Sri Ramakrishna - The Great Master


We have much pleasure in presenting to the public “Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master”—the most comprehensive, authentic and critical estimate of the life, Sadhana and teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna. Sixty-six years have rolled down the stream of time since Sri Ramakrishna left the mortal coil. But the wave of spirituality raised by his life, has touched even the distant shores of both the hemispheres and is resurgent still in all its native potency in the thought-life of the different countries of the civilized world of today. In India his name has become a household word, a symbol of hope and solace and a sacred Mantra to conjure with. His inspired utterances have brought light where utter darkness prevailed before, solace to many a suffering soul and peace to many a distracted mind. The life which could have such a marvellous influence within such a short period, it is needless to say, is of unprecedented potency, whose full depth and significance will take ages to get revealed to humanity.

Descriptions of this wonderful life were given to the world by his various disciples and admirers from time to time in different languages since his disappearance from the earth. But none of them embodied a detailed account of this unique personality. Srimat Swami Saradanandaji Maharaj, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and General Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission from its very beginning to his passing away in 1927, feeling the necessity of such a biography, brought out five volumes in Bengali under the caption of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lila-prasanga, which contain many unpublished details of the life of the Master and can fairly be called an exhaustive treatment of the subject. The Swami wanted to write an English version of his Bengali work, and, in fact, he translated a few chapters which appeared in the two periodicals of the Mission, the Vedanta Kesari and the Prabuddha Bharata, but owing to his illness and various other causes, he could not complete the work. The eagerness of the general public outside Bengal to know more details of the wonderful life of the Master was being felt keenly and we thought we would be doing some service to our eager readers, if not to humanity at large, if we would present them with a faithful and literal English translation of the beautiful Bengali biography.

Srimat Swami Jagadanandaji, a very senior and learned monk of our Order, accepted at our request this Herculean task of translating the whole work of five volumes into English and left us under a deep debt of gratitude. It is a matter of great regret that he passed away last December before this remarkable work of his devotion could see the light of day. He took up this translation when he was verging on seventy, but finished the work in an incredibly short time and passed it on to the Editors. A disciple of the Holy Mother, one who knew the revered Swami Saradanandaji Maharaj and many other direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna intimately, the Swami is known to many readers of our literature and students of Vedanta as a very good teacher of the Scriptures, as the anonymous editor of many religious books and as the translator of some Vedantic Text-books like Sri Sankaracharya’s Upadesha Sahasri. His illuminative classes were a treat to all, young and old, lay and monastic, students in the Uttarakhand. One would always notice in him a happy but rare combination of Jnana and Bhakti. Untiring in work, uncompromising in his adherence to the Siddhantas (conclusions) of Vedanta he was throughout conspicuous by his great devotion to the Master and the Holy Mother.

Swami Nirvedananda, the learned writer of “Sri Ramakrishna and Spiritual Renaissance" (in the Cultural Heritage of India, Vol. II) and other books, has written a short but beautiful life of Srimat Swami Saradanandaji Maharaj. This will give the reader an inkling of the real personality of the Author of the book and will partly serve the purpose of an introduction to it. We are much beholden to him for this valuable addition to this work.

Prof. K. Subramanyam, M.A., L.T., Vice-Principal, Vivekananda College, Madras, has kindly gone through the entire manuscript and has ably edited it for us. He deserves our hearty thanks for this noble act.

Dr. Nandalal Bose, the famous artist of Santiniketan (Visva-bharati), has very kindly drawn the Dust cover (Panchavati at Dakshineswar) as a labour of love. We are indeed grateful to him.

In bringing out such a big volume, we have received substantial help in various ways from many lay and monastic friends who prefer to remain unknown soldiers. We offer our sincere thanks to them.

A word about the book itself: Sri Sri Ramakrishna Lila-prasanga holds a place, unique of its kind in hagiography. The life-story of a divine personality worshipped by millions as an Incarnation of God has never been written in this wise by any one of his apostles. Yet the reader will notice how the author has made the book so reliable and interesting by giving it a modern touch and using the scientific method all through. The book is not simply a biography of the latest Incarnation of the modern age; it combines a biography with a lucid study of the various cults of religion, mysticism and philosophy obtaining in India and elsewhere from the prehistoric times down to the modern era. The Subject-matter, the life of Sri Ramakrishna, is nothing short of an encyclopaedia of religion and philosophy.

It will not be out of place to make some mention of the Tantras, the sacred literature of the Shaktas of Bengal and elsewhere. Sir John Woodroffe alias Arthur Avalon, and his Indian collaborators have made the Tantras partly available to the English-reading public. As they have used the scientific method, their studies of the Tantras have much appeal to the modern mind. Sri Ramakrishna practised all the disciplines enjoined in the Sixty-four principal Tantras under the guidance of a good teacher. Some practices of the Tantras known as “left” which were not entirely ruled out by Sri Ramakrishna have been actually reoriented by him. Much of modern scientific teaching is consonant with the fundamental teaching of the Tantras. Things or practices which seem repulsive to the modern mind are not actually so. Readers, endowed with an exalted vision and the modern spirit of enquiry into truth, will be able to understand that the Tantric aspirants’ practices involving contacts with what are termed lowly, bad, ugly and vulgar, helped them to sublimate to the extent of making them realize the divine power which is always high, true, good and beautiful. We crave the thoughtfulness of the readers in their study of the Tantric chapter of Sri Ramakrishna’s Sadhana as we have not sacrificed the beauty and the substance of that episode to satisfy the claims of “modern” taste.

A right attitude is also necessary to enter into the spirit of Sri Ramakrishna’s Sadhana according to the Madhura Bhava of the Vaishnava school. We trust our readers will never lack it. “Where you cannot unriddle, learn to trust” is an adage that may be very helpful here. There is nothing queer or strange in the flights of the genius of one of the greatest master-mystics of the world like Sri Ramakrishna.

May a serious perusal of this new book inspire humanity to take a step forward on its march to Truth!

Sri Ramakrishna Math Mylapore, Madras-4
October, 1952.



The One born as Rama of incomparable greatness in all the three worlds, the very life of Janaka’s daughter; who, though himself beyond the world lo, did not give up doing good to it; the current of whose love flowed ever unchecked down even to a Chandala; and whose body of supreme knowledge was enveloped by devotion in the form of Sita; the One born as Krishna, who sang the song (the Gita) sweet and tranquil, yet deep as the roar of a lion, suppressing the great cataclysmic tumult raised in the battlefield and destroying the innate profound darkness of ignorancethat ever-renowned divine personality is now born as Ramakrishna.1

The word Sastra denotes the beginningless and endless “Veda”. It is this Veda only that is capable of teaching religion.

The Puranas and other books are denoted by the word Smriti. They have authority only so far as they have followed the Veda.

“Truth” is of two kinds: (1) that which is perceivable by the five senses of human beings and is deducible therefrom by inference and (2) that which is perceivable by the subtle powers arising from Yoga.

The knowledge acquired by the first means is called science and that acquired by the second method is the Veda.

The beginningless and endless mass of infinite knowledge called the “Veda” is eternally existent. The Creator Himself is creating, maintaining and destroying this world with its help.

The person in whom that power of intuition is manifested is called a Rishi and the infinite knowledge that he comprehends through that power is called the “Veda”.

The attainment of this Rishi-hood, the seer-ship, of the immediate knowledge of the “Veda” is the true realization of religion. Until the aspirant’s life opens out to it, religion for him is a “mere meaningless word” and he cannot be said to have set his foot on the threshold of religion.

The authority of the Veda holds good irrespective of time, place and person; that is, its authority is not confined to a particular time, country or person.

The Veda alone sets forth the universal religion. Although a little of that infinite knowledge is to be found in the Itihasas, Puranas, etc., of our country and in the religious books of foreign countries, yet as the first complete and unaltered collection of the entire body of the eternal knowledge, the mass of words compiled into four books called the Veda, well known to the Aryans, is worthy of occupying the highest place in all respects, of being adored by the whole world and of being the ultimate proof of the truth of all scriptures, indigenous or alien.

Regarding the mass of words called the Veda, discovered by the Aryans, it must also be understood that that part alone of it which is not Arthavada1 (eulogy) or Aitihya2(tradition) or otherwise empirically known or knowable is the Veda. This mass of words is divided into two parts, namely, that relating to knowledge and that relating to work. As the rituals of the Veda and their results described in the “work” portion exist for all time in the domain of Maya, they are subject to transformation according to the law of change with reference to time, place, person, circumstances, etc. Yes, they have been and will be changed. As social manners and customs depend on this “work” portion, they also do and will undergo change. Similarly, popular customs and manners too have been

and will be accepted from time to time, only so far as they are not contrary to the scriptures and the conduct of the wise. One of the main causes of the downfall of the Aryans is their subjection to such popular customs and manners as are contrary to the Veda, to the conduct of the wise and to the scriptures conformable to the Veda.

The “knowledge” portion of the Veda, otherwise known as the Vedanta, — aided by selfless action, concentration of mind, devotion and self-knowledge — is eternally taking people across the ocean of Maya to the other shore of liberation. As it is not at all influenced by time, place and agency, it alone is the teacher of the universal religion—a religion that is meant for all peoples, all countries and all times.

It is on the basis of the “work” portion of the Veda that books on the social system by Manu and others have taught, in addition to other matters, those actions that are conducive to social- welfare, varying with time, place and agency; while books like the Puranas have taken up the truths hidden in the Vedanta and have explained them in detail by way of describing the great characters of the divine incarnations and others who are embodiments of one or other of the innumerable aspects of the Divinity, which these books try to emphasize.

But, in course of time, the descendants of the Aryans deviated from right conduct and, lacking dispassion, devoted themselves to the prevailing popular customs and grew feeble in intellect. They failed to understand the import of even the Puranas, which appeared as contradictory to one another on account of their teaching those different divine aspects and preaching the subtle truths of the Vedanta in gross and concrete forms in detail, for the consumption of weak brains. Hence they split into numerous divisions the integral eternal religion, which is an aggregate of innumerable religious moods; and kindling the fire of sectarian hatred and jealousy, endeavoured to throw one another into that fire. When they thus turned Bharata, the land of religion, almost into a hell, Bhagavan Sri Ramakrishna incarnated himself in order to show what the real religion of the Aryans was and where lay the unity amongst the numberless sects and denominations of the Hindu religion, scattered pellmell over a vast range of time and place— the religion that has become a source of delusion to the people of the land and an object of hatred to those of other countries, owing to its apparent division into innumerable ever-warring sects bristling with contradictory customs. This he did by holding aloft before the gaze of all his own life as a living example of that religion eternal, by concentrating in himself its universality, lost by the lapse of time.

The Divine, whose embodiment the Veda is, almost wholly neglected literary education in this incarnation, in order to show how the eternally existing Sastra—with the help of which Isvara evolves, maintains and dissolves the universe—reveals itself in the heart of a Rishi wherefrom all Samskaras have been erased; so that, when the truth of the Sastras is thus proved, religion would be rediscovered and re-promulgated.

It is well known from such books as the Smritis1 that the Divine incarnates Himself again and again for the protection of the Veda, the true religion, and of Brahmana, the teacher of religion.

Even as a stream falling down a precipice gains in speed, and a wave rising after a fall swells higher, so after each downfall the Aryan society, shedding its morbidities, it is well known in history, emerges more glorious and vigorous under the compassionate guidance of the Divine.

Rising again after each fall, our society reveals more of the eternal perfection hidden within and the Divine, the internal controller of all beings, likewise manifests more and more His real nature in successive incarnations.

Again and again did this land of Bharata faint away and again and again did its divine Lord manifest Himself and re-awaken it.

But in the past no new-moon night of sorrow veiled this holy land with such a profound darkness as the present one, though the night is all but gone, being now at the fag end of its last quarter. However, the last fall of the country has been, as it were, to the bottom of the ocean, whereas, by comparison, all previous falls have been but the hoof-marks of a cow.

Therefore, compared with the splendour of this present awakening of the Aryan society, previous awakenings will appear as lacking in lustre like stars before the effulgence of the sun. And compared with the great vigour of this re-awakening similar occurrences of the past will appear as child’s play.

On account of the lack of fit persons to prevent the calamity, the fragments of the various aspects of the eternal religion lay scattered in all directions during the present downfall, in the forms of petty sects. It was partially preserved in some places and utterly lost in others.

The most compassionate divine Lord has manifested Himself far more fully in this modern age, in the aforesaid form of the incarnation of the age, than He ever assumed in any other age, playing as He has done on the entire gamut of all the spiritual moods and experiences and utilizing to the utmost all arts and sciences.

In consequence of this fact, during this renascence, the descendants of Manu, invigorated by this new strength, will be able not only to piece together the fragmented and scattered mass of spiritual knowledge, but also to re-discover the lost branches of arts and sciences, and to enrich their lives by the realization of those ideas and ideals through proper understanding.

Hence is being preached the harmony of all noble ideas and ideals at the dawn of this great age. And this infinite and eternal grand ideal that lay embedded and hidden in the ancient scripture and religion of India is being loudly proclaimed in society.

This new faith of the age is the fruitful source of all blessings to the world, especially to India (Bharata); and Sri Bhagavan Ramakrishna, the founder of this new religion of the age, is the reformed manifestation of the ancient holy founders of the religions of the past. Have faith in it, O man, grasp it!

O man, a dead person never returns; a past night does not come back; an emotion, however passionate, never takes the same form over again; a Jiva, likewise, does not assume the same body twice. We, therefore, call you back from the worship of the past to that of the palpable present, from the useless expenditure of energy on regrets for the bygone to the grand endeavour of the living present; from the waste of energy in recovering lost pathways to the broad new-laid neighbouring highways. Wise one, take the hint!

Imagine and feel the fully developed state of the power, the mere opening sound of which is reverberating in all the quarters to the very skies; give up all vain doubt, weakness, jealousy and malice common amongst a slave-race and help in the work of turning forward the wheel of this great age. We are the servants of the divine Lord, His children, His playmates, assisting Him in His play. Have this faith firmly implanted in your heart and come up to the field of action.



1. The above is a translation of two Sanskrit stanzas composed by Swami Vivekananda.—Tr.

1.    Vide Glossary.—Tr.

2.    Vide Glossary.—Tr.

1. Books dealing with rules and regulations, governing society and religion. —Tr.


By the grace of God, the First Part of Sri Ramakrishna, The Great Master is now published. It contains a detailed account of the early life of Sri Ramakrishna and the purpose of his advent. An attempt is made herein to present to the reader the mental picture we have formed through hearing from various people a number of unrelated incidents from the Master’s life at that time. Although persons like Hridayram Mukhopadhyaya, Ramlal Chattopadhyaya and others gave as much help as they could for ascertaining the correct dates of certain events, there still remains, in places, some doubt on such points. They could not produce the horoscopes of Sri Ramakrishna’s father, his elder brother and other near relatives; but they gave instead the approximate dates of certain events connected with the Master’s life, saying, for example: “At the time of Sri Ramakrishna’s birth his father was sixty-one or sixty-two year’s old”; “Ramkumar, his eldest brother, was his senior by thirty-one or thirty-two years”; and so on.

Nevertheless the reader will be convinced, when he reads the fifth chapter of this part, “A Great Soul Is Born”, that there is no doubt regarding the date of the birth of Sri Ramakrishna as recorded therein. We have been reassured about this and many other events recorded in this book by the Master’s own words, some of which were heard by the author himself. It is to the Master, therefore, that we are beholden for this information. When we first set about describing certain periods of his life, it seemed impossible for us to narrate the events of his childhood and youth in such a detailed and connected way. Realizing, therefore, that it is by the grace of the Lord, who “makes the dumb wax eloquent and the lame nimble enough to cross a mountain”, that this has become possible, we bow down to Him again and again.

It may also be said, in conclusion, that if the reader, after finishing this part of the book, goes through the other parts, namely, “As the Spiritual Aspirant” and “As the Spiritual Teacher (I & II)”, he will find the history of the Master’s life recorded chronologically from the date of his birth to the year 1881.1


1. Later another volume, “The Master in the Divine Mood, and Narendra Nath” was added to bring the Life up to 1886.—Tr.


1.    Spirituality is the pivot of life in India

When we make a comparative study of the spiritual beliefs and ideals of India and of other countries, we notice a vast difference between them From very ancient times India has taken the entities beyond the senses, like God, the self, the next world, etc., to be real, and has employed all its efforts to their direct realization, with the result that it has made their immediate experience or direct knowledge the final goal of the national as well as the individual endeavour. All its activities have accordingly been coloured by intense spirituality throughout the ages.

2.    The frequent birth of great souls in India is its cause

When we seek out the source, of this absorbing interest in things beyond the senses, we find that it is due to the frequent birth in India of men possessing a direct knowledge of these things and endowed with divine qualities. India came to acquire a firm faith in their extraordinary visions and unique manifestations of power, and became deeply interested in them, because it always had an opportunity to witness and discuss them Its national life was thus established from very ancient times on the solid foundation of spirituality; and keeping its gaze firmly fixed on this, it brought into existence a society of unique customs and practices, which enabled its individual members to attain the ultimate object of God-realization in a most natural manner through the performance of their daily duties according to their special tastes and qualities. As these rules and regulations have been followed generation after generation, the spiritual ideas of India are still alive and vigorous. In consequence, men and woman have, even today, a strong conviction that with the help of austerity, self-control and intense yearning everyone can have a direct vision of God, the Cause of the universe, and become forever united with Him

3.    The religion of India is founded on direct realization of God

That the religion of India is founded on God-vision becomes clear when we reflect upon the significance of words and expressions like Rishi (seer), Apta (one who has attained the goal of life), Adhikari (one possessed of authority), Prakriti-lina Purusha (a person merged in the cause of the universe), etc. These names have been used since Vedic times to describe the teachers who came to re-establish religion. It is beyond doubt that such men were designated by these names because they had given proof of their unique powers, acquired as a result of direct knowledge of the reality beyond the senses. This statement holds good in the case of every one of them, from the Rishis of the Vedic period to the divine incarnations of the Puranic (Epic) Age.

4.    The origin and development of the idea of the divine incarnation: Isvara as the controller of a cycle is found in the Sankhya philosophy

It does not take one long to understand that certain Rishis of the Vedic period came to be recognized during the Puranic period as incarnations. In the Vedic period it was understood that certain persons had the power to perceive the reality beyond the senses, but not that they possessed different degrees of that power. People were content to call all of them “Rishis” In course of time, however, as their intelligence and sense of discrimination became keener, they realized that not all the Rishis were endowed with the same degree of power. In shedding light on the spiritual world, some of them shone like the sun, some like the moon, some again, like bright stars, and others like ordinary fire-flies. They then began to classify the Rishis, and in so doing found that some of them were endowed with especial powers for manifesting spiritual truths or possessed these powers preeminently. Thus, in the Philosophic Age, some Rishis came to be known as Adhikari-Purushas (persons of authority). Even Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya philosophy, who was sceptical regarding the existence of God, had to accept the existence of these Rishis; for he could not doubt what he actually saw. Accordingly, Kapila and his followers, in their writings, put these “Adhikari Purushas” in the class of those “merged in Prakriti”. Searching for the cause of the advent of these uniquely powerful persons, the Sankhya philosophers came to the conclusion that, endowed with good qualities, such as purity, self-control, etc., they had acquired infinite knowledge, but that an intense desire to do good to the people had prevented them, for a time, from being merged in the real nature of the Self of infinite glory. Plunged, instead, into the all-powerful Prakriti, by virtue of that desire, they had come to know its powers to be their own; and, possessing the special powers, they did good to men in an infinite number of ways for one cycle, and at last became completely identified with the Self.

5.    The all pervading Personal God during the Age of Devotion

The Sankhya teachers have, again, divided the “persons merged in Prakriti”, according to the difference in their powers, into two classes: “Kalpaniyamaka Isvara” (ruler for one cycle) and “Isvarakotis” (those within the orbit of the former).

After the Philosophic Age, came a period when love for the divine was especially developed. At that time, through the overwhelming influence of Vedanta, people came to believe in an Isvara, an all-pervading Person, the aggregate of all beings. They acquired also the strong faith that Knowledge and Yoga could be had to the fullest degree by meditation on Him with single-minded devotion. And they soon came to believe that Isvara, in His capacity as ruler for a cycle, was either a partial or a full manifestation of the all-pervading Personal Isvara who is by nature eternally pure, eternally awake and eternally free. Thus the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate arose in the Puranic Age, and those Rishis of the Vedic Age who possessed unique and extraordinary qualities began to be known as incarnations. It was the advent of persons endowed with such qualities that made people gradually believe in the existence of incarnations. Founded on the supersensuous visions and experiences of these persons, the unshakable edifice of religion gradually rose, like the snow-capped Himalayas, to reach the sky. Because these persons had achieved the highest goal of life, they were called “Aptas”, and their words, expressing the highest knowledge, came to be known as the Vedas.

6.    The worship of the spiritual teacher (Guru) is another reason for the belief

Another reason for accepting certain Rishis as incarnations was the practice of worshipping the spiritual teacher (Guru). In India, from the time of the Vedas and the Upanishads, men and women worshipped the teacher, the giver of spiritual knowledge, with great reverence. This worship, combined with meditation, convinced them in course of time that no man could occupy the position of a spiritual teacher till the divine, super-conscious power manifested itself in him. At first they looked upon and worshipped the Guru as belonging to a different and higher type of humanity, because they found that, in contrast with the selfishness of the ordinary human being, the true teacher did good to the people out of pure compassion and without any selfish motive. Later, through faith, reverence and devotion, they perceived directly in the Guru the manifestation of the divine power, and this convinced them more and more of his divine attributes. They had prayed for so long a time to the gracious Lord, imploring Him to “protect them with His compassionate face” (Rudra yat te dakshinam mukham, tena mam pahi nityam)1 that their prayer was granted at last; and the compassion of the Lord stood revealed before them in the person of the Guru.

7.    The doctrine of God-incarnate is founded on the knowledge gained from the Vedas and through Samadhi

When men had proceeded thus far in the worship of the Guru, it did not take them long to identify him—through whom the special Lila (play) of the divine power was being manifested—with the knowledge-giving, benign form of the divine Lord. Thus it seems that the continued worship of the Guru strengthened the idea of God-incarnate. As already mentioned, the doctrine of incarnation actually dates from the Puranic Age, but the idea itself originated in the Vedic Age. The experience of the attributes, actions and nature of Isvara, during the ages of the Vedas, Upanishads and Darsanas (Philosophical systems), appears to have gradually assumed a more definite shape and then given rise to the belief in the doctrine of God-incarnate, it may also be that in the age of the Upanishads, Rishis, coming down by the reverse process from the state of Samadhi achieved by the path of “not this”, “not this”, through self-control, austerity, etc., realized that the whole universe was actually the manifestation of the unqualified (Nirguna) Brahman. It was only then, perhaps, that they acquired devotion to the all-pervading Brahman with attributes (Saguna), called Isvara, and began to worship Him. Having thus obtained a clear idea of Isvara’s qualities, actions, nature, etc., they might have become convinced of the possibility of His being manifested in a special way.

8.    The experiences of God’s compassion spreads the idea of God incarnate in the Puranic Age

It was in the Puranic Age, then, that belief in the existence of incarnations was especially developed. Notwithstanding various defects in the development of spirituality in that age, it was faith in the glory of God-incarnate that made it really great. This belief in the existence of the incarnation also enabled men to comprehend the eternal play of the Saguna Brahman. As a consequence they realized that God, the Cause of the universe, was their only guide in the spiritual world; and they were convinced that the infinite compassion of the divine Lord would never let them to be doomed, however reprobate they might be, but that the Lord would in every age take form as an incarnation, discover new paths suited to man’s nature and make Self-realization easy for him.

9. The essence of what the Sastras say about the divine nature of the incarnation

It will not be out of place to give here a brief summary of the essential ideas recorded in the Smritis and Puranas about the birth, action, etc. of the divine incarnation, who is by nature eternally pure, awake and free. Unlike a Jiva (mortal being), he never gets entangled in or bound by his actions, for, content in the Atman from his very birth, no selfish idea of worldly enjoyment arises in his mind, as it does in the case of a Jiva. His whole life is dedicated to the good of others. Being always free from the meshes of Maya, he retains the memory of his previous lives.

10.    The incarnation’s unbroken memory

It may be asked: Does he have that unbroken memory from childhood? The Puranas reply: Although latent within him, it is not always manifest during his childhood. But as soon as his body and mind mature, he becomes aware of it with little or no effort. This applies to all of his actions. Since he assumes a human body, he has to behave in all respects like a human being.

11.    Incarnations give new shape to religion

As soon as the body and mind of the incarnation fully develops, the aim of his life is revealed to him He then realizes that the sole purpose of his coming is to re-establish religion; and whatever aids are necessary to fulfil that purpose come of themselves in an unexpected way. He walks in light where others grope in darkness; fearless, he attains his goal and beckons to men to follow in his footsteps. Untrodden paths leading to the realization of Brahman beyond Maya, and of Isvara, the cause of the universe, are discovered by him again and again, from age to age.

12.    The time and circumstances of the coming of incarnations, as stated in the Sastras

The authors of the Puranas did not merely analyse the actions and characteristics of the incarnation; they also came to a definite conclusion regarding the occasion of his coming to the earth. With the passage of time, the eternal universal religion declines and, deluded by the inscrutable powers of Maya, men spend their lives thinking that the world and its pleasures are all-important. Eternal verities like the Self, Isvara, liberation, etc., are looked upon as dreamland imaginings of poets of a bygone age steeped in delusion and darkness. But when men at last discover that no amount of wealth and worldly enjoyment, obtained by fair means or foul, can fill the void in their hearts, and when the waves of a shoreless black sea of despair overwhelm them, they cry out in the anguish of their hearts for deliverance. It is then that, out of His innate compassion for weak humanity, God incarnates Himself and frees from the accumulated encrustations of ages the eternal religion, which then shines like the eclipsed moon freed from Rahu.1 Then, taking hold of man’s hand, He sets him on the path of religion. An effect is never produced without a cause, nor does Isvara assume a body in His Lila till a universal need demands it. When such a want becomes overwhelmingly felt in every part of society, the infinite mercy of the Lord becomes, as it were, crystallized, and He appears as the spiritual teacher of the world. This is the conclusion that the authors of the Puranas have arrived at after witnessing the repeated appearances of incarnations.

13. The advent of the incarnation in the modern age

It is the necessity of the age, then, that calls forth an incarnation of God, the all-knowing teacher of the world, who throws new light on religion. The land of India which has always been conducive to the practice of religion and spirituality, has become holy and sanctified by bearing upon its bosom the footprints of incarnations again and again throughout the ages. All-powerful incarnations have appeared in India, even up to the present time, whenever the necessity for them has arisen. It is well known how, a little more than four hundred years ago, the shining example of Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya1 made people lose themselves in esctasy in singing the name of Hari. Has such a time recurred? Did India, shorn of its glory and reduced to an object of contempt to foreigners, once again arouse the compassion of the Lord to incarnate Himself? That this has happened will become clear on a perusal of the life-story of the great soul, possessed of an infinite urge to do good, which is here recorded. India has once more been blessed by the coming, in response to the need of the age, of One who, incarnating Himself as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and others, renewed the eternal religion again and again.


1. Svetasvatara Upanishad, 4. 21.

1. A demon in Hindu Mythology, said to cause the eclipse by swallowing the sun or moon.

1. His full name was Sri Krishna-Chaitanya Bharati.—Tr.


1.    The power and progress of man in modern times

Even the simplest person can see how far, with the help of education, wealth and self-effort, mankind is progressing at present in every field. It seems as if man refuses to set a limit to his advance in any department of life. Not satisfied with travelling on land and water, he has invented a new machine to fly in the sky; he has satisfied his curiosity by going down to the bottom of the sea and by exploring seething volcanoes; he has scaled mountains covered with perpetual snow, crossed the seas and observed accurately the mysteries of the various regions of the world; he has discovered a life, common with his own, pulsating in creepers, plants and trees. He extends his knowledge by subjecting all beings to his observation and experimentation. Achieving control over the five elements — earth, water, fire, air and ether—he has become acquainted with innumerable facts relating to this earth of ours. Still unsatisfied, he is eager to discover the secrets of distant stars and planets and is already successful to some extent in his quest. There is also no lack of effort on his part to investigate the laws of the inner life; by experiment and research he continually discovers new truths in that domain. He has reached the conclusion that one species of beings evolves into another and that the mind consists merely of subtle matter, and therefore has a beginning and an end. He is now assured that as in the external, so also in the internal world, every event is regulated by an inviolable law; and he is now familiar with the subtle laws governing irrational mental impulses, like the urge to commit suicide. Again although he has no positive evidence regarding the survival of the individual, the study of history has convinced him that the national life not only continues but also evolves. Thus, finding the fulfilment of the individual life in that of the nation, he wages perpetual war against ignorance with the aid of science and co-operative undertakings in order to achieve success in this regard. Imagining that, given unending struggle, he can discover the most hidden regions of the external and internal worlds and can achieve eternal progress, he has launched the boat of his life on a current of endless desires.

2.    The centre of this power and progress in the west: it spreads to the East

Although this expansion of life originated chiefly in the West, a good deal of its influence is noticeable in India and other Eastern countries. As science daily brings East and West closer to each other, the Eastern outlook on life is gradually undergoing a change and conforming more and more to the Western pattern. This becomes clear from a study of the history of Persia, China, Japan, India and other Oriental countries. For better or for worse, Western thought has had, beyond any doubt, an influence on the East. It appears that the whole world will, in course of time, be pervaded by Western ideas.

3.    The consequences of this progress are to be ascertained in the light of the western way of life

For an answer to the question whether this expansion of life has brought about good or bad results, we must go particularly to the West, where we shall also discover its source and nature. Such an investigation will show us how far the early ideas of the West have progressed or deteriorated, and whether there has been a loss or gain in man’s happiness. When this has once been ascertained regarding the individual and the nation in the West, the same process can, without difficulty, be extended to other countries, provided the time factor and the prevailing conditions are taken into account.

4.    The cause and course of this progress in the West

History has recorded, in very clear terms, that from ancient times the severe cold in the dominant Western countries made men intensely body-conscious. This made them selfish. At the same time they realized that their selfish interests were best served by united effort, which in turn made them patriotic. This self-interest and patriotism led them, in course of time, to conquer other nations with great daring and rob them of their wealth. The struggle for existence then became easier, and gradually men acquired the capacity to look into themselves, which made them seek learning and the nobler qualities. They felt more and more drawn towards these higher pursuits beyond the mere struggle for existence. But now they encountered obstacles. Religious belief and a bigoted priesthood stood in the way of further progress. The priests did not merely utter threats condemning men to hell if they acquired such learning; they went further, and actually employed fraud, force and stratagem to prevent them from proceeding along that path. But the Westerners, being accustomed to pursuing their own self-interest, did not take long to find out how to overcome the priests’ opposition. They pressed forward, forcibly removing the priests from their path. Rejecting the scriptures and denouncing religion as well as the priests, they began to guide their life along a new channel, and made it a principle not to believe or accept anything that could not be perceived by the senses.

Holding that truth can be ascertained only by the direct evidence of the senses backed by reasoning, inference, etc., the West henceforward began to worship objective matter. Thinking that the subject, perceived as the “I-consciousness”, belonged likewise to the category of matter, it therefore proceeded to investigate the nature of that consciousness also by the method of perception, of which we have already spoken. Thus, for the last four hundred years, men in the West have accepted only those things in the universe which could be investigated through the five senses. Within that period physical science outgrew the mistakes and limitations of its infancy and entered upon its youth characterized by energy, optimism, enthusiasm and love of power.

5.    Ignorance of the knowledge of the Atman: the resulting dissatisfaction

Although capable of achieving great progress in physical science, the procedure just mentioned could not lead men to the knowledge of the Atman. For, the only way to attain that knowledge is through self-control, selflessness and introspection, and the only instrument for attaining it is the mind with all its functions brought under absolute control. It is therefore not surprising that, being attracted only by external objects, they missed the path to Self-knowledge and identifying themselves with the body became materialists. That is why they regard worldly enjoyment all-important and make a special effort to obtain it. Their knowledge of material things, acquired through science, has been applied chiefly to that end and has made them more and more selfish and conceited. Therefore we find in the West a social system based on wealth. We also find there death-dealing weapons, deep-rooted discontent due to poverty side by side with abounding prosperity, and unquenchable thirst for wealth, the occupation and oppression of other countries, and so on. Because of all this, the hankering of the soul is not satisfied; even the belief in the survival of the nation after the death of the individual brings no happiness. After careful thought, certain people in the West have at last come to realize that the knowledge obtained through the senses will not enable them to discover the reality beyond time and space. Science gives them a fleeting indication of its existence, but nothing more; for that reality is beyond its reach and understanding. A feeling of utter helplessness has come over men and there is a growing lament in their hearts, because of the overthrow of that God on whom they depended for all their strength and power, and through whose grace they enjoyed splendour and prosperity.

6.    If the East wants to ‘progress’ like the West, it has to cultivate selfishness and a passion for sense-pleasures

Thus a study of history shows that Western civilization is founded on self-love, desire for worldly possessions and absence of faith in religion. Should therefore an individual or a nation wish to achieve the results obtained by the West, he or it must build on that foundation. That is the reason why Japan and other Oriental countries which have modelled their national life entirely after the West cannot, with all their love of country and nation, escape these evils. This is the unfortunate result of being inspired by Western ideals, as will become clear by a study of Indian life after it came in contact with the West.

7.    Foundation of the ancient national life of India

The first question that may be asked is whether India ever had any national life before it came in contact with the West. The answer is that, although it was not there in name, it undoubtedly existed in fact. For even in those days the people of India as a whole venerated the Guru, the Ganga, the Gayatri and the Gita; and “Go” (the cow) was worshipped everywhere. Ideas from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other religious books inspired and guided the life of every man, woman and child; and Sanskrit, the “language of the gods”, was the common medium of expression for the learned. There were many other similar factors of unity, and there is no doubt that religious ideas and religious practice constituted the bed-rock of that unity.

8.    Founded on religion, the society of India never ran after worldly enjoyments

Religion, the basis of the national life in India, made her civilization unique. The chief characteristic of this civilization was self-control, which regulated both individual and national conduct. “Through pleasure, beyond pleasure” was the maxim of every Hindu in his journey through this life, which was looked upon as only a preparation for the life to come. Reminded of this high ideal at every stage of the individual or national life, a Hindu could not lose sight of it. He was forced, so to say, to keep himself always oriented towards this grand goal. It is for this reason that the caste or class system did not for a long time create any conflict of interests, and prevented the growth of discontent in society; for when anyone could achieve supreme knowledge or liberation by the unselfish performance of his own caste or class duties, irrespective of his birth, high or low, what could possibly be his cause for discontent? Contrary to what happened in Western society which is based on the right to equal opportunities for enjoyment, there was no dissatisfaction among social groups in ancient Indian society, based as it was on the equal right and opportunity to achieve the highest ideal, namely, supreme knowledge or liberation. The changes that have occurred in the national life of India since, and as a result of, its contact with the West are discussed below.

9.    The occupation of India by the West and its result

It was natural and inevitable that the occupation by the West should bring about many changes in the distribution of the national wealth in India. But the influence of the West went farther. It produced a radical change in the deep-rooted convictions which had guided men and women from times immemorial. As a result, the impression grew that the doctrine, “Enjoy to renounce”— i.e., the aim of enjoyment is ultimately to renounce everything—was an empty tale invented by self-seeking priests; that the idea of survival after death was but a poet’s fancy; and that no rule could be more unjust and unreasonable than that a man should be condemned to remain all his life in the stratum of society where he was born. Coming more and more under the spell of the West, India rejected the ideal of renunciation and self-control and began to run after worldly pleasures. This attitude brought with it the decay of the ancient system of education and training, and there arose atheism, love of imitation, and lack of self-confidence. Thus the nation lost its backbone. People came to believe that their long-cherished beliefs and practices were erroneous, and they felt that perhaps their traditions were crude and semi-civilized, as the West with its wonderful knowledge of science declared them to be. Blinded by the desire for enjoyment, India forgot her ancient culture and glory. The loss of that memory confused her understanding, and the national existence itself was at stake. Finding that, even for worldly enjoyment, she had to depend on others, India was overcome with a sense of frustration. Having thus lost the way both to enjoyment and to liberation, and yet being bent on imitating others, the nation was now buffeted by waves of desires, like a boat drifting without a helmsman.

10.    The attempt to revitalize India in imitation of the West, and its results

There arose a clamour on all sides that there never had been a national life in India; that although, thanks to the West, there was at last some sign of it, there were still many obstacles to its full growth. Deep-rooted religious beliefs were said to have smothered it. Idolatry— the worship of innumerable gods and goddesses—was also blamed for keeping it submerged so long. “Away with idolatry!” people shouted. “Root it out, only then will the men and women of the country have new life instilled into them.” Christianity began to be preached, and, in imitation of it, the idea of monotheism. Prostrate India was made to listen to lectures—delivered at public meetings held in the Western manner—on politics, sociology, the freedom of women and widow-marriage. But the feeling of frustration and despair, instead of lessening, grew stronger. The railway, the telegraph and other products of Western civilization came into use; but these did not mend matters, because all such innovations could neither touch nor stimulate the ideals on which the life of the land depended. Since the proper remedy was not applied, the disease could not be cured. How could India, whose soul was religion, be brought to life if her religion was not resuscitated? The influence of the West had brought about its fall. Would it not be futile, then, to look to the atheistic West for its resurrection? Being itself imperfect, how could

the West make another part of the world perfect?

11.    The national life of India: its merits and demerits

It cannot be said that there were no defects at all in the national life of India before the coming of the Westerners. But the nation being vigorous, there was a constant endeavour on its part to remove any defects. Now that the nation and society were lacking in this effort, the spread of Western ideas and ideals, instead of curing the disease, was on the point of killing the patient.

12.    The present decline of religion is the result of the spread of Western thought

It is thus clear that the decline of religion in the West has affected India also. One is surprised to find how far this decay of religion has spread all over the world at the present time. If there is really such a thing as religion, and if men have the power to realize it, through the grace of God, there is no doubt whatsoever that the modern age, steeped in sensuous pleasures, has strayed far away from it. That is the reason why science, although enlarging the scope of modern life by providing men with all kinds of means to enjoyment, has failed to bring them peace. Who will come to the rescue? Whose heart will be so moved by this restlessness and agony of the world as to make him ignore all sense-pleasures and discover a new mode of religion suited to the age? Who will reverse the downward course of religion in East and West, and once again teach men to follow the path to peace?

The divine Lord has promised in the Gita that, through His Maya, He will assume a human body and manifest His powers whenever religion declines, and will help men to obtain peace. Will not the need of the age rouse His compassion? Will not man’s helplessness and despair urge God to assume a body?

13.    God incarnates once again to stop the decline of religion

The demand of the times has, O reader, actually brought this about; for the divine Lord has, in truth, once again been born as the spiritual Teacher of the world. Listen with faith to His gracious message: As many faiths, so many paths and you will realize the divine Lord through any spiritual practice performed with a sincere heart. Let us dwell in admiration on the unheard-of renunciation and austerities practised by Him in order to bring back that transcendent knowledge to the world. Come, let us discuss and meditate on that holy life, free from the slightest taint of lust, and thus purify ourselves.


1. Why an incarnation is born in a poor family

With the exception of Sri Ramachandra and Lord Buddha, all the divine incarnations were born in poverty and hardship. Consider, for example, the childhood of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the glory of the race of Kshatriya princes. He was born in a prison and spent his childhood away from his kith and kin in a community of humble cowherds; or the life of Lord Jesus, who, although born in a stable, with a manger for cradle, brought glory to his humble parents; or that of Bhagavan Sankara, born after his father’s death, the son of a poor widow; or of Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya, of common parentage; and finally, the humble birth of the Prophet Mohammad, the founder of Islam But despite this fact, none of them was born in a family where contentment did not reign supreme in the midst of want and poverty; or where the warmth of love and selflessness did not prevail over the chill of penury; or where the hearts of the parents were not adorned with renunciation and purity, and adamantine firmness and austerity were not matched with tender charity and kindness.

If we think deeply, we find that there is a subtle connection between the condition of poverty and the future course of the lives of the incarnations. For unless, from their early years, they had known and sympathized with the lot of the poor, the oppressed and the miserable, how could they, in later years, have wiped away the tears of such people and brought them solace? That, however, is not all that the incarnations aimed to accomplish. We have already seen that they came into the world mainly to arrest the decline of religion. To fulfil that object they had to acquire intimate knowledge of the principles underlying religion in the past, and, to bring out by a study of the causes of its decline, new and perfected forms of religion suited to particular times and places. It is in the huts of the lowly and not in the palaces of the rich that this intimate knowledge can be gained; for it is the poor man, deprived of the enjoyment of worldly pleasures, who clings to God and His dispensation as his main support. Although, therefore, religion declines everywhere, a little gleam of the old teaching still brightens the poor man’s hut. That is perhaps why these great souls, the world-teachers, are attracted at the time of their birth to the huts of the poor.

A cluster of three villages, forming a triangle, is situated in Bengal, not far from the place where the north-western part of the district of Hoogly joins the districts of Bankura and Medinipur. Although known to the villagers themselves as Sripur, Kamarpukur and Mukundapur, these three villages nestle so close together that they appear to the traveller as different quarters of the same village. The people of the surrounding villages called all the three Kamarpukur, probably because the local landlords had lived, in that village for many generations. At the time we are speaking of, Kamarpukur formed a part of the rent-free estate belonging to the family of the spiritual teacher of the Maharaja of Burdwan. The descendants of this family, Gopilal Goswami, Sukhlal Goswami and others,1 were living there.

The town of Burdwan is situated about thirty-two miles north of Kamarpukur. A metalled road, skirting Kamarpukur, leads from there to Puri to the south-west. Many poor pilgrims and Sadhus walk along this road to Puri to pay obeisance to Sri Jagannath, the Lord of the universe, and return the same way. The famous temple of Tarakeswar Mahadeva is situated about nineteen or twenty miles north of Kamarpukur. A road passing through Jahanabad or Arambagh on the bank of the river Dwarakeswar connects that place with Kamarpukur. Moreover two highways—one from Ghata, eighteen miles to the south, and the other from Vanavishnupur, twenty-six miles to the west—enter Kamarpukur.

3.    The former prosperity of Kamarpukur and the neighbourhood and the present condition

No words can express the atmosphere of peace that pervaded the mainly agricultural villages of Bengal before they were devastated by malaria in 1867. Surrounded by extensive fields, these small villages of the Hooghly district looked like islands floating in a vast green area. The people enjoyed health and strength, as well as happiness and contentment, since they led an outdoor life and had plenty to eat, the soil being extremely fertile. The villages were densely populated, and the villagers, besides cultivating the fields, engaged themselves in various small industries. Thus Kamarpukur is still famous in that part of the country for Jilapi and Nabat (sweets), and its people even now make a decent living by manufacturing hookah pipes of ebony and selling them in Calcutta. At one time it was famous for producing yarn, Dhotis and towels and for such other handicrafts. Well-known cloth merchants, Vishnu Chapdi and others, lived in this village and maintained a good business with Calcutta. A market is held in the village, even now, every Tuesday and Saturday, and people from the surrounding villages (Tarahat, Vadangaj, Sihar, Desra etc.,) bring to it for sale article’s of daily use, such as yarn, Dhotis, towels, cooking-pots, pitchers, baskets, fine and coarse mats etc. along with the produce of the fields. Numerous ceremonial festivals are still observed. To this day, in the month of Chaitra, Kamarpukur reverberates with songs in praise of the goddess Manasa, as well as with the Gajan (Garjana) song in praise of Siva, and in the month of Vaisakh or Jyaishtha, with songs about Hari continuing uninterruptedly for periods of three days. Moreover all kinds of ceremonies pertaining to special occasions (Pal Parvana)1 are performed throughout the year in the house of the landlord, while daily and special worships take place in the established temples. The poverty of the village has now put a stop to many other similar festivities.

4.    The worship of Dharma in that part of the country

At one time the worship of Dharma, which was originally one of the three principal ‘gems’ of the Buddhists, was celebrated annually with great pomp and splendour. But that time is gone. Sri Dharma is now looked upon as Kurma (the second of the ten important incarnations of Vishnu) and receives only ordinary worship here and in the surrounding villages. Even brahmins are sometimes seen worshipping the image of this deity. One hears different names for Sri Dharma in different villages. Thus, the Dharma of Kamarpukur is called Rajadhiraja; the Dharma installed at Sripur is named Yatrasiddhiraja; and the one at the village called Madhuvati, near Mukundapur, is known as Sannyasiraja. The chariot procession (Ratha Yatra) of the Dharma of Kamarpukur used to be celebrated formerly with much pomp. The god’s big chariot with its nine pinnacles could be seen near the temple; but after it broke down it was never rebuilt. The temple is also falling to pieces for want of repairs, and its priest, Yajnesvara, has now removed the deity to his own house.

5.    The Haldar tank, the Bhuti stream and the mango grove

People of various castes, high and low, such as the Brahmin, Kayastha, weaver, milkman, blacksmith, potter, fisherman and Dom (a low caste), live at Kamarpukur. There are three or four tanks in the village, the biggest being called the Haldarpukur. There are also many small ponds, some of them with large numbers of hundred-petalled lotuses and white water-lilies. There are still many brick houses and tombs in the village, though in earlier days there was a larger number of them. The broken temple of Ramananda Sankhari, the dilapidated Rasa-platform of Fakir Datta, heaps of bricks overgrown with jungle, and deserted shrines in various places are evidence of the former prosperity of the village. There are two burning-ghats, called Budhui Moral and Bhutir Khal, one to the northwest, the other to the north-east. To the west of the Bhutir Khal are the common grazing ground, the public mango grove planted by Manikraja, and the Amodar river. The Bhuti stream flows south and joins this river not far from the village.

6.    Manikraja of Bhursubo

A mile north of Kamarpukur there is a village called Bhursubo, where lived a very rich man named Manik Chandra Bandyopadhyaya, commonly known as Manikraja to the people of the surrounding villages. Besides the mango grove just mentioned, certain tanks named Sukhasayar and Hatisayar still remind us of him. It is said that on several occasions about a lakh of Brahmins1 were invited and fed at his palace.

7.    The fort at Mandaran

In the village of Mandaran, south-east of Kamarpukur, there used to be an impregnable fort built to protect the people of the surrounding villages from the attacks of enemies. The course of the neighbouring rivulet, Amodar, was skilfully diverted to serve as a moat for this fort.

8.    The big tank of Uchalan and the battlefield of Mogalmari

The ruins of the gateway, the tower and the moat of the fort, and the temple of Siva named Saileswar, not far from it, exist to this day. They indicate the importance of this part of the country during the time of the Pathan rule. It is by the Mandaran fort that the road leading to Burdwan passes. On both sides of this road are many large tanks, the largest being the one at a place called Uchalan, eighteen miles north of the fort. There is also an elephant-stable in ruins at a place along this road. This shows clearly that the road was constructed for use during wars and disturbances. The existence of the battlefield of Mogalmari by this road also attests to the same fact.

9.    Ramananda Roy, the landlord of the village of Dere

Two miles west of Kamarpukur there are three villages—called Satbere, Narayanpur, and Dere— situated side by side. The former prosperity of these villages can be inferred from various signs, such as the tank in the village of Dere and the temple near by. At the time of which we are speaking, the three villages were included in different estates, and Ramananda Roy, the landlord of Dere, lived in the village Satbere. This landlord, who was not very rich, greatly oppressed his tenants. When angry for some reason or other, he did not hesitate to deprive a tenant of all his possessions. None of his sons or daughters survived him It is said that he could leave behind no progeny on account of the sin of oppressing the tenants. After his death all his estate and property fell into others’ hands.

10.    Manikram Chattopadhyaya of Dere

About one hundred and fifty years ago, there lived a religious-minded Brahmin family of moderate means in the village of Dere. They were of noble descent, observed the customs of pious Hindus, and worshipped Sri Ramachandra. The temple of Siva and the adjoining tank known as the Chatujee tank still commemorate their memory. Sri Manikram Chattopadhyaya of this family had three sons and a daughter. Of these, the eldest, Kshudiram, was born probably in A.D. 1775. After him came Ramsila, the daughter, and the two other sons, Nidhiram and Kanairam.

11.    Manikram’s son Kshudiram

It is not known whether Kshudiram ever became proficient in any kind of learning that brought him money. But the Lord had blessed him with truthfulness, contentment, forgiveness, renunciation and other noble qualities, the possession of which is considered by the Sastras the mark of a good Brahmin. He was tall and strong and had a fair complexion and pleasing looks. Kshudiram showed a deep devotion to Sri Ramachandra, who had been worshipped in his family generation after generation. He was in the habit of performing Sandhya, along with his other daily routine, after which he would collect flowers for the worship of Raghuvir (Ramachandra). Not until he finished his worship would he eat anything. He never accepted gifts from Sudras and would even refuse invitations from Brahmins who performed religious rites for them Nor would he drink water touched by Brahmins who took money for giving their daughters in marriage. He was greatly loved and respected by the villagers for his faithful observance of pious customs.

12.    Chandradevi, wife of Kshudiram

Kshudiram took up management of the ancestral property on the death of his father. He performed this duty as best as he could, remaining at the same time steadfast in the path of religion. Some time previously he had married and taken up family responsibilities, but his wife had died young. When he was about twenty-five years of age he married a second time; The bride’s name was Chandramani, but in the family she was called simply ‘Chandra’. Her father’s house was in the village of Saratimayapur. She was simple-hearted, good-looking and devoted to the service of the gods and the twice-born. But her outstanding qualities were her heart-felt religious faith, love and affection, and it was these that made her dear to all. Born probably in the year 1791, she must have been only about eight years old at the time of her marriage in 1799. Her first son, Ramkumar, is said to have been born in 1805. A daughter, Katyayani, was born five years later, and she rejoiced at the birth of her second son, Rameswar, in 1826.

13.    Kshudiram lost his property in a dispute with the landlord

It did not take Kshudiram long to discover how difficult it was to manage worldly affairs without deviating from the path of righteousness. Probably a short time after his daughter Katyayani was born he had to undergo a very hard test. We have already spoken of the oppression of the tenants by Ramananda Roy, the landlord of the village. Annoyed with a certain man of Derepur, Ramananda instituted a false case against him, and since someone of good reputation was needed as a witness, he requested Kshudiram to give evidence in his favour. The strictly upright Kshudiram always dreaded litigation, courts and the like, and never had recourse to them against anyone, even when he had a just cause. The request therefore came to him as a shock. Though he knew for certain that he would incur Ramananda’s bitter animosity if he did not give the false evidence, he could never agree to such a course. The inevitable happened. The landlord filed a false petition in the court against him as well, won the case and got possession of the whole of Kshudiram’s paternal property through auction. In consequence Kshudiram had not even a square inch of land left in Derepur. Although all the people of the village felt great sympathy for him in his trouble, out of fear of the landlord they did not dare help him in any way.

14.    Kshudiram left Dere

At the time of his loss Kshudiram was about forty years old. The property1 inherited from his ancestors, together with that acquired by him over many years, had vanished like a cloud dispersed by the wind. But this calamity did not affect his upright conduct in the least. He took absolute refuge at the holy feet of Raghuvir, calmly reflected on what he should do in order to escape the wicked landlord, and finally bade goodbye for ever to his paternal homestead and village.

15. Kshudiram came to Kamarpukur at the invitation of Sukhlal Goswami and lived there

We have already mentioned Sukhlal Goswami of Kamarpukur. He and Kshudiram were of a like temperament and were old and intimate friends. Sukhlal was much moved on hearing of Kshudiram’s misfortune, and vacating a few thatched huts in a part of his homestead invited him to come and live there permanently. Kshudiram thus found a haven of refuge. He accepted the invitation, regarding it as the incomprehensible play (Lila) of the divine Lord, and with his heart filled with gratitude went to Kamarpukur, where he lived ever after. Sukhlal, who loved his friend dearly, felt very happy at his coming, and made a permanent gift to the virtuous Kshudiram of one Bigha and ten Chataks2 of land for his future maintenance.


1. Hriday Ram Mukhopadhyaya spoke of one Anupa Goswami instead of Sukhlal; but his statement is not credible, because the landlords of the village, the Lahas, told us that the said Goswami’s name was Sukhlal and that they had purchased about fifty-five years ago most of the land of Kamarpukur from his son Krishnalal Goswami. There is also a tradition in the village that Gopilal Goswami installed the large Sivalinga named Gopesvara. The said Gopilal Goswami may, therefore, have been an ancestor of Sukhlal; or it may be that another name of Sukhlal was Gopilal.

1. Connected with lunar days—especially the eighth, the fourteenth, the full moon and the new moon days.—Tr

1. The feeding of a lakh of Brahmins, the repositories of learning and holiness, was considered a rare and unique act of piety.—Tr.

1.    We were told by Hridayram Mukhopadhyaya that Kshudiram had about 150 bighas of land at Derepur. [3 V Bighas = l acre.— Tr.]

2.    16 Chataks = l Katha, 20 Kathas = 1 Bigha.—Tr.


1.    The reason why Kshudiram lived like a Vanaprasthin at Kamarpukur

It is difficult to imagine the thoughts that arose in the minds of Kshudiram and his wife the day they came to Kamarpukur with the ten-year-old Ramkumar and Katyayani, their daughter of four, and settled in the cottage given to them. The world, filled with jealousy and hatred, must have seemed to them a hideous place of the dead, shrouded in dismal-darkness. Thoughts of affection, love, kindness and justice no doubt occasionally shed there a dim light, raising in quivering hearts some hope of happiness, but it is blasted the next moment, leaving behind deep depression. It is natural that many such thoughts should have arisen in their minds when they compared their previous condition with the present one. Only when misery and calamity come, do men realize the transitoriness and worthlessness of this world. It is therefore not at all surprising that Kshudiram now felt detached from the world and that his profoundly religious mind was full of devotion to God and reliance on Him. For he could not forget how unexpected and unasked for was the shelter given to them. Is it then strange that, being indifferent to worldly prospects, he once more devoted his time to the service and worship of the divine Lord and surrendered himself completely to Raghuvir? From now on he was living, no doubt, in the world, but, like the Vanaprasthins of ancient times, he was not of it.

2.    Kshudiram came upon the Salagrama of Raghuvir in a strange way

An incident which happened at this time still further intensified Kshudiram’s faith in God. One day he went to another village on business. On his way back he became tired and rested under a tree. The vast, lonely field and a soft, pure breeze brought repose to his troubled mind and tired body. He felt a strong desire to lie down, and no sooner had he done so than he was overcome with sleep. He then had a dream in which he saw standing before him his chosen Ideal, Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra, in the guise-of a divine Boy, His body green like the tender blades of Durva grass. Pointing to a particular spot, the Boy said, “I have been staying here for a long time without food and without anyone to take care of me. Take me to your house: I have a very strong desire that you should serve me.” Kshudiram was overcome with emotion and said, paying homage to the Lord again and again: “O Lord, I am without devotion and am very poor. Service befitting you is not possible in my hut, and I shall lose all grace should there be any flaw in it. So why do you make such a difficult request of me?” At this the Boy Ramachandra comforted him and said graciously, “Do not be afraid. I will not take offence at any shortcoming. Take me with you.” Unable to control his feelings at the Lord’s unexpected grace, Kshudiram burst into tears. Just then his dream came to an end. When he awoke, Kshudiram wondered at the strangeness of his dream and thought, “Ah! If only such good fortune would be mine!” Then suddenly his eyes fell upon the paddy field close by and at once he recognized it as the very place he had seen in the dream. Out of curiosity he approached the spot, where he saw a beautiful Salagrama stone and a snake with expanded hood guarding it. Eager to possess the stone he hastened towards it. On reaching it he found that the snake had disappeared and that the Salagrama was lying at the entrance to its hole. Seeing that the dream had come true, his heart leaped in joy, and he felt no fear of the snake, convinced that he had received God’s command. Crying out, “Glory to Raghuvir!”,

Kshudiram took the stone in his hands. He carefully examined the marks on it and, with his knowledge of the Sastras, found it to be a Raghuvir Sila (Salagrama). Beside himself with joy and wonder, he returned home, performed the purificatory ceremony of the Salagrama according to the Sastras, and installing it as the family deity, began to worship it daily. Even before he came upon the Salagrama in this strange manner, Kshudiram had been worshipping Sri Ramachandra, his chosen Deity, every day. He also worshipped daily the goddess Sitala, invoking her in a consecrated pot filled with water.

3.    Kshudram’s steadfastness and dependence on God

His difficulties continued, but Kshudiram cheerfully bore all kinds of misfortune, strictly observing as ever the religious injunctions. On some days, when there was nothing in the house to eat, his devoted wife, Chandradevi, would grow anxious and tell him about it. But, unperturbed, Kshudiram would comfort her and say, “Never mind. If Raghuvir chooses to fast, why shouldn’t we?” At this the simple-hearted Chandra also, like her husband, would resign herself to Raghuvir and go on with her household duties. And somehow food sufficient for the day would come.

4.    The paddy field at Lakshmijala

But Kshudiram did not suffer long from this uncertainty about food. For the one Bigha and ten Chataks of land at Lakshmijala given to him by his friend Sukhlal Goswami, now, by the grace of Raghuvir, began to produce so much paddy that there was not only enough for the little family’s annual needs, but also something left over to feed guests and strangers. Kshudiram hired men to plough the field, and when the rice seedlings were ready, he would transplant a few himself, taking the name of Raghuvir, and then let the men finish the work.

5.    Kshudiram’s devotion increased and he had spiritual visions: neighbours revered him

Two or three years went by in this manner. Kshudiram depended entirely on Raghuvir and what chance brought him, and he did not lack plain food and clothing. Therefore the hard trials of these two or three years, instead of discouraging him, filled his heart with a sense of reliance on God and a continuous flow of peace and contentment such as few experience. Henceforth it was natural for him to be always indrawn, and in consequence he had from time to time various divine visions. Every morning and evening, during his prayers, he would repeat the meditation Mantra describing the Gayatri with such deep devotion and concentration of mind that his chest became flushed and from his closed eyes flowed tears of love. Early in the morning he would go, basket in hand, to pick flowers for the worship, and at such times the goddess Sitala, who received his daily adoration, would appear before him as an eight-year-old girl dressed in red and wearing many ornaments. She would accompany him smiling and help him pluck flowers by bending the branches in blossom. These visions filled his heart with joy. His staunch faith and deep devotion were reflected in his countenance and kept him always on a high spiritual plane. Seeing his calm and peaceful face, the villagers instinctively recognized his spirituality and began to venerate him with the love and devotion due to a Rishi. Whenever they saw him coming, they stopped all idle talk, stood up and greeted him respectfully. They hesitated to enter the tank when they saw him bathing, and waited in reverence till he had finished. With complete faith in him, they came for his blessings in weal and woe.

6.    How the neighbours regarded Chandradevi

Chandradevi’s loving and guileless nature captivated her neighbours and made them look upon her as their mother. From no one else did they receive such heart-felt sympathy in their joys and sorrows. The poor knew that whenever they went to Chandradevi they would receive not only food but also such a genuine welcome and affection as would fill their hearts with inexpressible joy. To holy men living on alms her door was always open. There was nothing that the children could not coax out of Chandradevi. Thus everyone, young and old, was welcome at any time to Kshudiram’s cottage, which, in spite of poverty and suffering, always radiated a wonderful peace and joy.

7.    Kshudiram’s sister Ramsila

As already mentioned, Kshudiram had a sister named Ramsila, and had two younger brothers, Nidhiram and Kanairam, the latter being also called Ramkanai. At the time he lost all his property on account of the dispute with the landlord of Derepur, his sister was thirty-five and his brothers thirty and twenty-five respectively. By then all the three had married and set up their own homes. Ramsila was married to Bhagavat Bandyopadhyaya who lived at Silimpur, a village about twelve miles west of Kamarpukur. She had a son, Ramchand, and a daughter Hemangini. At the time of Kshudiram’s misfortune, Hemangini was sixteen and Ramchand, who had begun to practise as a Muktear (pleader), was about twenty-one. Born in the home of her maternal uncles at Derepur, Hemangini was a greater favourite with them than her brother. Kshudiram brought her up like his own daughter, and when she reached the proper age, he himself gave her away in marriage to Krishnachandra Mukhopadhyaya of Sihar, a village five miles north-west of Kamarpukur. In course of time she became the mother of four sons: Raghava, Ramaratan, Hriday Ram and Rajaram.

8.    Kshudiram’s two brothers

We could not find out whether Nidhiram had any children, but Kanairam had two sons, Ramtarak (otherwise known as Haladhari) and Kalidas. Kanairam was of a devotional and contemplative nature. Once he went to a drama (Yatra) which portrayed the banishment of Sri Ramachandra to the forest. The performance became so realistic to him that he took Kaikeyi’s secret plotting and scheming to be real and was on the point of striking the actor who played the part. On the loss of the ancestral property, Nidhiram and Kanairam, it appears, settled in the villages of their fathers-in-law.

9.    Kshudiram’s nephew Ramchand

We have already said that Ramachandra Bandyopadhyaya, Ramsila’s son, was a pleader. His practice in the town, of Medinipur brought him a good income. Considering the straitened circumstances of his maternal uncles, he now sent fifteen rupees a month to help Kshudiram and ten rupees each to Nidhiram and Kanairam If Kshudiram did not hear from his nephew for some time, he would become anxious and hasten to Medinipur to see him We were told of a strange incident which occurred when Kshudiram was once going to Medinipur, and we relate it here as an example of his deep devotion to God.

10.    An incident showing Kshudiram’s devotion to God

Medinipur is situated about forty miles south-west of Kamarpukur. Having had no news of Ramachandra and his family for a long time, Kshudiram set out one day to see him. It was probably during the month of Magh or Phalgun, when the Vilva trees shed their leaves, making the worship of Siva1 difficult until new leaves appear. Kshudiram had been experiencing this difficulty for some time.

He started very early and walked steadily on, till he reached a certain village about ten o’clock in the morning. Finding that the Vilva trees there were already in leaf, his heart leaped in joy and all thought of proceeding to Medinipur left his mind. He bought a new basket and a piece of cloth and washed them thoroughly in a pond close by. Then he filled the basket with new Vilva leaves, covered it with wet cloth and returned home, reaching there about three in the afternoon. Immediately on his arrival he bathed and then for a long time joyfully worshipped with the leaves the great God Siva and Sitala, the divine Mother. Not until he had finished the worship did he sit down for his meal. Chandradevi thought this to be the right moment to ask him why he had not gone to Medinipur. When he told her everything, she was amazed to learn that he had come back all that distance solely on account of his eagerness to worship Siva with the leaves. Kshudiram started again for Medinipur very early the next morning.

11.    The marriages of Ram-kumar and Katyayani

Thus Kshudiram spent six years at Kamarpukur. His son Ramkumar was now sixteen years old, and his daughter, Katyayani, eleven. His daughter being of the right age, he gave her in marriage to Kenaram Bandyopadhyaya, who lived at Anur, a village two miles north-west of Kamarpukur, while Ramkumar was married to Kenaram’s sister. Ramkumar had by then finished his study of Vyakarana (Grammar) and Sahitya (Literature) in a Sanskrit school near the village and was now studying Smriti (the Laws governing the Hindu society and religion).

12.    The death of Sukhlal Goswami, and other events

Another three or four years passed. By the grace of Sri Raghuvir, Kshudiram was now considerably more prosperous than before, and free from anxiety, he could give all his time to God. During this period Ramkumar finished his study of Smriti, and applied his mind to the best of his ability to the improvement of the family’s economic condition. It was about this time, that Sukhlal Goswami, Kshudiram’s great friend, passed away. His death caused Kshudiram deep sorrow.

13. Kshudiram’s pilgrimage to Setubandha. The birth of his son Rameswar

After finishing his studies, Ramkumar, now a young man, took upon himself the responsibility of maintaining the family. Kshudiram was thus free to apply himself to other things. He now had a great yearning to go on a pilgrimage, and before long, probably in A.D. 1824 he started on foot for Setubandha-Rameswar. His visits to the places of pilgrimage in South India took him a year, after which he returned home. With him he brought a Banalinga (a symbol of Siva) from Setubandha, which he began to worship daily. This Banalinga, named Rameswar, can be seen even today near the Salagrama stone of Raghuvir and the water-jar symbolizing the goddess Sitala. A long time after the birth of her second child, Chandradevi gave birth to another son in A.D. 1826. In memory of his recent pilgrimage, Kshudiram named this son Rameswar.

14.    Ramkumar possessed a supernatural power

The next eight years showed little change in the tenor of life of that poor family at Kamarpukur. Ramkumar now earned money by advising people on religious matters on the authority of Smriti and by performing various religious ceremonies. In consequence, the family did not feel the same want as before. He became expert in the performance of those rites and is said to have obtained a supernatural power to make them effective. Study of the scriptures had given him faith in the worship of Sakti, the primordial Power personified, in whose Mantra he was initiated by a qualified teacher. He had a wonderful vision one day while worshipping this Goddess who had become his chosen Deity. He felt as if She was marking with Her own finger on the tip of his tongue, some Mantra letters which made him perfect in astrology. Henceforward whatever he asserted would come true. Simply by looking at a patient, he could know whether he would be cured or not. He acquired some fame in those parts for predicting future events. It is said that on seeing a person suffering from a severe disease he would start performing propitiatory rites for his recovery and would say emphatically, “As soon as the grains I am now sprinkling over the place of worship begin to sprout, this person will recover”; and, as a matter of fact, what he said actually came true. His nephew, Sivaram Chattopadhyaya, told us the following story as an illustration of this power.

15.    An illustration of that power

Being in Calcutta on business, Ramkumar was bathing in the Ganga one morning, when a rich man and his family also came for a bath. The man’s wife was seated in a palanquin which was taken to the river so that she could take her bath inside it. Coming, as he did, from a village, Ramkumar had never seen a woman bathing in this way protected from public gaze. Looking at the palanquin with wonder, he happened to catch a sight of the woman’s face for a moment. He instantly knew through his supernatural power that she would die the next day, and was so overcome by the thought that he could not help muttering sadly to himself: “Alas, the body which today is being bathed with such formality will tomorrow be immersed as a corpse in the Ganga and disposed of in the sight of all!” The rich man overheard this and, in order to test the truth of his words, pressed Ramkumar to come to his house. His real intention was to teach him a good lesson in case his prediction proved false. The young woman was in perfect health and there was no indication whatever at that time of such a mishap. But since what Ramkumar had predicted actually came to pass, the man finally could not but let him go in peace.

16.    An incident concerning Ramkumar’s wife— another illustration of that power

Once, looking into his wife’s future, Ramkumar made a sad prediction which later came true. She is said to have had auspicious marks. From the very day he married her and brought her home, the wheel of fortune took a happy turn. She was then seven years old and it was probably in A.D. 1820. It was from this time that the improvement in his father’s circumstances began, for just then the monthly help from his nephew, Ramachandra of Medinipur, bagan to come in. Naturally, any one who on entering the home of a Hindu family brings such good luck is looked upon with love and respect. Moreover, since Ramkumar’s child-wife was then the only daughter-in-law of the family, it is not surprising that everyone made much of her. We were told that, in spite of her good qualities, too much of indulgence and attention made her touchy and obstinate. But although these defects were noticed by all, no one ventured either to mention them or to correct her; for, everyone overlooked her little defects, remembering that she had brought prosperity to the family since the day of her coming. But when she was grown up, Ramkumar, one day, looked at her and predicted that although she had auspicious marks she would die if she should ever conceive. When he found, however, that this did not happen for several years, he thought that she was barren and felt relieved. But at the age of thirty-five she did conceive, and the following year, A.D. 1849, she passed away after giving birth to a very beautiful male child. The boy was named Akshay. Chronologically, this incident comes much later, but we have narrated it here for the sake of convenience.

17.    The distinguishing feature of Kshudiram’s family

A peculiar characteristic of a divine and subtle kind was shared by every one of Kshudiram’s pious household. It is probably because this characteristic was manifest to a marked degree in Kshudiram and his wife that it was inherited by their children. Since we have already mentioned several instances of it relating to Kshudiram, it will not be out of place if we relate a similar event regarding Chandramani. This will show how Chandramani also, like her husband, saw divine visions from time to time. The event took place shortly before Ramkumar was married. The fifteen-year-old boy was then studying in a Sanskrit school and at the same time trying to help the family by performing worship in various houses.

18.    Chandradevi had a spiritual vision

Once in the month of Asvin Ramkumar had gone to a house at Bhursubo to perform the evening worship of the goddess Lakshmi. When her son did not return home, though it was past midnight, Chandra became very restless, and coming out of the house waited for him anxiously. While looking in the direction from which he was to come, she saw a lone figure approaching by the field-path leading from Bhursubo to Kamarpukur. Thinking that it was her son, she went a few steps forward in great joy to meet him. When the person drew nearer, she found that it was not Ramkumar, but a very beautiful girl, bedecked with various ornaments. As Chandra was full of fear that something had happened to her son, the sight of a respectable girl walking thus at dead of night did not strike her as something strange. She just went up to her and called out: “Where do you come from, my child?” The girl answered, “From Bhursubo.” Chandra then asked her anxiously, “Did you meet my son,

Ramkumar? Is he coming back?” It did not cross her mind even for a moment how an absolute stranger like this girl could possibly know her son. The girl replied comforting her: “I come from the very house where your son went to perform the worship. Do not worry; he will return soon.” Hearing this, Chandra felt relieved and became more observant. Noticing at last the girl’s remarkable beauty and her dress and ornaments of a novel kind, and hearing her sweet voice, she said, “You are so young! Where are you going at this time of the night wearing such fine ornaments and dress? And what is this strange ornament on your ears?” With a smile the girl said: “It is called Kundala,” and added, “I have yet to go a long distance.” Thinking that she was in trouble Chandra said affectionately, “Come, my child, rest for the night at our house. Tomorrow you may go at your leisure.” “No, mother,” replied the girl, “I must go just now. I will come to your house some other time.” Taking leave of her she went in the direction of the larger paddy stacks of the Lahas near by. Surprised to see her going towards the house of the Lahas instead of following the regular path, Chandra thought that she had missed the way. She went after her, but could not find her, though she searched in all directions. Then, recalling what the girl had said, it suddenly dawned upon her that she might have seen the goddess Lakshmi! She hastened to her husband and, in great excitement, told him everything from beginning to end, in great detail. After hearing the whole account, Kshudiram assured her that there was no doubt that the divine goddess Lakshmi had graciously revealed Herself to her. Soon after this Ramkumar returned home and, hearing what had happened, was filled with wonder.

