July 2009

Mere Scholarship

From Chapter 3

The Master continued: “There is nothing in mere scholarship. The object of study is to find means of knowing God and realizing Him. A holy man had a book. When asked what it contained, he opened it and showed that on all the pages were written the words ‘Om Rama’, and nothing else.

“What is the significance of the Gita? It is what you find by repeating the word ten times. It is then reversed into ‘tagi’, which means a person who has renounced everything for God. And the lesson of. the Gita is: ‘O man, renounce everything and seek God alone.’ Whether a man is a monk or a householder, he has to shake off all attachment from his mind.

From Chapter 7

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

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

From Chapter 13

MASTER: “It is Satchidananda that comes to us in the form of the guru. If a man is initiated by a human guru, he will not achieve anything if he regards his guru as a mere man. The guru should be regarded as the direct manifestation of God. Only then can the disciple have faith in the mantra given by the guru. Once a man has faith he, achieves all. The sudra Ekalavya learnt archery in the forest before a clay image of Drona; He worshipped the image as the living Drona; that by itself enabled him to attain mastery in archery.

“Don’t mix intimately with brahmin pundits. Their only concern is to earn money. I have seen brahmin priests reciting the Chandi while performing the swastyayana. It is hard to tell whether they are reading the sacred book or something else. They turn half the pages without reading them. (All laugh.)

“A nail-knife suffices to kill oneself. One needs sword and shield to kill others. That is the purpose of the sastras.

“One doesn’t really need to study the different scriptures. If one has no discrimination, one doesn’t achieve anything through mere scholarship, even though one studies all the six systems of philosophy. Call on God, crying to Him secretly in solitude. He will give all that you need.”

From Chapter 14

“What can a man achieve through mere scholarship? What is needed is prayer and spiritual discipline. Gauri of Indesh was both a scholar and a devotee. He was a worshipper of the Divine Mother. Now and then he would be overpowered with spiritual fervour. When he chanted a hymn to the Mother, the pundits would seem like earth-worms beside him. I too would be overcome with ecstasy.

From Chapter 32

“Can one find God in the sacred books? By reading the scriptures one may feel at the most that God exists. But God does not reveal Himself to a man unless he himself dives deep. Only after such a plunge, after the revelation of God through His grace, is one’s doubt destroyed. You. may read scriptures by the thousands and recite thousands of texts; but unless you plunge into God with yearning of heart, you will not comprehend Him. By mere scholarship you may fool man, but not God.

“Scriptures and books-what can one achieve with these alone? Nothing can be realized without His grace. Strive with a longing heart for His grace. Through His grace you will see Him and He will talk to you.”

From Chapter 38

“What will it avail a man to have mere scholarship? A pundit may have studied many scriptures, he may recite many sacred texts, but if he is still attached to the world and if inwardly he loves ‘woman and gold’, then he has not assimilated the contents of the scriptures. For such a man the study of scriptures is futile.

“The almanac forecasts the rainfall for the year. You may squeeze the book, but you won’t get a drop of water-not even a single drop.” (Laughter.)

Worldliness – I

From Chapter 1

MASTER: “Repeat God’s name and sing His glories, and keep holy company; and now and then visit God’s devotees and holy men. The mind cannot dwell on God if it is immersed day and night in worldliness, in worldly duties and responsibilities; it is most necessary to go into solitude now and then and think of God. To fix the mind on God is very difficult, in the beginning, unless one practises meditation in solitude. When a tree is young it should be fenced all around; otherwise it may be destroyed by cattle. …

“Those in bondage are sunk in worldliness and forgetful of God. Not even by mistake do they think of God.

From Chapter 3

“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.

From Chapter 4

“Some are born with the characteristics of the yogi; but they too should be careful. It is ‘woman and gold’ alone that is the obstacle; it makes them deviate from the path of yoga and drags them into worldliness. Perhaps they have some desire for enjoyment. After fulfilling their desire, they again direct their minds to God and thus recover their former state of mind, fit for the practise of yoga.

From Chapter 5

The Master continued: “Bondage and liberation are both of Her making. By Her Maya worldly people become entangled in ‘woman and gold’, and again, through Her grace they attain their liberation. She is called Saviour, and the remover of the bondage that binds one to the world.”

