Whenever, O descendant of Bharata, religion declines and irreligion prevails I assume a body. I am born in every age for the protection of the good, the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of religion.
— Gita IV 6-7-8
The Vedas and other Sastras say that the knowers of Brahman become all-knowing. Unlike in ordinary men, no false thought ever arises in their minds. Whenever they want to know and understand anything, it becomes immediately clear to their inward vision, in other words, they can understand the truth about it. When we heard those words, we took the position of the opponent and raised many false arguments against the scriptures without understanding the import of what they said. We said, “If that were true, why were the knowers of Brahman of the past ages of India so ignorant of the physical sciences? What knower of Brahman of India said that Hydrogen and Oxygen combined to produce water? Why did they not tell us that news from America, a continent which one required six months to reach, could be received in not more than four or five hours in this country with the help of electricity? Or, why could they not know that man can fly like birds in the air with the help of machines?”
When we came to the Master we were told that, if we tried to understand those words of the scriptures in that way, they would give us no meaning at all. But, they would be known as true, if we should give them the meaning they were meant to express by the scriptures. The Master explained that statement with the help of one or two examples from rustic life. He said, “When rice is being boiled in a pot, if you take one grain from it and press it between your fingers, you at once know whether all the grains in it are boiled soft or not. Why? You have not surely pressed all the grains one by one. How do you then understand it? Just as this is understood, so, by examining one or two things of the world, it is understood, whether the whole universe is eternal or transitory, real or unreal. A man is born, lives for some time and then dies; a cow also does so; a tree too behaves in the same way; by examining things in this way you come to the conclusion that whatever has name and form follows this law. The earth, the sun, the moon, etc., have names and forms; they, therefore, are of the same nature. Thus, you come to know that the whole of the universe is similar. You then know the nature of all the things of the world. Is that not so? Thus, as soon as you know that the world is truly transitory and unreal, you will cease to love it; you will give it up from your mind and will be free from desires. You will have the realization of God, the cause of the universe, the very moment you dismiss it. Is he anything less than all-knowing, who realizes God this way?”
When the Master spoke these words, we felt, “This is indeed true; the man who knows this, is allknowing in a way. To see the origin of a particular thing, its middle and end is indeed what we call knowledge of that thing. So, to know or understand the universe in this way must be called knowledge of it. Again, this is equally true of the knowledge of all the particular things in the universe. Therefore, such knowledge of the universe must be regarded as that of all the things in it. So, the person who has that knowledge may really be called all-knowing. What the scriptures have said is, therefore, quite true.”
We could then find a sort of meaning in the scriptural passage, “All the resolves of a knower of Brahman come true, are fulfilled.” We realized as a matter of daily experience that the knowledge of a thing was acquired by an inquiry about it with our concentrated power of thinking, It was, therefore, no wonder that whenever a knower of Brahman, who had completely mastered and controlled his mind, made an inquiry with all the powers of his concentrated mind in order to know anything, he could very easily acquire the knowledge of that thing. But, there is something else to be considered on this subject: whether he who has been perfectly convinced of the transitoriness of the whole of the universe and has succeeded, through love, in having an immediate knowledge of God, the cause of the universe and the mine of all powers, will have the resolve or inclination to invent railway trains, construct destructive machines and manufactories, and so on. If those resolves can, by no means, arise in his mind, those machines and manufactories cannot surely be constructed by him. From the divine company of the Master, it became clear to us that it was actually so. It is really impossible for such inclinations to arise in such minds. When the Master was suffering from the terrible disease at Kasipur, we, Swami Vivekananda ,and others, requested him with tears in our eyes to apply the power of his mind and cure himself for our good; but he could not make such an effort or resolve. He said that on trying to do so, he could not command a sufficiently strong urge for that resolve and added, “I could by no means make the mind turn away from Existence-Knowledge-Bliss and bring it to this cage of flesh and bones. I have always looked upon the body as a trifling and contemptible object, and offered the mind for ever at the lotus feet of the Mother of the universe; can I, my children, withdraw it from Her and bring it back to the body?”
It will be easy for the reader to understand the subject if we mention another event here. One day the Master came to Balaram Basu’s house at Baghbazar. It was about ten in the morning. It had been settled beforehand that the Master should go there that day. Some young devotees, Narendranath and others, therefore, came there to have the privilege of meeting him. They were having various talks, sometimes with the Master and sometimes among themselves. In connection with a talk on the faculty of seeing extremely small things, there arose a discussion on the microscope. Hearing that tiny things, invisible to the gross eye, could be seen through it, that a very tiny hair, seen through it, looked like a stick and that every hair on the body looked as hollow as a stem of a papaya leaf and so on, the Master expressed a boyish eagerness to see a thing or two through that instrument. The devotees, therefore, thought that they would borrow it from some one and show it to the Master that afternoon.
On inquiry it was known that Swami Premananda’s brother Dr. Vipinvehari Ghosh, our esteemed friend, who had passed with honours his medical examination shortly before, got a microscope as a prize from the Medical College, Calcutta. A man was sent to him to fetch that instrument so that it might be shown to the Master. Informed of it, the Doctor came with the instrument a few hours later, at about four in the afternoon. He set it properly and asked the Master to look through it.
The Master got up, went forward, but returned without looking through the microscope. When we asked for the reason, he said, “The mind is now in such a high plane that I can by no means bring it down.” We waited a long time to see if the Master’s mind would come down. But on no account did it come down that day from that high spiritual plane. Therefore, he could not see through the microscope on that occasion. Having no alternative left, Vipin Babu showed those things to some of us and went away with the instrument.
6. The Master saw all persons and things in two different ways, from two different planes of consciousness: the plane of non-dual consciousness and that of the ordinary one. The first is the plane of supersensuous vision and the second of the sensuousl. Ralph Waldo Emerson—“Consciousness ever moves along a graded plane.”
The higher the plane of consciousness to which the Master’s mind soared by giving up body-consciousness etc., the more extraordinary and celestial were the visions attained in those planes. And, as he was completely separated from the body when he ascended the highest plane of non-dual consciousness, his heart-beats and the functioning of the senses stopped for some time and the body lay like a corpse; all the modifications of his mind, such as thought, imagination, etc., came to a standstill and he dwelt in absolute Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. Again, gradually coming down from the highest plane to lower and lower ones, the Master, like all other people, had in his mind once more the idea “this body is mine”, and only then he saw with his eyes, heard with his ears, touched with his tactile sense, thought with his mind and so on.
7. Ordinary men see everything in the second way
An eminent philosopher1 of the West had a little indication of the human mind ascending to, and descending from, the plane of ecstasy and expressed the opinion that the consciousness within the human body does not always remain in the same state. This view, it is superfluous to say, is reasonable and approved by the seers of ancient India. But, as the ordinary man has not ascended to that highest non-dual plane of consciousness for an infinitely long time, he has altogether forgotten it and has acquired the firm opinion that knowledge can be had only through the senses. Free from anxiety, he has, therefore, been living in the sea of the world casting his anchor there, so to say. The Adhikarika persons, the teachers of the world, known as the incarnations of God, like the Master—the Vedas and the other Sastras teach us—are born from time to time in order to destroy this delusion by behaving in their own lives in a contrary way.
