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The Kalpataru Day

HAPPY NEW YEAR! To all the viewers of this site.

The New Year's Day, known as the Kalpataru day to the devotees of Sri Ramakrishna, and to the followers of his teachings, has a special significance.

On this day in 1886, Ramakrishna blessed a group of his devotees with these words: "May you all be blessed with the spiritual awakening." (Tomader Chaitanya Houk in Bengali)

However, January 1, 1886 wasn't significant for those words only; it was because what else happened that day.

Swami Saradananda, a direct disciple of Ramakrishna described in minute details the events of that day in his book Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master, (Vol. II, pp. 1023–1027, pub., Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India).

Here's is a brief version of that story.


Girish Chandra Ghosh: One of the miracles of Sri Ramakrishna, Girish was a playwright, actor, and director of Bengali theatre. A drunkard leading a bohemian lifestyle, Girish went to see Ramakrishna the first time, out of sheer curiosity, at the house of one of Ramakrishna's devotees. Later, Ramakrishna also came to see Girish's plays at the Star Theatre. Soon after that, Girish became not only a devotee of Ramakrishna and visited him frequently, sometimes drunk, at the Dakshineshwar temple, but also started saying publicly that Ramakrishna was none other than a Divine Incarnation.

Cossipore: Northwestern suburb of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) where Sri Ramakrishna was moved from Dakshineshwar temple on December 11, 1885 for treatment of throat–cancer. Here in a spacious rented house surrounded by gardens, Ramakrishna spend the last eight months of his life, and on Aug 16, 1886 passed into Mahasamadhi.

Now read on . . .

Since it was the New Year holiday, many devotees had started coming to the Cossipore garden–house, shortly after midday, to visit Sri Ramakrishna. They were waiting in groups, engaged in conversation, either in the garden or inside the house. Ramakrishna was resting upstairs in his room. In the afternoon, around 3 PM, he felt a little better and wanted to stroll for a while in the garden. So he came downstairs. As soon as the devotees saw him, they bowed down to him and followed him to the garden. When Ramakrishna reached the middle of the path leading to the gate, he saw Girish and a few other devotees sitting under a tree. When Girish and the group saw Ramakrishna approaching, they stood up in reverence, bowed down to him from there, and came towards him.

Then, before anyone had said a word, Ramakrishna suddenly asked Girish: "Girish, you have been saying many things about 'this' (Ramakrishna's unique way of referring to himself; he rarely used egotistic words, such as 'me', 'myself', or 'I'); but what have you understood [about me] that you are publicly saying those things (Divine Incarnation, and so on)?"

Girish kneeling down on the ground near Ramakrishna's feet, replied in a choked voice with his hands folded and face turned upwards: "What more can I say of Him, whose greatness Vyasa and Valmiki could not find words to express?"

Sri Ramakrishna was charmed at the fervent utterance of Girish, and blessing all the devotees assembled there through their representative Girish, said: "What more shall I say to you? May you all be blessed with the spiritual awakening."

Hardly had he said those few words he entered into Samadhi. And, for the devotees, those words of profound blessing directly entered their hearts; they forgot time and space. They became eager to bow down to him and with cries of "Victory to Ramakrishna", began saluting him one after another. As they were thus bowing down to him, something wonderful happened — Sri Ramakrishna now began touching each of the devotees in that divine mood. Because of his touching them, their consciousnesses were lifted high, they became ecstatic, and their joy knew no bounds. They felt as if Ramakrishna would not, hereafter, keep concealed the fact of his divinity from anybody in the world.

Some devotees described the incident of that day as the transformation by Sri Ramakrishna of himself into the Kalpataru. But, actually he did much more: he made clear through his actions, the fact of his being a God–man.

In the book cited, Swami Saradananda described the experiences of three of the devotees, in their own words, whom Ramakrishna blessed in very special ways that day. Here's what one of the devotees said:

. . . as the result of it [blessing], a great revolution took place in my mind. I saw the figure of the Master [Ramakrishna] lit up with a gracious smile in the sky, in the houses, trees, plants, men and in whatever else I looked at . . . That mental attitude and vision of mine continued for some days throughout my waking state. I became amazed and charmed with the holy vision of the Master in all things. It continued to be so wherever I went, to the office or elsewhere on any business . . . I could not attend to the work on hand and it suffered . . . I then prayed to the Master again with fear, "O lord, I am not able to contain this mental state; please ordain that it may come to an end." I now think, "Woe be to human weakness and stupidity! Why did I pray so?" . . . as soon as I prayed in that manner, the said vision and mental state came to an end one day. My firm conviction is that they were removed by the same extraordinary Being from whom I had got them. But he preserved compassionately a partial capacity of the mind to recapture it . . .

In the book, Swami Saradananda also made an interesting observation. That is, only a couple of Ramakrishna's monastic disciples were present during this incident. In other words, only Ramakrishna's lay, householder devotees received his blessings that day. This was perhaps because he had to specially bless his monastic disciples while imparting more rigorous spiritual training to them who would be entrusted to spread his teachings worldwide.

To conclude . . .

Swami Vivekananda, Ramakrishna's foremost monastic disciple once said: "One touch, one glance, can change the whole life." (Vol. 4, p. 179). Yet, Vivekananda seldom mentioned Ramakrishna in his lectures and writings, except in one lecture titled "My Master", which he delivered in New York in 1896. Instead, Vivekananda delivered to the world only Ramakrishna's profound teachings in the context of the philosophy of Vedanta. He had the great insight that telling the world about Sri Ramakrishna the person would be short lived. Instead, spreading Ramakrishna's messages, for example, "ALL RELIGIONS ARE TRUE" would be essential for the future generations of the humankind. Nothing could be more precious than these four words in today's world that is inflicted with violence, hatred, and merciless killings.

Swami Vivekananda being my inspiration, I'll also try to follow this principle for this site, that is, I'll not write about Sri Ramakrishna, or about the events of his life, nor the miracles he performed; I'll focus only on his profound teachings, and how they can be effectively applied today in our daily lives.

So, on this New Year Day, let's all meditate on what Sri Ramakrishna's said 128 years ago: "May you all be blessed with the spiritual awakening."

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