September 2009

Different Religion – Path to God

From Chapter 4

MASTER: “Bhakti is the one essential thing. To be sure, God exists in all beings. Who, then, is a devotee? He whose mind dwells on God. But this is not possible as long as one has egotism and vanity. The water of God’s grace cannot collect on the high mound of egotism. It runs down. I am a mere machine.

(To Kedar and the other devotees) “God can be realized through all paths. All religions are true. The important thing is to reach the roof. You can reach it by stone stairs or by wooden stairs or by bamboo steps or by a rope. You can also climb up by a bamboo pole.

“You may say that there are many errors and superstitions in another religion. I should reply: Suppose there are. Every religion has errors. Everyone thinks that his watch alone gives the correct time. It is enough to have yearning for God. It is enough to love Him and feel attracted to Him: Don’t you know that God is the Inner Guide? He sees the longing of our heart and the yearning of our soul. Suppose a man has several sons. The older boys address him distinctly as ‘Baba’ or ‘Papa’, but the babies can at best call him ‘Ba’ or ‘Pa’. Now, will the father be angry with those who address him in this indistinct way? The father knows that they too are calling him, only they cannot pronounce his name well. All children are the same to the father. Likewise, the devotees call on God alone, though by different names. They call on one Person only. God is one, but His names are many.”

From Chapter 6

“One should not think, ‘My religion alone is the right path and other religions are false.’ God can be realized by means of all paths. It is enough to have sincere yearning for God. Infinite are the paths and infinite the opinions.

From Chapter 8

(To the goswami) “With sincerity and earnestness one can realize God through all religions. The Vaishnavas will realize God, and so will the Saktas, the Vedantists, and the Brahmos. The Mussalmans and Christians will realize Him too. All will certainly realize God if they are earnest and sincere.

“Some people indulge in quarrels, saying, ‘One cannot attain anything unless one worships our Krishna’, or, ‘Nothing can be gained without the worship of Kali, our Divine Mother’, or, ‘One cannot be saved without accepting the Christian religion.’ This is pure dogmatism. The dogmatist says, ‘My religion alone is true, and the religions of others are false.’ This is a bad attitude. God can be reached by different paths.

From Chapter 12

MASTER: “It is not good to feel that one’s own religion alone is true and all others are false. God is one only, and not two. Different people call on Him by different names: some as Allah, some as God, and others as Krishna, Siva, and Brahman. It is like the water in a lake. Some drink it at one place and call it ‘jal’, others at another place and call it ‘pani’, and still others at a third place and call it ‘water’. The Hindus call it ‘jal’, the Christians ‘water’, and the Mussalmans ‘pani’. But it is one and the same thing. Opinions are but paths. Each religion is only a path leading to God, as rivers come from different directions and ultimately become one in the one ocean.

“The Truth established in the Vedas, the Puranas, and the Tantras is but one Satchidananda. In the Vedas It is called Brahman, in the Puranas It is called Krishna, Rama, and so on, and in the Tantras It is called Siva. The one Satchidananda is called Brahman, Krishna, and Siva.”

From Chapter 14

MASTER (to M.): “Once I thought, ‘Why should I be one-sided?’ Therefore I was initiated into Vaishnavism in Vrindavan and took the garb of a Vaishnava monk. I spent three days practising the Vaishnava discipline. Again, at Dakshineswar I was initiated into the mystery of Rama worship. I painted my forehead with a long mark and put on a string with a diamond round my neck. But after a few days I gave them up.

“A certain man had a tub. People would come to him to have their clothes dyed. The tub contained a solution of dye. Whatever colour a man wanted for his cloth, he would get by dipping the cloth in the tub. One man was amazed to see this and said to the dyer, ‘Please give me the dye you have in your tub.’ ”

Was the Master hinting that people professing different religions would come to him and have their spiritual consciousness awakened according to their own ideals?

