The Mother Divine
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From Gospel of Ramakrishna
Conversations recorded by Mahendranath Gupta, translated by Swami Nikhilananda

Thursday, December 14, 1882

Attachment to "woman" creates bondage

MASTER: "It is 'woman and gold' that binds man and robs him of his freedom.  It is woman that creates the need for gold.  For woman one man becomes the slave of another, and so loses his freedom.  Then he cannot act as he likes.

Story of Govindaji's priests

"The priests in the temple of Govindaji at Jaipur were celibates at first, and at that time they had fiery natures.  Once the King of Jaipur sent for them, but they didn't obey him.  They said to the messenger, 'Ask the king to come to see us.' After consultation, the king and his ministers arranged marriages for them.  From then on the king didn't have to send for them.  They would come to him of themselves and say: 'Your Majesty, we have come with our blessings.  Here are the sacred flowers of the temple.  Deign to accept them.' They came to the palace, for now they always wanted money for one thing or another: the building of a house, the rice-taking ceremony of their babies, or the rituals connected with the beginning of their children's education.

Story of twelve hundred nedas

"There is the story of the twelve hundred nedas and thirteen hundred nedis.  Virabhadra, the son of Nityananda Goswami, had thirteen hundred 'shaven-headed' disciples.  They attained great spiritual powers.  That alarmed their teacher.  'My disciples have acquired great spiritual powers', thought Virabhadra.  'Whatever they say to people will come to pass.  Wherever they go they may create alarming situations; for people offending them unwittingly will come to grief.' Thinking thus, Virabhadra one day called them to him and said, 'See me after performing your daily devotions on the bank of the Ganges.' These disciples had such a high spiritual nature that, while meditating, they would go into samādhi and be unaware of the river water flowing over their heads during the flood-tide.  Then the ebb-tide would come and still they would remain absorbed in meditation.

"Now, one hundred of these disciples had anticipated what their teacher would ask of them.  Lest they should have to disobey his injunctions, they had quickly disappeared from the place before he summoned them.  So they did not go to Virabhadra with the others.  The remaining twelve hundred disciples went to the teacher after finishing their meditation.  Virabhadra said to them: 'These thirteen hundred nuns will serve you.  I ask you to marry them.'

'As you please, revered sir', they said.  'But one hundred of us have gone away.' Thenceforth each of these twelve hundred disciples had a wife.  Consequently they all lost their spiritual power.  Their austerities did not have their original fire.  The company of woman robbed them of their spirituality because it destroyed their freedom.

Degrading effect of serving others

(To Vijay) "You yourself perceive how far you have gone down by being a servant of others.  Again, one finds that people with many university degrees, scholars with their vast English education, accept service under their English masters and are daily trampled under their boots.  The one cause of all this is woman.  They have married and set up a 'gay fair' with their wives and children.  Now they cannot go back, much as they would like to.  Hence all these insults and humiliations, all this suffering from slavery.

"Once a man realizes God through intense dispassion, he is no longer attached to woman.  Even if he must lead the life of a householder, he is free from fear of and attachment to woman.  Suppose there are two magnets, one big and the other small.  Which one will attract the iron? The big one, of course.  God is the big magnet.  Compared to Him, woman is a small one.  What can 'woman' do?"

Worshipping woman as Divine Mother

A DEVOTEE: "Sir, shall we hate women then?"
MASTER: "He who has realized God does not look upon a woman with the eye of lust; so he is not afraid of her.  He perceives clearly that women are but so many aspects of the Divine Mother.  He worships them all as the Mother Herself.

Difficulties of preaching

MASTER (to Vijay): "The task of a religious teacher is indeed difficult.  One cannot teach men without a direct command from God.  People won't listen to you if you teach without such authority.  Such teaching has no force behind it.  One must first of all attain God through spiritual discipline or some other means.  Thus armed with authority from God, one can deliver lectures.

"After receiving the command from God, one can be a teacher and give lectures anywhere.  He who receives authority from God also receives power from Him.  Only then can he perform the difficult task of a teacher.

