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Some Glimpses Of Ramakrishna-Part X
Continued From The Nineth Part
The Last Days of the Master
'The Master suffered from throat cancer for more than ten months. He had terrible haemorrhaging from his wound, but the devotees served him wholeheartedly. Holding the doctor's hand, he plaintively said, "Please cure my disease." But as soon as he felt a little better, he would talk about God. Finally he said, "The Divine Mother will not keep this body anymore. . ." The entire report of the Master's illness is in my diary. I recorded the amount of blood from each haemorrhage, the intensity of his pain, what he ate, and other things. Every day I carried that report to Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar.'
M.kept his diary with all the details about the Master's illness, but the last entry published in "The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna" was for 24 April 1886. The previous day (23 April 1886) was Good Friday, which is a day of mourning for Christians. M. elaborately described what happened on that day, including the following incident:
It was evening. A lamp was lighted in the Master's room. Amrita Basu, a Brahmo devotee, came in. A garland of jasmine lay in front of the Master on a plantain-leaf. There was perfect silence in the room. A great yogi seemed to be silently communing with God. Every now and then the Master lifted the garland a little, as if he wanted to put on around his neck.
Despite his terminal disease, he was thinking of others' welfare. The Master assuaged the grief of M.'s wife's heart and also blessed the recorder of his gospel with a garland.
Amrita (tenderly): "Shall I put it around your neck?"
Sri Ramakrishna accepted the garland.
According to the Master's instruction, M. arrived the next day (24 April 1886) with his wife who was grief-stricken over the death of her son. M. recorded:
'That day the Master several times allowed M.'s wife the privilege of waiting on him. Her welfare seemed to occupy his attention a great deal. In the evening the Holy Mother came to the Master's room to feed him.
M.'s wife accompanied her with a lamp. The Master tenderly asked her many questions about her household. He requested her to come again to the garden house and spend a few days with the Holy Mother, not forgetting to ask her to bring her baby daughter. When the Master had finished his meal M.'s wife removed the plates. He chatted with her a few minutes.' [This is a wonderful scene for meditation.
About nine o'clock in the evening Sri Ramakrishna was seated in his room with the devotees. He had a garland of flowers around his neck. He told M. that he had requested his wife to spend a few days at the garden house with the Holy Mother. His kindness touched M.'s heart.
M. was fanning him. The Master took the garland from his neck and said something to himself. Then in a very benign mood he gave the garland to M.'
Here M.'s entries for the 'Gospel' end. The human aspect of Ramakrishna revealed in such incidents is very moving. Despite his terminal disease, he was thinking of others' welfare. The Master assuaged the grief of M.'s wife's heart and also blessed the recorder of his gospel with a garland.
It is not known why M. did not publish the entries from his diary through the last days of the Master. Swami Saradananda also did not write about the Master's last days at Cossipore. When he was requested to complete 'Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play,' he humbly said:
'Perhaps it will never be completed. I am not getting inspiration from within. The Master made me write whatever he wanted.'
Human desires are insatiable. We are hungry to know more about our beloved Master, but at the same time we are unable to fathom God's will. We will remain ever grateful to M. and Swami Saradananda for what they gave us about the Master. Moreover, the problem of our discontent was answered by the Master in the following conversation.
Sri Ramakrishna said about his intimate devotees, 'All of you are part of this place [meaning himself].'
M: 'That I have understood. But I am not fully satisfied.'
Master: 'You will never be fully satisfied.'
M: 'Sir, the amount of longing I had at the beginning still remains. I don't have full contentment.'
Master: 'None can have full contentment in God [because He is infinite].'
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.