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



M’s Fourth visit:

The next day, too, was a holiday for M. He arrived at Dakshineswar at three o'clock in the afternoon.  Sri Ramakrishna was in his room; Narendra, Bhavanath, and a few other devotees were sitting on a mat spread on the floor.  They were all young men of nineteen or twenty.  Seated on the small couch, Sri Ramakrishna was talking with them and smiling. 

No sooner had M. entered the room than the Master laughed aloud and said to the boys, "There! He has come again." They all joined in the laughter.  M. bowed low before him and took a seat.  Before this he had saluted the Master with folded hands, like one with an English education.  But that day he learnt to fall down at his feet in orthodox Hindu fashion. 

The peacock and the opium
Presently the Master explained the cause of his laughter to the devotees, He said: "A man once fed a peacock with a pill of opium at four o'clock in the afternoon.  The next day, exactly at that time, the peacock came back.  It had felt the intoxication of the drug and returned just in time to have another dose."(All laugh.)

M. thought this a very apt illustration.  Even at home he had been unable to banish the thought of Sri Ramakrishna for a moment.  His mind was constantly at Dakshineswar and he had counted the minutes until he should go again. 

In the mean time the Master was having great fun with the boys, treating them as if they were his most intimate friends.  Peals of side-splitting laughter filled the room, as if it were a mart of joy.  The whole thing was a revelation to M. He thought: "Didn't I see him only yesterday intoxicated with God? Wasn't he swimming then in the Ocean of Divine Love - a sight I had never seen before? And today the same person is behaving like an ordinary man! Wasn't it he who scolded me on the first day of my coming here? Didn't he admonish me, saying, 'And you are a man of knowledge!'? Wasn't it he who said to me that God with form is as true as God without form? Didn't he tell me that God alone is real and all else illusory? Wasn't it he who advised me to live in the world unattached, like a maidservant in a rich man's house?"

Sri Ramakrishna was having great fun with the young devotees; now and then he glanced at M. He noticed that M. sat in silence.  The Master said to Ramlal: "You see, he is a little advanced in years, and therefore somewhat serious.  He sits quiet while the youngsters are making merry." M. was then about twenty-eight years old. 

Hanuman's devotion to Rāma
The conversation drifted to Hanuman, whose picture hung on the wall in the Master's room. 
Sri Ramakrishna said: "Just imagine Hanuman's state of mind.  He didn't care for money, honour, creature comforts, or anything else.  He longed only for God.  When he was running away with the heavenly weapon that had been secreted in the crystal pillar, Mandodari began to tempt him with various fruits so that he might come down and drop the weapon.5 But he couldn't be tricked so easily.  In reply to her persuasions he sang this song:

Am I in need of fruit? 
I have the Fruit that makes this life
Fruitful indeed.  Within my heart
The Tree of Rāma grows,
Bearing salvation for its fruit. 
Under the Wish-fulfilling Tree
Of Rāma do I sit at ease,
Plucking whatever fruit I will.
But if you speak of fruit -
No beggar, I, for common fruit. 
Behold, I go,
Leaving a bitter fruit for you."

As Sri Ramakrishna was singing the song he went into samadhi.  Again the half-closed eyes and motionless body that one sees in his photograph.  Just a minute before, the devotees had been making merry in his company.  Now all eyes were riveted on him.  Thus for the second time M. saw the Master in samadhi. 

After a long time the Master came back to ordinary consciousness.  His face lighted up with a smile, and his body relaxed; his senses began to function in a normal way.  He shed tears of joy as he repeated the holy name of Rāma.  M. wondered whether this very saint was the person who a few minutes earlier had been behaving like a child of five. 

The Master said to Narendra and M., "I should like to hear you speak and argue in English." They both laughed.  But they continued to talk in their mother tongue.  It was impossible for M. to argue any more before the Master.  Though Ramakrishna insisted, they did not talk in English. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon all the devotees except Narendra and M. took leave of  the Master.  As M. was walking in the temple garden, he suddenly came upon the Master talking to Narendra on the bank of the goose-pond.  Sri Ramakrishna said to Narendra: "Look here.  Come a little more often.  You are a new-comer.  On first acquaintance people visit each other quite often, as is the case with a lover and his sweetheart.  (Narendra and M. laugh.) So please come, won't you?"

Narendra, a member of the Brahmo Samaj, was very particular about his promises.  He said with a smile, "Yes, sir, I shall try."

As they were returning to the Master's room, Sri Ramakrishna said to M.: "When peasants go to market to buy bullocks for their ploughs, they can easily tell the good from the bad by touching their tails.  On being touched there, some meekly lie down on the ground.  The peasants recognize that these are without mettle and so reject them.  They select only those bullocks that frisk about and show spirit when their tails are touched.  Narendra is like a bullock of this latter class.  He is full of spirit within."

The Master smiled as he said this, and continued: "There are some people who have no grit whatever.  They are like flattened rice soaked in milk - soft and mushy.  No inner strength!"
It was dusk.  The Master was meditating on God.  He said to M.: "Go and talk to Narendra.  Then tell me what you think of him."

Evening worship was over in the temples.  M. met Narendra on the bank of the Ganges and they began to converse.  Narendra told M. about his studying in college, his being a member of the Brahmo Samaj, and so on. 

It was now late in the evening and time for M.'s departure; but he felt reluctant to go and instead went in search of Sri Ramakrishna.  He had been fascinated by the Master's singing and wanted to hear more.  At last he found the Master pacing alone in the natmandir in front of the Kali temple.  A lamp was burning in the temple on either side of the image of the Divine Mother.  The single lamp in the spacious natmandir blended light and darkness into a kind of mystic twilight, in which the figure of the Master could be dimly seen. 

M. had been enchanted by the Master's sweet music.  With some hesitation he asked him whether there would be any more singing that evening.  "No, not tonight", said Sri Ramakrishna after a little reflection.  Then, as if remembering something, he added: "But I'm going soon to Balarām Bose's house in Calcutta.  Come there and you'll hear me sing."   M. agreed to go. 

MASTER.  "Do you know Balarām Bose?"
M: "No, sir.  I don't."
MASTER: "He lives in Bosepara."
M: "Well, sir, I shall find him."

As Sri Ramakrishna walked up and down the hall with M., he said to him: "Let me ask you something.  What do you think of me?"

M. remained silent.  Again Sri Ramakrishna asked: "What do you think of me? How many annas of knowledge of God have I?"

M: "I don't understand what you mean by 'annas'.  But of this I am sure: I have never before seen such knowledge, ecstatic love, faith in God, renunciation, and catholicity anywhere."
The Master laughed. 

M. bowed low before him and took his leave.  He had gone as far as the main gate of the temple garden when he suddenly remembered something and came back to Sri Ramakrishna, who was still in the natmandir.  In the dim light the Master, all alone, was pacing the hall, rejoicing in the Self as the lion lives and roams alone in the forest. 

In silent wonder M. surveyed that great soul. 
MASTER (to M.): "What makes you come back?"

M: "Perhaps the house you asked me to go to belongs to a rich man.  They may not let me in.  I think I had better not go.  I would rather meet you here."

MASTER: "Oh, no! Why should you think that? Just mention my name.  Say that you want to see me; then someone will take you to me."

M. nodded his assent and, after saluting the Master, took his leave. 

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