15) THE MASTER’S SADHANA OF THE VEDANTA
Perfected in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, the Master now reached the zenith of the Sadhana of all the devotional moods. But before recording the history of his extraordinary spiritual striving henceforth it is good to study once his mental state at that time.
1. The study of the Master’s state of mind during this time:
(1) his complete renunciation of lust and gold
If an aspirant wants to be successful in the discipline of any one of the devotional moods, he will, we have seen, have to do it by shunning sights, tastes, and other worldly objects of enjoyment. The saying of the perfected devotee Tulsidas, viz., “There is no selfish action where Rama is”1, is really true. The history of the extraordinary striving of the Master bears out this fact. He had stood on the solid basis of the renunciation of lust and gold before he began practising the devotional moods. He could master in a short period whatever mood he practised at any time, only because he never deviated in the least from that basis. Therefore, we are to keep it clear before our mind that he was now incessantly dwelling in a region far beyond the bounds of the temptation of lust and gold.
(2) the discrimination between the real and the unreal; the dispassion for the results of action in this world and the next
As he was incessantly making efforts for God-realization for a period of nine years by renouncing the desire for the enjoyment of worldly objects, his mind now reached, through continual contemplation, such a state that the memory of anything, except God, appeared to it to be poison, As he understood and manifested in body, mind and speech, that the reality of God was the essence of essences and the ultimate of all ultimates, he was absolutely indifferent to and free from any desire for the attainment here or hereafter of any object except God.
(3) the six treasures of Sama, Dama, etc., and the intense desire for liberation
Forgetting all worldly things and the pains and pleasures of his body, he was now so much accustomed to the one-pointed meditation on his chosen Ideal that his mind would in a moment be withdrawn from external objects, get concentrated on It and enjoy the divine bliss. Days, months and years rolled on in that way, yet his bliss, the divine enjoyment, would not leave him even for a moment, nor could he ever lead himself to believe that there was anything but God in the world to be desired for. ‘
and (4) the dependence on God and the fearlessness arising from his visions of the divine Mother
And having unlimited devotion, faith and dependence on the universal Mother, the ultimate cause, as “the goal, the supporter, the lord, the witness, the abode, the refuge and the friend,”1the Master had not only bound himself to Her in eternal loving relations, but also accustomed himself thoroughly to perform without fear all actions of his life, big and small, at the command and hint of the divine Mother. For, he had had various proofs of the fact that, on account of absolute childlike dependence on the divine Mother, the aspirant sees Her always beside him, feels blessed in always hearing Her sweet words and protected by Her strong arms, and is enabled to tread fearlessly the path of the world.
2. What the Master said about his doing Sadhana even after the realization of God
Why did the Master, it may be asked, engage himself in discipline even after thus knowing the Cause of the universe as his own Mother and always seeing Her beside him? What was discipline for, when one realized that She was more than one’s own – She, for whose realization all discipline, meditation, austerity, etc., on the part of an aspirant were needed? Although we discussed this question before from one point of view, we shall now say a few words on it from another. Sitting at the holy feet of the Master and listening to the history of his striving, one day we had that doubt in our mind and we did not hesitate to express it to him We shall now describe here what he told us in reply. “Look here,” said the Master, “just as one who always lives on the sea coast sometimes feels a desire to see what a variety and number of precious things lie hidden at the bottom of the ocean, which is said to be the mine of all gems, so also, although I realized Her and remained always beside Her, I felt a desire to enjoy the Mother, who is of innumerable forms and is the embodiment of endless relations, in as many forms and relations as She would be pleased to show me. Therefore, whenever I desired to see or enjoy Her in any particular form or relation, I persisted in praying importunately to Her to reveal Herself to me in that form or relation. The compassionate Mother on Her part made me personally do whatever was necessary and supplied me everything required and revealed Herself to me in that form and in that relation. It was thus that all the various disciplines were performed.”
Perfected in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, the Master, as we have seen, reached the ultimate plane of the Sadhanas of the devotional moods, when he felt the urge to perform the discipline of the non-dual mood which is beyond all moods and is well known in the Vedanta. We shall now begin to tell the reader how that urge came to the Master at the instance of the divine Mother and how he now realized Her formless, attributeless nature which is the Turiya state, the Absolute.
