Friday, 2 May 2014

8. Days with Mathurnath

Mathur Babu became the sole administrator of the temple garden of Dakshineswar after the demise of Rani Rasmani. With the intention of ensuring a comfortable life for Ramakrishna, Mathur wanted to give him some property. Hearing this proposal, Ramakrishna immediately rebuked him and said, “Do you want to make me a worldly man?” Hearing these words, Mathur did not pursue the matter anymore.

One day, in the course of a conversation, Mathur argued with Sri Ramakrishna. “Even God must obey by His law,” Mathur said. “Once God makes a rule, He Himself cannot change it.” Sri Ramakrishna did not agree to this. “A person who makes a law, also has the power the alter the law,” Ramakrishna explained. Mathur did not agree and he illustrated that if God decided that a certain tree shall bear white flowers, then the tree would bear only white flower and not red. Ramakrishna did not argue further. The next day, he was walking in the temple garden. He saw a tree which had a red and white flower on the same branch. With delight, Ramakrishna broke the branch and went to Mathur. “Look, what God has done!” Mathur was speechless. He agreed that God can do whatever He wants. 

Once a thief stole the jewels from the images in the temple of Radhakanta.  Mathur Babu entered the temple and said to the Deity: “What a shame, O God! You couldn't save Your own ornaments.” Hearing this, Ramakrishna said to Mathur.  “Does He who has Lakshmi for His handmaid, and attendant, ever lack any splendour? Those jewels may be precious to you, but to God, they are no better than lumps of clay.  Shame on you! What riches can you give to God to magnify His glory?”

In 1868, Mathur took Sri Ramakrishna on a pilgrimage to Varanasi and Vrindavan. It was a huge group of over 150 people. They started on a train from Kolkata. 

On the way, they halted at Deogarh to visit the Vaidyanath temple. The place was wrecked by severe famine. Everywhere, people looked like skeletons. Ramakrishna could not bear the sight of suffering. With tears in his eyes, he asked Mathur to feed the people and give them a piece of cloth each. Mathur, a very practical man, was reluctant, as huge sum of money will be required for the pilgrimage. 

Varanasi - 1880's
This angered Ramakrishna. He refused to leave the place and said that he would rather stay with the villagers. Mathur had no choice but to please Sri Ramakrishna. He arranged for food and gave all the people a piece of cloth and oil for bath. After distributing the alms, they then left for Varanasi

Varanasi appeared a veritable City of Gold to Sri Ramakrishna. Accumulated spiritual moods, over the ages, had solidified and seemed to fill the whole atmosphere of Varanasi. Every day, Ramakrishna went to pray at the temple of Vishwanath. He also met many notable monks and holy men of the place.

Ramakrishna was very much impressed with Trailanga Swami. The Swami was then observing a vow of silence. However, using gestures, he communicated with Ramakrishna. Ramakrishna also entertained him with a feast.

During this pilgrimage, one day, Sri Ramakrishna was seated in the drawing-room of their host with Mathur, and some others. The gentlemen started talking about various worldly matters, such as their business losses. Sri Ramakrishna’s mind at this time, did not enjoy any conversation, but that about God. Unable to bear the pain of hearing such talks, made him weep bitterly to the Divine Mother. He cried: “Mother, where have You brought me? I was much better off in the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Here I am in a place where I must hear about 'woman and gold'.  But at Dakshineswar I could avoid it."

Then, the party visited Allahabad and bathed in the confluence of Ganga and Jamuna. Next, they visited Vrindavan. Ramakrishna enjoyed his stay in Vrindavan like a child. During dusk, he walked on the bank of the Jamuna. Seeing the cattle returning along the sandy banks from their pastures, the thought of Krishna would flash in his mind. He would run along like a madman, crying: "Oh, where is Krishna? Where is my Krishna?"

At the sight of Mount Govardhan, he was overwhelmed with divine emotion and he ran to the top. He lost all consciousness of the world. Helped by the residents of the place, he came down from the mount. While going to Syamakunda and Radhakunda, when he saw the meadows, the trees, the shrubs, the birds, and the deer, he was in an ecstatic mood. His clothes became wet with tears.  He cried: "O Krishna! Everything here is as it was in the olden days. Only You are absent." Thus, choked with emotion, he could not speak anymore.

One day, while walking in the streets of Vrindavan, he saw two youths of exceeding beauty. Approaching Ramakrishna, they merged in his body. They were Sri Krishna Chaitanya and Prabu Nityananda. 

After completing the pilgrimage, the party returned to Kolkata. In July 1871, Mathur Babu passed away of typhoid fever. He had served Sri Ramakrishna for fourteen years. With his demise, a new chapter in the life of Sri Ramakrishna started. 

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