Then the Master sang the following song in his melodious voice:

In the world’s busy market-place, O Syama, Thou art flying kites;

High up they soar on the wind of hope, held fast by maya’s string.

Their frames are human skeletons, their sails of the three gunas made;

But all their curious workmanship is merely for ornament.

Upon the kite-strings Thou hast rubbed the manja-paste of worldliness,

So as to make each straining strand all the more sharp and strong.

Out of a hundred thousand kites, at best but one or two break free;

And Thou dost laugh and clap Thy hands, O Mother, watching them!

On favouring winds, says Ramprasad, the kites set loose will speedily

Be borne away to the Infinite, across the sea of the world.

From Chapter 6

MASTER: “Many people visit the temple garden at Dakshineswar. If I see some among the visitors indifferent to God, I say to them, ‘You had better sit over there.’ Or sometimes I say, ‘Go and see the beautiful buildings.’ (Laughter.)

“Sometimes I find that the devotees of God are accompanied by worthless people. Their companions are immersed in gross worldliness and don’t enjoy spiritual talk at all. Since the devotees keep on, for a long time, talking with me about God, the others become restless. Finding it impossible to sit there any longer, they whisper to their devotee friends: ‘When shall we be going? How long will you stay here?’ The devotees say: ‘Wait a bit. We shall go after a little while.’ Then the worldly people say in a disgusted tone: ‘Well, then, you can talk. We shall wait for you in the boat.’ (All laugh.)…

Worldliness – II

From Chapter 10

BRAHMO: “Who is really bad, man or woman?”

MASTER: “As there are women endowed with vidyasakti, so also there are women with avidyasakti. A woman endowed with spiritual attributes leads a man to God, but a woman who is the embodiment of delusion makes him forget God and drowns him in the ocean of worldliness.

“This universe is created by the Mahamaya of God. Mahamaya contains both vidyamaya, the illusion of knowledge, and avidyamaya, the illusion of ignorance. Through the help of vidyamaya one cultivates such virtues as the taste for holy company, knowledge, devotion, love, and renunciation. Avidyamaya consists of the five elements and the objects of the five senses-form, flavour, smell, touch, and sound. These make one forget God.”

From Chapter 11

“It is said that, in the Kaliyuga, if a man can weep for God one day and one night, he sees Him.

“Feel piqued at God and say to Him: ‘You have created me. Now You must reveal Yourself to me.’ Whether you live in the world or elsewhere, always fix your mind on God. The mind soaked in worldliness may be compared to a wet match-stick. You won’t get a spark, however much you may rub it.

From Chapter 13

…”But to feel that one is a free soul is very good. By constantly repeating, ‘I am free, I am free’, a man verily becomes free. On the other hand, by constantly repeating, ‘I am bound, I am bound’, he certainly becomes bound to worldliness. The fool who says only, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’, verily drowns himself in worldliness. One should rather say: I have chanted the name of God. How can I be a sinner? How can I be bound?’

From Chapter 17

M: “Sir, is there no spiritual discipline leading to realization of the Impersonal God?”

MASTER: “Yes, there is. But the path is extremely difficult. After intense austerities the rishis of olden times realized God as their inner most consciousness and experienced the real nature of Brahman. But how hard they had to work! They went out of their dwellings in the early morning and a11 day practised austerities and meditation. Returning home at nightfall, they took a light supper of fruit and roots.

“But an aspirant cannot succeed in this form of spiritual discipline if his mind is stained with worldliness even in the slightest degree. The mind must withdraw totally from all objects of form, taste, smell, touch, and sound. Only thus does it become pure. The Pure Mind is the same as the Pure Atman. But such a mind must be altogether free from ‘woman and gold’. When it becomes pure, one has another experience. One realizes: ‘God alone is the Doer, and I am His instrument.’ One does not feel oneself to be absolutely necessary to others either in their misery or in their happiness.

From Chapter 36

ATUL: “How can we keep our minds on God?”

MASTER: “Abhyasayoga, the yoga of practice. You should practise calling on God every day. It is not possible to succeed in one day; through daily prayer you will come to long for God.

