2.7 SADHANA AND DIVINE INEBRIATION
The Master became quite unfit for all work for some days on account of the bliss arising from the vision of the Mother. It became impossible for him to perform regularly the worship and other duties of the temple. Hriday somehow managed them with the help of another Brahmin and applied his mind to arranging for some treatment for his uncle, thinking that he was afflicted with insanity. He had become somehow acquainted with a physician of the princely house of Bhukailas, under whose treatment he placed the Master now; and knowing that there was no possibility of a speedy recovery, he sent word to his mother and brother at Kamarpukur.
The Master proceeded to perform the worship on the days on which he did not become altogether restless or devoid of consciousness on account of the overwhelming eagerness for God-vision. He told us sometimes a little of the thoughts and experiences at the time of his worship and meditation in those days. He said, “I used to show to my mind the image of Bhairava in meditation on the parapet of the roof of the music-hall and say to it, ‘You must be firm and motionless like it and meditate on Mother’s Lotus Feet.’ No sooner had I sat down for meditation than I heard clattering sounds produced in the joints of my body and limbs from the direction of the legs upwards; and they got locked one after another as if some one from within turned the keys. As long as I meditated, I had no power to move my body and change my posture even slightly or give up meditation and go elsewhere or do anything else at will. I was, as it were, forcibly made to sit in the same posture, as long as the joints did not make clattering sounds as before and were unlocked, this time from the direction of the head to the legs. When I sat and meditated I had, in the beginning, the vision of particles of light like groups of fire-flies; I saw sometimes all quarters covered with masses of mist-like light; and at other times I perceived that all things were pervaded by bright waves of light like molten silver. I saw these things sometimes with my eyes shut and sometimes with my eyes open. I did not understand what I saw nor did I know whether it was good or bad to have such visions. I therefore prayed to Mother with a troubled heart, ‘I don’t understand, Mother, what is happening to me; I don’t know Mantras etc., by which to call Thee; please teach me personally what may enable me to realize Thee. Mother, if Thou dost not teach me, who else will? For, there is no refuge for me except Thee.’ I used to pray thus with a concentrated mind and weep piteously on account of the eagerness of my heart.”
The Master’s worship, meditation, etc., underwent novel changes. It is difficult to explain to others that wonderful state of complete absorption in Her. There were in that state childlike sincerity, faith, dependence and sweetness only, with the divine Mother for their stay and support. The seriousness of an adult, the personal efforts for the observance of injunctions and prohibitions according to time, place and person, the conducting of oneself with forethought for conforming to both worldliness and godliness — none of these were to be seen in that attitude of his. Whenever one saw him, one thought that he had merged his little will and the little ego, in the will of Her who was the source of all wills, and did everything as if he was completely an instrument in Her hand, praying in his heart of hearts, “Mother, my only refuge, kindly make me, Thy boy, say and do what I should.” As there arose, naturally under these circumstances, a great difference between the faith and actions of worldly people and his own conduct and behaviour, various people began to say various things, at first in whispers and later in loud gossip. But all these mattered little to him, for the boy of the divine Mother was now moving and doing everything by Her direction. The vain clamour of the world did not reach his ears at all. Although in the world, he was not of it. The external world was now transformed for him into a dream world. Now he could not attribute reality to it in spite of efforts. The universal Mother’s form, consisting of pure consciousness and bliss, was now known to him as the only reality.
Previously, on some occasions at the time of worship and meditation, the Master used to see a hand of the divine Mother or a foot, bright and delicate, or Her sweet, affectionate and smiling face, supremely beautiful. Now he saw, even at times other than those of worship and meditation, the full figure of the effulgent Mother, smiling and speaking, guiding and accompanying him and saying, “Do this, don’t do that.”
Formerly when he offered cooked food etc., to the Mother, he used to see an extraordinary ray of light coming out beaming from Her eyes, touching all the offered articles, taking their essential parts and withdrawing itself again into Her eyes. Now he saw that even before the offering was made, the same Mother in Her very person, sat down to take the offerings illumining the temple with the effulgence of Her holy presence. One day Hriday came suddenly at the time of the worship and saw that the Master had taken in his hands an Arghya consisting of china-roses and Vilva leaves, which he was going to offer at the lotus feet of the divine Mother. He was absorbed in thinking of Her, when he cried out suddenly saying, “Wait, wait. Let me utter the Mantra first; and then Thou mayst take it.” He then offered the food ritually before finishing the worship.
