let her not. The wife who thus puts obstacles in one's path to God is an embodiment of Avidya (nescience). But then all become amenable to one who has a sincere devotion to God ―even the king, wicked persons and the wife. If one has true devotion, then one's wife also gradually turns Godward. If one is good-natured, it is quite possible that she too becomes good through the grace of God.
443. Father and mother are of prime importance to man. Unless they are pleased, no devotional practice will be of any avail. Look at Sri Chaitanya. Though mad with love of God, he took much pains to console his mother before he took Sannyasa. He told her, ''Mother, do not be sorry. I will come now and then to see you." There are so many debts that one has to repay―the debt to the gods, the debt to the Rishis, and also the debt to the parents and the wife. No pious work can succeed unless the debt to the parents is paid off. There is a debt even to the wife. Harish is staying here, having renounced his wife. If his wife had not been provided for, I would have called him a wicked fellow. Ramaprasanna is always wandering about for milk and opium for the Hatha Yogi. He says that Manu has enjoined service to Sadhus. Meanwhile, his old mother is starving and has to do her own shopping. I feel so angry at this.
444. But there is one consideration. If a man becomes mad with love of God, then who is father, who is mother and who is wife? He loves God so deeply that he becomes mad. He has no duty, he is absolved from all debts. When a man reaches that state, he forgets the whole world; he becomes unconscious of even the body which is so dear to everyone.
445. The parents deserve the highest respect in this world. As long as they live, they should be served to the best of one's capacity, and after their death, their post-funeral rites ought to be performed according to one's means. Even if the son be the poorest of the poor, and has no means to perform the post-funeral rites of his parents, he should resort to the forest and shed tears there, remembering his inability. Only then can he free himself from his obligation to them. For the sake of God alone, one may disobey one's parents without incurring sin. As for instance, Prahlada did not refrain from taking the name of Lord Krishna, although prohibited by his father to do so. And Dhruva went to the forest in order to practice austerities, even though forbidden by his mother. They had not done any wrong in this.
Prayer and Devotion
446. Q. Should we pray aloud to God?
A. Pray to Him in any way you like. He is always sure to hear you. He can hear even the footfall of an ant.
447. Q. Is there really any efficacy in prayers?
A. Yes. When mind and speech unite in earnestly asking for a thing, that prayer is answered. Of no avail are the prayers of that man who says with his mouth, ''These are all Thine, O Lord! and at the same time thinks in his heart that all of them are his.
448. Be not a traitor to your thoughts. Be sincere; act according to your thoughts; and you shall surely succeed. Pray with a sincere and simple heart, and your prayers will be heard.
449. What you think, that you should speak. Let there be harmony between your thoughts and word. Otherwise, if you merely say God is your all in all while in your mind you have made the world your all in all, you cannot derive any benefit thereby.
450. To approach a mighty monarch a man must ingratiate himself with the officials who keep the gate and guard the throne. So, to reach the Almighty Lord and obtain His grace, one must practice much devotion, serve many devotees, and keep for long the company of the wise.
451. Do not let worldly thoughts and anxieties disturb your mind. Do everything that is necessary in the proper time, and let your mind be always fixed on God.
452. There is little fear that a ship will drift or run into danger as long as its compass points due North. So the ship of life steers clear of every danger, if the mind, its compass needle, is always turned towards God without oscillation.
453. How to pray is the next question. Let us not pray for things of the world, but pray like saint Narada. Narada said to Ramachandra, ''O Rama, grant that I may be favoured with Bhakti (love, devotion and self-surrender) for Thy lotus-feet." ''Be it so, Narada." said Rama, ''but will you not ask for anything else? "
Narada replied, ''Lord, may it please Thee to grant that I may not be attracted by Thy Māyā, which fascinates the universe.'' Ramachandra said once more, ''Be it so, Narada, but will you not ask for anything else?" Narada replied, ''No Lord, that is all I pray for."
