4.1 VAISHNAVACHARAN AND GAURI
Those men also who, full of faith and free from malice, constantly
practise this teaching of Mine, are freed from all work (i.e., the idea
of being its agent).
— Gita III. 31
It is the general impression of the public of Calcutta that the Master transmitted spirituality or deepened it in Kesav Chandra sen and a few other modern-minded Hindus who were educated in the English manner and were imbued with the Western ideas and ideals. But most people of this city are ignorant of the fact that long before they knew of the Master’s residence at Dakshi-neswar, eminent holy Persons, Sadhakas and Pandits well versed in the Sastras, had come to the Master from all parts of Bengal and northern India and, having their languid religious life vivified by the Master’s power as the spiritual teacher and his blazing, burning religious ideal, had gone away to impart that new power and ideal to many persons elsewhere.
The Master used to say, “As soon as flowers blossom, bees come of themselves. They need not be invited. When love for and devotion to God become truly manifested in you, all those who have sacrificed their lives or have resolved to do so in quest of God, in other words, for the attainment of truth, cannot but come to you under the influence of an inexplicable spiritual law.” So it was indeed the Master’s opinion that one should first of all realize God, and have His vision and grace. Thus armed with the power of working for the real good of humanity, one should have His command before proceeding to preach religion or work for the good of the many. Otherwise, as the Master said, “Who will accept your words? Why should people in general accept or give ear to what you ask them to do?”
We are all, in truth, sailing in the same boat. Though, puffed up with pride, we may consider ourselves superior to others, living all the while in this vain world with its round of birth, dotage, and death and bristling with misery, poverty and dark ignorance, our miserable condition — that urge of the senses, that avarice, that greed and that constant fear of death — continues for ever the same, however much we may develop our machinery, make progress in the natural sciences and know a few properties of some substances in the realm of Maya, the universal Mother capable of making the impossible possible. We are living in the same dismal unbroken darkness of ignorance regarding problems: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where shall I go?” “What is the aim of this game of mine — a game in which I attempt to know the truth with the help of those very five senses, mind and intellect, which themselves deceive me at every step and lead me ever astray?” “Will ever a way to liberation out of its clutches be found?” Everybody in this world lacks true knowledge and is ready to receive it. But who is to give it to him? If, in this respect, anybody has actually anything to give, let him give as much as he can. But deluded a hundred times, man does not understand this. And urged by the desire for name and fame and sundry selfish motives, he hastens to give or feigns to give what he does not possess and, like the blind leading the blind, both come to grief — the instructor and the instructed together!
The Master, therefore, moved along a path diametrically opposed to that of all others of the world. He lived in one place his whole life, calm and tranquil and free from anxiety and practised to the fullest extent renunciation, detachment, self-control, etc., and converted himself thoroughly into an instrument in the hands of the divine Mother, having realized the integral truth and blazed the trail of work of real benefit to the world. He showed that, having attained Reality, the moment he opened the store-house of his knowledge for distribution, people thirsting for knowledge began to pour in uninvited, nobody knew whence. And purified by his divine look and touch, they considered themselves blessed and, spreading that new idea wherever they went, became the source of blessing to others without number. For, wherever we are, we naturally give expression to the mass of ideas that exist within us. The Master used to say in the simple language of a villager: “One’s belchings smell of the things one has taken. Eat cucumber, your belchings will smell cucumber; eat radish, they will smell radish.”
An important event in the Master’s life is his meeting the Bhairavi Brahmani. It is seen from this time onward that just as on the one hand he engaged himself deeply in disciplines in strict accordance with the injunctions of the scriptures and was progressing with firm, quick steps in them, even so, on the other hand, the mood of the spiritual teacher, clearly and unmistakingly began to unfold itself in him But it cannot be said that the aforesaid mood had not been at all present in him before then. For, in the previous chapters, we have brought it to the notice of the reader that the manifestation of the power of the spiritual teacher, more or less, occurred in his life at all times from his childhood, and that even his teachers, who initiated him, got the opportunity of perfecting their own spiritual states by the removal of their deficiencies, flaws and lassitude, with the help of the Master’s power as the spiritual teacher.
Before the Brahmani came, the Master’s extraordinary eagerness and love of God were regarded, to a great extent, as insanity and physical illness, and he was placed under the treatment of eminent physicians. A physician from eastern Bengal, himself a Sadhaka, happened to see him in the house of Gangaprasad Sen, where the Master had come for treatment. Although he pointed out that his bodily symptoms were the extra ordinary changes produced by the practice of Yoga, nobody took his statement seriously. All, including Mathur, were certain that they were the signs of insanity, though combined with the love of God. But the learned Brahmani, well versed in devotional scriptures, was the first to point out to all that all those symptoms were extraordinary bodily changes due to corresponding mental states, produced by uncommon love of God, so rare that even the gods covet to possess them in vain. She, however, did not stop with merely mentioning this to others. She quoted chapter and verse from the devotional scriptures to show that such physical changes were due to super-normal mental states and had appeared, from time to time, in the lives of past teachers and Yogis — of Sri Radha, the supreme lady of Vraja, the embodiment of love divine, and of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, the great lord. She then proved her statements by showing the similarity of the signs recorded in the scriptures to those manifested in the Master’s body. When she did so, the Master, of course, began to rejoice like a boy strengthened by the assurance of his mother; and all the people of the Kali temple, including Mathur, were not a little astonished. Besides, their wonder knew no bounds when the Brahmani said to Mathur, “Please bring Pandits, well versed in the Sastras; I am ready to convince them of the truth of my words.”
But of what avail was it that they were astonished? Who could so suddenly repose his faith in the words and scholarship of an unknown woman who lived on alms and so was not to be taken seriously? Therefore, the words of the Bhairavi Brahmani would have gone the way of those of the physician of eastern Bengal, would have surely failed to make an impression on Mathur and others, had the Master not made an eager request which made the matter stand on quite a different footing. The childlike Master said importunately to Mathur, “Good scholars must be brought and what the Brahmani says must be tested.” The wealthy Mathur thought, “Where is the harm in doing so? So much money is being spent on doctors and medicine for the junior Bhattacharya. When the scholars come and refute the Brahmani’s words by quoting the authority of the scriptures, which they are sure to do, at least one good result is sure to follow, viz., believing in the words of the scholars, the sincere soul of the junior Bhattacharya will at least be finally convinced that he has contracted a disease. Consequently, he may form a desire to control his mind. A person becomes mad when, instead of making an effort to keep his thoughts and feelings under control, he gives them free rein to run amuck, thinking, ‘What I do and understand is right, and what others understand and ask me to do is wrong.’ That is exactly the way how a person becomes insane. And there is no doubt that his mental derangement, as also his physical disease, will be aggravated if, instead of inviting scholars, the Bhattacharya is allowed to believe freely in the words of the Brahmani.” Thinking thus, and partly out of curiosity and partly out of love for the Master, Mathur, we clearly understand, agreed to convene a meeting of Pandits at the Master’s request.
