Devotees' Visions of the Master Ramakrishna appeared before his devotees in a spiritual form during his lifetime. Once, in Dhaka,Vijay Krishna Goswami was meditating in his shrine. All of a sudden he saw the Master, even though he was actually at Dakshineswar. To determine whether it was a hallucination, he touched the Master's body and found it to be real. After returning to Calcutta Vijay went to Shyampukur, and in front of the devotees, he told the Master his experience: Vijay:"I have seen him [meaning the Master] in Dhaka. I even touched his body." Master (with a smile): "It must have been someone else." Narendra: "I too have seen him many times. (To Vijay) How can I say I do not believe your words?â€? Nrityagopal Goswami also saw Ramakrishna in Dhaka. He described the event: "While I was in Dhaka, I was feeling extremely unhappy. There was a wooded area on the outskirts of the city that was often used as a graveyard. To my surprise at a distance I saw someone seated on the ground. I went up to him and asked, 'What are you doing here?' He said he wished to talk to me. Though he said very little, his words dispelled all my depression and doubts. He got up and started to walk away. Then he turned to me affectionately and said, 'Nrityagopal, my dear, do not let go of what you are holding on to.' After that I didn't see him anymore. I related all this to Vijay. He said he too had seen the same person in the woods. That night I had a remarkable dream in which I saw myself talking with that divine-looking person and listening to his wonderful words. My joy was beyond description.â€? Swami Advaitananda wrote: "When I first met the Master, I could not understand him at all. I wondered why people call him a great soul!" He had the same experience during his second visit as well, and he decided not to visit the Master again. Finally, at a friend's request, he went to the Master a third time. This time the Master possessed him he could not escape. About this, he said: "The Master possessed me. I would think of him day and night. The pang of separation from the Master gave me chest pain. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't forget his face. Surendra Mitra practised meditation in his shrine every day. One day he had a desire to test the Master's divinity. He resolved that if the Master appeared in his shrine during meditation, then he would consider him to bean avatar. What a wonderful phenomenon! After a while he saw the Master in his shrine. After thus testing the Master, Surendra took refuge in him. Surendra had been an alcoholic and debauchee, but his life was changed by the grace of the Master. Swami Turiyananda said: "There is a story of Surendra, long after he had met Sri Ramakrishna, being tempted to visit a public woman one evening on his way home from the office. He went upstairs to the woman's apartment and entered her room. But lo, there was no woman, but Sri Ramakrishna himself standing there! In great shame, Surendra fled from the place. Once Devendra came to Dakshineswar and had an attack of malarial fever. The Master sent him back to Calcutta by boat and asked Baburam to accompany him. Devendra reached a relative's house and fell unconscious. For forty-one days he lay in a state of torpor and delirium. Often he
uttered Sri Ramakrishna's name, thinking that he was still at Dakshineswar. Curiously, whenever extreme pain made him open his eyes, he would see Sri Ramakrishna sitting by his bed." Devendra described what happened after he received initiation from the Master: "At that time I would see the Master everywhere. While walking through the street, I would see the Master walking in front of me and sometimes looking at me. If I would stand, sit, or lie down, I saw the Master accordingly. He would always move around me. One day when I bowed down to Kali I saw that he was standing before me. It seems that the Master always stayed with me to make me understand that he was my all in all and my protector.â€? Ramakrishna's Appearance after His Passing Away After he passed away, Ramakrishna first appeared before the Holy Mother. On 16 August 1886, the Masterâ€™s body was cremated and his ashes were brought in an urn to the Cossipore garden house. That evening the Holy Mother began to remove her jewellery, following the custom of Hindu widows. As she was about to take off her bracelets, Ramakrishna appeared before her, looking as he did before he was stricken with cancer. Pressing her hand, he said: "Am I dead, that you are acting like a widow? I have just moved from one room to another." She did not take off the bracelets, and instead wore them as long as she lived. The Holy Mother saw the Master many times after his passing away. On her way to Vrindaban for pilgrimage she had a vision of the Master. She was in the habit of wearing Sri Ramakrishna's gold amulet on her arm. This amulet had been given to him to allay the burning sensation of his body when he practised intense spiritual disciplines at Dakshineswar. In her train compartment she lay down with her arm on the windowsill, leaving the amulet exposed. The Master suddenly appeared and, looking at her through the window, said: "Why are you keeping the amulet that way? You may lose it." After that vision she took it off and kept it in a tin box with the Master's photograph."' It was in Vrindaban that the Master appeared to the Holy Mother, asking her to initiate Swami Yogananda. When the Holy Mother was living at Kamarpukur, the narrow minded and fanatical villagers criticized her because she wore a red-bordered sari and gold bracelets, and she did not live like an orthodox Hindu widow. In distress, she took off her bracelets. Again the Master appeared and said to her: "Do not discard your bracelets. Do you know the Vaishnava scriptures?" She said that she knew nothing about them. The Master told her that Gauri-ma would come there in the afternoon and explain the scriptures of the Vaishnavas to her. Gauri-ma arrived as he had promised and told her that she could not be a widow since her husband was none other than the Lord Himself. This reassured her. She put her bracelets on again and turned a deaf ear to people's criticism. One evening at about 8:00, within a week of the Master's passing away, Narendra and Harish were standing beside the little pond at the Cossipore garden house and talking about the Master. Suddenly, Narendra saw a shining form covered with a cloth coming slowly towards them. He thought: "Can it be the Master?" He kept quiet, fearing that he was a victim of a hallucination.
