The Gospel of Râmakrishna/Chapter 10

CHAPTER X

GATHERING OF DISCIPLES AT THE TEMPLE

Sri Ramakrishna was seated on His seat as usual with His face to the north. The western and northern doors of the apartment in which He latterly passed His days looked out on the sacred waters of the Ganges. Balaram, Rak- hal, and other devotees and visitors were seated on a mat spread out on the floor of the room. They were singing hymns to the accompani- ment of musical intruments. One of the songs had particular reference to the six Lotuses mark- ing the different stages of the Yogi's progress toward union with the Universal Spirit. At the close of this song the Bhagavan said: The six Lotuses mentioned in the Science of Yoga correspond to the seven mental planes mentioned in the Vedanta. When the mind is immersed in worldliness, it makes its abode in the Seven mental planes. lowest lotus at the end of the spine. Sexual desires rise when the mind is in the second lotus, the sexual organ. When it is in the third, the navel, the man is taken up with things of the world — eating, drinking, be- getting children. In the fourth mental plane the heart of the man is blessed with the Vision of Divine Glory and he cries out: "What is all this! What is all this!" In the fifth plane the mind rests in the throat. The devotee talks only on subjects related to God and grows im- patient if any other subject comes up in the course of conversation. In the sixth plane the mind is localized between the eyebrows. The devotee comes face to face with God; only a thin glass-like partition, so to speak, keeps him separate from the Divine Person. To him God is like a light within a lantern, or like a photo- graph behind a glass frame. He tries to touch the Vision, but he cannot. His perception falls short of complete realization, for there is the element of self -consciousness, the sense of "I," kept to a certain extent. In the last or seventh plane it is perfect Samadhi. Then all sense- consciousness ceases and absolute God-con- sciousness takes its place. In this state the life of the saint lingers for twenty-one days, after which he passes away. During these days he ceases to take any food. Milk, if poured into his mouth, runs out and never gets into the stomach. The Bhagavan continued: Some sages, who have reached the seventh or highest plane and have thus attained to God-conscious- Sages who have reached the seventh plane. ness, are pleased to come down from that spiritual height for the good of mankind. They keep the ego of Vidya, or, in other words, the Higher Self. But this ego is a mere appearance. It is like a line drawn across a sheet of water. Hanuman was blessed with the vision of God both with form and without form; but he retained the ego of a servant of God. Such was also the case with the wise men Narada,[1] Sanaka,[2] Sananda, and Sanat Kumara of ancient times. Here the question was asked whether Narada and others were Bhaktas only and not Jnanis. The Bhagavan replied: Narada and others had attained the highest knowledge (Brahma- Jnana) , but still they went on like the murmuring waters of the rivulet, talking and singing. This shows that they too kept this ego of knowledge. They were Jnanis (knowers), but they talked and sang the praises of the Personal God for the good of others. A steamboat not only reaches its destination itself but also carries numbers of people on board to the same place. Preceptors such as Narada are like steamboats. The Avataras or Incarnations of God are born with Divine powers and Divine qualities. They can go anywhere and can stay Avataras. in any state of existence from the highest to the lowest. They can stand on the top of the house and come down by the stairs to the ground floor and can go back to the roof again. They possess the power both to come down and to return. In a seven-story palace a stranger can go only to the outer quarters, but the king's own child, the prince of the house, is free to go to every corner. As in fireworks there is a kind of flower-pot which sends off one kind of flower for a while, then another kind and still another, Avataras and ordinary Jivas. possessing, as it were, an innumer- able variety of flowers, so are the Avataras. Then there is another kind of flowerpot which when lighted burns a little and then goes off all at once. Similarly ordinary Jivas, after long practice and devotional exercises, go up at once in Samadhi and do not return. There Souls eter-nally free.