Tendencies from previous births

From Chapter 7

“One must admit the existence of tendencies inherited from previous births. There is a story about a man who practised the sava-sadhana.l He worshipped the Divine Mother in a deep forest. First he saw many terrible visions. Finally a tiger attacked and killed him. Another man, happening to pass and seeing the approach of the tiger, had climbed a tree. Afterwards he got down and found all the arrangements for worship at hand. He performed some purifying ceremonies and seated himself on the corpse. No sooner had he done a little japa than the Divine Mother appeared before him and said: ‘My child, I am very much pleased with you. Accept a boon from Me.’ He bowed low at the Lotus Feet of the Goddess and said: ‘May I ask You one question, Mother? I am speechless with amazement at Your action. The other man worked so hard to get the ingredients for Your worship and tried to propitiate You for such a long time, but You didn’t condescend to show him Your favour. And I, who don’t know anything of worship, who have done nothing, who have neither devotion nor knowledge nor love, and who haven’t practised any austerities, am receiving so much of Your grace.’ The Divine Mother said with a laugh: ‘My child, you don’t remember your previous births. For many births you tried to propitiate Me through austerities. As a result of those austerities all these things have come to hand, and you have been blessed with My Vision. Now ask Me your boon.’ ”

From Chapter 31

TUTOR: “Revered sir, one man quickly succeeds in spiritual life, and another doesn’t succeed at all. How do you explain that?”

MASTER: “The truth is that a man succeeds to a great extent because of tendencies inherited from his previous births. People think he has attained the goal all of a sudden. A man drank a glass of wine in the morning. It made him completely drunk. He began to behave improperly. People were amazed to see that he could be so drunk after one glass. But another man said, ‘Why, he has been drinking all night.’

“Hanuman burnt down the golden city of Lanka. People were amazed that a mere monkey could burn the whole city. But then they said, ‘The truth is that the city was burnt by the sighs of Sita and the wrath of Rama.’

“Look at Lala Babu. He had so much wealth. Could he have renounced it all so suddenly without the good tendencies of his previous births? And Rani Bhavani. So much knowledge and devotion in a woman!

“In his last birth a man is endowed with sattva. His mind is directed to God. He longs for God. He withdraws his mind from worldly things.

From Chapter 41

Sri Ramakrishna looked steadily at Dwija.

Master: “Well, there are so many youngsters in the city; why does this boy come here? (To M,) Tell me what you think. Certainly he has inherited some good tendencies from his previous birth.”

M: “Undoubtedly, sir.”

MASTER: “There is such a thing as inborn tendencies. When a man has performed many good actions in his previous births, in the final birth he becomes guileless. In the final birth he acts somewhat like a madcap.

From Chapter 42

BALARAM: “Sir, how was it possible for Purna to know all of a sudden that the world is illusory?”

MASTER: “He has inherited that knowledge from his previous births. In his past lives he practised¬† many disciplines. It is the body alone that is small or grows big, and not the Atman.

From Chapter 50

DR. SREENATH (to his friends): “Everything is under the control of Prakriti. Nobody can escape the fruit of past action. This is called prarabdha.”

MASTER: “Why, if one chants the name of God, meditates on Him, and takes refuge in Him-”

DR. SREENATH: “But, sir, how can one escape prarabdha, the effect of action performed in previous births?”

MASTER: “No doubt a man experiences a little of the effect; but much of it is cancelled by the power of God’s name. A man was born blind of an eye. This was his punishment for a certain misdeed he had committed in his past birth, and the punishment was to remain with him for six more births. Be, however, took a bath in the Ganges, which gives one liberation. This meritorious action could not cure his blindness, but it saved him from his future births.”

Beyond Words

From Chapter 2

MASTER: “A man had two sons. The father sent them to a preceptor to learn the Knowledge of Brahman. After a few years they returned from their preceptor’s house and bowed low before their father. Wanting to measure the depth of their knowledge of Brahman, he first questioned the older of the two boys. ‘My child,’ he said, ‘You have studied all the scriptures. Now tell me, what is the nature of Brahman?’ The boy began to explain Brahman by reciting various texts from the Vedas. The father did not say anything. Then he asked the younger son the same question. But the boy remained silent and stood with eyes cast down. No word escaped his lips. The father was pleased and said to him: ‘My child, you have understood a little of Brahman. What It is cannot be expressed in words.’

“Men often think they have understood Brahman fully. Once an ant went to a hill of sugar. One grain filled its stomach. Taking another grain in its mouth it started homeward. On its way it thought, ‘Next time I shall carry home the whole hill.’ That is the way shallow minds think. They don’t know that Brahman is beyond one’s words and thought. However great a man may be, how much can he know of Brahman? Sukadeva and sages like him may have been big ants; but even they could carry at the utmost eight or ten grains of sugar!

