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SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES OF SRI RAMAKRISHNA

[In His own words]

One day Haladhari, the cousin of Sri Ramakrishna, remarked to him, “Can one get spiritual elevation by worshipping a Tamasika form ? Why do you bestow so much attention on the worship of Kali?” Sri Ramakrishna did not answer him then: but he was pained at the disrespect shown to his favourite Deity. He at once went to the Kali temple and asked the Divine Mother with tearful eyes, “Mother, Haladhari is a scholar, versed in the scriptures, and he says Thou art possessed of Tamasika attributes. Art Thou really so?” The Mother Herself enlightened him on the point. With a heart full of joy he ran to Haladhari who was engaged in the worship of Radha – Govinda. Excited, be at once climbed on his shoulders and exclaimed, again and again, “Dare you call my Mother Tamasika! Is She? No. She is everything. She has all the three Gunas; again She is full of Sattva alone!”

 One day Haladhari cast aspersions on the truth of Sri Ramakrishna’s God-visions and said on the authority of the scriptures that God is beyond the reach of the human mind. That gave rise to grave doubts in the mind of Sri Ramakrishna. He thus described his feelings and the subsequent experience to one of his disciples, Swami Premananda: “I asked myself the question: Are the various divine visions which I have had and the worlds I have heard from the lips of the Mother Herself all false? Have they been mere fancies of my mind? Is that I have been deceived, by the Divine Mother? To me the very thought was painful and blasphemous. I was greatly perplexed. With sobs I prayed to the Mother; ‘How could thou have the heart to deceive me like that because I was a fool? A stream of tears flowed from my eyes. Shortly after I saw something like a volume of mist rising from the floor and filling the space before me. In the midst of it appeared a fair face, calm and highly expressive, with a flowing beard. Fixing its steady gaze upon me, the figure solemnly said, ‘Well, remain on the threshold of relative consciousness!’ Repeating this thrice, the face gently disappeared in the mist, which also dissolved. This vision reassured me”.

Referring to some mental states of God-realization, Sri Ramakrishna often said, “No sooner was one state transcended than another took place. Before that whirlwind, the sacred thread was blown away. Not only that, even the wearing cloth remained. Sometimes I would open my month, the jaws touching, as it were, the heaven and the nether world and earnestly cry, ‘Mother!’- thinking I must pull Her like a fisherman hauling fish with a drag-net. Oh, through what state of mind I passed in those days! Everyone thought I was mad. A slight stimulus from outside stirred the depths of my spiritual consciousness. Even a street girl appeared to me as Sita, going to greet her victorious husband. One day I saw an English lad standing cross-legged against a tree. Immediately the thought of Krishna was suggested to my mind, and I went into deep meditation. At one time I would roam in the Temple premises with a bamboo on my shoulder. At another time I would feed a dog and eat the leavings. The idea of caste lost all meaning for me. A low-caste man sent me a carry cooked by his wife, which I ate with relish. In the Panchavati I would sit in deep meditation with my body perfectly still losing all consciousness of the outside world. At that time for want of proper care, my hair was matted. Birds would perch on my head and peck the grains of rice left there during the time of worship. Often snakes would crawl over my motionless body-and neither I nor the snake knew it. Oh, what visions flitted past my eyes, day and night!”

About his wonderful experiences of this period he said again: “As I sat down to meditate, I would find a Sannyasin emerging from my body with a trident in hand and directing me to concentrate my mind on God, leaving aside all other thoughts. He threatened to plunge his weapon into my body if I did not do so. When the Papapurusha (the personification of sin) came out of my body, it was the same Sannyasin who killed him. When I wished to see some deities in distant places or participate in religions chanting held far off, I would see this shining figure step out of my body, go along a luminous path to those places, and re-enter my body after fulfilling the particular desires”.

On another occasion he said, “A young Sannyasin exactly resembling me would come out of my body and instruct me in all matters. At those times I might retain a little outward consciousness, but more often I lost it completely in my absorption in watching the movements of this strange person. When he re-entered this body, I recovered my normal state”.  “The ordinary man could not bear a fraction of that tremendous fervour, his body would be shattered by a quarter of that emotion. I could forget my indescribable pangs only by seeing the Mother in some form or other for the greater part of the day and night. Otherwise this body could not have survived. For six years these eyes remained wide open-not a wink of sleep visited then. I could not close the eyelids, however much I might try to do so. I had no idea of time, or of the body. When the mind, at rare intervals, came down to a lower plane and I had a faint idea of the body, a shudder of pain would pass through me at the thought that I was going mad. Standing before a mirror, I would put my finger into my eyes to see if the eyelids would close, but they would not . Horrified, I would often burst into tears and pray, ‘Mother, is this the result of praying and wholly surrendering myself unto Thee? Ah.  Thou hast visited me with a fell disease.  But the next moment I would say, ‘Let it be as Thou wishest. Let this body go to pieces, but leave me not. Reveal Thyself to me, be kind to Thy helpless son, O Mother, I have taken shelter at Thy lotus feet. Thou art my only refuge’, As I prayed thus, my mind would again be stimulated, this body would seem a trifle, not worth thinking about, and the blissful Mother would appear before me and console me with Her gracious words”.

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