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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

"The devotees, however, who loving no one else constantly
think of Me alone, to those ever united in thought with Me,
I bring full security and personally attend to their needs."
(I secure which is not already possessed and preserve
what they already possess.)
-Bhagavad Gita Chapter 9, Shloka 22


From ‘They Lived with God’ by Swami Chetanananda’ Belur Math.

Real life episodes
Kalipada Ghosh (1849-1905)

How does God, who is infinite, embody himself in a finite human form and act as a man? This is truly a mystery. On different occasions and in many ways Sri Ramakrishna tried to unravel this mystery for his disciples:

‘He who liberates others is an incarnation of God. The Incarnations of God accept the help of maya to fulfill their mission on earth. One can taste devotion and love of God only through His Incarnations. Infinite are the ways of God’s play, but what I need is love and devotion. I want only the milk. The milk comes through the udder of the cow. The Incarnation is the udder. When God Himself is born as a man, as an Incarnation, holding in His hand the key to other’s liberation, then for the welfare of humanity the Incarnation returns from samadhi to consciousness of the world.’

People cannot understand an avatar, or Incarnation of God, because he is different. His birth, life-style, actions, and behaviour are divine and therefore impossible to judge from the human standpoint. An avatar’s love and compassion for all – the good, the bad, the pious, the sinful, the destitute, and the drunk – keeps his mind down from the absolute plane of existence and returns it to the relative existence of the world. In this way he brings good to mankind, like the coming of spring. Without any selfish motive he helps people to cross the turbulent ocean of maya. Needless to say, Sri Ramakrishna helped the drunkards and the fallen of society. Because he did so, some narrow, bigoted religious leaders criticized him for not showing ‘sufficient moral abhorrence’ towards these people.

Kalipada was one of those wayward souls who were saved by the Master. Like Girish, he was an out-and-out bohemian, a debauchee, and a drunkard. Swami Adbhutananda related in his reminiscences how Sri Ramakrishna transformed Kalipada’s life:

"Girish Babu arrived one night with Kalipada Ghosh. Kalipad was a terrible drunkard. He refused to give money to his family, spending it for wine instead. But his wife was very pure. I heard that many years earlier she had come to the Master (Sri Ramakrishna), seeking some kind of medicine that would change her husband’s tendencies. The Master sent her to Holy Mother (Sharada, Sri Ramakrishna’s wife). Holy Mother sent her back to the Master. He again sent her to Holy Mother, and this exchange went on three times. At last, Holy Mother wrote the Master’s name on a bel leaf that had been offered to the Lord and gave it to Kalipada’s wife, telling her to chant the Lord’s name.

Kalipada’s wife chanted the Lord’s name for twelve years. When the Master first met Kalipada, he remarked, ‘This man has come here after tormenting his wife for twelve years.’ Kalipada was startled but said nothing.

Then the Master asked him: ‘What do you want?’

Kalipada asked shamelessly: ‘Can you give me a little wine?’

The Master smiled and said: ‘Yes, I can. But the wine I have is so intoxicating that you will not be able to bear it.’

Kalipada took him literally and said: ‘Is it real British wine? Please give me a little to soak my throat.’

‘No, it is not British wine,’ said the Master, still smiling. ‘It is completely homemade. This wine cannot be given to just anyone, for not everyone can stand it. If a person tastes this wine even once, British wine will seem insipid to him ever after. Are you ready to drink my wine instead of the other?’

For a moment Kalipada was thoughtful, and then I heard him say: ‘Please give me that wine which will make me intoxicated my entire life.’

The Master touched him, and Kalipada started to weep. We tried to calm him, but he went on weeping in spite of our attempts."

Kalipada Ghosh was born in 1849 at Shyampukur, Calcutta. His father, Guruprasad Ghosh, was very religious minded and devoted to the Divine Mother Kali. Although Guruprasad owned a small jute business, it apparently did not bring in sufficient money to keep his family out of financial difficulties. Therefore Guruprasad took Kalipada out of school when the boy was in the eighth grade and got him a job with Messrs. John Dickinson & Company, a British paper firm in Calcutta. Kalipada thus had very little education, but he was intelligent and efficient and was gradually promoted until he held an important position in the company.

Kalipada was tall and husky. He had a dark complexion, large eyes, and a bright, cheerful face. He and Girish Ghosh were close friends and often drank together. It was Girish who first took Kalipada to Sri Ramakrishna in 1884. Some of the Master’s devotees called them ‘Jagai and Madhai’, after two ruffians whose lives had been transformed by Chaitanya.