8. The example of the Master’s two kinds of vision
Anyway, it is now clear that in the eyes of the Master the things and persons of the world did not, as is the case with us, always seem to be those things and persons only, but that he always saw them as they looked when seen from higher and higher planes of consciousness. It was, therefore, impossible for him to have, like us, the one-sided opinion or mental attitude with respect to any object of the world. And this was why we could not understand his words and ideas though he could understand ours. We know a man, a cow and a mountain merely as such. He saw that a man, a cow and a mountain were indeed a man, a cow and a mountain; but at the same time he saw that the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, the cause of the universe, was gleaming through them The only difference was that its manifestation was more evident in certain things and less evident in others owing to their thinner or thicker veilings of man, cow or mountain. We, therefore, heard the Master say:
“I see as if all—trees, plants, man, cow, grass, water—are sheaths of different kinds. They are like pillow-cases. Have you not seen them? Some are made of coarse cotton cloth dyed red, some of chintz and others of other kinds of cloth; some are quadrangular, others are circular. The universe is just so. Again, just as the same thing, namely, cotton, is stuffed into all these pillow-cases, so, that one indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss dwells within all the sheaths—man, cow, grass, water, mountain, etc. My children, for me it is actually as if Mother has, covered Herself with wrappers of various kinds, assumed various forms and is peeping from within them all. I was in a state in which the universe seemed like that. Noticing that state of mine, people could not understand it, and came to console and soothe me. Ramlal’s mother and others began to weep; when I looked at them I saw that the Mother (showing the Kali temple) it was who had come and appeared so, dressed in various forms. I saw that queer guise and rolled with laughter, saying, ‘Thou hast nicely dressed up Thyself!’ One day I was sitting and meditating on Mother in the Kali temple; I could by no means bring the Mother’s form to my mind. What did I see then? She looked like the prostitute, Ramani, who used to come to bathe in the river, and she peeped from near the jar of worship.1 I saw it, laughed and said, ‘Thou hast the desire, O Mother, of becoming Ramani today. That is very good. Accept the worship today in this form.’ Acting thus, She made it clear that a prostitute also is She, there is nothing else except Her. On another occasion I was driving along Mechhobazar road, when I saw that She, dressed beautifully and with ornaments, braided hair and a small round mark in the middle of Her forehead, stood on the verandah—smoking tobacco from a hookah set in a socket and was enticing people in the form of a prostitute. In astonishment, I said, ‘Art Thou here, O Mother,, in this form?’ Saying so, I saluted Her.” We have completely forgotten to see things and persons thus from higher planes of consciousness. How can we, therefore, understand those experiences of the Master?
10. The Master’s senses, mind and intellect were keener than those of ordinary persons. Nonattachment to enjoyment and pleasure was the cause of it. A contrast between the actions of minds attached and unattached
Again, when the Master remained in the normal plane of body-consciousness like ourselves, his intellect and power of observation could detect many things and dive deeper than ours, inasmuch as even then he had not an iota of the desire for enjoyment and pleasure. The objects which satisfy the particular strong desire of each of us for attaining pleasure and enjoyment appear in bright colours before our eyes at all times and in every action of ours, eating, drinking, sitting, etc. Our minds, therefore, neglect the things and persons unfavourable to that desire and get attracted to a great extent towards the things mentioned above. We have, therefore, no opportunity of knowing the nature of the things and persons so neglected. We thus spend the whole of our lives in making or attempting to make certain things and persons our own. This is why people in general are seen to differ so greatly among themselves in the power of acquiring knowledge. Though all of us have the same senses, can we equally apply them to all objects and acquire equal knowledge? Therefore, those of us who have less selfishness and less desire for enjoyment than others can more easily acquire the knowledge of everything.
11. Examples of the keenness of the Master’s mind
It will not be out of place to give here one or two examples to show how strong the power of observation in the Master was, even when he was dwelling in the normal plane of consciousness. It is impossible to exaggerate how great an indication of his keen power of observation was noticed in the illustrations, metaphors, etc., generally used by him in explaining intricate spiritual truths. The Master used to reveal a glowing picture with the help of each of these and the hearer would understand that the solution of that intricate problem was possible.
Take for example the discussion on the intricate Sankhya philosophy that was going on. Speaking to us of the origination of the universe from Purusha and Prakriti, the Master said, “Purusha, it (Sankhya) says, is a non-doer, he does nothing; it is Prakriti that does everything; Purusha looks on all the doings of Prakriti as a witness; Prakriti also cannot do anything independently.” The audience were indeed sapient scholars—clerks, or accountants in offices, or, at most, doctors, pleaders, deputy magistrates, and boys of schools and colleges! Therefore, when they heard the Master say those words, they stared at one another’s face. Observing them, the Master continued, “Do you not remember a marriage house? Sitting and smoking tobacco from a hookah, the master has given orders and the mistress, obedient to them, is running hither and thither with patches of turmeric colour in her Sari, supervising everything to see whether this has been finished, whether that has been started and so on, welcoming all the lady guests, children and others and coming up to her husband from time to time to say to him with the movement of her head and hands, ‘This has been done this way, that, that way, this will have to be done, that will not be done.’ The master smokes and listens and gives his assent to everything, saying ‘yes, yes’ to whatever she says. It is just like that.” All laughed to hear the Master’s words and could also understand the exposition of the Sankhya philosophy.
(b) Brahman and Maya are one; the same snake, motionless and in motion.
Afterwards, perhaps, came up the topic of the Vedanta, “Brahman and Its Power, Purusha and Prakriti, are identical, that is, they are not two separate entities but one and the same thing appearing now as Purusha, now as Prakriti.” Seeing that we could not understand it, the Master said, “Do you know how this is? Take for example a snake, now in motion, now at rest. When it is lying motionless, it is compared to Purusha. Prakriti is then united with Purusha and has become one with It. And when the snake is in motion, Prakriti is, as it were, separated from Purusha and is working.” All understood from that picture what was meant, and thought, “Ah! Why could we not understand this simple thing?”
(c) Isvara is not bound by Maya; a snake has poison in its mouth but it does not die
On still another occasion, perhaps, there was raised the question, “Is Isvara bound by Maya like ourselves, inasmuch as Maya is His Power and exists in Him?” The Master heard it and said, “No, my children, though Maya belongs to Isvara and always exists in Him, He is never bound by it. Consider, whoever is bitten by a snake dies; poison is always there in the mouth of the snake; the snake always takes its food, gulps in saliva with that food but does not itself die. It is just like that.” All thought it was possible indeed.
When the Master dwelt in the normal state of consciousness, the nature of anything, these examples show, could not escape his keen observation. Even external nature could not keep concealed from his eyes the essential qualities of its changes, let alone human nature. We are, of course, not speaking of those changes of external nature, which can be detected and understood only with the help of instruments.
12. The Master saw exceptional changes in nature and was convinced that God changed His law
Another point to be noted in this connection is that those exceptional changes or manifestations of the external nature that do not generally attract the notice of people were first, as it were, to be the objects of the Master’s observation, when he remained in the normal plane of consciousness. The divine Mother placed at all times before the Master the uncommon manifestations of nature, the exceptions to the general law, as if to impress upon his mind the idea that all kinds of manifestations in the world owed their origin to the will of God; in other words, He was the direct controller of the wheels of the destinies of all things and persons in the world. From such events as the Master came across from his childhood, we get the clear meaning of his words, “The lord of laws can at will alter them and make new ones instead.” It will not be out of place here to mention a few such events.
13. Told of the lightning-conductor the Master related his experience: “Iightning struck a hut beside a three-storeyed house”
We were charmed to read in our college days a little of the discoveries of modern physics regarding the power of electricity. In our boyish liveliness, one day we raised that topic in the presence of the Master and were speaking various things to one another. Observing the repeated utterance of the word electricity, the Master expressed curiosity like a boy and asked, “Well, what are you talking about? What is the meaning of ‘electictic’?” We laughed to hear the Master’s pronunciation of that English word, like that of a boy. Afterwards we told him the general laws of electricity. We also told him of the utility of the lightning-conductor, that its height should be a little greater than that of the house, inasmuch as the highest point is struck by lightning, and so on. The Master listened attentively to all our words and said, “But, I saw a small shed beside a three-storeyed house, and the wretched power of the lightning, instead of striking the latter, struck the former. What have you got to say to this? Can all these things be conformably explained, my children? The law exists by the will of the universal Mother and gets reversed again by Her will.” We tried to explain to the Master the natural laws but, like Mathur Babu, could not find a suitable reply on that occasion. We told the Master that the lightning was attracted towards the three-storeyed house but it struck the shed because its course was suddenly deflected by an unknown cause. We continued to say that, although one or two exceptions were seen, lightning struck the highest points in thousands of other places, and so on. But the Master never accepted the statement that the events of nature took place according to inviolable laws. He said, “Let us take for granted that lightning behaves in thousands of places in the way you say, but, as there are a few exceptions, the law, it is clear, loses its uniformity.”