Vaishnavacharan had at that time a great reputation in the community of the Pandits of Calcutta. Again, his name and fame spread amongst the people in general also, as he read and explained beautifully the Bhagavata to the public in various parts of the country. This was how the Master,
Mathur and the Brahmani had heard of him before. Mathur chose to invite him; and as they knew of the uncommon power and scholarship of Pandit Gauri of Indes, of Virbhum, Mathur resolved to invite him also. This was how Vaishnavacharan and Gauri came to Dakshineswar. We heard from the Master now and again many things about them We shall now set out before the reader what we came to know of them
Vaishnavacharan was not only a scholar but was also known to the public as a devout aspirant. His love for God and keen insight into the philosophical scriptures — especially into devotional ones — made him, it may be said, a leader of the then Vaishnava community. That community always gave him the first place at all ceremonies and received him with respectful invitations. When a conclusion concerning any religious matter had to be arrived at, they would always consult him and depend on his decision. Again, many devout aspirants approached him to enquire about the right paths of Sadhana and followed his advice faithfully. It is not surprising, therefore, that Mathur resolved to bring Vaishnavacharan for ascertaining, whether the condition of the Master was due to devotion in excess or to some physical disease.
In the meantime, the Brahmani obtained one important proof of the truth of her opinion on the condition of the Master, which brought as much joy to herself as surprise to others. It was this: Some time before the Brahmani arrived, the Master had been suffering terribly from an intense burning sensation all over his body. Treatments of many sorts were administered but the cure was as far away as ever. We were told by the Master himself that the pain, starting with sunrise, went on increasing as the day advanced, till it became unbearable at midday, when he had to keep his body immersed in the water of the Ganga for two or three hours, with a wet towel placed on his head. He had to come out of water even against his will, lest he should fall a prey to some other disease due to cold. Therefore, he had to shut all the doors and windows of the proprietor’s mansion and roll on its marble floor carefully wetted with a piece of damp cloth.
No sooner had the Brahmani come to know of it than she came to a different conclusion. She said that it was not a disease; it had come on him as the result of his intense spirituality or his love for God. She went on to say that such physical counterparts of the mental changes, due to extreme eagerness for the realization of God, had very often been seen in the lives of Sri Radharani and Sri Chaitanya. The medicine for curing this “disease” was also extraordinary, viz., to adorn the patient with garlands of sweet, scented flowers and to smear his body with fragrant sandal-paste.
None, not even Mathur, it is superfluous to say, could suppress laughter at the Brahmani’s “diagnosis” of the “disease”, let alone their not believing in the treatment. They thought within themselves, “How preposterous it is for her to say that it was not a disease, when it could not at all be alleviated even by taking so much medicine and using so many oils like Madhyamanarayana, Vishnu and the like!” But no one could have any objection to the simple medicine prescribed by the Brahmani, which was so easily available. The patient would himself give it up in a day or two if he did not derive any benefit from it. The person of the Master was, therefore, adorned with sandal-paste and garlands of flowers in accordance with the Brahmani’s prescription; and, to the astonishment of all, the burning sensation of the Master’s body absolutely disappeared in three days. But did the sceptical mind believe the truth so easily? It said, “It must have happened in the way of the well known analogy of the Kakataliya, ‘the crow and the palm-fruit’. The last instalment of the Vishnu oil given to Bhattacharya for use was absolutely genuine; this was clear from the very manner in which the physician spoke. That oil was producing a good effect and the whole of the pain would have been cured by its use in a day or two, just when the Brahmani prescribed the smearing of the sandal-paste. That was how it had happened; but the use of that oil should be continued, whatever the Brahmani might say or prescribe!”
There appeared, shortly afterwards, on the Master’s body another “disease”. This also, we were told by the Master himself, was cured in three days when a simple prescription of the Brahmani was followed. The Master said, “I felt an inordinate hunger at that time. I could not have my fill however much I ate. Now I ate, now I felt hungry again as if I had not eaten anything.” I felt equally hungry, whether I took food or not; night and day that desire for eating prevailed; it had no cessation. I thought, ‘What is this disease again?’ I spoke about it to the Brahmani. She said, ‘Fear not, my child. Such states, it is written in the scriptures, come from time to time, on the travellers on the path to the realization of God. I will cure you of it.’ So saying she asked Mathur to keep arranged within the room stacks of all kinds of food, from flattened and parched rice to Sandes, Rasagolla, Luchi and other things. Then she told me, ‘My child, remain in this room day and night and eat whatever and whenever you like.’ I remained in that room, walked up and down, looked on those stacks of food and handled them, now eating something from one stack, now from another. Three days passed in this way, when the inordinate hunger left, me and I felt relieved.”
We have heard that Sadhakas had felt such excessive hunger, etc., both before and after the state of Yoga, or when the merging of the mind in God became easy to them And we were filled with surprise to observe such a state many a time before in the life of the Master. But the state of the Master, we saw, was a little different. During this period the Master did not remain constantly afflicted with hunger as on the occasions mentioned earlier. Sometimes we saw him, in the state of Bhava, taking four or more times the food that he usually took, without feeling any physical discomfort. The reader will understand the matter easily if we mention here a few such events.
We have already given1 the reader one instance. We narrated earlier in the book, in connection with the Master’s divine Lila with women devotees, how some ladies of Baghbazar went to Dakshineswar to pay a visit to the Master with a big piece of Sar (cream) brought from the shop of the sweetmeat-maker Bhola, how failing to meet him there, they went with great difficulty to the house of Mahendranath Gupta, the teacher, where they met him, how Pranakrishna Mukhopadhyaya, whom the Master used to call the “fat Brahmin”, came suddenly there, and how those ladies hid themselves under the bedstead on which the Master sat and so on. We also told the reader how the Master came to Dakshineswar having taken his meal in Calcutta and how he felt hungry once more that night and ate almost the whole of the Sar brought by the ladies. We shall now mention here a few such instances. We say “a few instances” because such events happened almost daily in the Master’s life. It is, therefore, impossible to record all of them.
Old people tell us even today that until malaria broke out for the first time and a greater part of Bengal — of profuse water and fruits, and green with paddy plants — was depopulated by its fury, the climate of the districts of Hoogly, Burdwan, etc., was not in any way inferior to that of the northwestern parts of India. They say that in those days people used to go to Burdwan and such other places for a change of climate. Kamarpukur is situated about twenty-five miles off Burdwan. The climate of the former place also was conducive to health in those days. We have already said that, on account of the practice of extraordinary austerities for twelve years and constantly remaining in ecstasy afterwards, without paying any heed to the body, even the firm physique of the Master became gradually unfit to undergo physical labour and sometimes was assailed by severe diseases. That was why, when his Sadhana was complete, the Master would go for a change to Kamarpukur and some other neighbouring places every year for the Chaturmasya2 and at the end of the tour he would return to Calcutta. His nephew and faithful attendant, Hriday, went with him. Mathur Babu not only paid the Master’s passage to and from Kamarpukur, but sent with him all the provision and other necessary articles, lest he should lack anything in that small village. When a mother sends for the first time her daughter to the house of the latter’s father-in-law, she sends with her even such trifling things as toothpicks and wicks of lamps. Exactly in the same way did Mathur Babu and his devout wife, Smt. Jagadamba Dasi, very often send everything necessary for starting a new home for the Master when he went to Kamarpukur. For, it was not unknown to them that the household of the Master at that village was like that of Siva — there had not been the slightest idea of providing anything, for the future, from the time of his forefathers. The practice of that family was to remain firm on the path of righteousness, living on whatever might be available. They managed the household with the paddy produced annually on half an acre of the trust land of Raghuvir. The grocer’s shop in the village was the store of this pure, holy family; it was only when a little money was available from farewell gifts etc., that articles of household use, salt, oil, vegetables, etc., were purchased out of that store for that day; otherwise they lived happily on rice and wild greens available without effort on the bank of the pond. And at all times and in all matters, they relied wholly on the living presence of Raghuvir, their family deity. As he knew all these things, Mathur Babu had the strong desire to buy a few Bighas of paddy land and make a trust of it in the name of Sri Raghuvir. And it was from the same motive that he sent all necessary household articles with the Master.