454. If you cannot settle whether God has form or not, then pray in this way: ''O Lord, I cannot understand whether thou art with form or without. Whatever mayst Thou be, have mercy on me. Do reveal. Thyself unto me."
455. One may attribute the various forms and aspects of God that are current in society to imagination, and may have no faith in them. Yet God will shower His grace on a person if he believes in a Divine Power that creates and directs the world, and prays with a distressed heart, ''O God, I do not know Thy real nature. Deign to reveal Thyself to me as Thou really art."
456. God is extremely attentive, my boys. He has heard, every time you have prayed to Him. He will surely reveal Himself to you some day or other at least at the time of death.
SPIRITUAL ASPIRANTS AND RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES
God of all religions the same―Different religions as paths to God―Cause and cure of fanaticism―Right attitude towards religious differences―Attitude to towards secret cults
GOD OF ALL RELIGIONS THE SAME
457. As one and the same water is called by different names by different peoples, some calling it 'water' some 'Vari', some 'Aqua' and some 'Pani', so the one Sachchidananda―Existence-Intelligence- Bliss Absolute―is invoked by some as God, by some as Allah, by some as Hari and by others as Brahman.
458. In a potter's shop there are vessels of different shapes and forms―pots, jars, dishes, plates, etc,―but all made of the same clay. So God is one, but He is worshipped in different ages and climes under different names and aspects.
459. As the same sugar is made into various figures of birds and beasts, so the one sweet Divine Mother is worshiped in various climes and ages under various names and forms.
460. Various ornaments are made of gold. Although the substance is the same, they are called variously and appear different in form. So one and the same God is worshipped in different countries, and ages under different names and forms. He may be worshipped in various ways according to different conceptions―some loving to call Him as father and others as mother, some as friend and others as beloved, some, again as the innermost treasure of their heart and others as their sweet little child―but it is always one and the same God that is worshipped in all these diverse relations.
461. Once a dispute arose among the learned men at the court of the Maharajah of Burdwan as to who was the greater of the two Deities. Siva and Vishnu. Some of the courtiers said that Siva was greater, while the others gave preference to Vishnu. When the dispute grew hot. a wise Pandit remarked, ''Sir. I have seen neither Siva nor Vishnu. How can I say who is the greater of the two" Similarly, do not try to compare one Deity with another. When you will see one of them. you will come to know that they are all the manifestations of the same Brahman.
DIFFERENT RELIGIONS AS PATHS TO GOD
462. There are several bathing ghats in a large tank. Whoever goes choosing whichever ghat he pleases to take a bath or to fill his vessel reaches the water, and it is useless to quarrel with one another by calling one's ghat better than another's Similarly, there are many ghats that lead to the water of the fountain of Eternal Bliss. Every religion of the world is one such ghat. Go direct with a sincere and earnest heart through anyone of these ghats, and you shall reach the water of Eternal Bliss. But say not that your religion is better than that of another.
463. Many are the names of God and infinite the forms through which He may be approached. In whatever name and form you worship Him, through that you will realize Him.
464. Different creeds are but different paths to reach the one God. Diverse are the ways that lead to the temple of Mother Kali at Kalighat in Calcutta. Similarly various are the paths that take men to the house of the Lord. Every religion is nothing but one of these paths.
465. Some years ago when the Hindus and the Brahmos were preaching their respective religions with true earnestness and great zeal, someone asked the Master what his opinion was regarding both the parties. To this the Master said, ''I see that my Divine Mother is getting
Her work done through both these parties."
466. Questioned by a pious Brahmo as to what constituted the difference between Hinduism and Brahmoism, the Master said that the difference is the same as that between a single note and the whole gamut. The Brahmo religion is content with the single note of the Brahman, while the Hindu religion is made up of several notes, which together produce a sweet harmony.
467. As one can ascend to the top of a house by means of a ladder, a bamboo, a staircase or a rope, so also diverse are the ways of approaching God, and every religion in the world shows one of the ways.