14. He saw a white china-rose flower on a red china-rose plant
There were, the botanists have recorded, exceptions to the production of white or red flowers in the case of plants that generally produce either of them only. But they are so uncommon that it is no exaggeration to say that an ordinary man has never seen them. Look at an event of the Master’s life. At the very time of the controversy between the Master and Mathur Babu on the proposition that laws of nature are not invariable but are changed by the will of God, an exception came to the notice of the Master and was shown to Mathur Babu.
Thus the Master saw a living stone1; he saw the coccyx of the human body elongate itself a little and shrink to its natural length afterwards; and he met with gods and ghosts. We heard of all these and of many more events of the Master’s life. In imitation of the West we have come to the conclusion that Nature, the creatrix of the world, is insentient and absolutely destitute of the power of intelligence. We, therefore, remain satisfied with calling those exceptional events natural aberrations and think that we have understood all the laws by which nature is regulated. The Master’s conviction was of a different nature. He was conscious that the whole of external and internal nature was nothing but the sport of the living universal Mother immediately known. He, therefore, looked upon these exceptional events as the productions of Her particular desires. It does not need to be stated that, on account of this conviction, the Master’s mind had much more peace and bliss than ours, if not anything else. We have mentioned a few such instances of the Master’s life before, and will do so later on.
The Master saw all things and persons from the two standpoints mentioned before and then came to a certain conclusion about them. He did not form any opinion like us, who make observations from the ordinary plane of consciousness only. Therefore, when he undertook travels to holy places and paid visits to holy men, he estimated their spiritual values in both these ways. It was by an observation from higher planes of consciousness that the Master knew how much of high spiritual power was concentrated in any particular place of pilgrimage, in other words, how much power a particular holy place had of helping man to ascend to those planes. The Master’s mind, destitute of the attachment to sights, tastes, and other objects, and always pure like those of the gods, was a wonderful detector and indicator of that subtle fact. As soon as the Master went to a place of pilgrimage or a temple, his mind ascended to a higher plane of consciousness and revealed to him the divine manifestation of that place or temple. It was from that high plane of consciousness that the Master saw Kasi golden, and could understand how a Jiva became freed from all bondage at death in Kasi. It was from the same high plane again, that he experienced a special manifestation of divine presence at Vrindavan and had the immediate knowledge of the existence of the subtle presence of Sri Gauranga at Navadwip down till today.
Sri Chaitanya was the first, it is said, to experience the manifestation of divine presence at Vrindavan. Before his advent, the holy places of pilgrimage at Vraja were almost forgotten. When he travelled in those places, his mind ascended to higher planes of consciousness and he experienced the particular divine manifestation of Sri Krishna in particular places, where, long ago, Bhagavan Sri Krishna had actually sported. His disciples, Rupa, Sanatana and others, at first, put their faith in those facts, which was successively handed down by them and their disciples to all the inhabitants of India. It is in this way that they have come to believe in those facts. We could not have at all understood the aforesaid manner of Sri Chaitanya’s discovery of Vrindavan and would not have at all entertained the idea of its possibility, had we not seen the power of the Master’s mind, of rightly detecting and understanding things and persons from higher planes of consciousness. And in spite of that, how little have we believed in those facts? Here are, however, a few examples of this.
Hriday, the Master’s nephew, belonged to the village of Sihar, not far from Kamarpukur. The Master, we have told the reader before, went there occasionally and spent some time before he returned to Dakshineswar. The Master was there on one occasion when there arose an altercation over some secular affairs between Hriday’s younger brother Rajaram and another person of the village. From words they gradually came to blows and Rajaram, happening to find a hookah near at hand, struck him on the head with it. The injured man sued Rajaram for assault. As the event happened in the presence of the Master and as the man knew him from before as honest and truthful, he cited him as a witness. The Master, therefore, had to come to Vana-Vishnupur to appear as a witness. Before he came there he scolded Rajaram very much for being thus blinded by anger and, when there, he said to him again, “Compound the case anyhow by giving him (the complainant) money; the case will otherwise go against you. I can by no means tell a lie. As soon as I am asked, I shall plainly say what I have seen and known.” Rajaram got frightened and set about compounding the case. The Master took that opportunity to go out and see the town of Vana-Vishnupur.
19. The condition of the town of Vana-Vishnupur
At one time that town was very prosperous. This becomes clear from the existence there of big ponds like Lalbandh, Krishnabandh, etc., of a great many temples, of the clean broad roads for the convenience of pedestrians, of the bazars full of shops, and of the ruins of numberless temples and residences of many people, and from the flowing in and out of many people for trade and business purposes. The princes of Vishnupur were once very religious and powerful and great patrons of learning. The town was formerly famous for the cultivation of music. The princely family became the followers of the Vaishnava cult, shortly after the passing away of Rupa, Sanatana and the other companions of Sri Chaitanya. The image of Sri Madanamohan, installed at Baghbazar, Calcutta, belonged formerly to the princes of this place. Once upon a time, Gokul Chandra Mitra, it is said, lent a large sum of money to the prince of that place. He became charmed on seeing that image. When the time for the repayment of the debt came, he, instead of receiving the money back, asked the prince the image and got it.
20. Sri Madanamohan and Mrinmayi
Besides Sri Madanamohan, there was a very ancient image named Mrinmayi installed by the princess. The goddess Mrinmayi, it was said, was a living presence, was very much “awakened”,1 as they called her. Once, when the house of the prince fell on evil times, that image was broken by a mad woman. The family, therefore, installed a new image in its stead.
After visiting all other temples, the Master was going to pay his obeisance to Mrinmayi. At one place on his way, he was in ecstasy and saw Mrinmayi’s face only. When he went to the temple and saw the newly installed image, he found that it was not similar to the image seen in his ecstasy. He could not at all understand the reason for the disparity. On inquiry, it was afterwards known that the new image was really dissimilar to the old one. While making the new image, the potter had actually formed the face in a different fashion in order to display his skill. The broken head of the old image was carefully kept by a Brahmin in his own house. Shortly after, that devout Brahmin had another image made to bear that head, and installed it in a beautiful spot near the pond, Lalbandh, and began to perform its daily worship and other services.
It is good to mention here a few examples of the Master’s power of detecting the aims and attitudes of people approaching him We have already mentioned that the Master loved the revered Swami Brahmananda as if he were his own son. One day the Swami was standing on the northern side of the long verandah to the east of the Master’s room and talking with him on various subjects. He saw a coach drawn by a pair of horses coming towards them from the direction of the gate of the garden. It was a phaeton and a few gentlemen were sitting in it. No sooner had he seen it, than he could know that it belonged to a well-known rich man of Calcutta. Many people from Calcutta then used to come to see the Master. He was, therefore, not astonished that they had also come for that purpose.
But as soon as the Master’s eyes fell on the phaeton, he shrank with fear, went in extreme hurry out of their sight into his own room, and sat down there. Surprised to see that attitude of the Master, Swami Brahmananda too followed him into the room. Scarcely had the Master seen him when he said, “Go, go. If they want to come here tell them I cannot see them now.” So charged by the Master, he came out again. In the meantime the new-comers approached him and asked, “Does not a Sadhu live here?” Swami Brahmananda mentioned the name of the Master and said “Yes, he lives here; why do you want to see him?” One of them said, “One of our relatives is seriously ill; he can by no means be brought round; the Sadhu might kindly give some medicine; that is why we have come.” Swami Brahmananda said, “You have been misinformed; he never gives any medicine to anyone; you may have heard of Brahmachari Durgananda; he indeed is there in the hut at the Panchavati. You will meet him there.”
When the new-comers had gone away, the Master said to Swami Brahmananda, “I saw such a great power of Tamas in them that I could not look at them, let alone talk to them I fled out of fear.” We found the Master thus daily understanding from a higher plane of consciousness the high or low manifestation of power in every place, thing and person. We came to believe in his words finding on repeated inquiry that such qualities, good or bad, as the Master mentioned, really existed in them We propose to mention here a few more such examples and then tell the reader what he experienced from the normal plane of consciousness in those places of pilgrimage.