But Harish saw it as well and whispered to Narendra, "Look, what is that?" At this, Narendra said loudly, "Who is there?" Hearing his voice, others came hurriedly from the house to see what was happening. That luminous form vanished in the jasmine bushes five yards from where they stood. This vision made a deep impression on Narendra's mind, and he believed that the Master still existed in his subtle body. Later, Swami Vivekananda wrote in the Rule Book of Belur Monastery: "The Lord has not yet given up the Ramakrishna form. Some see Him in that form even now and receive instructions from Him, and all can see Him if they so desire. This form will last until He comes again in another gross body. Though He is not visible to all, that He is in this Order and guiding it is a fact of everybody's experience. Someone asked Swami Brahmananda, "Can one see Ramakrishna even now?" The swami replied: "Yes, Swamiji saw the Master many times. We also see him from time to time." Brahmananda collected some teachings of Sri Ramakrishna in Bengali that were first serially published in Udbodhan and later translated into English under the title Words of the Master. He completed the book during a visit to Varanasi. When he was working on the manuscript of those teachings he would not allow anybody to stay in his room. Sometimes Maharaj would get up at midnight and ask his attendant to bring the manuscript to him. Once, after correcting it, he said: "The Master came and told me: 'I didn't say that. I said this.â€™â€? Ramakrishna appeared not only to the Holy Mother and his monastic disciples but also to some of his householder devotees. After the Master passed away on 16 August 1886, at the Cossipore garden house, some of his young disciples had to return to their homes against their wishes, while others had no place to go. They were like orphans. One evening early in September, while Surendra was meditating in his shrine, Sri Ramakrishna appeared to him and said: "What are you doing here? My boys are roaming about without a place to live. Attend to that before anything else." Surendra immediately rushed to Swami Vivekananda's house and said to some of the disciples: "Brothers, where will you go? Let us rent a house. You will live there and make it our Master's shrine; and we householders will come there for consolation. How can we pass all our days and nights in this world, with our wives and children? I used to spend a sum of money for the Master at Cossipore. I shall gladly give it now for your expenses.â€? Doubt is like a disease of the mind. It comes and goes. Although Yogin-ma was an intimate companion of the Holy Mother, at one time she doubted her divinity. She said to herself: "Sri Ramakrishna was the embodiment of renunciation, and Mother is engrossed in the world, preoccupied day and night with the thought of her brothers, sisters-in law, nephews, and nieces." Soon after this she was seated on the bank of the Ganges, meditating, when Sri Ramakrishna appeared to her in a vision and said, "Do you see what is being carried by the water of the Ganges?" Yogin-ma looked and saw the corpse of a newborn baby. She also saw many people offering worship to Mother Ganges. The Master then said: "Can anything make the Ganges impure? Regard her [Holy Mother] in the same way. Never doubt her. Remember, she is not different from this (meaning himself)." Yogin-ma immediately rushed to the Holy Mother and, after telling her the whole story, apologized. The Holy Mother smiled and consoled her.
