A story where the author talks and meditates upon the Avatara Ramkrishna Paramhansa to understand what makes the man Kalpataru the wish tree.
By Somashis Gupta
1st of January besides being the first day of New Year is also the day we celebrate Kalpataru Ustav. Today I talk and meditate upon what Christopher Isherwood calls ‘The Story of a Phenomenon’, the Avatar, no not the movie but Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa and understand what was the phenomenon which inspired so many of us all across the globe and made him Kalapataru (A tree of wish)?
Let me pick-up the story from Dakshineshwar, the Kali temple built by Rani Rashmoni. Ramkrishna’s elder brother Ram Kumar was appointed as the head priest for the temple. When Ramkrishna was asked to assist His brother, He had one major problem, which as a matter of fact stayed with Him forever. He refused to be a part of anything where money, jewellery or wealth was involved. The idol of Kali in Dakshineshwar on the other hand was decked with gold ornaments. Finally it was Hridoy, his nephew who volunteered to take care of the jewellery and Ramkrishna was introduced to mother Kali, who became His lifelong object of adoration and worship.
Ramkrishna is often considered as an Avatar, an incarnation of God, by the devotees. One might argue that if Ramkrishna was a reincarnation of God himself, then why did He perform sadhana or the spiritual practice Himself, as traditional Hindu view says an incarnation of God is always aware of his or her divine nature. To this, Swami Saradananda, the biographer of Sri Ramkrishna says, one should not discount the human side of an Avatar. When God comes in human form, He takes on Human attributes. The urge to experience God, the struggle, the despair, the joy, the ecstasies which humans would experience, the incarnation experiences the same too.
“Thakur” as fondly called by His devotees, used to narrate an interesting story. It goes this way that three friends while travelling once came across a wall. One of them climbed on top with great difficulty and burst out in joy and jumps to the other side. The second friend follows him but the third one just before jumping feels about the people in their village who were unaware of this joy. He turns and goes back to the village to inform the rest. That is the attribute of an Avatara, the world teacher.
Thakur was in a habit of disappearing in the neighbouring forest at night. One such instance, Hridoy found Him sitting under a tree stark naked, He has even thrown aways His holy thread. When Hroidoy objected, Ramkrishna explained, ‘lojja, ghrina bhoy tin thakte noy’ which means shame, hate and fear prevent you to realize God.
Ramkrishna always believed in equality. Once to overcome the pride of cast or feeling of superiority, He went to a sweeper’s house and cleaned his bathroom with his matted hair.
He used to loose outward consciousness often and going deep into Samadhi. Once Dr. Mahindra Nath Sarkar examined Him and found no pulse or heartbeat in His body, but He was beaming with joy. So it can be understood that it was not a condition of unconsciousness or being comatose but a condition of intense absorption.
His ways of worship were unique too, He used to take the food which was offered ritualistically to mother Kali and try to feed the idol with His own hand. Sometimes He used to eat the food himself, as He flet Maa Kali wanted Him to do so. Once a cat entered the temple and He fed the cat with the food as he thought Maa Kali has come in the form of a cat.
His power was such that He could read other’s minds. Once while He was performing arati, Rani Rashmoni visited the Temple. He suddenly stopped, turned and slapped Rashmoni and said, ‘Shame on you, thinking of your property here’. People were outraged and were about to pounce but Rani protected Him and stopped them saying ‘Baba thiki bolche’ (He is right in what He did)
Ramkrishna’s meditation was without any systematic guidance until He met Bhairavi Brahmani, His first guru who taught him Tantrism and Vaishnavism. Subsequently He practiced various other forms of worship like Shanta Bhava which is a process of complete peace with God,Vatsalya Bhava which is worshiping God as a baby, Prema Bhava which is seeing God as a lover. Later He was guided by Tota Puri, a monk of Adi Shankara’s monastic lineage who guided Ramkrishna on non-dual Vedanta the Dwaita vedanta. Later He practiced mystical Islam, or even the Christan Mysticism.
His final act was his worshiping of Maa Sarada. He performed with all the paraphernalia of Kali puja and worshiped His own wife as mother Kali. He offered the results of all His practices at Her feet including His rosary. That was the culmination of His spiritual practices.
He stayed in state of Bhava Mukha since than. A state where on one side is the transcendent brahma, beyond name, beyond form where the world disappeares and you become one with the universe. On the other side is the manifestation of this world. The boder line is the state of cosmic ego where Allmighty declares that it is God who manifests all of this. Ramkrishna, for the rest of His life was in this state, where He saw the transcendent on one side and the eminent on the other.
His teachings had a golden thread where He taught that the eternal nitya and the imminent leela the divine play both are true. Just as Nirguna Brahma is true so is the play of Maya is true.
He was the raging river of spirituality who walked upon the earth just over a hundred years ago. Today I share this story with a firm belief that we shall follow the teachings of this great man and make the world a better place.
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A devoted foodie with keen interest in wild life, music, cinema and travel Somashis has evolved over time . Being an enthusiastic reader he has recently started making occasional contribution to write-ups.