The liberal-minded Swami Vivekananda used to feel pain from his childhood at others’ misery. He, therefore, always encouraged all his friends and relatives to do what-ever he had had done and benefited from Or, he would ask his benefactors to be similarly benevolent to his friends. This was the Swami’s habit with regard to education, religion and all other matters. We get an indication of the above-mentioned fact from his actions. When he reached his youth, he organized meetings and associations in various places for prayer, meditation, etc., with his fellow pupils on fixed days. During his college life, no sooner had he become acquainted with Maharshi Devendranath and the devout Kesav, the leaders of the Brahmo Samaj, than he took many of his friends to those personages.
Since the Swami had the sacred privilege of meeting the Master, and became acquainted with his extraordinary detachment, renunciation and love of God, it became, as it were, a religious vow in his life to take his friends and fellow pupils and introduce them to him. Because we say this, let no one think that the intelligent Swami brought to the Master anyone and everyone, to whom he was attracted during a short acquaintance only. He used to take to Dakshineswar only those whom, as the result of a long acquaintance, he knew to be possessed of good character and devoted to religion.
23. “One cannot become what one wishes to, even by making efforts”
The Swami thus took many of his friends to the Master then. But we were told, from time to time, by both the Master and the Swami, that the divine insight of the Master penetrated to their inner nature and arrived at different conclusions. The Swami said, “When I found that the Master did not bestow that kind of grace on them which he had done on me by accepting me and instructing me in spiritual matters, I used to ask him importunately to bestow it also on them On account of boyish flippancy I was ready on many occasions to argue with him I said, ‘Why, sir? God is indeed never so partial as to bestow His grace on some and not on others. Why should you then not accept them as you have done me? Is it not certain that one can attain spirituality and realize God if one wills and makes efforts, just as one can become a learned scholar if one puts forth an effort?’ The Master replied, ‘What can I do, my child? Mother shows me that there is the beastly mental attitude of a bull in them; they cannot realize spirituality in this life; what can I do? And what is it you say? Can anyone become in this life, what he wishes to, by merewill and effort?’ But, who lent an ear to the Master’s words then? I said, ‘What do you say, sir? Can’t one become what one wishes to, if one wills and makes efforts? Surely one can. I cannot believe what you say about it. ’ At that also the Master said the same thing, ‘Whether you believe it or not, Mother shows me that.’ I never accepted then what he said. But, as time passed on, more and more did I understand from experience that what the Master said was right and what I had thought was wrong.”
The Swami said that it was by testing and appraising him thus that he could gradually believe in all the words of the Master. It will not be out of place to narrate here another event as told by the Swami to show that he tested every action and behaviour of the Master. Having heard from the Swami about Pandit Sasadhar Tarkachudamani, the Master went to see him on the day of the Car festival of 1885. He gave the Pandit various instructions such as, “Those persons only who have got power direct from the Mother of the universe can truly become preachers of religion, the grandiloquence of other so-called preachers is in vain”, and so on and then asked for a glass of water to drink. We do not know whether the Master was thirsty and wanted water or had some other purpose. For, he told us on another occasion that harm came on a householder, if a Sadhu or a Sannyasin, a guest or a Fakir went to his house but returned without taking anything; when, therefore, he went to any house, he asked for something and ate it before he returned, even if the householder did not of his own accord offer anything or forgot to do so. Anyway, as soon as the Master asked for water, a person, with Tilaka, strings of beads and other emblems of religion on his body, respectfully brought a glass of water and gave it to the Master. But when the Master was about to drink it, he could not do so. Another man, who was beside him, saw it and threw away the water in the glass. Filling it then with water again, he brought the glass to the Master. The Master drank a little of it and bade good-bye to the Pandit for that day. Everyone thought that something had fallen into the water brought at first and that was why the Master had not drunk it.
The Swami said that he was sitting very near the Master then. He, therefore, saw clearly that there was neither a mote nor a bit of straw or any dirt in the water, yet the Master had refused to drink it. On pondering over the cause of it, the Swami thought the glass of water was perhaps polluted by “contactual impurity”. For, he had heard the Master say that his hand did not proceed but contracted after going a little forward to take any kind of food or drink brought by those in whom worldly-mindedness was viciously prevalent, who dishonestly earned money by cheating, robbery or doing harm to others in any other way, and who externally assumed the guise of religion, so that it might be of help to them in satisfying their lust and greed. He was also heard to say that he could know those things immediately.
The Swami said that as soon as that thought arose in his mind, he made a firm resolve to ascertain the truth of that matter and though requested by the Master himself to come with him on that occasion, the Swami helped him to the carriage, expressed his inability to come with him, and said that an urgent piece of business detained him there. As the Swami was already acquainted with the younger brother of the man with the emblems of religion on his person, he called him to a secluded place when the Master had left and began to put questions to him about the character of his elder brother. Questioned thus, he hesitated at first, but afterwards said, “How can I speak of the bad character of my elder brother?” and so on. The Swami said, “I could understand the truth from that. Later on I questioned another person of that household who was acquainted with me, and came to know everything. Freed from doubt then, I wondered how the Master could know people’s minds.”
If we want to know how, when dwelling in the normal plane of consciousness, the Master detected and understood the internal good and bad qualities of all things, we must first of all understand his mental constitution and then know the constant standard by which he judged all things and arrived at certain conclusions about them We have given the reader an indication of it in many places of this book. It will, therefore, suffice to make here only a brief mention of it. As the Master’s mind was not attached to any worldly thing, it became, we have seen, immediately united with, or separated from, anything he wanted to accept or reject. When separated from anything it never again cast a look behind even once during his life. Again, the Master’s extraordinary steadfastness, wonderful power of discrimination and perfect attention, gave him full control over his mind and kept it steady for any length of time on any object. They did not allow it for a moment to think of or imagine anything else. As soon as one part of it was ready to accept or reject anything, another part of it asked instantly, “Why are you going to do so?” If it got a reasonable answer to this question, it said, “It is very good. Do it by all means.” And the moment that conclusion was reached, the other part of the mind said at once, “Then stick to it firmly; you must never act contrary to it, whether you are eating or relaxing, whether it be your waking state or the dreaming one.” All parts of his mind then accepted that thing unanimously and acted accordingly. Steadfastness stood guard over and carefully scrutinized his mind’s behaviour regarding it. So, even if by mistake he ever proceeded to act against the decision, the Master clearly felt as if some one from within had tied down his sense and did not allow him to act that way. We all understand the above-mentioned words when we study the Master’s lifelong behaviour towards all things and persons.
26. An example of it— “I don’t want a learning that results in ‘the bundling of rice and plantain’ ”
Observe how the boy Gadadhar had gone to school for barely a few days when he said at once, “I don’t want that ‘art which teaches one ‘to bundle rice and plantain’. I won’t learn it.” Thinking his younger brother was going astray, the Master’s elder brother Ramkumar made an attempt to persuade him to acquire learning under his direct supervision in his own Chatushpathi in Calcutta. But he could not change the Master’s opinion, formed during his childhood, regarding a bread-winning education. The Master was not unaware that even by opening a Chatushpathi and teaching pupils according to his capacity, he could not maintain his family. The Master thought it was far better for his elder brother, though a Pandit of virtuous conduct, to be appointed priest in Rani Rasmani’s temple, than earn money by flattering the rich, and this led to his approval of his brother’s action.
As soon as he sat for meditation during his Sadhana, he felt all the joints of his body becoming locked up with rapping sounds, as if some one from within tightened them up in order to keep him sitting for a long time in the same cross-legged posture in which he had sat down. And until he unlocked them, the Master could not, even if he tried to, turn, move or otherwise use the joints of the hands, legs, neck, waist and other parts of his body at will. Or, he saw a person with a trident in hand, sitting beside him and saying, “If you think on anything except God, I’ll pierce your chest with this trident.” Asked during the time of worship to look upon himself as identified with the Mother of the universe, his mind began to do so; although he was going to offer china-roses and Vilva leaves at Her lotus feet, some one, as it were, caused his hands to turn and pulled them towards his own head.
Again, as soon as he was initiated in Sannyasa, his mind continued to see the one non-dual Brahman in all beings. Although he went to offer oblations of water to his forefathers (Tarpana), as he was wont to do, his hands became stiff; he could not take the water to be offered in the hollow of his joined palms. He was thus perforce reminded that Vedic actions had been renounced by him, as he had taken Sannyasa.