The Master, we have said earlier, used to come every year to Kamarpukur during the Chaturmasya. One year, when malaria had already made its appearance in those parts and was decimating the population, he came and suffered from it a great deal. This made him resolve not to come to his native village any more and never again did he come. He made that resolve about eight or ten years before he passed away. But this is to anticipate. He came to Kamarpukur that year. There was constantly a crowd of neighbours, men and women, who came to see him and listen to his religious talks. A current of bliss flowed incessantly there. All the ladies of the house, with him in their midst, were engaged joyfully in serving him and those who came to see him. No one knew how days of joy were slipping away one after another. Ramlal’s mother, the mistress, of the house, with sister Lakshmi, her daughter, and the supremely revered Holy Mother were there in the house.
The night had advanced three hours. The neighbours, men and women, had taken leave for the night and had gone home. The Master had been suffering for a few days from indigestion and had been taking nothing but sago and barley-water at night. He took milk and barley that night also and went to bed. The ladies of the house took their meal last of all and were about to retire for the night having finished their day’s duties.
The Master suddenly opened the door of his bedroom, came out staggering in Bhavasamadhi and, addressing Ramlal’s mother and others, said, “I see, you are all gone to bed; why have you done so before giving me anything to eat?”
Ramlal’s mother: “Ah, how is that? Have you not taken your meal just now?”
The Master: “When did I? I came from Dakshineswar just now. When did you feed me?”
All the ladies wondered at this and looked at one another’s face. They realized that he was speaking thus in Bhavasamadhi. But what could they do? There was no food whatever in the house that could be given him What was the way out then? Ramlal’s mother had therefore to say hesitatingly, “There is nothing eatable except parched rice in the house now. Will you take parched rice? Why don’t you take it? That will not do harm to your stomach.” Saying so, she brought some on a plate and placed it before the Master. He saw it and turning about angrily like a boy, said, “I will not take merely parched rice.” She tried to persuade him and said, “You are suffering from stomach troubles; nothing else will suit you. Moreover, all the shops are closed now at this hour of the night and so it is not possible to go and buy sago or barley for you. Take this small quantity tonight; I will cook for you soup and rice as soon as I rise tomorrow morning”, and so on. But he would not lend his ear to it. Like a sensitive, importunate boy the Master repeated the same words, “I will not eat it.”
There being no alternative, Ramlal was sent out to the shop. He called the shopkeeper repeatedly and roused him from sleep. He purchased two pounds of sweets and brought them. Together with parched rice, a little more than sufficient for a normal man, they were placed on a plate. Now the Master sat joyfully to eat and consumed the whole of it. All the household then became afraid and thought, “Ah, a person, suffering from stomach trouble; who lives on sago and barley for half the days of the month, has taken so much food so late at night! Something serious is sure to happen tomorrow.” But, strange to say, the Master was seen to be all right on the morrow. No discomfort whatever was felt by him on account of the food taken the previous night.
On another occasion, when the Master was living in Kamarpukur he was taken to Jayramvati, the native village of his father-in-law. The Master took his meal and went to bed, but shortly afterwards got up and said, “I am very hungry.” The ladies of the house were beside themselves with anxiety.
What could they give him to eat? There was nothing in the house, for the annual Sraddha of some one of the forefathers, or some such ceremony, had been performed on that day and many people had been fed, and so no food was left over. There was some boiled rice steeped in cold water. When the Holy Mother mentioned this hesitatingly to the Master, he asked her to bring it. She however said that there was no curry.
The Master said, “Why don’t you try to find a little? Did you not cook fish with chilli and turmeric? Why don’t you see whether a little of that is left over?”
The Holy Mother looked into the cooking pot and found a tiny Maurala fish with a little paste-like soup sticking to it. So she had to bring it. The Master was delighted to see it. He sat to eat that boiled rice steeped in water, at that dead of night, ate up a quantity weighing about five pounds, with that tiny fish for sauce and was at rest.
The same thing happened occasionally while he was at Dakshineswar. One night, at about twelve, the Master got up, called Ramlal and said, “I am very hungry.” What was to be done? Generally there were sweets and other eatables in Stock on other days; but on that occasion there was nothing in the room Ramlal at last went to the Nahavat and informed the Holy Mother and the women devotees about it. They got up very hurriedly, and made a fire by means of straw and firewood and prepared about two pounds of Halwa (sweet pudding), sent it to the Master’s room in a big stone cup full to the brim One of the women devotees brought it there. She just stepped into the room, dimly lighted by a lamp in a corner, where Ramlal was sitting quite near by. She was startled to notice the Master walking up and down, overwhelmed with an extraordinary spiritual feeling at that dead of night, an hour silent, calm and tranquil. She espied that grave and sublime face of the Master brightened with spiritual emotion, that God-intoxicated figure, that inward, steadfast look of those large eyes, before which the whole universe merged into and emerged from Samadhi at will, that grave majestic gait, that wholly indrawn mind and that random pacing up and down in supernal bliss. It seemed to her that the Master’s body had become much bigger in both height and bulk as if he was not a mortal of this earth, but some god from heaven, come in the guise of a human being to this earthly sphere so full of misery, wailings and death; and, veiling himself with the darkness of night, that being was majestically pacing up and down the room It seemed to her that he was in a profound concentration of mind in order to ascertain, out of compassion, the way by which he could convert this burning-ground of the dead, as this world in reality is, into a heaven fit for gods to live in. One thing seemed certain to her: he could not be the same Master whom she had known. The hairs of her body stood on end and she felt an indescribable awe as she approached him
Ramlal had already placed a seat for the Master to sit on. With difficulty the woman devotee went and placed the cup of Halwa in front of the seat. The Master sat down to eat and gradually ate up the whole of it under the influence of that spiritual intoxication. Did the Master understand the thought of the woman devotee? Who can say? But while he was eating it, he saw her looking at him aghast and said to her, “Tell me who is eating? Is it I or someone else?”
The woman devotee: “It seems to me as if someone else is there in you and it is he who is eating.”
