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Chapter 5; PART-I


October 27, 1882
Master's boat trip with Keshab:
Keshab Chandra Sen
IT WAS FRIDAY, the day of the Lakshmi Puja.  Keshab Chandra Sen had arranged a boat trip on the Ganges for Sri Ramakrishna. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon the steamboat with Keshab and his Brahmo followers cast anchor in the Ganges alongside the Kāli temple at Dakshineswar.  The passengers saw in front of them the bathing-ghat and the chandni.  To their left, in the temple compound, stood six temples of Śiva, and to their right another group of six Śiva temples.  The white steeple of the Kāli temple, the tree-tops of the Panchavati, and the silhouette of pine-trees stood high against the blue autumn sky.  The gardens between the two nahabats were filled with fragrant flowers, and along the bank of the Ganges were rows of flowering plants.  The blue sky was reflected in the brown water of the river, the sacred Ganges, associated with the most ancient traditions of Aryan civilization.  The outer world appeared soft and serene, and the hearts of the Brahmo devotees were filled with peace. 

Master in samādhi
Sri Ramakrishna was in his room talking with Vijay and Haralal.  Some disciples of Keshab entered.  Bowing before the Master, they said to him: "Sir, the steamer has arrived.  Keshab Babu has asked us to take you there." A small boat was to carry the Master to the steamer.  No sooner did he get into the boat than he lost outer consciousness in samādhi.  Vijay was with him. 

M. was among the passengers.  As the boat came alongside the steamer, all rushed to the railing to have a view of Sri Ramakrishna.  Keshab became anxious to get him safely on board.  With great difficulty the Master was brought back to consciousness of the world and taken to a cabin in the steamer.  Still in an abstracted mood, he walked mechanically, leaning on a devotee for support.  Keshab and the others bowed before him, but he was not aware of them.  Inside the cabin there were a few chairs and a table.  He was made to sit on one of the chairs, Keshab and Vijay occupying two others.  Some devotees were also seated, most of them on the floor, while many others had to stand outside.  They peered eagerly through the door and windows.  Sri Ramakrishna again went into deep samādhi and became totally unconscious of the outer world. 

As the air in the room was stuffy because of the crowd of people, Keshab opened the windows.  He was embarrassed to meet Vijay (see picture), since they had differed in certain principles of the Brāhrno Samaj and Vijay had separated himself from Keshab's organization, joining another society. 

The Brahmo devotees looked wistfully at the Master.  Gradually he came back to sense consciousness; but the divine intoxication still lingered.  He said to himself in a whisper: "Mother, why have You brought me here? They are hedged around and not free.  Can I free them?" Did the Master find that the people assembled there were locked within the prison walls of the world? Did their helplessness make the Master address these words to the Divine Mother?

God dwells in devotee's heart:
Sri Ramakrishna was gradually becoming conscious of the outside world.  Nilmadhav of Ghazipur and a Brahmo devotee were talking about Pavhari Baba.  Another Brahmo devotee said to the Master: "Sir, these gentlemen visited Pavhari Baba.  He lives in Ghazipur.  He is a holy man like yourself." The Master could hardly talk; he only smiled.  The devotee continued, "Sir, Pavhari Baba keeps your photograph in his room." Pointing to his body the Master said with a smile, "Just a pillow-case."

The Master continued: "But you should remember that the heart of the devotee is the abode of God.  He dwells, no doubt, in all beings, but He especially manifests Himself in the heart of the devotee.  A landlord may at one time or another visit all parts of his estate, but people say he is generally to be found in a particular drawing-room.  The heart of the devotee is the drawing-room of God.

Attitude of jnānis and bhaktās:
"He who is called Brahman by the jnanis is known as Ātman by the yogis and as Bhagavan by the bhaktas.  The same brahmin is called priest, when worshipping in the temple, and cook, when preparing a meal in the kitchen.  The jnani sticking to the path of knowledge, always reasons about the Reality, saying, 'Not this, not this'.  Brahman is neither 'this' nor 'that'; It is neither the universe nor its living beings.  Reasoning in this way, the mind becomes steady.  Then it disappears and the aspirant goes into samādhi.  This is the knowledge of Brahman.  It is the unwavering conviction of the jnani that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory.  All these names and forms are illusory, like a dream.  What Brahman is cannot be described.  One cannot even say that Brahman is a Person.  This is the opinion of the jnanis, the followers of Vedanta philosophy. 