The Holy Mother told this story: "He who eagerly prays to God will see Him. One of our devotees, Tejachandra Mitra, passed away. What a sincere soul he was! The Master used to frequent his house. Someone had deposited two hundred rupees with Tejachandra. One day he was robbed of that amount by a pickpocket in a tramcar. He discovered the loss after some time and suffered terrible mental agony. He went to the bank of the Ganges and prayed to the Master with tears in his eves, 'O Lord, what have you done to me?' He was not rich enough to make up that amount from his own pocket. As he was thus weeping he saw the Master appear before him and heard him say: 'Why do you weep so bitterly.The money is there under a brick on the bank of the Ganges.' Tejachandra quickly located and removed the brick and really found there a bundle of banknotes. He narrated the incident to Sharat (Swami Saradananda). Sharat said: 'You are lucky to get the vision of the Master even now." Purna Chandra Ghosh was suffering from tuberculosis and remained bedridden for about six months before passing away. He calmly endured his physical pain and suffering without any complaint. If anyone came to comfort him, he would cheerfully say: "My Master, Sri Ramakrishna, is always seated at my bedside. I have no fear or worry.' As the days passed, Purna's body became emaciated, and he was not allowed to leave his bed because of his extreme weakness. One night, finding that everyone was fast asleep, he went to the bathroom alone. It was his nature not to trouble anyone about himself. While returning to bed he became dizzy and nearly fell. The next day he told a close devotee: "Who says that the Master does not exist? He is still living, and I perceive him clearly. Last night, while returning from the bathroom, I was about to fall unconscious. The Master caught me in his arms and carried me to the bed. He is there, just as he was before, and I can see him." Ramakrishna appeared not only to his Indian devotees, but also to Western devotees. While in Dakshineswar, after coming out of samadhi the Master told Ramlal: "I went to a new place. People of that place are different. Their complexion is white and they have blue eyes. It is a new country." Saradananda used to hold classes regularly in Montclair, New Jersey, where he stayed at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler. Swami Atulananda, a Western monk, wrote in his book With the Swamis in America: An interesting- incident took place when Swami Saradananda was living in this happy home. The swami had often spoken about Sri Ramakrishna and one day he produced his Master's photograph and showed it to the lady of the house. "Oh, swami," she exclaimed, "it is the same face!" "What do you mean?" said the swami. And then she told him that long ago, in her youth, before she was married, she had had a vision of a Hindu and that it was the same face that now she saw in the photograph. "It was Sri Ramakrishna," she said, "but I did not know it until now. I was so much impressed and charmed at the vision at the time, that I remember the face very distinctly, and I have been going about here and there ever since I had the vision, wherever I heard that a Hindu had come to America, but I was always disappointed, not finding the same face. And now at last I see that it was Sri Ramakrishna.â€?
It is really amazing how, without a physical body, Ramakrishna protected his disciples from terrible catastrophes. Some bigoted American Christians plotted to kill Swami Vivekananda in Detroit, Michigan. They invited Swamiji for dinner and when he was about to sip coffee, Ramakrishna appeared before him and said: "Don't drink. It is poison." Thus Swamiji was saved from sure death. Swami Vireswarananda told this story about Swami Premananda: "On one occasion Premananda was ready to go to East Bengal, and the devotees were waiting for him in the boat at the Belur ghat. They were supposed to take a train from Calcutta, and then take a steamer. Premananda went to the shrine to get the Master's permission to leave. A monk who happened to be there heard Premananda talking to the Master, but he didn't hear the Master's response. At last Premananda said, 'All right, Master, I shall not go.' He then went downstairs and told the devotees that he would not go that day. The devotees were disappointed; but the newspaper later reported that the steamer he was supposed to take from Goalanda to Dhaka had been sunk by a cyclone." Swami Abhedananda told this story: "I was in London in 1915. On 6 May I went to the booking office to purchase a ticket from London to New York on the S.S. Lusitania. While I was in that office, a mysterious thing happened. I was about to buy the ticket, but immediately I heard a clear voice forbidding me. I was dumbfounded. I thought it might be a freak of my mind. I looked around but couldn't find anybody. So again I went to the counter and the same thing happened. Then I decided to return to the apartment without buying any ticket. However, I planned to buy the ticket the following day. The next morning I saw in the newspaper in big letters 'S.S. Lusitania Is No More.' I was overwhelmed. Tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized that the Master had saved my life."