468. The light of the gas lamp illuminates various localities with varying intensity, but the sustenance of light, namely, the gas, comes from one common store. So the religious teachers of all lands and of all ages are but so many lamps through which the light of the Spirit streams constantly from the one almighty source.
469. The cries of all jackals are the same. So are the teachings of all the wise ones are the same.
The Cause and Cure of Fanaticism
470. Through ignorance a common man considers his own religion to be the best and makes much useless clamour; but when his mind is illumined by true Knowledge all sectarian quarrel disappears.
471. Two persons were hotly disputing as to the colour of a chameleon. One said, ''The chameleon on that palm tree is of a beautiful red colour." The other contradicted him saying, ''You are mistaken, the chameleon is not red but blue." Being unable to settle the matter by argument, both went to a man who always lived under that tree and had watched the chameleon in all its phases. One of the disputants asked. "Sir, is not the chameleon on that tree of a red colour?" The man replied, ''Yes, sir." The other disputant. Said, ''What do you say? How is that possible? Surely it is not red, but blue!" The man again humbly replied, ''Yes, sir." He knew that the chameleon constantly changed its colour. So he said, 'Yes' to both the conflicting views ―God who is Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute has likewise various forms. The devotee, who has seen God only in one aspect knows that and that aspect alone. None but he who has seen Him in manifold aspects can say, ''All these forms are of the one God, for God is multiform." He is formless and with form, and many are His forms which no one knows.
472. Dal (sedge) does not grow in large tanks with pure water. It grows only in small, stagnant and miasmatic pools. Similarly Dal (schism) does not occur in a party whose members are guided by pure, broad and unselfish motives. It appears only in the party whose members are selfish, insincere and bigoted.
473. Is it good to create sects (Dal)? Here is a pun on the word 'dal' which means in Bengali both a'" sect' or 'party' and 'the rank growth on the surface of a stagnant pool '. The 'dal' cannot grow in flowing water; it grows only in stagnant pools. He whose heart constantly flows towards the Lord has no time for anything else. He who seeks fame and honour forms sects.'
474. Men may partition their lands by measuring rods and boundary lines, but no one can so partition the all-embracing sky overhead. The individual sky surrounds all and includes all. So the unenlightened man in his ignorance says that his religion is the only true one and that it is the best. But when his heart is illumined by the light of true Knowledge, he comes to know that above all these wars of sects and creeds is the one Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute (Akhanda Sachchidananda).
RIGHT ATTITUDE TOWARDS. RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES
475. Whoever performs devotional exercises with the belief, that there is but one God is bound to attain Him, no matter in what aspect. name or manner He is worshipped.
476. You will advance whatever way you meditate on Him or recite His holy names. The cake made of sugar candy will taste equally sweet. whether it is held straight or oblique when you eat it.
477. Q. If the God of every religion is the same, why is it then that God is painted differently by different religionists?
A. God is one, but His aspects are many. As the master of a house is father to one, brother to another and husband to a third, and is called by different names by different persons, so the one God is described in various ways according to the particular aspect in which He appears to His particular worshipper.
478. As a mother in nursing her sick children, gives rice and curry to one, sago and arrowroot to another, and bread and butter to a third. so the Lord has laid out different paths for different men suitable to their natures.
479. Sankaracharya' s exposition of the Vedanta is indeed true, and true also is what Ramanuja speaks of it― his Visishtadvaita philosophy.
480. Let a man be a Christian in the matter of mercy, a Moslem in the matter of strict observance of external forms, and a Hindu in the matter of universal charity towards all living creatures.
481. When you go out and mix with people, you should have love for them all; mix with them freely and become one with them. You should not shrug your shoulders and hate them, saying, ''They believe in a Personal God, and not in the impersonal, or " They believe in the Impersonal, and not in the Personal," or ''He is a Christian, a Hindu, or a Mussalman." Man understands about Him only so much as He makes him understand.
