14) THE MASTER’S SADHANA OF THE MADHURA BHAVA
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.1It 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.1When 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 Katha1or 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