"But the bhaktas accept all the states of consciousness.  They take the waking state to be real also.  They don't think the world to be illusory, like a dream.  They say that the universe is a manifestation of God's power and glory.  God has created all these - sky, stars, moon, sun, mountains, ocean, men, animals.  They constitute His glory.  He is within us, in our hearts.  Again, He is outside.  The most advanced devotees say that He Himself has become all this - the twenty-four cosmic principles, the universe, and all living beings.  The devotee of God wants to eat sugar, not to become sugar.  (All laugh.) 

"Do you know how a lover of God feels? His attitude is: 'O God, Thou are the Master, and I am Thy servant.  Thou art the Mother, and I am Thy child.' Or again: 'Thou art my Father and Mother.  Thou art the Whole, and I am a part.' He doesn't like to say, 'I am Brahman.'

Attitude of yogis:
"The yogi seeks to realize the Paramatman, the Supreme Soul.  His ideal is the union of the embodied soul and the Supreme Soul.  He withdraws his mind from sense-objects and tries to concentrate it on the Paramatman.  Therefore, during the first stage of his spiritual discipline, he retires into solitude and with undivided attention practises meditation in a fixed posture. 

"But the Reality is one and the same.  The difference is only in name.  He who is Brahman is verily Ātman, and again, He is the Bhagavan.  He is Brahman to the followers of the path of knowledge, Paramatman to the yogis, and Bhagavan to the lovers of God."

Distant view of Dakshineswar seen from Belur Math Ganga bank
The steamer had been going toward Calcutta; but the passengers, with their eyes fixed on the Master and their ears given to his nectar-like words, were oblivious of its motion.  Dakshineswar, with its temples and gardens, was left behind.  The paddles of the boat churned the waters of the Ganges with a murmuring sound.  But the devotees were indifferent to all this.  Spellbound, they looked on a great yogi, his face lighted with a divine smile, his countenance radiating love, his eyes sparkling with joy-a man who had renounced all for God and who knew nothing but God.  Unceasing words of wisdom flowed from his lips. 

Reasoning of jnanis:
MASTER: "The jnanis, who adhere to the non-dualistic philosophy of Vedanta, say that the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, the universe itself and all its living beings, are the manifestations of Śakti, the Divine Power.  If you reason it out, you will realize that all these are as illusory as a dream.  Brahman alone is the Reality, and all else is unreal.  Even this very Śakti is unsubstantial, like a dream.

"But though you reason all your life, unless you are established in samādhi, you cannot go beyond the jurisdiction of Śakti.  Even when you say, 'I am meditating', or 'I am contemplating', still you are moving in the realm of Śakti, within Its power. 

Identity of Brahman and Śakti
"Thus Brahman and Śakti are identical.  If you accept the one, you must accept the other.  It is like fire and its power to burn.  If you see the fire, you must recognize its power to burn also.  You cannot think of fire without its power to burn, nor can you think of the power to burn without fire.  You cannot conceive of the sun's rays without the sun, nor can you conceive of the sun without its rays. 

"What is milk like? Oh, you say, it is something white.  You cannot think of the milk without the whiteness, and again, you cannot think of the whiteness without the milk. 

"Thus one cannot think of Brahman without Śakti, or of Śakti without Brahman.  One cannot think of the Absolute without the Relative, or of the Relative without the Absolute. 

"The Primordial Power is ever at play.  She is creating, preserving, and destroying in play, as it were.  This Power is called Kāli.  Kāli is verily Brahman, and Brahman is verily Kāli.  It is one and the same Reality.  When we think of  It as inactive, that is to say, not engaged in the acts of creation, preservation, and destruction, then we call It Brahman.  But when It engages in these activities, then we call It Kāli or Śakti.  The Reality is one and the same; the difference is in name and form.

"It is like water, called in different languages by different names, such as 'jal', 'pani', and so forth.  There are three or four ghats on a lake.  The Hindus, who drink water at one place, call it 'jal'.  The Mussalmans at another place call it 'pani'.  And the English at a third place call it 'water'.  All three denote one and the same thing, the difference being in the name only.  In the same way, some address   the Reality as 'Allah', some as 'God', some as 'Brahman', some as 'Kāli', and others by such names as 'Rama', 'Jesus', 'Durga', 'Hari.' "

SOURCE: The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna; 

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