Master and Mahadeva

A very happy, auspicious Maha Shivaratri to every one here!

A few years back, over a cup of cappuccino, one devotee came to meet me. As usual I asked him who was he! And he went on to give an elaborate reply such as that “firstly, he was a devotee of the latest Incarnation who brought the idea of harmony, love, peace and sacrifice to Society – Sri Ramakrishna”. He added that he also presents “a radio program on Hindvani, an Indian community based Radio station in South Africa”. He “had written a Religious Review on Sri Ram‘s Puja method”.

He in all seriousness continued to say that he was “a schoolteacher by profession – with some thirty years of experience. That is – two generations”. So he proudly announced to me that he has “a fair idea of how the older ones thought, and how the younger ones are thinking now”.

In a striking way he concluded, “That is how most people see me – from the distance. A closer look – how I see myself – Not just a mass of cells, not just a mind-intelligence complex – but a spark of the Divine. My journey of inquiry is still continuing
– who am I?”

Yes, its a treat to discuss with him on many philosophical matters and of course English, the language. He does come often to ashram and is extremely helpful in busy Puja schedule of mine. The other day he quickly brought out the charming similarities between Master and Mahadeva. I thought by placing here the same, our minds would be absorbed in thinking about Shiva and Shambhu on this wonderful Shivaratri night !

“There are many occasions in the life of Sri Ramakrishna that connect him with Lord Shiva.

In the Shiva Purana, Lord Shiva manifested as a column of light when Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were each proclaiming himself as the greatest among the deities. This particular manifestation of Lord Shiva is known as Lingodbhava-murti.

In Kamarpukur, Chandramani, the mother of Sri Ramakrishna, saw a flood of light emanate from the Shivalinga and enter her body. And she felt that she was with child! Thus, Sri Ramakrishna was born in this age as the lingodbhava, the light of Shiva.

Sri Ramakrishna was born three days after Shivaratri, on 18 February 1836, a few minutes before the sunrise. Just as at the birth of the incarnation of this age, a light spread over the world, so, even today, the light of knowledge is spreading to every corner of the world, dispelling the hordes of darkness in the forms of ignorance.

As soon as the baby Ramakrishna was born, Dhani, the midwife, placed him on the floor to attend to the mother. On turning her attention to the child, she was surprised to find that he had somehow rolled into the fireplace, and was lying there all covered with ashes – like Lord Shiva! If our goal is God, the ashes symbolise the turning away from (or burning of) the sensual, a renunciation of the worldly to attain the spiritual. One Puranic story tells how Lord Shiva burnt to ashes the god of love (that is, sensual delights). Describing Sri Ramakrishna, Holy Mother said that renunciation was the jewel of Sri Ramakrishna.

Kshudiram, the father of Sri Ramakrishna, named the child ‘Shambhuchandra’, one of the names of Lord Shiva.

Sri Ramakrishna performed various sadhanas and re-affirmed the validity of each. But he realised Lord Shiva without any effort. When he was nine, Sri Ramakrishna was asked to play the role of Lord Shiva in a dramatic performance on the night of Shivaratri. As he was adorned as Lord Shiva, he soared into a divine consciousness. And the devotees themselves were transported, as it were, to the very abode of Lord Shiva. Sri Ramakrishna remained in that ecstatic state for three days!

In the samudra-manthana episode, Lord Shiva took in the poison that emanated from the churning of the ocean by the gods and demons to obtain the nectar of immortality. At the end of his earthly life, Sri Ramakrishna had throat cancer. One viewpoint is that it was the result of Sri Ramakrishna’s swallowing the poison of the karmas of the millions of struggling souls who were seeking his shelter. Both drank the poison and kept it in the throat for the welfare of the world.

Sri Ramakrishna used to say: Jiva is Shiva, and Shiva is jiva. In other words, we ordinary beings are really Shiva but ignorant and bound. Our goal in life should be to reclaim our Shivahood.”

