2.10 THE COMING OF THE BHAIRAVI BRAHMANI
The Master after his marriage returned from Kamarpukur to Dakshineswar. After this, in 1861, two important events took place which exercised a profound influence on his life. This is why it is necessary to describe them here.
Rani Rasmani had an attack of dysentery shortly after the Master’s arrival at Dakshineswar. Some of us were told by him that one day the Rani had a sudden fall, which gave rise to fever, pain in the body, indigestion, and other complications gradually leading to dysentery. The disease by degrees took a fatal turn.
The Rani, of innumerable noble qualities, had consecrated the Kali temple on Thursday, May 31, 1855, and for the perpetual continuation of the service of the deities, she had purchased on August 29 of the same year, three estates in the district of Dinajpur for two hundred and twenty-six thousand rupees.1 Although she had resolved in her mind to make an endowment of the property, she had not so far executed a deed of endowment formally. Seeing that the hour of death was fast approaching, she became very anxious to do it. Of the four daughters of the Rani, the second and the third, Kumari and Karunamayi respectively, died before the consecration of the Kali temple. Therefore, her two other daughters, the eldest Padmamani and the youngest Jagadamba, were present at her sick-bed. We were told that when the draft of the deed of endowment of the Kali temple, written according to the Rani’s desire, came, she asked her two daughters to sign it giving their assent to the terms of the deed, thereby precluding all possibilities of future quarrels among her descendants regarding the object of the deed. Jagadamba signed that bond; but Padmamani did not, in spite of the repeated requests of the Rani at the time of her death. Therefore the Rani had no peace on her death-bed. As there was no other alternative left, the Rani signed2 the deed of endowment herself on February 18, 1861, thinking, “The divine Mother’s will be done,” and passed away to “the sphere of the Devi” the following night.
The Master said that Rani Rasmani came to her house on the Adiganga at Kalighat a few days before she passed away. Immediately before her passing away, she saw many lamps lighted before her and exclaimed suddenly, “Do move away all these; I relish them no more. My Mother (the Mother of the universe) is come now; all quarters have become illumined by the effulgence of Her holy person. (A little later) Mother, art thou come? But Padma has not affixed her signature; what will happen, Mother?” Saying so, the virtuous Rani assumed a calm and tranquil mood and immediately slept on the Mother’s lap the sleep that knows no waking. She had already been brought to the sands of the Ganga and the loud howling3 of jackals was being heard on all sides near by.
From the great disagreement, and the subsequent quarrel and litigation that have been going on among the sons of the Rani’s daughters over the endowed temple property, we see clearly why the far-sighted Rani was so apprehensive at the time of her death regarding the arrangement for the service of the Devi, which was her very life, and why she felt the anguish from that cause far more acutely than the pain due to the fatal disease. It is seen in the official documents that the temple property is now mortgaged for a little less than one lakh of rupees,4 for defraying the heavy expenses of its litigation. Who can say whether the unique, praise-worthy act of the Rani connected with the divine dedication will end some time, as the result of these quarrels, as a mere memory and be obliterated altogether?
Since the foundation of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, Mathuranath Biswas, the youngest son-inlaw of the Rani, rose to be her right-hand man in managing the estate. From the very day the Kali temple was consecrated, he having studied the financial condition of the endowment, made arrangements about all matters regarding the temple service according to the Rani’s desire. Therefore, it was he who continued managing it after the Rani’s death. As the purifying influence of the life of Sri Ramakrishna had gained a complete hold over the mind of Mathur some time previously, the service of the Mother at Dakshineswar did not evidently slacken in any department after the Rani’s death.
We have told the reader many times of the unique relation of Mathur with the Master. Therefore, it is needless to mention it again. Suffice it to say that the sudden death of the Rani and Mathur’s wielding of the sole authority in the management of the temple affairs gave the latter a great opportunity of helping the Master in his Tantric Sadhanas extending over a long time. Who can say whether this authority of Mathur over the management of the property was not brought about by the will of the divine Mother for helping Her son, the Master? For, we find that from that time on till his death, Mathur engaged himself whole-heartedly in the service of the Master. To have that firm faith in one person for more than eleven long years and to spend one’s life in an exalted spiritual mood are possible by the grace of God alone. One is convinced of the great good fortune of Mathur from the fact that he was daily growing in his faith in the Master, instead of giving free rein to passions and losing his head on the acquisition of almost the sole mastery over the vast property of the Rani.
