I Have Given You My All
In the meanwhile Sri Ramakrishna was sinking daily; his body was worn to a skeleton, and his diet was reduced to a minimum. All this grieved the devotees. They knew now that they were going to lose the great mainstay of their lives. When the pain was excruciating, Sri Ramakrishna would only whisper with a smile, “Let the body and its pain take care of each other, thou, my mind, be always in bliss!”
The devotees, however, begged him to ask the Divine Mother to make his body last; but he gazed at them tenderly and said, “How can I ask Her for anything when my will is entirely merged in Hers?” In spite of failing strength the Master continued his spiritual work.
About eight or nine days before his passing, Sri Ramakrishna asked one of his disciples, Yogin, to read to him from the Bengali almanac the dates from the twenty-fifth Shravana (9th August) onwards. Yogin read until he came to the last day (15th August) of the month. Sri Ramakrishna then made a sign that he did not want to hear any more.
Four or five days after this, Sri Ramakrishna called Narendra to his side. There was nobody else in the room. He made Narendra sit before him and gazing at him fell into Samadhi. Narendra felt a subtle force like an electric shock penetrating his body. Gradually he too lost outward consciousness. He did not remember how long he sat there. When he came to normal consciousness, he found Sri Ramakrishna in tears. The Master said to him, “Today I have given you all and have become a Fakir! Through this power you will do immense good to the world, and then only you shall go back”. In this way Sri Ramakrishna passed on his powers to Narendra; henceforth the Master and the disciple became one soul.
The Master’s Final Revelation
A couple of days later the idea entered Narendra’s mind of testing Sri Ramakrishna’s statement that he was an Incarnation. He said to himself, “If in the midst of this dreadful physical pain he can declare his Godhead, then I shall believe him”. Strange to say, the moment this thought came to him, Sri Ramakrishna summoning all his energy said distinctly, “He who was Rama and Krishna, is now Ramakrishna in this body, but not in your Vedantic sense!” Narendra was stricken with shame and remorse for having doubted his Master even after so many revelations.
At last the eventful day arrived, a day of intense grief for the devotees. It was Sunday, August 15, 1886, the last day of Shravana. Sri Ramakrishna’s suffering was at its highest. The devotees wept in grief. They stood by the bed-side of their Master. In the evening he suddenly fell into Samadhi. The body became stiff. There was something about this Samadhi which struck them as unusual, and he began to weep. After midnight Sri Ramakrishna regained consciousness.
Then Sri Ramakrishna in a clear voice uttered thrice the name of Kali and gently lay down. Suddenly at two minutes past one, a thrill passed through his divine body, making the hair stand on end. The eyes became fixed on the tip of the nose and the face was lit up with a smile. Sri Ramakrishna entered into Mahasamadhi. Thus in the early hours of Monday, the 16th of August 1860, Sri Ramakrishna departed from the world, leaving behind a host of grief-stricken devotees and admirers.
At five p.m. the sacred body was brought down and laid on a cot. It was dressed in ochre cloth and decorated with sandal- paste and flowers. An hour later, the body was carried to the burning ghat at Cossipore, to the accompaniment of devotional music. Spectators shed tears as they saw the solemn procession pass. The body was placed on the funeral pyre, and within a couple of hours everything was finished.
A calm resignation came to the devotees as they prepared to leave the cremation ground, for they all realized Sri Ramakrishna’s eternal presence within. He, their Lord, was the same in the disembodied state as in the physical life. According to his own words, he had passed from one chamber to another, that was all. They put the sacred relics of Sri Ramakrishna’s body into an urn and returned to the Cossipore garden, shouting “JAI BHAGWAN RAMAKRISHNA!” (Victory to Bhagavan Ramakrishna!)
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