“How can you feel that restlessness if you are immersed in worldliness day and night? Formerly Jadu Mallick enjoyed spiritual talk; he liked to engage in it himself. But nowadays he doesn’t show that much interest. He surrounds himself with flatterers day and night and indulges in worldly talk.” …

MASTER: “Why do I attract these boys to me so much? They are pure vessels untouched by worldliness. A man cannot assimilate instruction if his mind is stained with worldliness. Milk can be safely kept in a new pot; but it turns sour if kept in a pot in which curd has been made. You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic, but still you cannot remove the smell.”

Worldliness – III

From Chapter 38

Sri Ramakrishna seated himself in the drawing-room on the ground floor of Devendra’s house. The devotees sat around him. It was evening. The room was well lighted. The younger Naren, Ram, M., Girish, Devendra, Akshay, Upendra, and some other devotees were present. As the Master cast his glance on a young devotee, his face beamed with joy. Pointing to the devotee, Sri Ramakrishna said to the others: “He is totally free from attachment to land, wife, and money, the three things that entangle one in worldliness. The mind that dwells on these three cannot be fixed on God.

From Chapter 41

MASTER: “I was talking to Captain. I said: ‘Nothing exists except Purusha and Prakriti. Narada said to Rama, “O Rama, all the men You see are parts of Yourself, and all the women are parts of Sita.” ‘

“Captain was highly pleased. He said: ‘You alone have the right perception. All men are really Rama, being parts of Rama; all women are really Sita, being parts of Sita.’

“Immediately after saying this he began to criticize the young devotees. He said: ‘They study English books and don’t discriminate about their food. It is not good that they should visit you frequently. It may do you harm. Hazra is a real man, a grand fellow. Don’t allow those young people to visit you so much.’ At first I said, ‘What can I do if they come?’ Then I gave him some mortal blows. His daughter laughed. I said to him: ‘God is far, far away from the worldly-minded. But God is very near the man-nay, within a distance of three cubits-whose mind is free from worldliness.’ Speaking of Rakhal, Captain said, ‘He eats with all sorts of people.’ Perhaps he had heard it from Hazra. Thereupon I said to him: ‘A man may practise intense austerity and japa, but he won’t achieve anything if his mind dwells on the world. But blessed is the man who keeps his mind on God even though he eats pork. He will certainly realize God in due time. Hazra, with all his austerity and japa, doesn’t allow an opportunity to slip by for earning money as a broker.’

From Chapter 42

“The youngsters are yet untouched by ‘woman and gold’. That is why I love them so dearly. Hazra says to me, ‘You love a boy if he comes from a wealthy family or if he is handsome.’ If that is so, then why do I love Harish, Latu, and Narendra? Narendra hasn’t a penny to buy salt to season his rice.

“The youngsters’ minds are not yet coloured by worldliness. That is why they are so pure in heart. Besides, many of them are eternally perfect; they have been drawn to God from their very birth. It is like a garden in which, while cleaning it, you suddenly discover water-pipes. The water gushes forth without any effort on your part.”

From Chapter 44

PUNDIT (quoting from the Gita.): “‘with the heart concentrated by yoga, with the eye of evenness for all things, he beholds the Self in all beings and all beings in the Self.’ ”

MASTER: “Have you read the Adhyatma Ramayana?”

PUNDIT: “Yes, sir, a little.”

MASTER: “The book is filled with ideas of knowledge and devotion. The life of Savari and the hymn by Ahalya are filled with bhakti.

‘But you must remember one thing: God is very far away from the mind tainted with worldliness.”

From Chapter 45

GIRISH (to the doctor): “You must admit that Krishna is God. I will not let you look on Him as a mere man. You must admit that He is either God or a demon.”

MASTER: “Unless a man is guileless, he cannot so easily have faith in God. God is far, far away from the mind steeped in worldliness. Worldly intelligence creates many doubts and many forms of pride-pride of learning, wealth, and the rest. (Pointing to the doctor) But he is guileless.