Many such examples can be given to prove how easy and natural the detachment, discrimination, concentration and steadfastness of his mind were. As these experiences of the Master were exactly what were recorded in the scriptures, it was proved that what was written in the scriptures was true. The revered Swami Vivekananda said, “That is the reason why the Master came this time to play the part of an unlettered person. He remained illiterate, because he wanted to demonstrate that the spiritual states, recorded in the Vedas and the Vedantas of the Hindus and in the religious books of other people, were all true and that man can actually realize those states by travelling along the paths indicated therein”.
30. The goal of human life is the attainment of the non-dual knowledge. In that state, “All jackals howl in the same way.” With Sri Chaitanya devotion was like the tusks of an elephant which are seen, and the non-dual knowledge, like the inner teeth, which are not seen. Approach to non-dual knowlledge was the standard by which the Master judged the high or low state of a man or a society
While one studies the natural bent of the Master’s mind, it becomes clear to one that to attain the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness and realize the non-dual Being is the ultimate experience in human life. Again, the Master said about the spiritual experience on that plane, “All jackals howl in the same way there.” He meant to say that just as all jackals howl in the same way, so, each of those who attained the Nirvikalpa plane, has said the same thing about God, the cause of the universe, as viewed from that plane. About Sri Chaitanya, the incarnation of Love, the Master said, “Just as the tusks of an elephant seen from outside are for killing his enemies and the inner ones not so seen are for the purpose of chewing his food, so, in the case of the great lord, dualism was an outward attitude, and non-dualism an inward one.” It is therefore superfluous to say that non-dual knowledge, which is always of a uniform nature, was the standard by which the Master judged everything. To the degree that any ideas, actions or ceremonies helped forward individuals (or societies, which are aggregates of individuals) towards that plane, to that degree did the Master regard those ideas etc., as higher than others.
Again, when we study the Master’s visions born of his spiritual moods, we find a distinction, namely, some are knowable to himself alone and some to others also. Some of those visions of the Master were thoughts of the Master’s mind confined within his own body, solidified and embodied, so to speak, by steadfast and constant practice and manifested to him in those forms and it was he only who could see them Some others were seen by him as he passed through higher and higher planes and was on the verge of the Nirvikalpa plane or when he was abiding in Bhavamukha. The contents of the visions of the latter kind, although unknown to others at that time, were for him quite objectively existent and he would predict their coming true in course of time and all actually saw them later as facts and events. In order to realize that the former class of visions were true, one had to be endowed like him with faith, reverence, steadfastness, etc.; or, one had to ascend to that plane in which the Master had those visions. But in order to realize the latter class as true one required no faith, no Sadhana—one had to believe them as the results compelled one to do so.
From what we have said before about the nature of the Master’s mind, and what we have said just now about it, we can understand that such a mind could not remain idle even in the normal state of consciousness. For, it could not feel satisfied till it had studied the nature and behaviour of those things and persons it came in contact with even for a moment and arrived at reliable conclusions about them In his childhood it discerned that scholars studied the scriptures for the purpose of earning money, which led him to refrain from learning the art that taught him “the bundling of rice and plantain”, as he derisively called it. As he advanced in age his mind came in contact with various people in various places, and arrived at various conclusions about them Those conclusions will be the subject of our discussion now.
It is superfluous to say that the ill-will between the Saktas and the Vaishnavas of Bengal, which came into existence at the time of the passing away of Sri Chaitanya, continued unbroken. Although a few rare Sadhakas like Ramprasad and others realized with the help of their Sadhana, the oneness of Kali and Krishna and preached that the ill-will was wrong and uncalled-for, it is clear from the censorious gloating which accompanied the mutual condemnation of the deities of both sides, that the generality of the people instead of paying heed to their words have allowed themselves to be carried away by hatred. It is needless to say that the Master was acquainted with that fact from his childhood. Again, applying himself to the disciplines prescribed in the scriptures of both the communities and attaining perfection in both, he realized both the paths to be equally true. He then clearly understood that the cause of the mutual hatred between the Saktas and the Vaishnavas was the vanity and egotism born of lack of spirituality.
34. To remove that hatred from his own household he got them all intiated in the Mantra of Sakti
The Master’s father, a worshipper of Sri Ramachandra, providentially got the stone emblem called Raghuvir and installed it in his house. Although the Master was thus born in a Vaishnava family, it was evident that from childhood he had equal love towards both Siva and Vishnu. His neighbours say even now that he dressed himself as Siva at one time during his childhood, and remained in ecstasy for a few hours in that mood, and they show the particular spot where that event took place as proof of this fact. Another event may be mentioned here. At one time the Master had every one of his household initiated in the Mantras of both Vishnu and Sakti. The Master, we infer, acted in this manner only to remove that hatred from their minds.
It is now well known that Asoka the Great, the “man of Dharma”, made up his mind to spread religion and learning for the good of humanity. He established hospitals for man and beast in various places of India for the treatment of their physical ailments and made medicinal plants, creepers, etc., easily available to the public, by having them cultivated and collected. Moreover he sent, through
Buddhist monks, to foreign countries medicines and medicinal herbs and made them available there. It is perhaps from that time that Sadhus began to collect and preserve medicines. Again, that custom became more prevalent during the Tantric age. Seeing the spiritual degradation of Sadhus on account of that custom, the authors of the Samhitas in the following age raised a great objection against it. But that custom has not died even now in the conservative India. During his stay at Dakshineswar and travels to holy places, the Master saw many monks falling a prey to worldly enjoyments for ever. Thus the Master was convinced of the lack of spirituality amongst the monks too. For, he said to us time and again, “Never believe Sadhus who prescribe and administer medicine, who practise exorcism, who receive money, and who adorn their bodies with the outward marks of religion (such as Tilaka, wearing wooden sandals, etc.,) rather excessively and pose themselves as big Sadhus, the marks serving as their signboard.”1
36. The Master’s opinion on Sadhus who merely put on the religious garb
Let no one think from what has been said that, seeing the hypocritical and fallen monks, the Master, like the people of the West, was of opinion that all the monastic communities should be abolished. For, we heard the Master say on this subject from time to time, “An ordinary Vairagi in religious garb living on alms, compared with a householder of good character, must be regarded as higher than the other, for though he does not practise Yoga or other religious exercises, if he possesses a good character and lives his whole life on Bhiksha, he has in this life gone much farther ahead on the path of renunciation than an ordinary householder.” The aforesaid words of the Master are amongst the many instances illustrating the fact that to him renunciation of everything for the sake of God was the measure of a man’s conduct and character.
We have already given many examples of the fact that steadfast Sadhus belonging to any community whatever, following either the path of devotion or of knowledge, were much honoured by the Master. The lamp of the Sanatana Dharma, the eternal religion of India, has been kept burning by the realizations of these great souls. The authority of the Vedas and other scriptures as repositories of spiritual truths is demonstrated by those among them who have reached the acme of their lives by the realisation of God and are freed from all bondages of Maya. For, the Vaiseshikas and all other philosophers of this country have unanimously said that the Vedas are revealed to the Aptas (those who have attained the truth) only. It was, therefore, no wonder that the Master, possessed of a profound inner vision, could know that fact and honoured them accordingly.
38. The Master noticed narrowness even in true Sadhus
Although the Master viewed with an exceedingly loving eye the Sadhus going forward along their own paths with steadfast devotion and enjoyed their company greatly, he invariably found in them lack of one thing, which pained him much on several occasions. He saw that they could not mix uniformly with all communities with equal love, though it was so easy for him He noticed this narrowness even amongst the advanced aspirants, the Sannyasins treading the path of non-duality, not to speak of those travelling on the path of devotion. Long before they attained the liberal sameness of the non-dual plane they learnt uniformly to hate the people going on all other paths, as inferior in spiritual fitness, or, at best, to view them with condescension. The liberal-minded Master, it is needless to say, was much grieved to see that kind of mutual hatred among people going forward to the same goal and he clearly saw that the said illiberality or exclusiveness was produced by the lack of true spirituality.