3. The Master’s mother decided to live on the Ganga and came to Dakshineswar
The Master’s aged mother was living at the Dakshineswar Kali temple when he began practising the non-dual mood. At the passing away of her eldest son Ramkumar, the bereaved old lady consoled herself with difficulty, looking endearingly on her other two sons. But, soon after, when it was rumoured that her dearest and youngest son Gadadhar had turned mad, her sorrow and grief knew no bounds. She had her son brought home and when his condition improved a little, through various kinds of treatment and performance of propitiatory rites, hope came to her again and the old lady had him married. But when Gadadhar returned to Dakshineswar after his marriage and his former state seized him again, the old lady could no longer control herself. Praying for the recovery of her son, she went first to the Siva temple in her own village and, afterwards, to the old temple of Siva at
Mukundapur and undertook a fast unto death. When the great God, Mahadeva, told her in a vision that her son was in divine inebriation, she was reassured a little. Nevertheless, the world lost all its attraction to her and she came to her son at Dakshineswar shortly afterwards, determined to spend the rest of her life on the bank of the Ganga. For, what purpose would it serve her, she thought, to remain attached to the world in that old age when those for whom and with whom she was in the world were one by one leaving her and the world behind? We have already told the reader of Mathur’s gift of the “mountain of food”. Resolved to pass the rest of her life at Dakshineswar on the Ganga, the Master’s mother, we infer, came to the Kali temple during that time. That resolve of the old lady was fulfilled and from that time she never returned to Kamarpukur but spent the remaining twelve years of her life near the temple, and passed away. Therefore there is no doubt that it was during his mother’s stay at Dakshineswar, the Master was initiated into the Mantra of Rama by Jatadhari, received the image of Ramalala from him, and practised the moods of Vatsalya, Madhura, and the Vedanta, etc.
4. The Master’s mother was untouched by avarice
We should like to tell the reader an event showing the complete lack of avarice on the part of the Master’s mother. That event took place shortly after she came to Dakshineswar. Mathur, we have said above, was in full charge of the management of the Kali temple at that time when he performed various acts of merit and was freely distributing a huge quantity of food. As there was no limit to his love, regard and reverence for the Master, he was always endeavouring to make some arrangements for the efficient continuance of the services to the Master even after his passing away. But he never ventured to speak it out on account of the glowing renunciation he saw in the Master. One day, he was landed in a great difficulty, when, to know the Master’s mind he was consulting Hriday within his hearing about transferring an estate to him; for, as soon as a little of the talk reached his ears, the Master ran like one mad to beat him, saying, “Ah, you wretch, you want to make a worldly man of me!” But this idea never left Mathur; it was always burning in his mind. However, he found no opportunity to fulfil that desire of his. Thinking that such an opportunity was now afforded him on the arrival of the Master’s mother, Mathur began endearing himself to her by calling her granny. He then started visiting her every day, spent some time in talking with her on various matters and soon became her great favourite. Later, one day, finding an opportune moment, he made an importunate request to her thus, “Granny, you have never taken any service from me. If you really consider me to be your own, please ask for anything you want”. The simple-hearted old lady was in a great fix, for, even after a good deal of thinking she could not make out what she needed. In this predicament, she had to say, “My child, God bless you; through your affectionate care, I lack nothing at present. When I require anything, I’ll ask you for it”. So saying, the old lady opened her portmanteau and said to Mathur, “Look here, I have so many clothes and through your loving care I have no trouble about food and drink. You have arranged and are arranging everything; what then shall I ask you for?” But Mathur was not a person to drop the matter so easily. He repeatedly requested her saying, “Please ask for something.” After a good deal of thinking, the Master’s mother hit upon something she had need of. She said, “If you must give me something, please buy an anna worth of tobacco leaf, for I want tobacco ashes for my teeth.” The worldly Mathur’s eyes became wet, he saluted her and said, “Can any mother other than you give birth to such a self-denying son?” Saying so, he had the tobacco leaves purchased for her.