Moreover, knowing that men are of different tendencies, you should mix with them as much as you can. And you should love all. Then returning to your own 'home' (heart) you will enjoy bliss and peace. There you will meet your own real self.
482. Every man should follow his own religion. A Christian should follow Christianity, and a Mohammedan Mohammedanism. For the Hindu the ancient path, the path of the Aryan Rishis, is the best.
483. A truly religious mall should think that other religions are also so many paths leading to the Truth. We should always maintain an attitude of respect towards other religions.
484. Dispute not. As you rest firmly on your own faith and opinion, allow others also equal liberty to stand by their own faith and opinion. By mere disputation you will never succeed in convincing another of his error. When the grace of God descends on him, every man will understand his own mistakes.
485. One day the Master was heard talking to the Mother of the universe, in a God-intoxicated state: ''Mother, everyone says, 'My watch keeps correct time.' The Christians, the Hindus, the Mohammedans, all say, 'My religion is the true religion. 'But Mother, nobody's watch is exact. Who can truly know Thee? But again, if one seeks Thee with a yearning heart. one can reach Thee by Thy grace through any path, through any religion."
486. Some ardent moralists among the Master's disciples often found fault with certain people of great spiritual attainments, because some of the practices they followed, being of the secret rites of the Saktas and Vaishnavas, seemed to violate the ordinary rules of morality. To them the Master used to reply: "They are not to be blamed for that. For they had the thorough conviction that the paths they followed in themselves led to God-realization. Whatever is ardently believed in and adopted as a means to God-realization should not be found fault with. No aspirant's attitude should be condemned, since any attitude, if sincerely followed, is sure to lead to God, Who is the consummation of them all. Go on calling upon Him, each in his own way, and don't find fault with another's path or take to it as your own."
487. With a view to remove the antagonism of his disciples towards these secret cults, the Master would sometimes speak to them about his views regarding them as follows: "Well, why should you cherish hatred towards them? Know them also to be paths, though they may be dirty. There may be diverse entrances to a house―the front gate, the back-door and the door for the scavenger who comes to clean the dirty places in the house. Know these cults to be akin to this last-mentioned door. No matter by which door one enters, when one is within the house, one reaches the same place as others reach. Are you therefore to imitate these people or mix with them? Certainly not. But do not hate them in any way.
ESSENTIALS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE
Some conditions of spiritual enlightenment―Faith―Resignation to God―Necessity of Ishta or Chosen Deity―Truth―Brahmacharya or continence― Viveka or discrimination― Vairagya or aversion for worldly Objects―Perseverance―Spiritual practice―Concentration and meditation
488. If a person possessed by an evil spirit becomes conscious that he is so possessed, the evil spirit at once leaves him. Similarly the Jiva which is possessed by the evil spirit of Māyā, on realizing that he is so possessed, becomes at once free from it.
489. He alone enters the Kingdom of Heaven who is not a thief of his own thoughts. In other words. guilelessness and simple faith are the roads to that Kingdom.
490. A person once said, ''The innate nature of a substance can never be changed.'' Another retorted, ''When fire enters charcoal, it destroys its innate blackness.'' So when the mind is burnt by the fire of Knowledge, its innate nature, too is destroyed, and it ceases to be a snare.
491. The mind is everything. If the mind loses its liberty, you lose yours. If the mind is free, you too are free. The mind may get dyed in any colour, like a white cloth fresh from the laundry. Study English, and you must mix English words in your talk in spite of yourself. The Pandit who studies Sanskrit must quote verses. If the mind is kept in bad company, the evil influence of it will colour one's thoughts and conversations. Placed in the midst of devotees, the mind is sure to meditate on God and God alone. It changes its nature according to the things amongst which it lives and acts.
492. The mind is everything. The attraction for the wife is of one kind, and the affection for the child is of quite a different nature. On one side is one's wife, on another side is the child; one caresses both, but is moved by quite different impulses.