The Master: “You are right.” Saying so, he smiled.
Many such events may be mentioned. The powerful waves of spiritual emotions produced such great changes in the Master’s body that on those occasions he seemed to be a different person, and his behaviour — bodily movements, eating, drinking etc., — assumed a different nature, as it were. Yet, on account of that supra-normal behaviour, no disturbance was observable in his body at the end of those spiritual moods. That the mind residing within is making and unmaking our gross body and fashioning it anew is a fact which, though known (theoretically), is not known (practically); and though heard of, is not believed in. But these incidents, rather too common in the Master’s life, are proofs thereof.
Some say that Mathur Babu knew at first of Vaishnavacharan from the Bhairavi Brahmani and resolved to send an invitation to him to come and ascertain whether there was an element of physical ailment in the Master’s spiritual states. Anyway, Vaishnavacharan came to Dakshineswar shortly afterwards. We can infer that a small meeting of scholars was arranged on that occasion. For, a few devout aspirants and Pandits must have come as usual with Vaishnava charan, and the learned Brahmani and Mathur Babu’s party were also there; and the subject for discussion was the Master’s spiritual condition. Hence we call it a meeting.
The discussion started. The Brahmani described the Master’s state as she saw it with her own eyes and as she had heard about it from people around. And comparing the Master’s present state with those recorded in the scriptures as experiences of the ancient teachers of the devotional path, she gave her opinion that his was the same state as theirs. Addressing Vaishnavacharan she said to him, “If you hold a different opinion about it, please explain to me why you do so.” Just as a mother stands with the pride of a heroine to protect her child, the Brahmani, as if strengthened with some divine Power, came forward to support the Master’s case. And the Master, the cause of so much bustle? We can visualize the scene. Quite unconcerned and smiling and enjoying the bliss of the Self, he was sitting in the midst of the people carrying on the controversy and was sometimes putting into his mouth a few grains of aniseed or cubebs from the small bag near him, and listening to their conversation as if it was about some one else; and at other times he was touching the person of Vaishnavacharan to draw his attention to what he narrated about his own condition, saying, “Look here, it sometimes happens like this.”
Some are of opinion that with the help of the subtle insight born of his Sadhana, Vaishnavacharan came to know the moment he saw him that the Master was a great soul. But that apart, we were told by the Master himself that he heard and heartily approved whatever the Brahmani said about the Master’s condition. Not only that; Vaishnavacharan remarked with amazement that all the signs of the nineteen kinds of main spiritual moods, the co-existence of which has been called in the devotional scriptures as the “Mahabhava”, the great mood, and observed only in the lives of Sri Radha, the embodiment of spiritual moods, and Sri Chaitanya, were seen manifested in the Master. If the indication of the “great mood” ever appeared in the life of a Jiva, thanks to the accumulation of an unprecedented good fortune, at most two or three of those nineteen kinds are seen manifested there. The body of a Jiva could not contain, in the past, the tremendous force of all of them and would, the Sastras say, never be able to do so in future. Mathur and the others present were altogether dumbfounded to hear the words of Vaishnavacharan. And the Master also said to Mathur in joy and astonishment, “Ah, what does he say! However, I am glad to know that it is not a disease.”
The above opinion of Vaishnavacharan about the Master was not mere words, for, ever afterwards, he held the Master in high regard and had genuine devotion to him From that time on, he came very often to Dakshineswar for the purpose of enjoying the bliss of the Master’s divine company, sought his opinion on his own secret Sadhanas, which he confided to him. Sometimes, he took him by way of a trip to his fellow devotees treading the same path, so that they also might be acquainted with the Master and be blessed like himself. Mixing with them and knowing their lives and secret Sadhanas, the god-like Master, the picture of immaculate purity, got the opportunity to understand that, if one practises as Sadhana, actions blameworthy and condemnable in ordinary eyes, cherishing in one’s heart the sure conviction that one is doing it for the realization of the divine Lord, one, instead of meeting with downfall on this account, becomes gradually fit for renunciation and self-control, goes forward on the path of religion and attains devotion to God. But, when at first he heard of those practices and saw a little of them with his own eyes, there arose in his mind, we were told many a time by the Master himself, such ideas as, “These people talk tall; why do they at the same time indulge in such low practices?” And again, we were told by the Master himself that he changed his opinion at last, for he saw that those amongst them who were sincere and had faith in God made spiritual progress. In order to remove our hatred for the followers of those paths, the Master expressed to us his conviction about them thus: “Ah, why should you indulge in hatred? Know that that is also one of the paths, but a dirty one. Just as there are several doors — the main gate, the back door and the one for the sweeper to enter the house in order to clean the dirt there — leading into the house, so know that this is also a path. Through whatever door people may enter the house, they reach the goal all right. Still, are you to act like them or mix with them? No, but you must keep your heart clean of all hatred for them.”
Does the human mind full of worldly desires adopt the path of renunciation easily? Does it easily go forward to call on God with purity and sincerity, and realize Him? It wants voluntarily to cling to some impurity in purity; although it renounces lust and gold, it is pleased with whatever smells of them. The books on the method of performing worship enjoin that one should take endless pains to worship the divine Mother in a pure way and the next moment prescribe the singing of hideous, lustful songs for Her satisfaction. This is not something to be wondered at or condemned. This only clearly shows what an adamantine chain of lust and gold the weak human mind is bound with, under the powerful influence of Mahamaya, the ruler of innumerable universes. It becomes clear that it is impossible for a Jiva to attain liberation if She does not remove this bondage by Her grace. It becomes clear that the path along which She is helping a particular person to go forward towards liberation is beyond human understanding. And when we minutely know and detect the thoughts of our minds and study the mystery of the Master’s wonderful life in comparison with them, it becomes abundantly clear that he is a person above all others and beyond humanity, the like of whom was never seen before, and that out of his own accord or in play or out of compassion for us, he sojourned in this sordid world of ours for some time and lived a life like that of a king of kings in the eyes of knowledge, though, to superficial eyes it appeared humbler than the humblest and lowlier than the lowliest.