5. Haladhari gave up worshipping in the Kali temple; Akshay came
During the time of the Master’s practising the Vedantic discipline, his paternal cousin Haladhari was in the service of Radha-Govinda at the Dakshineswar temple. He was senior to the Master in age and had some grasp of scriptures like the Bhagavata. He felt proud on that account. We have told the reader how he ridiculed the Master and said that his spiritual visions and states were due to the derangement of his brain; how, pained at it, the Master would run up to the divine Mother for consultation and how he was again and again consoled by Her, and how on one such occasion Haladhari used those words of ridicule, which sent the Master into ecstasy, during which he had the vision of a beautiful figure who instructed him to “remain in Bhavamukha”. These events, we infer, came to pass shortly before he began practising the Vedantic discipline. Seeing the Master wear clothes, ornaments, etc., meant for ladies and live in the mood of a woman at the time of practising the Madhura Bhava, Haladhari concluded that he was devoid of Self-Knowledge. When Tota Puri, the itinerant Paramahamsa, came to Dakshineswar and lived there, Haladhari, we have heard from the Master himself, was living at the Kali temple and used to have discussion on the scriptures with him from time to time. One day when Tota and Haladhari were thus discussing the Adhyatma-Ramayana the Master had the vision of Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana. Tota came to Dakshineswar probably by the end of 1865. A few months after it, Haladhari retired from service as the worshipper of the Mother, owing to ill-health and other reasons, and Akshay, Ramkumar’s son and the Master’s nephew, was appointed in his place.
6. The reason that led the Master to practise the non-dual mood after he had attained perfection in Bhavasamadhi
It is the nature of a devotee that he never tries to realize the states of liberation, viz., Sayujya, identification with the divine Lord, and Nirvana, the bodilessness. He always tries to enjoy the glory of the various forms and noble qualities of God with the help of particular devotional moods. The saying of Ramprasad, the devotee of the Devi, “I don’t like to become sugar, but want to taste it,” is well known as the natural outburst of the heart-felt emotion of the devotees. Therefore, the Master’s effort to attain the non-dual state of consciousness beyond all devotional moods may appear to be unnatural to many. But, we should remember before we think thus that the Master was not now capable of taking the initiative in doing anything. The child of the divine Mother that the Master was, he now depended entirely and placed full reliance upon Her and felt highly delighted in being moved about and guided by Her any way at any time. The divine Mother, for Her part, took upon ‘Herself all his responsibilities and, with a view to accomplishing a particular purpose of Hers, cast him, without his knowledge, into quite a new mould. By the decree of the universal Mother, the Master came to know that particular purpose of his life at the end of all his Sadhanas. And it was because of this knowledge that he bore with delight the great responsibility of doing good to humanity, thus thrust upon him by the divine Mother with whom he was fully one in love and for whose sake he kept himself just a little separate from Her.
7. The rationale of his effort to attain the non-dual mood at the end of his Sadhana of the devotional moods
From another standpoint also, the rationale of his practice of the non-dual mood, after his perfection in the discipline of the Madhura Bhava, is clearly brought out. The relation of the realm of devotional moods to that beyond them is one of effect to the cause. For, the immense bliss of the realm of non-duality, beyond the loving moods, limits itself and then manifests itself as the enjoyment of the bliss of the sight, touch, etc., of the realm of those moods. Where, then, except to the plane of nonduality, could his mind go, when he had reached the ultimate limit of the Madhura Bhava, which is the final stage of the realm of devotional moods?
Although the above argument is quite reasonable, the following event proves, however, that the Master launched on the practice of the non-dual mood only on the hint of the divine Mother.
8. Sri Tota puri arrived at Dakshineswar
Desirous of bathing in the confluence of the sea and Ganga, and of having the vision of Sri Jagannath at Puri, the itinerant teacher Tota came, wandering at will, from Central India to Bengal. He was merged in spiritual practices on the holy river Narmada, where he lived alone for a very long time and attained the immediate knowledge of Brahman along the path of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The old monks of that place bear witness to this fact even now. When he realized Brahman in this way, a desire to wander at will arose in his mind and under the impulse of that urge, he now came to Eastern India and travelled from one place of pilgrimage to another. Content in themselves, the knowers of Brahman see the whole universe at all times other than that of Samadhi, as Only Brahman, as the manifestations through Maya of Brahman, and go on visiting temples, holy men and places of pilgrimage experiencing Brahman in them. Similarly, Tota, a knower of Brahman, began visiting the deities and holy places. He came to Dakshineswar on his way Backto the north-western parts of this country after visiting the two places of pilgrimage mentioned above. It was not customary with him to spend more than three days in one place. He, therefore, came to the Kali temple to spend there three days only. He did not at first understand that, by Her inscrutable sport, the Mother of the universe brought him there in order to complete his own knowledge and to make Her own child practise Vedantic discipline with his help.
