Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

Teachings of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

You know that story of the man who asked his guru how God could be realized. The guru said to him: 'Come with me. I shall show you how one can realize God.' Saying this, he took the disciple to a lake and held his head under the water. After a short time he released the disciple and asked him, 'How did you feel?' 'I was dying for a breath of air!' said the disciple.When the soul longs and yearns for God like that, then you will know that you do not have long to wait for His vision. The rosy colour on the eastern horizon shows that the sun will soon rise. ...
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At the hour of the evening worship in the Kali temple I would climb to the roof of the kuthi and cry out: 'O devotees, where are you all? Come to me soon! I shall die of the company of worldly people!' I told all this to the 'Englishmen'. They said it was all an illusion of my mind. 'Perhaps it is', I said to myself, and became calm. But now it is all coming true; the devotees are coming. ...
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When God assumes a human body for the sake of His devotees, many of His devotees accompany Him to this earth. Some of them belong to the inner circle, some to the outer circle, and some become the suppliers of His physical needs. ...
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Those who are living here, renouncing the world, belong to the inner circle; and those who pay occasional visits and ask, 'How are you, sir?' belong to the outer circle. ...
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I see that everything is Rama Himself. And sometimes I say to myself, 'Whom shall I teach?’ ...
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Whoever has sincerely called on God or performed his daily religious devotions will certainly come here. ...
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In the case of a sannyasi, his mother, Avidya, Ignorance, dies giving birth to a child, Viveka, Discrimination. ...
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It is the day of the Kali Puja. It is good to make some arrangements for the worship. Please speak to the devotees about it. ...
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He alone has peace who has tasted the Bliss of Rama.' What is this world? What is there in it? What is there in money, wealth, honour, or creature comforts? 'O mind, know Rama! Whom else should you know?' ...
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Rama is one, but He has a thousand names. He who is called 'God' by the Christians is addressed by the Hindus as Rama, Krishna, Isvara, and by other names. A lake has many ghats. The Hindus drink water at one ghat and call it 'jal'; the Christians at another, and call it 'water'; the Mussalmans at a third, and call it 'pani'. Likewise, He who is God to the Christians is Allah to the Mussalmans. ...
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MASTER: "When the women take the dust of my feet, I say to myself that they are saluting God, who dwells inside me. I look at it in that way."HARIBALLAV: "You are a holy man. All should take the dust of your feet. What harm is there in that?"MASTER: "You may speak that way about sages like Dhruva, Prahlada, Narada, or Kapila; but who am I? Please come again."HARIBALLAV: "I shall certainly come, because you attract me. You don't have to urge me."Hariballav was about to depart. He saluted Sri Ramakrishna and was going to take the dust of the Master's feet, when Sri Ramakrishna moved his feet away. But Hariballav persisted; he took the dust of Sri Ramakrishna's feet against the latter's wish.When he stood up, the Master stood up too, to show him courtesy. The Master said to him: "Balaram feels unhappy because I don't go to his house. I thought of visiting you all there one day, but then I was afraid you might say to Balaram, 'Who asked him to come here?'"HARIBALLAV: "Who has been telling you things? Please don't let such a thought enter your mind."Hariballav departed.MASTER (to M.): "He is a devotee of God; why else would he have forcibly taken the dust of my feet? I told you the other day that in samadhi I had seen Dr. Sarkar and another person. He is the other person. So he has come." ...
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You must remember that everything is possible for God. He is formless, and again He assumes forms. He is the individual and He is the universe. He is Brahman and He is Sakti. There is no end to Him, no limit. Nothing is impossible for Him. No matter how high the kites and vultures soar, they can never strike against the ceiling of the sky. If you ask me what Brahman is like, all I can say is that It cannot be described in words. Even when one has realized Brahman, one cannot describe It. If someone asks you what ghee is like, your answer will be, 'Ghee is like ghee.' The only analogy for Brahman is Brahman. Nothing exists besides It. ...
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Well, all these people are sitting here without uttering a word. Their eyes are fixed on me. They are neither talking nor singing. What do they see in me? ...