Previously, at the time of worship and meditation, he saw that there appeared a wonderful living Presence in the stone image before him. Now he did not see that image at all when he entered the temple; but saw instead, standing there, the living Mother Herself, all consciousness, and with hands that offered boons and freedom from fear. The Master said, “I put the palm of my hand near Her nostrils and felt that Mother was actually breathing. I observed very closely, but I could never see the shadow of the Mother’s divine person on the temple wall in the light of the lamp at night. I heard from my room Mother, merry like a little girl, going upstairs, Her anklets making jingling sounds. I came out to verify and found that She, with Her hair dishevelled, was actually standing on the verandah of the first floor of the temple and was now viewing Calcutta, now the Ganga.”
“One now felt”, said Hriday, “awe-struck when one entered the Kali temple even when the Master was not there, let alone when he was. Yet I could not give up the temptation of seeing how the Master
behaved during the time of worship. What I saw, when I suddenly came there on many occasions, filled my heart with awe and devotion. But doubt arose when I came out. I thought, ‘Has uncle really gone mad? Otherwise why does he do such forbidden acts at the time of worship?’ I felt apprehensive about what the Rani and Mathur Babu would think and say when they came to know of it. But such thoughts never crossed uncle’s mind, nor did he give ear to what I told him of them Again, I could not venture now to speak to him much; an indescribable fear and hesitation came and pressed my mouth, I knew not why. I felt an indefinable distance between him and me for some unknown reason. Having no other alternative left, I served him silently as far as I could. But I felt apprehensive lest he should cause a scene some day.”
Hriday gave us the following account of the Master’s actions which, when he entered the temple suddenly at the time of worship, filled his heart at once with awe, fear and devotion. He said:
“I saw uncle prepare an Arghya consisting of china-roses and Vilva leaves, touch his head, his bosom, all his limbs, and even his own feet with it and at last offer it at the lotus feet of the Mother of the universe. ...
“I saw his bosom and eyes always reddish like those of a drunkard. Reeling in that condition, he left the worshipper’s seat, and ascending the altar caressed the divine Mother by affectionately touching Her chin and began singing, laughing, joking, and conversing with Her; or, sometimes, he caught hold of Her hands and danced. ...
“I saw that he, while offering cooked food etc., to the divine Mother, got up suddenly, took in his hand a morsel of rice and curry from the plate, touched the divine Mother’s mouth with it and said, ‘Mother, eat it, do eat it, Mother.’ Afterwards perhaps he said, ‘Dost Thou ask me to take it? Wilt Thou take it afterwards? Very well, I am taking it now.’ Saying this, he took a part of it himself and putting the rest to Her mouth again, said, ‘I have taken it. Thyself eat it now.’ One day I found that at the time of the food-offering the Master saw a cat enter the temple mewing. He fed it with the food that was to be offered to the divine Mother saying, “Wilt Thou take it, Mother?’ ...
“I saw him on some occasions at night put the Mother to bed and himself lie on Her silver bedstead for some time, saying, ‘Dost Thou ask me to lie down? All right, I am doing so.’ ...
“I saw again, that he sat to worship and became so much absorbed in meditation that he had not the slightest consciousness of the external world for a long time. ...
“Uncle rose from his bed very early in the morning and collected flowers in order to make garlands for Mother Kali. At that time too it seemed to me that there was some one there whom he caressed, and with whom he spoke, laughed, joked and made merry and played the importunate child. ...
“I saw further that uncle had not a wink of sleep at night. When ever I awoke, I found that, overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, he was speaking or singing; or sometimes went to the Panchavati and was merged in meditation.”
