[ Sri Ramakrishna standing in ecstasy during a Kirtan
at Keshab chandra Sen’s house in Calcutta.
He is surrounded by Brahmo devotees, with Hriday, his nephew, supporting
him. September 21, 1879.]
Trailokya sang. Suddenly the Master stood up and went into
samadhi, repeating the Mother’s name. Coming down a little to the plane
of sense consciousness, he danced and sang:
I drink no ordinary wine, but Wine of Everlasting Bliss,
As I repeat my Mother Kali’s name;
It so intoxicates my mind that people take me to be drunk!
First my guru gives molasses for the making of the Wine;
My longing is the ferment to transform it.
Knowledge, the maker of the Wine, prepares it for me
And when it is done, my mind imbibes it from the bottle
of the mantra,
Taking the Mother’s name to make it pure.
Drink of this Wine, says Ramprasad,
and the four fruits of life are yours.
* * *
Sri Ramakrishna’s conversation now turned to the Knowledge
MASTER: “Brahman is beyond vidya and avidya, knowledge
and ignorance. It is beyond maya, the illusion of duality. “The world consists
of the illusory duality of knowledge and ignorance.
It contains knowledge and devotion, and also attachment
to ‘woman and gold’; righteousness and unrighteousness; good and evil.
But Brahman is unattached to these. Good and evil apply to the jiva, the
individual soul, as do righteousness and unrighteousness; but Brahman is
not at all affected by them.
“One man may read the Bhagavata by the light of a lamp,
and another may commit a forgery by that very light; but the lamp is unaffected.
The sun sheds its light on the wicked as well as on the virtuous.
‘You may ask, ‘How, then, can one explain misery and sin
and unhappiness?’ The answer is that these apply only to the jiva. Brahman
is unaffected by them. There is poison in a snake; but though others may
die if bitten by it, the snake itself is not affected by the poison.
“What Brahman is cannot be described. All things in the
worldthe Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, the six systems of philosophyhave
been defiled, like food that has been touched by the tongue, for they have
been read or uttered by the tongue. Only one thing has not been defiled
in this way, and that is Brahman. No one has ever been able to say what
Brahman is. . .
“As for what has been said in the Vedas and the Puranas,
do you know what it is like? Suppose a man has seen the ocean, and somebody
asks him, ‘Well, what is the ocean like?’ The first man opens his mouth
as wide as he can and says: ‘What a sight! What tremendous waves and sounds!’
The description of Brahman in the sacred books is like that. It is said
in the Vedas that Brahman is of the nature of BlissIt is Satchidananda.
“Suka and other sages stood on the shore of this Ocean
of Brahman and saw and touched the water. According to one school of thought
they never plunged into it. Those who do, cannot come back to the world
“In samadhi one attains the Knowledge of Brahmanone
realizes Brahman. In that state reasoning stops altogether, and man becomes
mute. He has no power to describe the nature of Brahman.
“Once a salt doll went to measure the depth of the ocean.
(All laugh.) It wanted to tell others how deep the water was. But this
it could never do, for no sooner did it get into the water than it melted.
Now who was there to report the ocean’s depth?”
A DEVOTEE: “Suppose a man has obtained the Knowledge of
Brahman in samadhi. Doesn’t he speak any more?”
MASTER: “Sankaracharya’ retained the ‘ego of Knowledge’
in order to teach others. After the vision of Brahman a man becomes silent.
He reasons about It as long as he has not realized It. If you heat butter
in a pan on the stove, it makes a sizzling sound as long as the water it
contains has not dried up. But when no trace of water is left the clarified
butter makes no sound. If you put an uncooked cake of flour in that butter
it sizzles again. But after the cake is cooked all sound stops. Just so,
a man established in samadhi comes down to the relative plane of consciousness
in order to teach others, and then he talks about God.
“The bee buzzes as long as it is not sitting on a flower.
It becomes silent when it begins to sip the honey. But sometimes, intoxicated
with the honey, it buzzes again.
“An empty pitcher makes a gurgling sound when it is dipped
in water. When it fills up it becomes silent. (All laugh.) But if the water
is poured from it into another pitcher, then you will hear the sound again.
“The rishis of old attained the Knowledge of Brahman.
One cannot have this so long as there is the slightest trace of worldliness.
How hard the rishis laboured! Early in the morning they would go away from
the hermitage, and would spend the whole day in solitude, meditating on
Brahman. At night they would return to the hermitage and eat a little fruit
or roots. They kept their minds aloof from the objects of sight, hearing,
touch, and other things of a worldly nature. Only thus did they realize
Brahman as their own inner consciousness.
“But in the Kaliyuga, man, being totally dependent on
food for life, cannot altogether shake off the idea that he is the body.
In this state of mind it is not proper for him to say, ‘I am He.’ When
a man does all sorts of worldly things, he should not say, ‘I am Brahman.’
Those who cannot give up attachment to worldly things, and who find no
means to shake off the feeling of ‘I’, should rather cherish the idea,
‘I am God’s servant, I am His devotee.’ One can also realize God by following
the path of devotion.
“The jnani gives up his identification with worldly things,
discriminating, ‘Not this, not this’. Only then can he realize Brahman.
It is like reaching the roof of a house by leaving the steps behind, one
by one. But the vijnani, who is more intimately acquainted with Brahman,
realizes something more. He realizes that the steps are made of the same
materials as the roof: bricks, lime, and brick-dust. That which is realized
intuitively as Brahman, through the eliminating process of ‘Not this, not
this’, is then found to have become the universe and all its living beings.
The vijnani sees that the Reality which is nirguna, without attributes,
is also saguna, with attributes.
The above is excerpted from
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna
©1942 by Swami Nikhilananda
©1970, 1971 Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New
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