493. Bondage is of the mind; freedom too is of the mind. If you say, ''I am a free soul. I am a son of God! Who can bind me?" free you shall be. If one is bitten by a snake and can say with all the force of will and faith, ''There is no venom, there is no venom," one will surely get rid of the venom.
494. Q. When shall I be free ?
A. When 'l' shall cease to be. 'I and mine' is Ignorance. 'Thou and Thine' is Knowledge.
495. To a disciple who criticised some people's faith as 'blind faith,' the Master remarked, ''Well, can you explain to me what you mean by 'blind faith'? ls not faith wholly 'blind'? What then are its eyes? Say either 'faith' or 'knowledge'. Or else, what is this queer notion that faith in some instances is 'blind' and in others is with eyes'?''
496. Man suffers through lack of faith in God.
497. There are physiological signs indicating who will be endowed with faith and who not. The bony sort of fellows. the hollow-eyed, the squint-eyed―all these types cannot have faith easily.
498. To kill another. sword and shield are needed, whilst to kill oneself even a pin will do. So to teach others one must study many scriptures and sciences, while to acquire spiritual illumination for oneself, firm faith in a single motto will suffice.
499. There are various sects and creeds among the Hindus. Which of them should we adopt? Parvati once asked Mahadeva, ''O Lord, what is the root of the 'eternal, everlasting, all-embracing Bliss? To her Mahadeva replied, ''The root is faith." So, the peculiarities of creeds and sects matter little or nothing. Let everyone take to devotional practices and perform the duties of his own creed with faith.
500. Knowledge relating to God keeps pace with faith. Where there is little faith, it is idle to look for much Knowledge. The cow which is over-nice in matters of eating is not liberal in its supply of milk. But the cow which welcomes all kinds of food―herbs. Leaves, grass, husks, straw and the rest and eats them up with great appetite, gives an abundant supply. Her milk comes down
from the udder into the pail in torrents.
501. He who has faith has all, and he who lacks it lacks all.
502. If you are keen on realizing God, repeat His name with firm faith, and try to discriminate the Real from the unreal.
503. Unless one becomes childlike in faith, it is difficult to realize God. If the mother says to the child, ''He is your brother," the child fully believes that the person referred to is really his brother. If the mother says, ''Don't go there, there is a bogy," the child is indeed convinced that there is a bogy. God is moved to pity when He sees in a man that kind of childlike faith. None can attain God with the calculating nature of the worldly-minded.
504. One day, Sri Krishna, while going in a chariot along with Arjuna, looked up to the sky and said, ''Behold! What a nice flight of pigeons there.'' Arjuna at once turned his eyes in that direction and exclaimed, ‘‘Really, friend, very beautiful pigeons indeed!" But the very next moment Sri Krishna looked again and said, ‘‘No, friend, they are not pigeons, it seems," Arjuna, too saw again and said, ‘‘True, they are not pigeons." Now try to understand the meaning of this. A great adherent of truth that Arjuna was, he did not possibly assent to whatever Sri Krishna said, simply for flattering him. Just he had such an unflinching faith in Sri Krishna that he perceived at once actually whatever Sri Krishna said.
505. Boil your sugar well over a burning fire. As long as there is dirt or impurity in it, the sweet infusion will smoke, and simmer. But when all the impurity and scum are cast out, there is neither smoke nor sound; only the delicious crystalline syrup heaves in its unmixed worth. Then whether liquid or solid, it becomes the delight of men and gods. Such, is the character of the man of faith.
506. A man wanted to cross a river. A sage gave him an amulet and said, ''This will carry you across." The man, taking it in his hand. began to walk over the water. Before he had gone half the way, he was seized with curiosity, and opened the amulet to see what was in it. Therein he found written on a piece of paper, the sacred name of Rama, the Lord. At this the man said depreciatingly, ''Is this the whole secret?" No sooner did this skepticism enter his mind than he sank down. It is faith in the 'name' of the Lord that works wonders; for faith is life and want of faith is death.