Hriday used to say that, although he was apprehensive regarding the Master’s behaviour, he could not express his apprehensions to anybody for purposes of consultation. For, that man might pass it on to the high officers of the temple and they might do harm to his uncle by poisoning the ears of the proprietors. But how could things be suppressed when every day, nay, every moment, such queer events were taking place? Some worshippers who came to the Kali temple at the time of worship, saw everything with their own eyes and complained to the cashier and other officers. The latter heard it, came to the Kali temple and saw it all. But when they saw Sri Ramakrishna’s excited, formidable visage, as of one possessed by a power, his unhesitating behaviour and his fearlessness and absentmindedness, they shrank with an indefinable fear from mentioning anything to him or from forbidding him to do what he was doing. They consulted one another when they returned to the office of the temple. They concluded that the Bhattacharya had gone mad or was possessed by a ghost; no one could otherwise behave in such an unscriptural way at the time of worship; in any case, the worship, the food-offering and other services of the Goddess were, as a matter of fact, not being performed; the Bhattacharya had spoilt everything. They could not but send word to the proprietors.
Word was sent to Mathur at Janbazar. He wrote back in reply that he would personally observe things soon and do what was proper. He asked them to let the Bhattacharya perform worship and other services in his own way and not to obstruct him till he came. They received the letter from Mathur and were anxiously waiting for him to come. They were busy talking among themselves, “The Bhattacharya is sure to be dismissed this time; as soon as the Babu comes, he will expel him Giving offence to the gods! How long will they put up with it?” and so on.
One day Mathur came suddenly at the time of worship, without any one’s knowledge, entered the Kali temple and observed minutely the Master’s actions for a long time. But being filled with spiritual emotions, the Master did not notice him at all. Every day he used to merge himself in the presence of the Mother at the time of worship, unconscious of the coming of any one. This state was the first thing that Mathur noticed on entering the temple. He could also discern when later he saw his importunate boyish requests to Her, that it was all born of his single-minded devotion to, and love of, the divine Mother. What else could, he thought, bring about the realization of the Mother, if such sincere devotion could not? His heart became filled with an extraordinary bliss when he saw that streams of tears sometimes trickled down the Bhattacharya’s eyes during worship, that he felt sometimes a sincere unbounded joy, and that he was at other times, motionless, destitute of consciousness of the external world and inattentive to surrounding objects. Mathur felt that the holy temple was actually filled with an intense manifestation of palpable divine presence. He had now the firm conviction that the Bhattacharya had really become blessed by having the grace of the universal Mother. With his eyes filled with tears and heart purified by devotion, he then saluted over and over again the divine Mother and Her extraordinary worshipper from a distance, saying, “The installation of the Devi has answered its purpose at long last. It may be said that the Devi has truly been installed now and the real worship of the Mother has been performed.” He returned home without telling the officers anything. The next day the chief officer of the temple got from him the order: “Do not obstruct the Bhattacharya in his worship, in whatever manner he might perform it.”1
On hearing of the series of events mentioned above, the reader who is well versed in the scriptures, will easily understand that at this time there had come a great change in the Master’s mind. It passed beyond the prescribed limit of the devotion enjoined by the scriptures and took a speedy course along the exalted path of pure devotional love. But this change came in such a simple natural way that even Sri Ramakrishna himself could not understand it clearly, let alone others. The only thing he understood was that, urged by his love for the divine Mother, he could not but behave that way, as if he was forced to do so. This is why we see him think sometimes, “What is happening to me? Am I on the right track?” He, therefore, eagerly said to the divine Mother, “I don’t know and don’t understand, Mother, what these things are that are happening to me; please make me do what I am to do, teach me what Thou wantest me to learn and reveal Thyself to me. Continue always to hold me by the hand.” He made his mind turn away from lust, gold, honour, fame, and all other powers and enjoyments of the world and said those words imploringly from the bottom of his heart to the divine Mother. The Mother of the universe, on Her part, held him by the hand, protected him under all circumstances and fulfilled his prayer. Unasked, She brought him, whenever necessary, all those things and all those persons that were required for the growth and perfection of his life as an aspirant and made him reach easily and naturally the ultimate goal of pure knowledge and pure devotion. The divine Lord has promised to His devotees through the Gita2: “To those of undivided minds who worship and always remain united with Me, and who place their whole minds in Me and do not think even of their food and movements necessary for life, I bring, even unasked, all the things they require.” The more we study the life of the Master at this time, the more shall we be surprised and astounded to understand how literally that promise in the Gita was fulfilled in his life. It became necessary to prove clearly again the truth of that promise of the divine Lord in this selfish modern age, which has lust for sex and silver as its only motive. Although Sadhakas have been teaching men from age to age to “give up all to have all” that is, the Sadhaka will not suffer from the lack of anything if he renounces everything for the divine Lord, weak-minded men, entangled in worldly objects, could not believe in the promise without seeing it fulfilled in the modern age again. Therefore, the Mother of the universe enacted this wonderful play with the Master, who had a completely undivided mind, in order to show man the truth of that saying of the scripture. Listen to this, O man, with a pure heart and advance on the path of renunciation according to your capacity.