is another class who may be called eternally free. From their birth they seek after God and do not care for anything of the world. We are told of a fabled species of birds called "Homa," which live so high up in the heavens, and so dearly love those regions, that they never condescend to come down to the earth. Even their eggs, which when laid in the sky begin to fall to the earth by the force of gravity, are said to be hatched during their downward course, and the fledglings, finding that they are falling down, at once change their course and begin to fly upward towards their home, drawn thither by instinct. Men such as Sukadeva, Narada, Jesus, Sankaracharya and others are like those birds, who even in their boyhood give up all attachment to the things of this world and betake themselves to the high- est regions of true Knowledge and Divine Light. Those who come with the Avataras are either souls who are eternally free -or who are born for the last time. The holy men (Paramahamsas) may be divided into two classes. First, those who de- clare the Supreme Being to be the Two classes of Parama-hamsas. Formless One. Trailanga Swami of Benares belonged to this class. Gener- ally speaking, holy men of this class are com- paratively selfish, because they care only for the liberation of their own souls. Those of the second class say that God is with form as well as formless, and that He manifests Himself to His devotees as a Being with form. Have you ever seen a canal running over into the water of the river with which it is connected? The canal has sometimes no trace left, being en- tirely one with the river-water. But very often there may be noticed a slight movement in the water which proves its separateness from the river. Pretty much the same is the case with the Paramahamsa belonging to the second class. His soul becomes one with the Universal Spirit. Ego of knowl-edge. Still the ego of knowledge (Vidya) or a slight trace of individuality is kept to mark his separate existence from the Deity. Again, such a holy man may be compared to a jar or pitcher of water. A pitcher filled with water to the brim gives sound, only when a por- tion of the water is poured out into another vessel. Similarly the Paramahamsa keeps silent except when his water of wisdom is poured out into the soul of the disciple. Thus he retains the ego of knowledge for the purpose of teaching others. Again, suppose a person digs a well. He is thirsty and drinks of the water of that well. Yet when his thirst is quenched it is not un- usual for such a person to keep the digging implements, — the hack, the shovel, the spade, — for the sake of others who may want them for the same purpose. In the same way a Para- mahamsa of the second class, who may have drunk of the waters of Everlasting Life and have thus quenched his spiritual thirst, is often anxious to do good to mankind. With this in view he retains the ego of Knowledge, the ego of Love, and the ego of the Preceptor. Some persons eat mangoes and then remove all traces of eating by wiping the mouth with a Helping others. napkin. They care only for their own pleasure. But there are others who let people know that they have eaten man- goes and are willing to share their pleasure with them. Similarly there are Jnanis who enjoy Divine Communion, and do not think of speak- ing about it to others; but it was different with the Gopis of Vrindavan. They not only enjoyed communion with Krishna, the God Incarnate, but were willing to share their happiness with others. Communion with God may be compared to the process of involution. When one com- Divine com-munion. munes with the Supreme Being one's personality becomes absolutely united with the Divine Personality. This is the state of Samadhi. Then, again, when one returns to the human plane and comes back to the starting- point one sees that the world and the ego or self are evolved from the same Supreme Being; and that God, man and nature are interrelated, so that if you hold on to one of them you realize the others. Call with Bhakti (love) upon His Hallowed Name and the mountain of your sins shall dis- appear as a mountain of cotton-wool Fire of Bhakti destroys sins. will vanish in an instant if it catches one spark of fire. Worship through fear of hell-fire is intended for beginners. Then turning to some of the company present who were singing, the Bhagavan said: "Will you sing songs which describe the enjoyment that is realized by the human soul after God- vision? Rakhal (Swami Brahmananda, one of His young disciples), do you remember the song sung the other day at Nobin Neogi's house, 'Be intoxicated with the joy of the Lord'? " One of the company then said: Revered Sir, may we be favored with a song from Thee? Bhagavan: What shall I sing? I sing pretty much like yourselves. Very well; when the time comes, I will sing. So saying, He re- mained silent for a while. The first song that He then sang was about Sri Chaitanya Deva and Sri Krishna, that is, from the point of view of the Vaishnavas (dual- istic Bhaktas). The last was regarding the Divine Mother.