In the Karma Kanda, the “work” portion of the Veda, full of the descriptions of sacrifices, oblations etc., that were performed in the Vedic age, Bhoga, the enjoyment of the worldly objects was combined with Yoga. The contemplation on the supreme Spirit and the attainment, through worship of the gods, of the restrained enjoyment of worldly objects of sight, taste, etc., were ascertained to be the aim of human life. When the human mind became freed from desires to some extent by continued observance of those Vedic actions, it worshipped God with the pure devotion spoken of in the Upanishads and had the purpose of its life fulfilled. But in the Buddhistic age, the attempt was totally different. All the worldly people whose hearts were burning with desires of worldly enjoyments, were taught without any distinction the worship of a pure nature, suited for the desire-less dwellers of the forest. The then political machinery of the State also helped that attempt of the Buddhist monks. The Vedic sacrifices, oblations, etc., allowed the human mind treading the path of enjoyment to have controlled worldly pleasures and thus to try to bring it gradually to the path of Yoga, of renunciation. But when they were outwardly destroyed by the preaching of the Buddhist monks, they reappeared in the forms of secret Tantric Sadhahas, practised at the dead of night in places like the burning grounds of the dead, full of terror and devoid of human beings. Seeing the Vedic sacrifices etc., becoming ineffective and obsolete,3 the great Yogi, Maheswara, the Tantras say, infused life into them and revealed them in different forms in the Tantras. There is indeed a great truth hidden in this tradition, for, in the Tantras, as in the portions of the Vedas dealing with sacrifices etc., a union of Bhoga, worldly enjoyment, with Yoga, spiritual contemplation, is distinctly perceptible. But while these Vedic Karmas were separate from the non-dual knowledge of the Upanishads, each Tantric rite or ceremony is, it is seen, intimately associated with that supreme knowledge. For example, when you sit to worship a particular deity, first of all you are to think that you raise the Kundalini, the coiled Power, to the thousand-petalled lotus in the head and think of your existence in a non-dual state with Brahman. Then you are to think that you become separate from Him and assume the nature of a Jiva again, and that the light of Brahman becomes condensed, so to say, and manifests itself in the form of the deity to be worshipped. You bring the deity out from within you and begin to worship him. Ah, what a fine method is this attempt at meditation, becoming one with God in love, which is the true aim of human life! Of course, it is perhaps only one advanced worshipper among a thousand, who can properly perform this action; but all make at least an attempt, more or less, to do so, which is of immense benefit to them for, it is by continually doing so that they will gradually advance. Mixed thus with every Tantric action, the idea of non-dual knowledge reminds the aspirant of his ultimate aim. Herein lies the novelty of the Tantric disciplines, as distinguished from the Vedic rituals; and it is for this reason that it has such a great hold over the people of India in general.
Another novelty of the Tantras is the preaching of the Motherhood of Mahamaya, the Cause of the universe, as a result of which a pure, sacred mental attitude towards every feminine form is induced. Examine, scan the Vedas and Puranas, you will not meet with this idea anywhere in them It is a peculiarity of the Tantras. The rudiments of the worship of the female body are met with in the Samhita portion of the Vedas. They especially prescribed that it should be looked upon as pure and that at the time of marriage gods should be worshipped in it by the Mantras such as “Conceive, O One (Uma) possessing the white crescent of the moon”, so that the bride might conceive a beautiful child, full of vitality. But, let no one think on this account that the worship of the male and female bodies was prevalent in India from the Vedic times. History has proved that this worship in a gross form was at first extant among the Sumers of Babylon and the cognate Dravidians. Just as, on the one hand, the Tantra of India united in each of its ceremonies the spirit of the “work” and “knowledge” portions of the Vedas, so, on the other hand, knowing that the spiritual progress of a certain class of people with peculiar tendencies would be easy through the worship of the female form, it reverted to a great extent to a gross form of the worship of that female body and, uniting with it the high spiritual ideal of the above-mentioned worship of the Vedic period, developed it fully. The Tantra thus made that worship also a part of itself. The Tantric Virachara, the hero-mode of worship, seems to have originated in this way. The Kula teachers, the authors of the Tantras, rightly understood that men, ever eager to enjoy pleasures, could not forgo the gross sights, tastes, etc., altogether, but, if they could somehow generate in those persons a genuine reverence for the objects of enjoyment, they were certain to develop, on the strength of that reverence, spiritual qualities like self-control etc., in course of time, though they might indulge for some time in the pleasures thereof — may be to some excess in rare cases. That was why they preached: The bodies of women are veritable holy places of pilgrimage; one should give up looking upon women as human beings and always regard them as the Devi Herself. Knowing that it is a special manifestation of the Mother of the universe, one should always have devotion to, and reverence for, every female figure. One should sip a little of the water in which she has dipped her toe. One should not condemn a woman or beat her even through inadvertence. We read:
‘In her (a woman’s body), O great Lady, there exist all the places of pilgrimage.’ — Ch. 14, Purascharanollasa Tantra
‘A man who looks upon woman as a human being, O Thou of the best countenance, can have no perfection though he may repeat Mantras; he meets with the contrary result.’ — Ch. 2, Uttara Tantra
‘A man who drinks with devotion a little of the water into which a woman has dipped her toe or eats the leavings of the food in her plate, is sure to have uninterrupted success.’ — Nigama-kalpadruma
‘Women are the gods, they are sacred and they are the ornaments of society. One should never hate, condemn or beat them.’ — Ch. 5, Mundamala Tantra
But of what avail were all these? Eventually there came a time for the Tantric Sadhakas when they gave up the ideal of realizing the knowledge of God and applied their minds to the attainment of miraculous powers. It was during this period that various kinds of unnatural Sadhanas and the worship of ghosts, ghouls, etc., entered into the body of the Tantra and converted it into its present form. This is why two broad strata, the good and the bad, the high and the low, are met with in each Tantra. Sadhanas of the lowest stratum are seen inserted into the worship of the highest. And every one now selects from the Tantras that kind of Sadhana which suits his own nature.
There appeared another change in the Tantric Sadhana on the advent of Sri Chaitanya. Thinking that the spread of dualism among the masses would be beneficial, he and the Vaishnava teachers after him propagated among them the Tantric Mantras and outward worship only, leaving out, to a great extent, the Tantric practices leading to the attitude of non-duality. They also introduced a novel method into the above worship. They taught that the deity, the object of worship, should be served by one as one wished oneself to be served. The Tantric deities purify by mere sight the fruits, roots and other food offered to them by the worshippers. The general belief is that these offered articles, taken by the aspirants, increase their spiritual inclination instead of their animal propensities of lust, anger, etc. According to the process newly started by the Vaishnava teachers, on the other hand, the belief gained currency that the deities took subtle parts of those offerings, and sometimes they took even gross parts in accordance with the ardour or importunate eagerness of the devotee. Many other changes were also introduced by the Vaishnava teachers into the process of their worship. Chief amongst them seems to be that they established, as far as possible, the pre-eminence of the Tantric mode of worship, called “Paswachara”4 and favoured external cleanliness. They preached to the people in general that by remaining absolutely clean in thought, word and deed, and knowing that the name itself was Brahman, Jivas would attain the beatific vision, through the constant repetition of the name of the divine Lord according to the precept, “Success is achieved through Japa, Japa and Japa alone!”
But their effort was all in vain. Very shortly after they had passed away, the human mind, full of desires, introduced impure ideas into the pure process of worship founded by them. Man discarded the subtle ideas, and took only the gross objects. Instead of cultivating the heart-felt attraction which a woman has for her paramour, and directing it towards God, he went the length of taking a mistress himself. Thus he introduced Bhoga, worldly enjoyment, into the pure process of Yoga, union with God, and brought it down to the level of his natural inclination to a certain extent. And what else can he do? For, he is unable to live such a pure life. It is only a combination of Yoga and Bhoga, that he can assimilate. He wants to realize spirituality, but simultaneously covets a little of the enjoyments of sight, taste, etc. And this was why there arose, in the Vaishnava community, worship and secret Sadhana according to the doctrines of the Kartabhajas, Auls, Bauls, Darvesas, Sains, and so on. Therefore, at the root of all these is seen the current of the very ancient Vedic Karmas, that combination of Yoga and Bhoga. Along with it a tendency to combine each action with the non-dual knowledge, a process founded by the Tantric Kula teachers is also seen.