The Master used to say that when the powerful flood of divine moods comes into human life unexpectedly, it cannot be suppressed or concealed by thousands of efforts. That is not all; the gross, inert body very often fails to contain that powerful onrush of divine emotion into the mind and is completely shattered. Many Sadhakas meet with death that way. A fit body is necessary to contain the abounding surge of emotions born of perfect knowledge or perfect devotion. It is only the bodies of great souls known as incarnations of God that have uptill now been seen always to bear its full force and continue to live in the world. This is why the devotional scriptures describe them again and again as possessed of bodies consisting of pure Sattva. The incarnations, they say, can bear the full impulse of spiritual emotions, only because they come down to the world with bodies made of the element of pure Sattva, devoid of all contact with Rajas or Tamas. Even in spite of their having such bodies, they, particularly the incarnations treading the path of devotion, are seen, on many occasions, to be afflicted and overwhelmed with the powerful stress of divine moods. It is indubitable from the accounts we have received that the joints in the Bodies of Lord Jesus and Sri Chaitanya relaxed and drops of blood like perspiration oozed out through every pore in their bodies owing to the powerful surge of spiritual emotions. No doubt, these physical changes were felt to be extremely painful, yet it was only through them that their bodies got adapted to contain those extraordinary mental surgings. When afterwards the bearing of that impulse became easy and natural for their bodies, those changes also, it was noticed, were not always seen in them as before.
10. The physical changes in the Master due to the impulse of that devotion and consequent pain, such as, the burning sensation in his body, (1) when the Papa-purusha was burnt, (2) during his pang of separation after his first vision of the Mother, and (3) during the sadhana of the Madhura-Bhava
From now on, a series of extraordinary changes came over the Master’s body because of the surge of the devotional love. We have already made mention of the burning changes sensation in his body from the beginning of his Sadhana. He had to suffer on many occasions from its excess. The Master himself pointed out its cause to us on various occasions. “At the time of performing Sandhya and worship,” said the Master, “I used to think, according to scriptural prescription, that the Papapurusha within had been burnt up. Who knew then that there was actually a Papapurusha within the body and that it could be actually burnt and destroyed? A burning sensation came on the body from the beginning of the Sadhana. I thought, ‘What is this disease?’ It increased by degrees and became unbearable. Various kinds of oils prescribed by physicians were used; but it could by no means be alleviated. One day, while I was sitting under the Panchavati, I saw that a jet-black person with red eyes and a hideous appearance came reeling, as if drunk, out of this (showing his own body) and walked before me. I saw again another person of placid mien, in ochre-coloured dress with a trident in his hand similarly come out from the body, vehemently attack the other and kill him The burning sensation in the body decreased for a short time after I had that vision. I suffered from that burning sensation continually for six months before the Papa-purusha was burnt up.”
