— Swami Vireshananda — Sri Ramakrishna once remarked about Srimad Bhagavata: ‘Bhagavata is fried in the butter of knowledge and steeped in the honey of love [for the Divine].’1 The scholars echo this sentiment. They say that this great devotional work is a beautiful blending of jnana and bhakti; while karma yoga and yoga of […]
Spirituality in Indian tradition is interwoven with daily life. Many spiritual aspirants call themselves religious. They read scriptures and holy books daily; practise Japa and meditation and develop faith in God. However, they feel the dilemma when applying spiritual principles to counter and solve the challenges that they face in their day-to-day life. The reason is simple: they are clueless in determining whether the noble principles enshrined in the Upanishads, the Bhagavadgita, and other scriptures would be able to give a lasting solution to the teething complications of mundane life.
One day in February 1882, M. entered Sri Ramakrishna’s room in Dakshineshwar with his friend Sidhu. This was his first visit to the Master. He describes:
Entering the room, they found Sri Ramakrishna alone, seated on the wooden couch. … Sri Ramakrishna asked them: ‘Where do you live? What is your occupation? Why have you come to Baranagore?’ M. answered the questions, but he noticed that now and then the Master seemed to become absent-minded. Later he learnt that this mood is called bhāva, ecstasy. It is like the state of the angler who has been sitting with his rod: the fish comes and swallows the bait, and the float begins to tremble; the angler is on the alert; he grips the rod and watches the float steadily and eagerly; he will not speak to anyone. Such was the state of Sri Ramakrishna’s mind. Later M. heard, and himself noticed, that Sri Ramakrishna would often go into this mood after dusk, sometimes becoming totally unconscious of the outer world.
This bhāva, the divine mood, is the essential ingredient in the spiritual sadhana of Sri Ramakrishna. The story of his sadhana is marked by the gradual evolution of divine moods culminating in the state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Swami Saradananda, in his magnum opus Sri Ramakrishna and His Divine Play, records this progression of divine moods of the Master enumerating in detail its philosophical and mystical significance.