“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 Bliss – It 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 again.

“In samadhi one attains the Knowledge of Brahman – one 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?”

From Chapter 13

MASTER (to M.): “Like the akasa, Brahman is without any modification. It has become manifold because of Sakti. Again, Brahman is like fire, which itself has no colour. The fire appears white if you throw a white substance into it, red if you throw a red, black if you throw a black. The three gunas-sattva, rajas, and tamas-belong to Sakti alone. Brahman Itself is beyond the three gunas. What Brahman is cannot be described. It is beyond words. That which remains after everything is eliminated by the Vedantic process of ‘Not this, not this’, and which is of the nature of Bliss, is Brahman.

“Suppose the husband of a young girl has come to his father-in-law’s house and is seated in the drawing-room with other young men of his age. The girl and her friends are looking at them through the window. Her friends do not know her husband and ask her, pointing to one young man, ‘Is that your husband?’ ‘No’, she answers, smiling. They point to another young man and ask if he is her husband. Again she answers no. They repeat the question, referring to a third, and she gives the same answer. At last they point to her husband and ask, ‘Is he the one?’ She says neither yes nor no, but only smiles and keeps quiet. Her friends realize that he is her husband.

“One becomes silent on realizing the true nature of Brahman.

From Chapter 38

NARENDRA: “God is beyond words or thought.”

MASTER: “No, that is not true. He can be known by the pure buddhi, which is the same as the Pure Self. The seers of old directly perceived the Pure Self through their pure buddhi.”

Ever Perfect Souls

From Chapter 7

“It is said that there are four classes of human beings: the bound, those aspiring after liberation, the liberated, and the ever-perfect.

From Chapter 9

“There are two classes of perfect souls: those who attain perfection through spiritual practice, and those who attain it through the grace of God. Some farmers irrigate their fields with great labour. Only then can they grow crops. But there are some who do not have to irrigate at all; their fields are flooded by rain. They don’t have to go to the trouble of drawing water. One must practise spiritual discipline laboriously, in order to avoid the clutches of maya. Those who attain liberation through the grace of God do not have to labour. But they are few indeed.

“Then there is the class of the ever-perfect. They are born in each life with their spiritual consciousness already awakened. Think of a spring whose outlet is obstructed. While looking after various things in the garden, the plumber accidentally clears it and the water gushes out. Yet people are amazed to see the first manifestations of an ever-perfect soul’s zeal for God. They say, ‘Where was all this devotion and renunciation and love?'”

From Chapter 11

“All men are by no means on the same level. It is said that there are four classes of men: the bound, the struggling, the liberated, and the ever-free. It is also not a fact that all men have to practise spiritual discipline. There are the ever-free and those who achieve perfection through spiritual discipline. Some realize God after much spiritual austerity, and some are perfect from their very birth. Prahlada is an example of the ever-free.

From Chapter 13

While the Master was meditating in this fashion on the Divine Mother, a few devotees, coming in from the garden, gathered in his room. Sri Ramakrishna¬† sat down on the small couch. He said to the devotees: “Narendra, Bhavanath, Rakhal, and devotees like them belong to the group of the nityasiddhas; they are eternally free. Religious practice on their part is superfluous.

From Chapter 36

GIRISH: “Can one realize God by sadhana?”

MASTER: “People have realized God in various ways. Some through much austerity, worship, and devotion; they have attained perfection through their own efforts. Some are born perfect, as for example Narada and Sukadeva; they are called nityasiddha, eternally perfect. There are also those who have attained perfection all of a sudden; it is like a man’s unexpectedly coming into a great fortune. Again, there are instances of people’s realizing God in a dream and by divine grace.”

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 45

DOCTOR: “It is very hard to control the sense-organs. They are like restive horses, whose eyes must be covered with blinkers. In the case of some horses it is necessary to prevent them from seeing at all.”

MASTER: “A man need not fear anything if but once he receives the grace of God, if but once he obtains the vision of God, if but once he attains Self-Knowledge. Then the six passions cannot do him any harm.

