Sri Ramakrishna Teachings for Householders
A Devotee : "I find it is extremely difficult for a
householder to realize God. How few people can lead the life you prescribe
for them! I haven't found any."
Sri Ramakrishna : "Why should that be so? I have heard of a deputy
magistrate named Pratap Singh. He is a great man. He has many virtues:
compassion and devotion to God. He meditates on God. Once he sent for me.
Certainly there are people like him.
"The practice of discipline is absolutely necessary. Why shouldn't a man
succeed if he practises sadhana? But he doesn't have to work hard if he has
real faith — faith in his guru's words. Once Vyasa was about to cross the
Jamuna, when the gopis also arrived there, wishing to go to the other side.
But no ferry-boat was in sight. They said to Vyasa, 'Revered sir, what shall
we do now?' 'Don't worry', said Vyasa. 'I will take you across. But I am
very hungry. Have you anything for me to eat?' The gopis had plenty of milk,
cream, and butter with them. Vyasa ate it all.
Then the gopis asked, 'Well, sir, what about crossing the river?' Vyasa
stood on the bank of the Jamuna and said, 'O Jamuna, if I have not eaten
anything today, then may your waters part so that we may all walk to the
other side.' No sooner did the sage utter these words than the waters of the
Jamuna parted. The gopis were speechless with wonder. 'He ate so much just
now,' they said to themselves, 'and he says, "If I have not eaten anything .
. ." ! ' Vyasa had the firm conviction that it was not himself, but the
Narayana who dwelt in his heart, that had partaken of the food.
"Sankaracharya was a Brahmajnani, to be sure. But at the beginning he too
had the feeling of differentiation. He didn't have absolute faith that
everything in the world is Brahman. One day as he was coming out of the
Ganges after his bath, he saw an untouchable, a butcher, carrying a load of
meat. Inadvertently the butcher touched his body. Sankara shouted angrily,
'Hey there! How dare you touch me?' 'Revered sir,' said the butcher, 'I have
not touched you, nor have you touched me. The Pure Self cannot be the body
nor the five elements nor the twenty-four cosmic principles.' Then Sankara
came to his senses. Once Jadabharata was carrying King Rahugana's palanquin
and at the same time giving a discourse on Self-Knowledge. The king got down
from the palanquin and said to Jadabharata, 'Who are you, pray?' The latter
answered, 'I am Not this, not this — I am the Pure Self.' He had perfect
faith that he was the Pure Self.
"'I am He', 'I am the Pure Self' — that is the conclusion of the jnanis. But
the bhaktas say, 'The whole universe is the glory of God.' Who would
recognize a wealthy man without his power and riches? But it is quite
different when God Himself, gratified by the aspirant's devotion, says to
him, 'You are the same as Myself.' Suppose a king is seated in his court,
and his cook enters the hall, sits on the throne, and says, 'O King, you and
I are the same!' People will certainly call him a madman. But suppose one
day the king, pleased with the cook's service, says to him: 'Come, sit
beside me. There is nothing wrong in that. There is no difference between
you and me.' Then, if the cook sits on the throne with the king, there is no
harm in it. It is not good for ordinary people to say, 'I am He'. The waves
belong to the water. Does the water belong to the waves?
"The upshot of the whole thing is that, no matter what path you follow, yoga
is impossible unless the mind becomes quiet. The mind of a yogi is under his
control; he is not under the control of his mind. When the mind is quiet the
prana stops functioning. Then one gets kumbhaka. One may have the same
kumbhaka through bhaktiyoga as well: the prana stops functioning through
love of God too. In the kirtan the musician sings, 'Nitai amar mata hati!'
("My Nitai dances like a mad elephant!") Repeating this, he goes into a
spiritual mood and cannot sing the whole sentence. He simply sings, 'Hati!
Hati!' When the mood deepens he sings only, 'Ha! Ha!' Thus his prana stops
through ecstasy, and kumbhaka follows.
"Suppose a man is sweeping a courtyard with his broom, and another man comes
and says to him: 'Hello! So-and-so is no more. He is dead.' Now, if the dead
person was not related to the sweeper, the latter goes on with his work,
remarking casually: 'Ah! That's too bad. He is dead. He was a good fellow.'
The sweeping goes on all the same. But if the dead man was his relative,
then the broom drops from his hand. 'Ah!' he exclaims, and he too drops to
the ground. His prana has stopped functioning. He can neither work nor
think. Haven't you noticed, among women, that if one of them looks at
something or listens to something in speechless amazement, the other women
say to her, 'What? Are you in ecstasy?' In this instance, too, the prana has
stopped functioning, and so she remains speechless, with mouth agape.
"It will not do merely to repeat, 'I am He, I am He.' There are certain
signs of a jnani. Narendra has big protruding eyes. (Pointing to a devotee)
He also has good eyes and forehead.
"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.
"Eternally perfect sages like Prahlada also practise meditation and prayer.
But they have realized the fruit, God-vision, even before their spiritual
practice. They are like gourds and pumpkins, which grow fruit first and then