19.    Kshudiram’s desire to make a pilgrimage to Gaya

Time passed on and it was now A.D. 1835. Feeling once again a strong urge to go on a pilgrimage, Kshudiram decided to go to Gaya to perform rites for the satisfaction of the spirits of his forefathers. He was now sixty, still that did not prevent him from proceeding on foot to the holy abode of Vishnu. Hriday, the son of Kshudiram’s niece Hemangini, told us of a strange event which made him undertake this journey to Gaya.

20.    Hriday’s story regarding it

Once, on receiving the news that his daughter Katyayani was seriously ill, Kshudiram went to Anur to see her. She was then about twenty-five years old. Watching her gestures and manner of talk, he felt convinced that she was possessed by a spirit. Then, concentrating his mind on God he thus addressed it, “God or demigod; Whatever you be, why do you harass my daughter? Leave her at once and go your way.” At this, the spirit got frightened and said in a pleading voice through Katyayani: “I will leave your daughter’s body immediately if you promise to offer a worship for me at Gaya and thus bring to an end my present miserable condition. I make a solemn promise that the moment you leave your home to do this, she will be free from all troubles.”

Moved by the suffering of the spirit, Kshudiram at once said: “I will go to Gaya, the abode of Vishnu, as soon as I can, and do as you wish. But it will make me very happy if I get some proof that you have actually obtained deliverance after the worship has been offered.” The spirit replied: “I assure you that as proof of my deliverance I will break down the largest branch of yonder Nim tree, while going away.” According to Hriday it was this incident that made Kshudiram go to Gaya. As some time afterwards, the branch of the Nim tree suddenly broke, there was no longer any doubt that the spirit had obtained deliverance. The affliction also left. Katyayani. We cannot vouch for the truth of Hriday’s story; but there is no doubt that it was about this time that Kshudiram went to Gaya.

21. Kshudiram’s divine dream at Gaya

Some time during the winter of 1835, Kshudiram visited Varanasi1 (Banaras) and Gaya. It was the beginning of Chaitra (middle of March) when he reached Gaya after paying obeisance to Visvanatha (the Lord of the universe) at Varanasi. He came to Gaya at this time of the year probably because he knew that the spirits of his ancestors would have immense satisfaction if worship was offered at that holy place during spring, in the month of Chaitra. He lived there for about a month, performed all the ceremonies according to the scriptures and at last offered worship at the lotus feet of Gadadhar (Vishnu). Because of his great faith Kshudiram experienced unspeakable peace and satisfaction on thus performing the prescribed obsequial rites in honour of his ancestors. Having fulfilled to the best of his capacity his obligation to his forefathers, he was now free from all anxiety. When the thought came to him that the divine Lord had made it possible for an unworthy person like him to accomplish all this, his grateful heart overflowed with a feeling of humility and love such as he had never experienced before. Peace and joy were with him all that day and at night also. Scarcely had he fallen asleep when he had a dream He saw himself in the holy temple, in the act of offering worship to his forefathers, at the divine feet of Gadadhar. He even saw his ancestors in luminous celestial bodies, joyfully accepting the Pindas and blessing him He could not control his emotion at seeing them after what seemed a very long time. With tears in his eyes, and a heart overflowing, with devotion, he bowed down to them and touched their feet. The very next moment he found that the temple was filled with a divine light as never seen by him before. His forefathers were standing in the temple on both sides in a reverential attitude with their hands folded, worshipping a wonderful divine Being seated happily on a beautiful throne. He had a luminous body, green like the colour of new Durva grass. Looking at Kshudiram with benign, affectionate eyes, He beckoned him Hardly concious of what he was doing Kshudiram drew near and full of devotion prostrated himself at His feet in worship, and uttered hymns in praise. Pleased by his worship that divine Being addressed him thus, in a sweet voice, “Kshudiram, your extraordinary devotion has made me very happy; I bless you and I will be born as your son and will receive your loving care.” On hearing these words—strange even for a dream—Kshudiram’s joy knew no bounds. But the very next moment the thought struck him how being so poor, he could possibly feed and give proper shelter to such an exalted Being. This made him exceedingly sad and in a voice choked with tears, he said, “No, no, Lord, I am not worthy of such good fortune. Is it not enough that Thou hast blessed me by graciously revealing Thyself and wishing to be born as my son? If Thou wert really to be born as my son, what service can a poor man like me render?” Hearing these words full of pathos, that celestial Being seemed to become even more gracious than before, and said, “Do not fear, Kshudiram, I will relish whatever you give me to eat. Let my desire be fulfilled.” Kshudiram had not the heart to say “No.” Conflicting emotions like joy and sorrow assailed him with so much force that he could hardly contain himself, and lost consciousness. This broke his dream.

22. Kshudiram returned to Kamarpukur

For quite a while after waking up, Kshudiram did not know where he was. The reality of the dream overwhelmed him Gradually regaining consciousness of the outside world, he rose from his bed and recalling the details of the strange dream, viewed it from different angles. His believing heart was at last convinced that since a divine dream must come true, some great soul would soon be born in his house. He was destined, even at that advanced age, to see again the face of a new child. He then decided not to speak of that remarkable dream to anyone till it had actually come to pass. A few days later he bade farewell to Gaya, the abode of Vishnu, and returned to Kamarpukur. It was then the month of April, A.D. 1835.


1. Leaves of the Vilva tree are necessary for the worship of Siva.—Tr.

1. Some say that Kshudiram visited Varanasi much earlier, when he started from Derepur on pilgrimage to Vrindavan and Ayodhya. When shortly afterwards a son was born and then a daughter, he remembered this pilgrimage and named them Ramkumar and Katyayani. During the pilgrimage mentioned above he is said to have visited only Gaya.


1.    Recorded spiritual experiences of the parents of incarnations at the time of their birth

The unique spiritual experiences and visions of the parents of great souls who sanctify the earth by their birth, are recorded in the religious books of all races. For example, this has been done in the case of the parents of divine personages like the glorious Sri Ramachandra, Bhagavan Sri Krishna, Buddha the son of Mayadevi, Jesus the son of Mary, Bhagavan Sri Sankara, Sri Chaitanya the great Lord, and others who, ever since their birth, have been receiving the adoration and reverence of devout human beings. It will be sufficient if we tell the reader a few instances:

It is well known that, according to the Ramayana, the mothers of Sri Ramachandra and his three half-brothers conceived on eating the milk-pudding left over in the sacrificial vessel. It is also recorded there that they came to know, more than once, before and after the birth of the sons, that they were endowed with spiritual powers and were actually parts of Vishnu, the divine Lord and Preserver of the universe.

The parents of Sri Krishna knew, both at the time of his entering the mother’s womb and also immediately after he was born, that he was God incarnate endowed with the six divine powers. Besides this, Puranas like the Bhagavata recount strange incidents in their daily lives from the moment Krishna was born.

When the Buddha came, Mayadevi saw in a vision an exalted Being entering her womb in the form of an effulgent white elephant, and all the gods including Indra paying homage to her because of her great good fortune.

Before Lord Jesus was born, his mother Mary felt that she had become pregnant without knowing her husband, Joseph. Filled with a spiritual radiance never seen before, she knew that she had conceived.

The mother of Bhagavan Sankara knew that she had conceived when the God of gods, Mahadeva, came to her in a vision and granted her a boon.

We read in Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita and other books that Sachidevi, the mother of Bhagavan Sri Chaitanya, also had similar spiritual experiences.

All the religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, etc.,—have shown that the worship of God with intense love is the easiest way to obtain His grace. Since they all assert this, the question that naturally arises in the mind of an impartial investigator is, whether there is any truth underlying this statement; and if so, what part of the experiences narrated above should be accepted and what rejected.

2.    Reason underlying that statement

Even reason suggests that, after all, there may be some truth in what has been said; for modern science accepts that only parents possessing great virtues can beget children of lofty character. So it cannot be denied that the parents of Krishna, Buddha, Jesus and those like them were endowed with the noblest qualities. And, again, it is clear that when those remarkable children were born, the parents dwelt in exalted planes of consciousness beyond the reach of ordinary human beings. It was this that made them fit for such unique visions and experiences.

3.    Although difficult to accept, such visions etc., are not to be discarded as untrue

Although the Puranas record many examples of such experiences, and though they are not opposed to reason, the human mind cannot accept them fully. Putting its trust only in knowledge gained by the senses, it cannot fully believe in the existence of entities such as the Self, God, Liberation, a hereafter and the like, except through direct realization. Although this is so, an impartial investigator does not discard any experience only because it is rare or uncommon, but taking his stand on facts he calmly proceeds to collect evidences for and against it; and, finally, on the basis of these objective data either rejects or accepts it.

In any case, we have come to know through reliable sources that the parents of the great personage whose life we are to write, had at the time of his birth, various spiritual visions and experiences. We have, therefore, no alternative but to record those facts. In the previous chapter, we told the reader a few such instances about Kshudiram and we will now do the same in respect of Chandradevi.

4.    On his return from Gaya, Kshudiram found a change in Chandradevi’s mental condition

On his return home, Kshudiram did not tell any one about the strange dream he had had at Gaya, but waited to see what would happen. The first thing he observed was the wonderful change that had come over Chandradevi. In his eyes, she was no longer an ordinary woman, but indeed a goddess. An all-embracing love, springing from some unknown source, filled her heart and raised her to a lofty plane beyond all worldly desires. She was now more concerned about the wants of her neighbours than about her own affairs. In the midst of her household duties she would now and then go to attend to their needs. Unobserved she would take provisions and other daily necessaries from her store, and give to the needy. After finishing the service of Raghuvir, she would serve food to her husband and children; then, though already late, she would go, before taking her own food, to find out if her neighbours had taken theirs. If some day she happened to meet anyone who for any reason had gone without food, she would insist on taking him home and feeding him with her own share of cooked food. Then she would herself take what little she could find and pass the day quite contented.

5.    Chandradevi’s motherly affection found a wider range

Kshudiram found that Chandra, who always loved as her own the children of the neighbourhood, now felt a motherly love for the gods also. She actually looked upon Raghuvir, the family deity, as her own son, and also regarded the goddess Sitala and the emblem of the god Rameswar, as her children. Formerly her heart always used to be filled with awe at the time of the service and worship of these deities, but now the force of love completely replaced that feeling. Any idea of fear or hesitation in her approach to the gods vanished, and she had now nothing to hide from them or ask of them Instead, came the assurance that the gods were even closer to her than her own children, and an intense desire to sacrifice her all to make them happy, and an ecstasy of being bound to them in an eternal relation.

6.    Kshudiram’s anxiety for her and his desire to warn her

Kshudiram noticed that, as a result of her care-free devotion to the gods and the joy born of her intimate relationship with them, the simple-hearted Chandra became more trusting than ever. She could no longer suspect anyone nor look upon another as a stranger. He thought, “The selfish world will never appreciate such guilelessness. On the contrary, she will be called silly or mad or something like that.” Therefore, he looked for an opportunity to warn her.

7.    Chandradevi’s strange dream

It was not long before his opportunity came. The simple Chandra could not keep a single thought from her husband. She often confided her thoughts even to her friends. How then could she keep them from one whom God had placed nearer to her than anyone else in the world? Therefore afer Kshudiram returned home from Gaya, Chandradevi, for days together, took every opportunity to relate to him all that she had seen or experienced during his absence. One day she told him: “When you were away, I had a strange dream in which I saw a luminous god lying on my bed. At first I thought it was you, but soon realized that no human being could be like that. Then I woke up, but the thought persisted that the god was still in the bed. The next moment, another thought came. Does a god ever appear to a human being in this way?’ Then it occurred to me that some wicked person might have entered the room for an evil purpose and that perhaps the sound of his footsteps had caused my dream. A great fear then seized me. I got up hurriedly and lighted a lamp, but found that there was no one in the room and the door was still bolted from within. But fear kept me awake the rest of that night. Then I thought, ‘Is it possible that a person had entered the room somehow by removing the bolt, but seeing me awake, ran away afer replacing it in a mysterious way?’ As soon as it was morning, I sent for Dhani and Prasanna, and after telling them everything, asked: ‘Do you think a man really entered my room? I have no quarrel with any one in the village. Only I had some words with Madhu Jugi, the other day, over a trifling matter. Is it possible that he entered my room because of some grudge against me?’ Both of them laughed and chided me, saying, ‘You silly woman! Has old age affected your brain? Why do you talk that way about your dream? Think what other people will say when they hear about it! It will give rise to a scandal and you will be ridiculed if you mention it to anybody again.’ Hearing this I thought, ‘Oh, then it was really a dream. I would not tell anyone about it but you on your return. ’

8.    Chandradevi’s divine vision and experience in front of the Siva temple

“On another occasion when I was speaking with Dhani in front of the temple of the Jugis, I suddenly saw a divine effulgence come from the holy image of the great God Siva, fill the temple and rush towards me in waves. Taken by surprise I was on the point of telling Dhani about it, when all of a sudden the light engulfed me and swiftly entered into my body. Stunned by wonder and fear, I fell down unconscious. Aferwards, when Dhani had helped me to recover, I told her everything. At first she was much surprised; then she said, ‘You had an epileptic fit.’ But I have the feeling that the light has been in my womb ever since, and that I am pregnant. I told this also to Dhani and Prasanna, but they rebuked me and called me silly, mad and what not. According to them what I had experienced was caused by some delusion or bodily affliction. Trying in various ways to make me understand this, they warned me not to speak of the occurrence to anyone else. Determined not to divulge it to anyone except you, I have so far kept silent. Well, what do you think? Was it the grace of God that did it, or could it have been due only to ill health? Even now I have the feeling that I am pregnant.”

9.    Kshudiram warned Chandradevi not to tell these things to anybody

As he listened to everything that Chandra said, Kshudiram remembered his own dream at Gaya. Then reassuring her in various ways, he said: “Do not henceforth speak about such visions and experiences to anybody except me. Be free from all anxiety and know for certain that whatever Raghuvir shows by His grace is for our good. During my stay at Gaya Gadadhar revealed to me in a supernatural way that a son would be born to us.” These words of her godlike husband set Chandradevi’s mind at rest; and obeying Him she henceforward depended entirely on Raghuvir. Three or four months had passed after this conversation between Kshudiram and his wife, when it became clear to everyone that Chandradevi, although past forty-five, had become pregnant again. Women are said to gain in loveliness and grace when they are in the family way. This was noticed in Chandradevi also, and Dhani and other women of the village used to remark that she appeared lovelier this time than on previous occasions. As the news spread, some of them began to whisper among themselves: “Imagine a woman conceiving at her age and looking so sweet! She may even die at the time of delivery.”

10.    Chandradevi’s visions after conception

Day by day, after she had conceived, Chandradevi’s spiritual visions and experiences became more numerous. It is said that at this time her visions of gods and goddesses occurred almost daily. At times, she was aware of a purifying fragrance coming from the bodies of these holy beings and spreading over the whole house; or, again, she would hear celestial voices and be struck with wonder. It is also said that at this time her heart overflowed with motherly love for all the gods and goddesses. Almost every day she would tell her husband about these visions and experiences and ask why they should come to her. Kshudiram comforted her in various ways and told her not to be perturbed. We shall now relate an incident of this period. We were told that Chandra described it thus to her husband with a feeling of awe: “O revered one, there is no end to the number of gods and goddesses who have shown themselves to me from time to time ever since the day I saw the light, standing in front of the Siva temple. Many of them I have never seen before, not even in pictures. Today, I saw a god come on the back of a swan. At first I was startled; but then feeling sorry for him as his face was red with the heat of the sun I called him and said, ‘O dear little god riding a swan, your face looks burnt by the sun. There is in the house some cold rice, prepared yesterday. Come, eat a little and get refreshed before you go.’ He heard me and smiled, but then faded away and I could see him no more. I see many such forms. I do not worship or meditate on them and yet I see them at any time of the day or night. Sometimes they come before me in human shapes, and then dissolve into thin air. Can you tell me why I see all this? Is it some disease? At times I wonder if I am possessed by the spirit of Gosain1.”, Then Kshudiram told her again about the dream he had had at Gaya and pointed out how fortunate she was to be actually carrying in her womb the Supreme Lord whose purifying influence alone gave rise to her spiritual visions. Because of her absolute faith in her husband’s words, what he now said filled Chandra’s heart with supreme devotion. Fortified by a new strength she became free from anxiety.

Time rolled on. Completely surrendering themselves to Raghuvir, Kshudiram and his virtuous wife spent their days in the expectation of beholding, as their son, the divine Being whose auspicious presence had already filled their lives with deep devotion.


1. The appearance, after the death of Sukhlal Goswami, of various supernatural portents gave the villagers the idea that either he or some other dead person of his family had become a ghost and was living in the Bakul tree in front of his house. Under the influence of that belief the villagers used to say, whenever anyone had a supernatural experience, that the person was possessed by Gosain (Goswami). The simple-hearted Chandradevi also thought so at the time.


Autumn was succeeded by the ‘season of dew’ and winter. Spring, the ‘king of the seasons’, had arrived. There was a pleasant softness in the air, and all creation was pulsating with new life. The lovely month of Phalgun— neither hot nor cold—was only six days old. There was a great surge of love in nature which, in its beauty, manifested—as the scriptures say—a particle of the bliss of Brahman latent in all things. Of all the seasons, spring has received just a little more of that divine effulgent bliss, since it showers on the world so great a joy.

1.    Chandradevi’s apprehension was removed by her husband

Chandradevi’s time of delivery was near at hand, and the heart was filled with a celestial joy as she prepared the daily food offering for Raghuvir. But in her body there was a feeling of great lassitude. Then suddenly the thought came that something might happen at any moment, and that, if she should deliver just then, there would be nobody in the house to prepare the offerings. What was she to do? Alarmed, she told her thoughts to her husband. Kshudiram put her mind at rest saying, “Fear not. Surely He who is now in your womb will not, by His birth, become a hindrance to the worship and service of Raghuvir. Don’t be anxious; certainly you will be able to manage the service of the god today. I have already arranged for the service from tomorrow, and Dhani has been asked to sleep here from tonight.” At this Chandra felt a new strength in her body and cheerfully went on with her household duties. It happened exactly as Kshudiram had said. The midday and evening offerings to Raghuvir and the other services to Him were finished without a single hitch. Kshudiram and Ramkumar went to bed after taking their night meal; and Dhani came and lay in the same room with Chandradevi. Besides the shrine-room of Raghuvir, there were two bedrooms with a thatched roof, and a kitchen. In another small room there was a husking machine on one side, and, a fire-place for boiling paddy on the other. For want of a better place, this room, which also had a thatched roof, was kept ready for Chandra’s confinement.

2.    The birth of Gadadhar

It was some ten minutes before dawn that Chandradevi felt the first pangs of labour. Dhani helped her to the lying-in room, and there, almost immediately, she gave birth to a male child. After doing the needful for Chandra, Dhani turned her attention to the baby only to find that it had disappeared from the place where she had kept it. In alarm she took the lamp to look for the child and found that it had rolled down the ground covered with blood and slime into the hollow fireplace and was lying there, with its little body adorned with ashes, and still not crying! Dhani tenderly picked up the child, washed it, and looking at it in the light wondered at its beauty and its size. It looked like a six-months-old infant! Chandramani’s friends, Prasanna and other women of the Laha family, were sent for. As soon as they arrived, Dhani told them what had happened. At the sacred solemn hour before sunrise, the sound of the conch filled that humble cottage— the scene of Kshudiram’s austerity—and proclaimed to the world the advent of a great soul. Ascertaining the signs of the zodiac under which the child was born, Kshudiram, well versed in astrology, found that the boy had come into the world at an especially auspicious moment.

3.    The astrological signs at the moment of Gadadhar’s birth

It was, according to the Hindu calendar which reckons the day from sunrise to sunrise, Wednesday, the sixth day of Phalgun in B.E. 1242, or 1757 of the Saka year, or Thursday, February 18, A.D. 1836 according to Gregorian calendar. The child was born just twelve minutes before sunrise. The auspicious second lunar day of the bright fortnight and the twentyfifth of the lunar constellations (Purvabhadrapada) had combined to bring about the happy astrological conjunction called the Siddhiyoga. The Sun, the Moon and Mercury had come together in the sign of the zodiac under which the boy was born. Saturn had then reached the highest point of the zodiac, indicating that the boy would have a unique life. Calculations according to the method of the great sage, Parasara, showed that the ‘planets’ Rahu and Ketu occupied the highest point of the zodiac and were in the ascendant. Finally, Jupiter which was then beginning to rise, also exerted a strong and auspicious influence on the child’s destiny.

4.    Gadadhar’s name according to the constellation at the time of birth

Later, well-known astrologers also said that the time1 of birth came under a very auspicious sign of the zodiac (Lagna or Rasi), which indicated, beyond all doubt, that the person concerned “would be virtuous and respected and would always perform good deeds. Surrounded by many disciples, he would live in a temple; would found a new institution for teaching religion, generation after generation; and would be universally revered as a great soul born as a part of Narayana.” On hearing this Kshudiram’s mind was full of wonder, and his grateful heart felt that his divine dream at Gaya had actually come true. He then performed the birth-ceremony and named the boy Sambhuchandra after the sign of the zodiac under which he was born; but in memory of his remarkable dream, he decided to call him Gadadhar, by which name he was afterwards known.

Looking at the face of their beautiful child, and assured of his unique destiny, Kshudiram and Chandramani thought themselves blessed. They performed the ceremony of taking the child out for the first time and naming him, and determined to bring him up with great care.


1. The detailed description of Sri Ramakrishna’s horoscope appearing in this chapter has been transferred to the appendix at the end of the volume.—Tr.


1.    The gift of a cow by Ramchandra

According to the scriptures, the parents of incarnations like Rama, Krishna and others, knew through their spiritual visions both before and after the birth of their sons, that these were under the special protection of Providence. But, blinded by parental affection, they forgot that fact, and would therefore always be anxious about their welfare. This applies to Kshudiram and his wife Chandradevi also. For, the lotus face of their loving child made them often forget the divine dream at Gaya and the celestial vision near the Siva temple, and they began to devise various means for his proper care and nourishment. The news of the birth was sent to Ramchandra, Kshudiram’s prosperous nephew, at Medinipur. Fearing that there would not be sufficient milk for his uncle’s poor family, he sent them a milch cow, thereby removing Kshudiram’s anxiety on that score. But though all that was wanted for the new-born child came in unexpected ways from different quarters, there was no end to the anxiety of the parents. Time thus rolled on.

2.    Gadadhar’s charms

As days went by, the baby’s charm began to attract people more and more. He captivated the hearts not only of his parents and every other member of the family, but also of the village women. Whenever the village women had some leisure, they would hasten to Chandra and if asked why they came, would answer, “What are we to do? Our longing to see your baby every day brings us here.” From now on, women relatives from the neighbouring villages also began to come to Kshudiram’s humble cottage ofener than before. Growing up without want, and surrounded by love and care, the new-comer gradually passed his fifth month, and the time for the first rice-eating ceremony of the baby was at hand.

At first Kshudiram decided to perform this ceremony in a simple way in keeping with his means. His idea was just to make it conform to the scriptural injunction and to conclude it by giving the child the rice offered to Raghuvir, and to invite a few near relatives. But actually, things took a different course. At the secret prompting of Kshudiram’s great friend, Dharmadas Laha, the village landlord, the foremost Brahmins and other leading men of the village came to Kshudiram and, to his utter surprise, insisted that he should feed them on that auspicious day. Kshudiram was in a great fix; for since all the villagers respected and loved him, he could not make up his mind as to whom to invite and whom to leave out. And to invite all was out of the question because of his slender resources. Convinced in his heart that Raghuvir would show him the way out, he sought the advice of Dharmadas. As soon as he came to know of his friend’s desire to take the responsibility for the ceremony on himself, Kshudiarm left the whole matter to him and returned home. Dharmadas cheerfully made all arrangements for the ceremony, almost entirely at his own expense, and the function went off smoothly. We are told that people of all castes in the village came to Kshudiram’s cottage for the ceremony and enjoyed taking the food offered to Raghuvir. Many poor beggars also had their fill that day and left, each with a blessing for Kshudiram’s son.

3. The turn of Chandradevi’s divine visions

Gadadhar’s every little action appeared sweeter with the passing of time, and filled Chandradevi’s heart with joy, but she was not quite free from fear. Before the birth of this child she had never asked the gods for any favour. But now, urged by a mother’s love, a thousand times a day, consciously or unconsciously, her heart poured forth prayers for her son. And yet she could not shake off her anxiety altogether. The thought of her son’s care and well-being so completely filled her mind now that, before long, it could not but come in the way of her seeing spiritual visions. But they still came to her from time to time, and filled her sometimes with amazement, sometimes with an apprehension of evil. We shall now relate an example of this, having heard it from a reliable source.

4.    Chandradevi’s vision: Gadadhar looked much bigger

One morning, when Gadadhar was seven or eight months old, he fell asleep at his mother’s breast. Chandra put him to rest under a mosquito-net and went out of the room to attend to her household duties. Shortly afterwards, when she happened to come back to the room for something, she found that instead of the child, a strange tall person was lying under the net, filling the whole bed. In great alarm Chandra rushed out of the room and called for her husband. As soon as he came, she told him what she had seen and both of them went to find no one except the child sleeping as before. Even then, Chandra’s fear did not abate. She went on repeating: “I am certain that it was a mischievous spirit who did it. I distinctly saw a tall person lying in the bed where our son lies. It was certainly not a delusion. How could it be? Do call immediately an experienced exorcist to examine the child. Otherwise, some harm may befall him.” Kshudiram consoled her saying: “There is nothing strange in your getting visions even now about our son; for we were blessed with them even before his birth. So drive away the idea that it was the doing of a spirit. With Raghuvir in the house, is it ever possible for spirits to come here to harm the boy? Therefore be at rest and do not speak to anyone about it. Be sure that Raghuvir always protects him” Although for the time being Chandra was pacified by her husband’s words, the fear of harm befalling the child still haunted her mind like a shadow. For a long time that day, with folded hands, she poured out to Raghuvir the anguish of her heart.

5.    Sarvamangala, the younger sister of Gadadhar

Years thus went by, bringing to Gadadhar’s parents joy and sorrow, exaltation and anxiety. The sweet influence the little boy exerted over them and over others from the very beginning, increased day by day. Four or five years gradually passed. During this period, Kshudiram’s last child, a daughter named Sarvamangala, was born.

6.    Gadadhar’s preparation for going to school

As Gadadhar grew up, Kshudiram was filled with wonder and delight at noticing the development of the boy’s remarkable memory and intelligence. Sometimes he would take the lively boy on his lap and repeat to him a long list of names of his ancestors, or short hymns to gods and goddesses, and the various ways of paying homage to them, or wonderful stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. He found that Gadadhar could remember, by hearing it only once, most of what he was told, even after a long time, and that, when the boy was asked to repeat, he could do so without faltering. At the same time, he discovered that, just as the boy took to and remembered some things with great eagerness, he also remained indifferent to certain other things which did not appeal to him in spite of all efforts to rouse his interest. He noticed this when trying to teach him arithmetic, especially the multiplication table, and thought it unnecessary to force the impatient lad, still so young, to learn those things. But finding that the boy was becoming more and more restless, he sent him to school after the usual ceremony. He was then five years old. Gadadhar was very happy, to meet boys of his own age, and his loving ways endeared him to them and to the teacher.

7.    The school of the Lahas

The school was held in the spacious theatre-hall in front of the house of the Lahas, the landlords of the village. A teacher, paid mainly by them, taught their own children and those of the neighbourhood. In fact, it was the Lahas who were chiefly responsible for starting the school. It was not far from Kshudiram’s cottage, and was held twice daily, morning and evening. The children came in the morning and after learning their lessons for two or three hours, returned home for the bath and food. They came again at three or four in the afternoon, remained till sunset and were then free. Very young boys like Gadadhar had not, of course, to study for so long a period; but had nevertheless to remain in the school. After finishing their lessons, the little boys stayed in their places or sometimes went for play. The older boys helped the new-comers with their lessons and also saw to it that they went through their old lessons every day. Thus, although the school had only one teacher, the work went on smoothly. One Jadunath Sarkar was in charge when Gadadhar first entered school, but he retired shortly afterwards, for various reasons, and one Rajendranath Sarkar was appointed in his place.

8.    Kshudiram became aware of the boy’s peculiar temperament

The wonderful dreams and visions which had begun even before Gadadhar was born and foretold the boy’s destiny had made a lasting impression on Kshudiram’s mind. And so, whenever he found the boy doing something naughty, like all lively children, he could never be harsh with him Instead, he would gently ask the boy not to do it again. He now and then noticed signs of wilfulness in Gadadhar but he was not sure whether this was due to the undue attention everybody paid him or to the boy’s own nature. Instead of going to school, the self-willed boy would go and play with his companions outside the village; or, without caring to tell anybody, go to an open-air performance called the Yatra, at some place in the neighbourhood. Kshudiram did not scold him for this wilfulness, as other parents would have done, for he now felt convinced that it was this that would ultimately help the boy to become great. And there was good reason for him to think so, since he invariably found that Gadadhar would not rest till he accomplished what he had set out to do, would never try to hide anything he had done by telling a lie; and, would, above all, never think of doing harm to anybody. But there was one thing that really worried Kshudiram When the boy was asked or forbidden to do anything, he would deliberately go counter to the instruction till it was put to him in a way that appealed to his heart and understanding. Kshudiram understood that this really showed the boy’s desire to know the why and wherefore of everything; but he realized that people would not normally tolerate such behaviour, nor take the trouble to satisfy the boy’s curiosity by telling him the reason for everything. As a result, he thought, it was possible that the boy might occasionally be led to ignore the conventional rules of good conduct. It was the occurrence, at that time, of a small incident which gave rise to this apprehension of Kshudiram. It also made him understand the working of the boy’s mind, and he began carefully to guide him accordingly.

9.    An incident indicating it

There is a big tank known as Haldarpukur, by the side of Kshudiram’s house. All the villagers used its clear pure water for bathing, drinking, cooking, etc. It had two bathing Ghats, one for men and the other for women. Young boys like Gadadhar would very often use the Ghat reserved for women. Coming one day for a bath to that Ghat with a few boys of his own age, Gadadhar started jumping and swimming in the water and made himself a nuisance to the women who had come there to bathe. Elderly women who were occupied with their daily prayers and other devotions found that, now and then, a little water was splashed over them They told the boys to stop, but the boys would not listen. Annoyed at this, one of the women scolded them saying, “Why do you come here? Can’t you go to the men’s Ghat? Here women wash their clothes after their bath. You should know that women must not be seen undressed.” Gadadhar asked, “Why not?” But, instead of making him understand, she began to scold him all the more. Seeing that the women were annoyed and fearing that they would complain to their parents, the boys behaved better. But Gadadhar hit upon a plan. For two or three days, he hid himself behind a tree near the tank and peeped at the women while they were taking their bath. When, later, he met the elderly woman who had scolded him, he told her, “Day before yesterday I saw four women bathing, yesterday six and today eight. But I find that nothing has happened to me!” She thereupon came to Chandra and told her laughingly what the boy had said. At an opportune moment, Chandra spoke to Gadadhar gently, but in a convincing manner: “It is true nothing will happen to you when you do that; only the women feel insulted. They are in no way different from me; and so, if you insult them, it is the same as insulting me. In future don’t do anything that would hurt their sense of honour. Is it right to wound their feelings, as well as mine?” The boy understood and never again behaved that way.

10.    The progress and range of Gadadhar’s education

To resume the story, Gadadhar’s progress at school was not bad. Within a short time he could read and write in a simple way. But his aversion to arithmetic continued. On the other hand, he became more and more adroit in imitating others and showed his originality in various ways. Seeing the village potters making images of gods and goddesses, he began to visit them, and learning their art, started practising it at home. It became one of his hobbies. Similarly he mixed with those who painted pictures and himself began to do so. Whenever he was told that someone was reading and expounding the Puranas in the village, or that a religious drama was being enacted, he would go there and thus come to know the stories from the scriptures. He would, at the same time, observe very minutely the manner of presentation that appealed most to the audience. His wonderful memory and keen insight were of great help in these matters. From that early age his remarkable power of imitation and an inherent sense of fun helped the lively lad to mimic the peculiar gestures of men and women. At the same time the daily example of his parents helped to bring out his innate guilelessness and love of God. When he grew up he remembered this and all his life acknowledged with a grateful heart his debt to his parents. The reader will be able to judge for himself, when he reads the following words which he afterwards said to us at Dakshineswar: “ My mother was the very embodiment of simplicity. She did not understand anything of worldly matters and could not count money. Not realizing the danger of saying all the things to all the persons, she would give out whatever came to her mind to anybody and everybody. For this, people called her, ‘silly’. She also liked to feed one and all. My father never accepted a gift from a Sudra. He spent the greater part of the day in worship, Japa, and meditation. When at the time of his daily prayers he would recite the invocation to Gayatri, ‘O shining One, O giver of boons, come, etc.’ his chest would expand, become flushed and be bathed in tears. When not engaged in worship or other religious practices he spent his time making flower garlands, with the help of thread and needle, to adorn Raghuvir. Fear of giving false evidence made him give up his parental homestead. The villagers paid him the respect and reverence due to a sage.”

11.    The boy’s courage

As days went by, the boy’s remarkable courage also began to show itself in various ways. Without the least fear he went to places where even elderly persons dared not go for fear of ghosts, ghouls, and the like. His father’s sister Ramsila would sometimes be possessed by the spirit of the goddess Sitala. She then became, as it were, a different person. Once about this time, when she was staying with her brother at Kamarpukur, that change came over her and everyone in the house regarded her with awe and devotion. But Gadadhar watched his aunt in that state, no doubt with reverence, but without the slightest fear. He stayed near, and observed very minutely the change that had come over her. Afterwards, he said: “It would be splendid if the spirit who possessed aunt would possess me.”

12.    The boy’s aptitude for making friends

The reader is already acquainted with Manikraja, the landlord of the village of Bhursubo, who was known for his charity and devotion. Attracted by Kshudiram’s pious nature, he became his intimate friend. One day Gadadhar, then a boy of six, was taken by his father to Manikraja’s house. He behaved towards everybody in that house as if they were his old friends; and was so natural and sweet that he became dear to them all from that very day. Manikraja’s brother Ramjay, was so charmed that he said to Kshudiram: “Friend, this son of yours is not an ordinary child. It seems to me that he possesses godly qualities in a marked degree. Whenever you come this way, please bring him along. I feel so happy to see him.” For various reasons, Kshudiram could not go again to Manikraja’s place for some time. So Manikraja sent one of the women of his family to find out the reason and to bring Gadadhar on a short visit to Bhursubo if it were possible. When his father asked whether he would like to go, the boy was happy and went with the woman. He returned to Kamarpukur before dusk with presents of various kinds of sweets and ornaments. Gadadhar became such a pet of that Brahmin family that they used to send for him whenever Kshudiram could not go to Bhursubo for some days.

13. The remarkable development of Gadadhar’s power of imagination

Gradually a year went by and Gadadhar was now seven. As the child’s sweet nature developed, everybody loved him more and more. Whenever the women of the village prepared any delicacies in their homes, their first thought was now to get the boy eat some of them. His playmates never felt happy till they had shared their food with him He had such charming ways and spoke and sang so sweetly that the neighbours cheerfully put up with his childish pranks. About this time an incident occurred which made Gadadhar’s parents and friends very anxious about the boy. By the grace of God, Gadadhar was born with a strong and robust constitution, and until now he had not suffered from any disease. As a result, he was wonderfully buoyant and cheerful like a free bird. Well-known physicians say that it is the absence of body-consciousness that is the sign of health. It was this kind of health that the boy enjoyed from his birth. Whenever his mind, which was naturally one-pointed, became absorbed in a particular object, his body-consciousness almost vanished and he became completely identified with the idea on which he set his mind. The enchanting view of the vast green fields fanned by the gentle breeze, the incessant flow of the river, the melodious songs of birds, and, above all, the magic of ever-changing clouds in the deep blue sky would, at times, unfold their mystery and glory to the boy’s inner vision and hold him spell-bound. He would then lose himself completely and enter the unknown, distant, and solitary domain of the spirit.

The experience we now relate also had its origin in the boy’s tendency towards the spiritual contemplation of beauty. One day, while roaming carefree in the fields, Gadadhar looked up at the sky and saw a newly formed dark cloud, and against it the rhythmic movement of a flock of cranes in full flight, with their snow-white wings outspread. The boy became so completely absorbed in the beauty of it all, that awareness of his own body and of all other earthly things vanished altogether, and he fell down unconscious.
1 His friends, finding him in that condition, were alarmed and distressed. They sent word to his parents and the boy was carried home from the field. As soon as he regained consciousness, he was his old self again. Naturally, this incident caused a lot of worry to Kshudiram and Chandradevi and they thought of various means to prevent its happening again. In fact they thought it to be the beginning of fainting fits and considered what remedy should be applied and whether propitiatory rites should be performed. But Gadadhar told them, again and again, that what had happened to him was really due to his being merged in a feeling he had never experienced before; and that, although he was found outwardly unconscious, he was conscious inwardly and had experienced a unique bliss. However, as it did not recur and as nothing was wrong with the boy’s health, Kshudiram thought that it was due to a fit. But Chandra felt convinced that the boy had come under the evil eye. Anyhow, they kept him away from school for some time. Free to go wherever he chose in the village, the boy gave himself to play and fun even more than before.

14. The autumn festival in connection with the worship of Durga at Ramchandra’s house

Gadadhar was about seven years and a half at the time of the great autumn festival of Bengal in 1843. The reader already knows Ramchandra Bandyopadhyaya, Kshudiram’s prosperous nephew. He used to spend most of his time at Medinipur as he made his living there. His paternal home was in the village of Selampur, where his family lived. There, every year, Ramchandra celebrated the great autumn festival at a great expense. We have heard from Hriday that for eight days at the time of worship the Selampur house used to ring with music and song. The family experienced a continuous flow of joy in feeding Brahmins, offering parting gifts to Pandits, feeding the poor and giving them clothes. On those occasions Ramchandra would bring his revered uncle to his house and spend some happy days with him. That year, also, Kshudiram and his family were cordially invited when the time came.

15.    Kshudiram and Ramkumar go to Ramchandra’s house

Kshudiram had almost completed his sixty-eighth year, and had now lost his former vigour on account of dyspepsia and dysentery from which he had suffered often in the previous few years. So in spite of his desire to go, he hesitated to accept his dear nephew’s loving invitation. He began to feel an unaccountable but strong disinclination to leave his humble cottage, his family, and especially Gadadhar, even for a few days. Then he thought: “If I do not go this year, who knows whether, with my increasing weakness, I shall be able to go there again?” He at first intended to take Gadadhar with him; but then he remembered that this would make Chandra very anxious. As he could not take Gadadhar, he finally decided to go with his eldest son Ramkumar, spend the few days of worship with Ramchandra, and then return. He paid homage to Raghuvir, bade good-bye to all, kissed Gadadhar and started for Selampur a few days before the commencement of the festival. Ramchandra was very happy at the arrival of his revered uncle and his cousin Ramkumar.

16.    Kshudiram’s illness and death

Kshudiram had a relapse of his old complaint, dysentery, immediately after reaching Selampur and was placed under treatment. But that did not interfere with the happy mood in which the sixth, seventh, and eighth days of the bright fortnight were spent. On the ninth day, however, Kshudiram’s illness suddenly took a serious turn and caused great anxiety in that mart of joy. Ramchandra called in efficient doctors and started nursing his uncle with the help of his sister Hemangini and cousin Ramkumar. But Kshudiram’s condition did not improve. The ninth day passed somehow; and now came the tenth day (Vijaya), especially sacred to the Hindus as the time of re-union. That day Kshudiram became so weak that it was difficult for him to speak at all. As soon as the immersion ceremony of the image of Durga was over in the afternoon, Ramchandra hastened back to his uncle’s bedside. He found that the last moment was drawing near. On inquiry he learnt that Kshudiram had been lying silent in the same condition for a long time. Then Ramchandra, in tears, said to him: “Uncle, you always take the name of Raghuvir; why don’t you do so now?” The sound of that name at once roused Kshudiram, and in a trembling, halting voice he said: “Is that you, Ramchandra? Have you come after immersing the image? Then, make me sit up.” When Ramchandra, Hemangini and Ramkumar had helped him, with great care, to sit up on the bed, Kshudiram in a solemn tone uttered the name of Raghuvir thrice and left his body—the drop of water mingled with the ocean. Lord Raghuvir merged the breath of life of the devotee in His infinite life and thus blessed His devotee with immortality and peace everlasting. At dead of night, the village rang with the loud singing of the praises of the divine Lord. Kshudiram’s body was then brought to the river bank and, afer consecration by fire, was cremated. The news reached Kamarpukur the next day, and filled Kshudiram’s happy abode with sorrow. When the period of mourning was over, Ramkumar performed the Sraddha ceremony as prescribed by the scriptures and fed many Brahmins, thus completing his father’s last rites. It is said that Ramchandra gave a large sum towards the expenses of the ceremony performed in honour of the departed spirit of his uncle.


1. For the Master’s own description vide II 2.


1.    The effect of Kshudiram’s death on the family

Kshudiram’s death affected the life of the family in many ways. He had been Chandra’s companion in weal and woe for forty-four long years. It was therefore natural that now she found the world empty without him and felt his loss every moment. She had been accustomed for long to taking refuge at the lotus feet of Raghuvir, and now that the world had no more attraction for her, her whole mind was always drawn in that direction. But the world would not release her till the time was ripe. It gradually drew her back to the joys and sorrows of daily life through her concern for her seven-year-old son Gadadhar and her four-year-old daughter Sarvamangala. Thus the sorrow-stricken Chandra somehow passed her days in the service of Raghuvir and in bringing up her youngest son and daughter. After the father’s demise, the entire responsibility of maintaining the family fell on the shoulders of Ramkumar who had been devoted to his father. Now, as he could not afford to waste any time in grief, his whole mind and energy were employed in seeing that his bereaved mother and little brother and sister did not lack anything. The younger brother, Rameswar, now eighteen years old, was expected to help the family by earning money as soon as he had finished the study of Smriti and Jyotisha; and Ramkumar himself had to try to better the condition of the family by adding to his own income. His capable wife, finding that Chandradevi was no longer able to cope with all the work, took upon herself most of the cooking and other household duties.

2.    The effect of his father’s death on Gadadhar’s mind

It is common experience that nothing makes life so empty as the loss of a mother in one’s infancy, the death of a father in childhood, and the loss of a wife in youth. Being entirely dependent on the mother’s care and love, the infant does not miss its father even if he dies. But when it grows up and there is an awakening of its intelligence, it daily becomes aware of the father’s special affection. The child’s heart begins to be drawn towards the father as soon as it finds that he alone can satisfy certain desires which even its fond mother cannot. Its feeling of loss is therefore very acute, if the father dies at that time. Gadadhar too felt likewise when Kshudiram died. Many little things reminded him daily of his father, and a deep sorrow lingered in his heart. But being more thoughtful and considerate than other boys of his age, Gadadhar never openly gave way to his sorrow, out of regard for his mother’s feelings. To all appearances, the boy was as full of mirth and merriment as ever. Although he was seen sometimes wandering alone in the Bhutir Khal cremation-ground or in Manikraja’s mango grove and other solitary spots, nobody thought that there was any other reason for this than a boy’s natural restlessness. But actually, Gadadhar was becoming more thoughtful and fond of solitude. He also studied the ways of various persons and observed everyone very minutely.

3.    Gadadhar’s behaviour towards his mother

Those who have suffered and feel the same loss equally come closer to one another. That is perhaps the reason why Gadadhar now felt especially drawn towards his mother. He stayed near her much longer than before, and took delight in helping her as far as he could, in the service of the gods and in her household duties. It did not take him long to notice that when he was with her, his mother almost forgot the loss she had suffered. The boy’s attitude towards his mother also showed some change. After his father’s death he never asked her for anything with the same insistence as before, for he realized that her sorrow would return and she would be most unhappy if she could not fulfil any of his desires. In short, the yearning to protect his mother in every way now arose in Gadadhar’s heart.

4.    Gadadhar’s doings at this time. His keeping company with holy men

Gadadhar started going to school again and doing his regular lessons. But now he enjoyed, more than ever before, listening to the recital of stories from the Puranas and to Yatra songs, and making images of gods and goddesses. He perhaps also found that his absorption in these things helped him to forget the loss of his father. The boy found at this time a new interest suited to his temperament. The Lahas had set aside, for the convenience of pilgrims, a house situated at the south-east corner of the village, on the road to Puri. Religious men, unattached to worldly things, often took shelter at that house on their way to Puri to pay obeisance to Lord Jagannath, and also on their way back home. While staying there, they came to the village to collect alms from different houses. Gadadhar knew from the Puranas that monks, after acquiring detachment, renounce this transitory world and yearn for a vision of the divine Lord. The boy’s own feeling about the transitoriness of the world had been strengthened since his father’s demise. He had also heard that association with holy men leads to the blessedness of ultimate peace. And so he now began to visit that pilgrim-house, whenever he could, to become acquainted with the monks. He would then observe how those men sat round the Dhuni (sacred fire), and made it blaze up, morning and evening, before they became absorbed in the meditation of God; how they offered the simple food obtained as alms to their chosen Deities and then ate it with relish; how, with absolute dependence on God, they tried to bear even severe illness patiently; how they refrained from disturbing anybody even for expressing their urgent needs. But he also discovered how, sometimes, hypocrites dressed like monks assumed their manner of living only for their own selfish ends, and trampled upon the very essentials of right conduct. Gradually he began to mix intimately with genuine monks by helping them in little things like collecting wood or fetching drinking water. They, in turn, developed a liking for this good-looking lad on account of his sweet ways, and taught him how to pray to, and sing the praises of, the divine Lord. They also instructed him in other religious matters and felt happy in sharing with him the food they had collected as alms. Of course, Gadadhar could mix this way only with those monks who, for one reason or another, spent a considerable time at the pilgrim-house.

5.    How Chandra devi’s fear in this connection was removed

When the boy was eight years old, a few monks stayed at the pilgrim-house for many days to rest after the severe fatigue of a long journey or for some such reason. Gadadhar mixed with them in his usual way and soon became dear to them At first, no one knew about this; but when the boy’s relations with the monks became intimate and he began to spend much time with them, many came to know of it. On some days he ate so much with them that when he returned home, he had no appetite for any food. When Chandradevi asked him the reason, he told her everything. At first the mother was not perturbed. On the contrary, the fact that he had won the hearts of the mendicants appeared to her a blessing, and she began sending with the boy food-stuff and other articles necessary for them. But it so happened afterwards that the boy came home, sometimes with sacred ashes covering his body or with emblems marked on his forehead; at other times, wearing like monks a ‘Kaupina’ and a loincloth made by tearing his own wearing cloth. He would then say, “Look mother, how the holy men have adorned me!” This development made Chandra very uneasy, for she was afraid that one day the mendicants might tempt her son to go away with them. She expressed her fear to Gadadhar and began to weep. In spite of all his efforts to remove her fear, he could not pacify her. He then made a resolve not to go to the monks any more, and told her about it. This at last relieved her anxiety. And so, Gadadhar went to the monks to bid them farewell once for all. When they asked him the reason, he told them of his mother’s misgivings. On hearing this, they went with him to Chandradevi and assured her that the thought of taking away Gadadhar with them had never even crossed their minds; for, to take away a boy of that tender age, without the permission of his parents, they said, would be stealing, an offence unworthy of any religious man. At this, every shadow of her apprehension left Chandradevi, and she readily agreed to let the boy visit them as before.

6.    Gadadhar experienced Bhavasamadhi for the second time

Another event of this period caused Chandra a great deal of anxiety about Gadadhar. Although everyone thought it a sudden occurrence it was actually the result of the boy’s growing propensity for spiritual contemplation and deep thought. One day, on his way to the well-known temple of the goddess Visalakshi, at Anur, a village about two miles north of Kamarpukur, he suddenly lost all external consciousness. Prasannamayi, the pious sister of Dharmadas Laha, who was one of his companions, realized that it was the boy’s spiritual awareness that had brought about this unconsciousness.1 But when Chandradevi heard of it, she became anxious, thinking it was due to some physical malady. But on this occasion also, Gadadhar insisted that he was in that condition only because his mind had become merged in the goddess, as he was contemplating on Her.

7.    Gadadhar’s bosom-friend Gayavishnu

More than two years went by, and gradually the ups and downs of life made the boy almost forget the loss of his father. We have already mentioned Kshudiram’s friend Dharmadas Laha. At this time Gadadhar became an intimate friend of Dharmadas’s son, Gayavishnu. The two boys were drawn to each other while at school and during walks. They began to address each other as ‘pal’ and would daily spend much time together. Gadadhar always took his friend along with him when he was invited and fed by the village women. He would not take any of the sweets and other delicacies prepared by his old nurse Dhani, till he had given a share to Gayavishnu. It is needless to say that Dharmadas and Gadadhar’s guardians were happy to see this friendship between the two boys.

8.    Description of the ceremony of Gadadhar’s Upanayana

When Ramkumar found that Gadadhar would soon complete his ninth year, he started making arrangements for his investiture with the sacred thread (Upanayana). Long before, Dhani who belonged to the blacksmith caste, had told the boy one day that she would consider herself blessed if at the time of his investiture, he would accept alms from her and call her ‘mother’. The boy was so touched by her sincere affection for him that he promised to fulfil her desire. Putting her trust in the boy’s promise, the poor woman started collecting and accumulating money and other things as best as she could, and eagerly awaited that happy event. At the proper time Gadadhar mentioned his promise to his eldest brother. But Ramkumar objected, because such a departure from the usual custom was against the family tradition. The boy, on his part, insisted on keeping his promise, and argued that if he yielded to the objection he would be guilty of breaking his promise, and that an untruthful person was not fit to put on the sacred thread. As the time for the investiture ceremony approached, everything was made ready. But it was feared that there would be a hitch in the completion of the ceremony because of Gadadhar’s insistence. When the news reached his ears, Dharmadas tried to reconcile the difference. He said to Ramkumar, “Although this has never so far happened in your family, it has been done in many good Brahmin families elsewhere. Therefore no blame attaches to those who permit it. You must also consider the question of satisfying Gadadhar’s conscience and his peace of mind.” At these words of their father’s friend, wise old Dharmadas, Ramkumar and others refrained from raising further objections. Gadadhar then, with a cheerful heart, put on the sacred thread in accordance with the scriptural injunctions and applied his mind to performing Sandhya, worship, etc., as befits a Brahmin. From now onwards, Dhani also considered her life to be blessed on account of her new relationship with the boy. A little after this, the boy entered upon his tenth year.

9.    Gadadhar solved a disputed point at a meeting of scholars

About this time the villagers were wonderstruck at an event which showed Gadadhar’s unique, heaven-born genius.1 A big meeting of scholars had been convened at the house of the Lahas during the performance of a Sraddha ceremony. At this meeting there arose a controversy regarding a complicated theological question and the scholars could not arrive at a correct solution of the disputed point. Gadadhar, who was present, solved the problem in such a way that, after hearing what he said, the scholars praised and blessed him heartily.

10.    The development of Gadadhar’s spiritual faculties: Bhavasamadhi for the third time

After he had put on the sacred thread, Gadadhar, with his innate spiritual tendency, was delighted to get an opportunity to do something after his own heart. The boy had heard how the living symbol of Raghuvir had shown itself to his father in a dream, and how it had first entered the house; also how, from the auspicious day of the god’s coming, their little bit of land had begun to yield an abundance of paddy, which removed all the wants of the family and enabled the kind-hearted Chandradevi to feed every day those who came to her door. Since then the boy had looked upon that family deity with great devotion and reverence. Now that he had the privilege of touching and worshipping that god, his heart was filled with a new fervour of devotion. Much time was now spent by him daily in worship and meditation, after concluding the customary daily prayers and other duties. He served Raghuvir with especial steadfastness and devotion, so that the god might show his pleasure, as he had done to his father, by blessing him with his visions, and giving him commands from time to time. The god Rameswar Siva and the goddess Sitala also received his service. It was not long before his intense devotion bore fruit. The pure heart of the boy became so absorbed in that worship, that he experienced the state of Bhava-samadhi or Savikalpa-samadhi.1 And after this experience, various spiritual visions came to him from time to time. He had this kind of Samadhi and vision on the Siva-ratri2 of that year.3

The boy fasted that day and worshipped with intense devotion the great God Siva, the origin of all the gods. His friend Gayavishnu and some other boys of his age were also fasting and had decided to keep a vigil that night seeing and listening to a drama depicting the glory of Siva; That drama was to be staged in the house of their neighbour Sitanath Pyne. After finishing the worship of the first quarter, Gadadhar was sitting merged in the contemplation of Siva, when his friends suddenly came and told him that he would have to act the part of Siva and speak a few words in the play at the house of the Pynes; for, they explained, the person who usually played that role had suddenly taken ill and was unable to appear. Gadadhar at first declined on the ground that it would interfere with his worship; but they brushed aside the objection arguing that, if he acted the part of Siva, he would have to think of Him all the time, which was as good as worship. Moreover, they said, his refusal would deprive very many people of entertainment: they also were fasting and had decided to keep vigil the whole night witnessing the drama. Won over by these arguments, Gadadhar agreed finally and appeared on the stage in the role of Siva. With his make-up of matted hair, Rudraksha beads and ashes, he became so merged in the thought of Siva, that he lost all external consciousness. As he did not come to his senses for a long time, the play had to be stopped for the night.

11. Gadadhar experienced repeated Bhavasamadhi

From now onwards, Gadadhar was in this kind of ecstasy from time to time. He would forget himself and his surroundings when meditating, or listening to songs, music, etc., in praise of gods and goddesses. Then his mind would remain indrawn for a time—short or long—during which it would not respond to any external stimulus. On occasions, when his absorption became very deep, he would appear like a lifeless statue.

When that state was over, he would say, if questioned, that he experienced a marvellous joy in having divine visions while meditating on some god or goddess or listening to songs glorifying them. All this caused much alarm to Chandra and other members of the family for a long time. But their fear passed away when they found that the boy’s health was not affected in any way, and that he was efficient in all kinds of work and was always happy. Gadadhar was now so often in this condition, that he gradually got accustomed to it and could almost control it as he wished. It helped him also to understand subtle matters and various truths about gods and goddesses. This made him very happy and he was never afraid of experiencing that state. His spiritual tendencies became especially strong and he began to join heartily in various religious functions of the village, whether in honour of Hari or Siva or Manasa or Dharma. His broad-mindedness not only kept him entirely free from any ill-feeling against devotees of different gods and goddesses, but he was quite friendly with them all. The established tradition of the village no doubt helped him in this matter. For, in contrast to other villages, people of all denominations in Kamarpukur —whether worshippers of Vishnu, or devotees of Siva, or votaries of Dharma—bore no ill-will towards one another, but lived in peace and amity.

12.    The reason for Gadadhar’s aversion to being at school

Although, as we have seen, there was considerable progress so far as Gadadhar’s religious tendencies were concerned, he never developed a liking for book-learning. When he saw the longing of learned scholars for worldly enjoyment and wealth, he became averse to acquiring knowledge like them For, his keen insight made him first ascertain the motives underlying all actions and then judge their value by the standard of his father’s good qualities like detachment from the world, devotion to God, truthfulness, righteous conduct, etc. That comparison revealed, to his surprise, that the goal of most people was entirely different from that of his father. But he felt more sad than surprised to find that such people always suffered from delusion because they looked upon this transitory world as permanent. Is it then to be wondered at, that, as a result of this discovery, there arose in his mind a desire to conduct his own life differently? After hearing all this, the reader may perhaps ask: “Is it possible for a boy of eleven or twelve to have such profound insight and discrimination?” The answer is that Gadadhar was not an ordinary boy. He was born with extraordinary genius, memory and mental impressions. Therefore the possession of such powers was not surprising in his case, though he was so young. But this apart, we must, for the sake of truth, narrate all facts that our investigation has brought to light, irrespective of what others may think of them

13.    The progress of Gadadhar’s education

Although Gadadhar’s dislike for the prevailing type of education gradually increased, he nevertheless continued going to school. He became proficient in reading books written in his mother tongue and in writing in that language. He now read the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other religious books with such devotion and in such a sweet voice that people were charmed to listen. The simple-hearted, unlettered villagers showed great eagerness to hear him read those books, and Gadadhar was always happy to please them Sitanath Pyne, Madhu Jugi, and others invited him to their houses, and men and women, full of devotion, heard him read the life of Prahlada, the story of Dhruva, or other narratives from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and similar other texts.

Besides the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, etc., there still exist in Kamarpukur records containing the stories of gods and goddesses written in simple verse by the village poets well known in those parts. Stories such as the story of the appearance of the great god, Tarakesvar; or of the musical composition relating to Yogadya; or of Madanmohan of Vana-vishnupur describing those gods and goddesses revealing their true natures to holy men and devotees and performing supernatural deeds— reached Gadadhar’s ears from time to time. With the help of his extraordinary memory, the boy learnt by heart many of these stories on hearing them, and would sometimes himself copy any available manuscript or printed book containing them. We came to know this when we found, on investigation at the Kamarpukur house, the manuscript Ramakrishnayana, the musical compositions on Yogadya and Subahu, etc., copied by Gadadhar himself. It is also beyond doubt that many a time the boy read or recited these narratives to the simple-hearted men and women of the village, whenever they requested him to do so.

We have already spoken of Gadadhar’s indifference to arithmetic. But after he had been at school for some time, he made a little progress in that subject also. We are told that he committed to memory tables even up to that of land-measurement called Katha in the Book of Tables, and that he progressed from simple addition to simple multiplication and division. But when he reached his tenth year and began to experience ecstasy, his eldest brother Ramkumar left him free to go to school whenever he wanted and to learn whatever subjects he liked. For, he was afraid that Gadadhar had a tendency to some ailments. His teacher also did not press him when he found he was not making progress in the study of a particular subject. It is therefore needless to add that there was little general progress in Gadadhar’s studies at school.

14.    The marriages of Rameswar and of Sarvamangala

Two years passed and Gadadhar reached his twelfth year. His second elder brother Rameswar and his younger sister Sarvamangala, were now twenty-two and nine years old respectively. Finding that Rameswar had reached the proper age, Ramkumar arranged his marriage with the sister of Ramsaday Bandyopadhyaya of the village of Gaurhati near Kamarpukur. It was also arranged that Ramsaday himself should marry Rameswar’s sister. As both the marriages were arranged in this manner, Ramkumar had no anxiety about the payment of dowry to the bride’s party. Another important event concerning Ramkumar’s family took place at this time. As his wife did not conceive, even though she was no longer young, everyone felt certain that she was barren. But now, when they found that she was really pregnant, the family felt happy and apprehensive at the same time, because some of them had heard Ramkumar say that she would die if ever she conceived.

15.    Change in the behaviour of Ramkumar’s wife when she became pregnant

A radical change came over Ramkumar’s affairs from the time his wife conceived. The sources of his income now failed. His health broke down and he was not able to keep up his former active habits. His wife’s behaviour also underwent a complete change. There was a rule in the family, from the time of his revered father, that no one (except boys not yet invested with the sacred thread, and those who were ill) should eat anything or even drink water before the worship of Raghuvir was finished. Now Ramkumar’s wife broke this rule and turned a deaf ear to the objections raised by other members of the family who were afraid that evil might befall them She picked quarrels with everyone in the family over trifles, thereby creating ill-feeling, and persisted in her perverse conduct in spite of the protests of her husband and Chandradevi. But remembering that a change often comes over women during their pregnancy, they let her alone. Yet, instead of the usual peace in that pious household at Kamarpukur, there was now continual disharmony.

16.    Change in Ramkumar’s financial condition

Ramkumar’s brother, Rameswar, was not good at earning money though he had sufficient learning. So, while the number of persons in the family increased, there was a decrease in its income, and its former comfortable existence came to an end. Ramkumar became anxious but could not find a remedy in spite of all his efforts. It seemed as if some unseen power obstructed all his plans and brought them to nothing. A succession of anxieties made his very life a burden. As days and months passed, and the time of his wife’s delivery approached, he became more and more dejected remembering his previous reading of her fate.

17. Ramkumar’s wife died after delivering a son

At last she gave birth to a very beautiful male child some time in the year 1849 and while looking at its face passed away in the lying-in room. A pall of grief again fell over the poor family.


1. For a description in detail of this event, vide II. 2.—Tr.

1. For a detailed description of this event, vide III. 4.

1.    Vide Glossary.

2.    A night associated with a special manifestation of Siva.—Tr.

3.    Seen II. 2.


1.    Ramkumar started a Sanskrit school (Tol) in Calcutta

Ramkumar’s misfortune continued after the death of his wife, and he became poorer day by day. His income from gifts given by persons who invited him on ceremonial occasions dwindled. Although paddy sufficient for their own use grew in the piece of land at Lakshmijala, it became more and more difficult to get clothes and other daily necessaries. Milk was also needed every day for his old mother and Akshay, his motherless baby; but it had to be obtained along with other necessaries, only by borrowing money. Thus Ramkumar got into debts which began to accumulate day by day. He could not avoid this, try as he would. Thinking he might be able to earn more money elsewhere, he made preparations to leave Kamarpukur on the advice of his friends. His recent bereavement made it easy for him to take this step; for, he thought that he might get some peace of mind if he left the house crowded with memories of his companion in life for thirty years. There was much discussion as to whether Calcutta or Burdwan offered better prospects of earning an income. Finally it was decided that he should go to Calcutta, because his friends pointed out that Maheshchandra Chattopadhyaya of Sihar, Ramdhan Ghosh of Desra and others whom he knew had gone there and found good opportunities to earn money and improve their condition. They also added that, as everyone knew, those persons could not approach him in learning, intelligence and strength of character. Therefore Ramkumar handed over the charge of the family affairs to Rameswar and went to Calcutta soon after his wife’s death. He started a Sanskrit school in the quarter of the city called Jhamapukur and began to teach a few boys.

2.    The effect of the death of Ramkumar’s wife on the family

There came many changes in the life of the family at Kamarpukur on the death of Ramkumar’s wife. Chandradevi was now compelled to take upon herself the burden of all the household duties, including the care of Ramkumar’s little child, Akshay. Rameswar’s wife tried, as far as possible, to assist her; but being still very young, she was not of much help. So Chandradevi had to do practically everything herself— the service of Raghuvir, the bringing up of Akshay, the cooking and other household work. It took her all the day to do this and she had not a minute’s rest. It was very difficult for her, a woman of fifty-eight,1 to manage all those household affairs. But knowing that such was the will of Raghuvir, she carried on without a word of complaint.

3.    The story of Rameswar

Rameswar had now to look after the income and expenses of the family, and was thinking how he could make both ends meet and keep the family in comfort. But his learning never helped him to make a good living. On the other hand, he spent much time in talking to the wandering monks and religious men, whenever he met them, and even did not hesitate to supply all their wants. So, although he now earned a little more than before, he could not pay off the family debt but could just supply only the bare needs of his people. As a result, though he had the necessity to save money he could not do so. He sometimes spent more than he earned and lived a carefree life, thinking, “Somehow Raghuvir will provide for the family.”

4.    Rameswar’s thought about Gadadhar

No doubt, Rameswar dearly loved his younger brother, Gadadhar, but he never bothered to find out whether he made any progress in his studies. Apart from being temperamentally incapable of giving such attention he had no time for it, since he had to go to various places in search of remunerative work. He had thus neither the inclination nor the leisure to keep an eye on his brother’s education. He had also the firm conviction that Gadadhar’s discriminating nature would always prevent him from going astray for he had seen in him a remarkable development of religious tendencies even at that early age. This conviction became stronger when he saw how men and women of the village reposed full confidence in the boy and loved him dearly. Nobody, he felt sure, could win all hearts and be praised by everyone unless he was specially good and of noble character. Rameswar looked forward with joy to his young brother’s glorious future and had no anxiety on his account. Gadadhar was thirteen years old when Ramkumar went to Calcutta. He had now no regular guardian and was free to go wherever he wanted.

5.    Gadadhar’s mental attitude and behaviour at this time

As already mentioned, Gadadhar’s keen insight enabled him, even at that young age, to see through the motives of the actions of others. Therefore it did not take him long to realize that the only object of studying at school or of gaining distinction in studies was to enable a person to make money, or, as he himself would put it, “to bundle up rice and plantain”. He also came to understand that no one who spent all his energy in that pursuit for the sake of worldly enjoyment could, like his father, be devoted to truth, or acquire strength of character and realize God. Blinded by selfish interest, some families in the village quarrelled over land and other property and took to litigation. They then divided their houses, lands, etc., with measureing tapes, declaring, “This side is mine and that side is his.” But scarcely had they enjoyed their shares for a few days when death carried them away! Gadadhar sometimes saw these things actually happening before his eyes and came to the conclusion that money and the desire for enjoyment were the root cause of much misery in human life. Therefore, it is not surprising that he became more and more averse to the kind of learning that was acquired only with the object of making money. On the other hand he looked upon the attainment of love of God as the primary aim of life and was content, like his father, with the bare necessaries of life, namely ‘coarse food and coarse clothing’. He, however, went to school for a while almost every day, but this was due to his attraction for boys of his own age. He now spent most of his time in the worship of Raghuvir and in lightening his mother’s burden by assisting her in household work. On account of all these activities, he had to remain at home for the greater part of the day.

6.    Gadadhar’s devotional reading and singing to the women of the village

Since Gadadhar now spent much time at home, the women of the village had good opportunities of seeing him there. When they were free from their household duties, many of them would come to Chandradevi and if they found the boy at home, would sometimes ask him to sing for them or read religious stories. Gadadhar did what they asked, whenever he could. If they found him busy helping his mother, they would themselves finish up the work to afford him time to read out to them from the Puranas or to sing. This became almost a daily routine. The women enjoyed it so much that they tried to finish off their own daily duties as soon as they could, so that they might listen to his songs and readings for a longer time.

Besides reading the Puranas, Gadadhar entertained the women in various other ways. There were then in the village three parties of Yatra players, one of minstrels (Bauls1) and one or two of versifiers (Kavis2). Again, as many of the villagers were Vaishnavas, there used to be in their houses readings every evening from the Bhagavata, or singing of the praises of the divine Lord. His gift of memory enabled Gadadhar to remember many of those musical compositions, plays, songs and hymns to God which he had heard from his childhood. As a special entertainment, one day he would begin a drama; on another sing the songs of the Bauls or Kavis, or again sing the praises of the divine Lord. When he enacted a play he would himself play the various parts, changing his voice to suit each character. If on any occasion he found his mother or any of the women dejected, he would start playing a farce from the plays; or would imitate so well the peculiar manner, and gestures of some one in the village known to all of them that they would roar with laughter.

7.    The village women were devoted to Gadadhar and confided in him

Thus Gadadhar exercised an immense influence over the village women. They had already heard of the strange dream and spiritual visions that the boy’s parents had at the time of his birth. And they had also seen with their own eyes the extraordinary change that came over his mind and body whenever he came in touch with the spirit of gods and goddesses. Therefore it was quite natural that his intense devotion to God, his absorption when reading the Puranas, his sweet singing and his unconventional, simple-hearted behaviour towards them all, aroused in those women a unique devotion and affection for him. We are told that Prasannamayi and other elderly women saw in Gadadhar the manifestation of the divine Boy (Gopala) and loved him even more than their own sons. And younger women, believing that he was born as a part of Bhagavan Sri Krishna, looked upon him as their spiritual lover and friend. Many of these women were born in Vaishnava families and a simple poetic faith was the basis of their religion. Therefore it is not incredible that they actually believed this boy of noble mien and character to be God Himself. Because of this faith they would come and tell him, without any reserve, their innermost thoughts and would seek his advice and try to follow it. On such occasions, Gadadhar also behaved with these young women as if he were one of them1

8.    Gadadhar in woman’s dress

He would sometimes act the parts of well-known female characters and put on woman’s dress and ornaments. He did this when, at the request of his women friends, he acted the part of Radharani or of her intimate companion, Vrinda. He would then be exactly like a woman in his gestures, voice and movement. The village women would say that nobody could recognize him then. This shows how minutely the boy had observed the various ways of women. With his love of fun, he would often pass in that disguise in front of men with a pitcher under his arm to fetch water from the Haldarpukur; and no one would ever suspect that he was not a woman!

9.    Gadadhar’s intimacy with the family of Sitanath Pyne

We have already spoken of Sitanath Pyne, a rich man of the village. He had seven sons and eight daughters, who lived as a joint family in Sitanath’s house even after marriage. It is said that such a huge quantity of spices was necessary for cooking their food that ten stone-slabs had to be used to grind them to paste every day. Many distant relatives of Sitanath had also built their houses near his, and lived there. Therefore that part of Kamarpukur was known as the traders’ quarter. Being situated near Kshudiram’s house, many women of that quarter,— especially Sitanath’s wife and daughters— used to come to Chandradevi during their leisure, and thus came to know Gadadhar intimately. They would often take him to their own houses and ask him to play dramatic parts or impersonate certain women characters in woman’s dress. Many of Sitanath’s women relatives were forbidden to go to any place outside the family house. Therefore they had not the good fortune to listen to Gadadhar’s readings and songs at Chandradevi’s place. Perhaps that was why Sitanath’s wife and daughters invited him to their house. There it was that many women of the traders’ quarter, who could not go to Chandradevi, saw Gadadhar and became fond of him. Whenever they heard that he was at Sitanath’s house they went there and enjoyed listening to his readings or seeing his acting and impersonations. The master of the house, Sitanath, loved Gadadhar very much and other men of that quarter knew what a fine character the boy possessed. Therefore they did not raise any objection to their womenfolk listening to the boy singing the praises of God.

The only person from the traders’ quarter who raised any objection was Durgadas Pyne. He too had a high opinion of Gadadhar and liked him, but he would, under no circumstances, allow any relaxation of the strict purdah system observed by his women. He boasted to Sitanath and other relatives that nobody had ever seen the women of his house, or could know anything about the inner apartments where they lived. He even looked down upon Sitanath and others who did not, like him, enforce purdah.

10.    A blow to Durgadas Pyne’s pride

One day Durgadas was bragging thus before a relative, when Gadadhar came there. On hearing him the boy said, “Can women be protected by purdah? They can be protected only through good moral training and devotion to God. I can see everyone and know everything of the inner apartments of your house, if I want to.” At this, Durgadas became even more boastful arid said: “Well, let me see how you do it.” “Very well, we shall see,” challenged Gadadhar and went away.