9. The Master and Tota Puri greeted each other. The Master had the divine instruction to practise Vedanta
Arriving at the Kali temple, Tota Puri came first of all to the big open portico of the Ghat. Wearing one piece of cloth only like all others, the Master was then absent-mindedly seated in a corner. As soon as Tota’s eyes fell on the Masters face, radiant with austerity and beaming with the surge of devotion, he was attracted towards him and felt in his heart of hearts that he was not an ordinary person and that there were few who were so very fit for Vedantic Sadhana. Filled with curiosity and astonishment, Tota stepped forward and came up to the Master, thinking, “Ah, can there be such a fit aspirant for Vedantic discipline in Bengal which is saturated with Tantric practices?” Observing him carefully, he asked the Master of his own accord, “You seem to be well qualified; do you like to practise Vedantic discipline?” The Master said in answer to the tall, naked mendicant with matted hair “I know nothing of what I should do or not; my Mother knows everything; I shall do as She commands.” Tota replied, “Then go, ask your mother and come back; for I’ll not stay here long.”
Without saying anything in reply, the Master went slowly to the divine Mother’s temple. He was in ecstasy there when he heard Her words of advice, “Go and learn; it is in order to teach you that the monk is come here.”
10. Tota’s conception of the Mother of the universe
In a divine state of semi-consciousness, the Master then came to Tota, with his face beaming with joy and informed him of his Mother’s instruction. Knowing that She whom the Master called Mother, was the image of the Devi installed in the temple, Tota, though charmed with his childlike simplicity, thought that the attitude of his mind was due to ignorance and superstition. We may well infer that there appeared now a smile of pity and derision in the corners of Tota’s lips. For, his keen intellect did not have any great regard for the deities except the Isvara spoken of in the Vedanta as the distributor of the results of action, nor would he admit that for an aspirant with self-control, and given to the meditation of Brahman, the devotion to and worship of such an Isvara, apart from a mere faith in His existence, would answer all his needs. If this was his conception of Isvara, we can well guess his idea about Maya, the power of Brahman, consisting of the three Gunas. That is why the learned monk looked upon Her as but a delusion and did not feel any necessity for admitting the existence of Her personality, far less for worshipping or propitiating Her. He felt in his heart of hearts that the aspirant’s personal effort alone was what was necessary to liberate himself from the bondage of ignorance, and there was not the least utility in prayer for the benign grace of Brahman united with Its power, otherwise called Isvara. Consequently, he considered such persons as offer prayers, to be labouring under the influence of impressions born of ignorance.
11. The Master wanted to be initiated into Sannyasa secretly, – its reason
He, however, did not say anything about it to the Master and introduced other topics, thinking that the above-mentioned impressions of the Master’s mind would very soon vanish when, initiated by him, he would begin practising the discipline of the path of knowledge. He said that the Master would have to give up his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head before the scriptural initiation into Sannyasa. The Master hesitated a little and said that he had not the least objection if it could be done secretly. But he would by no means be able to do it publicly, as it would deal a terrible blow to the heart of his old grief-stricken mother. The itinerant teacher understood the reason why the Master wanted to be initiated secretly and said, “Very well, I will initiate you in private when the auspicious moment comes”. Then with a view to spending a few days in a suitable place he came to the beautiful Panchavati situated in the north of the temple garden and spread his seat there.
12. Rites preliminary to the initiation into Sannyasa were performed
Later, when the auspicious day arrived, Tota asked the Master to perform the Sraddha and other ceremonies for the satisfaction of his forefathers and when those rites were finished, Tota made him offer Pinda according to scriptural injunctions for the satisfaction of his own soul. For, from the time of being initiated into Sannyasa, the aspirant totally renounces the hope of and the right to the attainment of any of the worlds such as Bhur, Bhuva, etc. That is why the scriptures enjoin his offering Pinda to himself.
The Master offered himself without reserve to each one of those whom he ever accepted as his spiritual teachers and did their bidding with unlimited faith. Therefore, it is needless to say that he followed to the letter what Tota now asked him to do. He performed the Sraddha and other preliminary rites, kept the necessary fast, collected the articles according to the instruction of his teacher in the Sadhan-Kutir at the Panchavati and waited for the arrival of the auspicious moment.