"An insignificant tenant was once engaged in a lawsuit with a big landlord.  People realized that there was a powerful man behind the tenant.  Perhaps another big landlord was directing the case from behind.  Man is an insignificant creature.  He cannot fulfil the difficult task of a teacher without receiving power direct from God."

VIJAY: "Don't the teachings of the Brahmo Samaj bring men salvation?"

MASTER: "How is it ever possible for one man to liberate another from the bondage of the world? God alone, the Creator of this world-bewitching maya, can save men from maya.  There is no other refuge but that great Teacher, Satchidananda.  How is it ever possible for men who have not realized God or received His command, and who are not strengthened with divine strength, to save others from the prison-house of the world?

"One day as I was passing the Panchavati on my way to the pine-grove, I heard a bullfrog croaking.  I thought it must have been seized by a snake.  After some time, as I was coming back, I could still hear its terrified croaking.  I looked to see what the matter was, and found that a water-snake had seized it.  The snake could neither swallow it nor give it up.  So there was no end to the frog's suffering.  I thought that had it been seized by a cobra it would have been silenced after three croaks at the most.  As it was only a water-snake, both of them had to go through this agony.  A man's ego is destroyed after three croaks, as it were, if he gets into the clutches of a real teacher.  But if the teacher is an 'unripe' one, then both the teacher and the disciple undergo endless suffering.  The disciple cannot get rid either of his ego or of the shackles of the world.  If a disciple falls into the clutches of an incompetent teacher, he doesn't attain liberation."

Ego alone the cause of bondage

VIJAY: "Sir, why are we bound like this? Why don't we see God?"

MASTER: "Maya is nothing but the egotism of the embodied soul.  This egotism has covered everything like a veil.  'All troubles come to an end when the ego dies.' If by the grace of God a man but once realizes that he is not the doer, then he at once becomes a Jivanmukta.  Though living in the body, he is liberated.  He has nothing else to fear.

"This maya, that is to say, the ego, is like a cloud.  The sun cannot be seen on account of a thin patch of cloud; when that disappears one sees the sun.  If by the grace of the Guru one's ego vanishes, then one sees God.

"Rama, who is God Himself, was only two and a half cubits ahead of Lakshmana.  But Lakshmana couldn't see Him because Sita stood between them.  Lakshmana may be compared to the jiva and Sita to maya.  Man cannot see God on account of the barrier of maya.  Just look: I am creating a barrier in front of my face with this towel.  Now you can't see me, even though I am so near.  Likewise, God is the nearest of all, but we cannot see Him on account of this covering of maya.

Maya creates upadhis

"The jiva is nothing but the embodiment of Satchidananda.  But since maya, or ego, has created various upadhis, he has forgotten his real Self.

"Each upadhi changes man's nature.  If he wears a fine black-bordered cloth, you will at once find him humming Nidhu Babu's love-songs.  Then playing-cards and a walking-stick follow.  If even a sickly man puts on high boots, he begins to whistle and climbs the stairs like an Englishman, jumping from one step to another.  If a man but holds a pen in his hand, he scribbles on any paper he can get hold of-such is the power of the pen!

"Money is also a great upadhi.  The possession of money makes such a difference in a man! He is no longer the same person.  A brahmin used to frequent the temple garden.  Outwardly he was very modest.  One day I went to Konnagar with Hriday.  No sooner did we get off the boat than we noticed the brahmin seated on the bank of the Ganges.  We thought he had been enjoying the fresh air.  Looking at us, he said: 'Hello there, priest! How do you do?' I marked his tone and said to Hriday: 'The man must have got some money.  That's why he talks that way.' Hriday laughed.

"A frog had a rupee, which he kept in his hole.  One day an elephant was going over the hole, and the frog, coming out in a fit of anger, raised his foot, as if to kick the elephant, and said, 'How dare you walk over my head?' Such is the pride that money begets!

"One can get rid of the ego after the attainment of Knowledge.  On attaining Knowledge one goes into samādhi, and the ego disappears.  But it is very difficult to obtain such Knowledge.