Some time later, one afternoon, without a word to anyone, the boy disguised himself as a poor weaver woman by putting on a coarse dirty Sari and, among other ornaments a bangle of silver beads on his wrist. Then he came just before dusk to the house of Durgadas from the direction of the market with a basket under his arm and a veil covering his face. Durgadas was then sitting with some friends in the parlour of his house. Gadadhar introduced himself as a weaver woman who had come to the market for selling yarn, but had the misfortune to be left behind by her companions. She therefore begged for shelter for the night Durgadas made enquiries about her, and satisfied with her replies said: “Very well, go to the women in the inner apartment and ask them to take you in.” Gadadhar bowed in gratitude and went to the inner apartment. He repeated his story to the women and amused them with his gossip. Seeing her so young, and pleased with her sweet words, the women allowed her to stay with them. Then they pointed out a place for rest and gave her a refreshment of parched rice and parched paddy, husked and sweetened. Gadadhar sat in the allotted place and, while eating, observed very minutely every room and each of the women. Not only did he hear the conversation they were having but took part in it, and sometimes even put questions. The whole evening was spent in this way. As Gadadhar had not returned home, though it was very late, Chandradevi sent Rameswar in search of him to the traders’ quarter where, she knew, he often went. Rameswar went first to Sitanath’s house, but was told that the boy was not there. Then coming near the house of Durgadas, he loudly called him by his name. When Gadadhar heard his brother’s voice, he knew it was very late. He shouted back from the inner apartment, “I am coming, brother!” and ran out to meet Rameswar. It was then that the truth dawned on Durgadas. At first he was a little embarrassed and felt annoyed at the thought that Gadadhar should have befooled him and his family; but the next moment he began to laugh, seeing how well the boy had played his part. When they heard of the incident the next day, Sitanath and other relatives of Durgadas were glad that Gadadhar had dealt a blow to his conceit. Henceforward the women of Durgadas’s inner apartment began to go to Sitanath’s house whenever Gadadhar was there.

11.    The women of the traders’ quarter were devoted to and had faith in Gadadhar

The women of Sitanath’s family and of the traders’ quarter became so fond of Gadadhar that they would send for him if they did not see him for some days. The boy sometimes went into ecstasy while reading or singing at Sitanath’s house; and when they saw this, the women’s devotion for him knew no bounds. Many of them, we are told, worshipped the boy when he was in ecstasy, as an embodiment of Sri Gauranga or Sri Krishna. They had a gold flute and various costumes for male and female characters made for his use during impersonations.

12.    What Ruk-mini said about Gadadhar

From time to time we had the opportunity of hearing some of these women speak of the influence that the many-sided Gadadhar exerted over them When some of us, including Swami Ramakrishnananda, went to Kamarpukur in 1893, we met Sitanath Pyne’s daughter, Rukmini, who was then about sixty years old. The reader will have a good idea of Gadadhar’s influence when we relate what she told us. Pointing to the north, Rukmini said: “Our old house stands yonder. It is now in a dilapidated condition since there is hardly any one of us left. But, when I was seventeen or eighteen, it was the home of a prosperous family. Sitanath Pyne was my father and we were seventeen or eighteen sisters and cousins, including the daughters of my father’s elder and younger brothers. Although there were slight differences in our ages, we were all grown-up girls at that time. Gadadhar used to play with us from his childhood and we were great friends. Though he was a big boy then, he continued coming to our house even when we were no longer children and he had free access to our inner apartments. Father loved him very much. He looked upon him as his chosen Deity and had great devotion and respect for him Some of the people of our quarter told him, “There are so many grownup girls in your house and Gadadhar is now a big boy. Why do you allow him still to enter your inner apartments?” He would then reply: “Don’t worry, I know Gadadhar very well”; and they would not dare to say anything more. Ah, how many stories from the Puranas Gadadhar used to tell us, and what fun we had! We used to go on with our household work while listening to those stories almost every day. How can I with one mouth express the great joy we all felt when he was with us? If sometimes he did not come, we would be in great anxiety, thinking he was ill. We had no peace till one of us went to the Brahmin mother (Chandra) on the pretext of bringing water or doing something else, and brought us news. Every word of Gadadhar was like nectar to us. When he did not come to our house, we would spend the whole day talking about him”

13.    All villagers loved Gadadhar

Gadadhar made friends not only with the village women but his many-sided genius and winsome ways brought him in contact with all the people of the village, whether men, women or children. He frequented all the places where the villagers—young and old—gathered to enjoy readings from the Puranas or songs in praise of God. There was great joy whenever and wherever the boy was present; for none but he could read so well, or expound religious truths with such earnestness. He had no equal in spiritual fervour at the time of singing the glory of God and in the power of arousing the spiritual sentiments. No one had a sweet voice like him nor could anyone dance like him. When all were in a merry mood, he surpassed everyone in his ability to play farcical roles and to imitate all kinds of affectation of men and women. Again, no one could narrate so well new stories or sing new songs fitting the occasion. So everyone, young and old, became fond of him and eagerly awaited his coming each evening. Gadadhar too was happy to meet and entertain the villagers, sometimes in one place, sometimes in another.

As even at that age the boy had a sound judgement, many of the villagers took his advice in the solution of their worldly problems. Attracted by his pure character and seeing that he went into ecstasy while uttering God’s name or singing His praises, religious-minded persons were helped in their own spiritual paths by following his advice.1 Only hypocrites and knaves tried to avoid him, since Gadadhar’s keen insight pierced through their deceptive exterior and detected their secret designs. The truthful and outspoken boy sometimes put these persons out of countenance by exposing them before others. Gadadhar’s love of fun would also occasionally make him imitate their hypocritical ways in the presence of others. Although this made them angry, they could not do anything about it, since everybody took his side. Their only safeguard was to appeal to his kind nature, because they knew the boy was always generous to those who took refuge in him

14.    Why Gadadhar became averse to a bread-winning education

As mentioned before, Gadadhar continued going to school for some time every day, because of his love for boys of his own age. But on his reaching the age of fourteen, his devotion and desire for spiritual contemplation increased to such an extent that he became convinced that he had no use for any bread-winning education of the type imparted at school. Even from that time, he felt that his life was meant for a higher purpose and that he would have to direct all his energies towards the realization of God. A faint picture of that goal often arose before his mental vision; but as it was not yet developed in all its details, he was unable to grasp its meaning or to understand its purpose. Nevertheless, whenever the problem of how he should direct his life arose in his mind, his discriminating intellect pointed to an absolute dependence on God and painted in bright colours on the canvas of his imagination a symbolic picture of ochre cloth, sacred fire, food obtained as alms and a wandering life free from all attachments. But the very next moment, his loving heart reminded him of the condition of his mother, brother and others of the family, and made him give up the desire to tread that path. Instead, it urged him to help them, as best he could, by remaining in the world trusting God, even as his father had done. Since his head and his heart thus pointed in opposite directions, he waited for God’s guidance, depending entirely on what Raghuvir might dispose, for with his heart full of love for that god, the boy had always looked upon him as absolutely his own. Confident, therefore, that Raghuvir would solve his problems at the proper time he had no longer any doubt. Whenever there was a conflict between his head and heart, it was his heart that always won, and he now did everything under its influence.

15.    The natural urge of Gadadhar’s heart

At this time a new feeling welled up, now and then, in Gadadhar’s pure heart, full of a rare sympathy. There existed such an intimate relationship between him and the people of the village that he looked upon them as his dear friends and shared fully their joys and sorrows. Therefore, as soon as the idea of renouncing the world arose in his mind, his heart reminded him of those simple-hearted and loving villagers and of their implicit trust in him. He knew his path was to conduct his own life in such a way that by following him as a model, they might realize high ideals and transform their present relationship with him into one that was always spiritual. The boy’s heart, free from the slightest taint of selfishness, spoke to him: “It is selfish to renounce the world only for your own salvation. Do something that will be for the good of others also.”

16.    Gadadhar left school and took to enacting dramas with the help of friends

But so far as his study at the school and later at the Sanskrit school was concerned, Gadadhar’s head and heart were in full agreement. Even then he did not leave school altogether because he knew his friends would miss him badly. For, all the boys of his own age, Gayavishnu and others, loved him dearly and looked upon him as their leader because of his great intelligence and courage. Gadadhar, however, found at last a favourable opportunity to leave the school. One day some friends who knew his dramatic talent proposed that they should form a party of Yatra players and requested him to take charge of their training. Gadadhar agreed; but knowing that their guardians would raise objection, the boys were at first worried about a suitable place where they could undergo that training. Clever Gadadhar finally selected Manikraja’s mango grove, and it was settled that every day some of them should absent themselves from school to meet there at the appointed time.

This plan was immediately put into effect. Under Gadadhar’s training the boys learnt by heart their own parts and songs, and the mango grove became the happy scene of the performance of the plays depicting the lives of Sri Ramachandra and Sri Krishna. All the details of each performance had to be arranged by Gadadhar with the aid of his own imagination, and he himself had to act the parts of the principal characters. The boys, however, were very happy to find their little group working in perfect harmony. It is said that, from time to time, Gadadhar went into ecstasy during these performances.

17.    Gadadhar’s progress in painting and making images of deities

The boy’s skill in painting could not now find much opportunity for improvement, since most of his time was spent either in religious singing or in enacting plays. But one day, on a visit to his youngest sister Sarvamangala at Gaurhati, he saw her cheerfully serving her husband. Shortly afterwards, he painted a picture showing the couple in that happy mood, and all the members of the family were surprised to see how lifelike the painting was.

Gadadhar, however, became very competent in moulding images of gods and goddesses. His religious tendency led him to do this often, and he and his friends would then worship those images in the manner prescribed in the scriptures.

After he left school, Gadadhar followed the dictates of his heart by engaging himself in these activities, besides helping Chandradevi in her household work.

He became very fond of Akshay, his brother’s motherless child, who very often kept him busy. In order to allow Chandradevi time for her household duties, it now became a part of his daily routine to take the child on his lap and keep it amused in various ways.

Three years went by in this way and Gadadhar approached his seventeenth year. Through Ramkumar’s exertions, the number of students in his Calcutta school had increased during this period and he was now earning more than before.

18.    Ramkumar was anxious about Gadadhar and took him to Calcutta

Although he spent most of his time in Calcutta, Ramkumar used to come once a year to Kamarpukur, for a few weeks, to see how things were going on with his mother and brothers. This time, when he came he particularly noticed Gadadhar’s indifference to regular study and was worried about it. He made careful enquiries as to how he spent his time, and after consulting his mother and Rameswar, decided to take Gadadhar with him to Calcutta and keep him there. He thought it advisable to do so, because with the increase in the number of students, the management of his school had become difficult and he felt the need for an assistant. So it was settled that Gadadhar should go to Calcutta to assist him a little, and, at the same time, study under him along with his other pupils. When this was put to Gadadhar he did not raise the slightest objection, because he knew that it meant helping his eldest brother whom he respected like his father. Then, at an auspicious time on a lucky day, Ramkumar and Gadadhar paid homage to Raghuvir, took the dust of their mother’s feet and started for Calcutta. There was an end to the mart of joy at Kamarpukur. Chandra and other women devoted to Gadadhar, somehow spent their days with his sweet memory and the thought of his future welfare to sustain them.


1. Chandradevi was bom 1791 and passed away in 1876 at the age of eighty-five. It is said that she died on the birthday of Sri Ramakrishna.

1.    Religious mendicants belonging to the cult of love, begging from house to house, singing tender songs of spiritual love and dispassion for the world.—Tr.

2.    Quick-witted persons who would compete in putting and answering intricate questions on socio-religious matters from mythology and history—all in impromptu verses.—Tr.

1. It will be seen from the facts recorded in II. 14 what a strong desire Gadadhar had, at the time referred to there, to be completely like a woman.

1. It is said that at that time Srinivas Sankhari and a few other young men worshipped him as an especial manifestation of God.



By the grace of God the discussion on the unique spiritual practices of Sri Ramakrishna as a spiritual aspirant is now presented to the public. We have not presented here merely a philosophical discussion on his unprecedented love for these Sadhanas and on the principles underlying them, but also tried to ascertain the dates of the principal events of his life from his seventeenth to the fortieth year and to narrate them chronologically to the reader. Therefore this part of the book “As The Spiritual Aspirant” may be regarded as the history of his life as an aspirant down to the time when his boy disciples, with their leader Swami Vivekananda, came to his holy feet.

We entertained great doubts at the time of writing the present part of the book, whether we should be able to ascertain the dates of all the important events of the Master’s life. Although he told many of us the facts of his life as a spiritual aspirant, never did he chronologically narrate them to anyone. Consequently, the events of this period of his life have remained confused and complicated in the minds of his devotees. But as a result of investigation we have now been able to ascertain by his grace the dates of many of those events.

There has continued till now a controversy about the year of the Master’s birth; for he himself told us that his original horoscope was lost and the one that was cast afterwards was full of errors. We have been able to solve that dispute by consulting a number of almanacs more than a hundred years old. Therefore, it has become easy for us to ascertain the dates of the events of the Master’s life. The facts about the Master’s worship of Shodasi were not so far known to anyone. It will be easy for the reader to understand that event when he reads this part of the book.

In conclusion, our humble prayer to Him is that the book may receive His blessings and be a source of good to all.




1.    Lack of records concerning divine incarnations as aspriants

The study of the religious histories of the world reveals that except in the case of Lord Buddha and Sri Chaitanya, there is little detailed account available of the spiritual disciplines and practices of the incarnations of God as aspirants. In the history of their lives we do not meet with any detailed description of the indomitable zeal and unbounded love which they nurtured in their hearts and with the help of which they proceeded to realize the truth in life. Nor do we come across detailed discussions of the surges of awe and admiration, of pang and pleasure, of hope and despair, alternating with each other, gripped by which, they felt now elated, now dejected, though never allowing the vision of the goal to grow dim even for a moment. Further, we do not find either a natural nexus of cause and effect between their wonderful actions and behaviour during the later parts of their lives, on the one hand, and the education and actions and aspirations of their childhood, youth, etc., on the other. For example, how Lord Sri Krishna, the darling of the Gopis of Vrindavan, became transformed into Sri Krishna, the Lord of Dwaraka and the Resuscitator of religion, is not clearly indicated. Only a fact or two of the wonderfully catholic life of Jesus the Christ before his thirtieth year is known to us. Only the all-conquering preaching peregrinations of Acharya Sankara are recorded. And so it is with all others.

2.    Devotees do not like the idea that incarnations are imperfect at any period of their lives

The reason for this is difficult to envisage. Perhaps those things have not been recorded on account of the excessive devotion on the part of the devotees. Perhaps they were hesitant to attribute human imperfections to divine characters, and therefore thought it reasonable to shut them out from people’s gaze. Or it may be, the devotees thought that they would be doing more good to men by holding before their eyes as an ideal the fully developed noble ideas and sentiments of these great ones than by tracing the history of their superhuman efforts to arrive at them; and therefore they deemed it useless to place on record those endeavours. The devotees like to see their beloved Master ever perfect. They refuse to admit that because they have assumed human forms, any kind of human weakness, or lack of insight or power could ever creep into their character. They are always anxious to see the whole universe inside the divine children and not only are ever eager to read the experience and intelligence of an adult in the meaningless acts and efforts of their childhood but would strain every nerve to view them as the perfect embodiments of omniscience and omnipotence and of universal love and tolerance. No wonder, therefore, they come to the conclusion that it is only in order to elude the eyes of men that the incarnations of God feign the mental efforts of spiritual practices and the bodily states of hunger, sleep, fatigue, disease, death, etc. Even in our own time we have known many eminent devotees of our Master having the firm conviction that his disease was a feigning of this sort.

3.    It does not stand to reason that such an idea interferes with devotion

It is due to mere weakness that the devotees arrive at such a conclusion. They do not like to attribute human efforts, aims, etc., to the incarnations of God only because such a notion, they think, would harm their devotion. Therefore we have nothing to say against them; but such weakness, it is certain, is seen in a devotee when his devotion is not mature enough. It is only in that state of devotion that he cannot think of the divine Lord as devoid of powers. In course of time when devotion matures and the love of God deepens considerably, such thoughts regarding the powers of God are resented as veritable obstacles to the path of devotion and the devotee carefully avoids them from a distance. All the devotional scriptures say this over and over again. We see that although Sri Krishna’s foster mother Yasoda daily experienced the divine powers of her boy, she looked upon him just as a boy and fondled or chastised him accordingly. The Gopis similarly could not attribute any relation to Sri Krishna other than that of a beloved, in spite of their knowledge that he is the very Cause of the universe. Instances can easily be multiplied.

4.    The Master’s teaching: “Love-relation to the intimacy of ‘Thou’ and ‘I’ cannot stand when knowledge of powers intervenes”, and “nobody’s spiritual attitude should be tampered with”

When the devotees of the Master expressed their great eagerness to have some kind of vision as a direct evidence of particular powers of God, endearingly would he say to them many a time: “Ah, it is not good to have such visions; fear will intervene when you see powers. Feeding and dressing Him and the deep loving relation of ‘Thou’ and ‘I’ will all cease.” Alas, how often did we not feel piqued on such occasions and think that he evaded our request only because he would not bestow on us the vision! If, however, at that time any devotee took courage and said feelingly with a firm faith, “Your grace can make the impossible possible. Please be compassionate and grant me the vision” the Master would reply in an endearing tone, “Can I bring about anything, my child? What Mother wills, happens;” Thus answered, if he would still insist and say “Your will will be Mother’s too” the Master’s usual reply was, “My child, I do wish that all of you may have all kinds of spiritual states and visions; but is it fulfilled?” Instead of desisting even then, if the devotee persisted in his faith, the Master only expressed his love to him by a gentle smile and an affectionate look, or would sometimes say, “What shall I say? Let Mother’s will be done.” But the Master, although pressed so importunately, never tried to break that firm belief of the devotee and destroy his spiritual attitude. Many a time did we see such behaviour on the part of the Master and hear him say, “Ah, the spiritual attitude of no one should be destroyed.”

5.    An example of the destruction of spiritual attitude on the occasion of the Siva ratri at the Kasipur garden

Although not directly connected with the subject matter of this Introduction, the topic once raised should be explained to the reader with reference to an incident. The power of transmitting to others the capacity to realize spiritual truths by a mere touch or by willing falls to the lot of very few aspirants. The Master told us time and again that Swami Vivekananda in course of time would have the privilege of possessing the power and there with do much good to the people. Such a highly qualified person as the Swami is indeed rare in the world. The Master knew it well from the very beginning of their meeting and started moulding his character and religious life in a special way by imparting the knowledge of the unity of existence spoken of in the Vedanta. Accustomed to the dualistic mode of worship of the Brahmo Samaj, the Swami regarded the non-dualistic mode taught in the Vedanta as a blasphemy. But the Master tried in various ways to make him practise it. The Swami said: “As soon as I went to Dakshineswar, the Master gave me those books which he forbade others to read. Among other books, a copy of the Ashtavakra Samhita was in his room. When the Master found anyone reading that book, he would forbid him and would give him instead such books as ‘Mukti and how to attain it’, the BhagavadGita or some Purana. But, scarcely had I gone to him when he took out the book and asked me to read it. Or, he would ask me to read some part of the Adhyatma Ramayana, which is full of non-dualistic ideas. I said, and sometimes bluntly, ‘What is the use of reading this book? It is a sin even to think ‘I am God’. The book teaches the same blasphemy. It should be burnt.’ The Master smiled and said, ‘Do I ask you to read it to yourself? I ask you to read a little to me. Please do it. In that case, you will not have to think that you are God.’ So I had to read a little for him at his request.”

Again, although he was training the Swami that way, the Master was guiding Swami Brahmananda and his other boy devotees, in their spiritual lives in various other ways—some through the worship of God with forms, some through that of God with attributes but without forms, others through pure unalloyed devotion, yet others through devotion mingled with discrimination between the real and the unreal, and so on. Thus although Swami Vivekananda and other boy devotees sat and slept, ate and walked together, and discussed religious theories in the company of the Master at Dakshineswar, the latter was training them all in diverse ways according to their peculiar tastes and tendencies.

It was March 1886. The Master at the Kasipur garden was daily becoming weaker on account of a disease in his throat. But he engaged himself with a far greater and much more unstinting enthusiasm than before in moulding the spiritual lives of his devotees, particularly the life of Swami Vivekananda. He did not stop merely with teaching the Swami the path of Sadhana and helping him to carry the teaching into practice, but was also training him up in something else, namely how to prevent the other boy devotees from returning to worldly life and how to guide them and hold them together. Every evening after dusk he would ask all others to move away, call the Swami to himself and teach him all these for two or three hours continuously, sometimes drawing him into a discussion. From the words and actions of the Master, it seemed to most of the devotees that he was feigning the throat disease in order to establish his Order firmly and that he would be all right as soon as that purpose was fulfilled. As days rolled on Swami Vivekananda alone felt in his heart of hearts that the Master was arranging everything and preparing, as it were, to take a long, long leave of the devotees. It is doubtful, however, whether even he was always conscious of it.

Then there was a slight awakening in the Swami of the power of transmitting spirituality to others by a touch. No doubt, he had felt that power arise within him from time to time, but he had not yet tested the truth or falsity of it by touching anyone that way. Still in various ways he got the proofs of the truth of the doctrine of non-duality spoken of in the Vedanta and came to believe in it, and tried to introduce that doctrine among the devotees, young or old, married or unmarried, with the help of reason and inference. There arose then a keen controversy over it; leading to sharp differences of opinion, nay, agitation, among the devotees. For, it was the peculiar nature of the Swami to assert vehemently what he understood to be true and to extort its acceptance from others by means of logical arguments. Then the boy Swami did not realize that truth in the practical world assumed different forms according to different conditions and capabilities. It was the Sivaratri in the month of Phalgun. Three or four of the boy devotees were keeping the fast with the Swami. They had a mind to spend the night in worship and in keeping vigil. Lest the noise should disturb the Master’s rest, the worship was arranged in a small room built for the kitchen, situated a little away to the east of the residential quarters. There was a fair shower of rain after dusk. The devotees were delighted to see in the masses of newly formed clouds flashes of lightning ever and anon, simulating the matted hair of Siva.

After finishing the worship, Japa and meditation pertaining to the first quarter of the night, the Swami was taking rest and conversing with others, sitting on the worshipper’s seat. One of the companions went out to prepare a smoke for him and another went towards the residential quarters on an important work. Just at that time, a keen feeling of that divine power arose suddenly in the Swami. He wanted to observe its effects by putting it to test that night and said to Swami A,1 who was sitting in front of him, “Do touch me for a while”. In the meantime the boy who had gone to prepare tobacco entered the room and saw the Swami sitting motionless in meditation, and A with his eyes shut, touching the Swami’s right knee with his right hand, which, he noticed, was rapidly trembling. A minute or two elapsed thus when the Swami opened his eyes and said, “That is enough. How did you feel?”

A. “Exactly like something entering into one when one holds an electric battery, one’s hand trembling all the while.”

The other person asked A, “Was your hand trembling of itself when you touched the Swami?”

A. “Yes, I could not keep it steady, though I tried to.”

There was then no more talk about it. The Swami smoked. All of them then applied their minds to the worship and meditation pertaining to the second quarter of the night. A entered into deep meditation at that time. We had never seen him enter into such deep meditation before. The whole of his body became stiff, with his neck and head slightly bent, the consciousness of the outer world appeared to have completely disappeared for some time. Everyone present thought that he had such meditation as a result of having touched the Swami a little while previously. The Swami also noticed that state of his, and indicated it to a companion by a sign.

After the last quarter’s worship was over at four in the morning, Swami Ramakrishnananda came to the worship-room and said to the Swami, “The Master wants you.” As soon as he was told, the Swami went up to the Master in his room on the first floor of the residential quarters. Ramakrishnananda also accompanied him to attend to the service of the Master.

No sooner had the Master seen the Swami than he said, “What is this? Expenditure with hardly any accumulation! Allow it first to accumulate well in yourself; then you will know where and how to spend it. Mother Herself will teach. Don’t you see what harm you have done to him by injecting your attitude of mind into him? He has been progressing till now with a particular mental attitude, the whole of which has now been destroyed, like a miscarriage during the sixth month of pregnancy. What’s done is done. Don’t act so thoughtlessly from now on. The boy, however, is lucky that greater harm has not befallen him.” The Swami said afterwards, “I became completely flabbergasted. The Master could know whatever we did at the time of the worship! What else could I do but remain silent when he scolded me like that?”

As a result of this, not only was the old spiritual attitude of A completely destroyed but the new attitude of non-dualism, being difficult to grasp and assimilate quickly was also misunderstood; and in the name of non-dualism he would behave like an atheist, sometimes committing improper act or acts contrary to scriptural injunctions. Although the Master from then taught him the truth of nonduality and affectionately pointed out the mistakes he was committing in the day-to-day acts of his life, it was long after the passing away of the Master that A guided by that attitude, could rightly adjust his daily actions to that ideal.

6. When sporting like a man, the Divine behaves like a man

To the class of devotees who think that the efforts of the incarnations of God for the attainment of truth or the fullest manifestation thereof in life are mere simulation, our answer is that we never heard the Master express that view. Rather, we have heard him say often, “When the Divine sports as a human being, He behaves exactly like an ordinary man and experiences weal and woe and attains perfection by dint of personal effort, endeavour and austerity.” The history of the religions of the world bears witness to this. And it is clear that were it not so, the very purpose of the incarnation of the Divinity would be defeated.

The Master’s teachings to the devotees can be broadly divided into two classes. The reader will realize it when we quote a few of these. On the one hand we find him saying to his devotees, “I have cooked food, simply sit down to partake of it”; “The mould is prepared, cast your own minds and get the form”; “If you cannot do anything at all, give me your power of attorney”, so on and so forth; and on the other hand, “Give up all desires one by one, it is then that you will succeed”; “Be like a castoff leaf blown by the wind”; “Give up lust and lucre and call on God”; “I have done all the sixteen parts. Do at least one part yourselves” and so on. It seems that our progress in life is retarded, because we very often fail to understand the significance of the Master’s teachings and thus to choose between free will and pre-destination, self-effort and self-surrender.

One day at Dakshineswar we had a long discussion with one of our friends1 on free will and predestination and went to the Master for its true solution. The Master amused himself with our boyish discussion for some time and then said seriously, “Is there any one who has free will or anything like that? It is by God’s will alone that everything has always happened and shall happen. Man understands it in the long run. But then something has to be added. Just as, when a cow is tied to a post with a long tether, it can stand at a distance of one cubit from it or of the whole length of the rope, so it is with the free will of man. A man ties a cow with the idea ‘Let her lie down, stand or move about wherever she wills within that area’. Similarly God has given man some power. And He has also given him freedom to use as much of it as he likes and in any way. This is why man feels he is free. But the rope is fastened to the post. And mark this: If anyone prays to Him in all humility, He may remove him to another place and tie him there; or He may lengthen the tether or even remove it completely from his neck.”

Thus instructed, we asked, “Then man has no hand in practising religious discipline. Everyone may say, ‘Whatever I do, is according to His will’.”

The Master said: “Of what avail is it to say so? They are empty words. What avails it to say, ‘There is no thorn, no pricking’? As soon as you touch a thorn you cry out ‘Ugh’. If the practising of Sadhana were in the hands of man, all would have undertaken it. But how is it that they can’t? There is, however, one thing: He does not give one more power, if the little that is given is not properly used. This is why individual effort and perseverance are necessary. Don’t you see, everyone has to make some effort, however small, before he gets God’s grace? When one does so, the experiences of ten lives are crowded, through His grace, into one and then all come to an end. But one has to make some effort. Listen to a story:

7.    The conversation between Vishnu and Narada on this topic

Vishnu, who eternally sports in Goloka, for some reason cursed Narada that he must go to hell. Narada’s anxiety knew no bounds. He sang hymns in His praise and pleased Him Then he said, ‘O Lord, I wish to know what and where hell is and how many kinds of hell there are. Please be gracious to tell me all about it. ’ Vishnu then drew on the ground with a piece of chalk, heaven, earth and hell as they were situated, and said, ‘This is heaven and this is hell’. Narada said, ‘Is that so? My suffering in hell is then done here’. Saying so, he rolled on the hell drawn on the ground, got up and bowed down to the Lord. Vishnu smiled and said, ‘What’s that? Can that be suffering hell?’ Narada replied, ‘Why not, Lord; are not heaven and hell your creations? When you drew hell and called it such, the spot really became hell. And when I rolled on it, it was a real suffering of hell for me’. Narada said so with deep faith. That is why Vishnu said, ‘Be it so’. But Narada had to roll on that hell drawn on the ground with true devotion and faith. It was by making that little effort that his suffering was annulled.” The Master explained to us from time to time with the help of this story, that there was thus room for perseverance and individual effort in the realm of grace too.

8.    Incarnations of God assume imperfection of man to discover paths to liberation

The incarnations of God have to experience to a great extent, the spiritual blindness and circumscribed knowledge experienced by us, when they assume human bodies and play their parts as human beings. They have to make efforts like us to discover the way out of spiritual darkness and ignorance. And although an awareness of their real divine nature now and then arises in their minds for a short time, it becomes veiled again till that path is discovered. Thus, for the good of the many they have to assume a veil of Maya and grope their way like us all in this realm of light and darkness. But as they have not even an iota of hankering for selfish enjoyment in their minds, they see more light in life than we do, and easily concentrating all the numerous powers within them, solve life’s problems in a short time and engage themselves in doing good to humanity.

9.    If incarnations are not thought of as human beings, we cannot get at the purpose of their lives and endeavours

Inasmuch as our Master, the god-man, has actually accepted human imperfections, much good will accrue to us from the study of those human feelings of his. And that is why we advise our readers to study his divine nature keeping before their eyes his human feelings. If we do not take him as one of us, we shall not be able to discover any purpose behind his superhuman effort, perseverance, etc., at the time of his Sadhana. Otherwise, the question will naturally arise, why there had to be such effort to realize the truth, when he was eternally perfect. And we cannot escape the idea that his terrible effort threatening his very life was but a sham. That is not all. His effort, steadfastness, and renunciation for the purpose of firmly implanting the high ideals in his life, with a view to realizing God, will give rise to despair rather than hope in our hearts, making the dispelling of ignorance from our lives an impossibility.

10.    Unenlightened souls can understand an incarnation of God only as a human being

Dependent as we are on the Master’s grace, we must accept him as being endowed with human feelings like ourselves. For is it not his sympathy with our sorrows that leads him to come forward to remove them? Therefore, from whatever angle we see, we have no other course than to think of him as having human feelings. In fact, until we ourselves are free from all kinds of bondage and are established in the nature of the attributeless Brahman, we shall have to think of and accept God, the universal cause, and His incarnations as being endowed with human feelings. The saying “Becoming God, one should worship Him”, is indeed true. If you have reached the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness by virtue of Samadhi, then alone will you be able to realize the real nature of God, have a correct conception of Him and truly worship Him But if you have not been able to do so, your worship will be but an attempt at ascending to that divine plane and making yourselves fit for the true worship of God. Till then, you will continue to consider God, the cause of the universe, to be a human being endowed with extraordinary powers.

11.    God takes on a human body out of compassion for humanity. Therefore it is beneficial to study the lives of divine incarnations as human beings

Persons who can ascend to the state of Godhead and can truly worship Him as the divine Being, are very few. Weak aspirants like ourselves have been till now very far from that state. Thus, having compassion on ordinary mortals like ourselves, and desiring to accept our heartfelt worship, God descends to the plane of human beings, putting on the appearance of a god-man by assuming a human body and human feelings. We are in an advantageous position to study the history of the Master’s spiritual striving in comparison with that of the god-men of the past, for the Master himself delineated in detail from time to time the facts of the Sadhana period of his life in such glowing colours that they have remained firmly imprinted on our minds. Again, the wonderful play of his life as an aspirant had been acted before all the people of the Kali temple just before we went to him And many of those people were still there. So we had also the opportunity of hearing from them some of those events. That apart, before we begin to study the history of these events, it is good to rehearse once in a general way the fundamental principles of Sadhana. So we shall add a brief discussion on it.


1. Abhedananda.

1. Swami Niranjanananda.



To become truly acquainted with the Sadhaka-state of the Master’s life, we must, first of all, know what Sadhana is. An objection may be raised: why do you increase the bulk of the book by raising this topic, when India has all along been engaged in it in some form or other? Which other nation of the world has applied and is still applying its powers to realize directly the truths of the spiritual realm as this country has done since the very dawn of time? In which other country have so many incarnations of God and knowers of Brahman been born? Therefore, it is superfluous to recount the fundamental principles of spiritual discipline to us, who are already acquainted with them

1.    The erroneous conception of ordinary people about Sadhana

Although what has been said is true, a real need will be served by the recounting, for people generally have fantastic ideas about Sadhana in many places. Having lost sight of the goal, they think they come across Sadhana when they meet with the practice of extraordinary physical hardship, the bringing together of rare objects, strange actions in out-of-the-way places, holding the breath, nay, even the fantastic doings of deranged minds. Again, they regard as Sadhana those peculiar practices which were originally prescribed by some great souls for bringing to normality certain minds obsessed with evil impressions and habits, quite as much as those which are now being preached, holding good for all minds and practised as such. There are still others, who, lacking in dispassion and wistfully craving for the enjoyment of the fleeting objects of senses such as beautiful forms and delicious dishes, spend their lives in vain efforts under a delusion that the Lord, the cause of the universe, could be constrained by means of certain Mantras and practices, as snakes are. Therefore, it will not be out of place here to make a brief survey of the truths about Sadhana, discovered by the effort and perseverance of the sages and seers of India through millennia.

2.    The ultimate result of Sadhana is the realization of Brahman in all beings

The Master used to say: “Seeing Brahman or God in all beings is the last word of Sadhana.” It falls to the lot of man as the ultimate development of spiritual discipline. Thus say the Vedas and the Upanishads, the most authoritative scriptures of the Hindus. Whatever you see in the world, gross or subtle, sentient or insentient—bricks and beams, mud and stone, plants and trees, men and animals, gods and demigods—are, they say, the non-dual Brahman. It is the reality of Brahman alone that you see, hear, touch, smell and taste in various forms. Although all your day-to-day dealings throughout your life are with It, you are not conscious of It, and you think you are dealing with different things and persons. This will probably be easily understood by the reader if we describe here, by way of questions and answers, the gist of the doubts that arise in our minds on hearing the above statement and of the refutations thereof by the scriptures.

Question: Why is this fact1 not directly felt by us?

Answer: You are in a delusion. How can you detect it till it is removed? It is by comparison with real things and states only that we detect external and internal delusions. Similarly, you must have that kind of knowledge if you want to detect that delusion.

Question: Well, what is the cause of that delusion? And when did it arise in us?

3.    Truth does not become immediately known on account of delusion and ignorance; as long as one is in delusion, one cannot know its cause

Answer: The cause of delusion here is the same as it is everywhere. It is ignorance. How can you know when that ignorance arose? As long as you are in ignorance, your efforts to know it are in vain. As long as one dreams a dream, one remains convinced that it is real. When sleep breaks, the dream is compared with the waking state and is known as unreal. You may raise the objection that certain persons have sometimes the conviction that they are dreaming when they are actually in the dream state. But, there also they get that conviction from the memory of the waking state. Similarly some people are seen to have the memory of the reality of the non-dual Brahman when they are conscious of the world in the waking state.

Question: Then what is the way out?

Answer: The way out is to remove that ignorance. I can tell you with certainty that ignorance and delusion can be removed. The ancient seers were able to remove them, and have left us instructions about the method.

Question: Very well. But before we proceed to know those means, we want to put one or two more questions. You assert that to be unreal, which we and so many others see and feel to be real; and you call that alone to be real which a few sages have seen and experienced. May it not be that their immediate perception was wrong?

4.    What the seers saw the world to be, is alone true. —The reason for it

Answer: There is no such rule that what many believe is alone true. I say that the direct knowledge of the seers is true, because, they attained freedom from fear in all respects and enjoyed eternal peace, freed from all kinds of misery, with the help of that knowledge. Moreover, they became aware of a great purpose underlying all the efforts and endeavours of human life ending in inevitable death. Besides, right knowledge always unfolds in the human mind forbearance, contentment, compassion, humility and other noble qualities and endows it with a wonderful magnanimity. We know from the scriptures that the seers possessed those uncommon qualities and powers and we still come across them in people who, following in their footsteps, have achieved perfection.

5.    Delusion, although shared by many, is not right knowledge

Question: Well, how is it that all of us have the same delusion? What I identify as a beast is also known by you as a beast and not as a man; and so it is with everything else. It is a matter of no little surprise that at the same time so many people are in the same delusion about all matters. It is everywhere seen that if a few people have a wrong knowledge of a certain thing, others have the right one. But here that truth does not hold good at all. Therefore, what you say does not seem to be probable.

6.    All have the same delusion, as the universe is an ideation of the cosmic mind which, however, is not itself deluded

Answer: You find here an exception to the rule, because you do not count the few seers among the people. Otherwise the reply is there in the question itself. But, in reply to your question, how all people are under the same delusion, the scriptures say: in the limitless infinite cosmic mind the universe has arisen by way of ideation. And as the individual minds of yours, of mine and of all people form parts of, and are comprised in, that cosmic mind, we all have to experience the same ideas. This is why we cannot, by our individual efforts, ideate a beast as anything else. It is for the same reason that although one of us attains right knowledge and becomes free from that delusion, all others continue in it as before. One thing more: although the idea, the universe, arises in the all-pervading mind of the omnipresent Person, He does not get entangled like us in the bondage of ignorance. For He, the all-knowing Person, sees the non-dual reality of Brahman interpenetrating the ideation, both in and out of the universe born of ignorance. It is because we cannot do it that our case is different. For, as the Master would say, “A snake has poison in its mouth. It takes its food daily through it, still it remains unaffected by the poison. But anyone whom it bites, meets with instantaneous death.

7.    The ideation of the universe is beyond time and space. Prakriti is beginningless

Therefore, from the standpoint of the scriptures it is seen that the universe, which is an idea in the universal mind, is, in a way, an ideation of our minds also. For our limited individual minds have an eternal, inseparable relation with the aggregate universal mind, like that between the limbs and the body. Again, it cannot be said that there was a time when the aforesaid ideation was not in existence in the universal mind and that it came into existence afterwards. For, the two things, name and form, or space and time,1 without which there could be no diversity, are included in the idea of the universe; or in other words, they have an eternal and inseparable coherence with the said idea. By a little calm thinking the reader will be able to understand it and know why the Vedas and other scriptures teach that Prakriti or Maya, the ultimate material of creation, is beginningless and beyond time.2 If the universe is an idea of the mind and if the beginning of that idea is not within what we understand by “time”, it comes to this that simultaneously with the idea called “time”, the idea called “the universe” exists in the universal mind, the support of that idea. As our limited individual minds have been experiencing that idea for an infinitely long time, they have a firm belief in the real existence of the universe. And having been debarred from the immediate knowledge of the reality of the non-dual Brahman for a long time, they do not know that the universe is a mere idea and are now unable to detect their error. For, we have already said that it is by a comparison with real things and states only that we can detect external and internal errors.

8.    The effort to know the universal cause beyond time and space is Sadhana

Now it is clear that our conception, experience, etc., of the universe have assumed their present forms as the result of our habits accumulated over an almost infinitely long time. So, if we want to have the right knowledge of the universe, we shall have to be acquainted with the entity beyond name and form, time and space, mind and intellect and all other things comprised in the universe. The effort to have that acquaintance has been described as Sadhana by the Vedas and other scriptures; and in India men and women, in whom that effort exists, with or without their knowledge, are called Sadhakas.

9.    The two paths of Sadhana:(1) not this, not this, and (2) this, this

Generally speaking, the aforesaid effort in search of the reality beyond the universe, has taken its course along two main channels: One is what has been called in the Sastras —Neti, Neti, not this, not this,1 or the path of knowledge; and the other—Iti, Iti, this, this, or the path of devotion. The aspirant following the path of knowledge has from the beginning a conception of the ultimate ideal; and always remembering it, goes forward consciously towards that ideal. The traveller on the path of devotion remains very often ignorant of where he will go ultimately. He accepts higher and higher ideals one after another as he goes forward and at last becomes directly acquainted with the non-dual reality beyond the universe. This is the only point of difference between the two; for, the travellers on both the paths have to renounce the conception about the universe held by the common man. The man on the path of knowledge tries to renounce it in all respects from the beginning; and although the devotee proceeds by partly renouncing and partly retaining it, he too at long last renounces it wholly and arrives at the truth, “One without a second”. The renunciation of that common conception of the universe, coloured by our selfishness, which has made enjoyment the only goal of life, has been called by the scriptures, detachment or dispassion (Vairagya).

As human life is ever changing and ends in sure death the knowledge of the transitoriness of the world arises easily in it. Therefore it is probable that, in the past, the search for the ultimate cause of the universe at first took the path of “not this”, “not this”, together with the complete renunciation of the common conception of the universe. And that is why the complete development of the path of knowledge is seen to have taken place in the Upanishads before the path of devotion became complete in all respects, though both were simultaneously in vogue.

10.    The goal of the path of “not this, not this,” is to know “What am I”

The Upanishads bear witness to the fact that man advanced along the path of “not this”, “not this”, (i.e., the eternal cause of the universe is not this, not that, nor anything else) and became introspective in a short time. He found that of all the things of the world, his body and mind were the first to connect him with it; hence it was probable that he would get the knowledge of the cause of the universe sooner if he proceeded to search for it through his body and mind than through anything else. Again, “just as by pressing with fingers one grain of rice in the cooking pot one can know whether all the grains in the pot have been well boiled or not”, so, as soon as one knows in oneself the eternal universal cause, one is able to know it in other things and persons also. That is why the knowledge of “What am I?” becomes the only aim of the aspirant on the path of knowledge.

11. Nirvikalpa Samadhi

We have said before that the notion about the universe held by the generality of people has to be renounced both by men on the path of knowledge and by those on that of devotion. By the complete renunciation of it man becomes free from all mental modifications and is thereby fit for Samadhi. This kind of Samadhi is called in the scriptures Nirvikalpa Samadhi. We have told the reader elsewhere1 how the aspirant on the path of knowledge makes the effort to know “What am I?”, how he attains the Nirvikalpa Samadhi and what kind of experience he has at that time. Now, the reader should be told a little of how the aspirant on the path of devotion arrives at the realization of that superconscious state.

We have designated the path of devotion as the path of “this”, “this”. For, although the traveller on this path has the actual knowledge of the transience of the world, he believes in God, its creator, and has the conviction of the reality and existence of the world created by Him. The devotee looks upon the world and all things and persons in it as related with God and makes them His own. He shuns whatever he believes to be an obstacle on the path leading to the realization of that relation. It becomes the devotee’s immediate ideal to become absorbed in Him through the love of and meditation on one or other of His forms2 and also to perform all actions out of love for Him.

12. How Nirvikalpa Samadhi is attained on the path of “this, this”

We shall now discuss how one can, forgetting the existence of the universe, reach the Nirvikalpa state of consciousness by being absorbed in the meditation on forms of God. We have said before that the devotee accepts as his chosen Ideal some particular form of God and continues to think of and meditate on that form He cannot in the beginning bring before his mind’s eye, at the time of meditation, the complete picture of the person of his chosen Ideal. Sometimes the hands of that mental picture, sometimes the feet and sometimes only the face appear before him. These again, dissolve, as it were, as soon as they are seen; they do not continue to stand before him. As a result of practice, when meditation becomes deep, the complete picture of that form appears before his mind’s eye. When meditation gradually becomes deeper, the picture continues to stand motionless before him till the mind begins to stir. Afterwards, according to the greater intensity of meditation, the devotee becomes conscious of the movement, the smile, the speech, and ultimately the touch of that living form Then the devotee sees, with his eyes open or shut, the benign presence of that form and its graceful movements wherever he wills. The devout aspirant gradually comes to have the visions of various divine forms springing from his own chosen Ideal, as the result of his faith that “his chosen Ideal has, out of his own accord, assumed all forms”. The Master used to say, “A person who has the vision of one such form in that living fashion, gets easily the vision of all other forms.”

One thing is clear from what has been said before. One who has the good fortune to have the vision of such living forms feels that those forms in the realm of ideas experienced during meditation, have as real an existence as those of the things and persons of the waking state. Thus, as the feeling deepens that these experiences of the world of ideas are as real as those of the external world, the conviction that the latter also are a projection of the mind is intensified. Again, during deep meditation, the experiences of the realm of ideas become so powerful in the mind of the devotee that he does not have the slightest knowledge of the external world for the time being. This condition of the devotee has been designated by the scriptures Savikalpa Samadhi. Although, owing to the strength of his mental power, the external world vanishes from the mind of the devotee at the time of such Samadhi, the realm of ideas still persists. The devotee becomes conscious of exactly the same misery and happiness in moving with his chosen Ideal during his meditation as we feel daily in moving amidst the things and persons in the external world. All his ideas, without any exception, that arise at that time in his mind have only his chosen Ideal for their object. The scriptures have called that condition of the devotee’s mind Savikalpa Samadhi, because at that time the series of the mental modifications of the devotee have only one thing for their main object.

Thus the gross external world vanishes from the mind of the devotee owing to the meditation on a particular object of the realm of the ideal world, and when one idea becomes dominant, all other ideas disappear. The attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi is not very remote from this devout aspirant who has been able to advance so far. Thus, the mind of the person, getting rid of the belief in the existence of the external world to which he has been accustomed for an infinitely long time, becomes endowed with much power and determination. The whole of his mind goes forward with enthusiasm in the direction of the enjoyment of divine bliss when once there arises the conviction that the enjoyment of that bliss becomes more intense if the mind can be made completely free from modifications. He then ascends to the highest plane in the realm of ideas by the grace of the teacher and God, and establishes himself firmly in non-dual knowledge and attains eternal peace. Or, it may be said that the very intense love for his chosen Ideal shows him that plane and, urged by it, he realizes his identity with that Ideal, like the Gopis of Vraja.

13. Incarnations of God combine in them both the aspects, the divine and the human. So they sometimes appear as perfect even during Sadhana. Hence the need of studying their lives from both the points of view

These are the ways laid down by the scriptures for persons treading the paths of knowledge and of devotion to arrive at their ultimate goal. But, as the two natures, the divine and the human, are found in the incarnations of God all their lives, sometimes they are seen even during their Sadhana period to the endowed with the knowledge and power proper to perfected persons. This happens because they naturally have the power of roaming on both the planes, the divine and the human. Or, because their divine nature is inborn and spontaneous, sometimes it pierces the external veil of their human nature and manifests itself from time to time. Whatever may be our conclusion, these facts have made the lives of the incarnations of God impenetrably mysterious to the human intellect. It does not seem to be probable that this intricate mystery will ever be solved completely. But it is very certain that endless good accrues to man when he studies these lives with reverence. In the past Pauranic age the human nature of the incarnations of God was kept hidden and the divine one alone discussed. In this sceptical modern age, the divine nature of those characters is being completely disregarded while the human one is being studied. In the present instance, we shall make an effort to explain to the reader, by a discussion of those characters, that both the natures co-exist in them. It is needless to add here that we would not have been able to look upon the character of the incarnations of God in that way, if we had not had the privilege of meeting the Master.


1. The meanings of these two words will be made clear in II. 1. 8.—Tr.

1. viz., that we are dealing with the one all-pervading Brahman and not with individual things and persons.—Tr.

1.    Form—“curvature in time-space continuum.”—Tr.

2.    Prakrti, being the cause of time and space, is beyond them.—Tr.

1. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6 and in fact, all the Upanishads advocate it. The rest of the Hindu scriptures, based on the “work” portion of the Vedas, emphasize the path of “this”, “this”.—Tr.

2. We look upon the worship of the Brahmo Samaj as a meditation on a form of God; for when anyone meditates on a personality possessed of noble qualities but not form, he is bound to think of one or other of such things as ether, water, air, fire, etc.


1.    The co-existence of the divine and human aspects in the Master

Blessed by the opportunity of being in the holy company of the divine Master, we have been charmed to notice the wonderful co-existence of both the aspects of divinity and humanity in him The more we have contemplated his life and character, the more have we been convinced of this fact. If we had not seen him, we could never have had the conception that such contrary ideas could exist in such sweet congruence and harmony in the same person. It is because we observed it in him that this conviction has grown in us that he was God and man in one, that he was exactly what the infinite being of God and His power are when manifested behind the veil of a human body and human feelings. It is because we saw it that we have come to understand that he feigned neither aspect, but actually assumed human nature for the good of humanity and showed us the path leading to divinity. Again, it is because we saw it that we have become convinced that there were certainly such wonderful manifestations of both these aspects in the lives of the incarnations of past ages also.

2.    The same is the case with all incarnations

We shall meet with the same truth if we study with reverence the life of any one of the incarnations of God. We shall find that, impelled by a wonderful unknown power, they are sometimes in the same plane of consciousness as other human beings are and behave like ourselves with all the objects and persons of the world; but, at other times, ascending to higher planes, bring to us information about the unknown. Although they do not long for it, someone adjusts and arranges everything and makes them act that way. And it is so from their childhood. But getting, as they do get sometimes, an indication of that power in them in their childhood, they cannot detect and understand that it is their own, and lies deep within them. Also they cannot apply that power at will in order to ascend to higher spiritual planes and see all things and persons of the world in the light of the divine consciousness and behave with them accordingly. But as they go on getting more frequent experiences of that power in their lives day after day, a strong desire to be fully acquainted with it arises in their minds. It is this desire that endows them with a unique ardour and enthusiasm and induces them to undertake spiritual discipline.

3.    Incarnations of God have no desire for selfish enjoyment

However, there does not exist the slightest tinge of selfishness in that desire of the incarnations of God. Not to speak of their not having any yearning for the enjoyment of the petty pleasures of the senses here or hereafter, even the idea that they themselves might become liberated and enjoy the infinite bliss, irrespective of others’ fate, does not exist in them, the only thing that is observed to exist at the root of that desire is the inquiry whether that unknown, extraordinary power really exists in the background of the universe or it is a mere fabrication of their own imagination—that power, under whose guidance and direction they experience from their birth unique ideas, unintelligible to man, and sometimes feel that everything in the realm of ideas has an existence as real as that of the things and persons known in the gross world. For, by comparing their knowledge and experiences with those of others, they become convinced in a very short time that the latter do not have the same knowledge about the nature of the things and persons of the world as they themselves have all their lives, and that others lack almost completely the power to see the world from a higher plane of consciousness.

4.    Their compassion: they undertake Sadhana for the welfare of others

That is not all. They become convinced simultaneously of another fact through that comparison. They can understand that because they see the world in two different forms from the two planes of consciousness, the ideal and the real, objects of senses like sight, taste which are pleasant for the time being, cannot allure them as they do human beings in general, and the dense shadows of despondency and peacelessness that arise from the reverses of fortune cannot cloud their intellect. Therefore, their compassionate minds become completely absorbed in the struggle to gain complete control over that power. Thereby they ascend to higher and higher planes of consciousness and remain there as long as they like, in order to teach the people of all classes and conditions, from the highest to the lowest, to do so themselves and become endowed with peace. So, two mighty streams, of sadhana and compassion, are always seen to flow side by side in their lives. Although that compassion may increase a hundred-fold on account of the vast difference between their own condition and that of human beings in general, it may be said that the source of their unique compassion has not been identified. It has to be said that it is inborn. Nothing further can be added. Let us quote an illustration cited by the Master:

5.    An illustration of it: the Master’s story of three friends having the vision of the ‘grove of bliss’

“Three friends went for a walk in a field. They went to the middle of the field and saw an area enclosed by a high wall. Sweet sounds of music, both vocal and instrumental, were coming out of it. Attracted by the music, they wished to know what was going on within. They went round the wall and found that there was not a single entrance to it. What could they do? One of them somehow procured a ladder and climbed up the wall, while the other two stood below. The first man got up on the wall and was beside himself with joy on seeing what was happening within. He laughed loudly and jumped within. He could not at all wait to tell the other two standing below what he saw within. They thought, ‘Ah, our friend is a fine man! He did not even tell us once what he saw! However that may be, we have to see what there is inside.’ Then one of them climbed up that ladder. The moment he got to the top, he also, like the first, burst out laughing and jumped within. What was the third man to do then? He climbed up that ladder and saw the fair of bliss within. When he saw it, his first thought was to join it. But immediately afterwards he thought, ‘If I now join it, the public outside cannot know that there is a place here for the enjoyment of such bliss. Shall I enjoy it alone?’ Thinking so, he forced his mind to turn back and came down. Then he began to proclaim to one and all, to whomsoever he happened to see, ‘Listen, there is a place of bliss here. Come, let us enjoy it together.’ He thus took all the people with him and joined in the enjoyment. You see now, just as we cannot find out the cause of the third friend’s inclination to share the enjoyment with many, so also we cannot point out why the desire to do good to humanity is present in the incarnations from their very childhood.”

6.    The incarnations of God have to practise self-control like ordinary men

From what has been said, some perhaps may come to the conclusion that the incarnations of God have never to fight like ourselves with the unruly senses, that perhaps they remain under their control throughout their lives and that they follow them like meek children, and thus they can easily make their minds turn from worldly sights, tastes, etc., and direct them to high ideals. We say in reply that it is not so. In this respect also they act in their human play like men. Here also they have to come out victorious from the fight and then proceed on their paths.

7.    Innumerable desires of the mind

Anyone who has tried to know even a little of the nature of the human mind has seen that, beginning from the gross, there exist in it infinite strata of desires—subtle, subtler, and still subtler. If you are somehow able to go beyond one, another comes and obstructs your path; and when you conquer the latter, still another takes its place. When you have left the gross ones behind, the subtle ones come and oppose you. If you give up lust of woman, that of gold arises; if you refrain from indulging in both in a gross way, attachment to outward beauty, desire for name and fame, and the like come to you! Or, if you carefully renounce all worldly attachments, they come and occupy your heart in the guise of idleness or compassion.

8.    The Master urged us to give up desires

The Master spoke of this dangerous nature of the mind and always warned us to shun the net of desires. In order to carry conviction to us he would sometimes cite examples from his own life of how he thought and acted under similar circumstances. And he narrated them repeatedly to all the women devotees as he did to the men and kindled the love of God in their hearts. The following incident will make this clear:

Whoever, men or women, went to the Master, they felt in their heart of hearts attracted by his amiability, courtesy and his extraordinary love free from the slightest tinge of lust, and became anxious to have the blessing of meeting him once more whenever there was any opportunity. Not only did they themselves visit him again and again, but they also took with them all their acquaintances, so that they too might enjoy pure bliss in his company. One afternoon, one of our acquaintances went to the Master at Dakshineswar with her step-sister and a sister of the latter’s husband. They saluted him and took their seats. The Master then inquired about their welfare and started a conversation, leading to the thought that the only aim of human life should be to have a loving devotion to God. “Can one”, continued he, “easily take refuge in the divine Lord? Inscrutable are the ways of Mahamaya! Does She allow this to happen? She makes one who has no relative in the world rear up a cat and live a worldly life. One then goes round to procure milk for the cat and says, ‘What can I do? The cat does not take anything but fish and milk. ’

9. Instruction to women devotees about it

“Perhaps one comes of a rich and noble family. The husband and children have all died. Those who are left behind are so many widows, lingering as if there is to be no death for them. Some parts of the house are falling to pieces, others have already given way. On the roof trees have grown and along with them a few plants of spinage. The widows gather them, make a curry and go on with their worldly life! But why? Why do they not take refuge in the divine Lord? Theirs is indeed the time for that. But that is not to be!

“Again, perhaps one loses one’s husband soon after one’s marriage and becomes a child-widow. She is now a childless grown-up widow. Why does she not call on God? But that she will not do. She becomes the guardian of her brother’s household. With her hair fastened in a knot over the crown of her head and a bunch of keys tied at the end of her cloth, she wags her finger at every one and exercises her authority over all. The whole village is afraid of her, the terror of all. And she goes about saying, ‘My brother cannot have even a meal if I am not there.’ Ah, that wretch of a woman! Why does she not look at what has happened to her—what, after all, has she gained for herself!”

Well, there was a peculiar coincidence here. The third lady of the party, who was meeting the Master that day for the first time, was one of this type of women-guardians to their brother’s household. Nobody had told the Master of it before. But in the course of conversation the Master referred to that example and began to explain the powerful influence of desires and the existence of endless strata of desires in human minds. Needless to say, these words entered into the very heart of that lady. Hearing of the examples, the sister of the lady of our acquaintance nudged her and whispered, “Sister, just fancy, that such words should come out of the Master’s lips today of all days! How will my sister-in-law take these words?” To this our acquaintance replied, “What can we do about it? It is his pleasure. Nobody tutored him.”

10.    The struggle of incarnations with their subtle desires

It becomes very clear from a study of human nature that the higher a man’s mind ascends, the more intensely do the subtle desires pain him. One, who has committed thefts, uttered falsehoods or indulged in licentiousness innumerable times, is not much pained by repeating those actions; but an honest and high-minded man considers himself guilty and becomes distressed even at the thought of such things. Although incarnations of God are often seen to refrain from gross worldly enjoyments all their lives, they fight with the subtle desires of their minds to the same extent as we do and feel the pain a hundred times keener than we, when they see those desires take shape within their minds—a fact which they themselves clearly admit. How can we, therefore, regard their struggles to withdraw their senses from sights, tastes, and other objects of the senses as feigned?

11.    An objection regarding human feelings in incarnations, and its refutation

Perhaps, even now some reader acquainted with the scriptures may say: “But how can I accept what you say? Don’t you see what Sankara, the paragon of monists, says in the beginning of his commentary on the Gita regarding the birth and the assumption of a human body on the part of Sri Krishna? He says there, ‘God the eternally free, eternally awake and eternally pure in nature, the controller of all living beings, devoid of birth etc., is born as it were, is possessed of a body as it were, through Maya, His own power, in order to do good to humanity. ’ When Sankara himself says so, how does your statement hold good?” Without contradicting Sankara we say that we still have reason to take our stand on. In order to understand him, we must remember a thing. Just as he regards God’s possession of name and form as apparent, so does he, consider our possession of them equally false. He regards the whole universe as a false superimposition on the reality of Brahman, and does not admit its real existence.1 Therefore, his conclusion will be understood if we take both those statements together. It is not his intention that we should regard the incarnation’s embodiment and experience of pain and pleasure as a false appearance and regard such things on our part alone as real. If we accept our own feelings and perceptions as real, we must accept those of an incarnation also as real. Therefore, what we have said before still stands.

12.    This is discussed from another standpoint

This will be clearly understood if we discuss it from another standpoint. The scriptures say that two distinct conceptions of the world arise in us when we look at it from the two planes of consciousness, the non-dual and the dual. If we ascend to the former plane and try to understand to what extent the thing we call the universe is real, we get the immediate knowledge that it does not exist and has never existed. There is nothing but the reality of Brahman, ‘One only without a second’; while if we look at it from the dual plane, the world with the aggregate of various names and forms, appears to be real and eternally existent, even as it is now with us, ordinary human beings. Although possessed of bodies, the incarnations and the persons liberated in life, devoid of body-consciousness, dwell very often in the non-dual plane of consciousness. Therefore, they have the conviction, even when they live in the plane of duality, that the world is unreal like a dream Though, compared with the waking state, a dream is known as unreal, the dream of a dreamer at the time of dreaming cannot be called absolutely unreal. Similarly, compared with the state of their absorption in Brahman, the semblance of the world in the minds of the incarnations and persons liberated in life, is unreal; but when they are not in Samadhi, it cannot be regarded as absolutely unreal.

13.    Different conceptions of the world when looked at from higher and higher planes of consciousness

Just as the thing called the world is seen in two different ways from the two above-mentioned planes, so also a particular person in it is seen as two different beings from those two planes of consciousness. Seen from the plane of duality, he is known as a man in worldly bondage; and seen from the infinite non-dual plane, as Brahman, eternally free and eternally pure. The infinite non-dual plane is the highest region in the realm of ideas. The human mind passes through higher and higher planes of consciousness, before it reaches the non-dual plane, which is the goal. While the mind of the aspirant ascends to those higher and higher regions, both the universe and a particular individual in it assume for him different forms, and his previous conceptions of them change in various ways: for example, to him the world then seems to be made up of ideas only, and that particular individual appears to be separate from the body and endowed with extraordinary powers, or made up of mind or of the light celestial.

14.    Man attains an exalted plane of consciousness through the power of incarnations and finds them devoid of human nature

If an ordinary man approaches an incarnation of God with devotion and reverence, he ascends unknowingly to the higher and higher planes of consciousness spoken of before. Of course, he gets that power of ascension owing to the incarnation’s wonderful powers. It is therefore clear that the devout aspirant seeing the incarnations from the vantage-ground of the mental height newly scaled by him, comes to the conclusion that divinity endowed with wonderful powers is their real nature, and that they feign the assumption of human nature out of compassion for the ordinary man. As his devotion grows deeper, the devout aspirant is seen at first to have that conception about these devotees of God and afterwards about the whole world, His creation.

15.    The evolutions of the minds of the incarnations of God. Jivas and incarnations of God differ in power only

It has already been said that as firm a belief in the reality of objects seen in the world of ideas in higher planes of consciousness as in that of things and persons seen in the ordinary world, is found from time to time in the lives of incarnations from their very childhood. As in course of time such visions very often repeat themselves in their lives, their faith in the existence of the world of ideas, as against that of the gross external world, grows in firmness. Ascending to the highest non-dual plane of consciousness, and getting the immediate knowledge of the reality of the “One only without a second” from which has manifested the universe of various names and forms, they at last realize perfection and reach the acme of their lives. The case is the same with persons liberated in life. But they have to make a lifelong effort to realize the truth, whereas the incarnations of God arrive at it in a very short time. Or, even if they can reach the non-dual plane in a short time, they get a very small amount of power, as compared with the incarnations, of making others ascend to that plane. Remember the Master’s teaching on this matter: “The difference between a Jiva and an incarnation consists in the manifestation of powers only.”

16.    An incarnation, a god-man, is all-knowing

Enjoying the immediate knowledge of the cause of the universe, the incarnations dwell for a while in the non-dual plane and then descend to the lower planes of the mind. In the eyes of the ordinary people they still appear as human beings, but in reality they are not such; they have become supermen or god-men. After having the direct knowledge of both the universe and its cause, they feel the universe to be of a comparatively shadowy existence. The uncommon high powers of their minds then continue to manifest of themselves through them for the good of humanity. They have at that time the knowledge of the beginning, middle and end of all things, and attain, omniscience. It is then only that we, weak men, see their extraordinary character and action: their ambrosial words infuse hope in us and indicate to us that the realization of the ultimate truth or the immediate knowledge of the cause of the universe and the attainment of peace, are never possible, as long as we have outward mental modifications caused by persons and things of the external world.

17.    The acquisition of the knowledge of the cause of the universe is impossible through the study of the natural sciences with the help of outward mental modifications

The reader, well versed in Western learning, will say, “Everything is spoilt now, you have only made your position weak by speaking like the frog-in-the-well of the fable. He who knows how far man’s knowledge has progressed and is daily progressing as the result of investigations into the things and persons of the external world, can never assert what you do.” To this we reply, we admit what you say about the progress of material sciences, but the ultimate truth can never be realized by you through them, for you are content to look upon the cause of the universe as insentient or as an entity inferior to, and of less consequence than yourselves. And with the progress of science, you have made the ever increasing enjoyment of sights, tastes, etc., the only aim of your lives. Therefore, even if it can be proved in future with the help of instruments that all the things of the world, sentient and insentient, owe their origin to one single insentient substance, the objects of the subjective realm will for ever remain for you unverified. Unless it is realized by you that the path of man’s liberation lies through the renunciation of the desire for enjoyment and through the acquisition of inwardness, you can never know the indivisible truth beyond time and space, and attain peace.

18.    Spiritual absorption of incarnations even from their childhood

It has been said that all the incarnations were from time to time immersed in spiritual states from their childhood— e.g., from time to time Krishna made his parents and friends realize his divinity in various ways even in his childhood; while strolling in the garden, Buddha entered into ecstasy under the holy fig tree in his childhood and attracted the notice of gods and men; Jesus attracted, by his love, sylvan birds in his childhood and fed them with his own hands; Sankara while a boy charmed and assured his mother by the influence of his spiritual power and renounced the world; and in his early years Chaitanya became inspired with spiritual emotions and gave the indication that a lover of God sees the manifestation of God in all things, good or bad. There is no lack of such events in the Master’s life also. We mention a few here as examples for the reader to understand the point. These were recounted by the Master himself and we understood that it was very early in his life when for the first time he became merged in the realm of ideas. He said:

19.    The Master’s spiritual inspiration at the age of six

“In that part of the country (Kamarpukur) children are given parched rice to eat, in small baskets. Those who have no such baskets in their houses, eat it from the folds of their cloth. While loitering in the fields some boys eat it from baskets and others from the folds of their cloth. I was then six or seven years old. One morning I took parched rice in a small basket and was eating it while walking on the narrow balks in the corn fields. It was the month of Jyaishtha or Ashar. In one part of the sky there appeared a beautiful black cloud charged with rain. I was looking at it while eating the rice. Very soon the cloud covered almost the whole sky, when a flock of milk-white cranes flew against that black cloud. It looked so beautiful that I became very soon absorbed in an extraordinary mood. Such a state came on me that my external consciousness was lost. I fell down and the rice got scattered near the balk. People saw this and carried me home. This was the first time that I lost external consciousness in ecstasy.”

20. The Master’s ecstasy for the second time while he was going to pay obeisance to Visalakshi

The village called Anur is situated about two miles north of Kamarpukur, the birth-place of the Master. Goddess Visalakshi of Anur is a living presence. The people of the surrounding villages, far and near, promise worship and offerings to the goddess for the fulfilment of various desires. And when they are fulfilled, they come to offer worship and sacrifices at the proper time. It needs no mention that women are comparatively more numerous amongst the visiting pilgrims. The desire for recovery from illness attracts here more people than other desires. It is even now seen that groups of village ladies of high families while coming to pay obeisance to her sing songs and tell stories about the first appearance and self-revelation of the goddess and travel across the fields without fear. Kamarpukur and neighbouring villages were more populous and prosperous during the Master’s childhood than now. This becomes evident to us when we find the deserted broken brick-built houses overgrown with jungles, dilapidated and decayed temples, the platforms for religious dances, and the like. Therefore, we infer, that the pilgrims to the goddess1 at Anur were then very numerous.

The goddess resides under the open sky, in the field. The cultivators build every year an ordinary covering of leaves to protect the place from rain and sun. There is an indication in the neighbouring heap of ruins that there was a brick-built temple at one time. Asked about it, the villagers say that the goddess has broken it down of her own accord. They narrate a story:

“The cowherd boys of the village are the dear companions of the goddess. They come there in the morning, let loose the cows and sit there; they tell stories, sing songs, and play games. They pluck wild flowers and decorate her. They take the money and the sweets offered to the goddess by pilgrims and wayfarers and enjoy themselves. She cannot do without these sweet pranks. Once a rich man of a village, having had his desire fulfilled, built that temple and installed the goddess in it. The temple priest came as usual every morning and evening to perform the worship. But he now closed the door of the temple when he went away after the worship. Those who came to pay obeisance at times other than those of worship, offered their respectful presents to the deity through the trellis of the door. Consequently, the cowherd boys could no longer collect the money, buy sweets, offer them to the goddess, eat them, and make merry. Grieved in their hearts, they prayed imploringly, ‘Mother, you have deprived us of our feast. Your money enabled us to have sweets daily. Who will now give us these things to eat?’

“The goddess,” the villagers add, “heard the complaint of the simple-hearted peasant boys, and the temple developed such a big crack that very night that the next day the priest brought out the goddess hurriedly and placed her in the open lest the image should get buried under the debris of the temple. Since then, whoever has tried to build the temple again has been apprised in dreams or otherwise by the goddess that it is not to her liking.” The villagers say that some of them were threatened and deterred from it by the goddess. She said to them in a dream, “I am all right here in the midst of the fields with the cowherd boys; if you confine me in a temple I will ruin you. I will not keep any of your family alive.”

The Master was eight years old. He had not yet been invested with the sacred thread. One day many ladies of respectable families of the village went through the fields in a group, in the aforesaid manner, to fulfil their promise of offerings to Visalakshi. Among them were one or two ladies of the Master’s own family and also Prasanna, the widowed sister of Dharmadas Laha. The Master had a high opinion of her purity, amiability, simplicity, and spirituality. He told the Holy Mother many a time to follow her advice in all matters. He also spoke of Prasanna from time to time to his women devotees. Prasanna too had a genuine affection for the Master from his childhood. She looked upon him very often as God Himself. As a simple-hearted woman, she was charmed to hear the holy stories of gods and goddesses and devotional songs from him. She would now and again affectionately ask him, “Gadai, why is it that you often seem to me to be God Himself? Yes, truly I feel so.” Gadai heard it and sweetly smiled but said nothing; or, he brought in various other topics and tried to evade the question. But Prasanna could not be evaded with those words. She said seriously with a nod, “Whatever you may say, you are not an ordinary mortal.” Prasanna built a temple and installed in it the images of Radha and Krishna and used to do everything for their daily service herself. Dramatic performances with songs and dances were held in that temple on festive occasions. But Prasanna listened to very little of the songs. Asked about it, she would say, “I have heard songs sung by Gadai and no other songs sound sweet. Gadai has spoilt my ears.” Of course, these events belonged to a much later date.

When he saw the ladies starting, the child Gadai said, “I will also go.” Although the ladies thought it would be difficult for the child to walk that distance and forbade him to accompany them, Gadai did not lend ear to what they said and started with them. At this the ladies were happy rather than annoyed, for who is not charmed by a child who is always cheerful and merry? Besides, even at that young age, Gadai had got by heart all the songs and verses about gods and goddesses. On the way, he would certainly repeat a few of them at their request. Moreover there would be no difficulty if he felt hungry while returning, for then there would be with them the offered articles of food, milk, etc. What could then be the objection? What was there to be annoyed at, if Gadai went with them? Thus the ladies thought over the matter and without hesitation started on their way with Gadai. And Gadai also went cheerfully with them, and as they expected, told stories and sang songs of gods and goddesses.

But as he was singing the glory of Visalakshi, an unexpected event happened before they had crossed the field. The child stopped singing suddenly; his body and limbs became stiff and benumbed. Streams of tears flowed incessantly from his eyes and he did not even reply to their repeated and affectionate calls as to what ailed him The ladies were apprehensive that the child, unaccustomed to walking long distances, had a sunstroke. They brought water from a neighbouring pond and poured a little on his head and sprinkled some on his eyes. But he did not regain consciousness. They were anxious and felt very helpless. What was the way out? How was the promised offering to be given and the worship of the goddess performed? And how was another’s darling, Gadai, to be taken home safe? There was not a single man in the offing to help them. What was to be done? The ladies were in a great fix and forgot all about gods and goddesses. They sat round the child and sometimes fanned him, sometimes sprinkled water on him and again called him by his name.

