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Durable Link to this BlogWednesday, February 09, 2011

Sham Devotion

I read "The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna" regularly. In Honavar with more time and leisure at my disposal, I go through anecdotes where Shri Ramakrishna had lively conversation and witty remarks along with spiritual titbits with great minds of the time like Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar and Bankim Chandra Chatterjee. Shri Mahendranath Gutpa, known as "M" was a close disciple of the Master and has left a diary like account from 1882-1886, about everyday happenings, conversations, musings and teachings to devotees and commoners. "These records are the first directly recorded words in the spiritual history of the world, of a man recognized as belonging in the class of Buddha and Christ". Distinguished British author Aldous Huxley declared "Never have the small events of a contemplative daily life been described with such a wealth of intimate detail. Never have the casual and unstudied utterances of a great religious teacher been set down with so minute a fidelity". Huxley further felt that, the Master"s conversations conveyed mystical, profound and subtle utterances about the Ultimate Reality, with an unfamiliar kind of humour, which were lessons in liberal education in humility, tolerance and suspense of judgment.


Shri Ramakrishna Pramahamsa

Anecdotes with a touch of humor were the Master's forte and these are interspersed with spiritual teachings throughout the 1000 and odd paged book, "The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna". A story he narrated to show sham devotion, to Bankimchandra and other devotees who came visiting him, runs like this:-

At certain place there was a goldsmith's shop. The workers were known as pious Vaishnavas, with strings of beads round their necks, religious marks on their foreheads and rosaries in hand. They repeated names of gods all the time. They had to work with Jewelry shop for a living. Many customers attended this shop because they thought there will not be any trickery or fraud with gold or silver with a whole group of pious people, uttering God"s name all the time.

When some body entered the shop for purchase or sale one would utter "Keshava! Keshava!" After a few minutes another worker would say Gopala! Gopala! These were all code words, which conveyed who are they? (Ke in Bengali means who?) "Gopal" indicated, that the person was like cow (go) and fit to be cheated. The third worker uttered Hari! Hari! meaning Shall I rob them? So the group in the guise of devotees cheated the customers in the name of God.

Bankim Chandra could meet the Master only once. But he was profoundly influenced, especially when the master lost consciousness after listening to a devotional song. He was in Samadhi or ecstatic mood completely indrawn and impervious to the outside world. Bankim and his anglicized friends watched the Master in amazement. They had never seen anyone in this God-intoxicated state. Bankim came nearer to watch attentively. Shri Ramakrishna regained partial consciousness and began to dance. The singing and dancing over, the Master touched the ground with his forehead, saying bhagavata- bhakta-bhagavan. Salutations to the jnanis, yogis, bhaktas! Salutations to all. He had come back to normal earthy plane, and sat down.

Bamkim Chandra Chatterji the great Bengali novelist, was introduces as Bankim Babu to the Master. Bankim means 'bent' in Bengali. The Master smiled and asked, "What has made you bent?" Bankim replied smilingly, "British Boots are responsible for it. Our white masters have bent my body". Bankim was a great patriot and he and his famous composition 'Vande Mataram' which is India"s national song are immortalized.

See Also:
• Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
• Swami Vivekananda
• The Path of Devotion

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Jyotsna Kamat

Jyotsna Kamat Ph.D. lives in Bangalore.


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