When about two hours before day-break, the auspicious moment, the Brahma-muhurta, arrived, the Guru and the disciple met in the hut. The preliminaries finished, the Homa-fire was lighted. And the forest and gardens round the Panchavati reverberated the holy profound sound of the Mantras pronounced before taking the vow of utter renunciation for the sake of God – the vow that has come down in an unbroken line from the Guru to the disciple from the beginning of time till today and has kept India well-established in the position of a knower of Brahman. The delicate, affectionate bosom of the Bhagirathi of holy waters vibrating with the delightful touch of that sound felt an extraordinary infusion of a new life. She flowed dancing with joy, bearing as it were, through her murmurs to all quarters the gospel that, after the lapse of ages, a true Sadhaka of India was once more undertaking the vow of total renunciation for the good of the many of this country and of the world at large. The Guru was now ready to recite the Mantras and the disciple to repeat them carefully and to offer oblations to the lighted fire. The prayer-mantras were first uttered:
13. Prayer-mantras preliminary to the Sannyasa initiation
“May the truth of the supreme Brahman reach me. May the Reality having the characteristic of supreme bliss reach me. May the indivisible, homogeneous, sweet reality of Brahman manifest itself in me. O supreme Self, who art eternally co-existent with Thy power of revealing the Brahman-consciousness of all Thy children – Devas, human beings and others – I, Thy child and servant, am an especial object of Thy compassion. O great Lord, the destroyer of the evil dream of the worlds, destroy all my evil dreams, the perceptions of duality. O supreme Self, I offer as oblations my vital forces and, controlling my senses, I set my mind on Thee alone. O shining One, who directest every being, remove from me all blemishes that are obstacles to right knowledge and ordain so that the knowledge of Reality, free from absurdities and contraries, may arise in me. May all the things of the world – the sun, the air, the cool, pure water of rivers, grains like barley, wheat etc., trees etc., ordained by Thee, illumine and help me to attain the knowledge of Truth. Thou art manifested, in the world, O Brahman, as various forms with especial potency. I offer oblation to Thee who art fire, with a view to achieving, through the purity of body and mind, the capacity to retain the knowledge of Reality. Be gracious.”1
14. The purport of the Mantra of the Viraja Homa performed before initiation
Then began the Viraja Homa: ” May the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether, in me be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
May the vital airs, Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vfana in me, be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
May the five sheaths, gross body, vital air, mind, intellect and bliss be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
May the impressions produced in me by the objects, sound, touch, sight, taste, and smell be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
May my mind, speech, body, actions, be purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
O person of red eyes, who dwellest in the body of fire and art capable of destroying the obstacles to the attainment of knowledge, do thou wake up; O fulfiller of desires, ordain that all obstacles to my attainment of knowledge be destroyed and the knowledge heard from the mouth of the Guru may perfectly arise in my mind; may everything that is in me be completely purified. Freed from the blemishes produced by Rajoguna, by virtue of offering oblation, may I attain the nature of the Light of consciousness Itself – Swaha.
A reflection of consciousness, I, who am of the nature of Brahman Itself, offer as oblation to fire all my desire of having wife, son, wealth, respect from people, beautiful body and so on, and renounce them all – Swaha.”