We were told by the Master that a similar sensation came on him again, a short time after the burning up of the Papa-purusha. The Master had then gone beyond the limits of the devotion enjoined by the scriptures and became engaged in the worship and other services of the divine Mother with Ragatmika devotion, in the manner spoken of before. That burning sensation gradually increased so much that he could not find relief even though he placed a wet towel on his head and kept his body immersed in the waters of the Ganga for three or four hours. We shall describe elsewhere3 the easy means by which the Brahmani, when she came later, cured it and pointed out that the said sensation owed its origin to his longing for the full vision of the divine Lord and his pang of separation from Him. The Master suffered again from that burning sensation in his body later at the time of practising the Madhura-bhava, the “sweet mood as of the spouse of God”. Hriday said, “The Master then suffered from a pain and a burning sensation similar to that felt by one when a potful of live embers is placed within one’s breast. He suffered long from that sensation, which came on him from time to time. A few years after his Sadhana came to an end, he became acquainted with Kanailal Ghosal, a lawyer of Barasat, who was an advanced Sadhaka of Sakti. He advised the Master to put on his person an amulet encasing the Mantra of his chosen Ideal. That sensation came to an end when the amulet was put on.”
Mathur went back to Janbazar and told the Rani of the extraordinary worship performed by the Master. The devout Rani was delighted to hear of it. She used to come to the Dakshineswar temple, listen to the songs sung by the Bhattacharya and had already grown affectionate towards him. On the occasion when the image of Govinda broke, she was astonished to know of his intelligence purified by devotion.4 It did not therefore take her long to understand that it was possible for a heart like that of the Master to have the grace of the universal Mother. But an event occurred shortly afterwards, which made it very likely that the Rani and Mathur would waver in that faith. One day the Rani went to the temple to worship and to pay her obeisance to the divine Mother. But as she was engaged in these services, she was eagerly thinking of the possible success or failure in a law-suit regarding her worldly affairs, instead of being absorbed in her worship. The Master was then sitting there and singing songs for her at her request. The Master, who was in ecstasy, understood that state of her mind and taught her to abstain from worldly thoughts in the presence of the divine Mother, by striking her tender person, saying, “That thought even here!” The Rani, a spiritual aspirant fit to have the grace of the universal Mother, detected the weakness of her mind and became repentant. Her devotion to the Master increased a great deal on account of this event. We shall mention all these things in detail elsewhere.5
A short while after this, the Master’s devotion and exaltation due to bliss increased so much by virtue of enjoying the divine Mother’s constant company that the performance of the daily and special occasional services of the goddess was by no means possible for him. The Master used to give an example of how, with advancement in the spiritual state, the actions enjoined by the scriptures drop off by themselves. He said, “The mother-in-law allows her daughter-in-law to eat all kinds of food and do all manner of work till she conceives; but, as soon as she is with child, a little discrimination about food and work begins. Later, as she is in an advanced stage, her work gets extremely limited. When gradually she approaches parturition, she is not given any work at all, lest harm should befall the embryo. And, when at last the baby is born, her days are spent only in caressing it.” Similarly the Master’s renunciation of external worship and of the services of the divine Mother took place naturally. The Master was now no more conscious of the proper time for worship and other services. Always beside himself in spiritual moods, he served the universal Mother whensoever and howsoever he liked. For instance, he sometimes offered food before performing the worship; or, absorbed in meditation he forgot completely the idea of his separate existence from Her and decorated his own person with the flowers, sandal-paste, etc., brought for the worship of the goddess. We were told by the Master himself that on many occasions his actions assumed this form by virtue of his constant vision of the divine Mother inside and outside. And we were further told that, if that mood of his losing himself in Her decreased a little and if he was prevented from seeing the Mother even for a short time, such an overwhelming restlessness came on him that he threw himself violently on the ground, rubbing his face against it and filling the quarters with vehement wailings. He struggled for life and his breath was about to stop. He could take no notice of the fact that his whole body was getting cut and bruised and covered with blood. He was equally unaware whether he stumbled on fire or into water. Immediately afterwards, when he got the vision of the Mother, that mental attitude of his vanished, and his face beamed wonderfully with joy, and he became a different person, so to say.