“How guileless Keshab Sen was! One day he visited the Kali temple at Dakshineswar. At about four in the afternoon he went around to the guesthouse, where the poor are fed, and asked when the beggars would be fed. He didn’t know that it was too late in the day for the feeding of the poor. As a man’s faith increases, so does his knowledge of God. The cow that discriminates too much about food gives milk in dribblets. But the cow that gulps down everything-herbs, leaves, grass, husks, straw-gives milk in torrents. (All laugh.)

Dealing with the Wicked

From Chapter 1

A DEVOTEE: “Sir, if a wicked man is about to do harm, or actually does so, should we keep quiet then?”

MASTER: “A man living in society should make a show of tamas to protect himself from evil-minded people. But he should not harm anybody in anticipation of harm likely to be done him.

“Listen to a story. Some cowherd boys used to tend their cows in a meadow where a terrible poisonous snake lived. Everyone was on the alert for fear of it. One day a brahmachari was going along the meadow. The boys ran to him and said: ‘Revered sir, please don’t go that way. A venomous snake lives over there.’ ‘What of it, my good children?’ said the brahmachari. ‘I am not afraid of the snake. I know some mantras.’ So saying, he continued on his way along the meadow. But the cowherd boys, being afraid, did not accompany him. In the mean time the snake moved swiftly toward him with upraised hood. As soon as it came near, he recited a mantra, and the snake lay at his feet like an earthworm. The brahmachari said: ‘Look here. Why do you go about doing harm? Come, I will give you a holy word. By repeating it you will learn to love God. Ultimately you will realize Him and so get rid of your violent nature.’ Saying this, he taught the snake a holy word and initiated him into spiritual life. The snake bowed before the teacher and said, ‘Revered sir, how shall I practise spiritual discipline?’ ‘Repeat that sacred word’, said the teacher, ‘and do no harm to anybody’. As he was about to depart, the brahmachari said, ‘I shall see you again.’

“Some days passed and the cowherd boys noticed that the snake would not bite. They threw stones at it. Still it showed no anger; it behaved as if it were an earthworm. One day one of the boys came close to it, caught it by the tail, and, whirling it round and round, dashed it again and again on the ground and threw it away. The snake vomited blood and became unconscious. It was stunned. It could not move. So, thinking it dead, the boys went their way.

“Late at night the snake regained consciousness. Slowly and with great difficulty it dragged itself into its hole; its bones were broken and it could scarcely move. Many days passed. The snake became a mere skeleton covered with a skin. Now and then, at night, it would come out in search of food. For fear of the boys it would not leave its hole during the day-time. Since receiving the sacred word from the teacher, it had given up doing harm to others. It maintained its life on dirt, leaves, or the fruit that dropped from the trees.

“About a year later the brahmachari came that way again and asked after the snake. The cowherd boys told him that it was dead. But he couldn’t believe them. He knew that the snake would not die before attaining the fruit of the holy word with which it had been initiated. He found his way to the place and, searching here and there, called it by the name he had given it. Hearing the teacher’s voice, it came out of its hole and bowed before him with great reverence. ‘How are you?’ asked the brahmachari. ‘I am well, sir’, replied the snake. ‘But’, the teacher asked, ‘why are you so thin?’ The snake replied: ‘Revered sir, you ordered me not to harm any body. So I have been living only on leaves and fruit. Perhaps that has made me thinner.’

“The snake had developed the quality of sattva; it could not be angry with anyone. It had totally forgotten that the cowherd boys had almost killed it.

“The brahmachari said: ‘It can’t be mere want of food that has reduced you to this state. There must be some other reason. Think a little.’ Then the snake remembered that the boys had dashed it against the ground. It said: ‘Yes, revered sir, now I remember. The boys one day dashed me violently against the ground. They are ignorant, after all. They didn’t realize what a great change had come over my mind. How could they know I wouldn’t bite or harm anyone?’ The brahmachari exclaimed: ‘What a shame! You are such a fool! You don’t know how to protect yourself. I asked you not to bite, but I didn’t forbid you to hiss. Why didn’t you scare them by hissing?’

“So you must hiss at wicked people. You must frighten them lest they should do you harm. But never inject your venom into them. One must not injure others.

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