“Eternally perfect souls like Narada and Prahlada did not have to take the trouble to put blinkers on their eyes. The child who holds his father’s hand, while walking along the narrow balk in the paddy-field, may loosen his hold in a moment of carelessness and slip into the ditch. But it is quite different if the father holds the child’s hand. Then the child never falls into the ditch.”

Intense Renunciation

From Chapter 20

(To Thakur Dada and the others) There are two kinds of renunciation: intense and feeble. Feeble renunciation is a slow process; one moves in a slow rhythm. Intense renunciation is like the sharp edge of a razor. It cuts the bondage of maya easily and at once.

“One farmer labours for days to bring water from the lake to his field. But his efforts are futile because he has no grit. Another farmer, after labouring for two or three days, takes a vow and says, ‘I will bring water into my field today, and not till then will I go home.’ He puts aside all thought of his bath or his meal. He labours the whole day and feels great joy when in the evening he finds water entering his field with a murmuring sound. Then he goes home and says to his wife: ‘Now give me some oil. I shall take my bath.’ After finishing his bath and his meal he lies down to sleep with a peaceful mind.

From Chapter 36

BRAHMIN: “Can a man realize God in one birth?”

MASTER: “Is anything impossible for the grace of God? Suppose you bring a light into a room that has been dark a thousand years; does it remove the darkness little by little? The room is lighted all at once. (To Atul) Intense renunciation is what is needed. One should be like an unsheathed sword. When a man has that renunciation, he looks on his relatives as black cobras and his home as a deep well.

“One should pray to God with sincere longing. God cannot but listen to prayer if it is sincere.”

All sat in silence, pondering Sri Ramakrishna’s words.

From Chapter 39

MASTER: “If you want to realize God, then you must cultivate intense dispassion. You must renounce immediately what you feel to be standing in your way. You should not put it off till the future. ‘Woman and gold’ is the obstruction. The mind must be withdrawn from it.

“One must not be slow and lazy. A man was going to bathe; he had his towel on his shoulder. His wife said to him: ‘You are worthless. You are getting old and still you cannot give up some of your habits. You cannot live a single day without me. But look at that man! What a renouncer he is!’

“HUSBAND: ‘Why? What has he done?’

“WIFE: ‘He has sixteen wives and he is renouncing them one by one. You will never be able to renounce.’

“HUSBAND: ‘Renouncing his wives one by one! You are crazy. He won’t be able to renounce. If a man wants to renounce, does he do it little by little?’

“WIFE (smiling): ‘Still he is better than you.’

“HUSBAND: ‘You are silly; you don’t understand. He cannot renounce. But I can. See! Here I go!’ ”

The Master continued: “That is called intense renunciation. No sooner did the man discriminate than he renounced. He went away with the towel on his shoulder. He didn’t turn back to settle his worldly affairs. He didn’t even look back at his home.

“He who wants to renounce needs great strength of mind. He must have a dare-devil attitude like a dacoit’s. Before looting a house, the dacoits shout: ‘Kill! Murder! Loot!’

“Cultivate devotion and love of God and so pass your days. What else can you do? When Krishna went away, Yasoda became insane with grief and visited Radha. Radha was moved by her sorrow and appeared before her as Adyasakti. She said, ‘My child, ask a boon of Me.’ Yasoda replied: ‘Mother, what else shall I ask of You? Bless me that I may serve Krishna alone with my body, mind, and speech; that I may behold His devotees with these eyes; that I may go with these feet to the place where His divine sport is manifested; that I may serve Him and His devotees with these hands; and that I may devote all my sense-organs to His service alone.’ ”

From Chapter 49

MASTER: “Well can you tell me what is happening to these youngsters? Some are running off to Puri, and some to Gangasagar. All have renounced their homes. Look at Narendra! When a man is seized with the spirit of intense renunciation, he regards the world as a deep well and his relatives as venomous cobras.”

M: “Yes, sir. Life in the world is full of suffering.”

MASTER: “Yes, it is the suffering of hell-and that from the very moment of birth! Don’t you see what a trouble one’s wife and children are?”

M: “Yes, sir. You yourself said: ‘These youngsters have no relationship whatsoever with the world. They owe nothing to the world, nor do they expect anything from it. It is the sense of obligation that entangles a man in the world.’ “


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