A short time passed this way, when Prasanna felt suddenly in her heart: “Might it not be that an ecstatic influence of the goddess has come on the simple-hearted and devoted child? Have I not heard it said that the ecstatic influence of deities comes on men, women and children who are pure and simple-hearted like him?” Prasanna expressed this thought of hers to the other ladies, and asked them to repeat with concentrated minds the name of Visalakshi instead of calling “Gadai”. The ladies had a reverence for Prasanna on account of her pure character. They easily believed her words and addressed the boy as the goddess, and said again and again, “O Mother Visalakshi, be pleased; save us, Mother. Please be compassionate to us. Take us to a safe haven, Mother.”

Wonder of wonders! No sooner had they called on the name of the goddess a few times than the face of Gadai brightened up with a sweet smile and signs of a slight external consciousness were seen. They felt reassured and were certain that an ecstatic influence of the goddess had come upon the child. They saluted him again and again, addressed him as Mother and prayed to him1

The child regained external consciousness by degrees and was in his normal state again. But strange to say, no fatigue or weakness was observed in his body owing to the change which had come on him just a little while before. With overflowing devotion, the ladies then arrived at the place of the goddess with Gadai. They offered the worship duly, returned home and told everything to his mother. She was frightened, and offered that day a special worship to Raghuvir for the good of Gadai. She offered salutations to Visalakshi and vowed a special worship to her also.

Another event in the life of Sri Ramakrishna bears ample testimony to the fact that since childhood he ascended to high spiritual planes at times. It happened thus:

There lived a family of Suvarna-vanikas1 a little to the south-west of the Master’s ancestral house at Kamarpukur. That the Pynes were then very prosperous can be known even now from their brick-built Siva temple decorated with artistic designs. One or two of the members of this family are still living; but the buildings are all in ruins. It is said by the people of the village that the Pynes were very rich then. The house was full of people. They were rich farmers also, having extensive lands and a large number of cattle and ploughs; they had also a decent income from their trade. But the Pynes were not rich like the landlords of the village. They belonged to the upper middle class of society.

The master of the Pyne family was a very religious man. He never tried to convert his dwelling house into a brick-built one, though he was in a position to do so. He always lived in a two-storeyed house2 of mud walls. But he got bricks burnt, employed a good mason and got the temple beautifully built. His name was Rasiklal. He had no sons but had many daughters. We do not know why all the daughters, although married, always lived in their father’s house. We are told that the youngest of them reached her youth when the Master was ten or eleven years of age. All the daughters were handsome and were devoted to the gods and the Brahmins. They had much affection for the boy Gadai, their neighbour. The Master spent much of his time in that religious family during his boyhood. And even now one is told of many “sports” of the Master in the house of the Pynes while in high planes of consciousness. But we heard from the Master himself of the event which we now describe.

It seems that the devotees of Vishnu and those of Siva lived together at Kamarpukur without bearing any ill-will towards each other. Even now the annual “seventy-two-hour singing of the glories of the names of Vishnu” is, like the “Gajan” of Siva, celebrated with great pomp. But the Siva temples and other places where Siva is installed, are greater than those of Vishnu. Many of the Suvarna-vanikas are bigoted Vaishnavas. The Vaishnava faith prevailed to a great extent among the people of this class since Lord Nityananda initiated Uddharan Datta and delivered him from worldly bondage. But the Pynes of Kamarpukur were the devotees of both Siva and Vishnu. On the one hand, the aged master of the Pyne family used to take the name of Hari thrice a day as prescribed, and on the other, he installed Siva and observed the vow of Sivaratri every year. At that time a dramatic performance was arranged so that it might help devotees keep vigil at night.

21. While acting as Siva on the occasion of the Sivaratri, the Master had ecstasy for the third time

Once on the occasion of the Sivaratri, there was an arrangement of dramatic performance. The troupe belonged to the neighbouring village; they were to play a few scenes indicative of Siva’s greatness and the play was to begin about half an hour after dusk. At dusk it was learnt that the boy of the troupe who was to play Siva’s role was seriously ill. No one else could be found to play that part, The proprietor gave up all hopes and proposed with humility that the performance be postponed. What was to be done? How could the vigil be kept during the night? The elderly people sat together for consultation. They sent word to the proprietor asking him whether he could conduct the drama that night if a person could be found to play the part of Siva. A reply came in the affirmative. The village council consulted again as to who might be asked to act as Siva. Although Gadai was young, he knew many songs of Siva and he had the appropriate looks for playing the part. So it was settled that he should be requested. As regards the speaking of a few words while playing that part, it would be managed by the proprietor somehow. Gadadhar was approached and when he saw that all were eager, he agreed. The play as arranged began about half an hour after nightfall.

Dharmadas Laha, the landlord of the village, was a close friend of the Master’s father. So, his eldest son Gayavishnu and the Master also became friends. When Gayavishnu came to know that his friend would act as Siva, he and his friends began to dress him accordingly. The Master put on the dress of Siva, sat in the green-room and was thinking of Siva when he was called to appear on the stage. One of his friends came to lead him there. Called by his friend, the Master rose and without looking in any direction, in a preoccupied state of mind, approached the stage with a sedate and slow step, and stood there motionless. The audience felt a vague indescribable divine emotion and were filled with joy and wonder when they saw the Master in that dress, bedecked with ashes and matted hair, with a calm and dignified gait and in a fixed and motionless posture. They felt particularly charmed to witness that heavenly, indrawn and fixed gaze and that gentle smile on his lips. As the villagers are wont to do, they suddenly cried out the name of Hari. Some of the women uttered the auspicious sound of “ulu” and some blew conchshells. Afterwards, in order to restore order in the audience, the proprietor began reciting hymns to Siva even before the noise subsided. Although the audience became a little calm, they made signs to and nudged one another whispering in low tones, “Bravo, how beautiful Gadai looks! We never thought the lad would act the part of Siva so well; it will be very good if we can secure the boy somehow and form a Yatra troupe of our own”; and so on and so forth. But Gadadhar was all the while standing in that same posture. Moreover, incessant streams of tears were flowing down his cheeks. Some time passed this way, but Gadadhar did not speak or move. Then the proprietor and one or two elderly men of the village went to the boy and saw that his hands and feet were insensitive and that he had no external consciousness at all. The noise then doubled. Some cried out, “Water, water. Sprinkle water over his eyes and face.” Some said, “Fan him”, some others, “An ecstatic influence of Siva has come on him; utter His name”, while some others murmured, “The boy has spoilt the whole amusement; it is certain that the play cannot continue now.” At last, the audience dispersed when the boy could not be brought to consciousness by any means. Some people carried Gadadhar home on their shoulders. That ecstasy, we are told, did not come to an end that night in spite of much effort, and there was much agitation in the house. He regained normal state the next day after sunrise.1


1. See Sankara’s commentary on Adhyasa in the Vedanta Aphorisms.

1. It is difficult to ascertain whether the name of the goddess is Vishalakshmi or Visalakshi. Vishahari is another name of the goddess Manasa met with in ancient Bengali books. This word Vishahari may easily be transformed into Vishalakshmi. Again, in describing the form of Manasa, the word Visalakshi is used in books like the Manasamangala. So, Manasa is perhaps called by the names of Vishalakshmi or Visalakshi, who accepts people’s worship here. The worship of the goddess is seen in many places. We saw a beautiful temple of that goddess on our way from kamarpukur to Ghatal. We were convinced that there had been a very good arrangement for worship there, when we saw the music hall, the tank, the garden, etc., attached to the temple.

1. Some say the women, out of an intensity of devotion, offered the boy the articles they carried for the goddess.

1.    A trading class, originally traders (vanikas) in gold (suvama).—Tr

2.    Made of bamboo, wood, straw and earth, but no bricks.

1. Some say that he was in that ecstatic state continuously for three days.


1.    Further examples of Master’s absorption in spiritual moods in childhood

Besides the events already mentioned, many other facts regarding the Master’s absorption in spiritual moods in childhood are known. We get indications of that nature of his mind in connection with many small matters.

Take for example: The village potter was making images of Siva, Durga, and other deities. The Master went there with his friends in the course of a walk. He looked on the images for some time and suddenly said, “What is that? Do the eyes of a god look like that? They should be made thus.” Saying so, he explained to the potter the manner in which the lines should be fashioned and the eyes portrayed, so that the expression of superhuman power, compassion, inwardness, and bliss may be shown in the eyes and endow the image with a living, divine look. All were amazed to think how the boy Gadadhar could understand and explain all this without being taught that art. But none could find out the reason.

Or, desiring to worship some deity in boyish play with his friends, he made the image of that deity or delineated it on canvas so beautifully that people, seeing it, came to the conclusion that it was the handiwork of a skilful potter or painter.

Again, a voluntary and unexpected utterance of the Master to somebody removed a very longstanding doubt from his mind. The latter got the clue and the power to regulate his future life wondering whether it was his chosen Ideal in the person of Gadai that out of compassion showed him the path.

Or else, the boy Gadai astonished all by solving with one word the problem which scholars, well versed in the scriptures, had failed to solve.

2.    Six classes of those events of the Master’s life

It is not true that every one of the wonderful events of the Master’s early life which we heard proved the manifestation of his divine power as he passed into high planes of consciousness. Although some of them were of this nature, we may classify the others into six broad divisions, namely, those indicative of his wonderful memory, of his strong power of judgment, of his steadfastness and strong determination, of his infinite courage, of his love of merriment, and of his unlimited love and compassion. But purity, selflessness and unique faith were found running through all of them It looks as if his mind was naturally made up of faith, purity and selflessness, and the various actions and reactions of the world in it gave rise from time to time to waves of memory, judgment, determination, courage, merriment, love and compassion. The reader will have a correct understanding of what we say when we give a few examples here.

3.    An example of his wonderful memory

There had been in the village a theatrical performance on the theme of Rama’s or Krishna’s life. Many people including Gadadhar had witnessed it. All of them forgot the songs and the sacred words of the Puranas the next day and were busy following their selfish ends. But there was no end to the waves of spiritual emotions produced by them in the mind of Gadai. The boy assembled his friends in the neighbouring mango grove in order to rehearse them and enjoy the bliss thereof. He made all his friends get by heart, as far as possible, the parts of different characters of the play, and took upon himself the leading role and began to enact the drama. Simple-hearted cultivators, ploughing in the neighbouring fields, were charmed to see that play of the boys, and wondered how, after hearing them only once, they could get by heart almost all the words and songs of the play.

4.    An example of strong determination

At the time of his investiture with the sacred thread, the boy persisted, against the custom of his family and society, that he must have his first ceremonial alms from a blacksmith woman Dhani by name.1 Or, charmed with her affection and devotion, and being aware of the desire of her heart, the boy forgot the restrictions of society, snatched curry, sauce, etc., cooked by that woman of low caste and ate them In great fear, Dhani forbade him to do it, but could not make the boy desist.

5.    An example of his infinite courage

Fear always arises in the minds of the boys of towns and villages when they see Naga Fakirs, with their matted hair and bodies covered with ashes. There is a belief current everywhere in Bengal that those Fakirs entice young boys; or, when opportunity arises, they abduct them to distant places and add to their own number. Groups of such Fakirs and Vairagis travelled daily in those days by the path to the south of Kamarpukur, leading to Puri, the abode of Jagannath. They would come to the village, beg their food, rest there for a day or two, and then start for their destination. Although Gadai’s friends remembered that tradition and were frightened, he was not a person to be afraid of this. He mixed with the groups of mendicants as soon as he saw them and pleased them by his service and sweet conversation. He used to spend much time with them in order to observe their conduct and behaviour. Requested lovingly by them, he took, on some days, the food offered by them to their deity before he returned home to tell it to his mother. Desirous of being dressed like them, out of love for the holy men, he one day put on Tilakas all over his body, and tearing the new piece of cloth given by his parents into Kaupina and loin-cloth, wore them in their fashion and came to his mother.

6.    Examples of his love for merriment

Many of the people of the low class in the village did not know to read the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. When they had a mind to hear those books read out, they invited a Brahmin or one of their own class who could explain the epics to them. When that person arrived, they offered him water to wash his feet, a smoke of tobacco, a good seat to sit on while reading, and lacking this, a new mat. Honoured thus, he swelled with pride and egotism Fond of merriment, the keenly intelligent boy observed how he occupied an elevated seat before the audience and how many were the odd gestures and tones with which he read the books and displayed his superiority to them. All these the boy would sometimes mimic before others with a grave face which would give rise to great fun and peals of laughter.

7.    Natural constitution of the Master’s mind

By a study of these facts of the Master’s early life, we realize the nature of the mind with which he was equipped to undertake spiritual discipline. We feel that such a mind could not but accomplish whatever it undertook, would never forget what it heard, and would at once throw away mercilessly whatever it came to know to be an obstacle in its path to the realization of its desired end. We realize that such a heart would perform all actions in the world placing firm reliance on God, on itself, and on the divine nature hidden within all human beings. No ideas having the slightest tinge of narrowmindedness would be acceptable to it, let alone mean, impure ones; and love, purity, and compassion alone would regulate it all the time in all matters. It will also be realized that no idea, either within his own heart or within those of others, would be able to deceive him by disguising its nature. Before proceeding to study his Sadhanas we shall be able to understand their uniqueness if we closely remember what has been said about the constitution of his heart and mind.

8.    The first manifestation of the mood of an aspirant — “I will learn not the ‘art of bundling rice and plantain’ but that which produces right knowledge”

We see the first definite manifestation of the attitude of an aspirant in the Master’s life, when he was in his brother’s school in Calcutta—on the day when Ramkumar, his eldest brother, admonished him to apply his mind to the acquisition of learning, to which he clearly replied, “I do not want to learn, the art of ‘bundling rice and plantain’. What I do want is to have that which produces right knowledge and enables man truly to achieve the aim of his life”. He was then about seventeen years of age. Knowing that there was little chance of his education progressing in the village school, his guardians consulted one another and brought him to Calcutta. His religious-minded eldest brother, well versed in Astrology and Smriti, had started a Sanskrit school near the house of the late Digambar Mitra at Jhamapukur and was teaching some pupils. He took charge of the daily service of deities in some rich families of that quarter, besides the Mitra family. It took him most of his time to give lessons to students after finishing his daily religious duties. Therefore, it proved very difficult for him in a short time to go twice daily to different houses and perform the service. Nor was he at the same time able to give it up so hastily, for the income from the school by way of farewell gifts was very small and was daily decreasing. How could the household affairs be managed if he gave up what he was receiving as fee for the service of the deities? Weighing these ideas in his mind, at last he brought his youngest brother to Calcutta, placed him in charge of the service of the deities and applied himself to the work of teaching.

9.    The Master’s activities at the Jhamapukur Tol in Calcutta

On arriving at Calcutta, Gadadhar got his favourite work and performed it with pleasure. Besides serving his eldest brother he also studied a little. Possessed of noble qualities, the pleasant-looking boy became dear to all the people in a short time. The veiled ladies of the respectable families of this place, even like those of Kamarpukur, did not feel any hesitation in appearing before him when they became acquainted with his smartness, guileless behaviour, sweet conversation and devotion to the gods. They were eager to get some odd jobs done by him and to listen to his devotional songs. Here also as in Kamarpukur, the boy became a centre of attraction of a group of loving people round him without any effort on his part. Whenever he had leisure the boy met those men and women and joyfully spent some time in their company. Therefore, it is clear that the boy made no better progress in his studies here.

Although Ramkumar observed all this, he could not suddenly mention it to his brother, for he had already deprived the mother’s dear youngest pet child of the pleasure of her affection and had brought him far away, practically for his own convenience. Should he, over and above this, put obstacles in the way of the boy’s enjoyment when, attracted by his noble qualities, people were lovingly inviting him to their houses and the boy too felt happy at that? And if he did so, would not the life of the boy in Calcutta be as unbearable as in a forest? If there were no wants in the family, it would not have been necessary at all to take the boy away from his mother. It would have been enough if the boy had been sent to some village near Kamarpukur to study under a learned scholar. In that case, the boy might have been with his mother and been educated at the same time. Although Ramkumar did not complain for some time on account of these considerations, still, urged by a sense of duty, he admonished the boy mildly one day and asked him to apply his mind to studies. For, some day, the simple-hearted, self-forgetful boy would have to fend for himself. If he did not now learn how to guide himself on the path leading to the improvement of his worldly affairs, could he do so in future? Therefore, it is clear that brotherly love and worldly experience moved Ramkumar to act that way.

10. Ramkumar’s ignorance of the nature of his brother’s mind

Although he had fallen into difficulties arising out of the selfish, harsh ways of the world and acquired some experience, the affectionate Ramkumar did not know much of the extraordinary nature of the mind of his youngest brother. He could not realize even in his dream that, young as he looked, the boy could detect the cause of the lifelong labour and efforts of the worldly man and knowing ephemeral fame and enjoyment to be worthless, could fix a different aim for human life. Unmoved by the rebuke, when the simple-hearted boy told him the thoughts of his heart in the above-mentioned way, he could not comprehend his words. He thought that the boy, a pet of his parents, was piqued or annoyed at being thus scolded for the first time in his life, and had, therefore, answered him in that way. That day, the truthful boy tried his best to explain to him the thoughts of his heart; he expressed variously the idea that he did not feel inclined to go in for a bread-winning education. But who would listen to the words of the boy? A boy is after all a boy; if even a grown-up person is seen to be above selfish effort we solemnly declare that his brain has been deranged.

That day Ramkumar did not understand those words of the boy. Moreover, just as when we chastise an object of our love, we repent it the next moment and try to regain our peace of mind by loving him a hundredfold more than before, so also Ramkumar behaved with his brother for some time after this. But, when we see the series of Gadadhar’s actions, one after another, we get a clear proof of the fact that since then he was seeking an opportunity to fulfil the desire of his heart.

11. The worldly condition of Ram-kumar

The current of events in the life of the Master and his eldest brother flowed a little fast during the next two years after this event. The pecuniary condition of his brother was daily deteriorating and although he tried in various ways, he could not improve it. He pondered much in his mind whether he should close his school and take to some other job. But he could not come to any decision. He could clearly understand in his heart of hearts that if he spent his days that way instead of soon adopting some other means for the management of his worldly affairs, he would be involved in debts and consequently suffer. But what means was he to adopt? For he had learnt no other occupation than those of teaching, performing sacrifices and officiating in them And had he the energy and perseverance at this period of life to make an attempt to learn some lucrative profession suited to the times? Again, even if he did acquire an art of that nature and tried to earn money, it would surely be difficult for him to get time to perform worship, and his daily religious duties. So, deciding to “let Raghuvir shape his destiny according to His will”, he turned his mind from these thoughts and continued to do with a broken heart what he had been so far doing. For, we think, Ramkumar, who had great faith in God, was content with a little, and being good-natured, was not very pushing in worldly life. There now occurred, by the will of God, an event which showed Ramkumar a way out of that uncertainty and relieved him of all anxiety.


1. The cause of Ramkumar’s starting the Tol in Calcutta. The date of the starting

Probably Ramkumar was forty-five when he started his Tol in Calcutta in A.D. 1850. Worldly wants, mishaps, etc., had caused him anxiety for some time past. His wife died after giving birth to her only son Akshay. It is said that the Sadhaka Ramkumar predicted the death of his wife and said to some members of the household that she would not survive that period. The Master had then reached his fourteenth year. Many rich and middle class people lived in the wealthy city of Calcutta; Ramkumar could remain free from worldly anxiety if he could make the students of the school proficient in learning, as it would enhance his reputation as a scholar as well. He could perform religious worship and give written opinions on religious matters, which would fetch a few additional rupees. Some such thought was perhaps instrumental in bringing Ramkumar to Calcutta, when he was mourning the death of his wife. Or it may be that at the death of his wife he felt a great change and void in his life, and the idea that he would be free from them to a certain extent if he were engaged in various works in a far-off place made him take up that course. We have told the reader earlier the purpose for which he brought the Master to Calcutta a few years after the inception of the school at Jhamapukur, and the manner in which the Master spent the first three years after his arrival there in A.D. 1852.

We must turn our attention elsewhere, if we want to know the events of the Master’s life since that period. The reader must now direct his attention to the series of events that were taking place by the will of God in a very well-known family in another quarter in Calcutta. At that time Ramkumar had enrolled himself in the party of Chatu Babu in order to increase his income from farewell gifts and improving the condition of his school.

2. Rani Rasmani

The famous Rani Rasmani lived in Janbazar in the south of Calcutta. She was the mother of four daughters and became a widow at forty-four. She inherited the huge property of her husband Rajchandra Das. Since then she had managed it herself and improved it much and had thus become well known to the people of Calcutta. She became famous and endeared herself to all, not merely by her ability in managing the property, but also by her innumerable other virtues and good actions, such as her faith in God, her energy,1 courage, intelligence and presence of mind, and above all, her sympathy for the poor2 expressed through her unceasing gifts and unstinted distribution of food to all. By her noble qualities and actions, she, although born in a Kaivarta family, proved herself worthy of her appellation, “The Rani”, and attracted the heart-felt love and reverence of all groups of people irrespective of caste. The Rani’s daughters were married and had children at the time we are speaking of. Then the third daughter of the Rani had died and had left behind only a son. Thinking that the said event would estrange the debonair Mathuranath, her third son-in-law, from the family, the Rani married her fourth daughter Jagadamba Dasi to him and made him her own again. The descendants of the four daughters of the Rani are living till this day.3

3.    The Rani’s devotion to the goddess

Endowed with many virtues, Rani Rasmani bore great devotion to the holy feet of the goddess Kali. “Sri Rasmani Dasi, longing for the Feet of Kali” were the words engraved in the official seal of her estate. We have heard from the Master himself that the Rani’s devotion to the goddess was expressed in all her words and actions.

4.    The Rani got divine instruction when she was getting ready to go to Kasi

The Rani, it is said, had cherished in her heart for a long time a strong desire to go to Kasi and pay obeisance and offer special worship to Visvesvara, the Lord of the universe, and Annapurna, the divine Mother. It is also said that she had collected and set apart a vast sum of money for that purpose. But, as her husband had died suddenly and she had had to shoulder the responsibility of managing the whole property, she had not been able to carry out her intention so far. Now that her sons-in-law had learned to help her in this matter and particularly the youngest, Mathuramohan, had become her right-hand man, she was getting ready to start for Kasi. When everything was ready, she had the vision of the goddess in a dream the night before her departure.1 The goddess gave her this instruction: “There is no need to go to Kasi; install my stone image in a beautiful spot on the bank of the Bhagirathi and arrange for my daily worship and food offering; I shall manifest myself in the image and accept your worship daily.” The devout Rani was highly delighted to receive this instruction. She put off going to Kasi and made up her mind to spend the accumulated money on that holy undertaking.

5.    The Rani built the temple

We cannot say how far that rumour is true, but it is certain that the Rani’s long accumulated devotion to the Mother of the universe was about to assume a visible form in the shape of the temple and the image. She purchased a spacious piece of land on the bank of the Bhagirathi, spent a large sum of money and began to build on it a big temple with nine spires and other small temples, and laid out a garden attached to them. Though the work of construction was going on for seven or eight years, the whole edifice was not completed even in A.D. 1855. But the Rani reflected within herself, “As life is uncertain, the desire of installing the Mother of the universe may not be fulfilled in my lifetime, if it takes such a long time to complete the temple.” Revolving in her mind thus, the Rani had the ceremony of the installation of the Mother performed on the Snanayatra day on May 31, A.D. 1855.

As it is necessary for the reader to know a few events that took place before this, we narrate them below.

6.    The Rani’s desire to offer cooked food to the goddess

Either because of the “instruction” she received from the goddess herself or out of a natural hankering of her heart-for devotees always love to serve their chosen Ideals with things they consider best-there arose a great eagerness in the mind of the Rani to offer cooked food daily to the Mother. The Rani thought: “Temples and other buildings have been built to my liking. I am going to dedicate property sufficient for the carrying on of the service. But, in spite of doing all this, if I cannot serve Her to my heart’s content and offer Her cooked food daily, everything will be in vain. It will fetch me at the most a little name; people will say, ‘Rani Rasmani has left behind her such a glory!’ But, of what avail are such words of the people to me?” “O Mother of the universe,” she fervently prayed, “Thou hast given me much name and fame in other respects, but in this case do not befool me by giving me this trash. It does not matter whether fame accrues to me or not, but pray remain always actually manifested here and fulfil the heart’s desire of this servant of Thine by accepting daily service.”

7.    She procured Sastric opinions from Pandits. These proved to be obstacles to the fulfilment of her desire

The Rani saw that her low birth and the custom of society were the main obstacles standing in the way of her offering cooked food. Her own heart however, never doubted that the Mother of the universe would accept her offering of cooked food; in fact, for heart was always full of joy at that thought, and was never hesitant. Why was then that improper custom current? Who wrote the scriptures? Was the author of the scriptures a heartless man? Or, urged by self-interest, did he ordain a right for the higher castes superior even to the goddess? If so, she had no use for such scriptures. She would rather follow the sacred longings of her heart. But what was the way out even then? Were she to act against the prevailing custom, the devout Brahmins and good people would not come to the temple to take Prasada. What was then the solution? The Rani had the written opinions of Pandits brought from various places. But none of them was to her liking.

8.    Ramkumar gave his opinion in her favour

Although the construction of the temple and the making of the image had been completed, there was no sign of the fulfilment of the Rani’s desire to serve Her to her heart’s content. The Rani had scriptural prescriptions from scholars, big and small, but failed to have her wish fulfilled. When all her hopes were almost dashed to the ground, one day a prescription came from the Chatuspathi at Jhamapukur, which read, “If the Rani makes a gift of the property to a Brahmin and he installs the goddess in the temple and makes arrangements about the offering of cooked food, the principle of the scriptures will be accurately observed; and the Brahmins and other high castes will not then incur blemish if they take Prasada in the temple.”

9. The Rani decided to consecrate the temple

Hopes revived in the Rani’s heart. She decided to consecrate the temple in the name of her Guru and, with his permission, take the position of an officer for superintending his property and the service in his temple. Afterwards the Rani informed other Pandits of her intention of following the scriptural prescription given by Ramkumar. Although they did not dare say plainly that it would be an unscriptural action, they nevertheless said, “The action is against the prevailing custom of society; the Brahmins and other good people will not take Prasada there even though it is done that way.”

10.    Ramkumar’s catholicity

We can very well infer that the Rani’s attention was very much attracted to Ramkumar by this event. When one ponders, one finds that to issue such a prescription in those days was indicative of not a little catholicity on the part of Ramkumar. The minds of the Brahmin Pandits, the leaders of society, had got confined to a narrow groove in those days. There were few amongst them who could step out of it, read a liberal meaning in the injunctions of the scriptures and give opinions according to circumstances. Consequently people felt an inclination to set at naught their opinions.

11.    The Rani’s search for a suitable priest

The connection of the Rani with Ramkumar, however, did not end there. Although she paid proper respect to the members of the family of her spiritual teacher, the intelligent Rani observed distinctly their ignorance of the scriptures and unfitness to perform divine service according to them Therefore, she made up her mind to see that the whole charge of the service of the new temple was permanently placed in the hands of Brahmins of virtuous conduct, well versed in the scriptures, taking care at the same time that the just and proper farewell gifts etc., due to her Guru’s family were not affected. Here again, the prevailing custom of society stood in her way. In those days, the Brahmins born of good families and devoted to religious traditions did not even salute the deities installed by Sudras, let alone worshipping them They regarded the degraded Brahmins, such as the family of the Rani’s spiritual teacher, virtually as Sudras. It was therefore no wonder that no Brahmin of virtuous conduct, able to perform worship and officiate as a priest, agreed to take charge of the worship in the Rani’s temple. However, the Rani did not give up hope, and increasing the remuneration and the pay, continued to search for a priest in various places.

12.    Maheshchandra, an officer of the Rani, took the responsibility of procuring priests

The home of Hemangini Devi, the Master’s cousin, was in the village of Sihar, not far from Kamarpukur. Many Brahmins lived there. One Maheshchandra Chattopadhyaya of that village served in the estate of the Rani. Thinking perhaps that he might be able to earn a little money thereby, he came forward to procure Brahmins for the Rani’s temples to work as priests, cooks, etc. Mahesh undertook to make that arrangement and selected his elder brother Kshetranath for the post of a priest in the temple of Radha-Govinda, either with a view to convincing the poor Brahmins of the village that accepting employment in the Rani’s temples was not reprehensible, or with a view to improving the pecuniary condition of his family, or both. As he appointed one of his own family to work for the Rani, it became easy to a great extent to procure other Brahmins for service in the temples. But he became very anxious when, in spite of much effort, he could not procure a fit priest for the Kali temple.

13.    The Rani requested Ramkumar to accept the office of the priest

Mahesh had been for a long time acquainted with Ramkumar. It seems, they had a conventional relationship established between them, which we can infer from the village custom. It was not unknown to Mahesh that Ramkumar was a devout Sadhaka and had long ago become initiated in the Mantra of Sakti of his own accord. We infer that Mahesh knew of the want and insufficiency in Ramkumar’s household. So his attention was drawn to Ramkumar at the time of seeking a priest for the temple of the Mother Kali. But the next moment he remembered that Ramkumar was a Brahmin who did not officiate in sacrifices performed by Sudras. Although he sometimes accepted the post of a priest in the houses of Digambar Mitra and others in Calcutta, would he accept it in the temple of the Rani, who was a Kaivarta by birth? It was very doubtful. But the day for the installation of the goddess was near at hand and a suitable priest was not available yet. Revolving all this in his mind, Mahesh thought it reasonable to make an effort once at least in that direction. However, he did not himself immediately set about doing that. He told the Rani everything and asked her to invite and request Ramkumar to accept the office of the priest for the day of the installation at least and perform all the rites on that day. The Rani had already a high opinion of Ramkumar’s fitness as she got the scriptural prescription from him So she was much delighted at the prospect of his officiating as the priest and sent him word with great humility. “I am now ready to install the Mother of the universe on the strength of your prescription,” wrote she, “and have also arranged everything in order to perform that ceremony at an auspicious moment on the day of the coming Snanayatra. We have got a priest for Radha-Govinda. But no suitable Brahmin is coming forward to officiate as the priest of the Mother Kali and help me in the act of Her installation. Therefore, please make an arrangement that may seem possible to you and deliver me from this predicament. As you are a good scholar, well-versed in the scriptures, it is needless for me to tell you that anyone and everyone cannot be appointed to officiate as the priest.”

Mahesh himself went to Ramkumar with the letter conveying the request, explained the situation to him in various ways and prevailed upon him to agree to officiate as the priest until a suitable one was available. The devout Ramkumar, devoid of avarice, came at first to Dakshineswar1 lest the installation of the universal Mother should have to be given up. Then at the humble request of the Rani and Mathur Babu, he lived there for the rest of his life, as he saw that there was no other suitable priest available. All events of the world, great or small, come to pass by the will of the divine Mother. Who can say whether or not Ramkumar, a devotee of the goddess, knew the will of the Source of all wills and accepted that office?

14.    Installation of the goddess by the Rani

The Rani got Ramkumar to officiate as the priest in that unexpected way and installed the Mother of the universe in the new temple with great pomp on Thursday, May 31, A.D. 1855, the day of the

Snanayatra. It is said that on that occasion the temple was continuously filled day and night with the noise of feasts and festivities. The Rani spent money unstintedly and did her best to make all the guests and others as happy as herself. Many professors of the Sastras and Brahmin Pandits came on that occasion from places famous for scholars, places such as the distant Kanyakubja, Kasi, Sylhet, Chittagong, Orissa, Navadvip, etc. Each of them got a silk cloth, a wrapper and gold coins as farewell presents. The Rani, it is said, spent nine hundred thousand rupees on the building and the consecration ceremony of the temple. She purchased from Trailokyanath Thakur for two hundred and twenty-six thousand rupees the Salbari Parganah in the sub-division of Thakurgaon in the district of Dinajpur and executed a deed of gift and dedicated the property to the service of the deities.

15.    How the Master behaved on the installation day

Some say that Ramkumar was given provisions and he cooked them that day with his own hands on the bank of the Ganga. And after offering the cooked food to his own chosen Ideal, he took it as Prasada. But this sounds improbable, for, Ramkumar, a devotee of the goddess, had himself given the prescription about the offering of cooked food according to his knowledge of the scriptures, and without the expectation of any gain. It is quite unreasonable that he himself should not take that offered food and should act against his own prescription and the injunction of the devotional scriptures. The Master also did not tell us so. Therefore, our impression is that at the end of the worship he took joyfully the cooked food offered to the Mother of the universe. But, although the Master joined the joyous festival whole-heartedly, he acted according to his strict principle regarding food. He bought from the neighbouring market a pice worth of fried rice at the approach of the evening and ate it before he walked back to the school at Jhamapukur for his rest at night.

16.    What the Master said about the founding of the Kali temple

The Master himself told us on many occasions many things about the founding by Rasmani of the Dakshineswar Kali temple. He used to say: “Rani Rasmani made ready to go to Kasi, the abode of Visvanatha and Annapurna. She fixed a day for starting and had about a hundred small and big boats laden with various articles at the Ghat. She got a prohibitory instruction from the goddess on the night immediately before the day of starting and gave up that resolve. She then engaged herself in searching for a fit plot of land to build the temple on.”

He said further: “Under the conviction that ‘the western bank of the Ganga is comparable to Varanasi’, she at first searched for a piece of land in villages like Bali and Uttarpara on the western bank of the Ganga but failed to get one.1 For although the Rani was ready to pay a vast sum of money, the famous landlords of those places said that they would not come to the Ganga down a Ghat constructed at the cost of anyone else at any place in their possession. Therefore, the Rani was compelled at last to buy this spot on the eastern bank of the Ganga.”

He used to say: “A part of the piece of land selected by the Rani at Dakshineswar belonged to an Englishman. In the other part of the land there was a Muslim graveyard, associated with the memory of a holy man. The piece of land had the shape of the back of a tortoise. Such a graveyard, according to the Tantras, is very commendable for the installation of Sakti and for Her Sadhana. Therefore, as if guided by Providence, the Rani chose this piece of land.”

Again, he would raise the topic why the Rani installed the Mother of the universe on the Snanayatra day, a day of the festival connected with Vishnu, instead of on any other day auspicious for the installation of Sakti and say: “The Rani practised severe austerities according to the scriptures from the day on which the making of the image began; she bathed three times a day, took simple food, lay on the floor and practised Japa, worship, etc., according to her capacity. When the temple was built and the image made, an auspicious day was going to be leisurely fixed for the installation; and the image was kept packed in a box lest it should be damaged. But it suddenly perspired for some reason or other and the Rani got the command in a dream, ‘How long will you keep me confined this way? I feel suffocated; install me as soon as possible.’ No sooner had she got that instruction than the Rani became flurried and had the almanac consulted for an auspicious day. But, as no such day could be found before the Snanayatra, she resolved to perform the installation on that day.”

Besides this, we heard from the Master many other things including the consecration of the temple in the name of the Rani’s Guru so that cooked food might be offered to the goddess. We heard from Hriday two things only: firstly, that Ramkumar gave the scriptural prescription to the Rani about the consecration of the temple, and secondly, that he had recourse to the practice of Dharmapatra1 to convince the Master of the propriety of his accepting the office of the temple priest.

We can know from the Master’s behaviour at this time that Ramkumar had at first no mind to accept permanently the office of priest at the Dakshineswar Kali temple. When we reflect over the event, it seems to us that the simple-hearted Ramkumar did not understand it at that time. He thought that he would give the prescription regarding the offering of cooked food to the goddess and return to Jhamapukur after personally offering cooked food on the day of the installation.

We come to the conclusion from his behaviour towards his younger brother at this time that he was not at all hesitant about offering cooked food and that he did not think he was doing anything wrong and unscriptural. We shall explain these things to the reader here.

Early next morning, the Master came to Dakshineswar either to inquire about his brother or to witness, out of curiosity, the ceremonies that were left over from the previous day. He was there for some time, when he saw that there was no probability of his brother’s returning to Jhamapukur that day. Therefore, although requested by his brother to stay there for the day, he did not obey him and returned to Jhamapukur at the time of his taking food. The Master did not go to Dakshineswar for about a week since then. He was staying at Jhamapukur thinking that his brother would return there in due time, after finishing the ceremonies at Dakshineswar. But when Ramkumar did not return even after a week, he grew anxious and came to Dakshineswar again to get news of his brother. He then came to know that Ramkumar had agreed to assume permanent charge of the worship of the divine Mother at the importunate request of the Rani. No sooner had he heard it than there arose various thoughts in his mind. He reminded his brother that their father neither officiated in the sacrifices of the Sudras nor accepted gifts from all, and tried to dissuade him from that course. It is said that Ramkumar tried to vindicate his action to the Master in various ways with the help of reason and scripture, but nothing touched his heart. Therefore he had recourse to the simple expedient of Dharmapatra, the leaf of impartiality, at last. The leaf of impartiality, it is said, read, “Ramkumar has not incurred blame in accepting the office of the priest. It will prove beneficial to all.”

17.    The steadfastness of the Master regarding food

Although the Master now became free from anxiety regarding his brother’s decision, another thought occupied his mind. He thought over what he was to do, now that the Chatuspathi was abolished. The Master remained absorbed in that thought and did not return to Jhamapukur that day. But he could not be made to agree to take Prasada in the temple in spite of Ramkumar’s loving persuasion. Ramkumar said, “It is a temple and the food is cooked with the water of the Ganga; besides, it has been offered to the Mother of the universe; it will not be reprehensible for you to take it.” But these words did not appeal to the Master. So Ramkumar said, “Then take uncooked provisions from the temple store, cook them with your own hands on the sands of the Ganga under the Panchavati and have your meal. Don’t you accept that the Ganga purifies everything on its banks and bed?” The Master’s strict principle regarding food had now to yield to his devotion to the Ganga. His faith and devotion accomplished what Ramkumar, well-versed in the Sastras, could not do with the help of so much reasoning. The Master agreed, and continued to stay at Dakshineswar and take his daily meal prepared by himself in this way.

18.    The Master’s devotion to the Ganga

Ah, what a deep devotion to the Ganga the Master had all his life! He used to call the water of the Ganga, Brahma-vari, i.e., Brahman in the form of water. He said, “Any person living on either bank of the Ganga has his heart changed into one like that of gods, and virtues manifest therein of themselves. The wind filled with the sacred particles of the water of the Ganga purifies the land on both sides as far as it blows. By the grace of the Bhagirathi, the daughter of the great mountain, goodness, austerity, generosity, devotion to God, and spiritual steadfastness are always manifest in the lives of the people living in those parts of the land.” If anybody talked of worldly things for a long time or mixed with worldly people, the Master would ask him to drink a little of the water of the Ganga. If a man, averse to God and attached to worldliness, sat in any part of the sacred abode of the divine Mother and polluted it by worldly thoughts, he would sprinkle there the water of the Ganga. He felt much pained if he saw anybody cleaning himself with that water after answering calls of nature.

19.    The Master took his daily food cooked by himself and lived at Dakshineswar

The garden situated on the bank of the beautiful river and beautified with the Panchavati filled with the songs of birds, the divine service well performed by a devout Sadhaka in the beautiful spacious temple, the genuine affection of his father-like eldest brother, and the faith and devotion of the virtuous Rani Rasmani devoted to gods and the twice-born, and of Mathur Babu, her son-in-law—all these very soon made the Dakshineswar temple immensely attractive to the Master, who gradually made it his own, even like his home at Kamarpukur. Indeed he cooked his daily food for some time, but he lived there with a cheerful mind and discarded that attitude of uncertainty regarding his future duty.

20. The difference between illiberality and religious steadfastness

On hearing of the firm principle of the Master regarding food, some will perhaps think, “Such illiberality is generally seen in the minds of men like ourselves. Do you mean to say, by mentioning this instance that the ultimate goal of spirituality cannot be realized if one is not similarly illiberal?”. We say in reply, “Illiberality and religious steadfastness are not the same thing. The former is born of egoism. When it prevails, a man sets the highest value on what he himself understands and does, and thus circumscribing himself remains unconcerned. But the latter is born of the faith in the teachings of the scriptures and great souls; when it prevails, man curbs his egoism, makes progress in his spiritual life and gradually realizes the supreme truth. When that firm principle predominates, a person may, in the beginning, appear to be illiberal for some time; but he receives with its help, clearer and clearer light on the path of his life and the limiting narrowness vanishes of itself. Therefore, how can we deny that steadfastness is absolutely necessary on the path to spiritual progress?” Acquainted with this quality in the Master’s life in the manner mentioned above, we understand clearly that we too will be endowed with true liberality in time, and attain the ultimate peace, if we go forward to realize spiritual truths with a single-minded devotion to the teachings of the scriptures, and not otherwise. We have ‘to remove one thorn by another’ as the Master used to say. We must have recourse to religious steadfastness in order to reach the liberality of truth—we must follow rules and regulations in order to reach the state beyond them.

Noticing this imperfection in the beginning of youth in the Master’s life, some will perhaps say, “Why should he then be called an incarnation of God? Why not call him a man? But if you must make God of him, it is better to conceal such imperfections when you go to write his life.” We say, “Brother, there was a time when we also never believed it possible even in a dream that God assumed a human body and incarnated Himself. When, however, by His unbounded selfless grace, He made us understand that it was possible, we found that with the assumption of the human body, He had to assume the imperfections of the human mind in the same way as those of the human body. The Master used to say, ‘The shape of an ornament cannot be given to gold etc., if it does not contain some alloy.’ He never made the slightest attempt to conceal those imperfections from us, yet he clearly told us over and over again, ‘The One who became Rama and Krishna, has now come into this case (showing his body); but His coming down this time is incognito, just like a king going in disguise to see round the capital. It is like that.’ ”


1.    There was, it is said, a barrack of English soldiers situated near the Janbazar house of the Rani. Drunk and unrestrained, the soldiers, one day, overcame the gate keepers by force, entered the house and began to plunder it. Mathur Babu, the son-in-law of the Rani and other men folk were then out on business. Unopposed, the soldiers were almost ready to enter the inner apartment, when the Rani took up arms, ready to oppose them personally.

2.    It is said that the British Government imposed a tax on the fishermen for catching fish in the Ganga. Many of these fishermen dwelt in the estate of the Rani. Oppressed on account of the imposition of tax, they narrated their tale of sorrow to her. The Rani heard it and told them not to be afraid. For a big sum of money she took on lease that part of the river for catching fish. The Government thought that the Rani would carry on a business in fish. And as soon as the said right was obtained, the Rani put chains across the river in many places. This made it almost impossible for ships and other vessels of the Government to enter the river. When

the Government protested against that action of the Rani, she sent word, “ I have purchased the right of catching fish in the river on payment of a large sum of money to you. What I have done is in accordance with that right. If ships and other vessels always pass through the river, the fish will flee elsewhere and I shall stand to lose much. How can I, therefore, remove the chains from the river? But, if you agree to abolish the new tax on the right to catch fish in the river, I, for my part, am ready to give up my right voluntarily. There will otherwise be litigation and the Government will have to pay damages to me.” It is said that owing to that reasonable statement of the Rani and also knowing that she was doing so in order to protect the poor fishermen, the Government abolished that tax in a short time. The fishermen then caught fish free of any tax and blessed the Rani.

The Rani evinced great interest in all matters conducive to the good of the people. We find the proof of it in the markets at Sonai, Beleghata and Bhawanipur; in the Ghat and the house for the dying at Kalighat; in the Ghat at Ganga at Halisahar; in the road to Puri for some distance from the other side of Suvarnarekha; and in many other virtuous acts. The Rani went on pilgrimage to Gangasagar, Triveni, Navadwip, Agradwip and Puri, and spent vast sums of money in the names of gods. Moreover, she protected the tenants of the estate of Makimpur against the oppression of the indigo planters. She spent ten thousand rupees and got the Madhumati connected with the Navaganga by the canal of Tona. These and various other acts of public utility stand to her credit.

3. For the information of the reader we quote here a genealogical table of Rani Rasmani from the booklet Sri Dakshineswar:

1. Some say that Rani Rasmani started by boat and came to the village of Dakshineswar to the north of Calcutta. She got that prohibitory instruction when she was passing the night there in the boat.

1. We heard from Hriday, the Master’s nephew, the description mentioned above, of Ramkumar’s coming to Dakshineswar, but Ramlal, the Master’s elder brother’s son, gives a different account. He says, “Ramdhan Ghosh of the village of Desra, near Kamarpukur, was an officer of Rani Rasmani. The Rani held him in high regard for his efficiency and he gradually rose to be her secretary. As he was known to Ramkumar, he sent him a letter of invitation to come to take his farewell gifts at the time of the consecration ceremony of the Kali temple.” Ramkumar came to the Janbazar house of the Rani and said to Ramdhan, “The Rani is a Kaivarta by birth. We are Brahmins belonging to the Rarhi class. We shall be boycotted if we accept her invitation to take gifts.” Ramdhan showed him a list and said, “Why? Just see how many Brahmins of that class have been invited. They will all come and accept gifts from the Rani.” Ramkumar agreed to accept gifts and came to Dakshineswar with the Master the day before the consecration. There flowed a current of bliss in the temple on that day on account of the performance of Yatra, the singing of the glory of Kali, the reading of the Bhagavata and of the Ramayana, and so on. There was no cessation of that current of bliss even during the night. Every nook and corner of the temple was as bright as day on account of innumerable lights. The Master used to say, “Going round the temple, one felt that the Rani had brought the silver mountain and placed it there.” Ramkumar came to the Kali temple to see the festival the day before the installation.

It is inferred from what Ramlal said, that Ramkumar came to Dakshineswar and accepted the office of the priest at the request of both Ramdhan and Mahesh.

1. The old people of these villages bear testimony to this fact even now.

1. There is still the custom in villages of people depending on Providence when there is no possibility of a decision being arrived at by reasoning on a particular matter, and taking recourse to Dharmapatra, the leaf of impartiality, to know the will of Providence. When they ascertain it thus, they act accordingly, without further argument or reasoning. The leaf of impartiality is made use of in the following manner:

“Yes” and “No” are written on some fragments of paper or on Vilva leaves, which are put into an empty water-pot and a child is asked to pick up one fragment or a leaf. If the child picks up a “Yes” fragment, the person who has recourse to this expedient knows that Providence sanctions the contemplated course. If the other piece is picked up, he takes it that the will of Providence forbids the course. The division of property and other things also is sometimes made with the help of this device. Take this for example: Four brothers have been living in a joint family; they want to live separately now and divide the joint property, but cannot come to any decision as to the particular portion to be owned by each. They then ask a few important people of the village to give a decision. They divide the whole property, both movable and immovable into four equal parts as far as possible. Then they decide by means of the impartial leaf which particular portion is to go to a particular brother. Almost the same practice is followed here also. The names of the owners of the property are written on small pieces of paper. They are folded so that no one can read the names and then put into an empty water-pot. Each portion of the property divided into four parts is marked A, B, etc., and small pieces of paper similarly marked are placed, as before, in another pot. Two children are then called and one of them is asked to pick up one piece from one pot, and the other child, to pick up one from the other. The fragments of paper are then read and each brother is to accept the portion corresponding to his name.


1.    The behaviour and the resolve of Mathur since he saw the Master for the first time

The pleasant looks of the Master, his tender nature, devoutness and youth attracted the notice of Mathur Babu, the son-in-law of Rani Rasmani, a few weeks after the consecration of the temple. It is seen that the attraction of love is suddenly felt in the human heart, at first sight, for those with whom an intimate relationship is to be established for life. The scriptures say that this arises from the impressions of the relationship we had had in previous lives. When we see later the relationship of profound love between the Master and Mathur, we are led to conclude that there arose an indefinable attraction in the mind of Mathur at that time.

The Master lived at Dakshineswar for a month after the temple was consecrated, in a state of inability to ascertain what he should do. In the meantime Mathur resolved to appoint him to dress up the goddess, and discussed the matter with Ramkumar. Ramkumar told him the whole story about the mental condition of his brother, and discouraged Mathur in his effort to carry out his plan. But Mathur was not a man to be easily deterred. Although his offer was thus discouraged, he was seeking an opportunity to carry out his resolve.

2.    Hriday, the nephew of the Master

Another person intimately connected with the Master’s life came to Dakshineswar at that time. Hridayram Mukhopadhyaya, the son of Hemangini Devi, the Master’s cousin, came to Burdwan at that time in search of employment. He was then sixteen. He was staying with his acquaintances, his fellow-villagers there, but could find no way to the accomplishment of his purpose. When he came to know that his maternal uncles were living in the new temple of Rani Rasmani and were held in great respect, he thought that there was every chance of his purpose being fulfilled if he could go there. So Hriday came to Dakshineswar temple without delay and began to spend his time joyfully there in the company of Sri Ramakrishna, his uncle, of nearly his own age, who was familiar with him from his childhood.

Hriday was tall, handsome and of a manly build. His physique was firm and strong, and his mind extremely active and free from fear. He could undergo hard labour and adapt himself easily to circumstances. When in adverse circumstances, he could surmount them by inventing extraordinary means. Moreover, he truly and tenderly loved his youngest uncle and spared no pains to make him happy even by undergoing endless bodily troubles.

Always active, Hriday had not a bit of contemplativeness in him. Therefore, Hriday’s mind, like those of all worldly people, could never be free from selfish urges. The more we discuss his relationship with the Master since the earliest days, the more shall we see that the little contemplativeness and selfless effort seen in his life, were all due to the constant company of the Master, who was an epitome of contemplativeness and whom he tried to imitate sometimes in this respect. The help of a man of action, courageous, reverential, and averse to free thinking, was very necessary for the success of the contemplative life of one who was indifferent to eating, drinking, and all other bodily efforts, and was ever thoughtful and altogether devoid of selfishness. Was this the reason why the divine Mother bound up a person like Hriday in a profound relationship with the Master at the time of his Sadhana? Who will answer? But it is true that, but for Hriday, it would have been impossible for him to keep body and soul together during that period. Therefore his name remains eternally connected with the life of Sri Ramakrishna; and he deserves our heart-felt devotion, reverence and obeisance for ever.

3.    The Master at the time of Hriday’s arrival

The Master was twenty years and a few months old when Hriday came to Dakshineswar. We can easily infer that his life now became easy to some extent when he got a companion in Hriday. Whatever he did from now on, bathing, walking, lying, sitting, etc., he did with his help. The doings of Sri Ramakrishna, who was always of the nature of a boy, appeared purposeless to the eyes of ordinary people; but Hriday, far from protesting against them, approved them heartily and sympathized with them; this endeared him much to the Master.

4.    Hriday’s love for the Master

Hriday himself said to us: “Many a time I felt an indescribable attraction towards the Master since then and always remained with him like his shadow. Even a minute’s separation from him was painful to me. I bathed with him, walked with him, sat with him and lay down with him. We had to part for some time only at the time of taking our midday meals, for the Master took from the temple stores uncooked provisions which he cooked with his own hands. He took his food under the Panchavati and I had Prasada in the temple. But I made all preparations for his cooking before I parted. His principle regarding food was so strict then that he felt no peace of mind although he took food cooked by himself. He cooked his midday meal of rice etc., himself, but like us, he took the Luchi offered at night to the Mother of the universe. I noticed on many occasions that his eyes became filled with tears when he took Luchi and heard him say sorrowfully to the divine Mother, ‘Mother! Thou hast made me take food from a Kaivarta. ’ ”

The Master himself also sometimes spoke to us about the events of that time: “I felt extremely afflicted to think that I should have to take food from a Kaivarta. Even many of the poor indigent people did not come to the Kali temple of Rasmani to take their food, for that reason. As many people could not be procured to take the cooked food offered to the deity, cows were fed with it and the rest had to be thrown into the river.” But we heard both from him and Hriday that he had not to take food cooked by himself for long. Our impression is that he did so till he took charge as a priest of the Kali temple, which he did in two or three months after the consecration of the temple.

5.    Hriday could not understand certain actions of the Master

Hriday knew that the Master loved him dearly. There was one thing only regarding him which Hriday could by no means understand. It was this: when he went to assist his elder uncle Ramkumar or for a little rest after his midday meal or to witness the evening service in the temple, the Master eluded him and disappeared for sometime, he did not know where. He could not find him out in spite of a great deal of searching. Asked about it on his return after about a couple of hours, he did not give a clear reply but said, “I was just near about this place.” At such times on some days, when Hriday went in search of him and found him returning from the direction of the Panchavati, he thought that he had gone there perhaps to answer calls of nature and did not ask him anything.

6.    Mathur praised the image of Siva made by the Master

This is what Hriday said. Once at that time the Master had a mind to make an image of Siva and worship Him in it. We have already said that sometimes he did this in his childhood at Kamarpukur. As soon as there arose that desire in his mind he took some earth from the bed of the river, made with his own hands an image of Siva, together with the bull, the tabor and trident, and began to worship Him in the image. Mathur happened to come there in the course of a stroll, and eager to learn which god the Master was worshipping intently, approached and saw that image. Though not big, the image was beautiful. Mathur was delighted to see it. No sooner had he seen it than he felt that images so expressive of divine nature were not available in the market. He then asked Hriday out of curiosity, “Where have you got this image from? Who has made it?” He was astonished to know from Hriday that the Master knew how to make images of deities and to set broken parts of images. He requested that the image might be given him after the worship. Hriday agreed and, with the permission of the Master, took the image when the worship was over and gave it to Mathur. When Mathur got the image, he looked at it very minutely and, being charmed with it, sent it on to the Rani to have a look at it. The Rani too highly praised the maker and expressed surprise like Mathur when she knew that the Master had made it.1 A short time previously Mathur had a desire to appoint the Master to do the temple duties. That desire became stronger now when he became acquainted with this new accomplishment of the Master. The Master had already heard from his brother of that intention of Mathur, but did not give ear to it as there was firmly fixed in his mind from childhood the idea that he “would not serve anyone but God”.

7.    The Master’s opinion on service

We heard the Master express on many occasions that opinion about taking service. The Master did not hold in high regard anybody who served another without being hard pressed by need. Once, when he knew that one2 of his boy devotees took service, he felt much pained; and was heard to say, “I feel more pained to hear that he has taken service than if I had heard of his death.” When the Master met him later and knew that he had taken service for the maintenance of his helpless old mother, he said, passing his hand affectionately over his head and body, “There is no harm in that; you are not to blame when you have taken service for that purpose; but had you done so prompted by selfishness and needlessly, not for the sake of your mother, I could not have touched you any more. So I say, my Niranjan has not the slightest ‘anjan’ (stain) in him; why should he be so low?”

All the new-comers were surprised to hear those words of the Master to Nitya-niranjan, for that was his full name, and one was cheeky enough to say, “Sir, you condemn service; but how can we maintain our families without taking to it?” The Master replied, “Let him take service who likes it; I don’t forbid all to do that. I say this only to them (pointing to Niranjan and the other boy devotees).

Their case is different.” The Master was fashioning the lives of his boy devotees in a different manner; and he, it goes without saying, gave such advice, because taking service was not consistent with the requisite spiritual attitude.

8.    The Master felt hesitant to go to Mathur, lest he should ask him to take service

When the Master knew of the intention of Mathur Babu from his brother, he tried to remain as far as possible out of his sight and avoid him, for just as he was no respecter of persons in his observance of truth and religion with his body, mind, and speech, so he always felt unwilling to pain anyone by displaying his disregard, if there were no strong reason for it. Again, it was in the Master’s nature to esteem the merits of a person of good qualities and honour a respectable man in a simple natural way, without any expectation of favours. If Mathur requested him persistently to accept the office of the priest in the temple, before he had himself arrived at a conclusion about it, he would have to refuse it and thus pain him. We clearly see that this apprehension was at the root of this action of the Master. Besides, he was then a young man of no importance and Mathur, the Rani’s right-hand man, was a very important person. Under the circumstances it would not look well and would be regarded as boyish wantonness on his part to refuse Mathur’s offer. But the more the time passed, the more pleasant did it seem to him to live at the Dakshineswar Kali temple. This mood of his was not concealed from himself, possessed as he was of inward insight. From a series of events that took place during this time, it is clear to us that he had no objection now to live at Dakshineswar, if he were allowed to live there without accepting the responsibility of any weighty duty and that his mind was not anxious now to return to his birth-place, Kamarpukur.

9.    The Master accepted the office of the priest

What the Master apprehended came to pass one day. Mathur Babu came to the temple to pay his obeisance, saw the Master at a distance and sent for him. The Master was walking with Hriday and, seeing Mathur at a distance, was moving away from there, when Mathur’s servant came and said to him, “Babu wants you.” Hriday saw the Master reluctant to go to Mathur and asked him the reason. He said, “As soon as I go there, he will ask me to remain here and take service.” Hriday said, “What is the harm in that? It is only good to be appointed to work under a great man in such a place. Why are you then reluctant?” The Master replied, “I have no mind to be tied down to service for life. Besides, if I agree to perform the worship here, I must be responsible for the ornaments on the person of the goddess; that is a difficult task; it will not be possible for me; but if you take that responsibility and stay here, I have no objection to perform the worship.”

It was really in search of employment that Hriday had come there. Therefore he gladly agreed to what the Master said. The Master then went to Mathur and, requested by him to take service in the temple, expressed his conditional assent. Mathur agreed. He appointed the Master to dress the image in the Kali temple from that day and asked Hriday to assist him and Ramkumar. Ramkumar became free from anxiety to a great extent to see his brother agreeing to do that duty at the request of Mathur.

10. The image of Govinda broke

All the events mentioned before came to pass within three months after the temple was consecrated. It was the end of A.D. 1855. The ceremonies in connection with “The Eighth Lunar Day”, the birthday of Sri Krishna, had been properly performed without let or hindrance in the temple the day before. That was the day of the Nanda festival. The special midday-worship of, and the offering of food etc. to, Radha-Govinda were over. The priest, Kshetranath took Radharani to another room and put Her to bed there. He came back and, while taking Govinda, fell down, when one leg of the image broke. There arose a great commotion in the temple over that event. Opinions of various Pandits were taken, before the broken leg of the image was set and the worship of the image was continued1 according to the Master’s advice. Having seen the Master sometimes enter into ecstasy, Mathur became eager to seek his advice regarding the substitution of the broken image. Hriday stated that the Master was in an ecstatic mood before advising Mathur and said at the end of the ecstasy that substitution was not necessary. It was not unknown to Mathur that the Master could beautifully set broken parts of images. He, therefore, had to set the leg of the image now at Mathur’s request. He did it so well that even now it cannot be known that the image ever got broken, even if one examines it very minutely.

After the image was broken, many people said many things about the fruitless worship of an image destitute of a limb; but Rani Rasmani and Mathur Babu had firm faith in the reasonable advice of the Master and did not give ear to those talks. Anyhow, the priest Kshetranath was dismissed from service for carelessness and the Master was placed in charge of the worship of Radha-Govinda since then. Hriday assisted Ramkumar in dressing the image of the Mother Kali at the time of Her worship.

11. The Master’s words to Jaynarayan about the worship of a broken image

Hriday mentioned to us another fact about the broken image on another occasion. There is the Ghat belonging to Ratan Roy; the well-known landlord of Naral, near Kutighat at Baranagar, a few miles north of Calcutta. There is a temple near that Ghat. The images of the ten Mahavidyas are installed there. Formerly there had been good arrangement for worship, offerings, etc., in that temple, but at the time we are speaking of, it was in a decaying condition. Some time after, when Mathur had come to have much devotion to, and reverence for, the Master, they both once went to see the temple. Finding the temple in straitened circumstances, the Master asked Mathur to make an arrangement for a monthly supply of two maunds of rice and a sum of two rupees, to which he readily agreed. One day, while returning after paying one of his occasional visits to the temple, the Master saw Jayanarayan Bandyopadhyaya, the well-known landlord of the place, standing with many people in the Ghat consecrated by himself. As he was known to Jayanarayan, he went to meet him. Jayanarayan saluted and welcomed him respectfully and introduced him to his companions. In the course of the conversation he raised the topic of the Kali temple of Rani-Rasmani and asked the Master, “Sir, is Govinda of that temple broken?” The Master said to him, “Ah, what a fine understanding! Can One, who is an indivisible whole, be broken?” Finding the possibility of various vain topics being raised on the question put by Jayanarayan the Master then changed the course of the talk. Introducing another topic, he advised him to give up unessential parts of everything and accept the essentials only. The intelligent Jayanarayan also took the hint from the Master and refrained from putting such vain questions.

12. The Master’s musical talents

We have heard from Hriday that the worship by the Master was an act worth witnessing. Whosoever saw it became charmed. Oh, the songs sung by the Master in his sweet voice with his heart swelling with emotions! Whoever heard those songs could never forget them. There was in them nothing of the artificiality of the so-called masters of high class music. Their only merits were the complete identification of himself with the emotion of the songs, an accurate expression of the same in a sweet voice touching the heart, and the correctness of time and cadence. Whoever heard his songs became convinced that emotion was the very life of music. Again, it was very clear to any one who heard the songs sung by the Master and compared them with those sung by others, that the emotion conveyed by songs was thwarted in the case of others, because time and cadence were not accurate. Whenever Rani Rasmani came to Dakshineswar, she sent for him and listened to his songs. She was particularly fond of the following song:

“What is Thy consideration, O Mother, that Thou standest with Thy foot on Hara’s bosom? Thou hast reached out Thy tongue of Thine own accord, as if Thou wert a very simple girl. I have understood it, O Saviour; is it Thy hereditary trait? Did Thy mother stand on Thy father’s bosom like this?”

There was another reason why the Master’s songs were so sweet. He became so much absorbed in the emotion of the song at the time of singing it that he forgot altogether that he was singing it to please anyone. We have not seen in our life anyone else singing a song and becoming so absorbed in the emotion as to lose himself completely like the Master. Even devotional singers expect a little at least of praise from their hearers. But it was in the case of the Master alone we saw that whenever anyone praised his songs, he actually felt that the praise was due to the emotion of the song and not at all to himself.

13.    The Master’s first vision during worship

Hriday used to say that while singing, the Master let fall copious tears. He became so much absorbed in worship that he could not know at all if anyone came or spoke near him The Master said that at the time of performing Anganyasa, Karanyasa,1 etc., he actually saw the letters of the Mantras in bright colours set in his body. He actually saw the Coiled Power going up in the form of a snake through the Sushumna to the Sahasrara.2 He felt that the parts of his body left behind by that power, at once became still and insensitive and dead to all appearance. Again, when according to the prescribed method of worship, he uttered the Mantra “Rang”,3 sprinkled water all round himself and imagined a wall of fire existing around the place of worship, he actually saw an impassable wall of fire with hundreds of tongues spread out, protecting the place of worship from all obstacles. Hriday said that other Brahmins, seeing his mind quite absorbed and body shining all over with a resplendent lustre, said to one another, “It is as if Vishnu Himself has assumed a human body and has sat down to worship.”

14.    Ramkumar taught the Master how to become adroit in worship, recital of scriptures, etc.

Ramkumar, the devotee of the goddess, became, to a great extent, free from anxiety about the maintenance of his relatives after he came to Dakshineswar. But he felt from time to time perturbed over another matter, for he noticed in his young brother a fondness for solitude and a queer mood of indifference to worldly affairs. He found in him a complete lack of interest in everything. Ramkumar at first thought that the boy was perhaps anxious to return to his mother at Kamarpukur and was always thinking of her. He saw the boy sitting quiet under the Panchavati or taking strolls on the bank of the Ganga away from the temple at all times, morning and evening. Or he saw him spending long hours in the jungle that existed all round the Panchavati in those days and then coming out of it. Time passed but the boy expressed no desire to return home. Ramkumar sometimes asked him about it and knew that he felt no such desire. He thereupon gave up the idea of sending him home. He thought, “I am advanced in age and am daily becoming infirm. Who knows when my lease of life will come to an end?” Under the circumstances time should not, he thought, be wasted any more. Before he passed away, it was his absolute duty to bring up the boy so that he might be able to stand on his own legs, earn a decent living and manage his worldly affairs. Therefore, Ramkumar was much pleased, when Mathur consulted him about appointing the boy to do the duties of the temple. He became free from anxiety to a great extent when, after a lapse of time, at the request of Mathur the boy accepted at first the duty of dressing up the image and afterwards that of officiating as priest, and performed those duties with ability. He now began teaching him the complete reading of the Chandi and the mode of worship of the Mother. He thought that this would make his brother an adept in conducting worship, and there would be no difficulty in the worship and service of the divine Mother if he could not on any occasion perform them. The Master soon learnt them and, knowing that it is not proper to worship the goddess without being initiated in her Mantra, he resolved to be initiated in it.

15.    The Master was initiated in the Sakti Mantra by Kenaram Bhattacharya

A proficient Sadhaka of Sakti named Kenaram Bhattacharya used, then, to live at Baithakkhana bazaar in Calcutta. He used to frequent the temple of Rani Rasmani at Dakshineswar, and it seems, he was acquainted with Mathur and all other members of the Rani’s family. We were told by Hriday that those who knew him paid him great respect as a devout Sadhaka. He had been acquainted with the Master’s brother Ramkumar for some time past. The Master resolved to be initiated by him. We are told that as soon as he was initiated, the Master entered into ecstasy. Kenaram became charmed to see his uncommon devotion and blessed him heartily so that he might realize his chosen Ideal.

16.    Ramkumar’s death

Ramkumar himself generally performed the service of Radha-Govinda at that time and employed the Master to worship the Mother Kali, either because he became unable to do so at times or because he wanted to let the Master get accustomed to the conduct of the worship. Mathur came to know of it in a short time and, with the permission of the Rani, requested Ramkumar permanently to perform the worship in the Vishnu temple thenceforward. So, the Master was now appointed to the office of the priest, and Hriday to dress the image, in the Kali temple. The reason why the arrangement of the worship was changed seems to be that Mathur thought that Ramkumar had become old and infirm and it was beyond his power to carry on the more difficult duties of the Kali temple. Ramkumar was glad to see that arrangement made and standing beside his brother in the Kali temple taught him how to perform properly that worship and service. He thus became free from anxiety. Shortly afterwards, he spoke to Mathur and had Hriday appointed to worship Radha-Govinda. He was now preparing to go home on leave for some time. But Ramkumar was never to go home again. He went on some business to a place called Syamnagar Mulajor, to the north of Calcutta, for a few days and suddenly died there. Ramkumar lived and worshipped the divine Mother for one year only after the temple of Rani Rasmani was consecrated; so, probably he passed away in the middle of A.D. 1856.


1.    Some say that this event happened at the time when the Master assumed the office of the priest and that Mathur showed it to the Rani saying, “The goddess will soon become ‘awakened’ as we have got such a competent priest.”

2.    Swami Niranjanananda.

1. For a detailed account of this event see III. 6

1.    Vide Glossary.

2.    Vide III. 2.

3.    Actual name of fire, or the sound produced by its Sakti, heard by Yogins. —Tr,


1.    The Master’s behaviour at this time

The Master was very young when his father died. He was therefore brought up from his childhood under the affectionate care of his mother Chandradevi and his eldest brother Ram kumar. Ramkumar was about thirty-one years older than the Master. Therefore he received a part of the Master’s devotion which was due to a father. It is certain that the Master was very much grieved at the sudden death of his brother who was as affectionate to him as a father. The renunciation of the world on the part of Lord Buddha, an incarnation of God, at the sight of illness, old age and death is well known. Who will say how far his brother’s death contributed to the kindling up of the fire of renunciation in the Master’s pure mind, by producing in him a firm conviction of the transitoriness of the world? Be that as it may, he applied his mind more closely to the worship of the Mother of the universe from this time on and became anxious to know whether man thirsting for Her vision became really blessed with it. We are told that at this time he used to spend his days sitting with the divine Mother in the temple at the end of the worship and becoming absorbed in Her. He became overwhelmed with, and lost himself in, the love for the Mother while he was singing for Her the songs composed by devotees like Ramprasad and Kamalakanta. He was extremely reluctant to waste a single moment in vain talk now. And when the door of the temple was closed at midday or at night, he left all company, entered the jungle round the Panchavati and spent his time in the thought and meditation of the Mother of the universe.

2.    Hriday’s anxiety at this and his resolve

These actions of the Master were not agreeable to Hriday. But what could he do? It was not unknown to him that from his childhood the Master accomplished whatever he wanted to accomplish and nobody could prevent him It was therefore of no avail to protest to him or hinder him. But Hriday could not help hinting to him his anxiety when he saw that mood growing with alarming rapidity every day. Hriday became very anxious on knowing that, instead of sleeping, he left his bed and went somewhere at night, for he would have to stand the hard labour of the divine service in the temple. Besides, the Master did not take now as much food as he once used to take. It was probable that under the circumstances, his health might break down if he did not sleep at night. So Hriday resolved to inquire about it and set things right as far as it lay in his power.

3.    The condition of the Panchavati and the place around it at that time

The land surrounding the Panchavati was not even then as it is now. It was full of pits, ditches, low lands, jungles, etc. There grew an Amalaki tree among the wild trees and plants. It was a burial ground besides being a jungle. Therefore people hardly went there even in the daytime. If they went that way at all, they never entered the jungle. So, going there at night was out of the question. No one ventured there for fear of ghosts. We have heard from Hriday that the tree grew on a low piece of land. So, anyone sitting under that tree could not be seen from the high land outside the jungle. The Master used to sit under it for meditation at night.

4.    Hriday asked, “What do you do in the jungle at night?”

One night, when the Master started for that place, Hriday followed him without his knowledge and saw him enter that jungle. He did not go farther lest the Master should be annoyed. But in order to frighten him he threw stones and some gravel so that they fell round about him for some time. Seeing that this did not bring the Master back, he could not do anything but return to his room. He asked the Master during his leisure the next day, “What do you do when you enter the jungle at night?” “There is,” replied the Master, “an Amalaki tree there. I sit under it and practise meditation. The scriptures say that anyone who meditates under an Amalaki tree, with whatever desire in his mind, gets it fulfilled.”

5.    Hriday tried to frighten the Master

As soon as the Master sat for meditation under that tree after that event, there happened from time to time various kinds of disturbances like stone-throwing, for a few days. Although he knew that it was all Hriday’s doing, the Master never mentioned it to him But Hriday could not feel at ease when he found that he could not dissuade him by that means. One day he entered the jungle with a silent step shortly after the Master had gone to the tree and saw from a distance that he had put off his cloth and the sacred thread and was sitting at ease in meditation. When he saw this, he thought, “Has uncle gone mad? It is only mad people that would do so. If he wants to meditate, let him do it by all means; but why does he throw off the only cloth he has on?”