SONG

The Devotee and Her Ecstatic Love

1. The waves of the Divine Love come dashing against my body. The swell of the Sea of Love causes the fall of the unrighteous; nay, it drowns the whole universe.

2. I think of diving deep near the bottom of the Sea, but the alligator of ecstasy has swallowed me up. Who is there to feel for me and, holding me by the hand, drag me out of the water ? SONG

The Mother of the Universe, and the Ma- chine of the Human Body

1. What a fine machine of the human body hath the Divine Mother made! How wonderful are the sports She is playing through the machine only six feet long!

2. Dwelling within the machine, She holds in Her hand the string that sets it in motion; but the machine thinks: "I move by my own will," not knowing Who causes it to move.

3. The "machine" that has realized Her will not have to be born again. She Herself is tied in some machines by the string of Bhakti (love).

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At the end of the song the Bhagavan was in Samadhi. His eyes were fixed and half -closed. His pulse and the heart -beat were suspended. Sense-consciousness had left Him, giving place to pure God-consciousness. Returning a little to the semiconscious state He talked to the Holy Mother, saying: Do not trouble, O Mother! Come down to this plane. Be still, O Mother! What Thou wishest, O Mother, for everybody shall come to pass! What shall I say to these people ? Nothing can be achieved in the path of spirituality without discrimination (between the Discrimination and renuncia-tion. Real and the unreal) and renuncia- tion (non-attachment to riches, honor, sensual pleasures). Renuncia- tion is of many kinds. One kind springs from the acute pain due to worldly misery. But the better kind of renunciation arises from the realization that all worldly blessings are unreal even when they are within reach. Thus, hav- ing all, the man renounces everything for the sake of God. Everything rests upon time. For all religious awakening we must wait. But in the mean- while the precepts of a Guru, the Time neces- sary for religious awakening. spiritual teacher, should be carefully followed, for the impression of these precepts in the mind of a worldly man may be of great help in time of need. Another reason is that constant hearing of those pre- cepts may gradually remove the evil effects of worldly attachment. As the effects of drunken- ness can be removed by making the drunkard drink rice-water, so the intoxication of the worldly-minded people can be cured by the constant hearing of the precepts of a holy Guru. The number of those who attain Divine Wisdom is very limited. So the Git a says: "Among thousands a few only strive for the realization of God, and among thousands of such seekers after Truth a few succeed in reaching the goal." The more a person is attached to the Worldly attachment and realization. world, the less is he likely to attain Divine Wisdom. The less his attach- men is, the he more is the probability of his getting it. Thus, wisdom may be said to vary directly as non-attachment to the world, its pleasures, its riches, and inversely as attach- ment to the world. There are different stages of spirituality. First, there is the state of being struck speech- Stages of spirituality. less at the thought or realization of the Absolute Brahman, — Existence, Knowledge and Bliss. This is the utmost point as regards love of God that can be reached by ordinary mortals. Second, there is the state of ecstatic love. This is attainable only by a few. They are human beings with extraordinary, original powers and entrusted with a Divine commission. Being heirs of Divine powers and glories, they form a class of their own. To this class belong the Incarnations of God like Christ, Krishna, Buddha, and Chaitanya and their dev- otees of the highest order. The two characteristics of ecstatic love are, first, the forgetfulness of the external world, and second, the forgetfulness of one's Ecstatic love. own body which is so dear to one. The first is like the unripe mango, the second is like the ripe mango. Ecstatic love of God is like a string in the hands of the Bhakta which binds God. The devotee holds the Lord under his control, so to speak. The Lord must come to him whenever he calls out to Him. In Per- sian books it is written that within the flesh are the bones, within the bones is the marrow, within the marrow, the last and innermost of all, is this ecstatic love. Sri Krishna is called "Tribhanga," that is, the usual posture of His body is bent in three different angles. Now a soft substance alone can take such an angular shape, so this form of Sri Krishna implies