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24 comments

  1. Adarneeya Maharajji,
    Saadar Pranaam!
    As always your post fills the heart with BLISS!
    You always bring some most relevant view-point to all the festivals and mythology related with it. I forward the link in our “Devotees of Holy Trio” group.
    Bharat
    Mumbai, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Bharat
      Happy to see, so instantly you have chosen to respond!
      Many thanks for sharing this post with the devotee-readers of your prestigious group.
      May this Mahashivaratri ensure spiritual elevation!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  2. Dear Revered Swamiji
    My humble pranam at thy divine feet!
    It is truly a blessing that we are being treated to a spiritual feast of articles by Swamiji in rapid frequency! Thank you for that. I have a question regarding Swamiji’s post:
    Towards the end, Swamiji mentions that Master’s cancer could have been as a result of taking on the karmas of many souls. This is akin to Lord Jesus dying for the sake of His devotees.
    Can the Divine Incarnation not simply “write off” any bad karmas of devotees or does somebody have to suffer for the effects of sin?
    I wish Swamiji a Happy Shivaratri!
    Om Namo Narayanaya
    Rohith Jeebodh
    Estcourt, SA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Rohith
      I hope that ‘frequent feast’ does not create indigestion! Because it is spiritual in nature, you would agree with me that it would only nourish the mind and bring valuable benefits!
      As to your query:
      1) Yes, the Divine Incarnation does possess the wonderful Power to “write off” all karmic effects just by His glance. But why should He do that? Master says: “Bondage and liberation are both of Her making. By Her maya worldly people become entangled and again through Her grace they attain liberation. This universe is Her play. She is self-willed and must always have Her own way.
      2) Another reason that due to ignorance we have attached ourselves to the body-mind complex. If She writes off whole lock, stock and barrel how are we, jivas going to learn? Experience is a great teacher. And the play must go on.
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  3. The connection is very relevant, and well highlighted.
    Thanks for the post, Maharaj.
    Warm wishes to you on this auspicious occasion of Mahashivaratri.
    Pranam,
    Rupali
    Dubai, UAE

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Rupali
      Happy to see your response! How did you all celebrate Shivaratri there? I remember to have visited the Shiva Temple in Dubai along with Robi. The entire area to my delight, had an India ambience.
      If observance of this Shivaratri has contributed to the elevation of spirit, know that it’s all his grace alone!
      Looking forward to meet all our devotees during my impending visit to UAE in the end of March 2012!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  4. It is birth day of Srimat Swami Sankaranandaji Maharaj (Amulya Maharaj).
    Revered Maharaj is the Gurudev of my parents. I recollect him with my parents also.
    Manoj Kumar Chakraborty (Ratan)
    Barasat, West Bengal, India

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Ratan babu
      Revered Amulya Maharaj was indeed a great soul, full of love internally and shining externally with spiritual knowledge. When I was staying in Ranchi Sanatorium for long 12 years, I had the blessed opportunity to do sadhu-sanga with late revered Aikyatmanandaji Maharaj. He was Most Revered Sankaranandaji‘s disciple. It was my pleasure to meet the former almost every day and what a joy it would be when I would listen attentively to his narration of the wonderful incidents from his life vis-a-vis his Gurudeb.
      We all do require parasmani (the philosopher’s stone) of such souls to get transformed from the iron personality to golden.
      You are lucky to have been born to such parents who were blessed indeed to have had a Guru.
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  5. Dear Maharaj,
    Please accept our reverential pranam.
    On this auspicious day of Shivaratri one indeed is reminded of Thakur’s benevolent grace on his children by enlisting his Lila in our hearts. Maharaj! thank you for an awesome read highlighting his Lila.
    In this same light, we could also recall Mathur Babu’s vision of Shiva and Kali while Thakur was pacing on the veranda of Dakshineshwar temple garden. With this we shall take your leave now.
    With sincere prayers for love and devotion
    At the holy feet,
    Jyotsna & Kumar
    Brookings, USA

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    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Jyotsna and Kumar
      Hope you are all, by His grace keeping well.
      It was a pleasant surprise for me when I read your comment!
      Yes, thanks for recalling Mathur babu’s vision of Master as Shiva and Shakti. Very apt indeed! I would add here the following too.
      On 18 August 1883, Ramakrishna said to Rakhal in an ecstatic mood:
      This religious fervour (pointing to himself) is not like rain in the rainy season, which comes in torrents and goes in torrents. It is like an image of Shiva that has not been set up by human hands but is a natural one that has sprung up, as it were, from the bowels of the earth.
      Does he mean he was also a Swayambhu like Shiva – the Uncreated and the Unborn!
      Swami Saradananda, one of the Direct Disciples of Master Sri Ramakrishna once wrote:
      “When one reflects on the life and teachings of the Master, one understands that he was the embodiment of all spiritual moods. Such a great king in the realm of spirituality had never been seen before.”
      When one has complete bhakti to the Lord, the Lord reveals everything to His bhakta.
      May Thakur be your guiding light in your quest for higher realisation.
      If observance of this Shivaratri has contributed to the elevation of spirit, know that it’s all his grace alone!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  6. Pranam Maharaj,
    It is wonderful reading this especially today.
    The value of ashes is very beautifully captured and narrated. Thanks!
    Regards
    Anand
    Singapore