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Shall I tell you the truth? What will you gain by mere scholarship? The pundits hear many things and know many things — the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras. But of what avail is mere scholarship? Discrimination and renunciation are necessary. If a man has discrimination and renunciation, then one can listen to him. But of what use are the words of a man who looks on the world as the essential thing?What is the lesson of the Gita? It is what you get by repeating the word ten times. As you repeat 'Gita', 'Gita', the word becomes reversed into 'tagi', 'tagi' — which implies renunciation. He alone has understood the secret of the Gita who has renounced his attachment to 'woman and gold' and has directed his entire love to God. It isn't necessary to read the whole of the Gita. The purpose of reading the book is served if one practises renunciation. ...
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Here is another story. A man needed a scholar of the Bhagavata to expound the sacred text to him every day. But it was very difficult to procure such a scholar. After he had searched a great deal, another man came to him and said, 'Sir, I have found an excellent scholar of the Bhagavata.' 'Very well,' said the man, 'bring him here.' The other man replied: 'But there is a little hitch. The scholar has a few ploughs and bullocks; he is busy with them all day. He must look after the cultivation of his land. He hasn't a moment's leisure.' Thereupon the man who required the scholar said: 'I don't want a Bhagavata scholar who is burdened with ploughs and bullocks. I want a man who has leisure and can tell me about God.' (To Dr. Sarkar) Do you understand? ...
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Listen to a story. There was a king who used daily to hear the Bhagavata recited by a pundit. Every day, after explaining the sacred book, the pundit would say to the king, 'O King, have you understood what I have said?' And every day the king would reply, 'You had better understand it first yourself.' The pundit would return home and think: 'Why does the king talk to me that way day after day? I explain the texts to him so clearly, and he says to me, "You had better understand it first yourself." What does he mean?' The pundit used to practise spiritual discipline. A few days later he came to realize that God alone is real and everything else — house, family, wealth, friends, name, and fame — illusory. Convinced of the unreality of the world, he renounced it. As he left home he asked a man to take this message to the king: 'O King, I now understand.' ...
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When the mind is united with God, one sees Him very near, in one's own heart. But you must remember one thing. The more you realize this unity, the farther your mind is withdrawn from worldly things. There is the story of Vilwamangal in the Bhaktamala. He used to visit a prostitute. One night he was very late in going to her house. He had been detained at home by the sraddha ceremony of his father and mother. In his hands he was carrying the food offered in the ceremony, to feed his mistress. His whole soul was so set upon the woman that he was not at all conscious of his movements. He didn't even know how he was walking. There was a yogi seated on the path, meditating on God with eyes closed. Vilwamangal stepped on him. The yogi became angry, and cried out: 'What? Are you blind? I have been thinking of God, and you step on my body!' 'I beg your pardon,' said Vilwamangal, 'but may I ask you something? I have been unconscious, thinking of a prostitute, and you are conscious of the outer world though thinking of God. What kind of meditation is that?' In the end Vilwamangal renounced the world and went away in order to worship God. He said to the prostitute: 'You are my guru. You have taught me how one should yearn for God.' He addressed the prostitute as his mother and gave her up. ...
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A Mussalman, while saying his prayers, shouted: 'O Allah! O Allah!' Another person said to him: 'You are calling on Allah. That's all right. But why are you shouting like that? Don't you know that He hears the sound of the anklets on the feet of an ant?' ...
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Losing consciousness by contemplating God — through whose Consciousness even inert matter appears to be conscious, and hands, feet, and body move! People say that the body moves of itself; but they do not know that it is God who moves it. They say that water scalds the hand. But water can by no means scald the hand; it is the heat in the water, the fire in the water, that scalds.Rice is boiling in a pot. Potatoes and egg-plant are also jumping about in the pot. The children say that the potatoes and egg-plant jump of themselves; they do not know that there is fire underneath. Man says that the sense-organs do their work of themselves; but he does not know that inside dwells He whose very nature is Consciousness. ...
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Shivanath said that one lost one's head by too much thinking of God. In other words, one becomes unconscious • by meditating on the Universal Consciousness. Think of it! Becoming unconscious by contemplating Him who is of the very nature of Consciousness, and whose Consciousness endows the world with consciousness!And what does your 'science' say? This combined with this produces that; that combined with that produces this. One is more likely to lose consciousness by contemplating those things — by handling material things too much. ...