6.    The Master said to Hriday “One must become free from all the bondages before one meditates”

Thinking so, he immediately approached him and said, “What is this? How is it that you have put off your thread and cloth and are stark naked?” When thus shouted at a few times, the Master gained his normal consciousness and heard Hriday put those questions to him. He said, “What do you know? Thus freed from all ties, one should practise meditation. From his birth man labours under ‘eight bondages’,1 of hatred, fear, shame, aversion, egoism, vanity, pride of noble descent, and obsession with formal good conduct. The sacred thread also is a ‘bondage’, for it is a sign of the egoism, ‘I am a Brahmin and superior to all.’ When one calls on Mother, one should discard these ‘bondages’ and call on Her with a concentrated mind. That is why I have put off these. I shall put them on again when I return at the end of meditation.” Hriday was aghast to hear these words which he had never heard before and unable to say anything in reply, left that place. A little while previously he had thought that he would convince his uncle of his mistake in various ways and scold him, but what he actually did was nothing of the kind.

7.    The Master practised with both his body and mind (1) how to destroy egoism due to birth, (2) how to regard alike a clod of earth, a precious stone and gold, and (3) how to have the knowledge that Siva is in all Jivas

It is good to state one fact here in connection with the event mentioned above, for if that is known, we shall be able to understand many of the events that followed in the Master’s life. The Master could not, we saw, rest assured that by discarding the eight bondages only mentally, he could be freed from them; he renounced them physically also as far as possible. We see him behaving similarly with regard to all other matters in later life. Take for example the following facts:

In order to destroy vanity born of noble descent and thereby acquire true humility, he cleaned very carefully with his hands the place which is absolutely shunned as unclean by others.

If the human mind could not regard alike a clod of earth, a stone and gold, that is, if it could not regard metals like gold and precious stones to be as worthless as a clod of earth, it could not, he was told, free itself from the desire of enjoying bodily pleasures, completely turn towards God and fix itself in Yoga. As soon as he heard this, the Master took in his hand a few coins and clods of earth and threw them into the Ganga, repeating over and over again, “rupee—earth, earth—rupee”.

In order to make firm his knowledge that Siva (God) is in all Jivas (creatures), he ate and put on his head, as Prasada, a little of the leavings from the leaf-plates of the poor people after they had been fed at the Kali temple. Afterwards, he carried those leaves on his head to the bank of the Ganga, took a broom and swept and washed the place clean with his own hands. He felt happy to think that a little of the service of God had been performed with the help of that mortal body of his.

8.    The sequence of the Master’s renunciation

Many similar events may be mentioned. It is seen in all these cases that he did not rest satisfied with mere mental renouncing of the obstacles on the path to the realization of God, but discarded them at first in their gross forms also. In other words, he kept his body and senses away from them as far as possible, and compelled them forcibly to act contrary to their natural inclinations. It is seen that acting thus his mind had all its past impressions destroyed completely and it grasped the new contrary ones so firmly that it could not act against them He did not admit that new ideas had properly been grasped and contrary ones given up, till at least a little of the former had been converted into practice with the help of the body and the senses.

9.    An objection that this method of Sadhana is a fancied one, and its refutation

Wholly averse to giving up past impressions, we think that there was no need of such actions on the part of the Master. In the course of discussing such actions of his, some have that this method gone to the length of saying, “His actions such as cleaning dirty abominable places, throwing into the Ganga the coins and the clods of earth repeating ‘rupee—earth, earth—rupee’, seem to be whims of his fancy. The mental development that he obtained through those extraordinary means could be obtained more quickly through far easier ones.” In reply we have to say: It all sounds very well. But how many people up till now have been able to become completely averse to sights, tastes and other worldly objects and have devoted their whole minds to God by adopting your so-called easier means of mentally giving up sensuous objects, without having recourse to external practices? It can never be. One cannot succeed in any great undertaking, let alone the realization of God, when one’s mind has one idea and moves in a particular direction while the body acts contrary to that idea and moves in a different direction. But, eagerly longing for the enjoyments of sight, taste, etc., man does not realize the truth of this statement. Under the control of past impressions, he does not try to give up with his body and senses any of their objects, even when he realizes that it is good to renounce it, but goes on thinking, “Let the body do as it will, but let the mind soar high.” Eager to have Yoga and Bhoga simultaneously, he deceives himself, for, like light and darkness, these two things can never coexist. No one has so far been able to discover an easy method in the spiritual world through which God and the world of lust and gold, can be served at the same time.1 Therefore the scriptures repeatedly teach us, “Whatever ought to be given up, has to be given up with body, mind and speech, and whatever ought to be accepted, has to be accepted similarly. Then and then only will the aspirant be fit to realize God.” That is why the sages say, “Man can never have the realization of the Self with the help of knowledge, unaided by practice and without putting on emblems,2 which give rise to spiritual attitudes.” It is also reasonable to believe that the human mind reaches the subtle state from the gross, and the causal from the subtle. “There is no other path to the realization of the supreme goal.”3

10. The manner in which the Master performed worship etc., at this time

We have said before that the Master applied his mind more closely, to the worship of the divine Mother after the death of his eldest brother. With faith in his heart he was now eagerly doing whatever he knew to be favourable to the attainment of Her vision. We were told by the Master himself that he regarded as an auxiliary to his daily worship the singing for the goddess of the songs composed by perfected devotees like Ramprasad. His mind was filled with zeal when he sang those songs with his heart full of profound spiritual emotion. He thought, “Devotees like Ramprasad had the vision of the Mother. So it is certain that the Mother of the universe is realizable; why can I not then be blessed with Her vision?” He used to say with an eager heart, “Thou showed Thyself to Ramprasad, Mother, why then shouldst Thou not reveal Thyself to me? I don’t want wealth, friends, relatives, enjoyment of pleasure, and the like. Do show Thyself to me.” He would pray and cry this way, while his bosom was flooded with streams of tears from his eyes, and the heaviness of his heart lessened a little. Urged by a fond hope, he would be somewhat reassured like a child and become ready to please the goddess by singing for Her again. He thus went on spending his days in worship, meditation, and the singing of devotional songs. His love and longing for Her increased daily.

Thus the wonderful worshipper’s scheduled period of time for performing the worship and service of the goddess went on increasing day by day. He sat for worship and, placing a flower on his head according to scriptural injunction, perhaps remained motionless like the trunk of a tree meditating for two long hours. After offering cooked food and other things to the Mother, he perhaps spent a long time thinking that She was taking them. Again, perhaps he spent a long time every morning in decorating the Goddess with garlands made of flowers plucked with his own hands. Or he remained engaged for a very long time in performing the evening Arati with a heart filled with loving devotion. Again, singing for the Mother of the universe in the afternoon, or at the end of the Arati, he sometimes became so much absorbed in and overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, that he could be made to perform the Arati or the evening services of food offering, etc., only when he had been reminded again and again that it was getting late for those services. The worship continued thus for a time.

11.    What Mathur and others thought of the Master’s worship and other actions at this time

It is clear that the attention of the people of the temple was drawn towards the Master when they saw such devotion, eagerness and spiritual steadfastness on his part. People at first deride and ridicule a person who is seen to give up the path generally followed by them and conducts himself or does something, in a novel way. But with the passage of time and as the person goes firmly forward on his path, their attitude changes and reverence takes its place. The Master’s case was no exception to this rule. Scarcely had he performed the worship this way for some time, when he became the object of many people’s derision. Sometime later some people began to revere him It is said that Mathur saw the Master’s worship etc., at this time and said with delight to Rani Rasmani, “We have got an extraordinary worshipper; the Goddess will be awakened very soon.” The Master never deviated from his own course on account of the opinions of the people. Like a river flowing to the sea, his mind was from now on progressing incessantly towards the holy feet of the divine Mother of the universe.

12.    The changes that appeared in the Master’s personality on account of his increasing love of God

As days went by, the devotion and eagerness of the Master increased more and more. And the course of his mind pointing incessantly in one direction began to manifest itself in various symptoms in his body. The amount of his food and sleep decreased. As the blood in his body was always moving speedily to his chest and brain, his chest appeared constantly reddish and his eyes became sometimes suddenly filled with tears. He felt a great eagerness for the realization of the Divine, and there existed in his mind an incessant anxiety, as to what he should do and how he could have Her vision. Therefore there was seen in his body a state of restlessness and a lack of tranquillity at all times other than those of meditation, worship, etc.

We were told by the Master himself, that one day at that time, he was singing for the divine Mother and very eagerly prayed and wept to have Her vision. He prayed to Her saying, “Dost Thou not, O Mother, hear even a little of so many prayers I say to Thee? Thou didst show Thyself to Ramprasad. Why shouldst Thou not then reveal Thyself to me?”

13.    The description of the Master’s attainment of the first vision of the universal Mother. The Master’s yearning at that time

He used to say, “There was then an intolerable anguish in my heart because I could not have Her vision. Just as a man wrings a towel forcibly to squeeze out all the water from it, I felt as if somebody caught hold of my heart and mind and was doing so with them. Greatly afflicted with the thought that I might never have Mother’s vision, I was dying of despair. Being in an agony I thought that there was then no use in living this life. My eyes suddenly fell upon the sword that was there in the Mother’s temple. I made up my mind to put an end to my life with it that very moment. Like one mad, I ran and caught hold of it, when suddenly I had the wonderful vision of the Mother, and fell down unconscious. I did not know what happened then in the external world—how that day and the next slipped away. But, in my heart of hearts, there was flowing a current of intense bliss, never experienced before, and

I had the immediate knowledge of the Light that was Mother.”

On another occasion the Master described to us in detail his wonderful vision spoken of before. He said, “It was as if houses, doors, temples and all other things vanished altogether; as if there was nothing anywhere! And what I saw was a boundless infinite conscious sea of light! However far and in whatever direction I looked, I found a contiuous succession of effulgent waves coming forward, raging and storming from all sides with a great speed. Very soon they fell on me and made me sink to the unknown bottom. I panted, struggled, and fell unconscious.” The Master told us that at the time of his first vision he saw a conscious sea of light. But what about the divine Mother’s form consisting of pure consciousness only — the form of Hers with hands that give boons and freedom from fear? Did the Master then have the vision of that form also in that sea of light? It appears that he had, for as soon as he had the slightest consciousness at the time of his first vision, he, we are told, uttered repeatedly the word “Mother” in a plaintive voice.

When that vision came to an end, there arose in the heart of the Master an eager, incessant cry of lamentation for a constant immediate vision of the divine Mother’s form, consisting of consciousness only. Although it was not always manifested in external symptoms like weeping, etc., it always existed in his heart. Sometimes it increased so much that, unable to suppress it, he fell on the ground and struggled in pain. He wept so much, saying, “Bestow Thy grace on me Mother, show Thyself to me,” that people gathered all round him! Even a shade of a concern for what they would think of such restlessness did not arise in his mind at that time. He used to say, “Although people stood all round, they appeared unreal like shadows or pictures painted on canvas, and the slightest sense of shame or hesitation did not touch the mind on that account. But immediately after I lost consciousness on account of unbearable anguish, I saw that form of the Mother with hands that give boons and freedom from fear —the form that smiled, spoke and consoled and taught me in endless ways!”


1. Vide Glossary.

1.    Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. The Holy Bible. Math. VI. 24.

2.    Tapasovapyalingat.— Mundaka Upanishad, 3. 2. 4.

3.    Svetasvatara Upanishad, 6. 15.


1.    The state after the first vision

The Master became quite unfit for all work for some days on account of the bliss arising from the vision of the Mother. It became impossible for him to perform regularly the worship and other duties of the temple. Hriday somehow managed them with the help of another Brahmin and applied his mind to arranging for some treatment for his uncle, thinking that he was afflicted with insanity. He had become somehow acquainted with a physician of the princely house of Bhukailas, under whose treatment he placed the Master now; and knowing that there was no possibility of a speedy recovery, he sent word to his mother and brother at Kamarpukur.

2.    The Master’s physical sensations and mental perceptions at this time. His visions

The Master proceeded to perform the worship on the days on which he did not become altogether restless or devoid of consciousness on account of the overwhelming eagerness for God-vision. He told us sometimes a little of the thoughts and experiences at the time of his worship and meditation in those days. He said, “I used to show to my mind the image of Bhairava in meditation on the parapet of the roof of the music-hall and say to it, ‘You must be firm and motionless like it and meditate on Mother’s Lotus Feet.’ No sooner had I sat down for meditation than I heard clattering sounds produced in the joints of my body and limbs from the direction of the legs upwards; and they got locked one after another as if some one from within turned the keys. As long as I meditated, I had no power to move my body and change my posture even slightly or give up meditation and go elsewhere or do anything else at will. I was, as it were, forcibly made to sit in the same posture, as long as the joints did not make clattering sounds as before and were unlocked, this time from the direction of the head to the legs. When I sat and meditated I had, in the beginning, the vision of particles of light like groups of fire-flies; I saw sometimes all quarters covered with masses of mist-like light; and at other times I perceived that all things were pervaded by bright waves of light like molten silver. I saw these things sometimes with my eyes shut and sometimes with my eyes open. I did not understand what I saw nor did I know whether it was good or bad to have such visions. I therefore prayed to Mother with a troubled heart, ‘I don’t understand, Mother, what is happening to me; I don’t know Mantras etc., by which to call Thee; please teach me personally what may enable me to realize Thee. Mother, if Thou dost not teach me, who else will? For, there is no refuge for me except Thee.’ I used to pray thus with a concentrated mind and weep piteously on account of the eagerness of my heart.”

3.    What changes were produced in all his actions and ideas by the first vision

The Master’s worship, meditation, etc., underwent novel changes. It is difficult to explain to others that wonderful state of complete absorption in Her. There were in that state childlike sincerity, faith, dependence and sweetness only, with the divine Mother for their stay and support. The seriousness of an adult, the personal efforts for the observance of injunctions and prohibitions according to time, place and person, the conducting of oneself with forethought for conforming to both worldliness and godliness — none of these were to be seen in that attitude of his. Whenever one saw him, one thought that he had merged his little will and the little ego, in the will of Her who was the source of all wills, and did everything as if he was completely an instrument in Her hand, praying in his heart of hearts, “Mother, my only refuge, kindly make me, Thy boy, say and do what I should.” As there arose, naturally under these circumstances, a great difference between the faith and actions of worldly people and his own conduct and behaviour, various people began to say various things, at first in whispers and later in loud gossip. But all these mattered little to him, for the boy of the divine Mother was now moving and doing everything by Her direction. The vain clamour of the world did not reach his ears at all. Although in the world, he was not of it. The external world was now transformed for him into a dream world. Now he could not attribute reality to it in spite of efforts. The universal Mother’s form, consisting of pure consciousness and bliss, was now known to him as the only reality.

4.    The difference between the previous worship, vision, etc., of the Master and those of this time

Previously, on some occasions at the time of worship and meditation, the Master used to see a hand of the divine Mother or a foot, bright and delicate, or Her sweet, affectionate and smiling face, supremely beautiful. Now he saw, even at times other than those of worship and meditation, the full figure of the effulgent Mother, smiling and speaking, guiding and accompanying him and saying, “Do this, don’t do that.”

Formerly when he offered cooked food etc., to the Mother, he used to see an extraordinary ray of light coming out beaming from Her eyes, touching all the offered articles, taking their essential parts and withdrawing itself again into Her eyes. Now he saw that even before the offering was made, the same Mother in Her very person, sat down to take the offerings illumining the temple with the effulgence of Her holy presence. One day Hriday came suddenly at the time of the worship and saw that the Master had taken in his hands an Arghya consisting of china-roses and Vilva leaves, which he was going to offer at the lotus feet of the divine Mother. He was absorbed in thinking of Her, when he cried out suddenly saying, “Wait, wait. Let me utter the Mantra first; and then Thou mayst take it.” He then offered the food ritually before finishing the worship.

Previously, at the time of worship and meditation, he saw that there appeared a wonderful living Presence in the stone image before him. Now he did not see that image at all when he entered the temple; but saw instead, standing there, the living Mother Herself, all consciousness, and with hands that offered boons and freedom from fear. The Master said, “I put the palm of my hand near Her nostrils and felt that Mother was actually breathing. I observed very closely, but I could never see the shadow of the Mother’s divine person on the temple wall in the light of the lamp at night. I heard from my room Mother, merry like a little girl, going upstairs, Her anklets making jingling sounds. I came out to verify and found that She, with Her hair dishevelled, was actually standing on the verandah of the first floor of the temple and was now viewing Calcutta, now the Ganga.”

5.    What Hriday said about the Master’s worship, meditation, etc., at this time

“One now felt”, said Hriday, “awe-struck when one entered the Kali temple even when the Master was not there, let alone when he was. Yet I could not give up the temptation of seeing how the Master

behaved during the time of worship. What I saw, when I suddenly came there on many occasions, filled my heart with awe and devotion. But doubt arose when I came out. I thought, ‘Has uncle really gone mad? Otherwise why does he do such forbidden acts at the time of worship?’ I felt apprehensive about what the Rani and Mathur Babu would think and say when they came to know of it. But such thoughts never crossed uncle’s mind, nor did he give ear to what I told him of them Again, I could not venture now to speak to him much; an indescribable fear and hesitation came and pressed my mouth, I knew not why. I felt an indefinable distance between him and me for some unknown reason. Having no other alternative left, I served him silently as far as I could. But I felt apprehensive lest he should cause a scene some day.”

Hriday gave us the following account of the Master’s actions which, when he entered the temple suddenly at the time of worship, filled his heart at once with awe, fear and devotion. He said:

“I saw uncle prepare an Arghya consisting of china-roses and Vilva leaves, touch his head, his bosom, all his limbs, and even his own feet with it and at last offer it at the lotus feet of the Mother of the universe. ...

“I saw his bosom and eyes always reddish like those of a drunkard. Reeling in that condition, he left the worshipper’s seat, and ascending the altar caressed the divine Mother by affectionately touching Her chin and began singing, laughing, joking, and conversing with Her; or, sometimes, he caught hold of Her hands and danced. ...

“I saw that he, while offering cooked food etc., to the divine Mother, got up suddenly, took in his hand a morsel of rice and curry from the plate, touched the divine Mother’s mouth with it and said, ‘Mother, eat it, do eat it, Mother.’ Afterwards perhaps he said, ‘Dost Thou ask me to take it? Wilt Thou take it afterwards? Very well, I am taking it now.’ Saying this, he took a part of it himself and putting the rest to Her mouth again, said, ‘I have taken it. Thyself eat it now.’ One day I found that at the time of the food-offering the Master saw a cat enter the temple mewing. He fed it with the food that was to be offered to the divine Mother saying, “Wilt Thou take it, Mother?’ ...

“I saw him on some occasions at night put the Mother to bed and himself lie on Her silver bedstead for some time, saying, ‘Dost Thou ask me to lie down? All right, I am doing so.’ ...

“I saw again, that he sat to worship and became so much absorbed in meditation that he had not the slightest consciousness of the external world for a long time. ...

“Uncle rose from his bed very early in the morning and collected flowers in order to make garlands for Mother Kali. At that time too it seemed to me that there was some one there whom he caressed, and with whom he spoke, laughed, joked and made merry and played the importunate child. ...

“I saw further that uncle had not a wink of sleep at night. When ever I awoke, I found that, overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, he was speaking or singing; or sometimes went to the Panchavati and was merged in meditation.”

6. A discussion by the Cashier and other officers, of the temple on the Master’s love inspired worship. They sent word to Mathur Babu

Hriday used to say that, although he was apprehensive regarding the Master’s behaviour, he could not express his apprehensions to anybody for purposes of consultation. For, that man might pass it on to the high officers of the temple and they might do harm to his uncle by poisoning the ears of the proprietors. But how could things be suppressed when every day, nay, every moment, such queer events were taking place? Some worshippers who came to the Kali temple at the time of worship, saw everything with their own eyes and complained to the cashier and other officers. The latter heard it, came to the Kali temple and saw it all. But when they saw Sri Ramakrishna’s excited, formidable visage, as of one possessed by a power, his unhesitating behaviour and his fearlessness and absentmindedness, they shrank with an indefinable fear from mentioning anything to him or from forbidding him to do what he was doing. They consulted one another when they returned to the office of the temple. They concluded that the Bhattacharya had gone mad or was possessed by a ghost; no one could otherwise behave in such an unscriptural way at the time of worship; in any case, the worship, the food-offering and other services of the Goddess were, as a matter of fact, not being performed; the Bhattacharya had spoilt everything. They could not but send word to the proprietors.

Word was sent to Mathur at Janbazar. He wrote back in reply that he would personally observe things soon and do what was proper. He asked them to let the Bhattacharya perform worship and other services in his own way and not to obstruct him till he came. They received the letter from Mathur and were anxiously waiting for him to come. They were busy talking among themselves, “The Bhattacharya is sure to be dismissed this time; as soon as the Babu comes, he will expel him Giving offence to the gods! How long will they put up with it?” and so on.

7. Mathur came to see the Master’s worship. His impression of it

One day Mathur came suddenly at the time of worship, without any one’s knowledge, entered the Kali temple and observed minutely the Master’s actions for a long time. But being filled with spiritual emotions, the Master did not notice him at all. Every day he used to merge himself in the presence of the Mother at the time of worship, unconscious of the coming of any one. This state was the first thing that Mathur noticed on entering the temple. He could also discern when later he saw his importunate boyish requests to Her, that it was all born of his single-minded devotion to, and love of, the divine Mother. What else could, he thought, bring about the realization of the Mother, if such sincere devotion could not? His heart became filled with an extraordinary bliss when he saw that streams of tears sometimes trickled down the Bhattacharya’s eyes during worship, that he felt sometimes a sincere unbounded joy, and that he was at other times, motionless, destitute of consciousness of the external world and inattentive to surrounding objects. Mathur felt that the holy temple was actually filled with an intense manifestation of palpable divine presence. He had now the firm conviction that the Bhattacharya had really become blessed by having the grace of the universal Mother. With his eyes filled with tears and heart purified by devotion, he then saluted over and over again the divine Mother and Her extraordinary worshipper from a distance, saying, “The installation of the Devi has answered its purpose at long last. It may be said that the Devi has truly been installed now and the real worship of the Mother has been performed.” He returned home without telling the officers anything. The next day the chief officer of the temple got from him the order: “Do not obstruct the Bhattacharya in his worship, in whatever manner he might perform it.”1

8. The Master attained Ragatmika Bhakti through intense love of God—The result of that Bhakti

On hearing of the series of events mentioned above, the reader who is well versed in the scriptures, will easily understand that at this time there had come a great change in the Master’s mind. It passed beyond the prescribed limit of the devotion enjoined by the scriptures and took a speedy course along the exalted path of pure devotional love. But this change came in such a simple natural way that even Sri Ramakrishna himself could not understand it clearly, let alone others. The only thing he understood was that, urged by his love for the divine Mother, he could not but behave that way, as if he was forced to do so. This is why we see him think sometimes, “What is happening to me? Am I on the right track?” He, therefore, eagerly said to the divine Mother, “I don’t know and don’t understand, Mother, what these things are that are happening to me; please make me do what I am to do, teach me what Thou wantest me to learn and reveal Thyself to me. Continue always to hold me by the hand.” He made his mind turn away from lust, gold, honour, fame, and all other powers and enjoyments of the world and said those words imploringly from the bottom of his heart to the divine Mother. The Mother of the universe, on Her part, held him by the hand, protected him under all circumstances and fulfilled his prayer. Unasked, She brought him, whenever necessary, all those things and all those persons that were required for the growth and perfection of his life as an aspirant and made him reach easily and naturally the ultimate goal of pure knowledge and pure devotion. The divine Lord has promised to His devotees through the Gita1: “To those of undivided minds who worship and always remain united with Me, and who place their whole minds in Me and do not think even of their food and movements necessary for life, I bring, even unasked, all the things they require.” The more we study the life of the Master at this time, the more shall we be surprised and astounded to understand how literally that promise in the Gita was fulfilled in his life. It became necessary to prove clearly again the truth of that promise of the divine Lord in this selfish modern age, which has lust for sex and silver as its only motive. Although Sadhakas have been teaching men from age to age to “give up all to have all” that is, the Sadhaka will not suffer from the lack of anything if he renounces everything for the divine Lord, weak-minded men, entangled in worldly objects, could not believe in the promise without seeing it fulfilled in the modern age again. Therefore, the Mother of the universe enacted this wonderful play with the Master, who had a completely undivided mind, in order to show man the truth of that saying of the scripture. Listen to this, O man, with a pure heart and advance on the path of renunciation according to your capacity.

9. The body and the mind of incarnations only, the Master said, could contain the full onrush of Ragatmika Bhakti

The Master used to say that when the powerful flood of divine moods comes into human life unexpectedly, it cannot be suppressed or concealed by thousands of efforts. That is not all; the gross, inert body very often fails to contain that powerful onrush of divine emotion into the mind and is completely shattered. Many Sadhakas meet with death that way. A fit body is necessary to contain the abounding surge of emotions born of perfect knowledge or perfect devotion. It is only the bodies of great souls known as incarnations of God that have uptill now been seen always to bear its full force and continue to live in the world. This is why the devotional scriptures describe them again and again as possessed of bodies consisting of pure Sattva. The incarnations, they say, can bear the full impulse of spiritual emotions, only because they come down to the world with bodies made of the element of pure Sattva, devoid of all contact with Rajas or Tamas. Even in spite of their having such bodies, they, particularly the incarnations treading the path of devotion, are seen, on many occasions, to be afflicted and overwhelmed with the powerful stress of divine moods. It is indubitable from the accounts we have received that the joints in the Bodies of Lord Jesus and Sri Chaitanya relaxed and drops of blood like perspiration oozed out through every pore in their bodies owing to the powerful surge of spiritual emotions. No doubt, these physical changes were felt to be extremely painful, yet it was only through them that their bodies got adapted to contain those extraordinary mental surgings. When afterwards the bearing of that impulse became easy and natural for their bodies, those changes also, it was noticed, were not always seen in them as before.

10. The physical changes in the Master due to the impulse of that devotion and consequent pain, such as, the burning sensation in his body, (1) when the Papa-purusha was burnt, (2) during his pang of separation after his first vision of the Mother, and (3) during the sadhana of the Madhura-Bhava

From now on, a series of extraordinary changes came over the Master’s body because of the surge of the devotional love. We have already made mention of the burning changes sensation in his body from the beginning of his Sadhana. He had to suffer on many occasions from its excess. The Master himself pointed out its cause to us on various occasions. “At the time of performing Sandhya and worship,” said the Master, “I used to think, according to scriptural prescription, that the Papapurusha within had been burnt up. Who knew then that there was actually a Papapurusha within the body and that it could be actually burnt and destroyed? A burning sensation came on the body from the beginning of the Sadhana. I thought, ‘What is this disease?’ It increased by degrees and became unbearable. Various kinds of oils prescribed by physicians were used; but it could by no means be alleviated. One day, while I was sitting under the Panchavati, I saw that a jet-black person with red eyes and a hideous appearance came reeling, as if drunk, out of this (showing his own body) and walked before me. I saw again another person of placid mien, in ochre-coloured dress with a trident in his hand similarly come out from the body, vehemently attack the other and kill him The burning sensation in the body decreased for a short time after I had that vision. I suffered from that burning sensation continually for six months before the Papa-purusha was burnt up.”

We were told by the Master that a similar sensation came on him again, a short time after the burning up of the Papa-purusha. The Master had then gone beyond the limits of the devotion enjoined by the scriptures and became engaged in the worship and other services of the divine Mother with Ragatmika devotion, in the manner spoken of before. That burning sensation gradually increased so much that he could not find relief even though he placed a wet towel on his head and kept his body immersed in the waters of the Ganga for three or four hours. We shall describe elsewhere1 the easy means by which the Brahmani, when she came later, cured it and pointed out that the said sensation owed its origin to his longing for the full vision of the divine Lord and his pang of separation from Him. The Master suffered again from that burning sensation in his body later at the time of practising the Madhura-bhava, the “sweet mood as of the spouse of God”. Hriday said, “The Master then suffered from a pain and a burning sensation similar to that felt by one when a potful of live embers is placed within one’s breast. He suffered long from that sensation, which came on him from time to time. A few years after his Sadhana came to an end, he became acquainted with Kanailal Ghosal, a lawyer of Barasat, who was an advanced Sadhaka of Sakti. He advised the Master to put on his person an amulet encasing the Mantra of his chosen Ideal. That sensation came to an end when the amulet was put on.”

11.    The Rani thought of worldly objects at the time of worship. The Master punished her

Mathur went back to Janbazar and told the Rani of the extraordinary worship performed by the Master. The devout Rani was delighted to hear of it. She used to come to the Dakshineswar temple, listen to the songs sung by the Bhattacharya and had already grown affectionate towards him. On the occasion when the image of Govinda broke, she was astonished to know of his intelligence purified by devotion.2 It did not therefore take her long to understand that it was possible for a heart like that of the Master to have the grace of the universal Mother. But an event occurred shortly afterwards, which made it very likely that the Rani and Mathur would waver in that faith. One day the Rani went to the temple to worship and to pay her obeisance to the divine Mother. But as she was engaged in these services, she was eagerly thinking of the possible success or failure in a law-suit regarding her worldly affairs, instead of being absorbed in her worship. The Master was then sitting there and singing songs for her at her request. The Master, who was in ecstasy, understood that state of her mind and taught her to abstain from worldly thoughts in the presence of the divine Mother, by striking her tender person, saying, “That thought even here!” The Rani, a spiritual aspirant fit to have the grace of the universal Mother, detected the weakness of her mind and became repentant. Her devotion to the Master increased a great deal on account of this event. We shall mention all these things in detail elsewhere.1

12.    With the development of devotion, the Master’s external worship dropped off. His predicament at this time

A short while after this, the Master’s devotion and exaltation due to bliss increased so much by virtue of enjoying the divine Mother’s constant company that the performance of the daily and special occasional services of the goddess was by no means possible for him. The Master used to give an example of how, with advancement in the spiritual state, the actions enjoined by the scriptures drop off by themselves. He said, “The mother-in-law allows her daughter-in-law to eat all kinds of food and do all manner of work till she conceives; but, as soon as she is with child, a little discrimination about food and work begins. Later, as she is in an advanced stage, her work gets extremely limited. When gradually she approaches parturition, she is not given any work at all, lest harm should befall the embryo. And, when at last the baby is born, her days are spent only in caressing it.” Similarly the Master’s renunciation of external worship and of the services of the divine Mother took place naturally. The Master was now no more conscious of the proper time for worship and other services. Always beside himself in spiritual moods, he served the universal Mother whensoever and howsoever he liked. For instance, he sometimes offered food before performing the worship; or, absorbed in meditation he forgot completely the idea of his separate existence from Her and decorated his own person with the flowers, sandal-paste, etc., brought for the worship of the goddess. We were told by the Master himself that on many occasions his actions assumed this form by virtue of his constant vision of the divine Mother inside and outside. And we were further told that, if that mood of his losing himself in Her decreased a little and if he was prevented from seeing the Mother even for a short time, such an overwhelming restlessness came on him that he threw himself violently on the ground, rubbing his face against it and filling the quarters with vehement wailings. He struggled for life and his breath was about to stop. He could take no notice of the fact that his whole body was getting cut and bruised and covered with blood. He was equally unaware whether he stumbled on fire or into water. Immediately afterwards, when he got the vision of the Mother, that mental attitude of his vanished, and his face beamed wonderfully with joy, and he became a different person, so to say.

13. What Hriday said about the Master’s giving up worship. Mathur’s doubt about the Master’s condition at that time

Mathur got the temple worship conducted somehow through the Master till the latter reached the state described above. But, finding that it was impossible to manage the worship that way now, he resolved to make some other arrangement. Hriday said, “There was a special reason for that resolve of Mathur’s. One day the Master suddenly got up from the worshipper’s seat in a state of ecstasy and saw Mathur Babu and me in the temple. He then took hold of me by the hand, made me sit on that seat and said to Mathur, ‘Hriday will perform the worship from today. Mother says, she will accept his worship in the same manner as mine’, and the devout Mathur accepted, those words of the Master as the command of the Mother.” We cannot say how far Hriday’s words are true; but Mathur knew well that it was impossible for the Master to perform worship and other services daily, in that condition of his.

14. Treatment of the Master by Gangaprasad Sen

We have already said that Mathur’s mind was attracted towards the Master from the day when he first saw him Since then he tried to remove all inconveniences and to keep him at Dakshineswar. Gradually afterwards, the more he became acquainted with the Master’s extraordinary noble qualities, the more, was charmed by them; and he used to serve the Master according to his needs, viewed him with an affectionate eye and always protected him against unreasonable oppression of others. Here is an instance: Mathur made arrangements for him to have a daily drink of the syrup of candy, as he knew that the humour of wind was strong in his body; conscious that the Master might possibly be interfered with when he was employed in the worship born of Ragatmika devotion, Mathur protected him against all attacks. We have elsewhere1 mentioned a few other examples of this nature. But it seems to us probable that he had doubts in his mind about the Master’s condition from the day he struck Rani Rasmani by way of teaching her. He concluded that the Master was suffering from insanity. Unable to realize the advanced state of the Master, the worldly-minded Mathur, it seems, inferred that there was in him a combination of spirituality and insanity, for he arranged at that time for the Master’s treatment under Gangaprasad Sen, the well-known Ayurvedic physician of Calcutta.

Thinking that the Master had a physical disease, Mathur not only made all arrangements for his treatment, but also tried to comfort him by giving reasons and arguments, so that he might control his mind and proceed with his spiritual practices. We have described for the reader elsewhere,2 how all these reasons and arguments of Mathur proved vain and how he was proved wrong by the Master, when he saw that two china-roses, one red and the other white, blossomed together in the same twig of a red china-rose plant.

Knowing that it was impossible for the Master to perform the fixed daily service of the Goddess in the temple, Mathur made another arrangement for it. He appointed Ramtarak Chattopadhyaya, the Master’s cousin, who had come to the temple in search of a job, to worship the Goddess until the Master came round. These events came to pass in the year 1858.

15. Haladhari came to Dakshineswar

The Master used to call Ramtarak, Haladhari. The Master told us many things about him on many occasions. Haladhari was a good scholar and Sadhaka, who was devoted to rites and practices according to the scripture. He had proficiency in the Bhagavata, the Adhyatma-Ramayana and other books, and read them daily. Although he had greater love for Vishnu than for the Devi he had no aversion to the latter. Therefore, though a devotee of Vishnu, he did not feel any hesitation in taking charge of the worship of the divine Mother at the request of Mathur. But before Haladhari took that charge, Mathur made an arrangement, at his request, for supplying him with raw foodstuffs, so that he might cook for himself. We are told that Mathur had at first objected to it and asked, “Why? Do not Ramakrishna, your cousin, and Hriday, your nephew, take Prasada in the temple?” The intelligent Haladhari replied, “My cousin is in an exalted spiritual state. Blemishes will not accrue to him any way. I am not in that state; it will therefore be reprehensible for me to break my principle regarding food.” Mathur was pleased to hear his words. Haladhari took raw provisions and daily cooked them for himself under the Panchavati.

Although Haladhari had no aversion to Sakti, he was not disposed to offer animal sacrifice to the Goddess. As it was the rule in the temple to offer animal sacrifice to the divine Mother at the time of festivals, he could not perform the worship at those times with joy and zeal. He performed the worship for about a month when, while performing his Sandhya one day, he, it is said, saw the Goddess assume a terrible form and say to him, “Get up and go away from here. You shall not perform the worship; Your son shall die on account of the offence of your irreverent worship.” It is said that he received the news of his son’s death a few days after this event. He said everything about this from the beginning to the end to the Master, and from then ceased to worship the Goddess. Therefore, since then Hriday began to perform the worship of Kali and Haladhari conducted the worship of Radha-Govinda. We heard of this event from Hriday’s brother, Rajaram.


1. III. 6.

1. Gita, IX.22.

2. III. 5.6.

1. III. 5.



1.    The ascertainment of the time of Sadhana

When we study the period of the Master’s Sadhana, we must first of all remember what he himself told us about it. It will not then be difficult to ascertain its date. The reader has already been told that we have heard from him that he was engaged in the disciplines of various faiths and doctrines for twelve long years continually. It is ascertained from the deed of gift executed by Rani Rasmani, regarding the temple endowment, that the Kali temple at Dakshineswar was consecrated on Thursday, May 31, 1855. At the end of the same year the Master assumed the office of the priest. It is therefore perfectly certain that the period of his Sadhana extends practically from 1856 to 1867. But, although this period is clearly ascertained as the period of his Sadhana, we shall see that he went on a pilgrimage to some holy places at the end of the period and engaged himself in Sadhana there and again at Dakshineswar after his return.

2.    Three main divisions of this period

We proceed to divide this period of twelve years into three divisions, each of which we are to study separately —first, the four years from 1856 to 1859, the main events of which period we have already studied; secondly, the same number of years from 1860 to 1863 when, under the instruction of the Brahmani, he went through, according to the scriptural injunctions, all the disciplines prescribed in the sixty-four main Tantras; and thirdly, an equal period from 1864 to 1867, during which he was initiated in the Mantra of Rama by the monk of the Ramawat denomination, named Jatadhari, and got the image of Ramalala; and again he was engaged in Sadhana in a woman’s apparel during this period for six months in order to realize the spiritual attitude of a female friend of God; spoken of in the Vaishnava books; he also received at this time the Vedic Mahavakya from Totapuri and ascended the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness; and at last he was taught the religion of Islam by Govinda.1 During the period of these twelve years, he practised the discipline of the Sakhya-Bhava according to the Vaishnava scriptures and came in contact with the secondary Vaishnava denominations of Kartabhaja, Navarasika, etc. That he was closely acquainted with these denominations is very clear from the fact that Vaishnavacharan Goswami and other Sadhakas following these faiths came to the Master for spiritual help. If we divide the period of his Sadhana into the three divisions mentioned above and consider the matter deeply, we shall find that there is a clear difference of kind between the Sadhanas of the first division and those of the other two.

3.    A recapitulation of the Master’s mental states—visions, etc., during the first four years of his Sadhana

We see that the only external help he got at the beginning of his Sadhana was the initiation he had from Sri Kenaram Bhattacharya. He straightway proceeded to practise that discipline. The extreme eagerness of his heart for the realization of God was his main support during that period. This eagerness became gradually stronger and stronger, shattered his body and mind in a short time and recast them into an unexpected new mould. Besides, it produced in him a great love for his chosen Ideal and made him pass beyond the firm steel-frame of the rules and regulations of ritualistic devotion, led him forward on the path of Ragatmika devotion and thus conferred on him the wealth of the immediate knowledge of the universal Mother and endowed him with Yogic powers.

4.    Why had the Master to practise Sadhana over again, though he had the immediate knowledge of the divine Mother at that time? Peace is realizable when one sees the identity of one’s own immediate experience with the teachings of the Guru and of the Sastras.

The reader may perhaps say, “What then was left, over? The Master had the aim of his life fulfilled at that very time; why did he then practise Sadhana afterwards?” We should like to say in reply that although this is true in a way, Sadhana was necessary afterwards. The Master used to say, “Trees and creepers flower first and bear fruit next, according to the usual law of nature; but, there are a few; among them whose fruits come out first and flowers next.” The development of the Master’s mind in the field of Sadhana took place exactly like that of the latter class of trees and creepers. Therefore, that objection of the reader is true in a way. But although the Master had such visions etc., at the beginning of his Sadhana he could not become perfectly sure whether they were real and whether he had reached the ultimate goal, till he could compare them with the experiences of the Sadhakas recorded in the scriptures and realize once again those experiences of his by following the practices sanctioned by the scriptures. Therefore Sadhana was afterwards necessary for him. It became necessary for him to realize again, by following the path and procedure described in the scriptures, what he had experienced before by the incomprehensible grace of the divine Mother, with the help of only the eagerness of his heart. The scriptures say that the aspirant cannot be absolutely convinced till, by comparing the divine visions and the extraordinary experiences of his own spiritual life with the truth taught by his Guru and with the experiences of the Sadhakas of past ages recorded in the scriptures, he finds them to be perfectly identical. Having his doubts completely dispelled the aspirant becomes endowed with infinite peace as soon as he compares the three, namely, the truth taught by his Guru, the experiences of the ancient race of Sadhakas recorded in the scriptures and those realized by himself, and finds them identical.

5.    It happened to Suka, the son of Vyasa

As an example of what has been said above, we may point to an event in the life of Sukadeva, the foremost of Paramahamsas, the son of Vyasa. Sukadeva, untouched by Maya, used to have various divine visions and extraordinary experiences in his life from his birth. For the purpose of ascertaining whether they were real and whether he had reached the goal, he studied the Vedas, the six branches of study1 auxiliary to them and other Sastras with his father, Vyasa, knower of all the scriptures. When his studies came to an end, he said to his father, “I have been experiencing from my birth, all the spiritual states recorded in the scriptures; but I cannot be perfectly sure that these states and experiences are the ultimate truth. So, please tell me now what you yourself have experienced regarding those things.” Vyasa, of supreme knowledge, reflected within himself, “I have always been teaching Suka the goal of spirituality and the ultimate truth telling him the experiences of my own life resulting from spiritual practices, but doubts have not been removed from his mind. He thinks that although he has been desirous of knowing the truth, I, being overpowered by fatherly affection, have not given him the whole truth and so have not removed his mental anxiety. Therefore it is good for him to hear these things from some other wise man.” Thinking so, Vyasa said, “I am unable to remove your doubt; it is not unknown to you that Janaka, the king of Mithila, is truly a man of knowledge; go to him and have all your problems solved.” So directed by his father, Suka, it is written in the Mahabharata, went immediately to Mithila. Taught by Janaka, a sage among kings, who told him of the experience that knowers of Brahman have, Suka found a complete identity between the instruction of the Guru, the words of the scriptures and the experiences of his own life.

6.    Another reason why the Master practised Sadhana later. Not for himself, but for others

Besides the above-mentioned reasons, there was another profound reason why the Master practised Sadhana later. We shall merely mention it here. The aim of the Master’s Sadhana was not the attainment of peace only in his own life. The divine Mother of us all made him assume a body for good of the world. He had therefore, to be acquainted with the Sadhanas of all religions and their ultimate goal, so that he might be in a position to become a true spiritual teacher. Therefore an extraordinary effort is seen on the Master’s part to ascertain, by actual practice, the truth or falsity of all the religious doctrines. That is not all. By producing in a natural way in the life of this unlettered person, through his practices, the spiritual states recorded in the scriptures, the divine Mother proved to the modern age the truth of the Vedas, the Bible, the Puranas, the Koran, and all other religious scriptures. That was why there was no cessation of his Sadhana even after he had personally attained peace. The more we proceed to study this extraordinary life, the more clearly shall we understand that, with a view to accomplishing the specific end mentioned above, the universal Mother brought to the Master, at the proper time, perfected men and scholars of every denomination and, making him hear from them all about religious teachings and practices, gave him the power of mastering them through his wonderful memory, which retained everything heard only once.

7.    The aspirant realizes God when true eagerness arises in him. How much of that eagerness was there in the Master’s life

We have said before that during the first four years of his Sadhana the Master depended for God-realization mainly on his intense eagerness. No one came to him at that time to help him in his spiritual progress by guiding him along the path prescribed by the scriptures. Therefore, the only means he had recourse to was the intense eagerness which is the common requisite of all sadhanas. As the Master had the vision of the divine Mother with the help of eagerness only, it is also proved that an aspirant may have God-vision similarly, even without any external aid. But we forget very often to reflect how great must be the degree of intensity of this eagerness in order that one may reach one’s end that way. This becomes clear to us if we study the Master’s life at this time. We have seen that under the impulse of that intense eagerness, his firm physical and mental habits and impressions expressed in his actions and feelings, such as eating, sleeping, shame, fear, etc., vanished into thin air. He paid no attention even to the preservation of his life, let alone physical health. The Master said, “As there was no attention at all at that time to the cleaning of the body, the hairs of the head became long and got matted owing to dirt and dust adhering to them At the time of meditation the body used to become motionless like the trunk of a tree. Thinking it to be an inert thing, birds came and remained sitting on the head without any hesitation and stirred up the dust in the hair in search of small particles of rice! Again, impatient on account of the separation from the divine Lord, I rubbed my face against the ground so vehemently that it got cut and bruised and bled in many places. I had no consciousness of how the whole day slipped away in prayer, meditation, devotional exercises, offering of the self, and so on. When afterwards, at the approach of the evening, conch-shells were blown and bells rung, I remembered that the day was at an end. Another day passed in vain; and I had not yet seen the Mother. Intense sorrow seized me and made the heart so restless that I could no longer remain calm. I threw myself violently on the ground saying, ‘Mother, Thou hast not shown Thyself to me even yet.’ I filled the quarters with wailing and struggled on account of pain. People said, ‘He has got colic pain and that is why he is crying so much.’ ”

When we were with the Master, he told us time and again those events of the time of his Sadhana in order to bring home to us the necessity for intense eagerness of heart for the realization of God, and said regretfully, “People shed floods of tears at the death of their wives, children, and the like, or at the loss of worldly possessions, but who do so because they have not realized God? Yet they say, ‘We called on Him so much and still He did not show Himself. ’ Let them but once weep for God with such eagerness and let me see whether He keeps Himself back without revealing Himself.” These words used to sting us to the quick. When we heard them, it became clear to us that he could speak so assuredly, only because he had found them true early in his life.

8.    The Master followed in Mahavir’s footsteps and practised the Sadhana of the Dasya-bhava

The Master did not rest satisfied with having only the vision of the divine Mother during the first four years of his Sadhana. His mind was naturally attracted towards Raghuvir, his family Deity, after he had had the vision of the divine Mother when he was in the Bhavamukha1 state. Knowing that with the help of devotion it was possible to have, like Mahavir, the vision of Ramachandra, he engaged himself in Sadhana, assuming Mahavir’s attitude, for the purpose of attaining perfection in the Dasya-bhava. The Master said that, thinking of Mahavir incessantly at that time, he became so much absorbed that he forgot altogether for some time his separate existence and individuality. “At that time,” said the Master, “I had to walk, take my food and do all other actions like Mahavir. I did not do so of my own accord, but the actions so happened of themselves, I tied my cloth round my waist so that it might look like a tail and walked jumping; I ate nothing but fruits and roots, which again I did not feel inclined to eat when skinned. I spent much of my time on trees and always cried, ‘Raghuvir, Raghuvir’, with a deep voice. Both my eyes assumed a restless expression like those of the animals of that species, and it is marvellous that the lower end of the backbone lengthened at that time by nearly an inch.”1 When we heard the last mentioned fact, we asked, “Sir, does that part of your body continue to be so even now?” He said, “No, in course of time it assumed slowly its previous natural size when the mastery of that mood over the mind had ceased.”

9.    The description of the vision of Sri Sita during the Master’s Sadhana of Dasyabhakti

An extraordinary vision and experience came to pass in the life of the Master when he practised the Dasya-bhakti. That vision and experience was so novel, so different from his previous ones, that it was deeply imprinted on his mind and was always fresh in his memory. He said, “One day at that time I was sitting under the Panchavati—not meditating, merely sitting—when an incomparable, effulgent female figure appeared before me illumining the whole place. It was not that figure alone that I saw then, but also the trees and plants of the Panchavati, the Ganga and all other objects. I saw that the figure was that of a woman; for, there were in her no signs of a goddess, such as the possession of three eyes, etc. But the extraordinary, spirited, and solemn expression of that face, manifesting love, sorrow, compassion, and endurance, was not generally seen even in the figures of goddesses. Looking graciously at me, that goddess-woman was advancing from north to south towards me with a slow, grave gait. I wondered who she might be, when a black-faced monkey came suddenly, nobody knew whence, and sat at her feet and someone within my mind exclaimed, ‘ Sita, Sita who was all sorrow all her life, Sita the daughter of king Janaka, Sita to whom Rama was her very life!’ Saying ‘Mother’ repeatedly, I was then going to fling myself at her feet, when she came quickly and entered this (showing his own body). Overwhelmed with joy and wonder, I lost all consciousness and fell down. Before that, I had had no vision in that manner without meditating or thinking. That was the first vision of its kind. I have been suffering like her all my life perhaps because I saw first of all Sita, who was miserable from her birth.”1

10.    The Master planted the Panchavati with his own hands

Feeling the need for a suitable sacred place for practising austerities, the Master expressed to Hriday a desire to plant a new Panchavati2 at that time. Hriday said, “The small pond called the Duck pond near the Panchavati was then re-excavated and the piece of land near the old Panchavati was filled up with the mud from that pond and made level. The Amalaki tree, therefore, under which the Master used to meditate before, was destroyed.” The Master then planted with his own hands a holy fig tree to the west of the place where the Sadhana-hut now stands and made Hriday plant the saplings of a banian tree, an Asoka tree, a Vilva tree and an Amalaki tree.3 And planting saplings of the holy basil and Aparajita creepers, he had the whole place hedged with the help of a temple gardener named Bhartabhari, in the wonderful way described elsewhere.1 The holy basil plants and the Aparajita creepers grew up so high and dense in a short time on account of the Master’s regular watering and care bestowed on them that no one from outside could see him when he sat for meditation within the enclosure.

11.    The Master practised Hathayoga

After Rani Rasmani consecrated the Kali temple, the holy travellers such as monks desirous of visiting Puri and Gangasagar began to accept the hospitality afforded by the devout Rani and to rest for a few days at the Dakshineswar temple when going to and returning from those two places of pilgrimage.2 The Master said that many perfected souls and great Sadhakas used to come there from that time. Instructed by one of them, he seems to have practised at this time Pranayama and other exercises of Hathayoga. One day while he was describing to us the following incident regarding Haladhari, he hinted at it. He forbade us later to practise the Hathayoga exercises, because he himself practised them and knew their results. Approached by some of us for instruction on it, he said to us, “These practices are not for this age. Living beings are shortlived and their lives depend on food in the Kaliyuga; where is the time in this age to practise Rajayoga, in other words, to call on God, after making the body firm by the practise of Hathayoga? Again, if one wants to practise those exercises, one has to live constantly with a teacher perfect in that Yoga and follow for a long time very hard rules regarding food, rest, exercises, etc., according to his instruction; the slightest deviation from those rules produces diseases in the Sadhaka’s body and, on many occasions, causes even his death. Therefore, it is not necessary to practise these things. Besides, is it not for the purpose of restraining the mind that one has to restrain the vital air by practising Pranayama, etc.? You will see that both mind and vital forces will of themselves be gradually restrained by meditation and devotion to God. Human beings have short lives and possess little capacity in the Kaliyuga; this is why the divine Lord has graciously made their path to realization of Him so easy to tread. In this age if the feelings of anxiety and void, like those felt at the death of one’s wife or son, are felt for God and these last even for twenty-four hours only in one’s mind, He is bound to reveal Himself.”

12. Curse by Haladhari

We have told the reader elsewhere in the Lilaprasanga1 that the devout Sadhakas who are the followers of the Smritis very often have recourse to Tantras in practice. Such persons, belonging to the Vaishnava denomination, pursue the path of Sadhana of Parakiya2 love. We have also told the readers that Haladhari was a very learned Vaishnava and a faithful observer of the scriptural rites and practices; he also pursued secretly that path of Sadhana some time after he was employed for the worship of Radha and Govinda. People came to know this in time and started whispering; but there was a belief prevalent that whatever he said of anybody came true; so, nobody was bold enough to discuss or cut jokes on it in his presence lest he should incur Haladhari’s displeasure. The Master too came to know of that practice of his elder cousin. Finding that people were talking of it and calumniating him behind his back, the Master, outspoken and fearless as he was, told Haladhari everything plainly. Thereupon the latter became very angry and said, “Dare you, though being younger, despise me thus? Blood shall gush out of your mouth.” The Master tried to appease him in various ways by explaining the reason for his speaking so to him, but he did not give ear to whatever the Master said.

One day, shortly after this event, at at about 8 or 9 p.m the Master felt a creeping sensation in his palate and actually blood began to gush out of his mouth. The Master said, “The colour of that blood was like that of the juice of kidneybean leaves. It was so thick that a portion of it fell away from the mouth, and a portion coagulated within, and was hanging like the aerial roots of a banian tree from the lips near the front teeth. I tried to stop the bleeding by pressing a piece of cloth against the palate but the bleeding could not be stopped. I was much afraid to see it. All came running when they heard of it. Haladhari was performing the service in the temple then. He also was apprehensive and came quickly when he heard of it. When I saw him I said to him with tears in my eyes, ‘Cousin, just see the condition you have brought on me by your curse.’ He also wept to see that sorrowful condition of mine.

“A good Sadhu had come that day to the temple. He also came there when he heard the noise and, examining the colour of the blood and the spot within the mouth through which it was coming out, said, ‘There is no fear; it is very good that the blood has come out. I find you practised Yoga. As the result of that practice the mouth of your Sushumna opened and the blood of the body was flowing to the head. It is very good that, instead of flowing to the head, it of itself made a channel leading to the mouth, and came out. Had this blood reached your head, you would have been in Jada-samadhi which could by no means have come to an end. The Mother of the universe has some especial purpose to accomplish with your body. That is why, I think, She has saved it.’ Hearing these words of the holy man, I was, as it were, brought back to life.” Haladhari’s curse thus came true by way of accidental coincidence and was transformed into a boon.

13.    Haladhari’s views regarding the Master changed again and again

There was an element of sweet mystery in the Master’s behaviour towards Haladhari. We have said before that he was the Master’s uncle’s son, and was older than he. He came to Dakshineswar probably in 1858 and was appointed priest to worship Sri Radha-Govinda. He held that post till some time in the year 1865. Therefore, he lived at Dakshineswar for the second four years of the Master’s Sadhana period and for more than two years after that, and had the opportunity of knowing him intimately. But he could not form a definite opinion of the Master’s high spiritual state. Haladhari was a man devoted to the rites and practices ordained in the scriptures; he, therefore, did not like the Master’s lack of regard for his dress and sacred thread at the time of ecstasy. He thought that his younger cousin had become mad or non-conformist in ritualistic conduct. He went sometimes the length of telling Hriday, “Hriday, he gives up his wearing-cloth and the sacred thread; that is very bad. It is due to a great accumulation of the results of virtuous actions in previous births that one is born in a Brahmin family. Yet he considers the state of a Brahmin to be a trifling thing and wants to give it up. Has he realized a state high enough to do this with impunity? Hriday, he has some faith in your words, so you should keep an eye on him that he may not behave thus. It will be proper to restrain him from doing all this even by binding him hand and foot.”

Again, he was charmed to see the floods of tears flowing from the Master’s eyes at the time of worship, his wonderful joy on hearing songs praising the glory of the Divine, and his extraordinary eagerness for the realization of God. He thought all those states of his younger cousin were certainly due to an infusion of divine spirit; they were not seen to come otherwise on human beings. Haladhari became surprised to see and hear all these things and sometimes said to Hriday, “Hriday, you must have felt some extraordinary power in him; you would not other wise have served him so faithfully.”

14.    Haladhari gave up his high regard for the Master, the moment he sat to discuss the scriptures with his pinch of snuff

Always assailed by doubts, Haladhari’s mind could not come to any assured conclusion about the Master’s real state and kept oscillating between regard and pity, if not hatred. The Master said, “Haladhari became charmed to see me at the time of worship in the temple and said on many occasions, ‘Ramakrishna, I have recognized your real nature.’ To that I often replied jokingly, ‘Beware lest you should get confused once more.’ He said, ‘You can by no means throw dust in my eyes again; there is surely a charge of divinity in you; I have understood it thoroughly this time.’ I heard his words and said, ‘Very well, let me see how long the conviction lasts.’ When, however, Haladhari, after finishing the service in the temple, took a pinch of snuff and started a discussion on the Bhagavata, the Gita, the Adhyatma-Ramayana or some other books, he became immediately a different man on account of egoism. I then went there and said, ‘I have realized all the states of which you read in the scriptures; I can understand all these.’ No sooner had he heard it than he said, ‘Indeed! You are a big fool. Is it for you to understand all these things?’ I said, ‘I say in truth, One who is within this (showing his own body) explains everything regarding the One of whom you spoke just now.’ Hearing this Haladhari got irritated and said, ‘Hence! queer, big fool! Which scripture speaks of an incarnation of God except Kalki, in the Kaliyuga? You have become insane and so you think as you do.’ I laughed and said, ‘Did you not say just now that there would be no confusion again?’ But who would give ear to all that then? This happened not once or twice but on many occasions. One day he saw me sitting naked on a branch of the banian tree of the Panchavati and passing water. He became thenceforward absolutely certain that I was possessed by a ghost who had been a Brahmin in his mortal life.”

15. The Master taught Haladhari the truth about Kali when the latter said She consisted of Tamoguna

We have spoken of the death of the son of Haladhari who was a follower of Vishnu. Since that event he had the conviction that Kali consisted of Tamoguna. One day he went to the extent of saying to the Master, “Can there be spiritual progress resulting from the worship of a deity consisting of Tamas? Why do you worship that goddess with so much care? “The Master heard this, but did not then give him a reply; but pained to hear his chosen Ideal slandered, he went to the Kali temple and asked the Mother of the universe with tears in his eyes, “Mother, Haladhari, a scholar, well versed in the scriptures, says Thou consistest of Tamoguna; art Thou truly such?” When he was told the real truth about it by the divine Mother, he was filled with joy and ran immediately to Haladhari. Jumping then straight on his shoulders he said again and again in an excited voice, “You say, Mother consists of Tamas. Is it so? Mother is all—She has become the three Gunas and again She is the pure Sattvaguna.” Haladhari then had his inner eye opened, as it were, by the words and touch of the Master, who was in ecstasy! Seated then in the worshipper’s seat, Haladhari accepted heartily what the Master said. And having seen the manifestation of the divine Mother Herself in him, he took a handful of flowers mixed with sandal paste and offered it with devotion at his lotus feet. Shortly after, Hriday came and asked him, “Do you not say, uncle, that Ramakrishna is possessed by a ghost? Why then did you worship him?” “I don’t know why,” replied Haladhari, “he came back from the Kali temple and astonished me in such a way that I forgot everything and saw the light of God in him! Whenever I go to Ramakrishna at the Kali temple he produces such feelings in me! Oh, that bewildering incident! I cannot understand anything.”

Although Haladhari saw divine light in the Master over and over again, he, when he took snuff and sat for scriptural discussion, got intoxicated with the egoism arising from scholarship and became his former self again, like the rat of the story “Punarmushika”1

16.    Haladhari scolded the Master on seeing him taking the remains of the food left by the poor people in their plates. The Master’s reply thereto

It is clear from the behaviour of Haladhari narrated above that until the attachment to lust and gold vanishes, the practice of external cleanliness and the knowledge of the scriptures are not of much avail and cannot produce in man the knowledge of the ultimate truth. Looking upon the poor People who came to take Prasada at the Dakshineswar temple as Narayana, God Himself, the Master, we said before, ate a little of the remains of the food left in their plates. Annoyed at this, Haladhari said to him, “I shall see how you marry your children.” Intensely irritated with anger by those words of Haladhari, who was proud of his Vedantic knowledge, he said, “Don’t you, then, O wretch, say that the Sastras enjoin us to look upon all beings as Brahman and the world as unreal? Do you think I shall say like you that the world is unreal and at the same time beget children? Fie on your Sastric knowledge.”

17.    Puzzled by Haladhari’s scholarship the Master was assailed by doubts but was blessed with a vision and the mandate “Remain in Bhavamukha” from the divine Mother

The childlike Master, confused sometimes by Haladhari’s scholarship, ran to the universal Mother for Her opinion on what should be done. One day, we were told, he proved that the divine experiences in ecstasy were all untrue and pointed out, with the help of the scriptures, that God was beyond existence and non-existence. Great was the Master’s perturbation. Narrating this incident he said later, thought that all the divine forms I saw and the divine words I heard during Bhavasamadhi were then all a delusion. Mother, I saw, had indeed deceived me. Extremely anxious, I cried with the feeling of wounded love and said to Mother, ‘ Shouldst Thou, O Mother, deceive me so, because I am unlettered and ignorant?’ That cry and agony would not stop. I sat and wept in the ‘mansion’. What I saw some time afterwards was a fog-like smoke rising suddenly from the floor and filling some space in front of me. I saw later in that smoke a beautiful living face of golden complexion, with beard reaching to the breast! That figure looked steadfastly at me and said with a profound voice, ‘My child, remain in Bhavamukha. ’ That figure repeated those words thrice and immediately dissolved in the fog, and the fog-like smoke also vanished into the void. When I had that vision, I got back my peace of mind.” One day the Master himself described this event to Swami Premananda. The Master said that the same doubt arose in his mind once again when he remembered those words of Haladhari. “Sitting for worship,” said our Master, “I cried and pressed Mother importunately for a solution of the problem; Mother then appeared near the worship jar in the guise of a woman named ‘Rati’s mother’ and said, ‘Do remain in Bhavamukha.’ ” Again when Tota Puri, the travelling teacher, left Dakshineswar after imparting to him the Vedantic knowledge and the Master dwelt in the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness continually for six months, he heard in his heart of hearts at the end of that period the incorporeal voice of the divine Mother, “Remain in Bhavamukha.”

18.    How long Haladhari stayed in the Kali temple

Haladhari lived for about seven years in the Dakshineswar temple. Therefore he saw with his own eyes all these—the Sadhu of perfect knowledge behaving like a ghoul, the Brahmani the holy man of the Ramawat denomination named Jatadhari, and Sri Tota Puri, coming to Dakshineswar one after another. We were told by the Master himself that Haladhari and Tota Puri sat occasionally together and read the Adhyatma-Ramayana and other scriptures. The above-mentioned events concerning Haladhari occurred at different times while he was in the Dakshineswar temple. But we have told the reader all of them here together for the sake of convenience.

19.    A discussion on the divine inebriation of the Master

It is clear beyond doubt, from the discussion of the Master’s life of Sadhana so far, that, although he was then considered mad by the ordinary people, he was in fact not so; neither did he suffer from any disease or derangement of the brain. An intense eagerness for the realization of God arose in his heart. He could not then control himself, on account of the impulse of that eagerness. People said that he had gone mad, for, with an intense eagerness for the realization of God incessantly consuming his heart, he could not mix with people or spend his time laughing and weeping over ordinary matters. And who can do so? When the anguish of the heart transcends the normal power of endurance, who can control himself and who can, with mind and speech at variance with each other, keep pace with a world running amuck for lust and gold? But the limit to the power of endurance, one might say, is not the same for all; some become overwhelmed with a little misery or happiness; others, again, remain firm and steady like a rock in spite of there being a profound agitation in their hearts arising from either of them Therefore, how can one know the limit of a man’s endurance? In reply let us say that his power of endurance was extraordinary. This will be very clearly understood if we reflect on the other events of his life. Need the extraordinary endurance of the mind and body of a person like him be mentioned—a person who could remain calm in spite of being half-fed or unfed, and sleepless for twelve long years, who rejected the offers of immense wealth as many times as they came, because they were an obstacle on the path to the realization of God? There are innumerable other instances; but we desist from mentioning them here. The careful reader will meet with them at every turn, as he goes on with this life.

20.    Only ignorant people, and not the Sadhakas, regarded it as due to a disease

Again, the above-mentioned state of the Master appeared to be due to a disease, in the eyes of those people alone who were extremely attached to worldly objects. No one except Mathur, it is clear, was then present at the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, who could, with the help of reason and imagination, ascertain partially at least, the mental state of the Master. We cannot say where Kenaram Bhattacharya vanished immediately after initiating the Master; for, nothing was heard of him from Hriday or any one else after that event. Therefore, the ignorant, covetous officers of the Kali temple were the only persons left to judge the actions and mental states of the Master at that time. What they said cannot at all be regarded as proof. It is, therefore, certain that the words of the holy men who came to Dakshineswar at that time are the only reliable proofs of it. From what has been heard from the Master and others, it is known that those Sadhakas and perfected men, far from deeming him a victim of insanity, had always a very high opinion of him

21. The Master cannot be said to have been suffering from a disease, when we see his actions and behaviour at this time

When we study the events following this period, we see that he followed immediately any advice given by any one for the good of his health, till, led by the impulse of the intense eagerness for the realization of God, he completely lost consciousness of his body and of the world outside, and hence lost all care for his own life. He never tried to persist in his own resolve. When people said, “Let him be under treatment”, he agreed; when they said that he should be taken to his mother at Kamarpukur, he readily consented; neither, again, when his marriage was proposed, did he dissent. Considering all these how can we take his actions and behaviour to have been prompted by insanity?

Moreover, though he tried indeed to keep himself aloof from worldly people and worldly affairs, on many occasions he not only had no objection to going and mixing with people, but eagerly sought and joined them whenever they came together to worship God and sing His glory. This is clearly seen when we find that he used to visit the temple of the ten Maha-vidyas at Baranagar, went sometimes to pay his obeisance to the universal Mother at Kalighat, and joined the great annual festival at Panihati. In those places also, he sometimes met and had conversations with Sadhakas well versed in the scriptures. We have understood from the little we know of these things, that those Sadhakas held him in great veneration.

22.    Vaishnavacharan saw the Master for the first time during the festival at Panihati in 1859. His idea about the Master

We may mention, for example, the fact of the Master’s visit to Panihati during the great festival in A.D. 1859. There, on that day, he saw Vaishnavacharan, the son of Sri Utsavananda Goswami for the first time. Some of us have heard from Hriday and also from the Master himself that he went to Panihati and sat for some time in the Master Manimohan Sen’s temple, when Vaishnavacharan came and saw him and he immediately came to the definite conclusion that the Master was in a high state of spirituality and that he was one of the rarest of great souls. Vaishnavacharan spent on that day the greater part of his time with the Master in the festival ground, and, purchasing at his own expense, mangoes, fried rice, curds and sweets, offered to the Lord a delicious mixture of them in earthen plates, and made merry, partaking of the Prasada along with the Master and the devotees. Again, while returning to Calcutta after the festival, Vaishnavacharan got down at Rani Rasmani’s Kali temple for the purpose of having the privilege of seeing him again and inquired about him there. When he was told that the Master had not returned from the festival, he felt disappointed. We have described elsewhere1 how Vaishnavacharan met the Master again three or four years later and how an intimate relationship grew up between them.

23.    Other kinds of Sadhana of the Master at this time—(1) “rupee-earth, earth-rupee”,* (2) cleaning unclean places, (3) regarding night-soil and sandal-paste as the same

During this period of four years, he often took in his hands a few coins and clods of earth and used them to practise discrimination between the real and the unreal, with a view to completely removing from his mind the attachment to gold. He came, with the help of reasoning, to the sure conclusion, that the person who had made the realization of Brahman, Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, the only goal of his life, could not derive any help whatsoever from gold any more than from a lump of earth. Therefore, repeating again and again “rupee-earth, earth-rupee”, he threw them both into the Ganga, in order to make that conclusion firmly fixed in his mind. With a view to having the firm conviction that all things and persons without exception from Brahma down to a blade of grass, were the manifestations and parts of the divine Mother, the Master partook of the leavings from the plates of the poor and cleaned the place where they took their food. For the purpose of completely removing pride and egoism from his mind and of having the conviction that he was not superior in any way even to the object of universal aversion, he cleaned, like a sweeper, the abominably dirty places with his own hands; again, in order to completely obliterate from his mind the feeling of aversion and to have the conviction that both ordure and sandal-paste were the same in nature, as they were derived from the same five elements, he touched with his tongue others faeces with perfect equanimity. All these and many more extraordinary and unheard of disciplines, associated with the name of the Master were performed during this period. When we ponder over those practices and divine visions of the Master during the first four years, it becomes clear what a unique, intense eagerness for the realization of God had seized him and with what an extraordinary faith he plunged himself into Sadhana. And simultaneously this conviction also grows in us that unaided by any outside help and by dint of his sheer eagerness for the realization of God, he succeeded in attaining the perfect vision of the divine Mother and had the ambition of his life fulfilled. And having thus achieved the results of his spiritual disciplines he proceeded to compare them with the teachings of the Guru and the Sastras.

24. The aspirant’s own mind becomes his Guru at last. The Master’s mind functioned as the Guru at this time. Examples of this:(i) enjoying the bliss of Kirtan in his subtle body

The Master said that when the aspirant becomes purified and sanctified by completely controlling his mind and senses by means of restraint and renunciation, his own mind occupies the position of the Guru. The waves of ideas that arise then in his mind never lead him astray; on the contrary, they show him the right path and bring on him quickly to the goal of life. During this period, the pure and holy mind of the Master became his Guru and taught him what was and what was not to be done. It did not, however, rest satisfied there, but on many occasions, assuming a form, as it were, of a different person, it came out from his body, appeared before him and encouraged him to go forward with his Sadhana. Sometimes it threatened him with punishment if he did not dive deep in a particular discipline, explaining why it should be performed and what its result would be. This is why the Master saw at the time of meditation a Sannyasin with a sharp trident in his hand come out of his body and say, “If you do not fully give up all other thoughts and meditate wholeheartedly on your chosen Ideal, I’ll pierce your heart with this trident,” This is why when the Papa-purusha, the embodiment of desires for enjoyment, emerged from his body, this young Sannyasin whom the Master saw also came out immediately and killed that villain. Desirous to see the images of deities or listen to the singing of God’s glory in distant places, this young Sannyasin came out of the Master’s body in an effulgent, form similar to his and arrived at those places along a luminous path and returned along the same path and entered his gross body. We have been told by the Master himself of many such visions.

(ii) he saw the young Sannyasin within his own body and received instruction from him

The Master began to have the vision of this young Sannyasin within his body, almost from the commencement of his Sadhana. He became gradually accustomed to guide himself according to his advice regarding the performance or non-performance of all actions. In the course of a conversation on the extraordinary visions and experiences of his life during his Sadhana, one day, the Master said to us, “The figure of a young Sannyasin looking like me used to come out again and again from within me and instruct me on all matters; when he emerged, sometimes I had a little consciousness and, at other times, lost it altogether and lay inert, only seeing and hearing his actions and words; when afterwards he entered this gross body, I regained full consciousness. The Brahmani, Tota Puri and others came and taught me afterwards what I had heard from him previously—they taught me what I had already known. It seems from this that they came as Gurus in my life in order that the authority of the scriptures, such as the Vedas, might be maintained by my honouring their injunctions. No other reason can be found for accepting the ‘naked one’ and others as Gurus.”

and (iii) the vision of the Master on his way to Sihar. Bhairavi Brahmani’s decision about it

When the Master went to Kamarpukur during the latter part of this period of his Sadhana, another extraordinary vision occurred. This vision took place while he was going in a palanquin from Kamarpukur to Hriday’s house in the village of Sihar. Witnessing under the deep blue sky a vast expanse of open fields covered with paddy, green and dark-blue in hue, with rows of trees such as the fig, the banian, etc., affording cool shade along the path, he was proceeding with a heart full of joy, when two beautiful boyish figures of tender age suddenly came out of his body. Now advancing with a slow step, now running playfully hither and thither, sometimes going far in the fields in search of wild flowers etc., and at other times walking beside the palanquin, they laughed and joked and conversed and made merry as boys do. They thus proceeded happily for a long time and then they came back and entered his body. The learned Brahmani came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar for the first time about a year and a half after this vision had taken place. She heard of this vision from the Master and said without being at all surprised, “My child, what you have seen is all true; Chaitanya is manifest this time in Nityananda’s sheath (body)—Nityananda and Chaitanya have come together this time and are both residing in you, in one and the same receptacle.” Hriday said, “Saying so, the Brahmani recited the following lines from the Chaitanya Bhagavata: ‘Throwing his arms round Advaita’s neck Sri Chaitanya says again and again: I will manifest my wonderful play once more. My form will be that of bliss during the singing of the glory of God.’