507. A disciple who had firm faith in the infinite power of his Guru walked over a river by simply uttering his name. Seeing this. the Guru thought, ‘‘Well, is there such a power in my mere name? Then how much great and powerful must I be." The next day, the Guru also tried to walk over the river uttering, 'I', 'I', 'I', but no sooner did he step into the water than he sank down and was soon drowned; for the poor man did not know how to swim even. Faith can achieve miracles while vanity or egotism brings about the destruction of man.
508. Sri Ramachandra, who was God incarnate, had to bridge the ocean before he could cross over to Lanka (Ceylon). But Hanuman, his faithful monkey devotee and servant crossed the ocean at one leap, because of his firm faith in Rama. Here the servant achieved more than the master, simply through faith.
509. A king guilty of the heinous sin of killing a Brahmin went to the hermitage of a Rishi to learn what penance he must perform in order to be purified. The Rishi was absent, but his son was in the hermitage. Hearing the case of the king, he said, ‘‘Repeat the 'name' of God (Rama) three times, and your sin will be expiated." When the Rishi came back and heard of the penance prescribed by his son, he remarked indignantly. "Sins committed in myriads of births are purged immediately by uttering the name of the Almighty but once. How weak must be your faith, ''O fool, since you have ordered the holy 'name' to be repeated thrice? For this weakness of your faith. You shall become an outcaste." And the son became Guhaka of the Ramayana.
510. The stone may remain in water for numberless years: yet the water will never penetrate into it. But clay is soon soaked into mud by the contact of water. So the strong heart of the faithful does not despair in the midst of trials and persecutions, but the man of weak faith is shaken even by the most trifling cause.
511. One becomes as one thinks. They say that by constantly thinking of a particular kind of insect (Bhramarakita), a cockroach is transformed into the insect. Similarly he who constantly thinks of the Bliss Absolute himself becomes full of bliss.
512. Why talk of sin and hell-fire all the days of your life? Chant the 'name' of God. Do say, but once, ''I have, O Lord, done things that 1 ought not to have done and I have left undone things that I ought to have done. O Lord, forgive me!'' Saying this, have faith in Him, and you will be purged of all sins.
513. The faith-healers of India order their patients to repeat with full conviction the words, ''There is no illness, at all." The patients repeat them, and this mental suggestion helps to drive off the disease. So if you think yourself to be morally weak, you will actually become so in a short time. Know and believe that you are of immense power, and then power will come to you at last.
514. He who thinks that he is a Jiva, verily remains as a Jiva; but he who considers himself to be God, verily becomes a God. As one thinks, so does one become.
RESIGNATION TO GOD
515. He who can resign himself to the will of the Almighty with simple faith and guileless love realizes the Lord very quickly.
516. To live in the world or to leave it depends upon the will of God. Therefore work, leaving everything to Him. What else can you do ?
517. A shallow pool of water in an open field will soon be dried up, though no one may lessen the quantity of its water by using it. So a sinful man is sometimes purified by simply resigning himself totally and absolutely to the mercy and grace of God.
518. Q: What are we to do when we are placed in this world?
A. Give up everything to Him, resign yourself to Him, and there will be no mere trouble for you. Then you will come to know His will.
519. There is no path safer and smoother than that of Ba-kalama (power of attorney). Here Ba-kalama means here resigning oneself to the will of the Almighty and having no feeling that anything is one's own.
520. The young of a monkey clasps and clings to its mother tightly when she moves about. The kitten on the other hand does not do so but mews piteously, and the mother grasps it by the neck. If the young of the monkey lets go its hold of its mother, it falls down and gets hurt. This is because it relies upon its own strength. But the kitten runs no such risk, as the mother herself carries it about from place to place. Such is the difference between self-reliance and entire resignation to the will of God.