So far none but the Sadhakas of God could form any idea about the high spiritual state of the Master. The generality of people thought he was demented. For, he, they said, did not at all distinguish what was good for him from what was evil, was not attracted by objects of enjoyment, never tried to do harm to anybody and was living contented within himself, and spent his days repeating sometimes
Hari, sometimes Rama and sometimes Kali! They also saw that he could not at all improve his worldly condition, nor would ever be able to do so, even though he was a favourite of the Rani and Mathur Babu — the persons whose favour was enough to make many people improve their fortunes in every respect. But one thing they all understood, namely, that although this madman was hopelessly good-for-nothing, still his bright eyes, his extraordinary deportment, his sweet voice, his graceful speech and wonderful presence of mind had such an attraction and charm for all that he could unhesitatingly approach and endear himself to even those rich and respectable persons before whom others would not venture to appear. Although the people in general and the officers of the Kali temple in particular, formed such a queer idea of the Master, Mathur had quite a different view of him. Hriday told us that Mathur said, “The reason why he looks like a madman is that he has had the grace of the Mother of all.”
Shortly after the passing away of the Rani there came to pass another important event in the Master’s life. There was a beautiful flower garden on the spacious embankment on the Ganga, to the west of the Kali temple, full of various kinds of flowers; the trees and creepers in the garden, well taken care of, spread a wonderful beauty and filled the quarters with the fragrance of the flowers. Though the Master did not perform the worship of the divine Mother at that time, he used to pluck flowers daily in that garden, make garlands with them and decorate Her with his own hands. Even today there exist, in the middle of the garden, a wide flight of steps leading from the Ganga to the temple, through a beautiful open portico, and a brick-built Ghat for the use of women at the northern end of the embankment, and a Nahavat to the north of the Kali temple. People used to call that Ghat the Vakul-ghat on account of a big spreading Vakul tree close to it.
One day the Master was plucking flowers in that garden when a boat came to the Vakul-ghat and anchored. A beautiful lady in the dress of a Bhairavi, with ochrecoloured cloth on and with her hair let loose, got down with a bundle of books in her hand and proceeded towards the portico on the wide Ghat to the south. Although the Bhairavi was past her youth, nobody could take her to be advanced in age, because youthful grace and beauty still lingered on her person. We were told by the Master himself that the Bhairavi was then almost forty. We cannot say how far the Master foresaw at first sight his close future relation with her. But it is true that he felt that great attraction towards her, which people feel when they see one whose life is bound up with their own. For, as soon as the Master saw the Bhairavi from a distance, he returned to his room, called Hriday and asked him to fetch the Sannyasini. Hriday hesitated and said, “The lady is a stranger. Why should she come at all?” The Master said, “Request her in my name and she will come readily.” Hriday said that he felt not a little surprised to see the eagerness of the Master to speak with a lady who was entirely unknown to him, for he had never before seen him acting thus.
However, Hriday knew that he could not but obey his mad uncle. So he went to the portico, saw the Bhairavi sitting there and said to her that his maternal uncle, who was a devotee of God, requested her to meet him Hriday was still further amazed when he saw the Bhairavi unhesitatingly standing up to accompany him without putting any question to him
When the Bhairavi came to the Master’s room and saw him, she became overwhelmed with delight and astonishment, shed tears of joy and said, “Ah, my child, you are here! I knew you were living somewhere on the bank of the Ganga, and I have been searching for you ever so long; at long last I have met you now.” The Master said to her, “How could you know of me, mother?” The Bhairavi answered, “I knew long ago by the grace of the universal Mother that I would have to meet three of you. I have already met two in eastern Bengal and today I meet you here.”
The Master then sat beside the Bhairavi and, like a child describing everything delightedly and with an open heart to its mother, went on narrating his extraordinary visions — the loss of his consciousness of the external world while talking on God, the burning sensation in his body, his sleeplessness, and other peculiar bodily changes, because of which he was taken to be mad. He repeatedly asked her, “Mother, what are these things that happen to me? Have I actually become mad? Have I been seized with a fell disease for calling on Mother wholeheartedly?” Listening to these words of the Master, she, like a mother, became now excited, now delighted, and with her heart melting with compassion, consoled him saying over and over again, “Who calls you mad, my child? It is not madness; you are in the state of Mahabhava and that is why all these things are happening to you. Is it given to ordinary people to understand the state you are in? In their ignorance they say what they say. All this happened to Sri Radharani and to Sri Chaitanya, the great lord. All these things are recorded in the devotional scriptures. I have got these books with me. I’ll read them out to you and prove that these states came on those who truly called on God in the past and do so at the present time too.” Hriday was simply flabbergasted to see the Bhairavi Brahmani and his uncle behave and converse with each other like close relatives, long familiar.