When he was staying at the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, the Master got daily proof of exclusiveness and lack of spirituality among both classes of men, householders and monks. When he travelled to holy places and temples, he found that these evils were not less, but in fact more virulent there. The quarrel amongst the Brahmins when they received gifts from Mathur; the Tantric Sadhakas’ improper conduct at Kasi due to excessive drinking after performing the divine Mother’s nominal worship, to witness which they had invited the Master; the strenuous exertion for name and fame of the Dandies (the Swamis carrying staves as their insignia) and at Vrindavan the Vaishnava fathers’ lives, spent in the company of women under the pretext of practising Sadhana,—all these and many more were the facts that revealed themselves in their true colours to the keen insight of the Master and helped him in understanding the actual state of society and the country. A mere observation of these events could not, of course, have helped him very much in this respect, had he not in himself had the realization of the very profound non-dual truth. As he had already realized that truth, the idea of the Ultimate aim of individual and social life was firmly fixed in the Master’s mind. It was, therefore, easy for him to sound and understand all things by testing them by that truth. And this study and experience, during his stay in the normal plane of consciousness, of the daily events of individual and social life, helped him in ascertaining the value of all things, inasmuch as he knew without doubt the goal to which true progress, civilization, morality, education, love of God, steadfast adherence to customs, Yoga, Karma and other impelling forces were taking man or would lead him, when they reached their fully developed state. Consider, how could he understand how far a particular Sadhu had advanced if he had not the knowledge of true holiness? How could the very truthful Master encourage people so firmly to go on pilgrimage and worship God with forms, if he had not known without doubt that spirituality had been consolidated, so to speak, and deposited in holy places and in images of deities? Or, how could he understand that exclusiveness in all the various religions was wrong, if he had not known the direction they were taking and the goal they would ultimately lead to? We also daily see Sadhus, holy places, images of deities, hear the endless tumult produced by the discussion of various religious and scriptural doctrines, sometimes think one doctrine to be right and sometimes another, tempted by our delight in wrangles and intellectual gymnastics. Again, trying to ascertain the goal of humanity by the study and observance of the daily events of the work-a-day world, we sometimes take one thing to be the goal, sometimes another, and failing to arrive at any definite conclusion, go on oscillating and vacillating and, as it happens not unoften, turn atheists ultimately and regard worldly enjoyments as the real goal of life. What important help do we derive from this kind of experience of ours, from such ever-changing and never-abiding conclusions of ours? We are not confident that our crude minds can understand even in a hundred lives, without the help of great souls, the teachers of the world, what the Master could, by virtue of the aforesaid wonderful constitution and nature of his mind, detect and understand at the very first sight. We infer from every action and behaviour of the Master what a gulf of difference there is between his mind and ours, though as minds they appear to be similar. Devotional scriptures, therefore, have pointed out that the mind of an incarnation of God is made of an altogether different material—of pure Sattva-guna (that illumines and gives knowledge) untouched by Rajas and Tamas.
40. The Master came to know of his own liberal doctrine
Observing thus from both the divine and the ordinary planes of consciousness, the Master came to know in an especial way, from his contact with people at Dakshineswar and during his visits to holy places, the present lack of spirituality in the country and the prevailing exclusiveness in religious faiths and denominations. He dived deeper and found out that although all religious doctrines were equally true and although they make men of various natures reach ultimately the same goal through various paths, the previous teachers were either ignorant of this truth or intentionally refrained from preaching it, considering the places, times and persons to be unsuitable. Moreover, it dawned on him that this attitude of his, which was free from the slightest touch of exclusiveness or hatred, was an entirely novel thing in the world. It originated with him and he was to give it to the world.
Many of us have now come to understand that the highest liberal doctrine, namely, “all faiths are true; as many faiths, so many paths”, which has charmed the world, first emanated from the Master’s mouth. Some may raise an objection and say that at least a partial manifestation of that liberal principle was seen in some of the Rishis and religious teachers of the past. But when one looks a little below the surface, it becomes clear to one that those teachers culled certain portions of each of those faiths with the help of their intelligence and then dished up a sort of harmony among what they regarded essential in them Unlike other teachers of the past, the Master excluded nothing from any faith. He practised with equal enthusiasm all of them in his own life, reached the goal as indicated by those faiths and realized that profound truth. It is however not our intention here to discuss this subject in detail. The only thing that we want to tell the reader here is that we get the proof of the existence in the Master’s life of this liberal principle from his childhood. But, until he returned from his visits to holy places, the Master was not able to understand with certainty that it was he alone who had experienced that liberalism in the spiritual world and that, although the past seers, teachers and incarnations of God preached in society how to reach the goal through particular paths, none of them, uptill then, had preached that the same goal could be reached through all the different paths. Although, at the time of his Sadhana, he offered with all his heart all his desires at the lotus feet of the divine Mother, and resolved never to return to the realm of Maya, and dwelt incessantly in the plane of the non-dual consciousness, She did not allow him to do so, but retained his body even after this, through various inconceivable means. All that, the Master knew, was for this one purpose—the purpose of removing illiberalism and exclusiveness from the world as far as possible. He knew, moreover, that the world too was thirsting for this extremely beneficial truth. We shall make here an attempt to tell the reader how we arrived at the aforesaid conclusion.
That the realization of religion was dependent on practice, not on words, was the belief of the Master from his childhood. Again, he was feeling from time to time during his Sadhana, and very often after he had realized perfection, that the powers earned by long practice could be actually imparted to others or passed on to them. We have already indicated this faith here and there in many places.1 On many occasions in his life till then, the Master also got the proof that the divine Mother, by Her grace, had accumulated that power abundantly in him, making him sometimes completely lose himself. She had used that power as the instrument with which to bestow Her grace on particular persons like Mathur and others. Consequently the Master had, till then, only the faith that the Universal Mother would bestow Her grace on some fortunate persons through his body and mind as instruments. He could not understand how or when She would bestow that grace of Hers, nor did the Master’s mind, unhesitatingly dependent as it was on Her, like that of a child on its mother, make any effort to understand it. But never, in a dream even, did it cross his mind that religion should be imparted to all India and the world should be flooded with a strong current of spirituality. But now the Master began to feel in his heart of hearts that the divine Mother, through his body and mind, had already started Her divine sport of imparting religion. But what was to be his means, though he felt thus? What could he do if the universal Mother did not allow him to know what She would make him do, where She would take him and along what path? For, he actually became the child of the divine Mother for ever, knowing only, “Mother is mine, I am Mother’s.” No desire whatever, except Mother’s, arose in his mind. One desire only, however, arose in his mind from time to time—the desire that he should know the Mother in various forms and through various paths. But the Mother Herself had before that time made it very clear to him that it was She who had raised that desire in his mind. Therefore when this new experience now occurred, the child of the divine Mother cheerfully remained dependent on Her and Her alone, and She continued to play with him as before.
We can clearly understand from his desire to spend the rest of his life at Vrindavan in the holy company of Gangamata, filling his mind with divine love, that when he realised the aforesaid truths during his visits to holy places, the Master did not assume the position of a spiritual teacher, like most of us, under the influence of egotism We cannot grasp or understand even a fraction of the master’s lifelong attitude. “Mother does Her own work. Who am I to work for the world and teach humanity?” But it was this very attitude that made him the wonderful instrument of the divine Mother’s work. It was this very attitude that made it possible for him to remain in Bhavamukha incessantly and it was this very attitude that led to the wonderful manifestation of the mood of the Guru in his mind, which embodied itself, so to say, in his person. So long as the Master used to lose himself when that Power welled up in him, he could detect and understand what happened through the instrumentality of his body and mind only after the work had been accomplished. But now his body and mind got accustomed to contain and manifest that power without a break; it became easy and natural with him and he was always established in spite of himself in the position of the true spiritual teacher. Before that time the normal state of the Master’s mind was that of an humble aspirant or of a child; he then remained much longer in that mood and the manifestations of the Power as the Guru in him were few and far between. But now it was just the opposite; he remained much longer in the mood of the Guru and the manifestation of the humble attitude of an aspirant or of a child was correspondingly brief.