that His whole being must have been made very tender by this ecstatic love. Chaitanya Deva was the incarnation of Divine Love or Bhakti. He came to teach mankind true Bhakti. He used to have three states of consciousness in ecstasy. First, consciousness of the gross and subtle body. At this Three states of conscious-ness in ecstasy. time he would repeat the Name of the Lord and sing His praises in San-kirtan. Second, consciousness of the causal body alone. In this state he would become intoxicated with ecstatic joy, and re-taining partial consciousness of the external, he would dance in company with other Bhaktas. Third, consciousness of the Absolute. In this state he would enter into the highest realm of Samadhi, and rising above all sense-conscious- ness, his body would remain apparently lifeless. These states correspond to the five sheaths of the soul in Vedanta. According to Vedanta the gross body includes the material form which is the outermost sheath and the sheath of Prana or the sense-organs and sense-powers. The subtle body includes two sheaths, mental and intellectual. The causal body is the sheath of joyfulness. Beyond these five is the true Self, the Absolute. When the mind reaches this state, the highest Samadhi or God-consciousness is the result. How to pray is the next question. Let us not pray for things of this world, but pray like Narada, Narada said to Rama Chandra; "0 Rama, grant that I may be favored with Bhakti, love, devotion and self-surrender How to pray. to the Lotus of Thy feet." "Be it so," said Rama. "But wilt thou not ask for anything else?" Narada replied: "Lord, may it please Thee to grant that I may not be at-tracted by Thy Maya, which fascinates the creatures of this world." Rama Chandra said once more: "Be it so, Narada; but wilt thou not ask for something else?" Narada replied: "No, Lord, that is all I pray for." Jnana (knowledge) varies in degree and kind. There is first the knowledge belonging to men of Degrees of the world knowledge. the world—ordinary mortals. This knowledge is not sufficiently power- ful. It may be compared to the light of a lamp which illumines only the inside of a room. The knowledge of a Bhakta (devotee) is a stronger light and may be compared to the light of the moon which causes to be visible things outside the room as well as those inside of it. But the Jnana of an Incarnation of God is still more powerful and it thus may be likened to a yet stronger light, — the resplendent glory of the sun. Such light is the illuminator of the moon as well as of the whole world. Nothing is problematic to the Divine Incarnation (Avatara). He solves the most difficult problems of life and soul as the simplest things in the world. His ex- position of the most intricate questions in which humanity is interested is such as a child can follow. He is the sun of Divine Knowledge whose light dispels the accumulated ignorance of ages. So long as the man is immersed in worldli- ness he cannot attain to Knowledge Divine and cannot see God. Does muddy Spiritual knowledge and the wordly. water ever reflect the sun or any sur- rounding object? Spiritual knowledge is occasionally visible in worldly peo- ple, but very seldom. It does not last long. It is like the light of a lamp. No, no, it is like a ray of the sun — as if a ray were coming through a very small hole in the wall. Worldly people repeat the Holy Name of the Lord, but there is no longing in the heart. They have no per- sistence. Whether they attain or not, they do not care. They are bound by Karma and must reap the results of their works. Is there no remedy for this state, no hope for the worldly man? Yes, there is. Drop a purifying agent, say a piece of alum, into muddy water; the water is purified and the impurities settle down at the bottom of the vessel. Discrimination of the Real from the unreal phenomenal universe and non-attachment to the world are the two purifying agents. Thus it is that the worldly man ceases to be worldly and becomes pure. Worldly people have the knowledge of diver- sity, which is the same as ignorance. But true knowledge makes one realize the unity of ex- istence. "This is gold, that is brass" is igno- rance, while "all is gold" is true knowledge. All differentiation ceases, when true knowledge comes. Sankara [3] was a great Jnani. He had true Self-knowledge; he realized one Brahman every- Sankara and the Pariah. where and in all beings. He recog- nized no distinction in caste or creed. At one time, however, he had the consciousness of difference; he would ditferentiate a pariah from a high-caste Brahmin or a sage. He would not touch a pariah after bathing in the sacred river Ganges. One