The reader will easily understand what we said above, if we mention here the ideas of the Kartabhaja and similar other communities regarding God, liberation, self-control, renunciation, love, etc. Speaking of these communities, the Master told us many things at different times. They are recorded in verses in a simple language. The reader will realize, when he hears them, how far those verses help the ordinary people in understanding the ideas conveyed by those terms. The people of these communities call God “Aleklata” It is superfluous to say that the word “Alek” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Alakshya” the unknown and unknowable. This Alek enters into the mind of pure man, in other words, It manifests Itself through it as Karta, the spiritual teacher. On such a teacher they bestow the title of Sahaj, the man whose natural tendencies lead Godward. The community is called Kartabhaja, worshipper of the spiritual Teacher, because it is only a human being, truly inspired by the mood of the spiritual teacher, that is regarded by them as the object of worship. About the real nature of Aleklata, and Its influence on a pure heart, they say:
“It comes imperceptibly and goes
Nobody can see the Alek.
One, who has known It, br>Is the object of worship in the three worlds.”
The sign of a Sahaj man is that he always remains “intact”; in other words, he does not lose his serenity on account of lust even if he be always in the company of women. They say about him:
“He lives with women but never indulges in sexual satisfaction.”
If an aspirant does not live unattached in the world of lust and gold he cannot advance spiritually. They, therefore, teach him,
“Be a cook, and distribute the curry but
do not touch the
Make the frog dance in the mouth of the snake, but let not
the snake swallow it.
Bathe in the sea of ambrosia but do not let your hair be wet.”
Just as in the Tantra the Sadhakas have been divided into three classes, the “animal”, the “heroic” and the “divine”, so there are high and low classes of Sadhakas amongst the Kartabhajas. They speak of four classes, the Auls, Bauls, Darvesas and Sains, and they say that there is none higher than a Sain. The Master said, “All of them worship the formless aspect of God.” He used also to sing often a few songs of this community for us. Take, for example, the song:
“Dive, O my mind, dive into the sea of
You will realize the treasure, the gem of love, when you will make
a search in the deepest world of your heart.
Search, search over and over again, and you will realize
Vrindavan in your heart.
The lamp of knowledge will constantly burn, brightly
illumining your heart.
Who is he, who conducts the boat so easily on land?
Kavir says, ‘Listen attentively; meditate on the holy feet of the Guru’.”
Thus to worship the Guru and remain engaged in congregational devotional exercises are their chief Sadhanas. Although they do not disapprove the worship of the image, forms, etc., of deities, they generally do not worship them. The worship of the Guru in India is very ancient; it seems to have been prevalent from the age of the Upanishads. For, we read in the Upanishads, “Let the Acharya be your God.”5 It appears that the worship of deities was not at all in vogue at that time. One is astonished to see how many forms that worship of the Guru assumed in India, in course of time.
Besides, the aspirants have to undergo various religious exercises in order to renounce from their minds the consciousness of difference such as “clean and unclean”, “good and bad”, and so on. The Master said, “The aspirants receive instructions regarding those exercises coming down from Guru to disciple.” He would now and again mention a little of those also.
The Master was ever and again heard to say, “The Vedas and the Puranas should be heard by the ear; but the disciplines prescribed by the Tantras should be actually performed and carried into practice.” It is seen too almost everywhere in India, that the followers of the Smritis practise one or other of the Tantric disciplines. Big scholars of the Nyaya and the Vedanta are, it is observed, Tantric in practice. Learned scholars of the Vaishnava communities, well versed in devotional scriptures like the Bhagavata, are also seen to follow the secret Sadhanas of the communities like the Kartabhajas. Pandit Vaishnavacharan was one of them. He was intimately connected with their secret congregation at Kachhibagan, a few miles north of Calcutta. Many men and women of the said community lived there and were engaged in Sadhana under his instruction. Vaishnavacharan took the Master there on a few occasions. Noticing that the Master was always perfectly unaffected by lust and seeing that on account of the love of God, he entered into ecstasy, which they had never seen before, a few women of that place tried, we were told, to test him in order to know whether he had completely conquered his passions. As a result, they paid him the respect due to one who was “intact”, and naturally disposed towards God. The ingenuous Master, of course, had gone on a trip there with Vaishnavacharan at his request without suspecting anything. He did not know at all that they would test him that way. Be that as it may, he never went there again, afterwards.
When Vaishnavacharan saw the wonderful strength of the Master’s character, his purity and ecstasy, his devotion to and reverence for him increased so much, day by day, that he never hesitated at last to admit, in the presence of all, that the Master was an incarnation of God.
Scarcely had Vaishnavacharan paid a few visits to the Master in a short time, when Pandit Gauri of Indes came to Dakshineswar. He was an eminent Tantric Sadhaka. As soon as he reached the Dakshineswar temple, an amusing event happened in connection with him. We heard of it from the Master. He said that Gauri had a miraculous power acquired through his austerities. Whenever he was invited to a scriptural controversy, he used to utter loudly a few times the line, “Whom else shall I, helpless one, have for a refuge, but Thee, O Mother of the pot-bellied Ganesh,” preceded by the syllables “ha, re, re, re,” evoking heroic sentiment, before entering the house and the place of the meeting. The Master said, “The hearts of all were startled with an indescribable fright when they heard from his mouth those syllables, expressive of the heroic mood, and that quarter of a stanza from the hymn to the Devi by the Acharya Sankara uttered in a voice deep and sonorous like the rumbling of a cloud. Two results were achieved by this. Firstly, by virtue of that sound, the power in Gauri became fully awakened; and, secondly, he stole away the strength of the adversaries by startling and charming them with it. Loudly uttering that sound and slapping his left arm, like wrestlers, with the palm of his right, Gauri entered the meeting and sat down with his legs folded and his knees joined together in front and the feet behind, in the fashion of the courtiers of the emperors of Delhi, and engaged himself in the controversy.” The Master said that it was then impossible for anyone to defeat Gauri.
The Master had not known of that power of Gauri. But, as soon as he entered the Dakshineswar Kali temple and uttered loudly the syllables “ha, re, re, re,” some one, as it were, within the Master, pushed him up and made him utter those words more loudly than Gauri. Hearing those syllables from the mouth of the Master, Gauri uttered them still more loudly. Excited at that, the Master uttered “ha, re, re, re”, far mors loudly than he. The Master used to say smilingly that a terrible noise arose, like the din made during inroads by dacoits, on account of the louder and yet louder utterances of those syllables on both sides. With sticks, cudgels etc., the gate-keepers of the Kali temple ran from wherever they were, hurriedly, towards the place of the noise. All others were beside themselves with fear. That apart, Gauri could not at last utter those words more loudly than the Master and was silenced and, as if in a somewhat dejected mood, slowly entered the Kali temple. On knowing that the Master and the newly arrived Pandit were raising all that din, all went away roaring with laughter. The Master said, “The divine Mother afterwards told me that the power with which Gauri stole away the powers of others, himself remaining unconquerable, was exposed here and lost to him for ever. Mother attracted that power ‘here’ (into the Master) for his good.” And it was seen that, day by day, Gauri was actually charmed by the ideal of the Master and became completely obedient to him.