* * On 7 May 1915, during World War 1, this British liner was destroyed by a German submarine in the Atlantic Ocean, near Cork on the western coast of Ireland, killing 1,198 passengers. Some Devotees Saw Ramakrishna at Death According to the Hindu scriptures, a man becomes in the next life what he thinks of at the time of death. Krishna said in the Gita (8:5): "Whoso at the time of death leaves his body remembering Me alone and goes forth - he attains My Being; concerning this there is no doubt." Ramakrishna said: "Those who are in their last life will come here [meaning to him]." The cause of reincarnation is desire. A desireless person will not be born again. The seeds of desire slowly dissolve for those who come in close contact with an avatar, and they attain Self-knowledge. The death accounts of the Master's devotees are wonderful. He was not only their companion while he was living, but he also appeared at the time of their death and took them to their final abodes. Swami Shivananda recorded the death account of Rasik, the sweeper of Dakshineswar temple: "Those who wholeheartedly have taken refuge in the Master and loved him, they will inevitably attain liberation. Have you not heard the story of Rasik, the sweeper of Dakshineswar? He used to call the Master, 'Father.' One day the Master was returning from the Panchavati in an ecstatic
mood. Rasik knelt down in front of him with folded hands and begged for his blessings: 'Father, will you not bestow mercy on me? What will happen to my life?' The Master told him: 'Don't be afraid. You will succeed. You will see me at the time of death.' It happened exactly as he said. Rasik's family members carried him into the tulsi grove just before his death, and at the time of death Rasik said: 'Father, you have come. The Father has come.' Saying so, he passed away.â€? On 13 April 1890 Balaram Basu died from influenza in his Calcutta home. Swami Shivananda recalled his death: The passing away of each of the devotees of the Master is a wonderful event in itself. The departure of Balaram Babu was equally wonderful. His disease had taken a serious turn, and all were anxious. One day he went on repeating, 'Well, where are my brothers?' When this news reached us we hurried to his house at Baghbazar [in Calcutta]. We ourselves stayed by him and nursed him. For about two or three days before his passing away he would not allow any of his relatives to come near him; he wanted only us to be near at hand. The few words that he spoke were about the Master alone. One day, before the final departure, the doctor came in and declared that he was beyond cure. At the last moment we were seated around him, while his wife, stricken with unspeakable grief, was in the inner apartment with Golap-ma, Yogin-ma, and others. Just then she noticed something like a piece of black cloud in the sky, which became denser by stages and began to descend. Soon it assumed the shape of a chariot and alighted on the roof of Balaram Babu's house. The Master came out of that chariot and proceeded towards the room where Balaram Babu lay. Soon after, he issued forth, taking Balaram Babu by the hand, and entered the chariot again, which then ascended and vanished in the sky. This vision raised her mind to a very high plane where there could be no touch of grief or sorrow. When she returned to normal she related this to Golap-ma, who came to apprise us of the fact. Balaram Babu had passed away just a little while before. Sharat Chandra Chakrabarty wrote the death account of Durga Charan Nag. At two o'clock in the morning two days before he passed away, Durga Charan said to Sharat Babu: "Sri Ramakrishna has come here to show me the holy places. Please tell me the names of holy places you have seen, and I will visit them one after another." As Sharat Babu mentioned the name of each place - Hardwar, Prayag, Varanasi, and Puri - Nag Mahashay immediately had a vision of it and vividly described what he was seeing. Pratap Chandra Hazra had an important role in the divine drama of Ramakrishna. He had been hypocritical, spiteful, mercenary, untruthful, and egotistical, but Ramakrishna's infallible blessing transformed his life. The blessed death of Hazra proved that the grace of an avatar can eradicate a soul's bad karma. Hazra's obituary, published in Tattwamanjari, stated: Hazra had a minor fever for three days; except for that, he had no other disease. A village doctor looked after him. In the evening of the third day, Hazra said to his wife: "Look, you