day a pariah was carrying animal flesh along the river bank as Sankara was coming from his bath and the pariah ran against him. Sankara exclaimed: "Sirrah, how darest thou touch me?" The pariah replied: "Neither hast thou touched me nor have I touched thee. The Atman is pure. it is neither body nor the elements of the body. It is far above the twenty-four categories of the universe. Thou art the real Atman: so am I. How can I touch thee?" Sankara bowed down before the pariah and lo! the pariah trans figured himself into Shiva, the Lord of wisdom. At that moment Sankara's spiritual eyes were open and he realized the absolute oneness of the Atman. "I am pure and spotless Atman, eternally free": this is the nature of true Self- knowledge. Spiritual practices (Sadhana) are absolutely necessary for Self-knowledge; but if there be Spiritual practices. perfect faith, then a little practice will be enough. One must have faith in the words of the Guru or spiritual master. Vyasa [4] was about to cross the river Jamuna. At this moment the Gopis (shepherdesses) ar- rived. They also wished to go across, but there was no ferry-boat. They asked Vyasa, "Lord, what shall we do?" Vyasa replied: "Do not worry, I will get you across the river; but I am Vyasa and the Gopis. very hungry. Can you give me some- thmg to eat?" The Gopis had with them a quantity of milk, cream and fresh butter. He consumed them all. The Gopis then asked: "What about crossing the river?" Vyasa stood near the edge of the water and prayed: "0 Jamuna! as I have not eaten anything to-day, by that virtue I ask Thee to divide the waters, so that we can walk across Thy bed and reach the other side." No sooner did he utter these words than the waters parted and the dry bed was laid bare. The Gopis were amazed. They thought: "How could he say, 'as I have not eatenanything to-day,' when just now he has eaten so much?" They did not see that this was a proof of firm faith; that Vyasa had the faith that he did not eat anything, but that the Lord who dwelt within him was the real Eater. The first stage of spiritual practice is associa- tion with spiritual people, the company of holy Stages of spir-tual practice. men. The second stage is faith in ( things relating to the Spirit. The third stage is single-minded devotion to one's Ideal. The Ideal may be one's Guru, the spiritual teacher, the Impersonal Brahman, the Personal God or any of His manifestations. The fourth stage is the state of being struck speech- less at the thought of God. The fifth stage, when the feeling of devotion to God reaches the highest point; it is called Mahabhava. The devotee sometimes laughs, sometimes weeps like a madman. He loses all control over his body. This state is not attained by ordinary human beings who are not capable of conquer- ing the flesh. It is reached by Incarnations of God who appear in this world for the salvation of mankind. The sixth stage, Prema or ecstatic love, goes hand in hand with Mahabhava. It is the most intense love of God and is strictly the highest state of spirituality. The two marks of this stage are the forgetfulness of this world and the forgetfulness of self, which in- cludes one's own body. After delivering this sermon, the Bhagavan said to His audience that He would be glad to answer any question. But none was asked, so the Bhagavan continued: Knowledge (Jnana) cannot be communicated all at once. Its attainment must be gradual. Attainment of knowledge gradual. Suppose a fever is of a severe type The doctor would not give quinine under such circumstances. He knows that such a remedy would do no good. The fever must first leave the patient, which re- quires time, and then the quinine will take effect. Sometimes the fever will go off without the help of quinine or any other medicine. Pre- cisely the same is the case with the man who seeks for knowledge. To him religious precepts often prove useless so long as he is immersed in worldliness. Allow him a certain time for en- joyment of the things of the world, then his attachment to the world will gradually wear off. This is exactly the moment for the success of any religious instructions that may be given to him. Till then all such instructions will be entirely thrown away like pearls before swine. Many come to me and I have observed how some of them are anxious to listen to my words. But others of the company appear to be rest- less and impatient in my presence. They say to their friends in whispers: "Let us go, let us go. Well, if you wish to stay, we will go to the boat and wait for you there." Spiritual awaken- ing is very much a question of time. The teacher is a mere help. The meeting then broke up.

