Gadai’s Love of Truth
Gadadhar was now nine, and it was time to invest him with the holy thread. A curious incident happened in this connection.
It is the traditional custom in a Brahmin family that just after the upanayanam ceremony (investiture with the sacred thread), the newly initiated should accept his first alms from some relative or at least from a Brahmin of the same social standing. But Dhani, the blacksmith woman who had tended the child in the lying-in room, had long ago prayed to Gadadhar to extend her the privilege of giving him the first Bhiksha (alms), and the boy, moved by her genuine love, had agreed. After the investiture ceremony was over, Gadadhar, in spite of the repeated objections of other members of the house, kept his promise and accepted his first alms from Dhani in contrast to the time-honoured custom of his family.
But the event, however trifling, is not without significance. This unyielding love of truth and rising above social convention at this tender age reflected in no small measure Gadadhar’s latent spiritual inclination and foresight and disclosed the real nature of the boy. It showed that true love and devotion were more precious to him than social restrictions.
Solving a Disputed Point of Scholars
Gadadhar’s inborn qualities of head and heart became manifest on more than one occasion at this time. Shortly after the thread ceremony an incident occurred bringing him for the first time before the villagers as a teacher. He was then only ten years old. One day he was listening with rapt attention to an animated discussion held by certain scholars on some subtle point, at the house of the local zamindar (landlord). The boy, understanding their difficulty in arriving at the proper solution, made a suggestion to one of the Pandits and asked whether such might be the answer. The solution of Gadadhar was so appropriate to the point under discussion that the scholars were amazed at such maturity in the young boy. The scholars praised and blessed him heartily.
Ecstacy for the Third Time
After he had put on the sacred thread, Gadadhar had the privilege of touching and worshiping Raghuvir. His heart was filled with a new fervour of devotion. He also worshipped God Rameshwara, Shiva and Goddess Sitala. With his intense devotion he would experience the state of Bhava Samadhi (God consciousness) on several occasions. He had this kind of Samadhi and vision on the Shivaratri of that year.
It was the tradition to have a Jatra (traditional-type play) on Shivaratri night. The play would always centre on Shiva and would help people keep awake.
After finishing the worship in the first quarter of the night, Gadai’s friend Gayavishnu ran to him and conveyed the message that he would have to act the part of Shiva and speak a few words in the play. His other friends also explained that the person who usually played that role had suddenly taken ill and was unable to act. When Gadai refused to do so, they convinced him to play this role which would make him think of Shiva. Gadai got convinced and was soon dressed with matted hair, rudraksha beads and his body smeared with ashes.
He approached the stage with slow and measured steps, supported by his friends. He looked the living image of Shiva. The audience loudly applauded, but soon they discovered that he was really lost in meditation. His countenance was radiant and tears flowed from his eyes. He was lost to the outer world. The effect of this scene on the audience was tremendous. The people felt blessed as by a vision of Shiva himself. Unable to bring Gadai back to normal, the performance had to be stopped for the night. Gadai was taken back home and he regained consciousness only the next morning.
Gadadhar was in this kind of ecstasy from time to time. He would forget himself and his surroundings when meditating, or listening to music in praise of gods and goddesses. On occasions, when his absorption became very deep, he would appear like a lifeless statue. This caused great alarm to Chandramani and other family members for a long time. But their fear passed away when they found Gadai’s health was not affected in any way, and that he was efficient in all kinds of work and was always happy.
Illustrations by Smt. Hema Satagopan
- Sri Ramakrishna The Great Master by Swami Saradananda, Translated by Swami Jagadananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai - 600 004
- The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Translated by Swami Nikhilananda (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974)
- The Path Divine, Sathya Sai Balvikas Magazine, Dharmakshetra, Mahakali Caves Road, Andheri (East), Mumbai - 400 093
- A Short Life of Sri Ramakrishna, published by Swami Tattwavidananda, Adhyaksha, Advaita Ashrama, Uttarkhand, Himalayas from its Publication Department, Kolkata
- The Story of Ramakrishna, Published by Swami Bodhasarananda, Advaitha Ashrama, Uttarkhand, from its Publications Department, Kolkata