When afterwards the Master found that the day was far advanced, he gave the Bhairavi Brahmani, for her breakfast, fruits, roots, butter, candy, etc., all Prasada of the Devi; and knowing that the Brahmani, inspired by spiritual motherly love towards him, would not take anything whatever without first feeding him, he first partook a little of all those things. After paying her obeisance to the deities and having her breakfast, she took from the temple stores some flour, rice, etc., as Bhiksha in order to offer cooked food to the stone symbol of Raghuvir hung from her neck, and engaged herself in cooking under the Panchavati.
Afterwards, when the cooking was finished, she placed food, drink, etc., before Raghuvir and offered them to Him. Then she, while thinking on her chosen Ideal, sank into deep meditation, had an extraordinary vision, and entered into deep Samadhi. From both her eyes flowed profuse tears of love and she completely lost her consciousness of the world. Feeling in his heart of hearts irresistibly attracted to the Panchavati at that time, the Master came there in a state of ecstasy, and not knowing clearly what he was doing, started like one hypnotized, eating the food offered by the Brahmani to her chosen Ideal. The Brahmani regained her normal consciousness after some time and opened her eyes to see that charming behaviour of the Master who was then in Bhavasamadhi and was devoid of consciousness of the world. Finding all this correspond to her vision, she was filled with bliss and astonishment, the hair of her body standing on end. Coming down to normal consciousness, the Master felt uneasy at what he had done, and said to the Brahmani, “Who knows, mother, why I lose control over myself and happen to do such things?” The Brahmani then reassured him like a mother and said, “You have done very well, my child; it is not you who have done this but the One who is within you has done it as He does always. From what I saw during my meditation, I have come to the certain conclusion as to who has done it, and I feel I need not perform ceremonial worship any more; my worship at long last has answered its purpose.” Saying so, the Brahmani ate without the least hesitation, as Prasada of the Deity, the remains of the food taken by the Master. And, having obtained the permanent living vision of Raghuvir in the body and mind of the Master, she immersed with care the stone symbol of Raghuvir, worshipped so endearingly by her for such a long time, in the waters of the Ganga, shedding tears of love and joy in a spiritual semi-conscious state.
The affection and attraction at first sight between the Master and the Brahmani increased day by day. With her heart overcome by spiritual maternal affection, the Sannyasini stayed on at Dakshineswar. Neither of the two was conscious of how time slipped away day after day in their meeting each other and having spiritual conversation under the Panchavati. The Master told the Brahmani frankly all the mysteries regarding his spiritual visions and states, now and then putting various questions to her. And the Bhairavi Brahmani solved all those problems with the help of books on Tantra. Sometimes, again, she would read verses from the Chaitanya Bhagavata, the Chaitanya Charitamrita and other devotional books showing what signs were produced by the strong surge of the divine love in the bodies and minds of incarnations of God, and in this way dispelled the doubts of the Master. Thus there flowed a current of divine bliss under the Panchavati.
Six or seven days passed this way, when it became evident to the keen intelligence of the Master that it did not look well to keep the Brahmani there, though there was nothing really blamable in it. Unable to understand their holy relationship worldly men, given to lust and gold, might start talking ill about the character of the pure lady. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he gave a hint about it to the Brahmani. The Brahmani also felt the reasonableness of the point and left the Kali temple, deciding to live somewhere near and to come daily for some time to see the Master.