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Sri Ramakrishna (to a disciple) : The fact is, Karma (past actions). all this desire for knowledge or for freedom depends upon one's Karma in one's previous incarnations. Disciple: Yes, Bhagavan, it is so difficult to understand one's self. We see the self only as it appears to us. Behind it there may be a hundred previous incarnations. We walk upon the floor of a house but we never stop to see how it is made and what various things are beneath it. The Bhagavan smiled at the disciple and left His seat. He went out into the veranda next to the western door of His room and for a time looked on the sun which was sinking rapidly towards the horizon. Then He gazed down upon the holy waters of the sacred stream be- fore Him. A disciple was walking alone in front of the Temple on the embankment of the Ganges. He was watching Balaram and others getting into a boat to return to Calcutta. It being midsummer, the sacred waters of the river were broken into waves. The day was drawing to its close, it was past five, the sky was cloudy and the clouds presented a most wonderful sight, especially towards the north. In the foreground were the Panchavati, backed by a line of tall willow trees," with the silver stream flowing past on their right. In the back- ground were the beautiful dark blue clouds and the dark stream beneath. The disciple was looking on this charming scene. Suddenly his attention was arrested by the Bhagavan coming from the south in the direction of the Panchavati and the willow trees. As Sri Ramakrishna, smiling like a child of five, came up, the beautiful picture seemed to be more than complete. There was the universe on the one hand, and on the other the One Soul who reflected the universe and saw it in its real nature. Yes, the disciple felt that in that Presence he was as near the solution of the problem of life as he could be. It was this Presence that made everything — the images of gods and goddesses, men, women and children, trees, flowers, leaves, every inch of ground in that Temple instinct with spirituality and full of the Joy of the Lord. Yes, he felt truly that it was the God-Man before him that had thrown an irresistible charm over everything in that wonderful place — over every object, divine or human, animate or inanimate, seen by the outer or by the inner eye, from the dust under His Hallowed Feet to those sacred images wor- shipped in the Temple or perceived by looking within that other temple, the body of man, that veritable "revelation in the flesh." He felt like one spell-bound in that Presence! iii