“The Brahmani quoted again, ‘Gora acts his play even today. It is persons of the rarest good fortune that are privileged to witness it. ’ ”

25. What can be gathered from these visions

When we were visiting him one day, the Master said to us in connection with the topic of this vision, “It is true that I had that vision and it is also true that the Brahmani said so when she heard of it. But how can I say what the real meaning of it is?” From these words of the Master regarding that vision of his, we think that at this time the Master got some clear indication that, identified with his body and mind, some ancient soul known to the world for very long ages was dwelling here with a view to accomplishing some important purpose. It seems that the extraordinary indication he had about his individuality with the help of these visions and experiences clearly convinced him in course of time that the One, who manifested Himself in Ayodhya and Vrindavan as Sri Ramachandra, dear to Janaki, and Sri Krishnachandra, the beloved of Radha, respectively, for the purpose of establishing religion in past ages, has incarnated Himself once more as Sri Ramakrishna in a human body in order to impart a new ideal of religion to India and the world”. For, when we were with him, we heard him say again and again, whether he was in the full enjoyment of health or suffering acutely from a disease, “The One who became Rama and Krishna is now within this case (showing his body). But His advent this time is secret.”

26.    The Master’s visions never proved to be untrue

If we want to test the truth of the vision mentioned above, no other means can be found than believing in the words of the Master himself spoken at other times to his devotees of the inner circle. Leaving out this vision, we can have the sure conviction of the truth of all other visions of his, for, the visions of this nature occurred daily in the Master’s life when we were visiting him And his sceptical English-educated disciples were defeated, as they tried to test the truth of these visions and experiences. Though we give a few such examples elsewhere,1 we shall record here one more for the satisfaction of the reader.

27.    An example: the description of the Master’s vision at the time of the worship of Durga in Suresh Chandra Mitra’s house in 1885

It was the end of 1885 when the people of Calcutta— men, women and children—were all filled with joy and enthusiasm, as usual, on the occasion of the great autumn worship and festival. Although the current of that bliss was being particularly felt in the hearts of the Master’s devotees, there was a great obstacle standing in the way of its manifestation; for he in whose company they felt the surge of delight was seriously ill—the Master was suffering from cancer of the throat. The devotees had hired a two-storeyed house at Shyampukur in Calcutta and had brought the Master there about a month previously. Mahendralal Sarkar, the well-known doctor, prescribed medicine and diet and was doing his best to cure the Master. But the disease had shown no sign of abatement so far; on the contrary it was worsening by degrees. The householder devotees would come to that house morning and evening, and supervise and make all necessary arrangements. Many of the young student devotees were engaged in the service of the Master at all times except when they went to have their meals. Some again would, whenever necessary, spend all the twenty-four hours there, without going home even for their meals.

If the Master spoke much or went into ecstasy again and again, the blood in his body would flow upward, and constantly irritate the sore, which prevented the cure. Therefore the doctor advised the Master to check both the acts. The Master too was trying to follow the prescription but was in spite of himself reverting to them again and again; for, unlike ordinary men he failed to regard as precious the body, which he looked upon with contempt all his life as a trifling cage of flesh and bone, from which he had withdrawn his mind completely. As soon as a topic on God was raised, he would forget all about his body and everything about maintaining it, and joining the discussion of the topic almost with the same enthusiasm as before, would repeatedly go into ecstasy. There were many souls who came thirsting for spirituality. Unable to remain indifferent to the eagerness of their hearts, the Master taught them Sadhana in a low voice. Seeing his joy and enthusiasm in the work of ministration, to which he applied himself untiringly, many of the devotees thought that the Master’s disease was simple and could be easily cured, and became free from anxiety. Some, again, opined—a strange comprehension of spiritual matters!—That the Master had purposely assumed this physical disease for bestowing his grace on the new devotees and imparting religion to many.

The doctor was visiting him almost every day in the morning or in the afternoon. While he was examining the patient, writing the prescription and advising the attendants, he would be so absorbed in listening to the Master’s conversation on God that he could not take his leave even after the lapse of two or three hours. Again, putting question after question and listening for a long time to the wonderful solutions of these, he would sometimes say regretfully, “I made you talk much; it has been unwise, but don’t talk with anybody for the rest of the day, and then it won’t do you any harm; don’t you see, your words have such attraction that, whenever I come to you, I can’t leave this place for two or three hours and I have to neglect my profession. I don’t even know how time flies. Anyway, don’t talk so long with anyone else; (partly as a joke and partly with love and joy he said) talk thus with me only when I come, that will not do any harm.” At this the doctor and all others would laugh.

Surendranath Mitra, whom the Master sometimes called Suresh Mitra, was celebrating the Durga Puja that year in his residence at Simla. Formerly his family used to celebrate it every year, but there had once been a mishap and the worship had been discontinued since then. No one of the household was bold enough to perform it after that; and if any one tried to celebrate it, all others dissuaded him vehemently. Strengthened, however, by his faith in the power of the Master, Surendranath was absolutely free from fear of any mishap due to the interference of demigods etc., and did not care at all for anybody’s objections or obstructions when he had once resolved to accomplish anything. Therefore, although all the members of the household raised objections, they could not make him refrain from carrying out his resolve that year. He got the Master’s approval and brought the Mother of the universe to his house and bore all the expenses himself to the exclusion of other members of the joint-family. The only element of sadness in Surendra’s joy was that the Master would not be able to join the celebrations on account of his illness. Again as a few relatives fell seriously ill a few days before the commencement of the worship, he was held responsible for all that and incurred the displeasure of all the household. But unperturbed even on that account, Surendra devoutly began the worship of the divine Mother with great care and attention and invited all his fellow-disciples.

The worship pertaining to the seventh day of the lunar month had been finished the day before. It was the auspicious eighth day. Many devotees gathered together at the temporary residence of the Master at Shyampukur and were enjoying in his company the bliss and the talks and songs about the Divine. Narendranath began singing devotional songs immediately after the doctor’s arrival at four in the afternoon. All were charmed by those exceedingly melodious vibrations of tunes coupled with remarkable spiritual fervour, and lost themselves completely in them The Master was sometimes having ecstasy, at the end of which he was explaining briefly in a low voice the import of the songs to the doctor who sat beside him Some of the devotees lost consciousness in deep spiritual emotions. There flowed in the room a strong current of bliss, which was almost palpable. Time passed unbeknown to all and it was 7-30 p.m. The doctor was startled at last. He embraced the Swami with paternal affection, took leave of the Master and stood up, when the Master also rose from his seat smiling and entered immediately into deep Samadhi. The devotees began whispering, “Is it not the time for the Sandhi Puja? That is why the Master has entered into Samadhi. Is it a matter of little surprise that he has entered suddenly into it without knowing the time?” About half an hour after, the Master’s Samadhi came to an end and the doctor bade good night.

The Master now said to the devotees about his Samadhi: “I saw that there opened a luminous path from here to Surendra’s house. I saw, further, that attracted by Surendra’s devotion, the Mother had appeared in the image and that a ray of light was coming out from Her third eye. I also saw that rows of lamps were lighted in the front verandah and Surendra was sitting and weeping piteously in the courtyard in front of the Mother. Go you all together to his house now. He will feel much comforted to see you.”

All, including Swami Vivekananda, then saluted the Master and went to Surendra’s place. They questioned him and came to know that rows of lamps were actually lighted in that verandah and, unable to check his surge of emotion, Surendra sat in the courtyard before the image and wept loudly like a boy crying “Mother”, “Mother”, for about an hour at the time of the Master’s Samadhi. Finding the vision during the Master’s Samadhi correspond to the external events in detail, the devotees felt that there was no end to their joy and amazement.

28. How Rani Rasmani and Mathur examined the Master owing to their mistaken notions

At one time during the first four years of his Sadhana, Rani Rasmani and Mathur Babu, her son-inlaw, thought that the derangement of the Master’s brain, produced by unbroken continence, was manifesting itself as spiritual restlessness! Considering that he might regain his health if his continence were broken and, desirous to do good to the Master thereby, they tried to tempt him through Lachmi Bai and some other beautiful harlots with their amorous gestures, first at Dakshineswar and afterwards in a house at Mechuabazar in Calcutta. The Master used to say that he saw the divine Mother in those women, and repeating “Mother” a few times, lost consciousness, and that his sense-organ became contracted and entered completely into his body like the limbs of a tortoise. There arose, we were told, a feeling of maternal affection in the hearts of those fallen women when they saw all that and they were charmed by the childlike behaviour of the Master. Thinking that they had committed a great sin by trying to tempt him to break his continence, they begged his pardon with tears in their eyes, saluted him again and again, and bade goodbye with apprehensive minds.


1. II. 16.

1. (1) Siksha, the science which teaches the proper pronunciation of words and laws of euphony; (2) Kalpa, that which lays down the ritual and prescribes rules for ceremonial and sacrificial acts; (3) Grammar; (4) Nirukta, the etymological explanations of difficult Vedic words; (5) the science of prosody and (6) Astronomy. They are collectively called the Vedangas.—Tr.

1. nn&3.

1. Elongation of the Coccyx.

1.    Sri Sita, the author said to some, including the translator, made a gift of her smile to the Master. So, those who saw the Master smile, knew how she smiled. —Tr.

2.    Panchavati, literally a cluster of five fig trees.

3.    ‘The holy fig tree, the Vilva tree, the Amalaki tree, the banian tree and the Asoka tree, collectively, called the “Panchavati”, should be planted in five directions for the purpose of practising austerities. The holy fig tree should be planted to the east, the Vilva to the north, the banian to the west, the Amalaki to the south and the Asoka to the south-east and a beautiful altar four-cubits square and attractive to the mind should be made in the middle. ”—Skanda Purana.


1.    The name of the Bengali original of this book.—Tr.

2.    II. 13 & IV. 1.

1. Vide Glossary.

1. IV. 1.

*. That is: This is a rupee, this is a clod of earth. Both of them are useless, so far as God-realization is concerned. Some think “rupee-earth; earth-rupee “means “rupee is earth and earth is rupee”, which is absurd, though it is conceded that both are modifications of earth. As effects, they are surely different, having different pragmatic values; but as means to that ultimate end, both are equally worthless.—Tr.

1. IV. 4.


1.    The Master at Kamarpukur

The Master’s mother and brother were very anxious at Kamarpukur on hearing the news that he had given up priestly duties. Scarcely had two years elapsed since Ramkumar’s passing away when Chandramani Devi, the Master’s mother, and his brother Rameswar came to know to their utter dismay that he was suffering from ‘insanity’. Misfortunes never come singly. One after another, mishaps come from all sides and darken man’s life completely. This was exactly what happened to them Gadadhar, whom Chandradevi had borne in her advanced age, was naturally very dear to her. Overwhelmed, therefore, with sorrow, she made arrangements for bringing him back home. When he was with her, she noticed his indifference, absent-mindedness and restlessness, heard his repeated and piteous cries of “Mother”, “Mother”, and tried various means to remedy them Along with administering medicines, various rites propitiatory to gods and demigods were tried. This was at the end of the year 1858.

2.    The Master’s relatives were under the impression that he was possessed by a ghost

Although after his return home the Master generally lived his normal life, he became sometimes overwhelmed with spiritual emotions, when his deportment and behaviour became quite contrary to the normal. Again, he felt great pain on account of the burning sensation in his body. Thus, on the one hand, he displayed his usual simple and amiable behaviour towards all, his devotion to God and mother, and his love for his friends; and on the other, there were evident in him from time to time an extraordinary contrary manifestation of an indifference to everything, an absence of shame, aversion and fear, an exuberant eagerness for attaining a vague, unknown object and an obstinate effort to clear all obstacles from the path to his desired goal. These produced in the minds of people a strange belief that he was possessed by a ghost.

3.    An exorcist invited a Chanda

That thought had crossed the mind of the simple-hearted Chandradevi also. Now when she heard others talking in the same strain, she resolved to call an exorcist for the good of her son. The Master used to say, “One day an exorcist came, burnt a wick sanctified by Mantras, and made me smell it; he said, ‘If it is a ghost it will flee’; but it was of no avail. Afterwards worship and other ceremonies were performed with the help of a few famous exorcists and a Chanda was invited. The Chanda accepted the worship and offerings, became pleased and said to the exorcists, ‘Neither has he been possessed by a ghost nor is he suffering from any disease.’ The Chanda then addressed me in the presence of all and said, ‘O Gadai, you want to be a Sadhu, why then do you take so much of betel-nut? Don’t you know that it increases lust?’ Indeed I liked betel-nut very much and used to take it very often; however, I gave it up at the Chanda’s word.”

4.    The opinion of the Master’s relatives. What led to his normality

Then the Master was about to complete his twenty-third year. To a great extent, he regained the normal state of his health during his stay at Kamarpukur. There must have been some particular reason for his regaining his normal health and the ceasing of his piteous crying. That he could now be at peace was surely due to the repeated visions of the divine Mother. We are firmly convinced of it from what we have heard about his state at that time from his relatives. We shall now narrate their account.

All alone, he spent a good part of his time in the two fearful solitary crematoriums named Bhutirkhal and Budhui-moral, in the western and the north-eastern borders of Kamarpukur, respectively. Now his relatives came to know of the occasional manifestation of extraordinary powers in him. The Master, we were told, went out from home with a new pot full of sweets and other eatables in order to offer them to the jackals and the demigods that lived there. When those eatables were offered as oblation to them, the pot, the Master told them, would go up in the air and vanish into the void and he could sometimes see those demigods with his own eyes. When his second brother Rameswar found that he did not return home even after midnight, he would go towards those places and loudly call his brother by name. The Master would hear him and reply in a loud voice, “Yes, brother. I am coming. Don’t proceed any farther this side, the demigods might harm you.” During this period the Master planted a seedling of a Vilva tree with his own hand in the Bhutirkhal crematorium. He used to sit under the old peepul tree that was there and meditate and perform Japa for long periods of time. From what the relatives of the Master told us, it appears that the painful want that he had been experiencing, the want of the vision of the divine Mother, was now removed by some extraordinary spiritual visions and experiences. When we study this period of his life it seems to us that he was now having constant visions of the divine Mother’s form—the Mother extremely gracious to the Sadhakas, consisting of pure consciousness, holding in two of Her hands a sword and a severed head and stretching out the other two hands in gestures of offering boons and absolute fearlessness. He was now moulding his life according to Her directions received in response to his questions. He had, it seems, the firm conviction since then, that he would soon have the unique fortune of having the divine Mother’s eternal beatific vision.

5.    An instance of the Master’s Yogic powers

We have heard not only of the Master’s being engaged in such rites and ceremonies as feeding jackals and demigods but also of his practising Yoga as a result of which he developed prophetic powers. Hriday and many people of Kamarpukur and Jayaramvati attested to it and we heard the same from the Master himself.

6.    On finding him normal, the Master’s relatives decided to get him married

By now the Master’s mother and other members of the household had learnt that, by the grace of Providence, the disease which he was suffering from had abated to a great extent. For they noticed that he did not now cry piteously as before, and took food at the proper time, and that all his other actions and behaviour were just like those of ordinary persons. But the facts that he used to go very often to the burning grounds and sit for worship and meditation putting off his cloth without any sense of shame and that he would get annoyed at the interference with his prayer and meditation, and spend most of his time with gods and goddesses to the utter disregard of others’ words—all these were to be regarded as his natural inclinations from his childhood, and not as something unusual, due to insanity.

Still they saw with great apprehension that the Master was completely indifferent to worldly affairs and that there was an uninterrupted inwardness about his personality. The fear that there was a great possibility of a relapse as long as he did not pay attention to the daily worldly concerns in a natural way and did not give up his indifference, arose in their minds over and over again and threw them even now into a gulf of anxiety. The Master’s affectionate mother and elder brother were now very often busy in inventing various means of saving him from a relapse into that state. At last after a good deal of thinking and consultation, the mother and the son decided to get the Master married; and, therefore, an urgency was felt for finding a suitable bride. For they thought that the Master’s mind would not roam about in high spiritual regions if he began to love a good-natured wife coming of a noble family. Although he was now in the prime of his youth, he was dependent in all respects on his mother and brother, and was the same guileless boy as ever. The slightest effort or endeavour for improving his own worldly affairs was not perceptible in him How could it be forthcoming unless the responsibility of maintaining his wife and children rested on his shoulders?

The bride had to be brought into the bridegroom’s family only after paying a marriage portion according to the custom of that part of the country. Had they the means to pay so much money as the marriage portion of a girl of ten or eleven would require? They hesitated, and had not married off Gadadhar till then, only because money could not be gathered on account of various mishaps in the family. Had he been married long before to a girl of five, she would have grown up by this time to attract her husband’s mind and could have taken upon herself much of the management of the family. In any case what was destined to happen had happened; there should be no more delay. So they sought for a bride all round.

7.    The reason why the Master consented to marry

However secretly the consultation between the mother and the elder son took place, the clever Master came to know of it very soon. But he did not raise any consented to objection when the proposal of marriage was made; rather, he behaved like a child who makes merry and feels happy on festive occasions in the family. Was it because he got an affirmative reply to this question from the Mother Universal that he was in such a mood of merriment? Or was it due to his boyish lack of thinking and foresight? No doubt, people in general would point out the latter as the reason, but we have discussed the topic elsewhere1 and have reasons to differ.

8.    The Master selected his bride

People were sent on errands to the surrounding villages, but nowhere could a suitable bride be found. Rameswar, the elder brother of the Master, did not venture to settle the marriage with any one of the few available girls because their parents demanded a marriage portion too high for him to pay. His friends of the village also did not advise him to settle the marriage by paying such a large sum. Chandradevi, however, became very anxious. For, she was going to get Gadadhar married for his future good and not just for removing her own mental depression—into which she was thrown at the death of her godlike husband and of her first son Ramkumar—by participating in the unalloyed joy of her pet Gadai’s marriage. Therefore she could not rest satisfied with merely thinking that a bride was not available. A vigorous search was made again. As no bride was available in spite of this search, the Master’s mother and brother became extremely worried, when one day the Master suddenly went into Bhavasamadhi and said, “It is useless to search here and there; go and search in the family of Ram Mukhopadhyaya of the village of Jayaramvati; the bride has been marked with a straw1 and kept reserved there.”

9.    The marriage

Although they could not immediately have faith in those words of the Master, his mother and brother sent a man there to make an enquiry. He brought the news that, other things apart, the bride-to-be was too young, just a little more than five years. As no other bride was available anywhere else and this girl was found in such an unexpected way, the Master’s mother had no alternative but to agree to Gadadhar’s marriage with that girl. Everything was settled by a few days’ negotiation. Afterwards an auspicious day and an auspicious moment were looked up in the almanac. Then Rameswar went with his brother to the village of Jayaramvati, four miles west of Kamarpukur, and had the auspicious marriage ceremony performed with the five-year-old, only daughter of Ramchandra Mukhopadhyaya, and returned home. A marriage portion of three hundred rupees had to be paid. It was the month of May, 1859 and the Master had reached his twenty-fourth year.

10.    The conduct of Chandramani and of the Master after the marriage

Chandramani, it is evident, was free from anxiety to a great extent after Gadadhar’s marriage. When she found that her son obeyed all her injunctions regarding marriage as well as those regarding other matters, she thought that Providence was now propitious after all. For, would all things have come to pass so well, had He not been favourable? The listless son had returned home, a bride of noble descent had graced her family, want of money had also been removed providentially and Gadai had entered the life of the world! So, how could it be said that Providence was not favourable? Therefore the virtuous, simple-hearted Chandradevi became somewhat happy now. But she, we can clearly understand, became greatly distressed at the thought of the poverty of her family a few days afterwards. In order to please the bride’s father and to keep up appearances, the bridal ornaments had been borrowed from the Lahas, their landlord friends, to adorn the bride with on the day of the wedding. From the marriage day, Chandradevi, by lavishing her love on the bride, made her new daughter-in-law more than her own daughter so that Gadadhar might love her very dearly. Now that the time for returning those ornaments had come, the eyes of the old lady were filled with tears to think that she should muster the sternness to take off the ornaments from the girl’s person. She, however, did not express the anguish of her heart to anyone, but it did not take long for Gadadhar to understand it. He pacified his mother with a few words and took off the ornaments from the person of his sleeping wife so deftly that she could not know it at all. The ornaments were immediately sent back to the Lahas. But the matter did not end there. The intelligent girl, when she woke up, said, “Where are those ornaments I had on?” With tears Chandradevi took the girl on her lap and said by way of consoling her, “My child, Gadadhar will give you afterwards many ornaments better than those.” The bride’s uncle came that day to see her and when he came to know this, he expressed great displeasure and took her away. Chandradevi was once more rudely shocked. But very soon the Master removed that pain of hers by his playfulness and jocular remarks, such as, “Let them say or do whatever they like; the marriage cannot be annulled now.”

11.    The Master returned to Calcutta

After his marriage, the Master spent about one year and seven months at Kamarpukur. His mother had him with her after a very long time and did not easily give him permission to return to Calcutta. She did not soon allow him to return lest he should have a relapse of that insanity. Anyway he stayed on and, according to the custom of the family, went to his father-in-law’s house for a few days and returned on an auspicious day to Kamarpukur together with his wife, who, by now, had reached her seventh year.

Now he resolved to return to Calcutta shortly after his “coming in a pair”, as it was called. But for his poverty he would not have had to come to Calcutta. Although his mother and brother asked him to remain at home for some time more, the poverty in the family was not unknown to him. How then could the affectionate and loving heart of the Master remain free from anxiety, fully knowing as he did, all that? He did not comply with their wish, but returned to Calcutta, to the Kali temple, and took over charge of the divine Mother’s service.

12.    The Master’s divine inebriation for the second time

Scarcely had he performed the worship for a few days when he became so much absorbed in it that everything about Kamarpukur—mother, brother, wife, worldly affairs, want, etc.,—got shut up in a dark secluded corner of his heart. The only idea that occupied the whole of his mind was how he could see the divine Mother in all beings at all times. His chest became reddish again on account of continuous Japa, remembrance of God and reflection and meditation on Him The world and all talks thereof appeared to him as deadly poison; that terrible burning sensation came on him again; and sleep vanished as it were into air. But as he had experienced such physical and mental states once before, he was not completely overwhelmed by them as before.

We were told by Hriday that on a call from Mathur Babu, Gangaprasad, the reputed Ayurvedic physician of Calcutta, prescribed for the Master medicines like Chaturmukha pills, and Madhyamanarayana and other oils one after another, for the cure of his sleeplessness, excess of the humour of wind, the burning sensation in his body, etc. Although no immediate result was produced by the treatment, Hriday did not lose hope, and occasionally went with the Master to the Calcutta house of the physician for his treatment. One day, the Master said, when he went there with Hriday, Gangaprasad examined him carefully and prescribed new medicines. Then there was with him another physician of eastern Bengal. Attracted by the Master’s looks and thinking deeply over his disease, he said, “It appears from the symptoms that he is in a state of divine inebriation. It is not curable by medicine.”1 The Master used to say that it was this physician who, of all, was the first to be able to ascertain the real cause of his physical changes appearing like a disease. But nobody then believed in his words. Time passed on thus. Mathur Babu and other friends and well-wishers of the Master grew more anxious and went on trying various treatments for his extraordinary disease. But the disease was on the increase and showed no signs of abatement.

13.    Chandradevi’s Prayopavesana before Siva

Gradually the news reached Kamarpukur. Having no other alternative, Chandradevi undertook a complete fast unto death before Siva for the recovery of her son. Knowing that the “ancient” Siva of Kamarpukur was an “awakened” deity, she went to His temple and lay prostrate without food or drink. Here she got the instruction from the “ancient” Siva that she would have her desire fulfilled if she undertook that vow in the temple of the Siva of Mukundapur, where she went and undertook the fast again. Although she knew that nobody used to undertake such fast in that temple before, the old lady had full faith in the divine instruction and undertook the fast. Hardly had two or three days passed when she dreamt that Siva, the great God, more silvery in complexion than silver itself, bedecked with glowing matted hair and clad in a tiger skin, appeared before her and consoled her saying, “Don’t be afraid; your son is not mad; he is in that state on account of a tremendous awakening of the divine spirit in him” Thus assured through divine intimation, the virtuous old lady offered worship to the great God with her heart purified by devotion and, returning home, began to serve Sitala and Raghuvir with undivided attention for her son’s mental peace. Many men and women, we were told, have since then been undertaking fasts in the temple of the Siva at Mukundapur and getting their desires fulfilled.

14.    The state in which the Master was at that time

Remembering the happenings of that time, the Master said to us now and again: “Far from such a state being fully produced in ordinary peoples’ bodies and minds, one fourth of such changes is enough to bring their lives to an end. I remained occupied with some vision or other of the Mother during the greater part of the day and night; that saved the situation; otherwise it would have been impossible for this sheath (showing his body) to survive. I had no sleep at all for six long years. The eyes lost the power of winking; I could not close the eyes in spite of all my efforts. I had no idea of the passing of time and was not at all conscious of the body; When the attention turned from Mother to the body, even if a little, I felt apprehensive, thinking, ‘Am I on the verge of insanity?’ I stood before a mirror and put my finger into my eyes to see whether the eyelids closed; I found the eyelids were even then equally incapable of winking; 1 became alarmed and wept complaining to Mother, ‘Mother, is this the result of calling on Thee? Is it the result of my absolute reliance on Thee that Thou hast given this terrible disease to this body?’ And the next moment I said, ‘Let anything happen to this. Let the body go, if it is to do so; but see that Thou dost not forsake me. Do reveal Thyself to me and bestow Thy grace on me; for, Mother, I have utterly taken refuge at Thy lotus feet and have absolutely no support except Thee,’ I used to weep thus for some time, when my mind would again be filled with extraordinary ecstasy. The body appeared to be a trifling thing—something unworthy of attention. Then I was blessed with Her vision and consoled by Her words assuring freedom from fear.”

15. Mathur saw the Master as Siva and Kali.

Again it was during this time that one day Mathur was astonished and dumbfounded on having an unsolicited vision of a wonderful divine manifestation in the Master by the inscrutable decree of the Mother of the universe. We have described elsewhere1 how he had that vision of the forms of Siva and Kali in the Master and offered his heartfelt worship to him as the veritable God. He was compelled to view the Master with a different eye since that day and to have devotion to and faith in him When we see such an impossible event happen, it is brought home to us that the divine Mother, the Will of all wills, thus bound up both of them inseparably with the cord of love because Mathur’s help and service during the following period of the Master’s life of Sadhana would be indispensable. One is wonder-struck to find from such events, proofs of how much care the divine Mother took and what wonderful means She employed, in order to make the Master’s body and mind fit instruments for stemming the decline of religion in, and infusing a new spiritual vigour into, the modern world overpowered by agnosticism, atheism and materialism.


1. III. 4.


1. Some say, it was Gangaprasad’s brother Durgaprasad, who saw the Master and said so.

1. III. 6.


The Master after his marriage returned from Kamarpukur to Dakshineswar. After this, in 1861, two important events took place which exercised a profound influence on his life. This is why it is necessary to describe them here.

1.    Severe illness of Rani Rasmani

Rani Rasmani had an attack of dysentery shortly after the Master’s arrival at Dakshineswar. Some of us were told by him that one day the Rani had a sudden fall, which gave rise to fever, pain in the body, indigestion, and other complications gradually leading to dysentery. The disease by degrees took a fatal turn.

2.    Rani’s execution of a Devottara deed of the Dinajpur properties and her death

The Rani, of innumerable noble qualities, had consecrated the Kali temple on Thursday, May 31, 1855, and for the perpetual continuation of the service of the deities, she had purchased on August 29 of the same year, three estates in the district of Dinajpur for two hundred and twenty-six thousand rupees.1 Although she had resolved in her mind to make an endowment of the property, she had not so far executed a deed of endowment formally. Seeing that the hour of death was fast approaching, she became very anxious to do it. Of the four daughters of the Rani, the second and the third, Kumari and Karunamayi respectively, died before the consecration of the Kali temple. Therefore, her two other daughters, the eldest Padmamani and the youngest Jagadamba, were present at her sick-bed. We were told that when the draft of the deed of endowment of the Kali temple, written according to the Rani’s desire, came, she asked her two daughters to sign it giving their assent to the terms of the deed, thereby precluding all possibilities of future quarrels among her descendants regarding the object of the deed. Jagadamba signed that bond; but Padmamani did not, in spite of the repeated requests of the Rani at the time of her death. Therefore the Rani had no peace on her death-bed. As there was no other alternative left, the Rani signed1 the deed of endowment herself on February 18, 1861, thinking, “The divine Mother’s will be done,” and passed away to “the sphere of the Devi” the following night.

3.    The Rani’s vision at the time of passing away

The Master said that Rani Rasmani came to her house on the Adiganga at Kalighat a few days before she passed away. Immediately before her passing away, she saw many lamps lighted before her and exclaimed suddenly, “Do move away all these; I relish them no more. My Mother (the Mother of the universe) is come now; all quarters have become illumined by the effulgence of Her holy person. (A little later) Mother, art thou come? But Padma has not affixed her signature; what will happen, Mother?” Saying so, the virtuous Rani assumed a calm and tranquil mood and immediately slept on the Mother’s lap the sleep that knows no waking. She had already been brought to the sands of the Ganga and the loud howling1 of jackals was being heard on all sides near by.

4.    What the Rani apprehended on her death-bed is about to happen.

From the great disagreement, and the subsequent quarrel and litigation that have been going on among the sons of the Rani’s daughters over the endowed temple property, we see clearly why the far-sighted Rani was so apprehensive at the time of her death regarding the arrangement for the service of the Devi, which was her very life, and why she felt the anguish from that cause far more acutely than the pain due to the fatal disease. It is seen in the official documents that the temple property is now mortgaged for a little less than one lakh of rupees,2 for defraying the heavy expenses of its litigation. Who can say whether the unique, praise-worthy act of the Rani connected with the divine dedication will end some time, as the result of these quarrels, as a mere memory and be obliterated altogether?

5.    Improvement in the worldly affairs of Mathur Babu and his arrangement about the divine service in the temple

Since the foundation of the Kali temple at Dakshineswar, Mathuranath Biswas, the youngest son-inlaw of the Rani, rose to be her right-hand man in managing the estate. From the very day the Kali temple was consecrated, he having studied the financial condition of the endowment, made arrangements about all matters regarding the temple service according to the Rani’s desire. Therefore, it was he who continued managing it after the Rani’s death. As the purifying influence of the life of Sri Ramakrishna had gained a complete hold over the mind of Mathur some time previously, the service of the Mother at Dakshineswar did not evidently slacken in any department after the Rani’s death.

6.    The influence and prosperity of Mathur were for helping the Master

We have told the reader many times of the unique relation of Mathur with the Master. Therefore, it is needless to mention it again. Suffice it to say that the sudden death of the Rani and Mathur’s wielding of the sole authority in the management of the temple affairs gave the latter a great opportunity of helping the Master in his Tantric Sadhanas extending over a long time. Who can say whether this authority of Mathur over the management of the property was not brought about by the will of the divine Mother for helping Her son, the Master? For, we find that from that time on till his death, Mathur engaged himself whole-heartedly in the service of the Master. To have that firm faith in one person for more than eleven long years and to spend one’s life in an exalted spiritual mood are possible by the grace of God alone. One is convinced of the great good fortune of Mathur from the fact that he was daily growing in his faith in the Master, instead of giving free rein to passions and losing his head on the acquisition of almost the sole mastery over the vast property of the Rani.

7.    The idea of Mathur and others about the Master

So far none but the Sadhakas of God could form any idea about the high spiritual state of the Master. The generality of people thought he was demented. For, he, they said, did not at all distinguish what was good for him from what was evil, was not attracted by objects of enjoyment, never tried to do harm to anybody and was living contented within himself, and spent his days repeating sometimes

Hari, sometimes Rama and sometimes Kali! They also saw that he could not at all improve his worldly condition, nor would ever be able to do so, even though he was a favourite of the Rani and Mathur Babu —the persons whose favour was enough to make many people improve their fortunes in every respect. But one thing they all understood, namely, that although this madman was hopelessly good-for-nothing, still his bright eyes, his extraordinary deportment, his sweet voice, his graceful speech and wonderful presence of mind had such an attraction and charm for all that he could unhesitatingly approach and endear himself to even those rich and respectable persons before whom others would not venture to appear. Although the people in general and the officers of the Kali temple in particular, formed such a queer idea of the Master, Mathur had quite a different view of him. Hriday told us that Mathur said, “The reason why he looks like a madman is that he has had the grace of the Mother of all.”

8. The arrival of the Brahmani at Dakshineswar

Shortly after the passing away of the Rani there came to pass another important event in the Master’s life. There was a beautiful flower garden on the spacious embankment on the Ganga, to the west of the Kali temple, full of various kinds of flowers; the trees and creepers in the garden, well taken care of, spread a wonderful beauty and filled the quarters with the fragrance of the flowers. Though the Master did not perform the worship of the divine Mother at that time, he used to pluck flowers daily in that garden, make garlands with them and decorate Her with his own hands. Even today there exist, in the middle of the garden, a wide flight of steps leading from the Ganga to the temple, through a beautiful open portico, and a brick-built Ghat for the use of women at the northern end of the embankment, and a Nahavat to the north of the Kali temple. People used to call that Ghat the Vakul-ghat on account of a big spreading Vakul tree close to it.

One day the Master was plucking flowers in that garden when a boat came to the Vakul-ghat and anchored. A beautiful lady in the dress of a Bhairavi, with ochrecoloured cloth on and with her hair let loose, got down with a bundle of books in her hand and proceeded towards the portico on the wide Ghat to the south. Although the Bhairavi was past her youth, nobody could take her to be advanced in age, because youthful grace and beauty still lingered on her person. We were told by the Master himself that the Bhairavi was then almost forty. We cannot say how far the Master foresaw at first sight his close future relation with her. But it is true that he felt that great attraction towards her, which people feel when they see one whose life is bound up with their own. For, as soon as the Master saw the Bhairavi from a distance, he returned to his room, called Hriday and asked him to fetch the Sannyasini. Hriday hesitated and said, “The lady is a stranger. Why should she come at all?” The Master said, “Request her in my name and she will come readily.” Hriday said that he felt not a little surprised to see the eagerness of the Master to speak with a lady who was entirely unknown to him, for he had never before seen him acting thus.

However, Hriday knew that he could not but obey his mad uncle. So he went to the portico, saw the Bhairavi sitting there and said to her that his maternal uncle, who was a devotee of God, requested her to meet him Hriday was still further amazed when he saw the Bhairavi unhesitatingly standing up to accompany him without putting any question to him

9.   What the Bhairavi said to the Master when she saw him first

When the Bhairavi came to the Master’s room and saw him, she became overwhelmed with delight and astonishment, shed tears of joy and said, “Ah, my child, you are here! I knew you were living somewhere on the bank of the Ganga, and I have been searching for you ever so long; at long last I have met you now.” The Master said to her, “How could you know of me, mother?” The Bhairavi answered, “I knew long ago by the grace of the universal Mother that I would have to meet three of you. I have already met two in eastern Bengal and today I meet you here.”

10.    The first conversation between the Master and the Bhairavi

The Master then sat beside the Bhairavi and, like a child describing everything delightedly and with an open heart to its mother, went on narrating his extraordinary visions—the loss of his consciousness of the external world while talking on God, the burning sensation in his body, his sleeplessness, and other peculiar bodily changes, because of which he was taken to be mad. He repeatedly asked her, “Mother, what are these things that happen to me? Have I actually become mad? Have I been seized with a fell disease for calling on Mother wholeheartedly?” Listening to these words of the Master, she, like a mother, became now excited, now delighted, and with her heart melting with compassion, consoled him saying over and over again, “Who calls you mad, my child? It is not madness; you are in the state of Mahabhava and that is why all these things are happening to you. Is it given to ordinary people to understand the state you are in? In their ignorance they say what they say. All this happened to Sri Radharani and to Sri Chaitanya, the great lord. All these things are recorded in the devotional scriptures. I have got these books with me. I’ll read them out to you and prove that these states came on those who truly called on God in the past and do so at the present time too.” Hriday was simply flabbergasted to see the Bhairavi Brahmani and his uncle behave and converse with each other like close relatives, long familiar.

When afterwards the Master found that the day was far advanced, he gave the Bhairavi Brahmani, for her breakfast, fruits, roots, butter, candy, etc., all Prasada of the Devi; and knowing that the Brahmani, inspired by spiritual motherly love towards him, would not take anything whatever without first feeding him, he first partook a little of all those things. After paying her obeisance to the deities and having her breakfast, she took from the temple stores some flour, rice, etc., as Bhiksha in order to offer cooked food to the stone symbol of Raghuvir hung from her neck, and engaged herself in cooking under the Panchavati. 1

11.   The Bhairavi had an extraordinary vision under the Panchavati

Afterwards, when the cooking was finished, she placed food, drink, etc., before Raghuvir and offered them to Him. Then she, while thinking on her chosen Ideal, sank into deep meditation, had an extraordinary vision, and entered into deep Samadhi. From both her eyes flowed profuse tears of love and she completely lost her consciousness of the world. Feeling in his heart of hearts irresistibly attracted to the Panchavati at that time, the Master came there in a state of ecstasy, and not knowing clearly what he was doing, started like one hypnotized, eating the food offered by the Brahmani to her chosen Ideal. The Brahmani regained her normal consciousness after some time and opened her eyes to see that charming behaviour of the Master who was then in Bhavasamadhi and was devoid of consciousness of the world. Finding all this correspond to her vision, she was filled with bliss and astonishment, the hair of her body standing on end. Coming down to normal consciousness, the Master felt uneasy at what he had done, and said to the Brahmani, “Who knows, mother, why I lose control over myself and happen to do such things?” The Brahmani then reassured him like a mother and said, “You have done very well, my child; it is not you who have done this but the One who is within you has done it as He does always. From what I saw during my meditation, I have come to the certain conclusion as to who has done it, and I feel I need not perform ceremonial worship any more; my worship at long last has answered its purpose.” Saying so, the Brahmani ate without the least hesitation, as Prasada of the Deity, the remains of the food taken by the Master. And, having obtained the permanent living vision of Raghuvir in the body and mind of the Master, she immersed with care the stone symbol of Raghuvir, worshipped so endearingly by her for such a long time, in the waters of the Ganga, shedding tears of love and joy in a spiritual semi-conscious state.

12.    The discussion on the Sastras under the Panchavati

The affection and attraction at first sight between the Master and the Brahmani increased day by day. With her heart overcome by spiritual maternal affection, the Sannyasini stayed on at Dakshineswar. Neither of the two was conscious of how time slipped away day after day in their meeting each other and having spiritual conversation under the Panchavati. The Master told the Brahmani frankly all the mysteries regarding his spiritual visions and states, now and then putting various questions to her. And the Bhairavi Brahmani solved all those problems with the help of books on Tantra. Sometimes, again, she would read verses from the Chaitanya Bhagavata, the Chaitanya Charitamrita and other devotional books showing what signs were produced by the strong surge of the divine love in the bodies and minds of incarnations of God, and in this way dispelled the doubts of the Master. Thus there flowed a current of divine bliss under the Panchavati.

13.    The reason why the Bhairavi came to live at the Devamandal Ghat

Six or seven days passed this way, when it became evident to the keen intelligence of the Master that it did not look well to keep the Brahmani there, though there was nothing really blamable in it. Unable to understand their holy relationship worldly men, given to lust and gold, might start talking ill about the character of the pure lady. As soon as the thought crossed his mind, he gave a hint about it to the Brahmani. The Brahmani also felt the reasonableness of the point and left the Kali temple, deciding to live somewhere near and to come daily for some time to see the Master.

To the north of the temple in the village of Dakshineswar, on the Ganga, is situated the Devamandal Ghat. Here the Brahmani went and dwelt.1 She roamed everywhere in the village and became dear to the ladies there by virtue of her noble qualities. Therefore, she had no inconvenience whatever about her board and lodge and was not prevented from meeting the Master daily out of any fear of public scandal. She used to visit the Kali temple every day for some time and have conversation with him as before. She gathered by begging various kinds of food from the women of the village who became acquainted with her, brought them to the temple and gave them to the Master to eat.2

14.   How the Bhairavi came to have the conviction that the Master was an incarnation of God

When she heard of the spiritual experiences, visions and states of the Master, the Brahmani gained the firm conviction that all those things were produced by his extraordinary love of God. When she saw that he felt supreme bliss during the singing of the Lord’s glory and often lost consciousness in Bhavasamadhi during conversation on God, she became certain that he was not an ordinary Sadhaka. When she saw all these she was reminded time and again of the hints spread over the pages of the Chaitanya Charitamrita, the Chaitanya Bhagavata and other books of Bengal Vaishnavism, about the fact that Chaitanya, the great lord, would again assume a body and come down on earth for the deliverance of men. The Brahmani, the great scholar that she was, compared minutely the conduct and behaviour of the Master with those of Chaitanya recorded in those books and found a great similarity between them. She found manifested in the Master, as in Chaitanya, the power of awakening spirituality in others by touch during Bhavasamadhi. Again, garlands, sandal-paste, etc., recorded to have cured the constant burning sensation in the body of Chaitanya suffering from the pangs of separation from God, were applied by her to the Master also for the same purpose and with the same effect.1 Therefore, the memory of the divine vision regarding Sri Ramakrishna which the Brahmani had under the Panchavati on the first day of her arrival, as well as the few facts just mentioned above deeply convinced her that both Chaitanya and Nityananda had come again in the present age and dwelt in the Master’s body and mind with a view to disseminating love of God for the deliverance of Jivas. While going to the village of Sihar, the Master, we have already told the reader, saw two boys of tender age come out of his body. The Brahmani now heard of that vision from the Master himself and became all the more convinced of her own conclusion regarding him and said, “Chaitanya is manifesting this time in the ‘sheath’ of Nityananda.”

The Sannyasini Brahmani did not expect any favour from anybody in the world; so she was not afraid of being condemned or ridiculed if her own conclusion regarding Sri Ramakrishna were spoken out to others. Therefore, when asked about it, she had no hesitation in fully expressing her view first to the Master and Hriday and then to all others. One day at this time the Master, we were told, sat under the Panchavati with Mathur and Hriday. In the course of conversation, the Master told Mathur about the Brahmani’s faith regarding himself and said, “She says the signs that were manifest in the incarnations of God are there in this body and mind.1 She has read many scriptures and has also many books with her.” When Mathur heard this, he laughed out and said, “Father, let her say whatever she likes; the incarnations of God cannot be more than ten. Therefore,, how can her words be true? But it is true that the Mother Kali has bestowed Her grace on you.”

They were talking thus when they saw a Sannyasini coming towards them Mathur asked the Master, “Is it she? “ The Master replied, “Yes.” They saw that she had procured a plateful of sweets from somewhere and in a state of rare inwardness, oblivious, so to say, of the outside world, was coming towards them inspired by the same mood which prompted Yasoda, the wife of Nanda, to proceed with affection oozing out of her heart to feed Gopala at Vrindavan. When she approached them, she saw Mathur Babu and carefully restrained herself and handed over the plate to Hriday to be given to the Master to eat from. Pointing to Mathur, the Master then said to her, “Mother, I was telling him what you said about me, to which he replied that the incarnations of God could not be more than ten. Mathur saluted the Sannyasini in the meantime and admitted that he had actually raised the objection. The Brahmani gave her blessings to him and replied, “Why? Does not the Bhagavata speak at first of twenty-four principal incarnations and, afterwards, of innumerable ones? Besides the coming again of the great lord (Sri Chaitanya) is distinctly mentioned in the Vaishnava books, and a great similarity of the principal characteristics is found to exist between him and Sri Chaitanya.” The Brahmani thus supported her own position and said that if a good scholar of the Bhagavata and books of the Bengal Vaishnava teachers be consulted, he could not but admit the truth of what she said. She was ready, she said, to support her position in the presence of a scholar. Not knowing what he should say, Mathur remained silent.

15. The reason why Pandit Vaishnavacharan came to Dakshineswer

All people, big and small, of the Kali temple came gradually to know of the extraordinary conviction of the Brahmani regarding the Master. This caused a great flutter among them We have recorded elsewhere the result of this sensation in detail.1 Therefore, it will suffice here to mention that although the Brahmani raised the Master suddenly to the position of God and paid him the reverence due to God in the presence of all, he remained the same simple child of the divine Mother untouched by egotism and the resulting changes. But he wanted to know the opinions of persons well versed in the Sastras on the Brahmani’s conclusion and insisted like a boy that Mathur should invite the Pandits to Dakshineswar. As a result of this request, Pandit Vaishnavacharan came to the Kali temple. We have described elsewhere2 how the Brahmani, when she met Vishnavacharan, not only upheld her own position but also brought him round to hers.


1 Plaint in High Court Suit No. 308 of 1872 Puddomoni Dasee vs. Jagadamba Dasee, recites the following from the Deed of Endowment executed by Rani Rasmani: “According to my late husband’s desire . . . I on the 18th Jaistha 1262 B.S. (31st May 1855) established and consecrated the Thakurs . . . and for purpose of carrying on the seva purchased three lots of Zemindaries in District Dinajpur on 14th Bhadra 1262 B.S. (29th August 1855) for Rs. 2,26,000.”

1. The deed of Endowment dated 18th February 1861 was executed by Rani Rasmani; she acknowledged her execution of the same before J. F. Watkins, Solicitor, Calcutta. This dedication was accepted as valid by all parties in Alipore Suit No. 47 of 186.7, Jadu Nath Chowdhury vs. Puddomoni and in the High Court Suit No. 308 of 187*2, Puddomoni vs. Jagadamba and also when that suit (No. 308) was revived after, contest on 19th July 1888.

1.    The Devi is represented as being surrounded by jackals. So the howling of jackals is considered a good omen.—Tr.

2.    Debt due on mortgage by the Estate is Rs. 50,000; interest payable quarterly is Rs. 876-0-0; costs of the Referee already stated amount to Rs. 20,000, as yet untaxed.

1.    Hriday said, ‘The Master himself advised the Brahmani to live at the Devamandal Ghat. He sent her to the Mandal’s place. As soon as she went there, she- was received respectfully by the virtuous wife of the late Navinchandra Niyogi. This pious lady not only allowed her to live in the room at the Ghat as long as she liked but also gave her a bedstead, a maund of rice, pulses, ghee and other articles of food.”

2.    III. 8.

1. IV. 1.

1.    III. 5, 6; IV. 1.

2.    IV. 1.


1.    The divine insight produced by Sadhana made the Brahmani understand truly the state of the Master

The Brahmani did not arrive at the above conclusion about the uncommon nature of the Master through reason and inference only. The reader may remember that she told the Master during her first meeting with him that she was to meet three persons, Sri Ramakrishna and two others, and help them in developing their spiritual life. She had that command from the Mother of the universe long before she had the privilege of meeting the Master. It is therefore clear that her divine insight produced by spiritual practices, brought her to Dakshineswar and helped her in understanding the Master. As time passed since her first meeting with the Master and as she became more and more closely associated with him, the clearer did it appear to her how far and in what way she was to render him assistance in his Sadhana. Therefore, she did not now spend her time in merely removing the erroneous conception of the people about him, but also engaged the Master in performing various disciplines according to the strict injunctions of the scriptures, so that he might have the perfect vision of the universal Mother and, endowed with Her infinite grace and favour, might become firmly established in his own divine power, that is, in his real nature.

2.    The reason why the Brahmani asked the Master to undertake Tantric Sadhana

When the Brahmani, herself an advanced aspirant, saw the Master and talked with him, it did not take her long to understand that the Master could not free himself from doubts regarding his own condition, because he had proceeded so far to attain the divine Mother’s vision with the help, of his extraordinary devotion only, instead of strictly following the traditional paths of spiritual teachers. Therefore, the doubt was crossing his mind now and then whether his visions of the divine Mother were the results of a derangement of brain and whether his extraordinary physical and mental changes were the symptoms of a virulent disease. The Brahmani reflected on what has been mentioned before and induced the Master to follow the path of discipline prescribed in the Tantras. As soon as the Master followed the path of discipline trod by previous Sadhakas, and had experience of the spiritual states similar to those experienced by them, she knew, he would understand that those states of his were not produced by any disease. When he saw it already recorded in the Tantras that particular results were produced by the performance of particular rites, and when he himself obtained those results through the practice of those rites, he would gain a firm conviction that through discipline man had uncommon experiences by ascending to higher and higher planes of consciousness in the internal realm, and that his own physical and mental states had been produced in that way only. The result would be that, whatever uncommon experiences he might have in future, he would know them all as true, and proceed towards his goal without being at all troubled by them The Brahmani knew that the scriptures, therefore, advised the aspirant always to compare the experiences of his own life with the words of the Guru and the Sastras and see whether they tallied or not.

3.    Why the Brahmani helped the Master in his Sadhana, even though she knew that he was an incarnation of God

Why did the Brahmani, it may be asked, engage herself in making the Master practise these disciplines, though she knew that he was an incarnation of God? Does not one who understands the glory of the incarnations of God accept the conclusion that they are perfect, and that disciplines are altogether unnecessary for them? Had the Brahmani, it may be said in reply, been conscious at all times of that glory of the Master, she would have entertained that mental attitude; but that was not the case. We have already said that the Brahmani felt from the very first meeting a maternal affection for the Master. There is nothing on earth more powerful than love to obliterate in one the consciousness of power in the object of one’s love and to impel one to do what one considers good for him There is no doubt, therefore, that moved by a genuine affection for him she induced the Master to undertake spiritual practices. We come across the same thing in the lives of all god-men, the incarnations. Although the persons intimately related to such men are sometimes overawed by their knowledge of the extraordinary spiritual powers in them, they, it is seen, forget all about it the next moment, and, charmed with the attraction of their love, feel content with merely offering their heart’s love to them and seeking their welfare. Similarly, the Brahmani, amazed time after time at the extraordinary ecstasies and the manifestation of powers in the Master, forgot them as quickly and as often, blinded, so to say, by maternal love. It is needless to say that the Master’s genuine filial affection for her and his absolute dependence on and faith in her played no small part in raising waves of tender, though austere, maternal affection in the Sannyasini’s heart and made her oblivious of his powers, thus impelling her to undergo endless troubles for making the Master happy even to the slightest degree, and protecting him from others’ tyranny and helping him in his Sadhana.

4.    The Brahmani was eager to make the Master experience all the results of the austerity practised by her

When there is an opportunity of teaching an exceptionally brilliant pupil, there naturally arises in the Guru’s heart a supreme contentment, and self-satisfaction. The Brahmani had never even dreamt that in the spiritual world such an excellent and very competent person as the Master could be born at the present time. Therefore we can very well infer that a wonderful joy filled her heart when she got the opportunity of teaching the Master. It was no wonder, therefore, that she was eager to make the Master experience in a very short time all the results of her study and austerity.

5.    The Master undertook Tantric discipline with the permission of the divine Mother. The measure of his eagerness for this discipline.

We sometimes heard from the Master himself that he had asked the divine Mother about the propriety and necessity of the disciplines according to the Tantras before he began to practise them, and that he undertook them with Her permission. It was, therefore, not merely the eagerness and inducement of the Brahmani that engaged him in those spiritual exercises, but also the divine insight born of sadhana that made him feel in his heart of hearts that the opportunity of attaining the immediate knowledge of the divine Mother by resorting to scriptural methods had arrived. Therefore, the concentrated mind of the Master now advanced fast with full eagerness on the path of Sadhana taught by the Brahmani. It is not possible for us, ordinary mortals, to feel the measure and intensity of that eagerness. For, where are that tranquillity and that one-pointedness in our minds, distracted as they are by many things from many directions? Where is that unbounded courage on our part to jump headlong in order to touch the very bottom of the sea of deep consciousness instead of being deluded by the wantonness of its surface waves, the objects of normal consciousness? Where is the power in us to eradicate the attachment to all the things of the world including our own bodies, and to plunge with utter abandon into the depths of spiritual inwardness, to realize which the Master urged us over and over again, saying, “Dive deep down, dive to the depths of yourself.” Overwhelmed with the anguish of his heart, the Master, we were told, rubbed his face against the sandy bank of the Ganga under the Panchavati, saying, “Mother, reveal Thyself;” and was it a matter of a day or two? It went on unabated as days passed by. Those words only enter our ears, but do not rouse corresponding echoes in our hearts at all. And why should it be otherwise? Have we got that childlike all-consuming faith of the Master in the existence of the divine Mother and in the attainment of Her vision by renouncing everything and calling on Her with the eagerness of heart that was his?

6. The Master spoke about his eagerness at the time of Sadhana

One day while living at Kasipur, the Master astonished us by giving us a little indication of the measure and the intensity of his spiritual eagerness at the time of his Sadhana. We cannot say whether we shall be able to give the reader even a faint picture of what we then felt. However, we shall mention it here.

We were witnessing with our own eyes the intense eagerness of Swami Vivekananda for the realization of God, how the spiritual awakening came on him when he went to deposit the fee for his Law examination; how, goaded to restlessness by it, he ran, oblivious of the world outside, barefooted and with only one piece of cloth on, through the streets of the city to the feet of Sri Guru at Kasipur and, like one mad, laid bare to him the anguish of his heart, and obtained his grace; how, since then he spent his time night and day in Japa, meditation, devotional songs and spiritual study; how on account of his boundless enthusiasm for Sadhana, his usually tender heart turned adamant and remained quite indifferent to the sufferings of his mother and brothers; and how, advancing with single-minded devotion on the path of Sadhana pointed out by his preceptor, he was having vision after vision, culminating at last in his first enjoyment of the bliss of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi in a short period of three or four months. All these things took place before our very eyes and completely struck us dumb. Greatly delighted, the Master used to praise highly the Swami’s extraordinary devotion, eagerness and enthusiasm for spiritual practices. One day at that time the Master compared the Swami’s love and enthusiasm for Sadhana with his own and said, “Narendra’s devotion and enthusiasm are extraordinary indeed, but compared with the urge that came here (pointing to himself) at the time of Sadhana, his is most ordinary. It is not even one fourth of that.” Understand, if you can, O reader, with the help of your imagination what feeling arose in our minds at those words of the Master.

Thus the Master took the hint from the universal Mother, forgot everything else and merged himself in Sadhana. And the learned and adroit Brahmani took endless pains to collect from various parts of the country, things specifically necessary for particular rites, and ‘gave the Master instructions regarding their application at the time of Sadhana.

7.    The construction of the Panchamundi seat and the performance of all the Sadhanas according to the sixty-four Tantras

The skulls1 of five dead beings, including that of a man, were brought from the parts of the country far away from the Ganga; and two altars2 propitious for Tantric Sadhanas were constructed, one, under the Vilva tree situated at the northern boundary of the temple garden, and the other, under the Panchavati planted by the Master himself; and sitting on either of these ‘skull-seats’, according to need, Master spent his time in Japa, meditation, etc. This extraordinary Sadhaka and his guide were not conscious, for a few months, of how days and nights slipped by. The Master used to say,1 “In the day-time the Brahmani went to various places far away from the temple, garden and collected and brought various rare articles prescribed by the Tantras. Placing them under the Vilva tree or under the Panchavati at night, she called me, taught me how to make use of those things, and helped me in the performance of the worship of the divine Mother according to the prescribed rules with their aid, asking me at last to merge in Japa and meditation. I acted accordingly. But I had to perform almost no Japa; for, hardly did I turn the rosary once when I merged completely in Samadhi and realized the results proper to those rites. There was thus no limit to my visions and experiences, all very extraordinary. The Brahmani made me undertake, one by one, all the disciplines prescribed in the sixty-four main Tantras, all difficult to accomplish, in trying to practise which most of the Sadhakas go astray; but all of which I got through successfully by Mother’s grace.

8.    Seeing the Goddess in the form of the woman

“On one occasion, I saw, that the Brahmani had brought at night—nobody knew whence—a beautiful woman in the prime of her youth, and said to me, ‘My child, worship her as the Devi.’ When the worship was finished, she said, ‘ Sit on her lap, my child, and perform Japa. ’ I was seized with fear, wept piteously and said to Mother, ‘O Mother, Mother of the universe, what is this command Thou givest to one who has taken absolute refuge in Thee? Has Thy weak child the power to be so impudently daring?’ But as soon as I said so, I felt as if I was possessed by some unknown power, and an extraordinary strength filled my heart. And no sooner had I, uttering the Mantras, sat on the lap of the woman, like one hypnotized, unaware of what I was doing, than I merged completely in Samadhi. When I regained consciousness, I saw the Brahmani waiting on me and assiduously trying to bring me back to normal consciousness. She said, ‘The rite is completed, my child; others restrain themselves with very great difficulty under such circumstances and then finish the rite with nominal Japa for a trifling little time only; but you lost all consciousness and were in deep Samadhi.’ When I heard this, I became reassured and began to salute Mother again and again with a grateful heart for enabling me to pass that ordeal unscathed.

“On another occasion, I saw that the Brahmani cooked fish in the skull of a dead body and performed Tarpana. She also made me do so and asked me to take that fish. I did as I was asked and felt no aversion whatever.

9. Renunciation of aversion

“But, on the day when the Brahmani brought a piece of rotten flesh and asked me to touch it with my tongue after Tarpana, I was shaken by aversion and said, ‘Can it be done?’ So questioned, she said, ‘What’s there in it, my child? Just see, I do it.’ Saying so, she put a portion of it into her mouth and said, ‘Aversion should not be entertained,’ and placed again a little of it before me. When I saw her do so, the idea of the terrible Chandika Form of the Mother Universal was inspired in my mind; and repeatedly uttering ‘Mother’, I entered into Bhavasamadhi. There was then no aversion felt when the Brahmani put it into my mouth.

10.    Other Tantric realizations and the Master’s behaviour at the time of Tantric Sadhanas

“Having initiated me thus in Purnabhisheka, the Brahmani made me perform daily Tantric rites too numerous to mention. I now don’t remember all things at all times. But I remember the day when I was able by the grace of Mother to view with perfect equanimity, the supreme pleasure of a pair of lovers, seeing nothing in it but the blissful sport of the Divine; the mind instead of descending even to the neighbourhood of ordinary human feelings, soared higher and higher merging at last in deep Samadhi. After regaining normal consciousness, I heard the Brahmani say, ‘You have reached the desired end of a very difficult Tantric Sadhana and become established in the divine mood. This is the ultimate Sadhana of the (heroic) mode of worship. ’

“Shortly afterwards, when I performed the worship of the female figure according to the Tantra rites, I did it with the help of another Bhairavi in the open music hall of the temple in the presence of all, during the day-time. When it was over I saluted her according to Sastric prescription. This was the last rite connected with the heroic mode of worship, which I completed in that manner. Even as my mental attitude towards all women, namely, that of a child towards its mother, remained intact during the long period of the Tantric Sadhana, so also I could never take a drop of wine at that time. The mere mention of the name of Karana1 (wine) would inspire in me the immediate experience of the universal Cause and I lost myself in it completely. Similarly, as soon as I heard other words of that kind, the Cause of the universe would present Itself before me and I would be in Samadhi.”

11.    One story of Ganesh’s filial attitude towards all women

One day while living at Dakshineswar, the Master made mention of his lifelong filial attitude towards all women and told us a story from the Puranas. How firmly the knowledge of filial relation with all women without exception was established in the heart of Ganesh, the chief of the perfected persons of divine knowledge, was described in the story. Before we were told that story, we had no excess of devotion to and reverence for this pot-bellied, elephant-faced god with the exudation flowing from his temples. But, since we heard the story from the Master’s holy mouth, we have the conviction that Ganesh was truly fit to be worshipped before all the gods, as indeed he is worshipped. The story is this:

One day, in his tender age, Ganesh, while playing, saw a cat, which he, in his boyish playfulness and restlessness, beat and tortured in various ways and covered with wounds. The cat escaped somehow with life, and limb. When Ganesh became quiet and came to his mother, he saw to his surprise marks of injury in various parts of the holy person of the Devi. Very much pained to see that condition of his mother, the boy asked her the reason of it. The Devi answered in a melancholy mood, “You yourself are the cause of this sad condition of mine!” More afflicted than surprised at it, the devoted Ganesh said with tears in his eyes, “How strange! Mother, when did I beat you? And I don’t remember that this child of yours, ignorant as he is, has done any wicked action for which you have to suffer such insults at the hands of anyone.”

Parvati Devi, whose gross external form is the universe, said, “Try to remember if you have beaten any living creature today.” “Yes,” said Ganesh, “I did so; I beat a cat a short time ago.” Ganesh thought that the person to whom the cat belonged, beat his mother that way. Ganesh’s mother took the repentant boy to her bosom and consoled him saying, “It is not so, my child; nobody beat this body of mine; but it is I who have assumed the form of the cat; that is why you see the marks of your beating on my person. You have done so without knowing it; so, don’t be sorry for it; but remember henceforward that all the Jivas of the world having female forms are parts of me and those having male forms are parts of your father. There are no persons or things in the world other than Siva and Sakti.” Ganesh had faith in those words and enshrined them in his heart. When he reached the marriageable age, he did not consent to marry lest he should have to marry his mother. Ganesh thus maintained continence all his life and became foremost among the persons of divine knowledge, inasmuch as he always had the conviction in his heart that the universe was of the nature of Siva and Sakti, Brahman and Its Power.

After narrating the preceding story the Master told the following one, also indicative of the greatness of Ganesh’s knowledge.

12. The story of the circumambulation of the universe by Ganesh and Kartik

Showing once the precious garland of gems hanging from her neck to Ganesh and Kartik, Parvati Devi said to them, “I will give this garland of gems to the one who will circumambulate the universe comprising the fourteen worlds and come back to me first.” Kartik, the commander of the celestial army, having for his vehicle a peacock, smiled a smile of derision thinking of his elder brother’s fat and heavy body and pot-belly, and of the small power and slow movement of the mouse, his vehicle, and became cocksure that the garland had already become his, and started immediately on the circumambulation of the universe. Long after Kartik had started, the sedate Ganesh left his seat calmly and, seeing with the eye of knowledge the universe consisting of Siva and Sakti, situated in the body of Hara and Parvati, went round them with a gentle gait, worshipped them and took his seat. Long after this Kartik returned, when, pleased with the knowledge and devotion of Ganesh, Parvati Devi placed the garland of gems affectionately round his neck as a token of her grace.

Thus mentioning the greatness of Ganesh’s knowledge and his filial relation with all women without exception, the Master said, “My attitude to women is also the same; that is why I had the vision of the maternal form of the universal Cause in my wedded wife and worshipped her and bowed down at her feet.”

13. The uniqueness of the Master in his Tantric Sadhana

We have not heard of any other Sadhaka in any age who having kept intact that filial attitude towards all women, had resorted to the Tantric disciplines according to the prescribed rules of the heroic mode of worship. Following this heroic mode the aspirants have all along been taking a woman companion at the time of Sadhana. As they do not see any aspirant of the heroic mode deviate from that practice, people have got a firm conviction that the realization of the desired end of the discipline, that is, the attainment of the grace of the divine Mother, is quite impossible if that practice is not followed. It is doubtless that, under the influence of this conviction, people condemn the Tantra scriptures.

14.    That speciality was the intention of the divine Mother

It is only the Master, the incarnation for this epoch, who told us repeatedly that he never in his life kept the company of a woman even in a dream. That the accomplishment of a hidden purpose was the intention of the divine Mother is evident from the fact that She made the Master take up the filial attitude towards all women from the beginning and engaged him in the discipline according to the heroic mode.

15.    What is proved by the Master’s attaining success without taking a women

The Master said, “It did not take me more, than three days to succeed in any of the disciplines. When I took up a particular discipline and asked the divine Mother importunately with a glowing eagerness of heart for the realization of its result, She benignly crowned me with success in three days only.” It is clearly proved that the company of a woman is not an indispensable auxiliary of those practices, inasmuch as the Master became successful in those disciplines in a very short time without taking a woman. It is by being overcome by his own weak nature, that an aspirant destitute of self-control acts in that way. It is only by way of a concession that the Tantras teach that an aspirant who takes a woman will be established in the divine state in future as the result of his repeated practice of discipline. This assurance of success to them shows only the supremely compassionate nature of the scriptures and not the obligatory character of those rites.

16.    The purpose of the Tantric practices

The common aim of all the Tantric practices, it is inferred, is to accustom the aspirant, through selfcontrol and repeated efforts and perseverance, to the conviction that those very objects—sights, tastes, etc., which tempt human beings, make them experience repeated birth and death, and prevent them from attaining self-knowledge by realizing God—are none other than the veritable forms of God. Taking into account the difference in the aspirants’ self-control and conviction, the Tantras have dealt with three different modes of worship, namely the “animal”, the “heroic” and the “divine”, and have advised them to worship God according to the first, second or third mode. In course of time people almost completely forgot that the results of the Tantric practices could only be obtained if the aspirants resorted to austere self-control as the basis of those disciplines; they engaged themselves in many evil practices, for which the Tantras themselves were held responsible by all and were ridiculed by the common run of people. The success of the Master, remaining in full possession of the filial attitude towards all women throughout those practices, has been of immense benefit to both the true aspirants and the Tantric scriptures—to the former, by pointing out to them the right way to the goal of their lives; to the latter, by bringing out their real glory and firmly establishing their authenticity.

17.    Another reason why the Master undertook Tantric Sadhanas

Although the Master practised the disciplines according to the Tantric mysteries for three or four years, he, it seems, did not tell any of us their consecutive order or give any one of us a detailed account of them. But in order to encourage us on the path of Sadhana, he told many of us of these facts on many occasions, or according to individual needs, and made a rare few of us perform some of those practices. The Mother of the universe, it appears, made the Master fully acquainted with this path at that time, because if he had not himself had the uncommon experiences resulting from the Tantric practices, he would not have been able to detect the mental states of the devotees of different nature who came to him in his later life, and to lead them forward on the path of Sadhana. We have elsewhere1 given a little indication of how the Master guided the devotees who came to him and took refuge in him along various paths of discipline. The reader going through them will easily understand the reasonableness of what we have said above. Therefore it is needless to mention that here again.

18. The visions and experiences of the Master at the time of the Tantric Sadhanas

19.    He took the remnants of food taken by jackals and dogs

Besides telling us, in this manner, of the Tantric practices, the Master sometimes mentioned to us many of his visions and experiences. We shall now tell the reader a few of them. A root-and-branch change, the Master said, came over his former nature at the time of the Tantric Sadhana. When he was told that the divine Mother sometimes assumed the form of a jackal, and that the dogs were the carriers of Bhairava, he regarded the remnants of food taken by those animals as pure and sacred and partook of them as Prasada without feeling the slightest hesitation.

20.    He saw himself pervaded by the fire of knowledge

Offering heartily, as oblations to the lotus feet, of the divine Mother, his body, mind, life and all— the Master saw himself incessantly pervaded, inwardly and outwardly, by the fire of knowledge.

21.    He saw the awakening of the Kundalini

The Master saw during this period that the Kundalini was awakened, and it proceeded upwards to the head. All the lotuses from the Muladhara, the basic centre, to the thousandpetalled Sahasrara in the head, turned upwards and opened fully. As soon as they did so one after another, he got strange and wonderful experiences.1 He saw for example that a celestial luminous male figure went through the Sushumna, the Canal Centralis, to those lotuses, now turning upwards, and made them open by touching them with his tongue.

22.    His vision of the Brahmayoni, the divine womb

At one time, when Swami Vivekananda sat for meditation, there appeared before him a very large, wonderful triangle of light which, he felt, was living. One day he came to Dakshineswar and told the Master this, when the latter said, “Very good; you have seen the Brahmayoni; while practising Sadhana under the Vilva tree, I also saw it; what was more, I observed it giving birth to innumerable worlds every moment.”

23.    He heard the Anahata Dhvani

At that time the Master heard, arising naturally and unceasingly everywhere in the universe, the Anahata Dhvani, the great Pranava sound, which is the aggregate of all the different sounds of the universe. Some of us heard this from the Master himself and also heard him say that he could at that time understand the meanings of the cries of all animals.

24.    The vision about the worthlessness of miraculous powers

During that period, the Master saw the divine Mother Herself dwelling in the female form. In the latter part of this period the Master felt in himself the presence of the miraculous powers, like the one of becoming as small as an atom One day he went at the instance of Hriday to the universal Mother to know, the propriety and utility of applying them and saw that they were to be shunned and discarded like excreta. The Master said that since then it appeared loathsome to him to hear the term “miraculous power”.

25.    The Master’s talk with Swami Vivekananda about the eight miraculous powers

We are reminded of one thing about the Master’s possession of the ‘eight miraculous powers’. One day he called Swami Vivekananda privately to the Panchavati and said, “Look here I have got the well-known ‘eight miraculous powers’. But I decided long ago that I will never make use of them; nor do I see any need for applying them; you will have to do many things like preaching religion; I have made up my mind to give them to you; here they are.” The Swami said to him in reply, “Sir, will these help me in any way in realizing God?” When afterwards he came to know from the Master’s reply that, although they could be of some help in such activities as preaching religion, they would not in any way assist him in realizing God, he declined to accept them, at which, the Swami told us afterwards, the Master was highly pleased with him

26.    His vision of the deluding power of the universal Mother

There arose in the Master’s mind during this period, a desire to see the deluding power of the Mother of the universe when he Saw that a female figure of extraordinary beauty rose from the waters of the Ganga and came with a dignified gait to the Panchavati. Presently he saw that the said figure was in an advanced stage of pregnancy; a few minutes later he saw that she gave birth to a beautiful baby in his very presence and suckled the baby very affectionately; the next moment he saw that the same figure assumed a very cruel and frightful appearance and, taking the baby into her mouth, masticated it and swallowed it! She then entered the waters of the river whence she had appeared.

27.    The beauty of Shodasi, the Mahavidya

Besides the visions mentioned above, there was no limit to the number of the Devi’s forms, ranging from the two-armed to the ten-armed, that he saw during this period. Again, some of those engaged themselves in conversing with him and gave him various instructions. Although all those forms of Hers were of extraordinary beauty, we were told by him that they were not worth comparison in that respect with that of Sri Rajarajeswari, otherwise called Shodasi. The Master said, “I saw in a vision the beauty of the person of Shodasi which melted, and spread all around illumining the quarters.” At that time the Master had the visions of various male figures like Bhairava and also visions of celestial beings. From the time of his Tantric Sadhana, there were so many extraordinary visions and experiences in the Master’s life day after day that it is beyond the power of man to mention all of them It is therefore needless to spend any more time in making that attempt.