To the north of the temple in the village of Dakshineswar, on the Ganga, is situated the Devamandal Ghat. Here the Brahmani went and dwelt.5 She roamed everywhere in the village and became dear to the ladies there by virtue of her noble qualities. Therefore, she had no inconvenience whatever about her board and lodge and was not prevented from meeting the Master daily out of any fear of public scandal. She used to visit the Kali temple every day for some time and have conversation with him as before. She gathered by begging various kinds of food from the women of the village who became acquainted with her, brought them to the temple and gave them to the Master to eat.6
When she heard of the spiritual experiences, visions and states of the Master, the Brahmani gained the firm conviction that all those things were produced by his extraordinary love of God. When she saw that he felt supreme bliss during the singing of the Lord’s glory and often lost consciousness in Bhavasamadhi during conversation on God, she became certain that he was not an ordinary Sadhaka. When she saw all these she was reminded time and again of the hints spread over the pages of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, the Chaitanya Bhagavata and other books of Bengal Vaishnavism, about the fact that Chaitanya, the great lord, would again assume a body and come down on earth for the deliverance of men. The Brahmani, the great scholar that she was, compared minutely the conduct and behaviour of the Master with those of Chaitanya recorded in those books and found a great similarity between them. She found manifested in the Master, as in Chaitanya, the power of awakening spirituality in others by touch during Bhavasamadhi. Again, garlands, sandal-paste, etc., recorded to have cured the constant burning sensation in the body of Chaitanya suffering from the pangs of separation from God, were applied by her to the Master also for the same purpose and with the same effect. Therefore, the memory of the divine vision regarding Sri Ramakrishna which the Brahmani had under the Panchavati on the first day of her arrival, as well as the few facts just mentioned above deeply convinced her that both Chaitanya and Nityananda had come again in the present age and dwelt in the Master’s body and mind with a view to disseminating love of God for the deliverance of Jivas. While going to the village of Sihar, the Master, we have already told the reader, saw two boys of tender age come out of his body. The Brahmani now heard of that vision from the Master himself and became all the more convinced of her own conclusion regarding him and said, “Chaitanya is manifesting this time in the ‘sheath’ of Nityananda.”
The Sannyasini Brahmani did not expect any favour from anybody in the world; so she was not afraid of being condemned or ridiculed if her own conclusion regarding Sri Ramakrishna were spoken out to others. Therefore, when asked about it, she had no hesitation in fully expressing her view first to the Master and Hriday and then to all others. One day at this time the Master, we were told, sat under the Panchavati with Mathur and Hriday. In the course of conversation, the Master told Mathur about the Brahmani’s faith regarding himself and said, “She says the signs that were manifest in the incarnations of God are there in this body and mind.7 She has read many scriptures and has also many books with her.” When Mathur heard this, he laughed out and said, “Father, let her say whatever she likes; the incarnations of God cannot be more than ten. Therefore,, how can her words be true? But it is true that the Mother Kali has bestowed Her grace on you.”
They were talking thus when they saw a Sannyasini coming towards them Mathur asked the Master, “Is it she? “ The Master replied, “Yes.” They saw that she had procured a plateful of sweets from somewhere and in a state of rare inwardness, oblivious, so to say, of the outside world, was coming towards them inspired by the same mood which prompted Yasoda, the wife of Nanda, to proceed with affection oozing out of her heart to feed Gopala at Vrindavan. When she approached them, she saw Mathur Babu and carefully restrained herself and handed over the plate to Hriday to be given to the Master to eat from. Pointing to Mathur, the Master then said to her, “Mother, I was telling him what you said about me, to which he replied that the incarnations of God could not be more than ten. Mathur saluted the Sannyasini in the meantime and admitted that he had actually raised the objection. The Brahmani gave her blessings to him and replied, “Why? Does not the Bhagavata speak at first of twenty-four principal incarnations and, afterwards, of innumerable ones? Besides the coming again of the great lord (Sri Chaitanya) is distinctly mentioned in the Vaishnava books, and a great similarity of the principal characteristics is found to exist between him and Sri Chaitanya.” The Brahmani thus supported her own position and said that if a good scholar of the Bhagavata and books of the Bengal Vaishnava teachers be consulted, he could not but admit the truth of what she said. She was ready, she said, to support her position in the presence of a scholar. Not knowing what he should say, Mathur remained silent.
All people, big and small, of the Kali temple came gradually to know of the extraordinary conviction of the Brahmani regarding the Master. This caused a great flutter among them. We have recorded elsewhere the result of this sensation in detail.8 Therefore, it will suffice here to mention that although the Brahmani raised the Master suddenly to the position of God and paid him the reverence due to God in the presence of all, he remained the same simple child of the divine Mother untouched by egotism and the resulting changes. But he wanted to know the opinions of persons well versed in the Sastras on the Brahmani’s conclusion and insisted like a boy that Mathur should invite the Pandits to Dakshineswar. As a result of this request, Pandit Vaishnavacharan came to the Kali temple. We have described elsewhere9 how the Brahmani, when she met Vishnavacharan, not only upheld her own position but also brought him round to hers.