The Mother Divine
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By Swami Vivekananda


Oct 27, 1885: We think of him (Sri Ramakrishna) as a person who is like God. Do you know what it is like? There is a point between the vegetable creation and the animal creation where it is very difficult to determine whether a particular thing is a vegetable or an animal. Likewise, there is a stage between the man-world and the God-world where it is extremely hard to say whether a person is a man or a God. I do not say he is God. What I am saying is that he is a God-like man. We offer worship to him bordering on divine worship.

I have been thinking of going there (to Dakshineshwar) today. I intend to light a fire under the bel-tree and meditate. I shall feel greatly relieved if I find a medicine that will make me forget all I have studied.

4 January 1886: I have been thinking of going there (to Dakshineshwar) today. I intend to light a fire under the bel-tree and meditate. I shall feel greatly relieved if I find a medicine that will make me forget all I have studied.

I was meditating here (Cossipore garden-house where the Master was then staying for health reasons) last Saturday when suddenly I felt a peculiar sensation in my heart.

Probably, it was the awakening of the Kundalini. I clearly perceived the Ida and the Pingala nerves. I asked Hazra to feel my chest. Yesterday I saw him (Sir Ramakrishna) upstairs and told him about it. I said to him, “All the others have had their realisation, please give me some. All have succeeded; shall I alone remain unsatisfied?” He said, “Why don’t you settle your family affairs first and then come to me? You will get everything. What do you want?” I replied, “It is my desire to remain absorbed in Samadhi continually for three or four days, only once in a while coming down to the sense plane to eat a little food.” Thereupon he said to me, “You are a very small-minded person. There is a state higher even than that (Samadhi). ’All that exists art Thou’, it is you who sing that song. First settle your family affairs and then come to me. You will attain a state higher than Samadhi”. I went home. My people scolded me saying, “Why do you wander about like a vagabond? Your law examination is near at hand, and you are not paying any attention to your studies. You wander about aimlessly.” My mother did not say anything. She was eager to feed me. She gave me venison. I ate a little, though I didn’t feel like eating meat.

I went to my study at my grandmother’s. As I tried to read, I was seized with a great fear, as if studying were, a terrible thing. My heart struggled within me. I burst into tears; I never wept so bitterly in my life. I left my books and ran away. I ran along the streets. My shoes slipped from my feet – I didn’t know where. I ran past haystack and got hay all over me. I kept on running along the road to Cossipore.

Since reading the Vivekachudamani I have felt very much depressed. In it Sankaracharya says that only through great tapasya and good fortune does one acquire these three things: a human birth, the desire for liberation, and refuge with a great soul. I said to myself: ‘I have surely gained all these three. As a result of great tapasya, I have been born a human being; through great tapasya, again, I have the desire for liberation; and through great tapasya, I have secured the companionship of such a great soul.”

Has anybody seen God as I see that tree? Sri Ramakrishna’s experience may be his hallucination. I want truth. The other day I had a great argument with Sri Ramakrishna himself. He said to me, “Some people call me God”. I replied, “Let a thousand people call you God, but I shall certainly not call you God as long as I do not know it to be true”. He said, “Whatever many people say is indeed truth; that is dharma.” Thereupon, I replied, “Let others proclaim a thing as truth, but I shall certainly not listen to them unless I myself realize it as truth.”

April 23, 1886: How amazing it is! One learns hardly anything, though one reads book for many years. How can a man realise God by practising Sadhana for two or three days? Is it easy to realise God? I have no peace.

Staying in the Cossipore garden, Sri Ramakrishna said to us, “The Divine Mother showed me that all of these are not my inner devotees.” Sri Ramakrishna said so, that day, with respect to both his men and women devotees.

Once I came to know about my true Self in Nirvi-kalpa Samadhi at the Cossipore garden-house. In that experience, I felt that I had no body. I could see only my face. The Master was in the upstairs room. I had that experience downstairs. I was weeping. I said,” What has happened to me?’’ The elder Gopal went to the Master’s room and said, “Naren is crying.” When I saw the Master he said to me, “Now you have known. But I am going to keep the key with me”. I said to him “What is it that happened to me?” Turning to the devotees, he said, “He will not keep his body if he knows who he is. But I have put a veil over his eyes.”

One day, in Cossipore garden, I had expressed my prayer to Sri Ramakrishna with great earnestness, Then, in the evening, at the hour of meditation, I lost the consciousness of the body, and felt that it was absolutely non-existent. I felt that sun, moon, space, time, ether and all that melted far away into the unknown; the body consciousness had almost vanished, and I had nearly merged in the Supreme. But I had just a trace of the feeling of Ego, so I could again return to the world of relativity from the Samadhi. In that state of Samadhi all the differences between T and ‘Brahman’ go away; everything is reduced to unity, like the waters of the Infinite Ocean, – water everywhere, nothing else exists -language and thought, all fail there.

