The Awakening of Ramakrishna Paramahansa
Describing his God-experience, Ramakrishna said: "The room, the temple and everything around me, vanished from sight. I felt as if nothing existed, and in their stead I perceived a boundless effulgent ocean of intelligence. Whichever side I turned my eyes, I saw huge waves of that shining ocean rushing towards me, and in a short while, they all came, and engulfed me completely.
''Thus getting suffocated under them, I lost my ordinary consciousness and fell down. At the same time I was also conscious, to the inner core of my being, of the hallowed presence of the Divine Mother."
About his nirvikalpa samadhi, Ramakrishna said: "After the initiation, 'the naked one' began to teach me Advaita Vedanta and asked me to withdraw the mind completely and dive into the atman. I had no difficulty in withdrawing from all objects except one, this was the all-too-familiar form of the Blissful Mother—radiant and of the essence of Pure Consciousness—which appeared before me as a living reality and would not allow me to pass beyond the realm of name and form.
"In despair I said to 'the naked one', 'It is hopeless. I cannot raise my mind to the unconditioned state and come face to face with the atman.' She sharply said: 'You can't do it! But you have to.' She cast her eyes around for something, and finding a piece of glass, took it up, and pressing its point between my eyebrows, said: 'Concentrate your mind on this point.'
''With stern determination I again sat to meditate, and as soon as the Divine Mother appeared, I used my discrimination as a sword and with it severed it into two. There remained no more obstruction to my mind, which at once soared beyond the relative plane, and I lost myself in samadhi.
"I was for six months in that state of nirvikalpa. Days and nights succeeded unnoticed. Flies would enter the mouth and nostrils without producing any sensation. Hairs became matted with dust. Sometime even nature's calls were answered unawares. Hardly would the body have survived this state but for a sadhu who recognized my condition, and also understood that the Mother had yet to do many things through this body—that many persons would be benefited if it were preserved. So at mealtime he used to fetch food and try to bring me to external consciousness by administering a good beating to the body. As soon as traces of consciousness were perceived, he would thrust the food into the mouth.
"After some days in this state, I came to hear the Mother's command: 'Remain on the threshold of relative consciousness (bhavamukha) for the instruction of mankind.' Then appeared blood dysentery. There was acute writhing pain in the intestines. Through this suffering for six months the normal body consciousness slowly reappeared. Or else, every now and then the mind would, of its own accord, to the nirvikalpa state.
"The natural tendency of this (my) mind is upwards (towards the nirvikalpa state). Once that is reached, it does not like to come down. For your (disciples') sake I drag it down perforce. Downward pull is not strong enough without a lower desire. So I create some trifling desires, for instance, for smoking, for drinking water, for tasting a particular dish, or for seeing a particular person, and repeatedly suggest them to my mind. Then alone the mind slowly comes to the body. Again, while coming down, it may run back upward. Again it has to be dragged down through such desires."
(From the words of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, as spoken to his disciples during the latter part of the 19th century)
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