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Do you know another way a jnani meditates? Think of infinite akasa and a bird flying there, joyfully spreading its wings. There is the Chidakasa, and Atman is the bird. The bird is not imprisoned in a cage; it flies in the Chidakasa. Its joy is limitless. ...
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Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is ‘I-consciousness’. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of ‘I’ exists. When the ‘I’ disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words. ...
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Nangta used to tell me how a jnani meditates: Everywhere is water; all the regions above and below are filled with water; man, like a fish, is swimming joyously in that water. In real meditation you will actually see all this.Take the case of the infinite ocean. There is no limit to its water. Suppose a pot is immersed in it: there is water both inside and outside the pot. The jnani sees that both inside and outside there is nothing but Paramatman. Then what is this pot? It is 'I-consciousness'. Because of the pot the water appears to be divided into two parts; because of the pot you seem to perceive an inside and an outside. One feels that way as long as this pot of 'I' exists. When the 'I' disappears, what is remains. That cannot be described in words. ...
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Mahindra Babu, what is this madness of yours about money? Why such attachment to wife? Why such longing for name and fame? Give up all these, now, and direct your mind to God with whole-souled devotion. Enjoy the Bliss of God. ...
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I don’t want liberation; I want love of God! ...
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SHYAM: "Sir, how much wrong, how many sinful things a man does in this world! Can he ever realize God?"MASTER: "If a man practises spiritual discipline before his death and if he gives up his body praying to God and meditating on Him, when will sin touch him? It is no doubt the elephant's nature to smear his body with dust and mud, even after his bath. But he cannot do so if the mahut takes him into the stable immediately after his bath.” ...
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SHYAM: "Sir, is there such a thing as reincarnation? Shall we be born again?"MASTER: "Ask God about it. Pray to Him sincerely. He will tell you everything. Speak to Jadu Mallick, and he himself will tell you how many houses he has, and how many government bonds. It is not right to try to know these things at the beginning. First of all realize God; then He Himself will let you know whatever you desire." ...
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This world is a mixture of sand and sugar. Like the ant, one should discard the sand and eat the sugar. He who can eat the sugar is clever indeed. Build a quiet place for thinking of God—a place for your meditation. Have it ready. I shall visit it. ...
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Sri Ramakrishna was pleased with Shyam Basu. He was quite an elderly person and wanted to devote his time to contemplation. This was his second visit to the Master.MASTER (to Shyam Basu): "Give up worldly talk altogether. Don't talk about anything whatever but God. If you see a worldly person coming near you, leave the place before he arrives. You have spent your whole life in the world. You have seen that it is all hollow. Isn't that so? God alone is Substance, and all else is illusory. God alone is real, and all else has only a two-days existence. What is there in the world? The world is like a pickled hog plum: one craves for it. But what is there in a hog plum? Only skin and pit. And if you eat it you will have colic."SHYAM: "Yes, sir. Everything you have said is true."MASTER: "For many years you have devoted yourself to various worldly things. You will not be able to think of God and meditate on Him in this confusion of the world. A little solitude is necessary for you; otherwise your mind will not be steady. Therefore you must fix a place for meditation at least half a mile away from your house." ...
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When a thorn gets into the sole of your foot, you procure a second thorn. After taking out the first thorn with the help of the second, you throw both thorns away. Likewise, you should procure the thorn of knowledge in order to remove the thom of ignorance. After destroying ignorance, you should discard both knowledge and ignorance. Then you attain vijnana. ...
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SHYAM: "Ah, what a fine thing you said to us the other day!"MASTER (smiling): "What was that?"SHYAM: "What remains with a man when he goes beyond jnana and ajnana, knowledge and ignorance."MASTER (smiling): "It is vijnana, special Knowledge of God. To know many things is ignorance. To know that God dwells in all beings is knowledge. And what is vijnana? It is to know God in a special manner, to converse with Him and feel Him to be one's own relative."To know that there is fire in wood is knowledge. But to make a fire with that wood, cook food with that fire, and become healthy and strong from that food is vijnana." ...
