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

Thursday, December 14, 1882


God’s nature is like that of a child

With these very eyes, just as I see you.  Now I see divine visions in trance.

"After realizing God a man becomes like a child.  One acquires the nature of the object one meditates upon.  The nature of God is like that of a child.  As a child builds up his toy house and then breaks it down, so God acts while creating, preserving, and destroying the universe.  Further, as the child is not under the control of any guna, so God is beyond the three gunas-sattva, rajas, and tamas.  That is why paramahamsas keep five or ten children with them, that they may assume their nature."

Sitting on the floor in the room was a young man from Agarpara about twenty-two years old.  Whenever he came to the temple garden, he would take the Master aside, by a sign, and whisper his thoughts to him.  He was a new-comer.  That day he was sitting on the floor near the Master.

MASTER (to the young man): "A man can change his nature by imitating another's character.  He can get rid of a passion like lust by assuming the feminine mood.  He gradually comes to act exactly like a woman.  I have noticed that men who take female parts in the theatre speak like women or brush their teeth like women while bathing.  Come again on a Tuesday or Saturday.

(To Prankrishna) "Brahman and Śakti are inseparable.  Unless you accept Śakti, you will find the whole universe unreal-'I', 'you', house, buildings, and family.  The world stands solid because the Primordial Energy stands behind it.  If there is no supporting pole, no framework can be made, and without the framework there can be no beautiful image of Durga.

"Without giving up worldliness a man cannot awaken his spiritual

consciousness, nor can he realize God.  He cannot but be a hypocrite as long as he has even a trace of worldly desire.  God cannot be realized without guilelessness. 

Cherish love within your heart; abandon cunning and deceit:
Through service, worship, selflessness, does Rama's blessed vision come.

Even those engaged in worldly activities, such as office work or business, should hold to the truth.  Truthfulness alone is the spiritual discipline in the Kaliyuga."

PRANKRISHNA: "Yes, sir.  It is said in the Mahanirvana Tantra: 'O Goddess, this religion enjoins it upon one to be truthful, self-controlled, devoted to the welfare of others, unagitated, and compassionate.'"

MASTER: "Yes.  But these ideas must be assimilated."

Sri Ramakrishna was sitting on the small couch.  He was in an ecstatic mood and looked at Rakhal.  Suddenly he was filled with the tender feeling of parental love toward his young disciple and spiritual child.  Presently he went into samādhi.  The devotees sat speechless, looking at the Master with wondering eyes. 

Regaining partial consciousness, the Master said: "Why is my spiritual feeling kindled at the sight of Rakhal? The more you advance toward God, the less you will see of His glories and grandeur.  The aspirant at first has a vision of the Goddess with ten arms;8 there is a great display of power in that image.  The next vision is that of the Deity with two arms; there are no longer ten arms holding various weapons and missiles.  Then the aspirant has a vision of Gopala, in which there is no trace of power.  It is the form of a tender child.  Beyond that there are other visions also.  The aspirant then sees only Light.

"Reasoning and discrimination vanish after the attainment of God and communion with Him in samādhi.  How long does a man reason and discriminate? As long as he is conscious of the manifold, as long as he is aware of the universe, of embodied beings, of 'I' and 'you'.  He becomes silent when he is truly aware of Unity.  This was the case with Trailanga Swami.

"Have you watched a feast given to the brahmins? At first there is a great uproar.  But the noise lessens as their stomachs become more and more filled with food.  When the last course of curd and sweets is served, one hears only the sound 'soop, soop' as they scoop up the curd in their hands.  There is no other sound.  Next is the stage of sleep-samādhi.  There is no more uproar.

(To M. and Prankrishna) "Many people talk of Brahmajnāna, but their minds are always preoccupied with lower things: house, buildings, money, name, and sense pleasures.  As long as you stand at the foot of the Monument,10 so long do you see horses, carriages, Englishmen, and Englishwomen.  But when you climb to its top, you behold the sky and the ocean stretching to infinity.  Then you do not enjoy buildings, carriages, horses, or men.  They look like ants. 

"All such things as attachment to the world and enthusiasm for 'woman and gold' disappear after the attainment of the Knowledge of Brahman.  Then comes the cessation of all passions.  When the log burns, it makes a crackling noise and one sees the flame.  But when the burning is over and only ash remains, then no more noise is heard.  Thirst disappears with the destruction of attachment.  Finally comes peace.

"The nearer you come to God, the more you feel peace.  Peace, peace, peace-supreme peace! The nearer you come to the Ganges, the more you feel its coolness.  You will feel completely soothed when you plunge into the river.

"But the universe and its created beings, and the twenty-four cosmic principles, all exist because God exists.  Nothing remains if God is eliminated.  The number increases if you put many zeros after the figure one; but the zeros don't have any value if the one is not there."

The Master continued: "There are some who come down, as it were, after attaining the Knowledge of Brahman-after samādhi-and retain the 'ego of Knowledge' or the 'ego of Devotion', just as there are people who, of their own sweet will, stay in the market-place after the market breaks up.  This was the case with sages like Narada.  They kept the 'ego of Devotion' for the purpose of teaching men.  Sankaracharya kept the 'ego of Knowledge' for the same purpose.

"God cannot be realized if there is the slightest attachment to the things of the world.  A thread cannot pass through the eye of a needle if the tiniest fibre sticks out.

"The anger and lust of a man who has realized God are only appearances.  They are like a burnt string.  It looks like a string, but a mere puff blows it away.

