Friday, 2 May 2014

4. An Unusual Priest

The untimely demise of his brother intensified the spiritual longing of young Ramakrishna. He felt acutely the impermanence of the world, and searched for something permanent. Naturally, his heart was drawn to the Divine Mother, whom he daily worshiped. With more fervour and devotion, he worshiped Her and made Her the sole object of his life. During his free time, he sang hymns for Her and meditated on Her form.

As days go by, his yearning for the Divine Mother increased a thousandfold. He wanted to ensure, that the Divine Mother really exists. His heart longed to catch a glimpse of the Mother of the Universe. Some of the songs which he sang for Her, showed that God can be seen and they were devotees who had seen the Divine. Sometimes, Ramakrishna would roll on the ground crying, “Mother! Mother!” Strangers who saw him pitied him and thought that he was lamenting for his dead mother.

Often at night, when everyone was asleep, he would steal out of his room and went to the nearby jungle. It was rumoured that the place was haunted. There, under a tree, he would remove his clothes, sacred thread and sit for meditation. This was going on for sometimes when one day, Hriday, his nephew, followed him behind. Shocked to find the naked Ramakrishna under the tree, Hriday demanded an explanation. Ramakrishna’s reply was even more startling than his strange conduct. “Don’t you know that human beings are chained by fetters like shame, honour, pride of caste and so on? The sacred thread reminds the caste. The clothes show the difference of gender. He, who wants to contemplate on the Divine Mother, must free himself from all these fetters.”

Ramakrishna’s way of worshiping the Divine Mother also now became strange and often outside the prescribed rituals. At times, he would become so engrossed in meditation that he would forget to complete the worship. While singing devotional songs, he would pour out his heart in tears. Sometimes, he would feed a cat with the food prepared for offering to the Goddess. At night, he would rush to fan the Divine Mother.

Soon, some temple official reported the matter to Mathurnath. One day, without informing anyone, Mathurnath came to the temple. He observed that Ramakrishna was no ordinary priest, but an extraordinary person who lost himself in the worship of the Divine. Quietly, Mathur left the temple and sent a letter to the temple official with the note, “Do not disturb the young priest.”

One day, it became too unbearable for him. He felt life was useless without a vision of the Mother. Suddenly, he noticed the sword hanging by the side of Mother Bhavatarini. He rushed and seized the sword. He raised it to slit his throat, when it happened. He saw the Divine Mother, full of consciousness and bliss, filling the temple with Her brilliance. It was as if, the whole material world was swept away by that ocean of light. He fell down, unconscious.

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