Question: How does your path differ from that of Sri Ramakrishna?
Sri Chinmoy: All paths ultimately lead to the to the same goal, and both Sri Ramakrishna’s path and my own path are the path of love, devotion and surrender. But there are some subtle differences. Sri Ramakrishna said that you do not have to read any books; he said that all will come from within. Sri Ramakrishna did not care for the mind at all. He said, “No mind! Just cry, cry!” It is true that the supreme Wisdom, the supreme Knowledge, comes from within. But since God has given us the mind, I feel that we have to utilise it to some extent by reading inspiring and uplifting books written by the real spiritual Masters. But again, the mind is imperfect and I wish my disciples to go beyond the mind. Sri Ramakrishna’s path and our path will never run into any conflict. He is a very great spiritual Master and I have utmost love and admiration for him. I have written a play and quite a few articles about Sri Ramakrishna. A few years ago, for Vivekananda’s Centennial, I wrote twelve articles on Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna.
I have never said that our path is superior to somebody else’s. No, far from it. But if you want to know the differences, I can find some little differences. I appreciate Sri Ramakrishna’s love, devotion and surrender. But I also say that we have to use the mind to a certain extent. Vivekananda, his dearest disciple, utilised the mind when he came to the West. Vivekananda was intellectually a giant. So there is always a compromise. Sri Ramakrishna did not care to study and he could hardly even write his name. But he embodied the highest Truth.
Sri Ramakrishna used to worship Mother Kali, the Divine Mother. He used to adore the Highest in the feminine form. He used to feel the Divine Mother in his own highest consciousness. But he would not allow his disciples to mix with women. He told his male disciples to shun women. He really felt that this was best for his disciples. Most of our Indian spiritual Masters have asked their men disciples not to mix with women at all, and they have asked the women disciples not to mix with men. But in my philosophy, I say that men and women are both God’s children and they have to go together. One complements the other. But again, there is no basic difference between my path and Sri Ramakrishna’s. There are only subtle differences. 1
Question: Why did Sri Ramakrishna not cure himself if he had the power?
Sri Chinmoy: In Ramakrishna’s case, he himself knew and we definitely know that his disease was not due to his own karma. It was the karma of his disciples that he accepted and embraced. Sri Ramakrishna accepted very few disciples as his very own, when he was in the land of the living. When sixteen or seventeen true disciples had come to him, he said, “Stop now…..I don’t want to have any more.” Although the number of disciples was very few, their sincerity was so genuine and pure, that he really accepted the consequences of the disciples’ wrong actions. He used to enter into the vital world, the lowest vital world, and almost every day he cleaned them and purified his disciples. Then, the ignorance that was about to attack them he would invite to himself, saying, “Don’t touch my children, touch me.” Not only the punishment for the wrong actions of the disciples did he accept gladly, but also the ignorance that would have threatened the disciples in future years. So on the strength of his intuitive oneness with his disciples, Ramakrishna accepted all his sufferings.
Now once it happened that Vivekananda, his dearest disciple, asked him, “Why don’t you go and tell Mother Kali to cure you? You have the power to cure yourself, but if you don’t want to, go and ask Mother to cure you.”
He said, “Why?”
Vivakananda said, “If you are cured, you will be able to eat. Now you cannot eat anything; you are in such pain. You cannot put anything inside you.”
So Ramakrishna went to Mother Kali and said, “Mother, Naren is telling me to ask you to cure me, so that I can eat.” The Mother said, “What is wrong with you? You are eating perfectly.” Ramakrishna said, “When? I am not eating.” She replied, “You are not eating? You are eating through your hundreds of devotees and admirers and disciples. When they eat, are you not eating? Do you have to eat separately? In their eating, you are eating.” Immediately he fell silent and went back to Vivekananda and told him, “I will never listen to you again. My Mother has told me that I am eating through you and eating through all my disciples. I am one with you.”
So on the strength of his oneness, he became fully one with the suffering of his disciples. That is how and why Sri Ramakrishna took upon himself the suffering of the disciples. Otherwise he could easily have avoided this. But on the other hand, from the ultimate point of view, we can say that Mother Kali gave him the most significant experience of true oneness through his dearest disciples. 2