After that experience, even after trying repeatedly, I failed to bring back the state of Samadhi. On informing Sri Ramakrishna about it, he said, “If you remain day and night in that state, the work of the Divine Mother will not be accomplished; therefore, you won’t be able to induce that state again; when your work is finished, it will come again!”

Sri Ramakrishna used to say that Avataras alone can descend to the ordinary plane from that state of Samadhi, (or the good of the world. Ordinary jivas do not; immersed in that state, they remain alive for a period of 21 days; after that, their body drops like a sere leaf from the tree of Samsara.

All the philosophy and scriptures have come from the plane of relative knowledge of subject and object. But, no thought or language of the human mind can fully express the reality which lies beyond the plane of relative knowledge ! Science, Philosophy, etc. are only partial truth; so, they can never be the adequate channels of expression for the transcendent reality. Hence, viewed from the transcendent standpoint, everything appears to be unreal – religious creeds and works, I and thou, and the universe – everything is unreal! Then only it is perceived that I am the only reality – ‘I am the all – pervading Atman and I am the proof of my own existence! Where is the room for a separate proof to establish the reality of my existence? I am, as the scriptures says, – always known to myself as the eternal subject. I have actually seen that state, realised it.

It happened when I used to meditate before a lighted fire under a tree at the Cossipore garden house. One day, while meditating, I asked Kali (later Abhedananda) to hold my hand. Kali said to me, “When I touched your body, I felt something like an electric shock coming to my body.”

[One day Sri Ramakrishna wrote on a piece of paper, “Naren will teach people.”] But I said to him, “I won’t do any such thing.” Thereupon he said, “Your very bones will do it.

Now all the ideas that I preach are only an attempt to echo his (Sri Ramakrishna’s) ideas. Nothing is mine originally. Every word that I have ever uttered which is true and good is simply an attempt to echo his voice. Read his life by Prof. Max Muller.

Well, there at his feet I conceived these ideas — there, with some other young men. I was just a boy. I went there (to Sri Ramakrishna) when I was about sixteen* Some of the other boys were still younger, some a little older, about a dozen or more. And together we concaved that this ideal had to be spread. And not only spread but made practical. That is to say, we must show the spirituality of the Hindus, the mercifulness of the Buddhists, the activity of the Christians, the brotherhood of the Mahommedans, by our practical lives. “We shall start a universal religion now and here,” he said, “we will not wait.”

Our teacher was an old man who could never touch a coin with his hands. He took just the little food offered, just so many yards of cotton cloth, no more. He could never be induced to take any other gift. With all these marvellous ideas, he was strict, because that made him free. The monk in India is the friend of the prince today, dines with him; and tomorrow he is with the beggar sleeps under a tree.

He (our teacher) used to call me Narayan and he loved me intensely, which made many quite jealous of me. He knew one’s character by sight, and never changed his opinion. He could perceive, as it were, supersensual things, while we try to know one’s character by reason, with the result that our judgements are often fallacious. He called some persons his Antarangas or belonging to the 1 inner circle and he used to teach them the secrets of his own nature and those of yoga. To the outsiders or Bahirangas, he taught those parables now known as ‘Sayings.’ He used to prepare those youngmen (the former class) for his work, and though many complained to him about them, he paid no heed. I may have perhaps a better opinion of a Bahiranga than an Antaranga though his actions, but I have a superstitious regard for the latter. “Love me, love my dog,” as they say. I love that Brahmin priest. Our teacher intensely, and, therefore, love whatever he used to love, whatever he used to regard! He was afraid about me that I might create a sect, if left to myself.

He used to say to some, “You will not attain spirituality in this life. He sensed everything, and this will explain his apparent partiality to some. He as a scientist, used to see that different people required different treatment. None except the “inner circle” were allowed to sleep in his room. It is not true that those who have not seen him will not attain salvation; neither is it true that a man who has seen him thrice will attain Mukti.

It has become a trite saying that idolatry is wrong, and every man swallows it at the present time without questioning. I once thought so, and to pay the penalty of that, I had to learn my lesson sitting at the feet of a man who realized everything through idols; I allude to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, my teacher, my master, my hero, my ideal, my God in life.

Despite the many iniquities that have found entrance into the practices of image-worship as it is in vogue now.

I do not condemn it. Aye, where would I have been if I had not been blessed with the dust of the holy feet of that orthodox, image- worshipping Brahmin!

When my Master, Sri Ramakrishna, fell ill, a Brahmin suggested to him that he apply his tremendous mental power to cure himself; he said that if my Master would only concentrate his mind on the diseased part of the body it would heal. Sri Ramakrishna answered,” What! bring down the mind that I have given to God; to this little body?” He refused to think of body and illness. His mind was continually conscious of God; it was dedicated to him utterly. He would not use it for any other purpose.