15. The Master gave up his sacred thread and tuft of hair on his head and was initiated into Sannyasa
Many oblations were thus offered and the Homa was brought to an end by the disciple saying, “I give up from this moment the desire of attaining the Bhur and all other worlds; I assure all beings of the universe of freedom from fear on account of me.” He then offered as oblation his sacred thread and the tuft of hair on his head, according to scriptural injunctions, and putting on a pair of Kaupinas and ochre cloth1given by the Guru according to the custom followed by successive generations of Sadhakas from the beginning of time, he sat beside Tota to receive instruction from him
16. Tota urged the Master to remain identified with Brahman Itself
Tota, a knower of Brahman, now encouraged the Master to have recourse to the means of “Not this”, “Not this”, well known in the Vedanta and remain identified with Brahman Itself. He said to the Master:
“Brahman, the one substance which alone is eternally pure, eternally awakened, unlimited by time, space and causation, is absolutely real. Through Maya, which makes the impossible possible, It causes, by virtue of its influence, to seem that It is divided into names and forms. Brahman is never really so divided. For, at the time of Samadhi, not even an iota, so to say, of time and space, and name and form produced by Maya is perceived. Whatever, therefore, is within the bounds of name and form can never be absolutely real. Shun it by a good distance. Break the firm cage of name and form with the overpowering strength of a lion and come out of it. Dive deep into the reality of the Self existing in yourself. Be one with It with the help of Samadhi. You will then see the universe consisting of name and form, vanish, as it were, into the void; you will see the consciousness of the little I merge in that of the immense I, where it ceases to function; and you will have the immediate knowledge of the indivisible Existence-Knowledge-Bliss as yourself: “The consciousness, with the help of which a person sees another, knows another, or hears another, is little or limited. Whatever is limited is worthless; for the supreme bliss is not there. But the knowledge, established in which a person becomes devoid of the consciousness of seeing another, knowing another, and hearing another is the immense or the unlimited one. With the help of that knowledge, one gets identified with the supreme bliss. What mind or intellect is able to know that which exists as the Knower in the hearts of all?”1
17. Tota’s behaviour at the Master’s failure to make his mind free from all functions. The Master’s attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Tota tried to make the Master attain Samadhi on that day with the help of various arguments and conclusive quotations from the scriptures. The Master said to us that Tota girt up his loins, as it were, to make the experiences gained by him from his lifelong Sadhana, enter into the Master’s mind on that occasion and to put him immediately into the non-dual plane of consciousness. “After initiating me”, said the Master, “the naked one taught me many dicta conveying the conclusion of the Vedanta, and asked me to make my mind free of function in all respects and merge in the meditation of the Self. But, it so happened with me that when I sat for meditation I could by no means make my mind go beyond the bounds of name and form and cease functioning. The mind withdrew itself easily from all other things but, as soon as it did so, the intimately familiar form of the universal Mother, consisting of the effulgence of pure consciousness, appeared before it as living and moving and made me quite oblivious of the renunciation of names and forms of all descriptions. When I listened to the conclusive dicta and sat for meditation, this happened over and over again. Almost despairing of the attainment of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, I then opened my eyes and said to the naked one, ‘No, it cannot be done; I cannot make the mind free from functioning and force it to dive into the Self’. Scolding me severely, the naked one said very excitedly, ‘What, it can’t be done!’ What utter defiance! He then looked about in the hut and finding a broken piece of glass took it in his hand and forcibly pierced with its needle-like pointed end on my forehead between the eye-brows and said; ‘Collect the mind here to this point’. With a firm determination I sat for meditation again and, as soon as the holy form of the divine Mother appeared now before the mind as previously, I looked upon knowledge as a sword and cut it mentally in two with that sword of knowledge. There remained then no function in the mind, which transcended quickly the realm of names and forms, making me merge in Samadhi.”
18. Tota examined whether the Master really attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi. His surprise
Tota remained sitting for a long time beside the Master who entered into Samadhi in the manner men tioned above. Then coming out of the hut silen tly, he locked the door up lest some one should enter the hut without his knowledge and disturb him He took his seat under the Panchavati, not far from the hut and was awaiting the Master’s call to open the door.
The day passed into night. Slowly and calmly days rolled on. At the end of three days, when Tota did not still hear the Master’s call, he was filled with curiosity and astonishment and left his seat to open the door. With a view to knowing the condition of his disciple, he entered the hut and saw that the Master was sitting in the same posture in which he had left him and that there was not the slightest function of the vital force in his body, but his face was calm and serene and full of effulgence. He understood that the disciple was completely dead to the external world and that his mind, merged in Brahman, was calm and motionless like an unflickering lamp in a windless place.
Being versed in the mystery of Samadhi, Tota became astounded and thought, “Is this indeed true, that I see enacted before me? Has this great soul actually realized in a day what I could experience only as the fruit of forty years of austere Sadhana?” Filled with doubt, Tota applied his mind to the examination of the state of the Master and scrutinized minutely all the signs manifested in the disciple’s body. He examined especially whether his heart was beating and whether the slightest breath was coming out of his nostrils. He touched repeatedly the disciple’s body which was in a steady posture, like a piece of wood, firm and fixed. But, there was no sign of any change or modification, nor was there any return of normal consciousness. Beside himself with joy and astonishment, Tota cried out, “Is it divine Maya? Is it in truth Samadhi? Is it the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the ultimate result attained through the path of knowledge spoken of in the Vedanta? Ah, how very strange is the Maya of the Divine!”
