August 2013

The brilliance of the divine Self radiating through each individual is directly proportionate to the degree of surrender at the higher altar within. – Chinmaya

All are essentially divine. If so, why in this world is seen a ‘saint – sinner’ divide? The above quote clears the doubt with a law divine.

The sinner, ignorant of the higher altar within, makes his ego his master; while the saintly one, through surrender and self-effacement, allows the inner Self to guide and rule over.

The life of Girish Chandra Ghosh, one of the foremost devotees of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, is but another example to prove this point.

Born in Calcutta in 1844, Girish grew up as a lively and carefree soul. It was the time when Western education and culture were thrust upon Indian society, challenging the traditional Indian culture and religion. Consequently, the youth of his generation grew up in an atmosphere of doubt, atheism and cultural chaos.

At the threshold of maturity with no one to guide, Girish started drifting into drunkenness, sensuality and obstinacy. He became a regular visitor to the houses of ill-fame.

In 1874, when he was just thirty, his young wife died, leaving behind a son and a daughter. Shortly thereafter, he lost his job. Six months after his second marriage, Girish became ill with deadly cholera, but miraculously survived a sure-death situation.

Disease, death, accidents, poverty, untold sufferings – all these lead to a turning point in his life where, despite his proclaimed atheism, he began to wonder if a greater Reality did exist.

He had read a lot about Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and was curious to know more about this holy man.

In 1884, Girish’s drama on the life of Chaitanya created a sensation in Calcutta, and this brought him closer to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.

Sri Ramakrishna’s joyous singing and dancing with the devotees, his childlike attitude, his state of Samadhi, his words of wisdom, his purity and humility…- all these drew his heart towards the Master and soon he became a frequent visitor to Dakshineshwar. He strongly believed that Sri Ramakrishna was an incarnation of God.

Once, Sri Ramakrishna made a remark about Girish to another devotee, “You may wash a thousand times a cup that has held a solution of garlic, but will the smell ever go?”

Girish heard about it and was very much hurt. He went to Ramakrishna and asked, “Will this smell of garlic go?”

The Master replied, “Yes. It will. All smell disappears when the blazing fire is lighted. When heated, the smell goes and it becomes like a new cup.”

Once, in a gush of anger, Girish harshly abused the Master to the utter shock of all the devotees present there. But later he became repentant, and wept profusely, refusing to eat. The Master came to his house and tenderly consoled him, “It’s alright. It is better for these things to come out, like poisoned blood.”

Once, out of total dejection, Girish came to the Master and lamented that he was a rank sinner unfit to do any sadhana. The Master lovingly advised, “All right. Give God your power of attorney. Henceforth He will take full responsibility for you. You don’t have to do anything.” The jubilant disciple’s joy knew no bounds!

Soon one day, Girish remarked in Master’s presence, “I shall do this.”

“No, no”, corrected the Master, “You can’t talk like that anymore. Say I shall do this if God wills.”

Next time if he had to drink, he had to first offer the liquor to Mother Kali and then drink!

Girish began to understand the mystery of the power of attorney. As time passed he began to realize that he could not perform any action out of his own free will.

He couldn’t continue with the habit of drinking. Once, to test the Master’s grace, he went to a brothel to spend the night there, but due to intense prick of conscience, he ran back home. Again, in the Master’s presence, he tried deliberately to think a worldly thought, but he couldn’t.

A great change started happening to Girish. He started considering the Master as his closest relative. The Master’s loving care and concern made Girish understand that he would not be condemned for his shortcomings. Soon, his passionate love for Sri Ramakrishna endowed him with what the Master himself described as “one hundred twenty-five per cent faith”.

In Swami Turianand ji’s words, “Girish was the most religious of us all. He lived, as he had promised, by the promptings of the Indweller.”

After the Master’s passing away, a series of deaths – of his second wife, of his two daughters and of his young son – took place in his family. This initiated a blazing fire of renunciation, burning up all his attachments, desires and impurities. The garlic cup was being heated and the odour was disappearing. His life-style soon underwent a total transformation.

Girish was a prodigious writer and produced during his time 79 works, including dramas, satires and musicals. In addition, he wrote many short stories, articles, poems and songs. His dramas dealt with religious, social, historical, mythological and patriotic subjects. His innovative spirit had a lasting impact on the theatre in Bengal. He became known as the ‘father of Bengal theatre’. Through his contact, the lives of many, including the actors and actresses of the theatre, were transformed.

During his last years, Girish suffered terribly from asthma. But he remained unruffled at all times. In his death bed, he once told a devotee, “Brother, could you beat me with your shoes? I am not joking! I deserve it. The Master is sitting within my heart and is always protecting me. Yet I wonder what will happen to me after death!”

On 1912, he breathed his last, taking the name of the Lord and proclaiming victory unto his Master.

To quote Swami Vivekananda, “In G.C. (Girish) alone I have seen that true resignation – that spirit of the servant of the Lord… I have not met his parallel. From him, I have learnt the lesson of true self-surrender…”

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Posted in: Chintana

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