44. The proof thereof — the Master in Bhavamukha quarrelled with the Mother of the universe
It was absolutely impossible for the mind of the Master to assume the position of the spiritual teacher under the influence of egoism. Time and again we got the proof of it in the boyish “quarrels” of the Master in Bhavamukha with the divine Mother. Attracted by the manifestation of spirituality in the Master, big crowds gathered at Dakshineswar, like swarms of bees attracted by the perfume of full-blown hundred-petalled lotuses. Then, one day, we went and saw the Master in Bhavamukha speaking with the divine Mother. He said, “What art Thou doing? Shouldst Thou bring crowds of people like that? I find no time to bathe and have my meal.” (The Master was then suffering from the pain in his throat.) He said with reference to his body, “It is nothing but a broken drum. If it is played on so much it will get perforated any day. What wilt Thou do then?”
45. The second example of it
On another occasion we were sitting beside him at Dakshineswar. It was the month of October of the year 1884. The news of the illness of Pratap Hazra’s mother had come and the Master had persuaded him to go home to serve his mother. We were present on both the occasions. News came today that Pratap had gone to Vaidyanath instead of going home. The Master felt a little annoyed at that news. After we had had a short talk on this and that, the Master asked us to sing a song and was in ecstasy a little afterwards. On this occasion also the Master in ecstasy began, like a boy, to quarrel with the Mother of the universe. He said, “Why dost Thou bring such worthless wayward people here? (After a little silence) I cannot do so much. Let there be at the most one-fourth or so of a seer of water to one seer of milk; but now it is not so; there are five seers of water to one seer of milk; my eyes are burning with smoke as I continue pushing the fuel into the fire. If Thou likest, go and give personally; I cannot do so much pushing of fuel into the fire; don’t bring such people any more.” Overwhelmed with awe and astonishment, we sat still thinking of whom the Master referred to, while speaking thus, and how unfortunate that person was. There daily arose such quarrels between the Mother and the Master, which showed that the Master asked the Mother every day to take back from him the position of the teacher, which he regarded as totally worthless, though others yearned for it, on account of the attendant honour.
Thus did the universal Mother, the divine Will, in Her inscrutable play, make the Master have extraordinary, unprecedented experiences throughout his life. She created in him such an abundance of highly liberal, spiritual ideas as She had never done before in any other great teacher. Along with this fact, She showed him how much spiritual power She had accumulated in him as a blessing to humanity and how wonderful an instrument She had made of him for imparting that power to others. The Master was amazed to see an utter lack of spirituality in the world outside and through Her grace an accumulation of extraordinary power within him for the removal of that want. He could not fail to understand that in this age the Mother had once more taken the field for killing the indomitable Raktabija, the delusion produced by ignorance, that the people of the world would again be blessed to witness the sport of the Mother’s welled-up compassion, and in joy and gratitude would not find words to sing hallelujah to Her, the arbiter of innumerable universes, and possessor of infinite auspicious qualities. Just as excess of heat generates clouds, waning is followed by waxing and prosperity comes on the trail of adversity, so, the long accumulated heart-felt want of the multitudinous people is followed by the incarnation of the divine Mother’s infinite compassion in the person of the Guru, living and moving with men. The Mother of the universe made this clear to the Master out of Her grace. She showed him again that such sport of Hers had been previously played with the Master many a time in many an age and would be played many a time over again in future. He was to have no liberation, as ordinary people have. He was “an executive officer who would have to rush to bring order wherever in the vast empire of the divine Mother, there was a breach of peace”. From these words of the Master, it is clear that he realized all this at this time and not before it.
47. The Master’s mind was eager to meet his devotees
Ever since he understood the fact that, for the good of humanity, the divine Mother Herself had, out of Her grace, produced in his mind, the liberal faith, “as many faiths so many paths,” the discerning mind of the Master applied itself to making inquiries about another matter. His mind then became anxious to know who the blessed persons were that would accept this new, liberal doctrine direct from the Mother Herself dwelling in the Master and mould their own lives accordingly and receiving power from Her, be singled out to be Her playmates in this novel sport of the modern age, in propagating this doctrine that would bring bliss to many. We said at the time of discussing the loving relation between Mathur and the Master that he had seen his devotees in visions.1 On account of the inscrutable play of the universal Mother, their faces, seen before, now assumed bright living forms in the Master’s mind, so long absolutely unattached to all worldly things. That extraordinary Sannyasin’s mind now spent the days, he told us on many occasions afterwards, in variously pondering over how many they might be, whether now or how much later Mother would bring them there, which of them would perform some especial work of the Mother, whether Mother would make them renounce the world like him or keep them as householders, whether even one of the new-comers could have a complete and proper understanding of that play of the divine Mother, or whether they would have a partial understanding of it only, before they left, inasmuch as a few persons only in the world could so far understand a little of that extraordinary play of Hers. He said, “I then felt an indescribable yearning to see you all; the soul was being wrung like a piece of wet towel, so to say, and I felt restless with pain. I felt like weeping. But I could not do so, lest that should create a scene; I controlled myself somehow. But when the day came to an end and night approached and Aratrika music began in the Mother’s and Vishnu’s temples I could no longer control myself thinking, ‘One more day has passed away and they have not come.’ I got up on the roof of the ‘mansion’, called you aloud, ‘O my children, where are you? Come’, and cried loudly. I felt I might go mad. Then, after long waiting, you at last started coming, one by one; it was then that I felt consoled. And as I had seen you all before, I could recognize you as you came, one after another. When Puma1 came, Mother said, ‘With his, the coming of those-of whom you have had vision is complete. No more will anyone of this class come.’ Mother showed you all to me and said, ‘All these are your devotees of the inner circle.’ Wonderful is the vision and wonderful is its fulfilment.” How little of this can we understand! We have quoted the Master’s own words to show that nothing has been invented by anyone here.
While he was thus gathering together the persons fit to realize and accept his own liberal doctrine, the Master had another conviction of which he personally told us now and again. He said, “All those who are living their final lives in the world will come here; and all those who have, even once, truly called on God cannot but come here”. It is very difficult to say what different thoughts arose in the minds of the many people who heard this. Some came to the conclusion that it was absolutely unreasonable. Some thought it was only incoherent talk, an aberration of his faith and devotion. Some again found in it the proof of his egoism or a derangement of his brain. Others thought that though they could not understand it, it must be true inasmuch as the Master had said so and regarded reasoning and argumentation about it as harmful to faith, and would not set their critical spirit to work. Others again thought they would understand it only if the Master ever made it clear to them; they, therefore, would neither firmly believe nor disbelieve it and remained unmoved on hearing anyone speaking either for or against it. But it will not take long to understand the meaning of these words of the Master, if we have succeeded in making it clear to the reader that the divine Mother made him realize Her own liberal doctrine and established him in the position of a teacher in a manner easy, natural and destitute of the slightest touch of egoism. That is, however, not all. If the reader looks a little below the surface, he will have realized that these very words are the proof that the Master attained that high spiritual state in an easy and natural way.
When the Master, the child of the divine Mother, looked into his body and mind, it never for a moment occurred to him, completely devoted as he was to Her, that the accumulation of that extraordinary spiritual power and the ability to impart it were the results of his own effort. In them he saw nothing but the sport of the universal Mother, playing an inscrutable play, and was astonished and astounded. Ah, what a great sport the Mother, expert in making the impossible possible, has made preparations for, having assumed that combination of body and mind of his, that unlettered personality! Ah, Her present play has surpassed a hundred, nay a thousand times, Her previous sports —making the dumb eloquent, the lame nimble enough to cross the mountain, which have charmed the people and led them to sing Her glory! By this play of the Mother, the Vedas, the Bible, the Puranas, the Koran and all other religious scriptures, have been proved to be true; religion has been established, and the crying need of the world, which no one could satisfy in the past ages, has once for all been satisfied! Bravo! Mother, bravo! O sportive Power of Brahman! There arose such thoughts in the Master’s mind on account of that vision. The Master’s mind took that vision to be absolutely true on account of its absolute faith in Mother’s words, Her infinite grace and inscrutable power. He put questions to Her as to what the scope of that play was, who would assist in it and in what kinds of hearts the seed of that power would be sowed, and in answer to these questions he got the vision of the devotees of the inner circle and the conviction that those who were living their last lives and those who had called on God sincerely even once in order to realize Him were the persons fit to accept that extraordinary, liberal, novel doctrine of the Master. That conclusion, it is clear, came as the result of his absolute dependence on the Mother of the universe. The boy depending entirely on the Mother could not arrive at any other conclusion than that; and because of this, he ever remained absolutely untouched by egoism.
