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Some Glimpses of Ramakrishna-Part IV
Courtesy: The Vedanta Kesary, English monthly from R K Math, Chennai
Continued From The Third Part
The Master at Dakshineswar
We have elaborately written about the Dakshineswar temple garden elsewhere. Here we present some additional information so that the reader can more clearly visualize and feel the spiritual atmosphere that Ramakrishna created there more than 125 years ago.
Ramakrishna's room has 4 doors and 3 windows, and is located in one of the nicest spots of the temple complex. The room is 21 feet from east to west, and 19 feet from north to south. A statue of Buddha and the following pictures which Ramakrishna collected are still in his room:
1) Gopala and Radha;
5) Ramachandra with Sita, Lakshman, Vibhishan, and Hanu-man;
6) Goddess Kali of Kalighat;
7) Buddha (a picture);
8 ) Buddha (an image);
9) Gauranga and Nityananda with their followers;
10) Goddess Tara;
11) Brahma; 12) Vishnu;
13) Goddess Gayatri;
16) Ramachandra with Guhaka;
17) Ramachandra and Krishna merged into one form.
The Master would often pace back and forth on the bank of the Ganges at night.
Sri Ramakrishna had two cots, one for sleeping and the other for sitting. Both are still there as they were during his time. There are two bricks underneath each leg of the sleeping cot and one brick underneath each leg of the sitting cot. In his day there was no furniture in his room except a stool and a cabinet for keeping sweets and fruits.
Once a day a maid or a devotee would sweep his room and clean it with water, and the bricks under the cots would keep the wooden legs from getting wet. In the evening Brinde would light the oil lamp, burn incense powder (dhuna), and close the doors and windows
so that the mosquitoes could not get in. During his first visit, M. saw the Master seated alone on his cot in the evening.
The Master would often pace back and forth on the bank of the Ganges at night. Sometimes he would watch it from the semicircular veranda on the western side of his room. He had tremendous faith in the purifying power of Ganges water, which he considered the liquid form of Brahman (Ganga vari Brahma vari). He told his disciples to sip Ganges water if they had any impure thoughts. He asked Girish, his bohemian devotee, to take a bath in the Ganges.
The Master would go to the pine grove, in the northwest corner of the garden, to answer the call of nature. Every morning he would brush his teeth with a twig and also scrape his tongue. He would wash his clothes in the goose pond, east of the Panchavati.
The Master received 6 dhotis (clothes) from the temple authorities every year. He had 2 dhotis for his everyday use. The devotees would supply him with his shirts. One set of clothes—a dhoti and shirt—he kept reserved for his Calcutta visits.
Sri Ramakrishna's weight and height were not officially recorded. Swami Nirvana-nanda, Vice-President (1966-1984) of the Ramakrishna Order, however, in providing guidance to a sculptor who was preparing a marble image of Sri Ramakrishna installed in May 1951 at Ramakrishna's birthplace in Kamarpukur, calculated that the Master was 5 feet 9 1/4 inches tall. The swami made this calculation on the basis of the length of a coat of Sri Ramakrishna, now preserved at Belur Math. This is the coat the Master wore in his studio picture taken at Radhabazar, Calcutta. By measuring the coat and calculating the relation of the coat to the figure, Swami Nirvanananda established Ramakrishna's height.
Continued From above:
So far as we know Ramakrishna was not ill very often. Occasionally he suffered from dysentery, fever, cold and cough; he finally succumbed to throat cancer.
Sometimes the Master would go for a walk in Shambhu Mallick's or Jadu Mallick's garden in Dakshineswar. M. recalled:
'When the Master visited Jadu Mallick's garden, the caretaker of the garden would fan him. Seeing his devotion, the Master once went into samadhi. One day the caretaker invited the Master for lunch and he accepted. The Master went to his place accompanied by Rakhal Maharaj, me, and a young brahmin boy from Orissa [who was M.'s cook]. Perhaps he would not have accepted if any rich man had invited him.'11 The Master's samadhi was so unpredictable that he needed someone always with him; for otherwise there was a chance of his having an accident. One day in an ecstatic mood, he had a vision of Jagannath. While trying to embrace Him, the Master fell down and broke his arm. M. also said, 'While listening to the temple music (rasun chauki) being played at the nahabat, the Master would go into samadhi.' 'The Master would merge into samadhi seeing a person closing an umbrella. It reminded him of withdrawing the mind from the world and giving it to God.' M. also recorded:
He Master's samadhi was so unpredictable that he needed someone always with him; for otherwise there was a chance of his having an accident..
'It was a winter morning, and the Master was sitting near the east door of his room, wrapped in his moleskin shawl. He looked at the sun and suddenly went into samadhi. His eyes stopped blinking and he lost all consciousness of the outer world. After a long time he came down to the plane of the sense world.'
Swami Ambikananda told the following incident, which he heard from his mother, Nistarini Ghosh, a devotee of the Master:
'The Master one day said to my mother, "Put on some jewellery like that of the Mother in the temple." My mother did what the Master told her. One day she went to Dakshineswar and saw the Master seated on his bed in samadhi. When she bowed down to him, her bangles made some noise. Immediately the Master was startled and his samadhi broke. He cried out: "What is this? Why are you making so much noise? The soul of a person who has left his body and merged into the Divine might not be able to return to his body. When I go into samadhi, I keep a thread between this body and the Cosmic Being, just as a very fine wire connects two things. If the connecting thread breaks by some noise I shall not be able return to this body." From then on, when my mother visited the Master, she would hold the jewellery with her hands.'
To be continued
About the author
The author is the Minister-in-charge of the Vedanta Society of St. Louis, USA. He is well-known for his numerous books in Bengali and English particularly God Lived With Them and They Lived With God. His recent English translation of Sri Sri Ramakrishna Leelaprasanga titled Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play has received wide acclaim.