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Don't you know what difference in taste is? Some enjoy fish curry; some, fried fish; some, pickled fish; and again, some, the rich dish of fish pilau. Then too, there is difference in fitness. I ask people to learn to shoot at a banana tree first, then at the wick of a lamp, and then at a flying bird. ...
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The conversation turned to money.MASTER (to Dr. Sarkar): "I don't think about it at all. You know that very well, don't you? This is not a pretence."DR. SARKAR: "Even I have no desire for money — not to speak of yourself! My cash-box lies open."MASTER: "Jadu Mallick, too, is absent-minded. When he takes his meals he sometimes becomes so absent-minded that he doesn't know whether the food is good or bad. When someone says to him, 'Don't eat that; it doesn't taste good', Jadu says: 'Eh? Is this food bad? Why, that's so!'"Was the Master hinting that there was an ocean of difference between absent-mindedness due to the contemplation of God, and absent-mindedness due to preoccupation with worldly thoughts? ...
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There are three kinds of devotees: superior, mediocre, and inferior. The inferior devotee says, 'God is out there.' According to him God is different from His creation. The mediocre devotee says: 'God is the Antaryami, the Inner Guide. God dwells in everyone's heart.' The mediocre devotee sees God in the heart. But the superior devotee sees that God alone has become everything; He alone has become the twenty-four cosmic principles. He finds that everything, above and below, is filled with God.Read the Gita, the Bhagavata, and the Vedanta, and you will understand all this. Is not God in His creation? ...
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By taking off, one by one, the sheaths of a banana tree, one obtains the pith. The sheaths are one thing, and the pith is another. The sheaths are not the pith, and the pith is not the sheaths. But in the end one-realizes that the pith cannot exist apart from the sheaths, and the sheaths cannot exist apart from the pith; they are part and parcel of one and the same banana tree. Likewise, it is God who has become the twenty-four cosmic principles; it is He who has become man. ...
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DR. SARKAR: "Is everything delusion? Then whose is this delusion? And why this delusion? If all know it to be delusion, then why do they talk? I cannot believe that God is real and His creation unreal."MASTER: "That is a good attitude. It is good to look on God as the Master and oneself as His servant. As long as a man feels the body to be real, as long as he is conscious of 'I' and 'you', it is good to keep the relationship of master and servant; it is not good to cherish the idea of 'I am He'."Let me tell you something else. You see the same room whether you look at it from one side or from the middle of the room." ...
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How can I explain to you what I experience in samadhi? After coming down from that state I think, sometimes, that my illness may be due to samadhi. The thing is, the thought of God makes me mad. All this is the result of my divine madness. How can I help it? ...
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If you won't take offense, I shall tell you something. It is this: You have had enough of such things as money, honour, lecturing, and so on. Now for a few days direct your mind to God. And come here now and then. Your spiritual feeling will be kindled by hearing words about God. ...
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SHYAM: "You can learn from Theosophy where the soul goes after death —whether to the lunar sphere or the stellar sphere or some other region."MASTER: "That may be. But let me tell you my own attitude. Once a man asked Hanuman, 'What day of the lunar fortnight is it?' Hanuman replied: 'I know nothing about the day of the week, the day of the lunar fortnight, the position of the stars in the sky, or any such things. On Rama alone I meditate.' That is my attitude too."SHYAM: "The Theosophists believe in the existence of mahatmas. Do you believe in them, sir?"MASTER: "If you believe in my words, I say yes. But now please leave these matters alone. Come here again when I am a little better. Some way will be found for you to attain peace of mind, if you have faith in me. You must have noticed that I don't accept any gift of money or clothes. We do not take any collection here. That is why so many people come.” ...
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The long and short of the matter is that those who go about making disciples belong to a very inferior level. So also do those who want occult powers to walk over the Ganges and to report what a person says in a far-off country and so on. It is very hard for such people to have pure love for God. ...
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There is no harm in your leading the life of a householder. But do your duties in an unselfish spirit, fixing your mind on the Lotus Feet of God. You must have noticed that a man with a carbuncle on his back speaks to others in his usual way; perhaps he attends to his daily duties also; but his mind is always on the carbuncle. It is like that.Live in the world like an immoral woman. Though she performs her household duties, her mind is fixed on her sweetheart. ...
