^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ SYMBOLS OF TWELVE MAJOR WORLD RELIGIONS ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^



Sri Ramakrishna

Pyne's  Shiva Temple
Once during Shiva-ratri a dramatic performance had been arranged near Pyne’s Shiva Temple. A troupe from the neighbouring village was to perform a religious drama depicting the glory of Shiva. The performance was to begin about half an hour after dusk. That evening, news reached the village that the boy who was to play Shiva had become seriously ill and that the director could not find a substitute. Disappointed, the director sent an apologetic message that the performance must be postponed. What could be done? How could night long vigil be kept? The elders assembled to discuss the matter. They sent word to the director asking whether he could conduct the drama that night if they found someone to act in the role of Shiva? He responded in the affirmative. The village council met again to select someone who could play, and they decided on Gadadhar [childhood name of Sri Ramakrishna]. Although he was young, his looks were right for the part and he knew songs of Shiva. The director himself could tactfully manage the few spoken lines required for the role. Gadadhar was approached. Seeing the eagerness of all, he agreed. The performance began on schedule, an hour after dusk.

Gadadhar in Divinemood
Dharmadas Laha, the landlord of the village, was a close friend of the Sri Ramakrishna’s father. So his elder son, Gayavishnu Laha, and Sri Ramakrishna become close friends. When Gayavishnu learned that his friend would play the role of Shiva, he and his companions helped him with make-up for the part. Once he was in costume, Gadadhar sat in the dressing room and thought of Shiva. When he was called to appear on the stage, one of his friends led him there. He mounted the stage at his friend’s request. Absent-mindedly, without looking in any direction, he slowly walked to the middle of the stage and stood there motionless. The audience was overwhelmed with joy and awe upon seeing Gadadhar in that costume, with matted hair, bedecked with rosaries, and smeared with ashes. He entered with slow and steady footsteps, and then stood motionless, with heavenly, indrawn, unblinking gaze, and a sweet smile on the corners of his lips. According to village custom, the audience suddenly cried out, chanting the name of Hari. Some women made auspicious sounds and some blew conches. To claim the audience during the pandemonium, the director began to sing a hymn of Shiva. At this the audience quieted slightly. But beckoning and nudging one another, they began to comment in hushed voices: “Bravo, Bravo!” “How beautiful Gadai looks!” “We never thought the boy could act in the role of Shiva so wonderfully!” “ If we somehow secure this boy, we can form a yatra party of our own.”

Gadadhar remained standing thee all the while; moreover, tears continually trickled down onto his chest. Thus some time passed, and Gadadhar neither changed his position nor said anything. Then the director and a few elderly villagers went over to Gadadhar and found that his hands and the feet were numb and that he seemed to have lost all external consciousness. At this point the commotion in the audience increased terribly. Some shouted, “Water! Splash water on his eyes and face!” Some said, “Fan him!” Some called out, lord Shiva has possessed him. Chant Shiva’s name!” again some grumbled, “This boy has spoiled everything. Now they will have to stop the play!” After a long while, when all efforts had failed to bring him back to normal consciousness, the audience dispersed. Some men carried Gadadhar home on their shoulders. We have heard that his family wept because despite all their efforts Gadadhar could not be roused from his ecstatic sate that night. He became normal again after sunrise the next day.

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