Pandit Gauri was, we have already said, a Tantric Sadhaka. At the time of the worship of Durga every year, Gauri, we were told by the Master, made all the preparations for the worship of the Mother of the universe, adorned his wife with dress and ornaments, seated her on a wooden seat decorated with Alimpana and, for three days, devoutly worshipped her as the divine Mother Herself. The Tantra teaches that all the female figures are the forms of the Mother of the universe and that there is a great manifestation in them of the divine Mother’s power of maintaining and gladdening the Jivas. Man, therefore, should worship in a pure manner all female figures without exception. Forgetting that the divine Mother Herself stands veiled in female figures, and looking upon female bodies with a feeling of lust, as if they were objects of enjoyment only, one insults the Mother of the universe Herself and consequently meets with endless ruin. In the Chandi (11.6.) the gods recite the hymn to the Devi:
“Vidyah samastastava Devi bhedah,
Striyah samastah sakala jagatsu.
Ka te stutih stavya paraparoktih.”
“O Devi, Thou art of the nature of pure Consciousness. Again Thou art manifested as all the various sciences, high and low, from which endless kinds of conceptual knowledge arise. Thou existest as all the female figures of the world. Thou alone pervadest the whole universe and art present everywhere in it. Thou art incomparable and beyond words; who has ever been or will be able to describe Thy numberless noble qualities by reciting a hymn to Thee?”
Many of us read this hymn daily in India; but, alas, how few of us, try to look upon the female figure as the Devi Herself, pay it the due respect even for a few moments and thus feel pure joy in our hearts and feel blessed? How few are those who do not look with a vile mind and an impure eye upon female figures, the vehicles of the divine Mother’s especial manifestation, and do not insult the Mother of the universe, hundreds of times every day? O, India, you are in this present miserable condition only because you insult female forms with your bestial attitude and have forgotten to serve Jiva as Siva. The Mother of the universe alone knows when She will have compassion on you and remove that bestial mood of yours.
We have heard from the Master himself of another wonderful power of Pandit Gauri. The eminent Tantric Sadhakas perform Homa at the end of the daily worship of the universal Mother. Gauri also performed it on many occasions, if not daily. But the process of his Homa was very strange. He did not perform it like others who make an altar on the ground by means of lumps of earth or sand, arrange pieces of wood on it, and then kindle fire and offer oblations. He stretched his own left arm in the air and placed on it one Maund (about 82 lbs.) of wood at a time, lighted it and offered oblations into it with his right hand. It is not a little time that Homa takes. So, it appears to us to be quite impossible for one to sustain the heavy weight of one Maund of wood on the arm stretched in the air and keep the mind calm and devoutly offer oblations in the prescribed way for so long a time, bearing the heat of the fire on the arm all the while. That is why many of us could not at first believe in the feat, even when we heard of it from the Master himself. The Master understood it and said, “Ah! I saw him do it with my own eyes; that was also one of his miraculous powers.”
Mathur Babu invited a few scholarly aspirants like Vaishnavacharan and convened a meeting a few days after Gauri had come to Dakshineswar. The purpose of the meeting was a discussion between the newly arrived Pandit Gauri and other scholars on scriptural evidence in order to ascertain as before, the spiritual condition of the Master. It was convened in the morning in the music hall in front the temple of the Mother Kali. Seeing that Vaishnavacharan was late in coming from Calcutta, the Master started for the place of the meeting with Gauri. Before entering the meeting, he went into the temple of the divine Mother Kali, saluted Her with devotion and worshipped Her feet. As soon as he came out of the temple staggering in Bhavasamadhi, he saw Vaishnavacharan fall at his feet and salute him No sooner had the Master, inspired by spiritual emotion and love of God, seen him than he went into Samadhi and sat on Vaishnavacharan’s shoulders. The latter felt blessed and was beside himself with joy. He composed extempore and recited a hymn to the Master in Sanskrit. Seeing that gracious and bright form of the Master in Samadhi, and hearing that graceful recital of the hymn by Vaishnavacharan with his heart over-flowing with joy, Mathur and the others present were standing motionless on all sides with their eyes steadfast and hearts filled with devotion. The Master’s Samadhi came to an end shortly afterwards, when all went along slowly with him and sat down in the place of the meeting.
Now began the proceedings of the meeting. But, Gauri, first of all said suddenly, “As he (the Master) has bestowed so much grace on the Pandit, I will not enter into a discussion with him today. Even if I did, I am sure to be defeated, for he is armed with divine grace today. Moreover, I find he is a person holding the same opinion as I do; his conviction about the Master is the same as mine. A discussion is, therefore, useless in this case.” The meeting came to an end after a little scriptural conversation on other topics.
It was not a fact that Gauri was afraid of the scholarship of Vaishnavacharan and so refrained from a controversy with him Seeing the way of life of the Master and his characteristics, he, with the help of his keen insight produced by his Tapas, felt in his heart of hearts, even in that short period of his stay there, that the Master was not an ordinary man but a great soul. For, some time afterwards, the Master said to him with a view to testing his mind, “Look here, Vaishnavacharan calls this (himself) an incarnation of God; can that be so? Please tell me what you think.”
Gauri replied seriously, “Does Vaishnavacharan call you an incarnation? I should consider his estimate very low. My conviction is that you are He, from whose parts incarnations come down to the world from age to age to do good to humanity and with whose power they accomplish that work of theirs.” The Master said with a smile, “Ah, you go even beyond him! Will you tell me what you see in me?” Gauri said, “I say so on the evidence of the scriptures and from my own experience. If anyone takes up the opposite view and controverts me, I am ready to prove my conviction.”
The Master said like a boy, “You say so many things; who knows what it is? I don’t know anything at all.”
Gauri replied, “Quite right. The scriptures also say, ‘Thou dost not know Thyself.’ So, please say how others can know you. If you have compassion on any body and let him know the truth, then he can know it.”
The Master smiled on hearing the words of faith of the Pandit. Gauri’s attraction for the Master grew with days. In the Master’s divine company, the Pandit’s knowledge of the scriptures and the result of his Sadhana were drawing towards completion and were manifested as intense detachment from the world. He was daily losing his relish for scholarship, honour, miraculous powers, etc., and his mind was withdrawing itself to the lotus feet of God. Gauri had now no more that pride of scholarship, that love for argumentation, that arrogance — all vanished altogether. He now understood that he had spent his precious time so long in vain without making the utmost efforts to realize the lotus feet of the divine Lord. Time should no more be wasted that way. He formed the firm resolve in his mind that he should renounce his all and depending entirely on God with a heart full of devotion, should spend the few days of his life in eagerly calling on Him, so that he might have His grace and vision.