28.    As the result of Tantric Sadhana, the Master became free from body-consciousness and attained a childlike nature

We heard from the Master himself that from the time of his Tantric Sadhana, the orifice of his Sushumna was fully opened and his nature was permanently converted into that of a boy. From the latter part of that period, he could not, in spite of his efforts, retain his cloth, sacred thread, etc., on his person for any length of time. He did not feel where and when all these things slipped off. It is needless to mention that this condition was caused by the absence in him of body-consciousness, on account of his mind remaining always absorbed in the lotus feet of the divine Mother. We have it from the Master himself that, unlike the ordinary Paramahamsas he never practised wandering or remaining naked—it naturally came to him with his gradual loss of body-consciousness. The Master said that at the end of those disciplines his knowledge of non-duality with regard to all things increased so much that he felt that those things which he considered to be trifling and worth discarding from his childhood, now appeared to be as pure as the purest. He asserted, “The holy basil and the legumen of Sajina (drumstick)1 were felt by me to be equally holy.”

29.    The splendour of the Master’s person during Tantric Sadhanas

Again, the splendour of the Master’s person increased so much for a few years from that time, that he became the cynosure of all eyes at all times. As he was devoid of egoism, he was so much annoyed at it that he prayed on many occasions to the divine Mother to be rid of that celestial beauty, and imploringly said, “Mother, I have not the slightest need of this external beauty; please take it away and give me instead the inward spiritual beauty.” We have told the reader elsewhere1 that this prayer of his was fulfilled afterwards.

30. The Bhairavi Brahmani was a part of Yogamaya

Just as the Brahmani helped the Master in his Tantric Sadhanas, so did the Master help the Brahmani later in developing her spiritual life. We have already given an indication of the fact that, but for the Master’s help, she could not have established herself in the divine mood. The name of the Brahmani was Yogeswari who, the Master said, was a part of Yogamaya (the mystic power of the Lord).

Attaining divine powers on account of his Tantric Sadhana, the Master came to know another thing. He came to know by the grace of the divine Mother that many persons would come in later days to him and get spiritual enlightenment from him and thus their life’s purpose would be fulfilled. He told this to Hriday and also to Mathur, who was greatly devoted to him; Mathur replied, “How very good, Father! we shall all make merry in your company.”


1.    ‘Now hear, O queen of the Devas, of the best Sadhana with the help of skulls, by the performance of which the Sadhaka attains the supreme goal, which is the great Devi Herself. O one of excellent face, “the three skulls” are those of a man, a buffalo and a cat or they are “three skulls” of men alone; and the heads of a jackal, a snake, a dog, and a bull and, in the midst of these, the head of a man— otherwise the five skulls of men alone, are called, O powerful one, “ the five skulls” collectively ... And on it an altar, a span square, should be made. Or an altar, four cubits square, O Devi, should be built.’ The fifth FatalYogini-Tantra. 1

1. What we heard from the Master at different times are given here in a connected way.

1. In Bengali the word ‘Karana’ means both ‘cause’ and ‘wine’; so by the law of association the mention of the one gave rise to the thought of the other, of wine to the universal Cause.


1. III. 2.

1.    Hyperanthena moranga.

2.    III. 7. 8.


   The Sadhakas generally make one altar on five heads interred; and sit on it practising Japa, meditation, etc. But the Master told us of two ‘skull-seats’. Three human skulls were interred below the altar under the Vilva tree and five skulls of five species of dead beings were interred below that under the Panchavati. Shortly after he became perfect in his Sadhanas, he threw those skulls into the Ganga and broke down both the altars. Two ‘seats’ were made, because the seat of ‘three-skulls’ was favourable to Sadhana or because the spot under the Vilva tree was at that time wholly solitary and, therefore, more convenient for Sadhanas. Or it may be that no fire for Homa could be kindled under the Vilva tree on account of its proximity to the “ Company’s “ (Government of India’s) magazine.


1.    Mathur’s experience and behaviour on receiving the Master’s grace

Sri Yogeswari, the Bhairavi, came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar after the virtuous Rani Rasmani had passed away in the latter part of 1861. The Master applied himself particularly to the Tantric disciplines from that time to 1863. Mathur Babu had the privilege of serving the Master and thereby feeling blessed, when the Master plunged himself in those disciplines. Just as before that period Mathur had become firmly convinced, by repeatedly testing him, of his extraordinary love for God, wonderful self-control, and glowing renunciation and detachment, so, during this period of his Tantra Sadhana, as a result of experiencing time and again divine powers manifested in him, he came to the firm conclusion that it was the Devi, his chosen Ideal Herself, who, in the person of Sri Ramakrishna, had become pleased to accept his services1 and was protecting him in all respects and accompanying him everywhere, maintaining his influence and authority over the estate and covering him with ever-increasing honour and respect. He thought so because, during this time, he succeeded in whatever he undertook, and regarded himself as exceedingly befriended by the Divinethrough the Master. It was, therefore, no wonder that Mathur spent unstintingly large sums of money in supplying articles conducive to the Master’s Sadhana and for serving God and performing other virtuous deeds according to his wish.

As the manifestation of the spiritual powers of the Master increased day by day through the Tantric practices, Mathur, who had taken refuge at his holy feet, found his ardour, courage and strength correspondingly developed. His feeling was now similar to that of a devotee who reposed his faith in God and experienced in his heart extraordinary enthusiasm and accession of strength when he attained His grace and felt safe under His protection. But the devotion of the worldly Mathur in whose nature Rajas predominated, remained quite satisfied with rendering service to the Master and performing virtuous acts, never wishing to advance far into the spiritual realm Although this was so, Mathur was perfectly convinced that the Master was the only source of his strength, his intelligence and his hope, that he alone was his prop and support in this world and in the next, and that he was at the root of his worldly prosperity, exalted position, etc.

2.    Mathur undertook the religious vow of a gift, of a ‘mountain of food’

The undertakings that Mathur carried out at that time prove that he now considered himself fully secure in his worldly affairs through the grace of the Master. We read in the book entitled “A story of the life of Rani Rasmani” that Mathuranath performed the very expensive religious ceremony called the Annameru, the gift, of a “mountain of food” and other necessaries, in 1864 at Dakshineswar. Hriday said that besides plentiful gold, silver, etc., he gave away to the Pandits a thousand maunds of rice and an equal amount of sesame, and appointed Sahachari, the well-known songstress, to sing the glory of God and Rajnarayan to sing the songs of Chandi, converting the Kali temple into a festive ground for some time. Hriday said further that Mathur saw the Master enter repeatedly into ecstasy listening to the highly devotional songs rendered by those singers. In fact, he took the varying degrees of the Master’s appreciative reaction in this respect to be the measure of their talents and accordingly gave them as reward precious shawls, silks and hundreds of rupees.

3.    The Master met Padmalochan, the Vedantic scholar

Attracted by the humility and innumerable other qualities of Padmalochan, the then principal court-pandit of the Maharaja of Burdwan, the Master had gone to see him some time before the gift of the “mountain of food” was made by Mathur. We were told by the Master that Mathur had a great desire to have that famous scholar brought to the meeting of Pandits, convened at the time of that religious ceremony, and make him accept gifts. Knowing that the Pandit was greatly devoted to the Master, Mathur sent him an invitation through Hriday. But Padmalochan could not accept at that time the respectful invitation of Mathur. We have narrated in detail the story of Padmalochan elsewhere.1

4.    The reason why the Master undertook the Vaishnava Sadhanas

The Master became attracted towards the disciplines of the Vaishnava doctrines after he had finished the Tantric ones. We find, as the result of our inquiries, some obvious reasons leading to that. Firstly, the devout Bhairavi Brahmani was an expert in the disciplines of the Panchabhavas spoken of in the Vaishnava scriptures, and spent long periods of time in mastering one or other of them. We have mentioned before that she fed the Master in the same affectionate spiritual attitude as Yasoda used to feed her boy Gopala. Therefore it is not improbable that she encouraged the Master to undertake the discipline of the Vaishnava doctrines. Secondly, it was but natural for the Master, born as he was in a Vaishnava family, to have love for the disciplines of the spiritual modes of the Vaishnavas. He had had great opportunities for cultivating reverence for those Sadhanas which were prevalent at and around Kamarpukur. The third and the most important of those reasons, however, was that there was in the Master an extraordinary blend of the natures of both man and woman. Under the influence of one of them, he appeared to be the best of austere, valorous men, fearless like a lion, who would not rest satisfied without probing everything to the very bottom; while, under the influence of the other, he became possessed of a wonderful feminine nature, tender yet severe, applying himself to seeing and weighing things and persons in the world through his own heart; he became by nature deeply attached to or detached from certain things and could bear with ease endless troubles when the heart responded, but unlike ordinary people he could do nothing when it did not.

5.    There arose feminine modes in the Master’s mind before he undertook the Sadhana of the Vatsalya Bhava and the Madhura Bhava

During the first four years of the Master’s spiritual practices when he did not accept any external help, he undertook the disciplines of the modes of Santa and Dasya and sometimes that of Sakhya like that of Sridama, Sudama and other friends of Sri Krishna at Vraja and attained success in all of them. The reader perhaps remembers that the Master had recourse to Dasya Bhava and passed some time in the mode of Mahavir to whom Ramachandra was as dear as life, and that he had the vision of Sita, Janaka’s daughter who suffered misery all her life. He, therefore, now applied his mind to the disciplines of the two principal devotional modes of Vatsalya and Madhura practised by the Vaishnava teachers. During that period he looked upon himself as a woman friend of the divine Mother, and engaged himself in fanning Her with a Chamara. Dressed in a woman’s apparel and surrounded by ladies, he paid obeisance to the Devi during Her autumn worship at the Calcutta house of Mathuranath, and on account of the absorption in feminine feelings, often forgot that he had a male body.1 When we began to visit the holy feet of the Master at Dakshineswar, we sometimes saw this female nature manifested in him. But it did not then last so long as at the time we are speaking of. And there was no need of it; for, it then became easy for him, by the grace of the divine Mother, to dwell at will in any mode whatsoever, of a man or a woman or in that of non-duality, which is beyond all modes and is the source of them all. He then stayed, for the good of the visiting devotees, as long as he liked in any particular mood.

6.    A discussion on the constitution of the Master’s mind

Be that as it may, if the reader wants to form a conception of the greatness of the Master’s life during his Sadhana he must, first of all, consider deeply with the help of his imagination the uncommon elements his mind was made of from his birth, the manner in which it moved about daily in the world and the nature of the changes produced in it by the impact of the fierce spiritual storm that raged for the last eight years of his life of Sadhana. We were told by himself that he sincerely believed until he came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar in the year 1855 and for some time afterwards, that he would lead, like his forefathers, the life of a strict and virtuous householder. As he was free from egoism from his birth, it never crossed his mind that he was superior to anyone in the world in any respect, or possessed nobler qualities than anyone. But his extraordinary speciality began to manifest itself at every step when he stepped into the field of action. He felt as if an unknown, divine Power accompanied him every moment and painting in lurid colours the transitoriness and worthlessness of sights, tastes etc., held them before his eyes and forced him to orientate his life in an opposite direction. A selfless seeker after unalloyed truth, the Master very soon accustomed himself to move about in the world at the promptings of that Power. It is clear that it would have been difficult for him to do so, if he had a strong desire for attaining any objects of enjoyment in the world.

7.    How nonexistent was any bondage due to past impression in his mind

What we have said will become clear if one remembers the Master’s lifelong behaviour on all matters. He discontinued his studies when he understood that the aim of the Brahmins in acquiring this learning was only “bundling of rice and plantain”, in other words, earning money. He accepted the post of a priest thinking it would be of help in managing worldly affairs; but he soon realized that the aim of worshipping God was something quite different, viz., to see Him and live in Him; and at once he became mad after it. He knew that realization of God depended on perfect self-control and, although married, he refrained from having any sexual relations with his wife through body, mind or speech; he understood that no man could have perfect reliance on God if he stored anything for future use, and at once he eradicated completely from his mind the idea of laying up even trifling things, not to speak of hoarding gold and other precious materials. Instances like these could easily be multiplied from his life. When one thinks of these facts, it becomes clear how little his mind was influenced by ingrained tendencies that produce delusion in people’s minds. The Master’s power of understanding ideas and making them practical was so strong that his Samskaras could not stand against it and make him deviate from his path.

8.    The noble qualities the Master had when he engaged himself in Sadhana

Besides, the Master was from his childhood a Srutidhara, a person of wonderful retentive memory, one who could repeat word for word in due order what he had heard but once and who could retain it for ever. The reader already knows how in his childhood he, along with his friends, used to rehearse, in the fields and pastures of Kamarpukur, the songs, Yatras, and stories of the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other books on listening to them but once. So we see that the Master entered upon his life of spiritual practices with the rare possession of an extraordinarily wonderful memory, love of truth and of putting ideas into practice as the very bases of his practices,—the three qualities, which it is not easy for an ordinary aspirant to acquire even by a whole life’s effort. It was, therefore, no wonder that he attained in a short time great success in his spiritual life. The reason why we were amazed to hear that he succeeded in each of his disciplines even in three days, was that we did not then understand an iota of his uncommon mental constitution.

9.    Illustrations of the Master’s uncommon mental make up and a discussion on it

The reader will understand this statement of ours when we mention a few events of the Master’s life. In the beginning of his spiritual practice as soon as the Master discriminated between the real and the unreal and threw into the Ganga a few coins along with lumps of earth, repeating “rupee-earth, earth-rupee”, the attachment to gold, which spreads its influence down to the very bottom of the human heart, became eradicated for ever from his mind; no sooner had he cleaned with his own hands those abominably filthy places, at whose contamination people could not rest satisfied without a bath, than his mind gave up the egoism due to his Brahmin birth and he became convinced for ever that he was in no way superior to those persons who were regarded in society as untouchables; as soon as he was convinced that he was a child of the divine Mother and “all the women of the world were parts of Her”,1 it became impossible for him to look upon any woman as other than the divine Mother Herself, and to have the ordinary conjugal relationship with any. When one ponders over these instances one clearly feels that the Master could not have achieved those results if he had not had an extraordinary power of understanding ideas and making them practical. The reason why we cannot fully believe in the events of the Master’s life, or are astonished to hear them, is that we look into our own hearts and find that our attachment to gold will not vanish if we throw into water coins and lumps of earth a thousand times, that the egoism of our mind will not be washed off even if we clean dirty places the same number of times and that the filial attitude towards every woman will not arise in our minds at the critical moment even if we are told all our lives, of the manifestation of the divine Mother as women. We cannot attain the results as the Master could in these things in spite of our efforts, because our power of understanding ideas and making them practical is chained down by the impressions of our past Karma. We enter the realm of Sadhana with minds devoid of self-control and retentive power and full of such adverse traits, and of course, we meet with corresponding results as well.

It is doubtful whether even in the course of four or five centuries there will come into the world one with a mind of such extraordinary powers as the Master. It is impossible for minds like ours even to imagine how unique the Master’s mind was, how by nature it was endowed with full self-control and perfect retentive power and was devoid of all evil traits, and how much greater power and subtler insight it attained by the impulsion of an extraordinary loving eagerness and endeavour for the realization of the complete vision of the divine Mother, which made him forget food, sleep etc., for such a long period.

10.    Mathur’s services to holy men at the Master’s behest

We have already said that no falling off was observed in the service of the divine Mother in the temple at Dakshineswar after the death of Rani Rasmani. Mathur, to whom Sri Ramakrishna was as dear as life, was not only not averse to spending the stipulated amount in Her service, but generously spent unusually large sums of money at the Master’s behest. Besides performing the services of deities, he was greatly fond of serving holy men. For, owing to the teaching of the Master, Mathur, who had taken refuge at his feet, looked upon devout holy men as the exact images of God. Therefore, when the Master asked him to make arrangements for offering to the Sadhus clothes, blankets, water-pots and other necessaries, besides food, for their daily use, Mathur purchased all those articles and stored them in a room to its fullest capacity, so that they might be given to the holy men to their full satisfaction. He told his officers that the articles in the new store should be distributed according to the Master’s orders. Again, when he came to know soon afterwards that a desire had arisen in the Master’s mind to serve the devout holy men of all denominations, by giving them articles useful to their spiritual practices, Mathur made due arrangements about, it too.1 All these gifts were probably made in the year 1862-63, when the wonderful hospitality at the Kali temple of Rani Rasmani became widely known everywhere among the Sadhus. Although, even during the Rani’s lifetime, the Kali temple had been regarded by the travelling holy pilgrims as a resting place on their way to their destinations, its reputation now spread to a wider region, and devout monks, the foremost of all denominations, came there in large numbers. Pleased with the hospitality accorded to them, they went their way blessing the manager for the services so devotedly rendered. We have recorded elsewhere, all that we were told by the Master himself, of the eminent holy men who came there in this way. We mention it here again, only because we want to tell the reader about the time of the arrival at Dakshineswar of the holy man of the Ramawat denomination named “Jatadhari”, by whom the Master was initiated in the Mantra of Rama and from whom he got the image of the child Rama called “Ramalala” It was probably in the year 1864 that he came to the Master.

11.    Jatadhari’s arrival at Dakshineswar

On many occasions we have heard from the Master himself of Jatadhari’s extraordinary love and attachment to Ramachandra. The image of the child Ramachandra was very dear to him. As a result of his serving that image for a long time with much love, his mind ascended to the realm of divine love and reached an inward state, in which it lost itself so much that even before he came to the Master at Dakshineswar, he saw the form of the luminous child Rama actually before him accepting his services which were purified by devotion. At first that vision appeared before him for a moment, time after time, and overwhelmed him with bliss. But the more he advanced in Sadhana with the passing of time, the more did the vision become intense and continue for long periods, till at last it became as vivid and continuous as ordinary objects of sight are. Thus established in loving spiritual contemplativeness, he had the child Rama for almost a constant companion. Engaging himself daily in the services of that image, Ramalala, with the help of which he had realized that divine vision in his life, Jatadhari travelled at pleasure to the various places of pilgrimage in India and came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar.

12.    The intimate relation of the Master with Jatadhari

Jatadhari, who applied himself whole-heartedly to the service of Ramalala, did not divulge to anyone that he had the privilege of having every now and then the vision of the form of the child Rama, the embodiment of love. People could only see that he always served a metal image of a child with extraordinary steadfastness every day. They knew that much and nothing more. But the insight of the Master, the matchless lord of the realm of spiritual moods, pierced the gross external curtain at his very first meeting with Jatadhari and ascertained the hidden inward mystery. Therefore he had a great respect for that monk and joyfully supplied him with all the articles necessary for his service of Ramalala. Besides, the Master spent long hours with him every day and devoutly witnessed his service of Ramalala. The Master did so only because he, as we have said elsewhere,1 had the divine vision of Rama’s celestial form, the embodiment of spiritual love, which Jatadhari also used to have. Accordingly the relation of the Master with Jatadhari gradually became intimate and respectful.

13.    The Master in the mood of a female companion of the divine Mother

We have already mentioned that the Master spent some time in the mood of a woman to satisfy an urge to develop this aspect of his dual personality. Looking upon himself as the eternal female companion of the universal Mother, he applied himself wholly for a pretty long time to Her service. He would adorn and decorate Her with flower-garlands prepared with his own hands and with new gold ornaments got ready by Mathur at his request, fan Her with a Chamara to cool Her person, and sing and dance before Her in a woman’s dress to please Her. It is needless to say that the Master undertook to perform all these, because a strong urge to do so arose in his mind of his own accord.

14.    The Master engaged himself in the Vatsalya mood of Sadhana during the prevalence of womanly feelings in him

The Master’s love and devotion to Rama revived in his mind when Jatadhari came and he had talks with him The form of Rama that he now saw in the image of Ramalala under the revived impulse, was that of Rama, the embodiment of spiritual love. Therefore, it is no wonder that his mind was now filled with maternal affection for that divine Child. The Master began to feel towards the divine Child that wonderful love and attraction which a mother feels towards her young child. That love and attraction alone, doubtless, made the Master now sit beside the child-image of Ramalala, and look at it so intently that he did not know how time slipped away. For, by means of various sweet childish pranks, the Master said, the extraordinary effulgent Child made him forget everything else, tried to detain him daily near It, watched his path in expectation of his coming and accompanied him everywhere in spite of his requests not to do so.

15.    His effort to realize the ultimate limits of any idea that arose in his mind; whether one should do so or not

The active mind of the Master could not leave any work half-finished. That nature of his manifested in the concrete fields of work, was also seen in the sphere of the subtle ideal world. It was seen that if any idea arose of its own accord in his heart, he could not rest satisfied without reaching its ultimate limits. On studying that nature of his, some readers may think, “But is it good? Is it beneficial to a man to run in pursuit of any and every idea that may arise in his mind at any time and become a tool in its hands?” Although that nature of the Master did not lead him astray, it should not be imitated by the people in general inasmuch as all ideas, good and bad, always arise in the minds of weak humanity. Man should never have such a faith in himself as to believe that only good ideas will arise in his mind. Therefore it should be the aim of man to rein back his desires. We admit that this is a reasonable argument, but we have something to say in fuller explanation of this.

16.    Controlling of desires is not necessary for a confirmed Sadhaka like the Master. The reason thereof

We can by no means deny that the mind of a man, excessively desirous of enjoying lust and gold and completely fettered to them, should not repose so much faith in itself. Therefore, it is ignorant and short-sighted people alone who can raise any doubt regarding the need for people in general to control their desires. But with some rare Sadhakas, the Vedas and the other scriptures say, selfcontrol becomes, by the grace of God, as normal a function as breathing. Therefore, completely freed from the attraction of lust and gold, their minds get converted into repositories of good and healthy ideas alone. The Master also said that no evil desire can, by the grace of the divine Mother, raise its head and have mastery over the mind of a man who has taken perfect refuge in Her. “Mother,” said he, “prevents him from taking a wrong step.” A man who has reached such a state can perfectly trust each and every impulse of his; then it not only does him no harm but becomes a source of immense good to others. For, it becomes absolutely impossible for that man to seek his self-interest in that state, inasmuch as the little “I”, born of the identification with the body, which produces selfishness and is not contented even with the attainment of all the pleasures of the world, is merged for ever in the all-pervading “I” of God. Therefore the will of God, whose nature it is to do good to all, then manifests itself as various desires in the mind of that man for universal welfare. Or the Sadhaka, in that state, always feels in his heart of hearts, “I am the machine, Thou art the mechanic”; and making sure that the desires in his own mind are the will of God, the all-pervading Person, he does not at all hesitate to act according to their urge. And consequently, it is seen that others are greatly benefited by such actions of his. Such a state comes very early in the lives of uncommonly great souls like the Master. Therefore these great souls, we read in their biographies, trust completely the desires of their minds and very often undertake actions without having recourse to reasoning or inference at all. Keeping their little wills identified with the universal Will, they can always detect and understand things beyond the minds and intellects of the ordinary people, inasmuch as these are manifest from eternity to eternity as subtle ideas in the universal Mind.

17.    Such Sadhakas are not perturbed even by the manner and time of their death. Examples thereof

Again, coming down to the normal state of humanity these great souls remain always dependent on the universal Will and, therefore, are free from fear and self-interest. Hence, although during the previous state of their identification, they knew beforehand how and by whom or by what the combination of their limited bodies and minds would be destroyed, they entertain no aversion to those persons or objects; rather they gladly help them to the utmost in carrying out the work. The reader will understand what we mean if we give a few examples. Conscious of the inevitability of Sita’s banishment, Rama sent her away to the forest, though He knew that She was innocent. Though He knew that the forsaking of Lakshmana, who was dearer than His life, would inevitably bring His Lila as a human being to an end, He carried it out. Knowing beforehand that the race of Yadu, to which He belonged, would be destroyed, Krishna did not make the slightest attempt to prevent it. On the contrary, He acted in such a way as to bring it about at the proper time. Again, knowing it for certain that He would meet with His death at the hands of the hunter, He concealed His whole body carefully behind the leaves of a tree and kept the two reddish feet dangling in such a way that, as soon as the hunter saw them, he mistook them for a bird and shot them with his arrow. He then blessed and consoled the hunter, who was repenting his mistake, and gave up His body.

Although he already knew that he would attain Parinirvana, body-lessness in the final beatitude, if he accepted the hospitality of the Chandala, Buddha accepted it and ascended to that state, having protected the Chandala by his blessing and consolation from other’s hatred and reproach. Again, conscious that the religion preached by him would soon be polluted if he gave his approval to women’s initiation into Sannyasa, he permitted the venerable Gautami, his aunt, to be so initiated.

In spite of knowing that Judas, his disciple, would betray him into the hands of the enemy who would put an end to his life, Jesus, another incarnation of God, remained uniformly affectionate to him and engaged himself, all his life, in doing him good.

18.    No desire tarnished with selfishness arises in the mind of such a Sadhaka

We meet on investigation with many such events even in the lives of persons perfected and liberated in life, not to speak of the incarnations of God. If we want to find a rational explanation of the happy synthesis between the uncommon Personal effort and the absolute dependence on the universal Will, which is invariably noticed in the lives of these personalities, we are inevitably led to the conclusion that their personal efforts are but the manifestation of the same all-pervading Will. Therefore it is clear that all the selfish impressions in the minds of these persons who depend absolutely on God’s will, are destroyed once for all; their minds ascend to a holy plane of consciousness where pure desires alone, absolutely untarnished by selfishness, arise in them So freely reposing their faith in the desires of their minds and acting under their impulse, these Sadhakas, in that state, do not incur any blame. Such actions of the Master, it goes without saying, should not be imitated by the ordinary people. But the Sadhakas, in the unique state mentioned above, will, no doubt, be much enlightened by them in guiding their lives. The scriptures have compared their desires for eating, drinking, etc., which are necessary for the preservation of life, to fried seeds. Just as roasted seeds of trees, creepers, etc., lose their vital power and cannot germinate, so the worldly desires of those persons, roasted over the fire of self-control and divine knowledge, can no more draw them towards enjoyment and lead them astray. The Master also said about it, “coming in contact with the philosopher’s stone, a steel sword becomes golden; it retains unchanged its formidable form, but it can inflict no injury.”

19.    All mentations of such Sadhakas correspond to facts. Examples in the Master’s life

The seers of the Upanishads say that all the mental processes of the Sadhakas in that state correspond to facts. In other words, all the ideas arising naturally in their minds always prove to be objectively true and never otherwise. We could never have believed the above-mentioned words of the seers if we had not repeatedly tested the ideas of the Master established in Bhavamukha and found them to be true! If he felt hesitation about taking any food, it was, we have seen, found on enquiry to have been polluted before. If he felt his power of speech failing him suddenly when he was about to say anything spiritual to anybody, it was proved that the said person was, in truth, completely unfit for it. If he felt that a certain person would not realize religious truths or would realize but a few in his life, it actually came to happen so. If any particular mood, or a particular form of a deity appeared in his mind when he saw a certain person, it was known that the said person was a Sadhaka of that mood, or that deity. If he suddenly said anything to any person under the influence of an inward mood, that person got much light by it and his life became altogether changed,—innumerable incidents of this type can be cited.

20.    The Master was initiated in the Vatsalya mood of Sadhana by Jatadhari. He practised it and reached its acme

Urged by that irresistible inward devotional mood, the Master as he used to do on many other occasions, now regarded himself as a woman, both in body and mind and acted accordingly. So when he had the vision of Rama as a sweet child, he assumed the attitude of maternal affection towards Him He had been, no doubt, initiated in the Mantra of Rama long ago in order to perform properly the worship and service of his family deity Raghuvir; but he was then not attracted towards Him in any mood except that of a servant towards his Master. Having the above-mentioned new mood towards the deity, he now became anxious to be initiated by a Guru according to the scriptures in a Mantra befitting the new mood and to reach the ultimate limit of realization in that discipline. Perfected in the Mantra of the divine Child, Jatadhari came to know the eagerness of the Master and gladly initiated him in the Mantra of his own chosen Ideal. Merged in the Sadhana of that Mantra in the manner taught by him, the Master succeeded in the course of only a few days, in having the divine vision of the child Rama constantly. Absorbed in the meditation of that divine form in the mood of maternal affection towards Him, he soon came to realize that: “Rama, who is the son of Dasaratha, is in every being; the same Rama is immanent in the universe and yet transcends it”. That is to say, Rama is not only Dasaratha’s son but also exists as a Jiva in each body. Again, entering the universe and eternally manifesting Himself as it, He is ever existent in His own attributeless nature devoid of Maya and beyond everything in the universe. We heard the Master reciting on many occasions the Hindi couplet given above.

21.    Jatadhari made a gift of the image of Ramalala to the Master

Besides initiating the Master in the Mantra, Jatadhari, before he went away, made a gift to the Master of the image of Ramalala, which he had served so long with single-minded devotion. For, that living image expressed his desire to Jatadhari that he would henceforward live with the Master. We have described elsewhere1 in detail the extraordinary Lila of that image with the Master and Jatadhari. Therefore it is unnecessary to deal with that topic here again.

22.    To what extent the Bhairavi Brahmani helped the Master at the time of Vatsalya Sadhana

When the Master applied his mind, in the aforesaid manner, to perfecting his Vatsalya devotion and experienced its ultimate result, the Bhairavi Brahmani was staying at Dakshineswar. We were told by the Master himself that she was as highly experienced in the disciplines of the Panchabhavas spoken of in the Vaishnava books, as she was in those of the Tantras. Did the Master receive any particular help from her while practising the Vatsalya and Madhura Bhavas? We have not clearly heard anything about it from him But we were told by the Master and Hriday that, established in the mood of maternal affection towards God, the Brahmani treated the Master as Gopala, the child Krishna. Therefore it is inferred that the Master got at least some help from her, both at the time when he assumed the mood of maternal affection towards the child Krishna and had the ultimate experience in that mood, and when he practised Madhura Bhava, the sweet mood, himself adopting the attitude of a woman towards her lover. One might doubt whether he actually got any particular help from her; but this much is admitted without doubt, that a strong desire to practise the disciplines of those moods arose in his mind when he-saw the Brahmani engaged in them and heard her eulogize them.


1. III. 6.

1. III. 2.

1. rn.7.

1. Chandi 11. 6.

1. III. 2.

1. IV. 2.

1. IV. 2.


(sweet mood)

1.    The hard inward struggle of the aspirant and his goal

It is difficult for one who is not a Sadhaka to understand the biographies of Sadhakas, for Sadhana is a thing of the subtle realm of spirituality. There the gross deluding forms of sight, taste and other sense-objects are not experienced; there, the marvellous co-existence or succession of events around what appear to be external things and persons is not seen; neither is there the slightest manifestation of the frantic efforts which a man makes for the sole purpose of enjoying the monopoly of pleasures for elbowing out all others, which the ordinary people, deluded by sense-objects, extol as heroism and greatness, but which, in reality, are but products of the human mind rendered restless under the impulse of the pairs of opposites such as attachment and aversion, fame and infamy, etc. But what exist there are only the aspirant’s mind and the infinite currents of its impressions of past lives. In that realm there exists the attraction towards high ideals leading the aspirant on to the ultimate goal, attraction produced by his constantly coming in conflict with certain external things and persons. There exists his endless unflinching struggle against his adverse impressions in order to make the mind fix itself exclusively on those ideals leading on to that goal. There exists a resolute attempt at continually diving deeper into one’s own personality by turning the mind away from all external objects and withdrawing it within. There exists the effort of mining in deeper and deeper regions of the inner world and experiencing the subtler and subtler strata of ideas. And there is at last the final arrival at the deepest regions of one’s own existence, where one realizes and remains identified with that one immutable Reality without a second, which is devoid of sound, touch and form, from which, as from their substratum, all the ideas including the “I” consciousness spring and in which they eternally exist. Afterwards, unless the impressions of the mind wear away completely and its doubting nature is destroyed for ever, it comes down from Samadhi, to experience the external world again by reversing the process through which it attained the immediate knowledge of the non-dual Reality. Thus does the mind of the aspirant continue to descend from the superconscious to the normal consciousness and again ascend from it to the superconscious, over and over again.

2. The natural inclination of the minds of extraordinary Sadhakas is to remain in the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Sri Ramakrishna is one of this class

But the history of the spiritual world has also on record the description of a few minds whose natural abode seemed to be the plane of the superconscious from the most ancient times, but who somehow kept themselves forcibly confined for some time to the plane of the external world for the good of humanity. The more we study the history of Sri Ramakrishna’s spiritual strivings, the more shall we understand that his mind belonged to this class. If that conviction be not produced in the minds of the readers from a study of this book, the shortcomings of the author should be held responsible for it; for the Master said to us repeatedly, “I hold forcibly to one or two trifling desires, with the help of which I keep the mind weighted down for you all; otherwise its natural inclination is to remain united and identified with the indivisible One.”

3.    What are called Sunya and Puma are one and the same Reality

Some of the ancient seers have called the indivisible non-dual Reality, the “void” (Sunya, the absence of all existence) and others have called It the “all” (Puma, where all experiences meet). As a matter of fact, both of them imply the same experience. For they have described It as One from which all things come into being and in which they merge. The Reality that has been called by Buddha the “void”, in which all beings get extinguished, has been described by Sankara as the “all”, the substratum of them all. If we leave aside the opinions of the later Buddhist teachers and study Buddha and Sankara, we irresistibly come to this conclusion.

4.    The nature of non-duality

The plane of the non-dual consciousness indirectly implied by the words “void” and “all” has been described in the Upanishads, the Vedanta, as the state beyond all ideation, For, perfectly established in it, the mind of the aspirant transcends the limits of all other planes of consciousness produced by God’s play of creation, preservation and dissolution, and merges in homogeneity. Therefore, the nondual state of consciousness is something non-relational, different from the five moods, such as the Santa, Dasya, etc., with the aid of which the limited human mind enters the spiritual realm and becomes bound up with God in an eternal relation. Only when the man of the world becomes absolutely indifferent to all kinds of enjoyment, whether of this world or of the next, and attains, on the strength of purity, a position higher than that of the gods, he comes to the non-dual mood. With the help of this he realizes the attributeless Brahman, in which the whole universe together with God, its creator, preserver and destroyer, has its eternal being and on the attainment of which the acme of life is reached.

5.    The five moods of Santa, Dasya, etc., and the God attainable by them

Leaving aside the non-dual mood and the attributeless Brahman attainable with its help, we find the manifestation of the “five moods”, namely, Santa, Dasya, Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhura in the spiritual world. The object attainable through each of these is Brahman with attributes, or Isvara, who is all-controlling, all-powerful and by nature eternally pure, awakened and free. The aspirant tries to know Him by attributing one or other of these moods to himself with relation to Him And He also, who is the inner controller of all beings and the repository of all moods, sees the single-minded devotion of the aspirant’s mind and in order to help him in developing the mood, reveals Himself to him in a body conformable to it and thus blesses him It is thus that God, who is pure consciousness, assumes in different ages various forms that are the embodiments of these different moods. He, we read in the scriptures, incarnates Himself even as a man to fulfil the desires of the devotees.

6.    The nature of the five moods. How they help man to progress

The five moods are the subtle and purified forms of those mundane relations by which human beings are bound up with one another in their daily lives. We are conscious of particular relations with father, mother, husband, wife, male friend, female friend, master, servant, son, daughter, king, subject, teacher, disciple and so on, and feel that we should behave towards others in a calm and respectful attitude of mind if they are not enemies. The teachers of devotion have classified those relations into five divisions of the Santa etc., and advised people to resort, according to their fitness, to one or other of these as the primary one, and attribute it to themselves with relation to God. For, it is easy for Jivas to try to know God with the help of these five moods or relations of Santa etc., with which they are always acquainted. That is not all. Those moods, which were formerly dependent on the worldly relations rooted in desires, producing aversion, attachment and other similar modifications, that impelled men to commit various evil actions, will now, when oriented towards God, help the aspirants advance towards the realization of God by their irresistible original impetus. Take for example, lust, which is a disease, so to say, of the heart and the cause of all misery. It will now keep them engaged in the desire for God-vision. Their anger will now be directed against the things and persons that are obstacles on their paths to that vision. They will now become mad after and infatuated with the enjoyment of the wonderful beauty and love of God, the object to be attained, and noticing the unique splendour of spirituality in persons who have succeeded in attaining the holy vision of God, the culmination of blessedness, they will now become anxious to have it themselves.

7.    Love is the means to the Sadhana of the five spiritual moods; and the personality of God is its object

Man has not learnt to assume these five moods in his relation to God at any particular time or from any particular person. But many great souls appeared in this great hermitage of the world at different times and engaged themselves in practices for the realization of God through one, two or more of these moods, and having made the Lord their own by means of their extraordinary love, taught men to do likewise. When we study the unique lives of these teachers, it becomes clear that only the love for God is at the root of the Sadhanas of those moods and that the said love has always for its object one or other of the numerous forms of the personal God; for, as long as man does not experience the nondual Reality, so long is he bound to have the conception and experience of one or other of the forms of the personal God.

8.    Love brings to an end the consciousness of power. This removal is the measure of the moods

When we study the nature of love existing between a pair of lovers, we clearly see that it removes gradually the consciousness of difference based on their knowledge of their separate powers. Similarly, it removes by degrees from the mind of the spiritual aspirant engaged in the Sadhana of any mood, his consciousness of God’s unlimited powers and teaches him to regard God as but his beloved according to his peculiar mood. Therefore the aspirant treading this path makes Him entirely his Own by means of love and does not at all hesitate to request, importune, or scold Him or otherwise show Him his feeling of wonderful love. The more the practice of one of these five moods enables the aspirant to forget the powers of God and experience nothing else but His love and sweetness, the more exalted is it regarded in this Sadhana of moods. It is only from this point of view that the teachers of devotion have ascertained the various differences between the five moods and have assigned the highest place to the Madhura Bhava; otherwise each one of them is, as those teachers have unanimously admitted, capable of making the aspirant realize God.

9.    The devotional scriptures and the life of Sri Ramakrishna teach us that with the help of each one of these moods man can ultimately realize the non-dual Reality

It is known from the study of the history of religions that, with the ultimate development of each of the five moods, the aspirant forgets himself and feels happy when his beloved is happy. Absorbed in thought of Him during the time of separation from Him, he sometimes loses even the consciousness of his own existence. From the study of devotional books like the Bhagavata, it is seen that not only did the Gopis of Vraja forget in this way their own existence but actually felt on occasions identified with their beloved Krishna. It is well known from the devotional books of the Christians that, absorbed in the thought of the Passion of Christ, some mystics bore the stigmata and bled from those marks on their bodies.1 Therefore we find that with the final development of each one of the five moods, the aspirant becomes absorbed in the thought of his or her Object of love and, united and identified with Him under the strong impulse of love, realizes the non-dual state of consciousness. Sri Ramakrishna’s unique life of spiritual striving has thrown wonderful light on this matter. He practised each of the five spiritual loving moods and in each of them he became merged in the Object of his love and absolutely forgetting his own existence, realized the non-dual Reality.

How, it may be asked, can the human mind experience, with the help of these moods, the Reality of non-duality, which is beyond all moods? For no mood can ever rise, exist or develop in the human mind without the consciousness of two persons.

10.    The objection and answer regarding the attainment of the non-dual Reality with the help of the five moods

Quite true. But, the more a mood develops the more does it spread its own influence and remove gradually from the aspirant’s mind all contrary ideas. Again, when it is fully developed, the concentrated mind of the aspirant sometimes in meditation forgets I (the servant) and Thou (the Master) and the relation between them and remains perfectly identified through love with the Reality denoted by the word Thou. The human mind, the eminent teachers of India say, is not simultaneously conscious of I and Thou, and the loving relation between them. It knows the entity denoted by the word Thou one moment and that denoted by the word I the next moment and, because the mind oscillates quickly between the ideas of those two entities, there develops in it an idea of a relation between them It then seems to be simultaneously conscious of those two entities and the relation between them. But when the restlessness of the mind is destroyed by the influence of the matured mood of love, it gradually becomes able to detect what has been said above. The more the functioning of the mind is stilled at the time of meditation, the more does it understand by degrees that it saw the one non-dual Reality from two angles of vision and mistook it for two independent entities.

11.    The prevalence of the Sadhanas of different moods in different ages

One is simply amazed to think what a vast period of time and what superhuman efforts of numberless aspirants were necessary for the full development of each of the moods through which the human mind was enabled to realize the non-dual Reality. When we study the history of religions as embodied in the scriptures, it becomes clear that a particular mood became the principal prop of the

human minds during meditation in a particular age; and with the help of it many eminent aspirants of that age realized God and a rare few gained the immediate knowledge of the non-dual reality of Brahman. We meet with the final development of the Santa mood mainly in the Vedic and Buddhistic ages, with the non-dual mood as the ultimate development of the Santa, and also the moods of the Dasya and the Apatya1 in the Upanishadic age, with the moods of the Santa and the Dasya mixed with motiveless action in the Epic age, with the Apatya and the partial Madhura in the Tantric age, and with the moods of the Sakhya, the Vatsalya and the Madhura in the Vaishnava age.

12.    What is seen regarding the full development of the five mood in India and in other countries

While the full manifestation of all the five moods together with the non-dual mood is thus found in the history of the religions of India, manifestations of the Santa, Dasya and Apatya only are found in the religious communities of other countries. Though the songs of King Solomon, the royal sage, expressing the friendly and sweet moods in relation to God are intact in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, the members of these communities are unable to understand the import of those songs and attribute a different meaning to them. The moods of Sakhya and Madhura are, it goes without saying, extant to a great extent in the Sufi community professing Islam, yet the generality of the Muslims regard such worship of God as contrary to the precepts of the Koran. Again, though the worship of the Mother of the universe in the image of Mary, the mother of Christ, is extant, in an obscured form, in the Catholic Christian community, it is not directly connected with the idea of God as Mother. It has, therefore, not been as fruitful as the worship of the universal Mother extant in India and has not enabled the aspirant to realize the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute and to experience the divine manifestation in all women without exception. The current of the idea of the Motherhood of God has disappeared midway like the river Phalgu.1

13.    What indicates the depth of the aspirant’s mood

When the mind of the aspirant is attracted to God with the aid of some loving mood, it becomes, as we have said before, gradually absorbed in that mood, turns away from the external world and merges itself in the self. At the time of the mind’s merging, its past impressions stand in its way and try to make it swim on the surface, pushing it upwards again and again. Therefore ordinary human minds with powerful past impressions, cannot generally become absorbed even in one mood, even by a whole life’s effort. When that happens, they at first become discouraged and give up the effort and at last, losing faith in the Object to be attained, come to consider the enjoyment of sights, tastes, etc., of the external world to be the only thing worth having, and pursue it again. Aversion for outward things, absorption in the meditation of the Object of love and the ecstasy produced by one’s spiritual mood are, therefore, regarded in the sphere of the devotional Sadhana as the measure of the aspirant’s progress towards the goal.

14.    What occurs to one’s mind when one sees the Master attain success in all the moods

One who has not made an attempt to be absorbed in any one of the moods and has not therein met with strong obstacles due to past impressions hidden in the mind, will not at all understand the inward struggle in the aspirant’s mind. He alone who has done it will know what sufferings have to be undergone before that merging in spiritual love takes place, and only he will be astonished to see Sri Ramakrishna attaining in a short time an extraordinary merging in all the devotional moods, one after another, and feel that it is not possible for mere human power to attain such a state.

15.    A discussion on the lack of records of the spiritual practices of the spiritual heroes

Is it because the ordinary human mind was not able to understand the subtle truths of the spiritual realm that the history of the practices of the spiritual heroes, who are known as the incarnations of God, has not been adequately recorded? For, a detailed discussion on the detachment from and the renunciation of the world at the time of their undertaking discipline, and the wonderful power manifested through them after their success in it for the good of the human minds which are deluded by worldly objects, are the only things found in that history. We find given there only a slight indication of the extraordinary inward struggle in which they were engaged during the period of their striving for the purpose of destroying and uprooting the deep impressions in their minds and securing mastery over themselves. Or, that struggle has been described in that history with the help of metaphors and hyperboles in such a way that it has become quite impossible for us to find out the grain of truth in that description. The reader will understand what we mean when we give a few examples.

16.    This statement is applicable equally

(1)    to Krishna

Sri Krishna was engaged on many occasions in performing austerities with a view to acquiring particular powers for the purpose of doing good to humanity. But no description of the succession of the moods of his mind is found except that he remained for some time standing on one leg living on water or air alone.

(2)    to Buddha

We do not get so detailed an account of Buddha’s striving as of his detachment from the world, his leaving home for the purpose of becoming an anchorite and, afterwards, his establishing Dharmachakra, the wheel of religion. But, a little of the history of his spiritual moods is available, unlike in the instance of other spiritual heroes. It is recorded that abstaining from food and drink and having the firm resolve to succeed, he was engaged in practising austerity and meditation for six long years without leaving his seat; and controlling the internal vital forces and practising the meditation he entered into Samadhi. But, while recording his struggle during that period with the past impression hidden in his mind, his biographer has, with the help of gross external events, introduced a story of his fight against Mara.1

(3) to Jesus

The history of the striving of Jesus is also not available. After recording a few events of Jesus’ life till he was twelve, his biographer has described how, in his thirtieth year, Jesus was baptised by John, a perfect holy man, and entered alone a lonely desert where he practised austerity and meditation for forty days; how, though tempted by Satan, he came out victorious and returned from there; and how at last he engaged himself in doing good to humanity. He continued to be in the gross body for three years only after that event. There are, therefore, no records whatever of how he spent his time from the twelfth to the thirtieth year of his life.

(4) to Sankara

Although a good deal of the sequence of events in Sankara’s life is found, one has very often only to infer the history of the moods of his mind.

and (5) to Chaitanya. Sri Ramakrishna on the ultimate truth of the Madhura Bhava

Many events of the Sadhana of Chaitanya are found recorded; the story of his exalted love of God, devoid of the slightest tinge of desire, has been described in a way unintelligible to the ordinary minds, in the form of metaphors with the help of the stories of the love between Radha and Krishna and their separation from each other. And it has to be admitted that Chaitanya and his chief companions have recorded in some detail, though in metaphorical language, the changes that came upon the mind of the aspirant from the inception to almost the ultimate perfected state of each of the spiritual moods of Sakhya, Vatsalya and Madhura, with especial emphasis on the last. But they have not given out the ultimate truth that when the aspirant’s mind becomes completely absorbed in any of the aforesaid three moods, it experiences its oneness with the Object of its love and merges in the non-dual Reality. The unique life of Sri Ramakrishna and the extraordinary history of his Sadhana have taught us that ultimate truth very clearly in the modern age and enabled us to understand that all the religious moods of all the religious communities of the world bring the mind of the aspirant to one and the same goal. Leaving aside all the other things that may be learnt from his life, it may be said here that the whole world is undoubtedly eternally indebted to him for the wonderful width of spiritual vision indicating the universality of religion that we have gained through his grace.

17.    The Madhura Bhava and the Vaishnava teachers

The Madhura Bhava is said to be the greatest contribution of the Vaishnava teachers like Chaitanya to the spiritual world. Had they not shown the way, so many people could not have resorted to it for God-realization and been endowed with peace and pure bliss. They were the first to understand that the Vrindavan Lila of Sri Krishna was not acted in vain and to make efforts to explain it to others. But for the advent of Chaitanya, Vrindavan would have been regarded as an ordinary forest.

18.    An objection to the historicity of the Lila at Vrindavan and the refutation thereof

Endeavouring, in imitation of the West, to record only outward events the historians of the modern age will say, “But there is no evidence that the play of Vrindavan actually took Place as you say.

Therefore, don’t you see that so much of your joy and sorrow, and the moods including the Mahabhava, are all without a basis?” The Vaishnava teachers may say in reply, “How can you either produce sure evidence that what we cite from the Puranas did not take place? Until we get the proof that your history has undoubtedly opened the door to that very ancient age, we shall say that your doubt itself is unfounded. Moreover, even if you should ever produce such proof, no harm will touch our faith. It will not affect at all the eternal play in the eternal Vrindavan of the divine Lord. That mystery of the divine play in the ideal spiritual realm will eternally remain uniformly true. If in the realm of Consciousness you desire to witness the divine play of love between Radha and Krishna, which belongs to that same realm, become first of all free from the slightest tinge of lust in body, mind and speech and learn to perform selfless service by following in the footsteps of any one of the female friends of Srimati Radha. You will then see that Sri Vrindavan, the playground of Sri Hari, is eternally there in your heart and that the said play is being enacted with you every day.”

19. In order to understand this play at Vrindavan, it is necessary to comprehend the history of devotional moods; what the Master said about it

He who has not learnt how to be independent of external events and how to study with a pure heart the history of the devotional moods by a thorough acceptance of the ideal world as real, will never be able to enjoy the beauty and sweetness of His play at Vrindavan. While Sri Ramakrishna was describing that play of the Divine with great enthusiasm to the English-educated young men who were with him, he found that they did not relish it and he said, “Why don’t you mark and grasp the attraction of Srimati’s heart to Krishna in that divine play? When one has that kind of attraction to God, one realizes Him Just see how mad the Gopis were for Krishna, renouncing their all— husbands, children, family and propriety of conduct, honour and dishonour, shame and aversion, fear of public opinion and of society and so on! When one can be so, one realizes the divine Lord.” “If”, continued he, “one is not free from the least tinge of lust, one cannot understand the spiritual mood of Radha, the embodiment of Mahabhava. As soon as they saw Krishna, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, the Gopis felt a joy in their hearts, tens of millions of times greater than sexual pleasure; they then lost their body-consciousness. Ah, could the idea of the sex-enjoyment by the contemptible body cross their minds then? Divine light came out of Sri Krishna’s body and touched their bodies, producing infinitely greater pleasure, in every pore of their bodies, than that of sexual enjoyment.”

At one time Swami Vivekananda raised an objection in regard to the historicity of the play of Radha and Krishna at Vrindavan and made an attempt to prove its unauthenticity. The Master said in reply, “Very well, let us take for granted that there was never any one called Radha and that some loving Sadhaka had an imaginary conception of Radha’s personality. But while picturing that character, the Sadhaka, you must admit, had to lose himself completely in Radha’s mood, and thus he became Radha. It is therefore proved that the play at Vrindavan was thus enacted in the outer world also.”

Indeed, though innumerable objections regarding the divine Lord’s play of love at Vrindavan may be raised, the Madhura Bhava first discovered by the Vaishnava teachers led by Chaitanya and others and manifested in their pure lives, will remain eternally true. At all times, the aspirant, fit for it, will attain the hallowed vision of the divine Lord, feel blessed by looking on Him as husband and himself as wife and, with the final development of that mood, be also established in the pure, non-dual Brahman Itself.

20.    The reason why Chaitanya induced man, the sterner sex, to practise the Madhura Bhava

Although for women it is easy and natural to attribute husbandship to the divine Lord and undergo the discipline accordingly, it appears to be unnatural for those who have male bodies. The question, therefore, naturally arises in one’s mind why Chaitanya introduced such an unbecoming discipline in the world. It has to be said in reply that all the actions of the incarnations of an age are done for the good of humanity. That path of Sadhana was introduced by Chaitanya for the same purpose. He made the aspirants advance on the path of the Madhura Bhava, keeping in mind the spiritual ideal which the then aspirants were for a long time eager to realize. It cannot be a fact that the eternally perfect Chaitanya, an incarnation of God, engaged himself in practising that mood for his own good and established it as a perfect ideal in society. Sri Ramakrishna said, “Just as the external teeth (tusks) of elephants are for attacking their enemies, and the internal ones for masticating food and maintaining their bodies, so two kinds of moods were manifested in Sri Chaitanya, the one inward and the other outward. He did good to humanity with the help of the outward mood of Madhura Bhava, and being himself established in Brahman Itself as the ultimate development of the love for God, enjoyed personally the immense bliss in the inward mood of non-duality.”

21.    The spiritual condition of the country of that time. How Chaitanya improved it

Antiquarians say that there arose in this country the teachers of the Vajra-yana at the end of the Buddhistic Age. They preached that, having attempted to realize Nirvana, the final beatitude, and having almost been freed from the clutches of desires, the human mind went forward to merge in the great void with the help of meditation. But then “Niratma”, the goddess of non-existence, appeared before it and, instead of allowing it to do so, kept it united with her own body. Thus, though the gross body in which the aspirant enjoyed worldly objects did not then exist, she made him daily enjoy the aggregate of the essences of sensuous pleasures, inasmuch as he was even then possessed of a subtle body. Therefore it was no wonder that the doctrine preached by them of the attainment of the ultimate subtle enjoyment of the ideal world by the renunciation of the enjoyment of gross objects, should have become distorted in later ages; that the attainment of the constant enjoyment of the gross objects should have been made the goal of religion; and that it should have increased adultery in the country. At the time of the advent of Chaitanya, the uneducated people of the country adopted that distorted Buddhistic doctrine and were divided into various secret sects. The pure Vamachara, spoken of in the Tantras, became distorted even among most of the higher classes and the quest of miraculous powers and enjoyment of sensuous pleasure by the motivated worship of and meditation on the universal Mother came into vogue. And, desirous of having unlimited bliss in the spiritual world with the help of the devotional moods, the true aspirants of that age were not able to find a way. Chaitanya at first placed before those aspirants the ideals of extraordinary renunciation and detachment by practising them in his own life, and afterwards pointed out that if one became pure and holy and looked upon oneself as a woman and upon God as one’s husband, one can truly realize the unlimited divine bliss in the subtle ideal world. Moreover, he preached the glory of God’s names to the people in general and induced them to repeat continually His names and sing aloud His praise. Many Buddhistic sects that had not got corrupted and fallen from the ideal were thus placed by his grace on the true spiritual path again. Though the groups of the followers of the distorted Vamachara at first opposed him openly, they felt the extraordinary attraction of the unique ideal of his life, became self-denying and tried to have the vision of the universal Mother through motiveless worship. Therefore, while recording the events of the extraordinary life of Chaitanya, some writers wrote that the Buddhists, the upholders of the doctrine of the void, also rejoiced at the time of his birth.1

22.    The main point of the Madhura Bhava

Sri Krishna, the supreme Self, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, is the only Purusha,2 the Male principle and all the Jivas and creatures, both gross and subtle, are Parts of Prakriti, the embodiment of supreme love, and are therefore, His wives. So, if Jivas become pure and holy and whole-heartedly worship Him as their husband, they attain by His grace liberation and unlimited bliss, the goal of their lives. This is the long and short of the Madhura Bhava preached by Chaitanya. All the other devotional moods are included in the one great mood, the Mahabhava, of which the chief Gopi Radha is the embodiment. Each of the other Gopis is an embodiment of one, two or more moods comprised in the great mood. The aspirant is thus enabled to master the moods comprised within the Mahabhava by engaging himself in Sadhana in imitation of the Gopis of Vraja, and at last becomes blessed through a flash of the great bliss arising from the great mood. The ultimate aim of an aspirant on this path is to become happy in all respects at the happiness of Krishna, by giving up all desires for his or her own happiness once for all, through the contemplation of the mood of Radha, the embodiment of the Mahabhava.1

23.    One should have that all devouring love for God, which a paramour has for her lover

The love between a pair of lovers, married according to the rules of society, flows restrained by external conditions such as birth, family, virtuous conduct, fear of society and public opinion. Such a pair live within the bounds of these rules and undergo sacrifices for each other’s happiness, keeping in mind various things that should or should not be done. Desirous of properly observing the hard and fast social rules, the married woman does not hesitate on many occasions to check or limit her relation of love with her husband. But the loving behaviour of a paramour is different. On account of the impulse of love, such a woman very often tramples down the bondage of those rules underfoot and does not hesitate to unite with her lover even giving up all the rights granted her by society. The Vaishnava teachers have advised the aspirants to assume for themselves that alldevouring loving relation towards God. Therefore, though Radha, the supreme lady of Vrindavan, is the married wife of Ayan Ghosh, she has been described as one who renounced her all for the love of Krishna.

24.    The Madhura Bhava is the aggregate of all other moods plus something

The Vaishnava teachers have described the Madhura Bhava as the aggregate of the essences of the other four moods and something more. For the loving woman serves her lover like a slave, gives good counsel under all circumstances like a friend, feeling happy at his happiness and miserable at his afflictions, and engages herself like a mother in nourishing his body and mind and thinking of his welfare in all respects. Thus, wholly effacing her own personality, she occupies herself in entertaining her lover’s mind and in bringing all kinds of comforts to him and thus keeping him flooded with extraordinary peace and bliss. The woman who forgets herself under the influence of love and keeps a perfect eye on the welfare and the happiness of her lover is called in the devotional books the Samartha “the excellent” and her love is the best. All other kinds of love, tarnished with a tinge of selfishness, have been assigned to two other classes, viz., Samanjasa “the balanced” and Sadharani “the common”. The woman of the former class minds her own happiness to the same extent as her lover’s and she of the latter class regards her lover as dear for the sake of her own happiness only.

25.    How Chaitanya did good to humanity with the help of the Madhura Bhava

Be that as it may, Chaitanya preached the glory of the names of God and taught the aspirants to guide their lives according to the ideal of austere renunciation and place themselves, in respect of love, in the position of the beloved of Krishna, and thus tried to stem the tide of adultery prevalent in the society at that time. His mode of devotion and instruction to the aspirants did endless good to humanity. It showed the right path to those who went astray, brought into the bounds of a new society those who were excommunicated and who were living outside the pale of castes, embracing them all within a new caste called the “devotees of God”, and held the high and pure ideal of renunciation and detachment before all the communities. However, that is not all. He proved beyond doubt that all the mental and physical changes called the “eight Sattvika Vikaras”1 (whose Tamasika counterparts are produced by the love and union of ordinary pairs of lovers) actually came on the aspirant of pure mind in virtue of the intense meditation and contemplation on the Divine Husband, the Lover of the Universe. This converted, at that time, the Alankara Sastra, the science of Rhetoric, into a spiritual scripture; and giving the sensual poetic and dramatic literature the colour of spiritual love, made it palatable to spiritual aspirants and conducive to their progress. It thus made the path of discipline easy for them to follow by teaching them to requisition poetry and romance for the purpose of making the divine Lord their very own and to turn even the baser passions of lust, anger, etc., on to Him, passions that had by all means to be shunned during the practice of Santa Bhava, the devotional mood of calmness.

26.    How a Vedantin accepts the Sadhana of the Madhura Bhava as conducive to an aspirant’s well-being

Although in the eyes of modern youths the Madhura Bhava appears to be unnatural and unbecoming for those who have male bodies, it does not take long for a Vedantin to ascertain its proper value. He knows that as the result of a very long habit, all thoughts are converted into Samskaras in the human mind and that it is owing to these impressions that man perceives a diverse universe which really is the one non-dual Brahman. If he can, by the grace of God, really look upon the universe this very moment as non-existent, it will immediately disappear into the void from before his senses. The universe exists for a man only because he thinks it exists. I am a man, only because I look upon myself as one and another is a woman because she regards herself as a woman. Again, it is a matter of daily experience that, when one mood becomes predominant in the human mind, it veils and gradually destroys all the other contrary ones. Therefore, an aspirant’s effort to veil and gradually destroy all the other moods of his mind by virtue of the prevalence of the Madhura Bhava assumed by him towards God, is looked upon by the Vedantin as similar to the effort of “removing the thorn in one’s foot with another”. The consciousness of “I am possessed of a body”, which is the basis of all other impressions of the human mind, and the firm belief, “I am a man or a woman”, on account of one’s contact with that body, are two Samskaras that are most powerful. When the male aspirant is able to forget his male nature by attributing the nature of the husband to the divine Lord and of the wife to himself, he, it is needless to say, can very easily throw off as well the mood “I am His wife” and reach the state beyond all moods. Therefore a Vedantin finds it quite reasonable that an aspirant, when perfect in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, should arrive very near the plane transcending all moods.

27. The ultimate aim of practising the Madhura Bhava is to attain the loving mood of Radha

Is the aim of the aspirant, it may be asked, the realization of the devotional mood of Radha? Although the Vaishnava teachers, it may be said in reply, deny it to begin with and say that the mood of only a, friend of Radha is attainable and that her own is not; it is inferred that the latter is the ultimate aim of the aspirant. For, the difference between the mood of Radha and that of her friends is one of degree and not of kind. Like Radha, her friends also worshipped Krishna, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, as their husband and tried to bring about the union between Radha and Krishna in order to make the latter happy, inasmuch as He, they saw, felt most happy when united with Her. Again, we see that, although Rupa, Sanatana, Jiva and other early Vaishnava teachers spent their lives at Vrindavan in the service of different images of Krishna, they did not try to install an image of Radha by the side of Krishna. It is inferred from this fact that they did not do so, only because they considered themselves to be in the position of Radha.

Those who want to study in detail the Madhura Bhava, spoken of in the Vaishnava books, should go through the writings of the early Vaishnava teachers like Rupa, Sanatana, and Jiva, and also the poems of the Vaishnava poets like Vidyapati and Chandidas on Purvaraga (the dawning of the divine love), Dana (offering or dedication), Mana (the affected rejection of the Beloved’s endearment due to excess of emotion), Abhimana (the wounded feeling of love) and Mathur1 (pangs of separation). We have discussed the essentials of the Madhura Bhava here, because it will make it easy to understand what wonderful zenith of excellence the Master reached in the practice of that mood.


1. Vide Life of St. Francis of Assisi, and of St. Catherine of Sienna.

1. Apatya, i.e., the mood of looking upon God as father or mother, here as father.—Tr.

1. A semi-mythical river.—Tr.

1. The Buddhistic Satan.—Tr.

2. Purusha: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as the subject, the knower, the enjoyer; Prakriti: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as the object, the known, the enjoyed. Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute means pure or absolute consciousness, when the will (which being a mode of consciousness, is not anything other than consciousness), is not active or is not cognized. When the will is active or is cognized, the same pure consciousness appears, or is viewed as, split in two, the subject and the object, and is talked of in terms of love, when the bliss-aspect is emphasized.—Tr.

1. The state in which one fears lest any harm should befall Krishna, even when he is happy, and hence cannot remain patient for even a moment, is the Rudha stage of the Mahabhava, i.e., the stage in which the Sattvika Vikaras have reached almost the highest point. The Adhirudha stage of the Mahabhava is the highest point of the Rudha stage; it is that stage of bliss and pain, arising respectively from the union with and separation from Krishna, of which all the happiness existing in crores of universes and also the pain produced by the biting of all the snakes and the stinging of all the scorpions are just a drop in the ocean, so to say. The last mentioned state of the Mahabhava has two characteristics; firstly,. Modana i.e., gladness to be found in the friends of Radha only. Secondly, Madana, ‘inebriation’ which is the completest efflorescence of all the Sattvika emotions and bodily changes to be found only in Radha.

—The Bhakti-granthavali of Sri Viswanath Chakravarty.

1. The Sattvika changes are those that shake the body and the mind. They are eight in number, namely, motionlessness, perspiration, horripilation, indistinctness of utterance, tremor, paleness, tears, and loss of consciousness. They are arranged in five grades, according as they give greater and greater enjoyments, taking their nomenclature from the blazing of fire, viz. smoking, smouldering, flaming, glowing and incandescing.

1. These songs on the pangs of separation are collectively named Mathur, or associated with Mathura, because the Gopis of Vrindavan experienced those intense pangs when Krishna left for Mathura, from where He never returned.—Tr.


1.    The natural inclination of the Master’s mind since childhood was to merge in spiritual moods

The Master was accustomed to remaining absorbed in any mood, whensoever it arose in his pure and one-pointed mind. That mood fully occupied his mind for the time being and wiped off all other moods and converted his body into a perfect instrument suitable for its manifestation. When we study his life, we get acquainted with this nature of his mind since his childhood. We observed this nature of his, almost daily, when we were visiting Dakshineswar. While he was merging in any particular spiritual mood as the result of his listening to devotional music, or for some other, reason, he, we found, felt in his mind extreme pain if anyone sang or talked of any other mood. He experienced that pain because, it is needless to say, the course of the modifications of his mind, directed towards one point, was suddenly checked. Patanjali, the great thinker, has called that state of the mind Savikalpa-samadhi in which there is only one particular current of modifications round one object. The same has been described as Bhavasamadhi in devotional scriptures. This shows that the Master’s mind was accustomed to merging in that kind of ecstasy from his childhood.

2.    What changes were brought in his mind during his Sadhana

The above-mentioned characteristic of his mind took an extraordinary new turn from the time he commenced his spiritual practices. For, whereas, before, his mind was found to remain in one mood only for a short time and then to change into another, now, once inducted into one mood, it always dwelt in it till it experienced its ultimate limit, getting at last a glimpse of the non-dual consciousness beyond. As examples of this fact it may be said that, until he reached the furthest limit of the Dasya mood, he did not try to practise the Apatya, looking upon God as a parent (mother); again, he did not engage himself in the practices of the Vatsalya and the Madhura Bhava before he had the final experience of the Apatya, as taught by the Tantras. Instances of this can be easily multiplied if we study the events of the time of his Sadhana.

3.    The Madhura Bhava was not to the Master’s liking before the time of his Sadhana of that mood

When the Brahmani came, the Master’s mind was filled with the contemplation of the motherhood of God. At that time he saw the actual manifestation of the divine Mother in all creatures, sentient and insentient, in the universe, specially in all female forms. Therefore, we clearly understand the reason why he addressed the Brahmani as “mother” as soon as he saw her and fully believed himself to be her son, sat, at times, on her lap and took food out of her hand. Inspired by the devotional mood of the Gopis of Vraja, the Brahmani happened at times to sing songs conveying the idea of the conjugal relationship with God, when the Master said, we were told by Hriday, that he did not like that mood and requested her to stop them and sing instead songs expressive of the motherhood of God. The Brahmani rightly understood the Master’s mood and started immediately singing songs indicative of the mood of the female attendant of the Mother of the universe; or she introduced songs full of the outburst of affection of Yasoda for her Gopala. These are, of course, events that occurred long before he became engaged in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava. So, it is evident that his was a transparent sincerity, absolutely unalloyed; as he himself used to say, “There is no swindling in the abode of my mind”.

Anyway, we have seen how the Master’s mind changed and how he came forward to practise the spiritual mood of the maternal affection for God. Now, therefore, let us begin to describe the practices he undertook when he engaged himself in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava.

4.    No Sadhana of the Master was unscriptural. What it proves

Although the Master was almost wholly an “illiterate”, as that word is ordinarily understood, a study of his life reveals how he maintained the authority of the scriptures all his life. The methods he undertook through the pure impulse of his heart even before he was initiated by any spiritual teacher, were all in accordance with the scriptures, and never contradicted them. These events of his life prove the fact that this will happen to all who are eager to realize God with a pure and holy heart, where “there is no swindling”. And there is nothing to wonder at in this; for, a little thin-king will show that the scriptures have been compiled out of such experiences. The books that are called the Sastras are nothing but the records of the experiences of hearts like that of the Master, the results of their efforts for the realization of Truth. Therefore, the truth of the Sastras has been clearly proved by his extraordinary life inasmuch as the experiences recorded in them have been realized by the unlettered Master exactly as they are depicted. Swami Vivekananda pointed this out and said, “The reason of the Master’s incarnating this time as an unlettered person is to prove the states and experiences recorded in the Sastras to be true.”

5. Examples of the natural bent of the Master’s mind to follow the scriptures, even unknowingly. The assumption of different names and robes at the time of Sadhana

As examples of the Master’s maintaining instinctively the authority of the scriptures, we may mention here the different dresses that he put on, one after another, under the impulse of different moods. The seers have said through the Upanishads that one cannot attain perfection by Tapas only, without putting on external emblems.1 It is seen in the life of the Master also that, impelled by his own heart, he put on the dress and other external emblems favourable to the practices of whatever spiritual mood he undertook at any time. For instance, he wore red cloth, ashes, vermilion and Rudraksha beads in order to attain success in practising the filial mood towards God, the Mother, described in the Tantras. At the time of his practices according to the devotional moods spoken of in the Vaishnava books, he donned the well-known traditional Bhek, and adorned his body with white cloth, white sandal-paste, garlands of beads made of the holy basil, etc. Desiring to realize the non-dual mood taught by the Vedanta, he put on ochre dress and gave up his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on the crown of his head, and so on. Again, just as he assumed various male forms of dress at the time of practising the male moods, so he did not hesitate to adorn himself with the female forms of dress and ornaments while practising the female moods. The Master taught us many a time that one could not realize God till one gave up the eight ties of shame, hatred, fear and the egoism due to birth, family, good conduct, etc., which accompanied one from life to life. How far he himself followed that teaching in body, mind and speech, all his life can clearly be understood by a careful study of all his actions including the wearing of dress, ornaments, etc., at the time of his Sadhana.

6.    Engaged in the practices of the Madhura Bhava, the Master put on female dress

Engaged in the practices of the Madhura Bhava, the Master became anxious to use clothes and ornaments proper to a woman. Knowing that desire of his, the greatly devout Mathur had the pleasure of adorning him now with a precious Sari, now with a skirt, a gauze scarf and a bodice. Desirous of making his female mode of dress perfect in all respects, Mathur decked him with a head of artificial hair and a set of gold ornaments. That gift of Mathur, we knew from a reliable source, gave evil-minded people an opportunity to calumniate the Master’s austere renunciation. But he and Mathur did not pay any attention whatever to that censorious talk and proceeded towards their goal. Mathur was highly delighted at the satisfaction of “father”, since he knew that he was not doing it all in vain. Adorned in such dress and ornaments, the Master gradually merged so much in the mood of the women of Vraja ever desirous to have the love of Krishna, that the consciousness that he was a male person disappeared altogether and every thought, word or movement of his became womanly. The Master, we were told by himself, was thus in a woman’s dress for six months in the faith that he was the spiritual consort of God.

7.    All the actions of the Master became womanly when he was in that attire

We have mentioned elsewhere the extraordinary coexistence in the Master of both manly and womanly temperaments. Is it, therefore, to be wondered at that, under the influence of the womanly dress, the temperament of the fair sex should be roused in him? But nobody could ever imagine that, under the urge of that mood, his movements, speech, smile, glance, gestures and other actions of body and mind would become completely womanly. But that all this did take place, however impossible it may appear, was borne out both by Hriday and the Master himself. When frequenting Dakshineswar, we saw him mimicking sometimes women’s manners. These mimicries used to be so highly natural and perfect that even ladies were astonished to see them.