After Kalipada’s first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna he returned home, overwhelmed by the Master’s words and personality. He felt an irresistible desire to see Sri Ramakrishna again. Shortly therafter, in November 1884, he went by boat from Calcutta to Dakshineshwar. 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 (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 drunkard. I do not even have time to chant the Lord’s name. You are an ocean of mercy. Kindly save a ruffian such as I, who is devoid of disciplines and righteousness.’

Meanwhile, Kalipada firmly held on to the Master’s feet. Sri Ramakrishna could not find any way out of his predicament, so he asked Kalipada to stick out his tongue and then wrote a mantram on it. The Master said: ‘Henceforth your tongue will automatically repeat this mantram.’

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 Ganga (Ganges river) and have created such a scene!’

When the boat reached Calcutta Kalipada asked the Master where he would like to go. To Kalipada’s delight, Sri Ramakrishna expressed a wish to visit his home. Kalipada immediately hired a (horse) carriage and took the Master there. It is said that there were some oil paintings of gods and goddesses in the room where Sri Ramakrishna sat. Seeing those holy pictures, the Master was very happy and sang some songs in ecstasy, creating a wonderful spiritual atmosphere in the house.

A few months prior to the Master’s visit an interesting incident had occurred. One evening Kalipada’s sister, Mahamaya, looked out of their second floor window and saw a horse carriage passing down Shyampukur Street, where their house was located. Inside the carriage was a remarkable-looking person. All of a sudden this person stuck his head out of the window and called to the driver: ‘Stop! Stop! Please stop the carriage here. It seems this is the place.’ Mahamaya was awed when she saw his radiant face. Immediately she called the people of the household to see this divine person, but before they could come he had put his head back inside. The carriage slowly turned down Ramdhan Mittra Lane and disappeared. Mahamaya never forgot that divine sight. When Sri Ramakrishna visited Kalipada’s house, Mahamaya immediately recognized him as the person she had seen that day.

Kalipada began to visit the Master regularly at Dakshineshwar and gradually became one of his close devotees. He was a good singer and sometimes sang for the Master. He could also play the violin and flute. One day Sri Ramakrishna heard him playing a flute and went into samadhi. Since Kalipada was an expert cook, the devotees sometimes, out of fun, called him ‘housewife’.

Once when Kalipada was at Dakshineshwar he went to the Kali temple and started to rebuke the Divine Mother, using abusive words. His chest turned red and tears rolled down his cheeks. Sri Ramakrishna was also there at the time, and hearing Kalipada’s scolding he left the temple. He did not approve of that attitude. To his disciples who were present, the Master said: ‘Our attitude towards the Divine Mother should be that of a child towards its mother. The other attitude (the heroic attitude) is extremely difficult.’

When the doctors advised the devotees to move Sri Ramakrishna to Calcutta for his cancer treatment, a house was rented for him in the Baghbazar district. Sri Ramakrishna did not like this house, however, and immediately walked to Balaram'’ house. He stayed there for a week until another house could be found. Meanwhile, the devotees were happy to have him in Calcutta and flocked to see him. Swami Saradananda described the following scene:

‘We came to Balaram’s house one afternoon and found the hall on the first floor packed to capacity with people, when Girish and Kalipada commenced singing with great zeal:

O Natai, hold me!

Today my heart feels an unknown sensation, as it were.

Hold me, O Natai!

I am now being carried away by the waves.

That rose in the river of love,

As Nitai distributes the name of Hari.

Entering the room with great difficulty, we saw the Master, who was in ecstasy, seated in the western extremity of the room facing the east. We saw his lips adorned with a wonderful smile of bliss and graciousness.’

After a few days Kalipada found a house in Shyampukur, near his own, for the Master to stay in. He also furnished the house and decorated the Master’s room with pictures of gods and goddesses, and he bought kitchen utensils and groceries. Again, when he heard that the Master had expressed a wish to worship Mother Kali on the night of the Kali Puja, he helped make arrangements for the worship. As an offering to the Divine Mother, Kalipada’s wife prepared farina pudding, which Sri Ramakrishna later ate as prasad. Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with Kalipada’s generous nature and called him ‘Manager’. Swami Vivekananda sometimes called him ‘Dana Kali’, or ‘the generous Kali’. (Dana also means ‘demon’).

On October 24, 1885, while staying at the Shyampukur house, Sri Ramakrishna explained the mystery of japam to the devotees: ‘Japam means silently repeating God’s name in solitude. When you chant His name with single-minded devotion you can see God’s form and realize Him. Suppose there is a piece of timber sunk in the water of the Ganga (river) and fastened with a chain to the bank. You proceed link by link, holding to the chain, and you dive into the water and follow the chain. Finally you are able to reach the timber. In the same way, by repeating God’s name you become absorbed in Him and finally Realize Him.’