521. A father was once passing through a field with his two little sons. He was carrying one of them in his arms while the other was walking along with him holding his hand. They saw a kite flying, and the latter boy, giving up his hold on his father's hand, began to clasp with joy, crying, '' Behold, papa, there is a kite!" But immediately he stumbled down and got hurt. The boy who was carried by the father also clapped his hands with joy, but did not fall, as his father was holding him. The first boy represents self-help in spiritual matters, and the second self-surrender.
522. Blessed Radha was once called to prove her chastity. She was subjected to the ordeal of fetching water in a jar with thousand holes. She succeeded in doing so without even a drop of water leaking out, and everyone applauded her, declaring that such a chaste woman never was and never will be. At this Radha exclaimed, ''Why do you heap praise on me? Say rather, 'Glory to Krishna!' Glory to Him alone! I um only a handmaid of His."
523. What is the nature of absolute reliance on God? It is like that happy state of relaxation felt by a fatigued worker when reclining on a pillow, he smokes at leisure after a day's hard work. It is the cessation of all anxieties and worries.
524. Live here like a leaf cast off after being used for taking food. It is at the mercy of the winds; it is blown here and there; sometimes indoors and sometimes abroad in dirty places. Well, now you are placed here; all right, remain here. And when He will take you away and put you in a better place, then too, you should say 'Amen' and resign to His will with perfect unattachment. Let things take care of themselves.
NECESSITY OF ISHTA OR CHOSEN DEITY
525. The young wife in a family respects her father-in-law and mother-in-law, ministers to their wants, and does not despise or disobey them; but at the same time she loves her husband more than any of them. In the same way be firm in your devotion to your own Chosen Deity (Ishta), but do not despise other Deities. Honour them too; for they all represent one Authority and one Love.
526. In the play of dice called Ashta-kashta, the pieces must pass through all the squares of the chequer before they reach the central square of rest and non-return. But as long as a pawn does not reach the central square, it is liable to return again and again to its starting point and commence its weary journey over and over again. If, however, two pawns happen to start their journey in unison and move jointly from square to square, they cannot be forced back by any winner. Similarly, those who start on their career of devotional practices, first uniting themselves with a Guru and an lshta, have no fear of reverses and difficulties on the way. Their progress will be smooth, unimpeded and without any retrogression.
527. Many roads lead to Calcutta. Dr. Doubtful started from his home in a distant village to go to the metropolis. He asked a man on the road, ‘‘Which is the shortest route to Calcutta?" The man said, ''Follow this road." Proceeding some distance, he met another man and asked him, ''Is this the shortest road to Calcutta? The man replied, ''Oh no! You must retrace your steps and take the road to your left." The man did so. Going .along that new road for some distance, he met a third man who pointed out another road to Calcutta. Thus Dr. Doubtful made no progress, but spent the whole day in changing roads. One who really wishes to reach Calcutta must stick to a single road pointed out by an honest man; so also those who want to reach God must follow steadily one particular guide.
528. A man began to sink a well, but having dug down to a depth of twenty cubits, he could not find any trace of water there. So he gave up that site and selected another spot for the purpose. There he dug still deeper, but even then could not find tiny water. So he selected yet another site and dig deeper than before. But it was also of no avail.
At last in utter disgust he gave up the task altogether. The total depth of all these three wells was only a little short of one hundred cubits. Had he the patience to devote even half of the whole of this labor to his first well, instead of changing the site again and again, he would surely have succeeded in getting water. The same is the case with men who continually change their faith. In order to succeed we have to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to one object of faith without being in the least doubtful as to its worth.
529. As a chaste woman wholly devoted to her husband is united with him forever even after death, so the man who is solely devoted to his own Chosen Deity certainly obtains union with God.
530. Have Bhakti within and give up all cunning and deceit. Those who are engaged in business, such as work in office or trade. should also stick to truth. Truthfulness is the Tapasya (austerity) of this age of Kali.