Gauri thus spent day after day and month after month in the blessed company of the Master and in the meditation of God. As he was for a long time away from home, the members of the Pandit’s family — his wife, son and others — wrote letters to him again and again. For, they had some inkling from people that he mixed with a certain holy mad man at Dakshineswar and that his mind was becoming indifferent to the world.
The thought that they might come to Dakshineswar and drag him into the worldly life again, gradually grew strong in the mind of the Pandit. This was evident from the trend of the letters he received from them After a great deal of anxious thought, Gauri discovered a way out. Knowing that an auspicious moment had arrived, he bowed down at the holy feet of the Master and asked leave of him with tears in his eyes. The Master said, “What is that, Gauri? Why do you want to leave suddenly? Where will you go?”
Gauri replied with folded hands, “Bless me, so that I may have my desire fulfilled. I’ll not return before I realize God.” Since then the world has never heard of Pandit Gauri, in spite of a great deal of search.
The Master mentioned to us, many a time, various incidents from the lives of Vaishnavacharan and Gauri. Again, sometimes in the course of discussing some topic, he would tell us what opinion they had expressed on it. One day while he was giving instruction to a devout aspirant, the Master, we remember, said to him, “When one actually sees his chosen Ideal in man, one realizes the divine Lord. Vaishnavacharan used to say, ‘When one has faith in the Lila of God as man, one acquires perfect knowledge’.”
Noticing in one of the devotees the pernicious idea of discrimination between Kali and Krishna, the Master once said to him, “What is this mean idea? Know that it is your chosen Ideal that has become Kali, Krishna, Gaur and all others. But, do I ask you, on that account, to give up your own chosen Ideal and worship Gaur? No, not that. But give up the attitude of hatred. Hold on firmly to the belief that your chosen Ideal has become Krishna, Gaur and so on. Don’t you see that a daughter-inlaw of a household goes to her father-in-law’s house, serves and pays respect to every one — father-in-law, mother-in-law, the husband’s sisters, his younger and elder brothers and others, according to her relationship with them; but she shares her bed and thoughts with her husband alone. She knows that it is through the husband that all others of the household are her own. So it is with your chosen Ideal. And know further that it is on account of your relation with the chosen Ideal alone that you are related with the other forms of His, and you should have devotion to and reverence for them Know this and drive away hatred. Gauri used to say, ‘When Kali and Gauranga are known as the same, I shall know that true knowledge has come’.”
Again, observing that the mind of some devotee could not become calm on account of a great attachment to some one in the family, the Master advised him to serve and love that object of his love as a form of the divine Lord. We told the reader before6 how he advised a woman devotee who was very much attached to a young nephew of hers, to serve and love that child as the boy Krishna, and how, as the result of that practice, she attained Bhavasamadhi in a short time. While he was teaching that one should have reverence for and devotion to the object of one’s love, as God, the Master sometimes quoted Vaishnavacharan on that subject and said, “Vaishnavacharan used to say that if any one could look upon the object of his love as his chosen Ideal, his mind would soon turn to the divine Lord.” Saying so, he would forthwith explain it: “He used to advise the women of his own community to do so. It was therefore not blameworthy; for, have they not got the mental attitude of a paramour? They wanted to attribute to themselves that attraction for God which a woman feels in her mind for her paramour.” The Master, however, said that it was not a thing to be taught to the general public, for, he said, “It would increase adultery.” But he did not disapprove of one’s loving and serving one’s husband, son or some other relation as a form of God. He, it is known to us, taught many of the devotees who took refuge at his lotus feet to do so.
On a little thought, it becomes clear that this is not a novel, unscriptural doctrine. The Rishi, the author of the Upanishad,7 teaches in the conversation between Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi, “The husband becomes dear to the wife only because the divine Lord is in the husband. The mind of the husband is attracted towards the wife only because He is in the wife.” The Rishis of India, the authors of the Upanishads, have been thus teaching us, for ages, to look upon all those things and persons of the world — the Brahmin, the Kshatriya, wealth, etc., that give rise in us to the idea of their being something precious, and attract our minds towards them, as part of the divine Lord, who is of the nature of Love and Bliss, and to love them accordingly. When Narada, the divine Rishi and author of the aphorisms on devotion, and other teachers of devotion teach Jivas to turn the deadly enemies of man, the passions of lust, anger, etc., towards God and ask them to have recourse to the devotional attitude of a friend, a mother, or a sweet-heart towards the Lord, they but follow in the footsteps of the more ancient Rishis, the authors of the Upanishads. The Master’s opinion, therefore, on this matter is clearly scriptural.
It is needless to explain in so many words that the great souls who are the incarnations of God bring to the religious world the gospel of a new path, quite in keeping with the authority of the ancient scriptures and in no way contrary to their doctrines. This can be understood by studying the life of any one of the incarnations of God. It has all along been our endeavour in this book to explain to the reader this fact in the life of Sri Ramakrishna, the prophet of the modern age. We meet, at every turn, with the same reverential attitude towards the scriptures. But, if we fail to do so, let the reader know that it is due to the defects of our narrow intellect, and not to any shortcoming of the Master, whose discovery of the new great spiritual truth “As many faiths, so many paths” has charmed the world. Not only the Vedantic non-dualism etc., but all those doctrines which we call the vile Kartabhaja etc., and at which we turn up our nose in imitation of the clever worldly West — who use one standard to judge the actions of other individuals and nations and, cleverly setting it aside, adopt another to examine their own methods and actions — all were accorded by the Master, the god-man, a respectable position as genuine paths to the realization of the divine Lord and prescribed for persons according to their particular inclinations and capabilities. Urged by hatred, many of us asked the Master on many occasions, “Sir, how is it that such a high-class aspirant as the Brahmani used to practise Sadhana with the five M’s8?” Or we used to put the question, “Is it not wrong that a devotee of such a high calibre as the learned Vaishnavacharan did not refrain from taking a paramour as auxiliary to his Sadhana?”
The Master replied over and over again, “Oh, no, they did not incur any blame by it! They believed whole-heartedly that it was a path to the realization of God. One should not condemn any method practised by a person who genuinely believes in his heart of hearts that it will enable him to realize God. The spiritual attitude of no one should be interfered with. For, if one rightly grasps any attitude, through it alone one can realize the divine Lord, who is the embodiment of all attitudes. Stick to your own attitude and continue calling on Him. But never condemn anybody’s attitude nor try to make another’s attitude your own.” Saying so, the ever-blissful Master would begin forthwith to sing now and again:
“Remain, O mind, in yourself, do not go to
any one else’s place.
If you make a search in your heart, you will get without any
effort whatever you want.
That philosopher’s stone, the supreme treasure, can give whatever
you ask for!
How many are the gems lying scattered at the backdoor of that
Do not, O mind, become restless to take painful journeys to places
Why don’t you joyfully bathe and cool yourself in the confluence
of the three streams9 at the basic centre10?
What do you behold, O Kamalakanta11? All is un real magic in
You do not recognize the magician who dwells in this body.”