50. The meaning of these words of the Master
In the sentences, “Those who are living their final lives shall come here,” and “Those who have even once called sincerely on God cannot but come here”, if the word “here” is taken to mean “to the Mother’s novel, liberal doctrine”, it will not be unreasonable and nobody will have any objection. But as soon as this meaning is accepted, another question is bound to crop up; will they of themselves accept the divine Mother’s liberal doctrine of “As many faiths, so many paths”, or will it be with the help of him through whose instrumentality She promulgated for the first time that doctrine in the world? The answer to this question, according to our understanding, should be determined by observing the result of the right realization of this doctrine in the heart of the questioner or anybody else. And until that realization comes silence is the best answer. But if the reader asks what our conception is, it has to be said that simultaneously with the right realization of that doctrine you will also attain the vision of him whom the divine Mother has, for the first time, brought to the world as the embodiment of that doctrine, and you will of your own accord pour your heart-felt love and reverence to his form, which is “free from pride and delusion.” The Master will not ask for it and no one else either will ask you. You will of your own accord offer it out of love for the Mother. It is needless to say anything more on this subject.
The authors of the Tantras have said again and again that when the mood of the Guru becomes normal and natural in any person or, in other words, his personality assumes a concentrated form of it by the will of the divine Mother, his actions, deportment, behaviour and manifestation of selfless compassion to others, take wonderful forms beyond the grasp of the human intelligence Such manifestation of it is called in the Tantras the divine state. Those scriptures also say that the teaching, initiation, etc., of others by those persons who are inspired by that mood are accomplished in unimaginable ways beyond the prescriptions of the scriptures. They can, out of compassion, awaken the power of spirituality in any one and put him instantly in ecstasy at their mere will or by touch or partially awakening that power in him can so ordain that it will be completely kindled in this life and make him feel blessed by realizing true spirituality. In a slightly intensified state of the spiritual mood, the teacher, say the Tantras, is able to impart Sakti initiation to the disciple and in its highly intensified state, he can impart the Sambhavi initiation. Ordinary teachers are enjoined by the Tantras to impart Mantri or Manavi initiation. As regards Sakti and Sambhavi initiation, the Rudrayamala, the Shadanwaya Maharatna, the Vayaviya Samhita, the Sarada, the Viswasara and other Tantras have all said the same thing. We quote here the verses from the Vayaviya Samhita:
‘ Sambhavi chaiva Sakti cha Mantri chaiva Sivagame Dikshopadisyate tredha Sivena paramatmana Guroralokamatrena sparsat sambhashanadapi Sadyah samjnya bhavejjantor diksha sa Sambhavi mata Sakti jnanavati diksha shishyadeham pravisati Guruna j nanamargena kriyate j nanachakshusha Mantri kriyavati diksha kumbhamandalapurvika.’
52. The realizing of divine knowledge by the disciple as soon as he sees, touches and salutes the Guru is called the Sambhavi initiation. And the realization of that knowledge by the disciple on account of the power of the Guru entering his body is known as Sakti initiation
That is, Siva, the supreme Self, has taught in the Agama scripture three kinds of initiation, namely, the Sambhavi, the Sakti and the Mantri. The Sambhavi initiation produces knowledge in the Jiva as soon as he sees, touches and salutes the Guru. In the Sakti initiation the Guru, with the help of this divine knowledge, makes his own power enter the disciple and awakens spirituality in his heart. The Mantri initiation consists of uttering the Mantra into the ear of the disciple after drawing a diagram, installing a jar, and performing the worship of the deity and so on.
The Rudrayamala says that the Sakti and Sambhavi initiations produce immediate liberation :
Sakti cha Sambhavi chanya sadyomuktividhayini
Siddhaya swasaktinialokya taya kevalaya sisoh Nirupayam krita diksha Sakteyi parikirtita Abhisandhim vinacharya sishyayorubhayorapi Deshikanugrahenaiva Sivata vyaktikarini
That is, the generating of the divine knowledge in the disciple by perfected souls with the help of their spiritual power alone, without adopting any external means, is called the Sakti initiation. In the Sambhavi initiation there exists no previous desire in the mind either of the teacher or of the disciple to impart initiation or receive it. As soon as they see each other, the teacher suddenly has compassion roused in his heart and he feels a desire to bestow his grace on the disciple. And that alone produces the knowledge of the non-dual Reality in the disciple, who thereby accepts discipleship.
The Tantra, Pwascharanollasa, says that, in that kind of initiation, there is no need of discrimination between the proper and improper times prescribed by the Sastras.
Dikshayam chanchalapangi na kalaniyamah kvachit Sadgurordarsanadeva suryaparve cha sarvada.
53. In that kind of initiation there in no need of discrimination between proper and improper time
That is, O Parvati of restless eyes, there is no need to discriminate between proper and improper time for being initiated by Gurus endowed with the heroic and the divine mood. If any one has the privilege of meeting the Guru possessing the knowledge of Brahman, and the Guru mercifully invites him to be initiated, he should receive it without paying any heed to auspicious or inauspicious moments, etc.
The Sastras have averred that such is the case with even ordinary spiritual teachers endowed with the divine mood; so how can we prescribe the method of teaching others and imparting the power of spirituality to them out of selfless compassion on the part of this divine Master, who was in all respects an instrument in the hands of the universal Mother for that purpose? For, it was not an ordinary play of the divine mood spoken of in the Tantras, that the universal Mother residing in the Master’s body and mind was then playing out of Her grace. But it was also for the good of all humanity, since She was then manifesting through him that great liberal doctrine, “As many faiths, so many paths”, which had not been practised or realized so far by any spiritual teacher possessed of the divine mood. Therefore we say that henceforward a new chapter opened in the Master’s life.
55. All the powers are not always manifested in the incarnations of God. The proof thereof
The reader devoted to the Master will look askance at us perhaps on hearing these words of ours and say, “How unreasonable! If you regard the Master as an incarnation of God, you cannot say that the said idea or the manifestation of that power was absent in him at any time.” We reply: Brother, we say so on the very evidence of the Master’s words. When they assume human bodies, even incarnations of God do not have all kinds of divine moods or powers always manifested in them; whenever any mood or power becomes necessary, it comes. When the Master’s body was reduced to a mere skeleton on account of the long struggle with the disease at Kasipur garden, the Master noticed his mental attitude and the manifestation of power in him and said to us:
“What the Mother shows to me is that such a power has come into this (his body) that I need not even touch people any more. I’ll ask you to touch them and they will get awakened even by your touch. If the Mother brings this (his body) round this time, so many people will come that you will not be able to push back the crowd from the door. You will have to undergo such a physical strain that you will have to take medicine to cure the pain in your bodies.”
From these words, spoken by the Master himself, it is clear that he was then feeling within himself the manifestation of a power which he had never felt before. Many such examples of this may be given.
56. The Master met Kesav Chandra, the great devotee. His own devotee came shortly after
The Master could not free himself from anxiety by only calling for the devotees eagerly in the aforesaid manner under the impulse of the divine mood. But the Mother spoke to his heart of hearts, assuring him that almost all his devotees could know of his stay at Dakshineswar, if that news reached a certain place, namely the garden of Belgharia, and the divine Mother took him there and introduced him to Sri Kesav Chandra Sen. Shortly after this event, the devotees Vivekananda, Brahmananda and others, who had been seen by the Master in ecstasy before, and who were especially fit to be blessed by his grace, began to come one after another. If the Master makes us tell the reader the story of his play with them in the divine mood, we shall do so on some other occasion. We shall now place before the reader, as an example, a picture of the manner in which, under the influence of that extraordinary divine mood, he spent a few days with his devotees during the car festival in the year 1885, and bring to a close this part of the book.
1. Ralph Waldo Emerson—“Consciousness ever moves along a graded plane.”
1. Asked about it, the author said, “The Master saw a stone jump from one place to another.”—Tr.
1. This word was one of those which the Master spoke in English.—Tr.
1. III. 6 and 7.
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1. The name Puma literally means complete.—Tr.