"God is realized as soon as the mind becomes free from attachment.  Whatever appears in the Pure Mind is the voice of God.  That which is Pure Mind is also Pure Buddhi; that, again, is Pure Ātman, because there is nothing pure but God.  But in order to realize God one must go beyond dharma and adharma."

The Master sang in his melodious voice:

Come, let us go for a walk, O mind, to Kāli, the Wish-fulfilling Tree,
And there beneath It gather the four fruits of life.  .  .  .

Sri Ramakrishna went out on the southeast verandah of his room and sat down.  Prankrishna and the other devotees accompanied him.  Hazra, too, was sitting there.  The Master said to Prankrishna with a smile: "Hazra is not a man to be trifled with.  If one finds the big dargah here, then Hazra is the smaller dargah." All laughed at the Master's words.  A certain gentleman, Navakumar by name, came to the door and stood there.  At sight of the devotees he immediately left.  "Oh! Egotism incarnate!" Sri Ramakrishna remarked.

About half past nine in the morning Prankrishna took leave of the Master.  Soon afterwards a minstrel sang some devotional songs to the accompaniment of a stringed instrument.  The Master was listening to the songs when Kedār Chatterji, a householder devotee, entered the room clad in his office clothes.  He was a man of devotional temperament and cherished the attitude of the gopis of Vrindāvan.  Words about God would make him weep.

The sight of Kedār awakened in the Master's mind the episode of Vrindāvan in Sri Krishna's life.  Intoxicated with divine love, the Master stood up and sang, addressing Kedār:

Tell me, friend, how far is the grove
Where Krishna, my Beloved, dwells?
His fragrance reaches me even here;
But I am tired and can walk no farther.  .  .  .

Sri Ramakrishna assumed the attitude of Sri Radha to Krishna and went into deep samādhi while singing the song.  He stood there, still as a picture on canvas, with tears of divine joy running down his cheeks.

Kedār knelt before the Master.  Touching his feet, he chanted a hymn:
We worship the Brahman-Consciousness in the Lotus of the Heart,
The Undifferentiated, who is adored by Hari, Hara, and Brahma;
Who is attained by yogis in the depths of their meditation;
The Scatterer of the fear of birth and death,
The Essence of Knowledge and Truth, the Primal Seed of the world.

After a time the Master regained consciousness of the relative world.  Soon Kedār took his leave and returned to his office in Calcutta.

At midday Ramlal brought the Master a plate of food that had been offered in the Kāli temple.  Like a child he ate a little of everything.

Later in the afternoon several Marwari devotees entered the Master's room, where Rakhal and M. also were seated.

A MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the way?"

Two ways of God-realization

MASTER: "There are two ways.  One is the path of discrimination, the other is that of love.  Discrimination means to know the distinction between the Real and the unreal.  God alone is the real and permanent Substance; all else is illusory and impermanent.  The magician alone is real; his magic is illusory.  This is discrimination.

"Discrimination and renunciation.  Discrimination means to know the distinction between the Real and the unreal.  Renunciation means to have dispassion for the things of the world.  One cannot acquire them all of a sudden.  They must be practised every day.  One should renounce 'woman and gold' mentally at first.  Then, by the will of God, one can renounce it both mentally and outwardly.  It is impossible to ask the people of Calcutta to renounce all for the sake of God.  One has to tell them to renounce mentally.

Constant practice urged

"Through the discipline of constant practice one is able to give up attachment to 'woman and gold'.  That is what the Gita says.  By practice one acquires uncommon power of mind.  Then one doesn't find it difficult to subdue the sense-organs and to bring anger, lust, and the like under control.  Such a man behaves like a tortoise, which, once it has tucked in its limbs, never puts them out.  You cannot make the tortoise put its limbs out again, though you chop it to pieces with an axe."

MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Revered sir, you just mentioned two paths.  What is the other path?"
MASTER: "The path of bhakti, or zealous love of God.  Weep for God in solitude, with a restless soul, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.  Cry to your Mother Syama with a real cry, O mind! And how can She hold Herself from you? "

MARWARI DEVOTEE: "Sir, what is the meaning of the worship of the Personal God? And what is the meaning of God without form or attribute?"

MASTER: "As you recall your father by his photograph, so likewise the worship of the image reveals in a flash the nature of Reality.

"Do you know what God with form is like? Like bubbles rising on an expanse of water, various divine forms are seen to rise out of the Great Ākāśa of Consciousness.  The Incarnation of God is one of these forms.  The Primal Energy sports, as it were, through the activities of a Divine Incarnation.

"What is there in mere scholarship? God can be attained by crying to Him with a longing heart.  There is no need to know many things.

"He who is an Āchārya has to know different things.  One needs a sword and shield to kill others; but to kill oneself, a needle or a nail-knife suffices.

"One ultimately discovers God by trying to know who this 'I' is.  Is this 'I' the flesh, the bones, the blood, or the marrow? Is it the mind or the buddhi? Analysing thus, you realize at last that you are none of these.  This is called the process of 'Neti, neti', 'Not this, not this'.  One can neither comprehend nor touch the Ātman.  It is without qualities or attributes.

"But, according to the path of devotion, God has attributes.  To a devotee Krishna is Spirit, His Abode is Spirit, and everything about Him is Spirit."

The Marwari devotees saluted the Master and took their leave.

At the approach of evening Sri Ramakrishna went out to look at the sacred river.  The lamp was lighted in his room.  The Master chanted the hallowed name of the Divine Mother and meditated on Her.  Then the evening worship began in the various temples.  The sound of gongs, floating on the air, mingled with the murmuring voice of the river.  Peace and blessedness reigned everywhere.