Kalipada listened to the Master, but he had already received the boon that his tongue would repeat the mantram effortlessly. He smiled and said to the devotees: ‘Ours is the grand teacher! We are not asked to practise meditation, austerity, and other disciplines.’

When Sri Ramakrishna went in 1884 to see Girish Ghosh’s drama, Chaitanya Lila, he had been extremely pleased with Binodini, the actress who had played the part of Chaitanya, and had blessed her. She in turn had become very devoted to the Master but could not find another opportunity to meet him. Now, hearing of his illness, she longed to see him again. But the Master’s disciples were very strict about visitors. They feared that if Sri Ramakrishna talked too much or if he were touched by impure people his disease would be aggravated. In order to see the Master, Binodini sought help from Kalipada, whom she knew through Girish.

One evening, acting on his advice, she dressed herself as a European gentleman and went with Kalipada to the Shyampukur house. Introducing her to the disciples as a friend of his, Kalipada took her to the Master, who was alone in his room at that time. Sri Ramakrishna laughed when Kalipada told him who this ‘European gentleman’ really was. After praising Binodini’s faith, devotion, and courage, the Master gave her some spiritual instructions and allowed her to touch his feet with her forehead. When Binodini and Kalipada had left, Sri Ramakrishna told the disciples about the trick that had been played on them. The Master enjoyed it so much that the disciples could not be angry.

Sri Ramakrishna moved from the smoggy Culcutta environment to the garden house at Cossipore on December 11, 1885. On December 23 he touched Kalipada’s chest and said: ‘May your inner spirit be awakened.’ Then, stroking Kalipada’s chin, he said with great affection: ‘Whoever has sincerely called on God or performed his daily religious devotions will certainly come here.’ The Master’s blessing and unrestrained love that day made Kalipada a new person. He gave up his bad drinking habit and lost all interest in worldly things.

After the Master’s passing away Girish and Kalipada often sat together silently for long periods of time in front of the Master’s picture. With tearful eyes they would pray, ‘Master, please reveal yourself to us.’ When Navagopal Ghosh celebrated the annual festival to Sri Ramakrishna at his house, Girish and Kalipada sang kirtan and danced. Later, as they sat with closed eyes and motionless bodies, Navagopal garlanded them and they uttered in ecstasy, ‘Ramakrishna, Ramakrishna.’ The devotees were impressed at the transformation in their lives. After Kalipada’s passing away Girish dedicated his drama ‘Shankaracharya’ to him. In the dedication he wrote: ‘Brother, we saw the embodiment of Vedanta together many times in Dakshineshwar. You are now in the abode of bliss, but I am sorry that you could not have seen my drama ‘Shankaracharya’ while you were alive. I dedicate this work to you. Please accept it.’

Though Kalipada was not a writer and playwright like Girish, he composed many songs. These were published in 1893 in a booklet entitled Ramakrishna Sangit by the Kankurghachi Yogodyana, a retreat house owned by Ram Chandra Datta. Kalipada visited the Yogodyana quite often, because some relics of Sri Ramakrishna had been installed there and regular worship of the Master was performed. One day Kalipada came with a lot of flowers for the worship. He did not know that if the flowers were carried while wearing shoes they could not be used in ritualistic worship. When Manomohan told Kalipada of this, Kalipada immediately left those flowers there for use as decoration and went back to the flower market barefooted and bought more flowers for offering.

It has already been mentioned that Kalipada was very successful in his career. It was due primarily to his efforts that John Dickinson Company opened many branch offices in the main cities of India. Although it was a British firm, Kalipada took the liberty of hanging a picture of Sri Ramakrishna in each of the branch offices. He utterly believed that it was the Master’s blessings that had transformed his character and brought him prosperity. If there were any vacancy in the office where he worked, he would appoint a devotee of the Master to fill that position. When he moved temporarily to Mumbai (Bombay), Swamis Vivekananda, Brahmananda, Turiyananda, Abhedananda, and Akhandananda each stayed at his house at different times while on pilgrimage. It gave him great pleasure to serve the Master’s monastic disciples.

During Kalipada’s last illness Swami Adbhutananda went to see him at his Culcutta home. Kalipada had been giving him some money every month for milk and other necessities. Swami Adbhutananda asked him to discontinue that help, but Kalipada replied: ‘Brother, by the grace of the Master I have no wants. The Master will be angry with me if you deprive me of serving you with a few Rupees.’ Since the Swami did not like to hurt Kalipada’s feelings, he accepted the gift until Kalipada’s passing away on June 28, 1905.

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.’

The words emanated from Sri Ramakrishna's holy lips and kept carefully unalloyed by M. are translated word for word from Bengali to English.
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Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna
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