19. Tota tried to bring the Master down from Samadhi
Tota then undertook the process of bringing the disciple Backto the consciousness of the external world. Profound sounds of the Mantra, “Hari Aum”, filled the land, water and sky of the Panchavati.
We have described in another place,1how, attracted by the love of his disciple and desirous of making him firmly established in the Nirvikalpa plane of consciousness, Sri Tota spent here day after day and month after month and how, with the help of the Master, he had his own spiritual life made complete in all respects. We refrain, therefore, from repeating all that here.
Having lived continuously at Dakshineswar for eleven months, Tota started for the north-western parts of the country. There arose immediately after this event a strong determination in the Master’s mind to remain incessantly thenceforward in the non-dual plane of consciousness. We have told the reader elsewhere,2how he carried into practice that resolve, how he could remain continually for six months in that high plane of non-duality where even Adhikarika persons, who are only a little less than the incarnations of God, cannot dwell for a long time, not to speak of the ordinary Sadhakas, the Jivakotis; and how, at that time, a monk arrived at the Kali temple, and coming to know that humanity would be greatly benefited through the Master in the future, lived there for six months taking care of his body and saved his life by various means.
20. The Master cured Jagadamba Dasi of a fatal disease
We shall now mention a special event that happened in Mathur Babu’s life by the grace of the Master at that time and bring this chapter to an end. Mathur’s devotion to and faith in the Master had already increased enormously as a result of his seeing various wonderful divine powers manifested in him. An event of this time confirmed and stabilised that devotion of his, making Mathur take absolute refuge in the Master for his entire life.
Mathur’s second wife, Srimati Jagadamba Dasi, had an attack of dysentery. The disease gradually worsened so much that the well-known doctors and physicians of Calcutta at first felt anxious for her life and then gave up all hope.
Mathur, though born poor, was, we were told by the Master, exceedingly good-looking and it was because of this that Rani Rasmani gave her third daughter Karunamayi in marriage to him and, after her death, the youngest, Jagadamba Dasi. Therefore, immediately after his marriage, a profound change took place in his circumstances and within a short time he rose to be the right-hand man of his mother-in-law on account of his address and intelligence. We have already narrated how, after the death of Rani Rasmani, he acquired in a way the sole authority for the management of the Rani’s property.
Not only was Mathur now going to lose his dearest wife Jagadamba Dasi, but he was on the point of being simultaneously deprived of the said authority over the management of his mother-in-law’s property. It is, therefore, needless to say much about his mental condition when the doctors gave up the case as hopeless. He became extremely anxious and came to Dakshineswar and, after saluting the Mother of the Universe, went to the Panchavati in search of the Master. Seeing him in that bewildered condition, the Master asked him very affectionately to sit by him and made enquiries about its cause. Mathur fell at his feet, and with a choked voice, informed him everything with tears in his eyes, piteously saying again and again, “The worst is about to happen but, that apart, what grieves me most, father, is that I am going to be deprived of the privilege of serving you.”
Filled with compassion on seeing the miserable plight of Mathur, the Master entered into ecstasy and said to him, “Don’t be afraid, your wife will come round.” The devout Mathur knew the Master as God Himself and so, at the Master’s assurance, he was, as it were, brought Backto life and took leave of him that day. On his return to Janbazar he found that there was a sudden change for the better in the condition of the patient. “Jagadamba Dasi,” said the Master, “was gradually coming round from that day and her sufferings from that disease had to be borne by this body (showing his own). As the consequence of bringing round Jagadamba Dasi, I had to suffer from dysentery and other diseases for six months.”
Speaking of the wonderful loving service of Mathur to him, one day the Master referred to the aforesaid event and said to us, “Was it for nothing that Mathur served me for fourteen years? The divine Mother showed him various wonderful powers through (showing his own body) this. That is why he served so devotedly.”
1. There is no selfish action, where Rama is, and there is no Rama, where selfish action is. Like the sun and the night, the two do not co-exist – Tulsidas.
1. Gita, IX, 18
1. The purport of the Trisuparna-mantra.
1. Some among us say that Tota Puri gave the name “Ramakrishna” to the Master when he initiated him into Sannyasa. Others say that Mathuranath, who was a great devotee of the Master and served him whole-heartedly, called him first by that name. The first opinion seems to us to be reasonable.
1. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, 2. 4. 14.
8 III I