531. Unless one always speaks the truth, one cannot find God Who is the soul of truth.
532. One must be very particular about telling the truth. Through truth one can realize God.
533. Everything false is bad. Even false garb is bad. If your mind is not quite in accord with the garb, then terrible ruin, shall visit you. In this way. one grows hypocritical. and all fear of doing wrong or uttering falsehood disappears.
534. A certain person, deeply involved in debt feigned madness to escape the consequences of his liabilities. Physicians failed to cure his disease; and the more medicines were administered to him the greater became his madness. At last a wise physician found out the truth, and taking the man feigning madness aside, rebuked him saying, ''U Sir, what are you doing? Beware that by feigning madness you do not become actually mad. Already I see some genuine signs of insanity in you." This warning roused the man from his folly and he left off feigning madness. You will actually become what you constantly pose yourself to be.
BRAHMACHARY A OR CONTINENCE
535. As one's face may be seen reflected in a sheet of glass coated with quick silver, so the glorious image of the Almighty God can be seen reflected in the heart of a person who has preserved his power and purity through perfect continence.
536. Unless one practises absolute continence, one cannot comprehend the subtle truths of spirituality.
537. Sukadeva was an Urdhvaretas (a man of complete and unbroken continence); he had never any emission of semen. There was another class called Dhairyaretas, who had discharge of semen at one time but subsequently practiced absolute continence. If a man remains a Dhairyaretas continually for twelve years, he acquires a superhuman power. A new nerve is developed in him. It is called the 'nerve of intelligence' (Medhanadi), and he can remember everything and know everything.
538. If a man practices absolute continence for twelve years, the Medhanadi will open (i.e., his powers and understanding will blossom). His understanding will become capable of penetrating and comprehending the subtlest of ideas. With such an understanding man can realize God. God can be attained only through a purified understanding of this type.
539. Waste of the vital f1uid entails "loss of energy.'' Involuntary emission, however, is not of much consequence. That is due to food. But still one (a truly spiritual man) should not know any woman carnally.
540. He who has relinquished sexual enjoyment had indeed renounced the world! God is indeed very near him!
VIVEKA OR DISCRIMINATION
541. Practice discrimination. 'Woman' and 'gold' are both unreal; the one reality is God. Of what use is money? Why, it gives us food and clothing and a place to live in. Thus far it is useful, and no further. Surely you cannot see God with the help of money. Money is certainly not the end of life. This is the process of discrimination. What is there in money or in the beauty of women? Using your discrimination you shall find that the body of the most beautiful woman is made up only of flesh and blood, skin and bones, fat and marrow, nay, as in the case of all animals, of entrails, urine, excreta, and the rest. The wonder is that man can lose sight of God, and give his mind entirely to things of such kind!
542. Viveka and Vairagya― Viveka means the sifting of the real from the unreal; and Vairagya, indifference to the objects of the world. They do not come all on a sudden; they have to be practiced daily. 'Woman and gold' have to be renounced, first mentally, and God willing, they should be renounced afterwards both internally and externally. It is said in the Gita that by Abhyasa Yoga (continuous practice of meditation), dislike for 'woman and gold' is engendered. Continuous practice brings to the mind extraordinary power; then nobody feels difficulty in subjugating the senses, passions, and lust. It is like a tortoise that never stretches out its limbs, once it has drawn them in. Even if you cut it to pieces, it would never stretch them out.
543. Q. Is this world unreal?
A. It is unreal so long as you do not know God.
For you do not see Him in everything, and so fasten yourself to the world with the tie of 'I and mine'. Being thus deluded by ignorance, you become attached to sense-objects and sink deeper and deeper into the abyss of Maya. Maya makes men so utterly blind that they cannot get out of its meshes even when the way lies open. You yourself know how unreal this worldly life is. Think a little of the very house that you are in. How many men were born and how many died in it! Things of the world appear before us for a moment and vanish in the next. Those whom you know to be your own will cease to exist for you, the moment you close your eyes in death. How strong is the hold of attachment upon a worldly man! There is nobody in the