It was evening. After the usual prayers and other religious exercises enjoined on the pious Hindu were over, there was yet another meeting between the Master and the same disciple. The disciple then asked, referring to the apparently contradictory systems of religious faith among the Hindus: Bhagavan, is this a contradiction: some among the Hindus hold that Sri Krishna is identical with Kali, the Divine Mother, while others hold that Sri Krishna is the Atman, the Absolute, and that Radha is Chitsakti, the self-conscious Power that rules the universe, the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, the Per-sonal God? Bhagavan: The former view is that of the Devi Puran. Be it so, but there need be no God is infinite. contradiction. God is Infinite. Infi- nite are the Forms in which He mani- fests Himself. Infinite also are the ways leading to Him. Disciple: Oh, I see! The end in view is to get on the roof of the house. The means may be various, as Thou hast often said, — a single rope, a bamboo, a wooden ladder, or a staircase? Bhagavan: Quite so. That you can under stand this so quickly is due to the Grace of God. Without His Grace doubt is never Grace of God. cleared up. Our attitude towards God should be like that of Hanuman who said to Rama Chandra: "Lord, I care not for a special time or place for meditation. What alone I am concerned with is to meditate upon Thee." Suppose you go into a garden to eat mangoes. Is it necessary for you first to count the number Love of God the one thing needful. of trees in the garden, which may be many thousands, then the number of branches, which may be hundreds of thousands? Certainly not; you should at once, on the contrary, proceed to eat. In the same way, it is useless to enter into all sorts of discussions and controversies regarding God, which would only cause a waste of time and energy. One's present and most important duty is to love God, to cultivate Bhakti or devotion. Disciple: Bhagavan, I greatly desire that my work in the world should become a little less than now. The pressure of work stands in the way of one's giving one's whole mind to God, does it not ? Bhagavan: Oh yes, no doubt that is so; but a wise man may work unattached and then work will not do any harm to him. Disciple: But that depends upon the posses- sion of an extraordinary power of will derived from the realization of God. First realization of God, then work without attachment. Is it not so, Bhagavan? Sri Ramakrishna: I must say you are right. But the probability is, you must have desired Power of desire. these things in your previous incar-nations. This reminds me of the story narrated in one of the Sacred Books. It is said that Sri Krishna had made his abode in the heart of Radha; so long there was no Lila (the life of sport that he lived in Vrindavan). But he felt the desire to take the form of a human being; the consequence of this desire- was that he came to Vrindavan. Such is the power of desire. Your duty now is to pray without ceasing for love of God, so that the bondage of work shall gradually fall off. Disciple: Is it, Bhagavan, the duty of the householder to save against a rainy day? Bhagavan: Try to follow the precept of Cast all care on God. Jadrichchalabha, that is, availing oneself of things that come naturally in one's way without one's having to put forth any efforts for the attainment of those things. Do not take so much thought for things of that kind, such as saving against a rainy day. Cast your cares on God. What do you think takes place at the time of my Samadhi ? Disciple : Thy spirit is then in the sixth plane mentioned in the Vedanta. Then Thou comest down to the fifth plane when Thou beginnest to talk. Bhagavan: I am only a humble instrument in His hands. He is doing all these things. I do not know anything. Disciple: Because of this wonderful self- abnegation all people are drawn to Thee. Thou didst say that Maya is attachment to one's own relatives and friends, but Daya, is love extend- ing to all mankind — even to all God's creatures. I do not understand the difference. Is not Daya a feeling which makes a man cling to the world ? Bhagavan: Daya is not a bad feeling. On the contrary it is elevating and leads one God- ward. Do you believe in God with form or without form? Disciple: I go so far as the attributes. God has attributes. So far I see clearly enough. But is it not a fact that it is impossible to think of the "Formless" without the help of a form? In any case, we have to go through forms and symbols. Bhagavan (smiling): You see that I lay stress upon the worship of God with form as eminently favorable for the cultivation of devotion. Disciple: Is Pandit Sasadhar [5] making any progress in this direction, — in the culture of Bhakti or devotion? Bhagavan: Yes; but his tendency is in the direction of the path of knowledge. These men belong to a class of their own. They do not see that this way is exceedingly difficult. It is sufficient if one can give up the Renunciation. world in the mind. Outward re-nunciation is not absolutely necessary. Disciple: What Thou say est is, as it seems to me, intended for the weak. For men of the highest class is meant renunciation in the strict sense of the word. They must give up the world not only in their mind but also out- wardly. Bhagavan: You have heard all about renun- ciation as I have taught it. Disciple: Yes, Bhagavan, I understand by- renunciation not only the absence of attach- ment to things of this world. It is non-attach- ment to things of this world plus something. That something is the love of God. Bhagavan: You are right. I am glad that you see this. God-vision cannot be made clear State of God-vision. to others. The state of things that comes about may, however, be de- scribed to a certain extent. You have no doubt been to the theatre to witness a dramatic performance. Before the performance com- mences, you must have noticed that the people are very busy talking to one another on a variety of subjects, — politics, household affairs, official business. But no sooner does the drop- curtain go up and mountains, cottages, rivers, men are presented to view than all noise ceases, all conversation ends and each individual spectator is all attention to the novel scene that is being enacted before him. Pretty much the same is the state of him who is blessed with God- vision. Disciple: Ecstatic love of God, as Thou hast said this day, is the string with which to bind the God of love. With such love one may be sure of seeing God. But the question is whether such love is within the reach of the man of the world (Grihastha). The Bhagavan remained silent.

  1. Narada, see note page 168.
  2. Sanaka, Sananda, and Sanat Kumara -were the three Rishis or Seers of Truth in ancient India.
  3. Sankara, same as Sankaracharya. See note p. 279.
  4. Vyasa, see note p. 108.
  5. See page 262.