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Anand
      It is my heartfelt prayer that all devotees imbibe the spiritual vibrations that emanate during our auspicious festivals. Happy that you have enjoyed the post. May your devotion to the Lord be intensified.
      If observance of this Shivaratri has contributed to the elevation of spirit, know that it’s all his grace alone! As the Tamil scriptures say, “avan aruLAle avan thAL vanangi” – by His grace bowing down to His feet!
      Hope Shria and children are doing well. Is there any chance of your visit to our motherland in the ensuing September?
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  7. Om nama shivaya
    koti koti pranam revered Maharaj,
    Ah! the shivratri satsang at the ashram was divine as if we all were in Kailas with Shiv and Ma Parvati. I felt that Bholanath was dancing when Maharaj was speaking about the divine wedding.
    Let me express my simple feeling:
    In your divine company, I feel so blessed. It also brings so much of happiness and joy that words can’t express.
    Thanks to Thakur and Ma that we are in Maharaj’s presence. You always give us pure love.
    Your humble servant,
    Badshah
    Phoenix, Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Badshah
      I feel happy indeed that you enjoyed Mahashivaratri!
      The whole idea of these celebrations is to make the devotees feel the presence of the Lord. To be absorbed in soulful prayer and to draw the mind inwards bring us that much closer to our chosen deity. Hold fast to your ideal and this will give purity of mind and heart!
      I pray that your devotion to Mahadeva increase multi-fold!
      Thanks for your appreciative words! As far as possible I try by His grace to place the tales from our ancient lore graphically so that every listener could imagine and could enjoy the happenings through mental eyes. If you have felt Bholanath was dancing while I spoke, He did dance not because I spoke descriptively, but because your emotional involvement attained a particular depth of real feeling!
      If observance of this Shivaratri has contributed to the elevation of spirit, know that it’s all his grace alone!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  8. Pranam Maharaj,
    Excellent article and got to know so many information. Very Useful. Makes me to read again and again..
    Here Maha Shivaratri was celebrated so nice.
    Thanks and Regards
    Arun
    Chennai, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Arun
      Hope you and everyone in your family is doing well.Nice to know that you found the post interesting.
      “Shiva is Satyam, Shantam and Sundaram.”
      Live these words, practice these principles; you will find a silent transformation within you.
      If observance of this Shivaratri has contributed to the elevation of spirit, know that it’s all his grace alone!
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  9. Revered Maharaj
    Pranam!
    Having just returned from a spiritual sojourn to Belur Math, it seems like a blessing to have read this sweet meditation on the Shivatva of Sri Ramakrishna. Also remember reading in an article by a disciple of Holy Mother that Shiva has once appeared to her in a dream and said,”He and I are non-different. We are one essence.”
    Mahashivaratri has, since the past so many years, become more and more special to me since I learnt that I was born on the same tithi (next evening after puja)!
    It is possibly very childish of me to say it but it makes me happy. And I also share my English birth date with that of Thakur’s!
    Revered Maharaj! this time it was special to celebrate it at the lotus feet of the Guru. Please excuse my personal gibberish here in the comments section.
    Warm regards,
    In anticipation of your blessings
    Skendha
    New Delhi, India