Mathur got the temple worship conducted somehow through the Master till the latter reached the state described above. But, finding that it was impossible to manage the worship that way now, he resolved to make some other arrangement. Hriday said, “There was a special reason for that resolve of Mathur’s. One day the Master suddenly got up from the worshipper’s seat in a state of ecstasy and saw Mathur Babu and me in the temple. He then took hold of me by the hand, made me sit on that seat and said to Mathur, ‘Hriday will perform the worship from today. Mother says, she will accept his worship in the same manner as mine’, and the devout Mathur accepted, those words of the Master as the command of the Mother.” We cannot say how far Hriday’s words are true; but Mathur knew well that it was impossible for the Master to perform worship and other services daily, in that condition of his.
We have already said that Mathur’s mind was attracted towards the Master from the day when he first saw him Since then he tried to remove all inconveniences and to keep him at Dakshineswar. Gradually afterwards, the more he became acquainted with the Master’s extraordinary noble qualities, the more, was charmed by them; and he used to serve the Master according to his needs, viewed him with an affectionate eye and always protected him against unreasonable oppression of others. Here is an instance: Mathur made arrangements for him to have a daily drink of the syrup of candy, as he knew that the humour of wind was strong in his body; conscious that the Master might possibly be interfered with when he was employed in the worship born of Ragatmika devotion, Mathur protected him against all attacks. We have elsewhere6 mentioned a few other examples of this nature. But it seems to us probable that he had doubts in his mind about the Master’s condition from the day he struck Rani Rasmani by way of teaching her. He concluded that the Master was suffering from insanity. Unable to realize the advanced state of the Master, the worldly-minded Mathur, it seems, inferred that there was in him a combination of spirituality and insanity, for he arranged at that time for the Master’s treatment under Gangaprasad Sen, the well-known Ayurvedic physician of Calcutta.
Thinking that the Master had a physical disease, Mathur not only made all arrangements for his treatment, but also tried to comfort him by giving reasons and arguments, so that he might control his mind and proceed with his spiritual practices. We have described for the reader elsewhere,7 how all these reasons and arguments of Mathur proved vain and how he was proved wrong by the Master, when he saw that two china-roses, one red and the other white, blossomed together in the same twig of a red china-rose plant.
Knowing that it was impossible for the Master to perform the fixed daily service of the Goddess in the temple, Mathur made another arrangement for it. He appointed Ramtarak Chattopadhyaya, the Master’s cousin, who had come to the temple in search of a job, to worship the Goddess until the Master came round. These events came to pass in the year 1858.
The Master used to call Ramtarak, Haladhari. The Master told us many things about him on many occasions. Haladhari was a good scholar and Sadhaka, who was devoted to rites and practices according to the scripture. He had proficiency in the Bhagavata, the Adhyatma-Ramayana and other books, and read them daily. Although he had greater love for Vishnu than for the Devi he had no aversion to the latter. Therefore, though a devotee of Vishnu, he did not feel any hesitation in taking charge of the worship of the divine Mother at the request of Mathur. But before Haladhari took that charge, Mathur made an arrangement, at his request, for supplying him with raw foodstuffs, so that he might cook for himself. We are told that Mathur had at first objected to it and asked, “Why? Do not Ramakrishna, your cousin, and Hriday, your nephew, take Prasada in the temple?” The intelligent Haladhari replied, “My cousin is in an exalted spiritual state. Blemishes will not accrue to him any way. I am not in that state; it will therefore be reprehensible for me to break my principle regarding food.” Mathur was pleased to hear his words. Haladhari took raw provisions and daily cooked them for himself under the Panchavati.
Although Haladhari had no aversion to Sakti, he was not disposed to offer animal sacrifice to the Goddess. As it was the rule in the temple to offer animal sacrifice to the divine Mother at the time of festivals, he could not perform the worship at those times with joy and zeal. He performed the worship for about a month when, while performing his Sandhya one day, he, it is said, saw the Goddess assume a terrible form and say to him, “Get up and go away from here. You shall not perform the worship; Your son shall die on account of the offence of your irreverent worship.” It is said that he received the news of his son’s death a few days after this event. He said everything about this from the beginning to the end to the Master, and from then ceased to worship the Goddess. Therefore, since then Hriday began to perform the worship of Kali and Haladhari conducted the worship of Radha-Govinda. We heard of this event from Hriday’s brother, Rajaram.