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Dharma means good actions, like giving in charity. If you accept dharma, you have to accept adharma too. If you accept virtue, you have to accept sin. If you accept knowledge, you have to accept ignorance. If you accept holiness, you have to accept unholiness. It is like a man's being aware of light, in which case he is aware of darkness too. If a man is aware of one, he is aware of many too. If he is aware of good, he is aware of evil too.Blessed is the man who retains his love for the Lotus Feet of God, even though he eats pork. ...
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When Rama redeemed Ahalya from the curse. He said to her, 'Ask a boon of Me.' Ahalya said, 'O Rama, if You deign to grant me a boon, then please fulfil my desire that I may always meditate on Your Lotus Feet, even though I may be born in a pig’s body.'I prayed to the Divine Mother only for love. I offered flowers at Her Lotus Feet and said with folded hands: 'O Mother, here is Thy ignorance and here is Thy knowledge; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy holiness and here is Thy unholiness; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy virtue and here is Thy sin; here is Thy good and here is Thy evil; take them all and give me only pure love for Thee. Here is Thy dharma and here is Thy adharma; take them both and give me only pure love for Thee.' ...
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SHYAM: "What is the distinction between the gross body and the subtle body?"MASTER: "The body consisting of the five gross elements is called the gross body. The subtle body is made up of the mind, the ego, the discriminating faculty, and the mind-stuff. There is also a causal body, by means of which one enjoys the Bliss of God and holds communion with Him. The Tantra calls it the Bhagavati Tanu, the Divine Body. Beyond all these is the Mahakarana, the Great Cause. That cannot be expressed by words."What is the use of merely listening to words? Do something! What will you achieve by merely repeating the word 'siddhi'? Will that intoxicate you? You will not be intoxicated even if you make a paste of siddhi and rub it all over your body. You must eat some of it. How can a man recognize yarns of different counts, such as number forty and number forty-one, unless he is in the trade? Those who trade in yarn do not find it at all difficult to describe a thread of a particular count. Therefore I say, practise a little spiritual discipline; then you will know all these — the gross, the subtle, the causal, and the Great Cause. While praying to God, ask only for love for His Lotus Feet.” ...
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Hem used to come to the temple garden at Dakshineswar. Whenever he chanced to meet me, he would say: 'Well, priest, there is only one thing worth having in this world, and that is honour. Isn't that so?' Very few indeed say that the goal of human life is the realization of God. ...
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Why don't you give your power of attorney to God? Rest all your responsibilities on Him. If you entrust an honest man with your responsibilities, will he misuse his power over you? God alone knows whether or not He will punish you for your sins. ...
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“I say: O my foolish boy, eat the mangoes and be happy. What is the use of your calculating how many hundreds of trees, how many thousands of branches, and how many millions of leaves there are in the orchard? You have come to the orchard to eat mangoes. Eat them and be contented.(To Shyam) "You have been born in this world as a human being to worship God; therefore try to acquire love for His Lotus Feet. Why do you trouble yourself to know a hundred other things? What will you gain by discussing philosophy'? Look here, one ounce of liquor is enough to intoxicate you. What is the use of your trying to find out how many gallons of liquor there are in the tavern?” ...
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Look here. One cannot attain Knowledge unless one is free from egotism. There is a saying:When shall I be free?When 'I' shall cease to be.'I' and 'mine' — that is ignorance. 'Thou' and 'Thine' — that is Knowledge. A true devotee says: 'O God, Thou alone art the Doer; Thou alone doest all, I am a mere instrument; I do as Thou makest me do. All these — wealth, possessions, nay, the universe itself — belong to Thee. This house and these relatives are Thine alone, not mine. I am Thy servant; mine is only the right to serve Thee according to Thy bidding.' ...
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What Brahman is cannot be described in words. Somebody once said that everything in the world has been made impure, like food that has touched the tongue, and that Brahman alone remains undefiled. The meaning is this: All scriptures and holy books — the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and so forth — may be said to have been defiled because their contents have been uttered by the tongues of men; but what Brahman is no tongue has yet been able to describe. Therefore Brahman is still undefiled. One cannot describe in words the joy of play and communion with Satchidananda. He alone knows, who has realized it. ...
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