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Skendha
      To be in guru-sthan that is Belur Math and in the company of Guru and on the banks of Ma Ganga, during this time of the year is indeed soulfully satisfying for any devotee as the devotee is ‘thrice blessed’. Thakur’s grace is certainly upon you!
      It is not uncommon to find people around us identifying their own birth dates with those of the celebrities. That pleasure is short lived. When they realise they are nowhere near to those ‘idols’, a sadness envelopes their hearts which becomes a source of inferiority complex! Compare this to those handful of rare individuals (like you) who associate their dates of birth with those of great spiritual luminaries. Well, it has an entirely different effect on the personality. ‘uddharet aatmanaa aatmaanam’ as Lord propounds in His Bhagavad Gita, becomes much easier.
      Expressing your ‘personal gibberish’ only goes to show that how much you are guileless and devoted to truth.
      I do enjoy reading your every comment and if you throw a few of them (gibberish), it wouldn’t actually matter and may rather prove to be ‘pickled’ tasty meal!
      May Master and Mother be with you ever is my prayer!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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      1. Revered Maharaj
        Heartfelt greetings and pranam (although belated) for Sri Ramakrishna’s birth day!
        Revered Maharaj, whenever I visit this blog to read an illuminating article, or the comments posted by devotees and then your considerate responses, there is one image which arises repeatedly in my mind – that of a huge and shade giving tree where one may find shelter.
        Reading your warm and gentle response to my childish prattle once again invoked that image in my mind. And really one has to thank Revered Maharaj from the bottom of one’s heart for it. Whatever good qualities you mention about me, Revered Maharaj! are no more to be found in me than light is in the moon. They are merely the reflection of a great one’s thought.
        And as far as finding these little ‘links’ are concerned…it is because the Ishta is at once a beloved and a friend, and yet is the soul of our soul and the God among gods… so when wise men and women withdraw their minds and meditate… people like me, of superficial thinking, probably indulge in these thoughts. After all He is there to “correct the timing on the watch”!
        Once again with warm regards!
        Pranam!
        Skendha Singh
        New Delhi, India

        Like

  10. Revered Swamiji
    Please accept humble pranam Swamijee!
    A brilliant post! A wealth of knowledge is gained by continuous reading of the easy style writing and the answers given to all comments.
    I must add here how pleasantly surprised, delighted and blessed the PMB devotees were when Maharaj entered the shrine on the midnight of Shivaratri. The already charged atmosphere of divinity was further enhanced by Revered Swamijee’s presence! The excellent Talk on Shiva Panchakshara stotram was the “cherry on top”.
    Many devotees acknowledged that Swamijee’s Talk was totally illuminating and befitting for the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri.
    Thanking Swamijee for always coloring our minds and hearts with devotion to God!
    Most humble pranam
    Avitha
    Pietermarizburg, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Avitha
      Its good to know that you understood the essence of the post.
      I too was very happy to meet the PMB devotees on the night of Shivaratri. I could feel the Lord’s presence permeating in the holy shrine. Although you devotees were rather surprised at my unannounced visit, the warm and affectionate welcome proved to be fulfilling on that fasting night. What struck me was the Shivalingam that was encircled by a beautiful golden snake image with large number of vilva leaves and charming marigold flowers.
      One of my favourite hymns is Shiva Panchakshara stotram. Each syllable of the famous ‘Om namah shivaaya’ has deep mystic meaning imprinted within. Adi Shankaracharya has so wonderfully explained the significance in his hymn.
      Thanks for your appreciative words!
      May Master be with you all!
      Swami Vimokshananda

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  11. Om nama shivaya,
    Our humble pranam at your divine feet Revered Maharaj!.
    I felt so absorbed in the shrine on the tithi puja of our beloved Lord Shri Thakur.
    A sudden thought entered as if Shri Ram and some rishis were performing the puja and I got the fragrance of jasmine around me.
    Big Swamiji told us that our Master is the modern prophet; He will be in everyone’s home; only time will tell. So I am seeing it.
    Once more salutations at Master’s and Mother’s divine feet.
    Pranam
    Sridutt (Badshah)
    Phoenix, Durban, SA

    Like

    1. ||Sri Ramakrishna sharanam||
      Dear Badshah
      Yes, the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna has been spreading throughout the world bringing about a flood of bliss and peace.
      Is He not the ideal of this age?
      We must all try and cross the ocean of worldliness by making Him our ideal.
      Swami Vimokshananda

      Like

  12. Dear Swamiji,
    my feelings on the above post over a cup of cappuccino is…
    That It is human nature to always believe we are more worldly, more knowledgeable on most matters outside of ourself. If we take some time we may be surprised to know where this “holier than thou” attitude comes from, and be surprised to know that it’s our Ego! After all, all comparisons to anything is based on man’s ideals, nothing else.
    Hari Om!
    Ashika
    Durban, SA

    Like

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