8.    The Master’s behaviour as a woman friend of the ladies of Mathur’s family

At that time the Master sometimes went to the Janbazar house of Rani Rasmani and lived there in association with the ladies in the inner apartment. Those ladies already knew quite well his pure character free from the slightest tinge of lust, and looked upon him as a god. Besides, they were now so much charmed by his womanly deportment and his genuine care and affection for them that they regarded him as one of themselves and could not at all maintain their bearing of bashfulness, hesitation, etc., in his presence.1 When the husband of any one of Mathur’s daughters came to the Janbazar house at that time, the Master, we have heard it from himself, adorned her with attire and ornaments, dressed her hair, took her by the hand like a woman friend, teaching her various ways of entertaining her husband and making her sit beside her husband, returned from the room. He said, “Conscious that I was a woman friend of theirs they also did not at all feel uneasy.”

9.    While he was in a woman’s dress, it was difficult to distinguish the Master from a woman

“When he remained thus surrounded by ladies,” Hriday said, “it was difficult even for his very close relatives to recognize him quickly. One day at that time Mathur Babu took me to the inner apartment and asked, ‘Can you say which of these, is your uncle?’ Although I had lived with him for so long a time and had served him daily, I could not at once distinguish him from them. When during that period of his life at Dakshi-neswar, uncle used to pluck and collect flowers in the garden early in the morning every day with a flower basket in his hand, we carefully observed him and noticed that every time he started walking his left leg moved first, like that of a woman. The Bhairavi Brahmani used to say, ‘I mistook him very often for Sri Radharani when I saw him plucking flowers in that manner.’ Having plucked flowers and made variegated garlands of them, he then used to adorn Radha-Govinda every day and, having sometimes adorned the Mother of the universe also that way, he prayed imploringly to Her, as did the Gopis of Vraja to Katyayani, to let him have Krishna for his husband.”

10.    The Master’s actions and his physical changes during his Sadhana of the Madhura Bhava

Desirous of having the vision of Krishna and of getting Him as his spiritual Husband, the Master now performed the service and worship of the divine Mother. He then engaged himself in the service of the holy feet of Krishna with an undivided mind, and spent his days in eager prayer and longing. That eager prayer in his heart never ceased at any time—neither during the day nor during the night. Days and months passed but despair or lack of faith never came to remove him an inch from that longing. That prayer became gradually converted into copious weeping and that longing into restlessness, an anxious pining away for the beloved and a sort of madness, making him give up food, sleep, etc. And how shall we describe the pangs of separation—that unbounded yearning for the complete union for all times without a break with one’s darling of the heart, now cruelly obstructed by manifold barriers —yearning that churns one’s heart’s blood, plays havoc with one’s mind and devastates one’s body and sense-organs—how shall we describe the pangs produced by such a yearning? Why, they did not cease by simply manifesting themselves as agonizing mental modes but also brought about again that unbearable burning pain and intense heat which he had felt all over his body during the early stages of his Sadhana. We have heard from the Master himself that drops of blood oozed out then at times from every pore of his body under the powerful sense of the separation from Krishna. All the joints of the body seemed slackened or almost dislocated, the senses completely desisted from functioning and the body lay motionless and unconscious sometimes like that of a dead man—all because of the extreme anguish of the heart.

11.    A contrast between the Master’s transcendental love and that conceived by us

We, men, eternally identified with a body and conscious of being that alone, understand by love the attraction of one body for another. Or if we go as the result of strenuous effort, just a little beyond the consciousness of the gross body and regard love as the attraction towards the aggregate of the noble qualities manifested in a particular body, we call it by the name of transcendental love and sing hallelujah over it. But it does not take one long to understand that this, our so-called transcendental love, eulogized by generations of poets, is not free from the consciousness of the gross body and subtle desires for enjoyment Ah, how worthless, insignificant and hollow that love appears in contrast with the true transcendental love manifested in the Master’s life!

12.    What the devotional scriptures say about Srimati’s transcendental love

Srimati Radharani alone, the devotional scriptures say, realized the ultimate limit of the aforesaid transcendental love in her life and left its perfect ideal to the world. Nowhere in the whole range of devotional scriptures is to be found a peer for her, who, completely oblivious of bodily and mental comforts, could give up shame, hatred and fear, without caring in the least for social or popular opinion, and could trample upon the prestige due to birth, family, good conduct and respectable position, in order to feel happy in Krishna’s happiness alone. Therefore, nobody in the world, the scriptures say, can have even a partial experience of that love, (for the whole experience, they say, is not possible for Jivas) and have the vision of Krishna, but by the grace of Radha; for, Krishna, the embodiment of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, is eternally captivated by her love, which is devoid of the slightest tinge of lust, and fulfils the desires of devotees at her instance. The implication of the devotional scriptures referred to above is thus clearly brought out that, until one realizes the kind of love experienced by Srimati, the embodiment of transcendental love, one cannot have God as husband and feel the perfect sweetness of love.

13.    Sri Gauranga came to exemplify the transcendental love of Srimati

Although the extraordinary glory of the love of Radharani for Krishna has been highly eulogized by Sukadeva, the chief of the Paramahamsas, and other self-controlled sages (who are supreme as the very embodiment, so to say, of freedom from Maya) the generality of the people of India did not know for a very long time how to realize it in life. In order to make people understand how to realize it, the divine Lord, the Vaishnava teachers say, had to incarnate Himself with Srimati in one and the same body and receptacle, as Krishna inside and Radha outside, in that extraordinary embodiment of His which is known as Gauranga. Thus Gauranga came on earth to do good to humanity by teaching the extramarital relation of love in the spiritual domain, with God as the lover. All the signs that were manifested in Radharani’s body on account of her love for Krishna, also manifested themselves in Gauranga’s body though male, owing to the power of his love for God. They asserted that Gauranga was Srimati because they saw the manifestation of all the signs of devotion in his body and mind produced by the Madhura Bhava. So, Sri Gauranga is the second example of that ideal of transcendental love.

14.    The Master meditated on Radha and had her vision

Thus understanding that the attainment of the vision of Krishna was impossible without Radha’s grace, the Master now applied himself thoroughly to gaining her favour. Lost in the remembrance and reflection of her form, the very embodiment of love, he incessantly offered at her lotus feet the ardent emotions of his heart. Consequently, he was very soon blessed with the vision of the holy form of Radha, devoid of the slightest tinge of lust. He now saw that this form also disappeared into his own body like the forms of other deities when he had had their visions. “Is it ever possible”, said the Master, “to describe the glory and sweetness of that incomparable, pure, bright form of Radha who renounced her all for the love of Krishna? The splendour of her body was bright yellow like the pollens of Nagakesara (Mesua ferrea) flowers.”

15.    The Master felt that he was Srimati. The reason thereof

From now on, the Master began to realize himself as Srimati in ecstasy. He completely lost the consciousness of his separate existence, on account of his profound contemplation of the holy form and character of Radha and through his ceaseless feeling of identification with her. Therefore, it can certainly be said that his love for God born of his Madhura Bhava developed into (and became as profound as) Radha’s. For, in reality, all the signs of the Mahabhava, which is the ultimate state of the Madhura Bhava, were manifested in him after his realization of the abovementioned vision, even as they were in Radha and Gauranga. The descriptions of the physical signs manifested during the Mahabhava are recorded in the books by the revered Vaishnava teachers. The Bhairavi Brahmani, and later Vaishnavacharan and other Sadhakas, well versed in the Vaishnava scriptures, were astonished to see the manifestation under the impulse of the Madhura Bhava, of those signs in the holy person of the Master and offered him their heart-felt worship and reverence. Speaking of the Mahabhava, the Master told us on many occasions, “It is written in the devotional scriptures that nineteen kinds of emotions manifested in one receptacle are together called the Maha bhava. The whole life of a man is required for the practice of one such emotion before he can attain perfection in it. Nineteen such moods were fully manifested all together here (showing his own body) in one receptacle.”1

16.    Extraordinary changes came on the Master’s body when he was in the mood of a woman

We have mentioned before that blood oozed out from every pore of the Master’s body on account of the extreme anguish arising from the sense of separation from Krishna. It happened at that time, in the ultimate stage of the Mahabhava. He became so much absorbed in the constant thought of himself as a woman that he could not look upon himself as one of the other sex even in a dream His body and senses functioned naturally like those of a woman.

17.    That the mind creates the body is demonstrated from these bodily changes of his under the influence of strong emotions

The Vedanta teaches that the mind of man has created his body in its present form, and is reforming it every moment of his life by decomposing and re-composing it, with the help of intense desires. Though we are told of such a mastery of the mind over the body, we do not really comprehend or form an idea of it. This is because there is no object for the attainment of which we experience that kind of intense desire, under the influence of which the mind turns away from all other objects and concentrates itself on a particular one and thereby manifests extraordinary powers. The aforesaid teaching of the Vedanta, it is needless, to add, is clearly proved by the fact that the Master’s body was so much changed in a short time on account of his intense desire to experience one particular object. Hearing the spiritual experiences of the Master and desiring to compare them with those of the perfected seers of past ages, Padmalochan and other eminent Pandits said to the Master, “Your experiences have gone far beyond those recorded in the Vedas and Puranas”. One is amazed to study the physical changes of the Master under the influence of his strong emotions and has to remark that his bodily changes have gone beyond the facts so far discovered by physiology and indicate the beginning of a wonderful revolution in it.

18.    The Master had the vision of Sri Krishna

As the Master’s practising love of God-as-husband was now purified and intensified, he experienced in the above- mentioned way the grace of Radharani, the supreme Lady of Vraja and was finally blessed, shortly after, with the holy vision of Krishna, the embodiment of pure Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. This form of the vision also united with his holy person, like all the other forms seen before. Tota Puri, the Paramahamsa, came two or three months after the Master had had that vision and engaged him in the discipline of the non-dual spiritual mood well known in the Vedanta. Perfect in the practices of the Madhura Bhava, the Master was, it is clear, enjoying divine bliss in that mood for a short period. We have heard from the Master himself that at that time he lost himself completely in the thought of Krishna and sometimes regarded himself as Krishna, and regarded all beings, from Brahma down to a blade of grass, as forms of Krishna. When we were frequenting Dakshi-neswar and were in his company, one day he plucked a flower of grass, came to us with his face beaming with delight and said, “The complexion of Sri Krishna, I used to see then (at the time of practising the Madhura Bhava), was like this”.

19.    In his youth the Master desired to be born again as a girl

A desire under the impulse of the female mood used to arise in the Master’s mind in his adolescence before he left Kamarpukur for Calcutta. Knowing that the Gopis of Vraja had Krishna, the embodiment of pure Existence-Knowledge-Bliss, as their spiritual husband through love, because they were born as women, he used to think that he too would have been blessed enough to love and have Krishna as husband, had he been born in a female form Considering his male body to be an obstacle to his attainment of Krishna, he then imagined that were he to be born again, he would become a beautiful child-widow with long hair, in a Brahmin family and would not know any one except Krishna as husband. There would be some means of bare subsistence of coarse food and clothes, near the hut there would be a Katha1 or two of land, wherein he would produce, with his own hands, some greens and vegetables for his own use. And there would be with him an elderly woman, as his guardian, a cow which he would milk himself and a spinning wheel. The imagination of the boy proceeded further. He went on thinking that in the daytime, after finishing the household duties, he would spin yarn with that wheel, singing songs about Krishna, and after dusk would be ardently weeping in secret from a longing to feed Krishna with his own hands, with the sweets made of the milk of that cow; Krishna also would be pleased and, coming dressed as a cowherd, would eat them. This coming and going would be repeated daily without the knowledge of others.. Although that desire of his was not fulfilled in exactly that way, it came to pass in the aforesaid manner at the time of his practising the Madhura Bhava.

20. The Master realized, “The three—the scriptures, the devotees and the divine Lord, —are the One and the One is the three”

We shall conclude the present topic by recording another vision of the Master when he was enjoying the Madhura Bhava. One day during that period, while he was listening to the reading of the Bhagavata in front of the Vishnu temple he went into ecstasy and had the vision of Sri Krishna’s luminous form. He saw that a beam of light like a cord, came out of His lotus feet and touched the book, whence it touched the Master’s heart and remained simultaneously touching the three for some time. There arose from that vision the firm conviction in his mind that, although the three, viz., the scripture, the devotee and the divine Lord, appeared as different entities, they, the Master said, were one and the same thing; in other words, they were the manifestations of the same Reality. “The three— the Bhagavata (the scripture), the Bhakta (the devotee) and the Bhagavan (the divine Lord), are the One and the One is the three,” he used to say.


1. Mundaka Upanishad. 3. 2. 4. Self-realization is not possible by knowledge only without putting on the signs of Sannyasa, e.g., ochre cloth etc.

1. III. 7.

The aforesaid nineteen divisions (excluding calmness i.e., Santa) of the two kinds of love, viz., Kamatmika and Sambandhatmika, co-exist in one receptacle in the Mahabhava—this is what the Master said.

N.B.— We are indebted to Prof. S. K. De for the English translation of some of the above terms.—Tr.

1. i.e., 016 acre.—Tr


Perfected in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, the Master now reached the zenith of the Sadhana of all the devotional moods. But before recording the history of his extraordinary spiritual striving henceforth it is good to study once his mental state at that time.

1. The study of the Master’s state of mind during this time:

(1)    his complete renunciation of lust and gold

If an aspirant wants to be successful in the discipline of any one of the devotional moods, he will, we have seen, have to do it by shunning sights, tastes, and other worldly objects of enjoyment. The saying of the perfected devotee Tulsidas, viz., “There is no selfish action where Rama is”1, is really true. The history of the extraordinary striving of the Master bears out this fact. He had stood on the solid basis of the renunciation of lust and gold before he began practising the devotional moods. He could master in a short period whatever mood he practised at any time, only because he never deviated in the least from that basis. Therefore, we are to keep it clear before our mind that he was now incessantly dwelling in a region far beyond the bounds of the temptation of lust and gold.

(2)    the discrimination between the real and the unreal; the dispassion for the results of action in this world and the next

As he was incessantly making efforts for God-realization for a period of nine years by renouncing the desire for the enjoyment of worldly objects, his mind now reached, through continual contemplation, such a state that the memory of anything, except God, appeared to it to be poison, As he understood and manifested in body, mind and speech, that the reality of God was the essence of essences and the ultimate of all ultimates, he was absolutely indifferent to and free from any desire for the attainment here or hereafter of any object except God.

(3)    the six treasures of Sama, Dama, etc., and the intense desire for liberation

Forgetting all worldly things and the pains and pleasures of his body, he was now so much accustomed to the one-pointed meditation on his chosen Ideal that his mind would in a moment be withdrawn from external objects, get concentrated on It and enjoy the divine bliss. Days, months and years rolled on in that way, yet his bliss, the divine enjoyment, would not leave him even for a moment, nor could he ever lead himself to believe that there was anything but God in the world to be desired for. ’

and (4) the dependence on God and the fearlessness arising from his visions of the divine Mother

And having unlimited devotion, faith and dependence on the universal Mother, the ultimate cause, as “the goal, the supporter, the lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the friend,”1 the Master had not only bound himself to Her in eternal loving relations, but also accustomed himself thoroughly to perform without fear all actions of his life, big and small, at the command and hint of the divine Mother. For, he had had various proofs of the fact that, on account of absolute childlike dependence on the divine Mother, the aspirant sees Her always beside him, feels blessed in always hearing Her sweet words and protected by Her strong arms, and is enabled to tread fearlessly the path of the world.

2.    What the Master said about his doing Sadhana even after the realization of God

Why did the Master, it may be asked, engage himself in discipline even after thus knowing the Cause of the universe as his own Mother and always seeing Her beside him? What was discipline for, when one realized that She was more than one’s own—She, for whose realization all discipline, meditation, austerity, etc., on the part of an aspirant were needed? Although we discussed this question before from one point of view, we shall now say a few words on it from another. Sitting at the holy feet of the Master and listening to the history of his striving, one day we had that doubt in our mind and we did not hesitate to express it to him We shall now describe here what he told us in reply. “Look here,” said the Master, “just as one who always lives on the sea coast sometimes feels a desire to see what a variety and number of precious things lie hidden at the bottom of the ocean, which is said to be the mine of all gems, so also, although I realized Her and remained always beside Her, I felt a desire to enjoy the Mother, who is of innumerable forms and is the embodiment of endless relations, in as many forms and relations as She would be pleased to show me. Therefore, whenever I desired to see or enjoy Her in any particular form or relation, I persisted in praying importunately to Her to reveal Herself to me in that form or relation. The compassionate Mother on Her part made me personally do whatever was necessary and supplied me everything required and revealed Herself to me in that form and in that relation. It was thus that all the various disciplines were performed.”

Perfected in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, the Master, as we have seen, reached the ultimate plane of the Sadhanas of the devotional moods, when he felt the urge to perform the discipline of the non-dual mood which is beyond all moods and is well known in the Vedanta. We shall now begin to tell the reader how that urge came to the Master at the instance of the divine Mother and how he now realized Her formless, attributeless nature which is the Turiya state, the Absolute.

3.    The Master’s mother decided to live on the Ganga and came to Dakshineswar

The Master’s aged mother was living at the Dakshineswar Kali temple when he began practising the non-dual mood. At the passing away of her eldest son Ramkumar, the bereaved old lady consoled herself with difficulty, looking endearingly on her other two sons. But, soon after, when it was rumoured that her dearest and youngest son Gadadhar had turned mad, her sorrow and grief knew no bounds. She had her son brought home and when his condition improved a little, through various kinds of treatment and performance of propitiatory rites, hope came to her again and the old lady had him married. But when Gadadhar returned to Dakshineswar after his marriage and his former state seized him again, the old lady could no longer control herself. Praying for the recovery of her son, she went first to the Siva temple in her own village and, afterwards, to the old temple of Siva at

Mukundapur and undertook a fast unto death. When the great God, Mahadeva, told her in a vision that her son was in divine inebriation, she was reassured a little. Nevertheless, the world lost all its attraction to her and she came to her son at Dakshineswar shortly afterwards, determined to spend the rest of her life on the bank of the Ganga. For, what purpose would it serve her, she thought, to remain attached to the world in that old age when those for whom and with whom she was in the world were one by one leaving her and the world behind? We have already told the reader of Mathur’s gift of the “mountain of food”. Resolved to pass the rest of her life at Dakshineswar on the Ganga, the Master’s mother, we infer, came to the Kali temple during that time. That resolve of the old lady was fulfilled and from that time she never returned to Kamarpukur but spent the remaining twelve years of her life near the temple, and passed away. Therefore there is no doubt that it was during his mother’s stay at Dakshineswar, the Master was initiated into the Mantra of Rama by Jatadhari, received the image of Ramalala from him, and practised the moods of Vatsalya, Madhura, and the Vedanta, etc.

4. The Master’s mother was untouched by avarice

We should like to tell the reader an event showing the complete lack of avarice on the part of the Master’s mother. That event took place shortly after she came to Dakshineswar. Mathur, we have said above, was in full charge of the management of the Kali temple at that time when he performed various acts of merit and was freely distributing a huge quantity of food. As there was no limit to his love, regard and reverence for the Master, he was always endeavouring to make some arrangements for the efficient continuance of the services to the Master even after his passing away. But he never ventured to speak it out on account of the glowing renunciation he saw in the Master. One day, he was landed in a great difficulty, when, to know the Master’s mind he was consulting Hriday within his hearing about transferring an estate to him; for, as soon as a little of the talk reached his ears, the Master ran like one mad to beat him, saying, “Ah, you wretch, you want to make a worldly man of me!” But this idea never left Mathur; it was always burning in his mind. However, he found no opportunity to fulfil that desire of his. Thinking that such an opportunity was now afforded him on the arrival of the Master’s mother, Mathur began endearing himself to her by calling her granny. He then started visiting her every day, spent some time in talking with her on various matters and soon became her great favourite. Later, one day, finding an opportune moment, he made an importunate request to her thus, “Granny, you have never taken any service from me. If you really consider me to be your own, please ask for anything you want”. The simple-hearted old lady was in a great fix, for, even after a good deal of thinking she could not make out what she needed. In this predicament, she had to say, “My child, God bless you; through your affectionate care, I lack nothing at present. When I require anything, I’ll ask you for it”. So saying, the old lady opened her portmanteau and said to Mathur, “Look here, I have so many clothes and through your loving care I have no trouble about food and drink. You have arranged and are arranging everything; what then shall I ask you for?” But Mathur was not a person to drop the matter so easily. He repeatedly requested her saying, “Please ask for something.” After a good deal of thinking, the Master’s mother hit upon something she had need of. She said, “If you must give me something, please buy an anna worth of tobacco leaf, for I want tobacco ashes for my teeth.” The worldly Mathur’s eyes became wet, he saluted her and said, “Can any mother other than you give birth to such a self-denying son?” Saying so, he had the tobacco leaves purchased for her.

5.    Haladhari gave up worshipping in the Kali temple; Akshay came

During the time of the Master’s practising the Vedantic discipline, his paternal cousin Haladhari was in the service of Radha-Govinda at the Dakshineswar temple. He was senior to the Master in age and had some grasp of scriptures like the Bhagavata. He felt proud on that account. We have told the reader how he ridiculed the Master and said that his spiritual visions and states were due to the derangement of his brain; how, pained at it, the Master would run up to the divine Mother for consultation and how he was again and again consoled by Her, and how on one such occasion Haladhari used those words of ridicule, which sent the Master into ecstasy, during which he had the vision of a beautiful figure who instructed him to “remain in Bhavamukha”. These events, we infer, came to pass shortly before he began practising the Vedantic discipline. Seeing the Master wear clothes, ornaments, etc., meant for ladies and live in the mood of a woman at the time of practising the Madhura Bhava, Haladhari concluded that he was devoid of Self-Knowledge. When Tota Puri, the itinerant Paramahamsa, came to Dakshineswar and lived there, Haladhari, we have heard from the Master himself, was living at the Kali temple and used to have discussion on the scriptures with him from time to time. One day when Tota and Haladhari were thus discussing the Adhyatma-Ramayana the Master had the vision of Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana. Tota came to Dakshineswar probably by the end of 1865. A few months after it, Haladhari retired from service as the worshipper of the Mother, owing to ill-health and other reasons, and Akshay, Ramkumar’s son and the Master’s nephew, was appointed in his place.

6.    The reason that led the Master to practise the non-dual mood after he had attained perfection in Bhavasamadhi

It is the nature of a devotee that he never tries to realize the states of liberation, viz., Sayujya, identification with the divine Lord, and Nirvana, the bodilessness. He always tries to enjoy the glory of the various forms and noble qualities of God with the help of particular devotional moods. The saying of Ramprasad, the devotee of the Devi, “I don’t like to become sugar, but want to taste it,” is well known as the natural outburst of the heart-felt emotion of the devotees. Therefore, the Master’s effort to attain the non-dual state of consciousness beyond all devotional moods may appear to be unnatural to many. But, we should remember before we think thus that the Master was not now capable of taking the initiative in doing anything. The child of the divine Mother that the Master was, he now depended entirely and placed full reliance upon Her and felt highly delighted in being moved about and guided by Her any way at any time. The divine Mother, for Her part, took upon ‘Herself all his responsibilities and, with a view to accomplishing a particular purpose of Hers, cast him, without his knowledge, into quite a new mould. By the decree of the universal Mother, the Master came to know that particular purpose of his life at the end of all his Sadhanas. And it was because of this knowledge that he bore with delight the great responsibility of doing good to humanity, thus thrust upon him by the divine Mother with whom he was fully one in love and for whose sake he kept himself just a little separate from Her.

7.    The rationale of his effort to attain the non-dual mood at the end of his Sadhana of the devotional moods

From another standpoint also, the rationale of his practice of the non-dual mood, after his perfection in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, is clearly brought out. The relation of the realm of devotional moods to that beyond them is one of effect to the cause. For, the immense bliss of the realm of non-duality, beyond the loving moods, limits itself and then manifests itself as the enjoyment of the bliss of the sight, touch, etc., of the realm of those moods. Where, then, except to the plane of nonduality, could his mind go, when he had reached the ultimate limit of the Madhura Bhava, which is the final stage of the realm of devotional moods?

Although the above argument is quite reasonable, the following event proves, however, that the Master launched on the practice of the non-dual mood only on the hint of the divine Mother.

8.    Sri Tota puri arrived at Dakshineswar

Desirous of bathing in the confluence of the sea and Ganga, and of having the vision of Sri Jagannath at Puri, the itinerant teacher Tota came, wandering at will, from Central India to Bengal. He was merged in spiritual practices on the holy river Narmada, where he lived alone for a very long time and attained the immediate knowledge of Brahman along the path of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The old monks of that place bear witness to this fact even now. When he realized Brahman in this way, a desire to wander at will arose in his mind and under the impulse of that urge, he now came to Eastern India and travelled from one place of pilgrimage to another. Content in themselves, the knowers of Brahman see the whole universe at all times other than that of Samadhi, as Only Brahman, as the manifestations through Maya of Brahman, and go on visiting temples, holy men and places of pilgrimage experiencing Brahman in them. Similarly, Tota, a knower of Brahman, began visiting the deities and holy places. He came to Dakshineswar on his way back to the north-western parts of this country after visiting the two places of pilgrimage mentioned above. It was not customary with him to spend more than three days in one place. He, therefore, came to the Kali temple to spend there three days only. He did not at first understand that, by Her inscrutable sport, the Mother of the universe brought him there in order to complete his own knowledge and to make Her own child practise Vedantic discipline with his help.

9.    The Master and Tota Puri greeted each other. The Master had the divine instruction to practise Vedanta

Arriving at the Kali temple, Tota Puri came first of all to the big open portico of the Ghat. Wearing one piece of cloth only like all others, the Master was then absent-mindedly seated in a corner. As soon as Tota’s eyes fell on the Masters face, radiant with austerity and beaming with the surge of devotion, he was attracted towards him and felt in his heart of hearts that he was not an ordinary person and that there were few who were so very fit for Vedantic Sadhana. Filled with curiosity and astonishment, Tota stepped forward and came up to the Master, thinking, “Ah, can there be such a fit aspirant for Vedantic discipline in Bengal which is saturated with Tantric practices?” Observing him carefully, he asked the Master of his own accord, “You seem to be well qualified; do you like to practise Vedantic discipline?” The Master said in answer to the tall, naked mendicant with matted hair “I know nothing of what I should do or not; my Mother knows everything; I shall do as She commands.” Tota replied, “Then go, ask your mother and come back; for I’ll not stay here long.”

Without saying anything in reply, the Master went slowly to the divine Mother’s temple. He was in ecstasy there when he heard Her words of advice, “Go and learn; it is in order to teach you that the monk is come here.”

10.    Tota’s conception of the Mother of the universe

In a divine state of semi-consciousness, the Master then came to Tota, with his face beaming with joy and informed him of his Mother’s instruction. Knowing that She whom the Master called Mother, was the image of the Devi installed in the temple, Tota, though charmed with his childlike simplicity, thought that the attitude of his mind was due to ignorance and superstition. We may well infer that there appeared now a smile of pity and derision in the corners of Tota’s lips. For, his keen intellect did not have any great regard for the deities except the Isvara spoken of in the Vedanta as the distributor of the results of action, nor would he admit that for an aspirant with self-control, and given to the meditation of Brahman, the devotion to and worship of such an Isvara, apart from a mere faith in His existence, would answer all his needs. If this was his conception of Isvara, we can well guess his idea about Maya, the power of Brahman, consisting of the three Gunas. That is why the learned monk looked upon Her as but a delusion and did not feel any necessity for admitting the existence of Her personality, far less for worshipping or propitiating Her. He felt in his heart of hearts that the aspirant’s personal effort alone was what was necessary to liberate himself from the bondage of ignorance, and there was not the least utility in prayer for the benign grace of Brahman united with Its power, otherwise called Isvara. Consequently, he considered such persons as offer prayers, to be labouring under the influence of impressions born of ignorance.

11.    The Master wanted to be initiated into Sannyasa secretly, — its reason

He, however, did not say anything about it to the Master and introduced other topics, thinking that the above-mentioned impressions of the Master’s mind would very soon vanish when, initiated by him, he would begin practising the discipline of the path of knowledge. He said that the Master would have to give up his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head before the scriptural initiation into Sannyasa. The Master hesitated a little and said that he had not the least objection if it could be done secretly. But he would by no means be able to do it publicly, as it would deal a terrible blow to the heart of his old grief-stricken mother. The itinerant teacher understood the reason why the Master wanted to be initiated secretly and said, “Very well, I will initiate you in private when the auspicious moment comes”. Then with a view to spending a few days in a suitable place he came to the beautiful Panchavati situated in the north of the temple garden and spread his seat there.

12.    Rites preliminary to the initiation into Sannyasa were performed

Later, when the auspicious day arrived, Tota asked the Master to perform the Sraddha and other ceremonies for the satisfaction of his forefathers and when those rites were finished, Tota made him offer Pinda according to scriptural injunctions for the satisfaction of his own soul. For, from the time of being initiated into Sannyasa, the aspirant totally renounces the hope of and the right to the attainment of any of the worlds such as Bhur, Bhuva, etc. That is why the scriptures enjoin his offering Pinda to himself.

The Master offered himself without reserve to each one of those whom he ever accepted as his spiritual teachers and did their bidding with unlimited faith. Therefore, it is needless to say that he followed to the letter what Tota now asked him to do. He performed the Sraddha and other preliminary rites, kept the necessary fast, collected the articles according to the instruction of his teacher in the Sadhan-Kutir at the Panchavati and waited for the arrival of the auspicious moment.

When about two hours before day-break, the auspicious moment, the Brahma-muhurta, arrived, the Guru and the disciple met in the hut. The preliminaries finished, the Homa-fire was lighted. And the forest and gardens round the Panchavati reverberated the holy profound sound of the Mantras pronounced before taking the vow of utter renunciation for the sake of God— the vow that has come down in an unbroken line from the Guru to the disciple from the beginning of time till today and has kept India well-established in the position of a knower of Brahman. The delicate, affectionate bosom of the Bhagirathi of holy waters vibrating with the delightful touch of that sound felt an extraordinary infusion of a new life. She flowed dancing with joy, bearing as it were, through her murmurs to all quarters the gospel that, after the lapse of ages, a true Sadhaka of India was once more undertaking the vow of total renunciation for the good of the many of this country and of the world at large. The Guru was now ready to recite the Mantras and the disciple to repeat them carefully and to offer oblations to the lighted fire. The prayer-mantras were first uttered:

13.    Prayer-mantras preliminary to the Sannyasa initiation

“May the truth of the supreme Brahman reach me. May the Reality having the characteristic of supreme bliss reach me. May the indivisible, homogeneous, sweet reality of Brahman manifest itself in me. O supreme Self, who art eternally co-existent with Thy power of revealing the Brahman-consciousness of all Thy children—Devas, human beings and others—I, Thy child and servant, am an especial object of Thy compassion. O great Lord, the destroyer of the evil dream of the worlds, destroy all my evil dreams, the perceptions of duality. O supreme Self, I offer as oblations my vital forces and, controlling my senses, I set my mind on Thee alone. O shining One, who directest every being, remove from me all blemishes that are obstacles to right knowledge and ordain so that the knowledge of Reality, free from absurdities and contraries, may arise in me. May all the things of the world—the sun, the air, the cool, pure water of rivers, grains like barley, wheat etc., trees etc., ordained by Thee, illumine and help me to attain the knowledge of Truth. Thou art manifested, in the world, O Brahman, as various forms with especial potency. I offer oblation to Thee who art fire, with a view to achieving, through the purity of body and mind, the capacity to retain the knowledge of Reality. Be gracious.”1

14.    The purport of the Mantra of the Viraja Homa performed before initiation

Then began the Viraja Homa: “ May the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether, in me be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself—Swaha.

May the vital airs, Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vfana in me, be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself— Swaha.

May the five sheaths, gross body, vital air, mind, intellect and bliss be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself—Swaha.

May the impressions produced in me by the objects, sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself—Swaha.

May my mind, speech, body, actions, be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself—Swaha.

O person of red eyes, who dwellest in the body of fire and art capable of destroying the obstacles to the attainment of knowledge, do thou wake up; O fulfiller of desires, ordain that all obstacles to my attainment of knowledge be destroyed and the knowledge heard from the mouth of the Guru may perfectly arise in my mind; may everything that is in me be completely purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself—Swaha.

A reflection of consciousness, I, who am of the nature of Brahman Itself, offer as oblation to fire all my desire of having wife, son, wealth, respect from people, beautiful body and so on, and renounce them all —Swaha.”

15.    The Master gave up his sacred thread and tuft of hair on his head and was initiated into Sannyasa

Many oblations were thus offered and the Homa was brought to an end by the disciple saying, “I give up from this moment the desire of attaining the Bhur and all other worlds; I assure all beings of the universe of freedom from fear on account of me.” He then offered as oblation his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head, according to scriptural injunctions, and putting on a pair of Kaupinas and ochre cloth1 given by the Guru according to the custom followed by successive generations of Sadhakas from the beginning of time, he sat beside Tota to receive instruction from him

16.    Tota urged the Master to remain identified with Brahman Itself

Tota, a knower of Brahman, now encouraged the Master to have recourse to the means of “Not this”, “Not this”, well known in the Vedanta and remain identified with Brahman Itself. He said to the Master:

“Brahman, the one substance which alone is eternally pure, eternally awakened, unlimited by time, space and causation, is absolutely real. Through Maya, which makes the impossible possible, It causes, by virtue of its influence, to seem that It is divided into names and forms. Brahman is never really so divided. For, at the time of Samadhi, not even an iota, so to say, of time and space, and name and form produced by Maya is perceived. Whatever, therefore, is within the bounds of name and form can never be absolutely real. Shun it by a good distance. Break the firm cage of name and form with the overpowering strength of a lion and come out of it. Dive deep into the reality of the Self existing in yourself. Be one with It with the help of Samadhi. You will then see the universe consisting of name and form, vanish, as it were, into the void; you will see the consciousness of the little I merge in that of the immense I, where it ceases to function; and you will have the immediate knowledge of the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as yourself: “The consciousness, with the help of which a person sees another, knows another, or hears another, is little or limited. Whatever is limited is worthless; for the supreme bliss is not there. But the knowledge, established in which a person becomes devoid of the consciousness of seeing another, knowing another, and hearing another is the immense or the unlimited one. With the help of that knowledge, one gets identified with the supreme bliss. What mind or intellect is able to know that which exists as the Knower in the hearts of all?”1

17.    Tota’s behaviour at the Master’s failure to make his mind free from all functions. The Master’s attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi

Tota tried to make the Master attain Samadhi on that day with the help of various arguments and conclusive quotations from the scriptures. The Master said to us that Tota girt up his loins, as it were, to make the experiences gained by him from his lifelong Sadhana, enter into the Master’s mind on that occasion and to put him immediately into the non-dual plane of consciousness. “After initiating me”, said the Master, “the naked one taught me many dicta conveying the conclusion of the Vedanta, and asked me to make my mind free of function in all respects and merge in the meditation of the Self. But, it so happened with me that when I sat for meditation I could by no means make my mind go beyond the bounds of name and form and cease functioning. The mind withdrew itself easily from all other things but, as soon as it did so, the intimately familiar form of the universal Mother, consisting of the effulgence of pure consciousness, appeared before it as living and moving and made me quite oblivious of the renunciation of names and forms of all descriptions. When I listened to the conclusive dicta and sat for meditation, this happened over and over again. Almost despairing of the attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, I then opened my eyes and said to the naked one, ‘No, it cannot be done; I cannot make the mind free from functioning and force it to dive into the Self’. Scolding me severely, the naked one said very excitedly, ‘What, it can’t be done!’ What utter defiance! He then looked about in the hut and finding a broken piece of glass took it in his hand and forcibly pierced with its needle-like pointed end on my forehead between the eye-brows and said; ‘Collect the mind here to this point’. With a firm determination I sat for meditation again and, as soon as the holy form of the divine Mother appeared now before the mind as previously, I looked upon knowledge as a sword and cut it mentally in two with that sword of knowledge. There remained then no function in the mind, which transcended quickly the realm of names and forms, making me merge in Samadhi.”

18.    Tota examined whether the Master really attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi. His surprise

Tota remained sitting for a long time beside the Master who entered into Samadhi in the manner men tioned above. Then coming out of the hut silen tly, he locked the door up lest some one should enter the hut without his knowledge and disturb him He took his seat under the Panchavati, not far from the hut and was awaiting the Master’s call to open the door.

The day passed into night. Slowly and calmly days rolled on. At the end of three days, when Tota did not still hear the Master’s call, he was filled with curiosity and astonishment and left his seat to open the door. With a view to knowing the condition of his disciple, he entered the hut and saw that the Master was sitting in the same posture in which he had left him and that there was not the slightest function of the vital force in his body, but his face was calm and serene and full of effulgence. He understood that the disciple was completely dead to the external world and that his mind, merged in Brahman, was calm and motionless like an unflickering lamp in a windless place.

Being versed in the mystery of Samadhi, Tota became astounded and thought, “Is this indeed true, that I see enacted before me? Has this great soul actually realized in a day what I could experience only as the fruit of forty years of austere Sadhana?” Filled with doubt, Tota applied his mind to the examination of the state of the Master and scrutinized minutely all the signs manifested in the disciple’s body. He examined especially whether his heart was beating and whether the slightest breath was coming out of his nostrils. He touched repeatedly the disciple’s body which was in a steady posture, like a piece of wood, firm and fixed. But, there was no sign of any change or modification, nor was there any return of normal consciousness. Beside himself with joy and astonishment, Tota cried out, “Is it divine Maya? Is it in truth Samadhi? Is it the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the ultimate result attained through the path of knowledge spoken of in the Vedanta? Ah, how very strange is the Maya of the Divine!”

19.    Tota tried to bring the Master down from Samadhi

Tota then undertook the process of bringing the disciple back to the consciousness of the external world. Profound sounds of the Mantra, “Hari Aum”, filled the land, water and sky of the Panchavati.

We have described in another place,1 how, attracted by the love of his disciple and desirous of making him firmly established in the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness, Sri Tota spent here day after day and month after month and how, with the help of the Master, he had his own spiritual life made complete in all respects. We refrain, therefore, from repeating all that here.

Having lived continuously at Dakshineswar for eleven months, Tota started for the north-western parts of the country. There arose immediately after this event a strong determination in the Master’s mind to remain incessantly thenceforward in the non-dual plane of consciousness. We have told the reader elsewhere,2 how he carried into practice that resolve, how he could remain continually for six months in that high plane of non-duality where even Adhikarika persons, who are only a little less than the incarnations of God, cannot dwell for a long time, not to speak of the ordinary Sadhakas, the Jivakotis; and how, at that time, a monk arrived at the Kali temple, and coming to know that humanity would be greatly benefited through the Master in the future, lived there for six months taking care of his body and saved his life by various means.

20.    The Master cured Jagadamba Dasi of a fatal disease

We shall now mention a special event that happened in Mathur Babu’s life by the grace of the Master at that time and bring this chapter to an end. Mathur’s devotion to and faith in the Master had already increased enormously as a result of his seeing various wonderful divine powers manifested in him. An event of this time confirmed and stabilised that devotion of his, making Mathur take absolute refuge in the Master for his entire life.

Mathur’s second wife, Srimati Jagadamba Dasi, had an attack of dysentery. The disease gradually worsened so much that the well-known doctors and physicians of Calcutta at first felt anxious for her life and then gave up all hope.

Mathur, though born poor, was, we were told by the Master, exceedingly good-looking and it was because of this that Rani Rasmani gave her third daughter Karunamayi in marriage to him and, after her death, the youngest, Jagadamba Dasi. Therefore, immediately after his marriage, a profound change took place in his circumstances and within a short time he rose to be the right-hand man of his mother-in-law on account of his address and intelligence. We have already narrated how, after the death of Rani Rasmani, he acquired in a way the sole authority for the management of the Rani’s property.

Not only was Mathur now going to lose his dearest wife Jagadamba Dasi, but he was on the point of being simultaneously deprived of the said authority over the management of his mother-in-law’s property. It is, therefore, needless to say much about his mental condition when the doctors gave up the case as hopeless. He became extremely anxious and came to Dakshineswar and, after saluting the Mother of the Universe, went to the Panchavati in search of the Master. Seeing him in that bewildered condition, the Master asked him very affectionately to sit by him and made enquiries about its cause. Mathur fell at his feet, and with a choked voice, informed him everything with tears in his eyes, piteously saying again and again, “The worst is about to happen but, that apart, what grieves me most, father, is that I am going to be deprived of the privilege of serving you.”

Filled with compassion on seeing the miserable plight of Mathur, the Master entered into ecstasy and said to him, “Don’t be afraid, your wife will come round.” The devout Mathur knew the Master as God Himself and so, at the Master’s assurance, he was, as it were, brought back to life and took leave of him that day. On his return to Janbazar he found that there was a sudden change for the better in the condition of the patient. “Jagadamba Dasi,” said the Master, “was gradually coming round from that day and her sufferings from that disease had to be borne by this body (showing his own). As the consequence of bringing round Jagadamba Dasi, I had to suffer from dysentery and other diseases for six months.”

Speaking of the wonderful loving service of Mathur to him, one day the Master referred to the aforesaid event and said to us, “Was it for nothing that Mathur served me for fourteen years? The divine Mother showed him various wonderful powers through (showing his own body) this. That is why he served so devotedly.”


1. There is no selfish action, where Rama is, and there is no Rama, where selfish action is. Like the sun and the night, the two do not co-exist - Tulsidas.

1. Gita, IX, 18

1. The purport of the Trisuparna-mantra.

1. Some among us say that Tota Puri gave the name “Ramakrishna” to the Master when he initiated him into Sannyasa. Others say that Mathuranath, who was a great devotee of the Master and served him whole-heartedly, called him first by that name. The first opinion seems to us to be reasonable.

1. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 2. 4. 14.



1.    The severe disease of the Master and his unique behaviour at this time

Now the Master’s strong body was shattered and he suffered from illness for a few months, either as a result of his curing the fatal disease of Jagadamba Dasi, as mentioned above, or of his superhuman efforts for six long months to dwell continually in the plane of the non-dual consciousness. We were told by him that he had then a severe attack of dysentery. His nephew Hriday engaged himself in nursing him day and night. Mathur placed him under the treatment of Gangaprasad Sen, the famous physician, and made special arrangements for his diet etc. Although his body was so severely ill, the extraordinary calmness and the incessant bliss enjoyed by his mind, freed from all body-consciousness, beggared description. His mind would separate itself from the body, the disease and all other objects of the world at the slightest suggestion,1 and would soar to the far-away Nirvikalpa plane at once. No sooner did it hear the word Brahman, Self or Isvara than it merged in its content, forgetting all other things and its own separate existence for some time. Therefore, it is clear, that in spite of that severe pain in his body owing to the fury of the disease, he actually felt very little of it. But that pain due to the disease, we heard from the Master himself, brought down his mind at times from high planes of spiritual experience and made it conscious of his body. The Master said it was during this period, that the foremost of the Paramahamsas, the followers of the Vedanta, used to come to him. His room was then always reverberating with the sounds of their utterances on the discussion of the Vedantic truths, “Not this, not this”, “Being-Revealing-Rejoicing”, “This Self in Brahman”1, and so on and so forth. When, during the discussions of those high Vedantic dicta, they could not arrive at the right conclusion on any question, the Master had to become the umpire and decide it. Need we say that had he been always distracted like other people on account of the disease, it would never have been possible for him constantly to take part in those abstruse philosophical discussions?

2.    The Master’s auditive experience when he was established in the non-dual state. The results of that experience

By the end of the period when he was continually in the Nirvikalpa plane, the Master had, we have said elsewhere,2 a wonderful auditive experience, a realization—he was now commanded for the third time “to remain in Bhavamukha” Though we call it an auditive experience, the reader should understand by it a realization in his heart of hearts. For, the Master did not hear it, unlike as he did twice before, from the mouth of any visible figure. But the Master’s mind had the immediate consciousness of the existence of that idea or will in the cosmic mind of the omnipresent Brahman, as it was remaining most of the time in complete oneness with the Absolute, the non-dual Being; and, at times, getting separated from It partially, was realizing that it was a part of the all-pervading Brahman with attributes, the Mother of the universe.3 On account of that realization, the future purpose of his life stood completely revealed to him.

For, not standing in need of a body, nor at all desirous to continue in life, yet commanded again to “remain in Bhavamukha”, according to the inscrutable will of the universal Mother, the Master now came to know that he had to live in the body thenceforward in accordance with the will and purpose of the sportive Divine, and that he had been so commanded because his body could not continue to live, were he to remain eternally identified with Brahman. He also came to know his former lives, through Jatismaratwa (the power of remembering past lives) and that he was an Adhikarika person, or rather, an incarnation of God, eternally pure in nature, who now assumed a body and performed austerity etc., in order to rescue the modern age from the decline of religion and to bring about the well-being of humanity. He came to know, moreover, that, it was with a view to accomplishing some special purpose of Hers that the universal Mother had brought him down on earth into a poor Brahmin family, as one devoid of all grandeur of external powers. He came to know, further, that only a few people would be able to know and understand, during his lifetime, the mystery of that play of the divine Mother and that as soon as the generality of people would begin to understand it, the Mother would absorb Her child into Her own Person; but that the spiritual waves, which his body and mind would generate, would go on surging with ever greater momentum and would bring after his passing away plenitude of well-being to humanity for all time.

3.    What the scriptures say about the attainment of the power of remembering previous lives just before realizing Brahman

We must remember some of the statements in the scriptures, if we are to understand how the Master could have those extraordinary experiences. The aspirant, say the scriptures, attains Jatismaratwa1 before he becomes fully established in the Pure Consciousness Itself with the help of the non-dual mood. In other words, with the fullest development of this remembrance, his memory reaches such a mature state that the entire history of his transmigration—how, where and how many times he had had to be encased in bodies and what actions, good or evil, he had performed—is revealed with a terrible vividness. Consequently, the transitoriness of everything in the world and the futility of the pursuit of worldly enjoyments, and of being born again and again under the same general conditions, are driven home to him. The intense detachment which then arises in his heart frees him from all desires whatsoever.

4.    What the scriptures say about the attainment of Yogic powers, and the state in which all resolves come true

The Upanishad1 says that the resolves of such persons always come true. And their minds through Samadhi can perceive any sphere they like, whether of gods or of for- bears or of any other beings. Patanjali, the great sage, mentions in his Yoga-sutras that all kinds of Yogic powers are attained by such persons. Again, the author of the Panchadasi, synthesising this apparent contradiction coexisting in the same person viz., the attainment of Yogic powers and the absence of desires, says that although they attain such wonderful powers, they never apply them to further their own interests for the simple reason that they do not have any such desire. Absolutely dependent on the will of God, the Adhikarika persons alone amongst them apply at times those powers for the well-being of the many. That is why the author of the Panchadasi says that such a person has the power, but not the urge, to change the worldly circumstances in which he attains the knowledge of Brahman, and spends his time in that state.

5.    The causes producing the Master’s extraordinary realization become understandable when we study his life in the light of the above-mentioned sayings of the scriptures

If one studies the Master’s life of this period in the light of the scriptural sayings quoted above, the how and why of most of the extraordinary realizations, if not all of them, stand fully revealed. One can understand how as a result of his whole-hearted offering of himself at the lotus feet of the divine Lord, he could attain perfect desirelessness and how in so short a time he ascended and firmly established himself in the Nirvikalpa plane of knowledge of Brahman. One can understand how he attained Jatismaratwa, as a result of which he had the immediate knowledge that the One, who had manifested Himself as Rama and Krishna in past ages and did good to humanity, had again assumed a body and manifested Himself in the present age as “Ramakrishna”1 One can understand why he never applied the divine powers for the comforts of his own body and mind, though their manifestations for the good of humanity were matters of almost daily occurrence; why he could and did awaken in others the power of realizing spiritual truths by a mere glance or wish; and why his extraordinary influence is slowly and surely spreading into and acquiring mastery over all the countries of the world.

6.    Why the experiences mentioned before were not had simultaneously

Thus did the Master know the past and future of his life at the time of his coming down to the realm of ideas from the non-dual state, though he was finally established in that state. But all those experiences do not seem to have come to him on one day or all of a sudden. He, we infer, had the perfect knowledge of all these things in a year after his coming down to the realm of ideas. During this time the Mother of the universe was removing, as it were, veil after veil from before his eyes, explaining clearly those things to him day after day. If we are asked why all those experiences were not revealed simultaneously to the Master’s mind, we reply that, established in the non-dual state of consciousness and completely lost in the bliss of Brahman, he had no time or inclination to know them, till the modification of his mind took an outward direction. Thus was fulfilled the Master’s earnest prayer to the Mother of the universe at the beginning of his Sadhana, “Mother, I do not know at all what I should do; I’ll learn what Thou Thyself wilt teach me.”

7.    The realization of the Master that the attainment of the non-dual consciousness is the ultimate aim of all disciplines

Firmly established in the plane of the non-dual consciousness, the Master had the realization of another fact also. He came to feel in his heart of hearts that the realization of non-duality was the ultimate aim of all kinds of disciplines. For, having performed Sadhanas according to the teachings of all the main religious denominations prevalent in India, he had already been convinced that they all took the aspirants towards the non-dual plane. Asked about the non-dual state, he, therefore, said to us over and over again, “It is the finale, my child, the acme, which comes of itself in the life of all aspirants as the ultimate development of their love of God. Know it to be the last word of all faiths, and the faiths are only paths (and not the goal).”

8.    The abovementioned realization of the Master was never fully grasped by anyone before

Having thus had the direct experience of non-duality, the Master’s mind was filled with unbounded catholicity. He had now an extraordinary sympathy for all the religious communities which taught that the aim of human life was the realization of God. But he did not realize at first that the said catholicity and sympathy were his discoveries1 and that no aspirant, not even the foremost of them, in the past could attain them as fully as he. He (such is our impression) became gradually acquainted with that fact by coming in contact with the wise Sadhakas belonging to various religious communities at the Kali temple at Dakshineswar and at other well-known places of pilgrimage. But, thenceforward, he was very much wounded whenever he came across one-sidedness in religion, and he tried in all ways to remove that mean attitude.

9.    The Master’s practice of Islam, an example of the liberality of his mind established in the nondual knowledge

We can clearly understand from an event of this time how liberal the Master’s mind which was firmly poised in the non-dual knowledge, now became. The Master, we have seen, was ill for a few months after he had reached the zenith in the Practice of the non-dual mood. The event came to pass when he had come round. A short time previously one Govinda Ray had been in search of truth for some time. Hriday told us that he was a Kshatriya by birth. He was perhaps learned in Persian and Arabic. Having studied various religious doctrines and come in contact with different religious communities, he was at last attracted by the liberal doctrine of Islam and was formally initiated into it. Govinda, thirsting for truth, accepted the Islamic faith, but we cannot say how far he followed its social manners and customs. But, since he became initiated, he, we were told, engaged himself ardently in the reading of the Koran and in religious practices according to the process prescribed by that scripture. Govinda was an ardent lover of God. The method of worshipping God according to the teaching and mental attitude prevalent amongst the Sufis, followers of a sect of Islam, seems to have captivated his mind; for he now became engaged day and night in practising devotional moods like the Dervishes, the devotees belonging to that sect.

10.    The arrival of the Sufi Govinda Ray

Somehow or other Govinda now came to the Kali temple at Dakshineswar and began to spend his time there with his “seat” spread under the peaceful shade of the Panchavati, which he thought, was a place favourable to religious practices. Muslim Fakirs, as well as Hindu Sadhus, who had renounced the world, were welcome at Rasmani’s Kali temple and the hospitality of the temple was equally accorded to both of them Therefore, while staying there Govinda had not to go round for alms. He spent his days joyfully meditating on his chosen Ideal.

11.    The Master’s resolve afer talking with Govinda

The Master was attracted towards the devout Govinda, and happening to converse with him, was charmed with Govinda’s sincere faith in and love for God. Thus was the Master’s mind now attracted towards the Islamic religion. “This also”, thought he, “is a path to the realization of God; the sportive Mother, the source of infinite Lila, has been blessing many people with the attainment of Her lotus feet through this path also. I must see how through it She makes those who take refuge in Her, attain their desired end. I’ll be initiated by Govinda and engage myself in the practice of that spiritual mood.”

12.    Initiated by Govinda, the Master succeeded in the Sadhana

Thought was immediately followed by action. The Master expressed his desire to Govinda, became initiated and engaged himself in practising Islam according to its prescribed rules. The Master said, “I then devotionally repeated the holy syllable ‘Allah’, wore cloth like the Muslims, said Namaz thrice daily and felt disinclined even to see Hindu deities, not to speak of saluting them, inasmuch as the Hindu mode of thought vanished altogether from my mind. I spent three days in that mood, and had the full realization of the result of practices according to that faith.” At the time of practising Islam, the Master at first had the vision of an effulgent, impressive personage with a long beard; afterwards he had the knowledge of the all-pervading Brahman with attributes and merged finally in the attributeless Brahman, the Absolute.

13.    The behaviour of the Master at the time of practising Islam

At the time of practising Islam, the Master wanted, said Hriday, to take Muslim food. It was Mathur’s solicitous request only that made him refrain from doing so. Knowing that the childlike Master would not abstain from it if that desire of his were not at least partially fulfilled, Mathur had a cook brought, under whose instruction a Brahmin cook prepared food in the Muslim manner, which was given to the Master to eat. The Master did not even once enter the inner courtyard of the Kali temple while practising Islam, but remained in the mansion of Mathur situated outside.

14.    It appears from the practice of Islam by the Master that there will be brotherly union between the Hindu and the Muslim communities in India in future

From the event mentioned above, it becomes clear how sympathetic the Master’s mind became towards other religious communities after he had attained perfection in the Vedantic discipline. It also becomes clear how, by having faith in the Vedantic knowledge alone, the Hindus and the Mohammedans of India may become sympathetic towards one another and develop a brotherly feeling. Otherwise, as the Master used to say “There is, as it were, a mountain of difference between them Their thoughts and faiths, actions and behaviour have remained quite unintelligible to one another in spite of their living together for so long a time.” Does the practice of Islam by the Master, the divine incarnation of the age, indicate that the said difference would some day disappear and both the Hindus and the Muslims would embrace one another in love?

15.    How strong the memory of non-duality was in the Master’s mind during the following years

As the result of his being established in the plane of Nirvikalpa consciousness, the memory of nonduality used to be suddenly awakened in him off and on even by the sight of things and persons within the bounds of the plane of duality, merging him in the Absolute. We saw that state brought on him by the slightest association of ideas even without his desiring it. It is, therefore, superfluous to add that he could ascend any moment to that plane by a mere wish. It will be clear from the trifling events to be just mentioned, how deep and wide was his non-dual mood and how dear it was to him.

16. A few examples of it:

(i)    the old grasscutter

The gardeners found it inconvenient to sow kitchen vegetables in the spacious temple garden at Dakshineswar when it became covered with growing grass in the rainy season. Therefore, grass-cutters were allowed to cut and take away grass from there. One day, having got the permission to take away grass without paying any price for it, an old grass-cutter cut grass joyfully, bundled it and was about to go to sell in the market. The Master saw that the old man had cut so much grass out of avarice that it was beyond his power to carry or even lift up that load of grass. But the indigent grass-cutter refused to acknowledge it and in spite of his repeated efforts in various ways to lift that big bundle upon his head, he failed miserably. While looking on it, the Master was inspired with spiritual emotion and thought, “Ah, the Self, the knowledge infinite, abides within and so much foolishness and ignorance without!” “O Rama, inscrutable is Thy play,” said he and entered into ecstasy.

(ii)    an injured butterfly

One day at Dakshineswar the Master saw a butterfly flying with a tiny stick stuck into its tail. He was at first pained to think that some naughty urchin had done it, but the next moment he was inspired and burst into laughter saying, “O Rama, Thou hast brought Thyself to this plight!”

(iii)    the new Durva grass trampled

At one time a particular spot of the garden of the Kali temple was covered with newly grown Durva grass and was beautiful to look at. While he was looking at it, the Master transcended the normal consciousness and was feeling identified with that spot when a man just happened to walk across that field at which he became very restless, feeling unbearable pain in his chest. Mentioning that event, he said to us later, “I then felt just that kind of pain which is felt when anybody tramples on one’s chest. That state of Bhavasamadhi is very painful.- Although I had it for six hours only, it became quite unbearable.”

(iv)    the Master’s body was injured by the blow dealt at a boatman’s body

One day the Master while in Bhavasamadhi was looking on the Ganga, standing at the spacious Ghat with the open portico. Two boats were at anchor at the Ghat and the boatmen were quarrelling over some matter. The quarrel became gradually bitter and the stronger man gave a severe slap on the back of the weaker. At that, the Master cried out suddenly with pain. Hriday heard it from the Kali temple, went there quickly and saw that the Master’s back had become red and swollen. Impatient with anger, Hriday said repeatedly, “Uncle, show me the man who has beaten you; I’ll tear off his head.” When afterwards the Master quietened down a little, Hriday was astonished to hear of the event and thought, “Is it ever possible?” Girish Chandra Ghosh heard the event from the Master’s lips and narrated it to us. Innumerable events of this nature regarding the Master may be mentioned but we refrain from doing so to avoid superfluity.


1. III. 2.

1.    Mandukya Upanishad, 2.

2.    II.8.

3.    III. 3.

1. Chhandogya Upanishad. 8. 2.

1. Vide II. 21, for details.—Tr.

1. IV. 4.


1.    The Master went to Kamarpukur with Hriday and the Bhairavi Brahmani

The Master suffered for six months and then his body was rid of the disease, and his mind became to a great extent habituated to dwell in Bhavamukha, the plane of consciousness consisting of both duality and non-duality. But his body was not as strong and healthy as before and it was feared that his dysentery might recur for want of pure drinking water when the waters of the Ganga become saline during the rainy season. It was therefore settled that he should go to Kamarpukur, his birthplace, for a few months. This was in 1867. Arrangements were made. The devout Jagadamba Dasi, wife of Mathur Babu, knew that the Master’s household was ever poor like that of Siva. So she made arrangements with much care about all the necessary articles so that “father” might not have inconvenience of any kind.1 The Master then started at an auspicious moment. Hriday and the Bhairavi Brahmani accompanied him But his aged mother stuck to her previous resolve of living on the Ganga and stayed at Dakshineswar under Mathur’s care.

2.    How the Master’s friends and relatives found him

The Master had not come to Kamarpukur for the past eight years. Therefore, his relatives, it is superfluous to add, were eager to see him And it needs no mention that there were special reasons for it, for many strange rumours had reached their ears from time to time viz., that he was crying “Hari, Hari” in a woman’s dress, that he had become a monk, that he was repeating “Allah, Allah” continually, so on and so forth. But, as soon as the Master was in their midst, they all found how baseless were the rumours; for, they found that he was just his old self. The same amiability, the same loving merriment, the same austere truthfulness, the same profound religious care and the same surging of overwhelming emotion at the name of Hari—all these old qualities of his were seen in him in the fullest measure as before. The only change they found in him was that his body and mind were glowing with such an indescribable, heavenly effulgence that they felt a great hesitation to appear before him suddenly or to broach worldly topics when he did not start them himself. Again, they all felt that their worldly anxieties disappeared into thin air, so to say, when they were near him and that there flowed in their hearts a serene and tranquil current of bliss and peace. But when they were away from him, they experienced a strong inexpressible desire to go to him once more. Thus, there was an incessant flow of bliss in that poor family when they had him in their midst after so long a time.

3.    The Holy Mother came to Kamarpukur

And in order to fill the cup of happiness to the brim, a messenger was sent under the instruction of the ladies, to Jayaramvati, the village of the Master’s father-in-law, to bring his wife. The Master knew it, but did not express either approval or disapproval. It had fallen to the lot of his newly married wife to have seen her husband once only after their marriage. It was when, according to the custom of the family, the Master was taken to Jayaramvati on one occasion when she was seven years of age. But she was then too young to understand what marriage meant. Therefore, the only thing regarding the event that was retained in her memory was that, when the Master came to her father’s house with Hriday, the latter brought a good many lotus flowers from somewhere, sought her out from a secluded part of the house where she had hidden herself and, while out of bashfulness she shrank into herself, worshipped her feet. Six years after this event, she was taken to Kamarpukur in her thirteenth year. This time she spent a month there. But she had not the good fortune to see either the Master or her mother-in-law as both of them were then away at Dakshineswar. She came again six months later to her father-in-law’s house but could not see either of them, for the same reason, during her stay of a month and a half. Three or four months had already elapsed since her return to her father’s house when news came that the Master had come and she was to go to Kamarpukur. She had reached her fourteenth year, six or seven months before. Therefore, this was practically the first occasion when she met her husband after her marriage.

4.    The Master’s behaviour with his relatives and boyhood friends at that time

It seems that the Master stayed at Kamarpukur for six or seven months on this occasion. The friends of his early days and all the men and women of the village known to him mixed with him as before and tried to make him happy. The Master also was very pleased to see them after such a long time. In mingling with men and women of Kamarpukur, in their circumscribed worldly lives, the Master felt at that time a joy similar to that felt by great thinkers and scholars when, during their leisure after hard toils; they join with children in their aimless and meaningless amusements. But it may be said without contradiction that he was always anxious that they should become conscious of the transitoriness of this life and, although living in the world, they should gradually attain self-control and learn to depend on God in all matters. We may infer this from the manner in which he always taught us the very same things through play and fun, mirth and merriment.

On finding that, even living in the little world of the little village, some had made unexpected progress in religious life, he was struck with wonder at the inconceivable glory of God. He told us many times of an event to illustrate this.

5.    What the Master said about the spiritual progress of some of them

The Master said that one day during that period, he was resting in his room after his midday meal. Some ladies, his neighbours, came to see him, sat near him and became engaged in spiritual conversation with him The Master suddenly happened to be in ecstasy and felt that he was a fish joyfully swimming and sporting, sometimes coming to the surface, and sometimes sinking deep—all in the ocean of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. The Master happened to be in ecstasy very often while talking with others. Therefore, not at all mindful of it, the ladies expressed their own opinions, which created a sort of noise. One of the company forbade the others to do so and asked them to be quiet till his ecstasy came to an end. She said, “He has now become a fish and is swimming in the sea of Existence-Knowledge-Bliss. If you make a noise, that Bliss of his will be interrupted.” Although many of them did not then believe in her words, all remained quiet. When he came down from that state and was asked about his experience, the Master said, “Yes, what she said is true. How strange! How could she know it?”

6.    The reason why the people of Kamarpukur appeared wonderfully new to the Master

It seems to us that the daily rounds of the men and women of the village of Kamarpukur now appeared new to the Master to a great extent. He now felt like a man who had returned home from a far off place and to whom every person and object of his village appeared to be new. For, although the Master had been away from the place of his birth for a short period of eight years only, a violent storm of spiritual strivings had raged in his heart during that period and produced a radical change in it; for, those eight years he had forgotten himself, forgotten the world and ascended far beyond the bounds of time and space. But while descending from there, he came tranfigured with the knowledge that Brahman existed in all beings, and found all persons and things mellowed by an extraordinary new light. It is well known in philosophy that our consciousness of time and the measurement of its duration arise from the succession of our mental functions. Therefore, a short period during which a great many thoughts rise and sink in our minds appears to us to be very long. One is astonished to think what tumultuous waves of thoughts and emotions surged in the Master’s mind during this period. Is it, therefore, surprising that the said period should appear to him to be an age?

7.    The Master’s eternal relation of love with the people of his birth-place

One is astonished to think of the wonderful relation of affection in which the Master bound up all the people, men and women, of Kamarpukur. The men and women of all families including those of the Lahas, the Brahmins, the blacksmiths, the carpenters, the gold-merchants and so on, were all bound to him in a relation of reverential love. We were charmed to hear the Master, on many occasions, speak with great pleasure about the devotion and affection for him, of a large number of men and women, e.g., the simple-hearted and devout Prasanna, the widowed sister of Dharmadas Laha, the Master’s friend Gayavishnu Laha, the son of Dharmadas, Srinivas Sankhari of sincere faith, the devout ladies of the Pyne family, the Master’s Bhikshamata Dhani, the blacksmith woman, and others. All of them remained at this time almost always beside the Master. Those who could not do so on account of household duties or other business used to come in the morning, or midday, or evening, whenever they had leisure. When they came, the ladies brought with them various sweet and delicious dishes and felt delighted in feeding the Master. We have given the reader elsewhere1 an indication of how the Master, although living in the family at home, and surrounded by the people of the village who behaved so sweetly, always remained divinely inspired. It is, therefore, needless to repeat it here.

8.    The Master began to do his duty to his wife

The Master paid attention to the performance of another great duty when he came this time to Kamarpukur. At first, the Master had been indifferent to his wife’s coming to Kamarpukur, but now he was intent on giving her education and training for her well-being. Knowing that the Master was married, Tota Puri, his teacher, who initiated him in Sannyasa, had said to him at one time, “What does it matter? He only may be regarded as really established in Brahman whose renunciation, detachment, discrimination and knowledge remain intact in all respects in spite of his wife being with him He alone may be regarded as having really attained the knowledge of Brahman, who can always look equally upon both man and woman as the Self and can behave accordingly. Others who have the knowledge of difference between man and woman, may be Sadhakas, but are still far away from the knowledge of Brahman.” The above remark of Tota Puri came to the Master’s mind and induced him to test his knowledge attained by spiritual practices extending over a long period, as well as to look to his wife’s well-being.

9.    The success the Master attained in it

The Master could never neglect or leave half-finished anything he considered to be a duty. The same held good here also. He did not stop at partially educating his girl-wife who depended entirely on him regarding everything of this world and of the other. He was, from now on, especially mindful that she should learn household duties, know people’s character, put money to good use, and above all, surrender her all to God and be an expert in behaving correctly according to place and time and circumstance.1 We have, in many other places, hinted how far-reaching was the result of that teaching which the Master imparted to her, placing before her his ideal life of unbroken continence. Therefore, suffice it to say here that the Holy Mother (as she is called by the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna) was happy, and continued in all respects to have the Master’s pure love, devoid of the slightest tinge of lust, and could offer her life-long worship to him as her chosen Ideal, and follow his footsteps and mould her life accordingly.

10.    The Brahmani’s apprehension and the change in her attitude on seeing the Master behave thus with his wife

The Bhairavi Brahmani did not, on many occasions, understand the Master when he went forward to do his duty to his wife. We have seen that she tried to make the Master give up his resolve of being initiated into Sannyasa when he came in contact with Tota Puri.1 For, love of God, she thought, would be completely uprooted from the Master’s mind if he was so initiated. Some such apprehension took possession of her heart even now. She, it seems, thought that it would be prejudicial to the Master’s continence if he mixed so intimately with his wife. But the Master could not now, any more than on the earlier occasion, comply with the Brahmani’s instruction, which greatly wounded her feelings. This gave rise to egoism, which was aggravated into pride and vanity, which now made her often lose faith in the Master. We were told by Hriday that she openly expressed her feelings from time to time. For example, if any one raised a question before her on any spiritual matter and said that he would ask Sri Ramakrishna and have his opinion on it, she would flare up and say, “What can he say? It is I who have opened his eyes.” Or, she would scold the womenfolk of the family for trivial reasons and, at times, for no reason at all. But the Master remained calm in spite of such words and oppressive behaviour of hers and did not cease having devotion or paying reverence to her now as before. Instructed by the Master the Holy Mother paid the Brahmani the respect due to her own mother-in-law and always engaged herself in her service with love and devotion; and knowing herself to be an ignorant girl, she did not protest against any of her words or actions.

11.    The Brahmani’s power of discrimination was ruined owing to the increase of pride and egoism

When pride and egoism increase, the intelligence of even a clever man gets clouded. It does not, then, take long for that pride to get knocks and bumps at every step. When, however, it is knocked about in that way, a man with some sense left in him, knows its evil effects, gives it up and follows the rising curve of his life again. Such was the case with the learned Brahmani now; for unable to behave rightly with reference to persons and circumstances, under the influence of that pride, one day she created an awkward situation. The incident came about thus:

12.    The event illustrating this

We have already mentioned Srinivas Sankhari. Although not born in a high family, Srinivas was higher than many Brahmins in respect of devotion to God. One day during this period, he came to the Master for the purpose of having Raghuvir’s Prasada. It needs no mention that the Master and all the members of his family became very happy with Srinivas in their midst. The devout Brahmani also was pleased to see Srinivas’s faith and devotion. They talked on various devotional topics till midday, when the offering of food to Raghuvir and other services were finished and Srinivas sat down to take food. When he finished and was ready, according to the prevalent custom, to clean the place where he had taken his food, the Brahmani forbade him to do so and said, “We’ll do it ourselves.” At the Brahmani’s importunities Srinivas had no alternative but to leave the matter there and go home.

13.    Hriday quarrelled with the Brahmani

In villages dominated by strict observance of social rules and regulations, great quarrels and party feelings are often roused on account of the breaking of those rules. And such an event was going to happen now also. For, the Brahmin women who came to visit the Master raised great objection to the cleaning of the leavings of Srinivas by the Bhairavi who was a Brahmin woman. The Bhairavi did not admit the propriety of their objection. The quarrel gradually increased. Hriday, the Master’s nephew, heard of it. Knowing that a great quarrel might arise over that trifling event, Hriday asked the Brahmani not to violate custom, but she paid no heed to his words. Hriday got incensed and there grew up a noisy quarrel between him and the Brahmani. Hriday said, “If you do so, we won’t allow you to remain inside the house.” The Brahmani also was not the sort of person to let the matter drop and she said, “What harm if you don’t? Manasa1 will go to bed in Sitala’s room”2 All other members of the house mediated and entreating the Brahmani to refrain from the cleaning, brought the quarrel to an end.

14.    The Brahmani recognized her mistake; and apprehensive of having given offence, she repented, asked pardon and left for Kasi

Although she refrained, the Brahmani’s pride was severely wounded that day. When her anger subsided, she thought calmly over the matter and understood her own mistake. She thought that when she was committing such blunders again and again, she should no longer continue to stay there. When the eyes of an aspirant possessed of keen insight fall somehow or other on his own heart, no impure ideas can conceal themselves from him That was the case with the Brahmani now. She studied the change of her attitude towards the Master and found herself at fault there too and became very repentant. A few days passed, when one day she made garlands of various flowers with her own hands and smeared them with sandal-paste and having beautifully adorned the Master as Sri Gauranga, asked his forgiveness with all her heart. Afterwards, controlling herself carefully and offering her heart and soul to God, she left Kamarpukur and took the path to Kasi, the abode of the Lord of the universe. Thus did the Brahmani take final leave of the Master after having spent six long years with him at a stretch.

15. The Master returned to Dakshineswar

The Master spent about seven months in various spiritual moods at Kamarpukur, and returned to Dakshineswar (probably at the end of 1867) when he had regained his health and was almost as strong and healthy as before. An important event happened in his life shortly after his return. We will present it to the reader now.


1. IV. 1.

1. IV. 1.

1. III. 2 & 4.