Am I able to sit quiet? Two or three days before Sri Ramakrishna’s passing away, She, whom he used to call ‘Kali ‘entered this body (of mine). It is She who takes me here and there and makes me work; without letting me remain quiet, or allowing me to look to my personal comforts.

No, I am not speaking metaphorically. Two or three days before his leaving the body, he called me to his side one day, and asking me to sit before him, looked steadfastly at me and fell into Samadhi. Then. I really felt that a subtle force like an electric shock was entering my body! In a little while, I also lost outward consciousness and sat motionless. How long I stayed in that condition I do not remember; when consciousness returned, I found Sri Ramakrishna shedding tears. On questioning him, he answered me affectionately,” Today, giving you my all, I have become a beggar. With this power, you are to do many works for the world’s good before you return,’

Yes, Sri Ramakrishna did say out of his own lips that he was God, the all-perfect Brahman, so many times* And he said this to all of us. One day while he was staying at the Cossipore garden, his body in imminent danger of {ailing off for ever, by the side of his bed I was saying in my mind, “Well, now if you can declare that you are God, then only will I believe you are really God Himself “

It was only two days before be passed away. Immediately he looked upwards, all of a sudden and said, ‘He who was Rama, He who was Krishna, verily is He now Ramakrishna in this body. And that not from the standpoint of your Vedanta!’ At this, I was struck dumb. Even we haven’t had yet the perfect faith, after hearing it again and again from the holy lips of our Lord himself—our minds still get disturbed now and then with doubt and despair — and so, what shall we speak of others being slow to believe? It is indeed a very difficult matter to be able to declare and believe a man with a body like ours to be a God Himself. We may just go the length of declaring him to be “a perfected one”, or “a knower of Brahman”. Well, it matters nothing, whatever you may call him and think of him, a Saint or a Knower of Brahman. Never did come to this earth such an all-perfect man as Sri Ramakrishna! In the utter darkness of the world, this great man is like the shining pillar of illumination in this age I and by his light alone will man now cross the ocean of Samsara!

Never during his life did he (Sri Ramakrishna) refuse a single prayer of mine; millions of offences has he forgiven me; such great love even my parents never had for me. There is no poetry, no exaggeration in all this. It is the bare truth and every disciple of his knows it. In times of great danger, great temptation, I have wept in extreme agony with the prayer, O God, do save me. and no response has come from anybody; but this wonderful saint, or Avatara or anything that he may be, has come to know of all my affliction through his powers of insight into human hearts and has lifted it off – in spite of my desire to the contrary – after getting me brought to his presence … Him alone I have found in this world to be like an ocean of unconditioned mercy.

Time and again, have I received in this life the marks of his grace. He stands behind and gets all the work done by me. When lying helpless under a tree in an agony of hunger, when I had not even a scrap of cloth for kaupin when I was resolved on travelling penniless round the world, even then help came in, always by the grace of Sri Ramakrishna. And again, when crowds jostled with one another in the streets of Chicago to have sight of this Vivekananda, then also I could digest without difficulty all the honours – a hundredth part of which would have been enough to turn mad an ordinary man – because I had his grace, and by his will, victory followed everywhere.

He (Sri Ramakrishna) was all Bhakti without, but within he was all Jnana; I am all Jnana without, but within my heart, it is all Bhakti. All that has been weak has been mine. All that has been life-giving, strengthening pure and bold, has been his inspiration, his words and he himself.

If there has been anything achieved by me, by thoughts, or words, or deeds, if from my lips has ever alien one word that has helped anyone in the world, I lay no claim to it; it was his. But if there have been curses falling from my lips, if there has been hatred coming out of me, it is all mine and not his.

Sri Ramakrishna himself is his own parallel. Has he any exemplar? Truly. I tell you; I have understood him (Sri Ramakrishna) very little. He appears to me to have been so great that whenever I have to speak anything about him, I am afraid lest I should ignore or explain away the truth, lest my little power should not suffice, lest in trying to extol him I should present his picture by painting him according to my lights and be little him thereby!

Sri Ramakrishna’s was a different case. What comparison can there be between him and ordinary men? He practised in his life all the different ideals of religions to show that each of them leads but to the, One Truth Shall you or I ever be able to do all that he has done? None of us has understood him fully, So I do not venture to speak about him anywhere and everywhere. He only knows what he really was; his frame was a human one only, but everything else about him was entirely different from others.

The fact is that Sri Ramakrishna is not exactly what the ordinary followers have comprehended him to be. He had infinite moods and phases. Thousands of Vivekanandas may spring forth through one gracious glance of his eyes! But instead of doing that he has chosen to get things done this time through me as bis single instrument and what can I do in this matter?

Verily, verily, I say unto you he who wants Him finds Him.