inform the villagers tomorrow morning that they should be present at our house before 9:00 as I am going to die at that time." His wife thought that it was because her husband was delirious with fever that he was talking like that. She did not take it seriously. However, early the next morning Hazra persuaded his wife to spread his death forecast among the villagers. Some ignored it, thinking Hazra was crazy, and some came to watch the fun. At 8:30 a.m. Hazra took his rosary and started to practise his japa as usual. People knew that it was his nature to do so. All of a sudden they noticed a change coming over Hazra's face, as if he were intently watching somebody. After a while he burst forth with the words: "Welcome! Most welcome! Here comes the Master! Master, after such a long time you have remembered me. He then said to his wife:"Please bring a seat. Don’t you see that Paramanandaji has come?" His wife stood there idly. But when Hazra repeated his request, she reluctantly spread a carpet there. Then, addressing Sri Ramakrishna, Hazra said, "Master, please sit on the asana and wait here till I die. Please be gracious unto me." Saying so, Hazra began to repeat his mantra again. After a short time he exclaimed: "Welcome! Welcome, Ramdada (Ram Chandra Datta, a devotee of the Master)! How fortunate I am!” He then requested his wife to give an asana to Ram Chandra, which she did. Swami Yogananda, and requested that he sit near him till death. which she did. With folded hands, Hazra requested that Ram Chandra too sit near him till death. Then again he started to repeat his mantra. Again he exclaimed: "Welcome! Yogin Maharaj [Swami Yogananda, a disciple of the Master] has come! Oh, what a joyful day!" He then asked his wife to give an asana to Swami Yogananda and requested that he sit near him till death. He then addressed Sri Ramakrishna with folded hands, saying: "Master, you are so gracious unto me. Please do me another favour. Please come with me to the tulsi grove [an auspicious spot in the courtyard] where I want to give up my body." With Sri- Ramakrishna's consent, Hazra asked his wife to carry those three asanas and his bed to the tulsi grove. Then going there, Hazra requested that they sit on their respective asanas, and he 'lay down on his bed. He continued his japa and then repeated thrice, "Hari, Hari, Hari." In this way Hazra passed away. The villagers were amazed. They moved his body and found that it was devoid of consciousness. They then arranged his funeral and glorified him as a great soul. The story of Kalipada Ghosh's death is also interesting. In November 1884 he went by boat from Calcutta to Dakshineswar. When the Master saw Kalipada he said that he had just been thinking of going to Calcutta. Kalipada told him that his boat was at the landing ghat and that he would be glad to take him there. Sri Ramakrishna immediately got ready and left with Latu (later Swami Adbhutananda) and Kalipada. As they got in the boat, however, Kalipada privately instructed the boatman to steer the boat to the middle of the river. Then Kalipada knelt down and clasped the Master's feet, saying: "Sir, you are a saviour. Please save my life." "Oh, no, no," said Sri Ramakrishna. "Chant the name of the Lord. You will get liberation." Kalipada then said: "Sir, I am a wicked man and a drunl,,ard. I do not even have time to chant the Lord's name. You are an ocean of mercy. Kindly save a ruffian such as 1, who is devoid of disciplines and righteousness.”
Meanwhile, Kalipada held firmly on to the Master's feet. Sri Ramakrishna could not find any way out of this predicament, so he asked Kalipada to stick out his tongue. Then he wrote a mantra on it. The Master said, "Henceforth your tongue will automatically repeat this mantra." But Kalipada was not happy. He said to the Master, "I don't want this." "Then what do you want?" asked Sri Ramakrishna. "When I leave this world," replied Kalipada, "I shall see darkness all around, and that terrible darkness will fill me with horror. My wife, children, and other relatives won't be able to help me then. At that terrible time you will be my only saviour. You will have to take me, holding a light with your left hand and me with your right hand. I shall always be with you then. You will have to fulfill this prayer of mine." With his heart full of compassion, the Master said: "All right, all right. Your prayer will be fulfilled. My goodness! You have brought me to the middle of the Ganges and have created such a scene!" Sri Ramakrishna had promised thrice in Swami Adbhutananda's presence that at the time of Kalipada's death he would take him, holding him by his right hand. Just as Kalipada breathed his last, he raised his right hand. Swami Premananda was present then. Hearing the news of Kalipada's death from Swami Premananda, Swami Adbhutananda said to some devotees: "Look, the Master came to Kalipada at his last moment. Holding Kalipada's hand, the Master guided him away. Brother Baburam saw it clearly. Whatever the Master said to anyone is bound to be fulfilled." 1
Published on Mar 4, 2009
Published on Mar 4, 2009
this is an extract from the book : How to live with God in the company of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Chetanananda - Pages 72 to 81