Today is the first of Asharh (June – july). The disciple has come to the Math before dusk from Bally, with his office – dress on, as he has not found time to change it. Coming to the Math, he prostrated himself at the feet of Swamiji and inquired about his health. Swamiji replied that he was well, but looking at his dress, he said, “You put on coat and trousers, why don’t you put on collars?” Saying this, he called Swami Saradananda who was near and said, “Give him tomorrow two collars from my stock.” Swami Saradananda bowed assent to his order.
The disciple then changed his office – dress and came to Swamiji, who, addressing him, said, “By giving up one’s national costume and ways of eating and living, one gets denationalised. One can learn from all, but that learning which leads to denationalisation does not help one’s uplift but becomes the cause of degradation.”
Disciple: Sir, one cannot do without putting on dress approved by superior European officers in official quarters.
Swamiji: No one prevents that. In the interests of your service, you put on official dress in official quarters. But on returning home you should be a regular Bengali Babu — with flowing cloth, a native shirt, and with the Chudder on the shoulder. Do you understand?
Disciple: Yes, sir.
Swamiji: You go about from house to house only with the European shirt on. In the West, to go about visiting people with simply the shirt on is ungentlemanly — one is considered naked. Without putting on a coat over the shirt, you will not be welcomed in a gentleman’s house. What nonsense have you learnt to imitate in the matter of dress! Boys and young men nowadays adopt a peculiar manner of dress which is neither Indian nor Western, but a queer combination.
After such talk Swamiji began to pace the bank of the river, and the disciple was alone with him. He was hesitating to ask Swamiji a question about religious practices.
Swamiji: What are you thinking? Out with it.
The disciple with great delicacy said, “Sir, I have been thinking that if you can teach me some method by which the mind becomes calm within a short time, by which I may be immersed in meditation quickly, I shall feel much benefited. In the round of worldly duties, I feel it difficult to make the mind steady in meditation at the time of spiritual practice.”
Swamiji seemed delighted at this humility and earnestness of the disciple. In reply he affectionately said, “After some time come to me when I am alone upstairs, I will talk to you about it.”
Coming up shortly after, the disciple found that Swamiji was sitting in meditation, facing the west. His face wore a wonderful expression, and his whole body was completely motionless. The disciple stood by, looking with speechless wonder on the figure of Swamiji in meditation, and when even after standing long he found no sign of external consciousness in Swamiji, he sat noiselessly by. After half an hour, Swamiji seemed to show signs of a return to external consciousness. The disciple found that his folded hands began to quiver, and a few minutes later Swamiji opened his eyes and looking at the disciple said, “When did you come?”
Disciple: A short while ago.
Swamiji: Very well, get me a glass of water.
The disciple hurriedly brought a glass of water and Swamiji drinking a little, asked the disciple to put the glass back in its proper place. The disciple did so and again sat by Swamiji.
Swamiji: Today I had a very deep meditation.
Disciple: Sir, please teach me so that my mind also may get absorbed in meditation.
Swamiji: I have already told you all the methods. Meditate every day accordingly, and in the fulness of time you will feel like that. Now tell me what form of Sadhana appeals to you most.
Disciple: Sir, I practise every day as you have told me, still I don’t get a deep meditation. Sometimes I think it is useless for me to practise meditation. So I feel that I shall not fare well in it, and therefore now desire only eternal companionship with you.
Swamiji: Those are weaknesses of the mind. Always try to get absorbed in the eternally present Atman. If you once get the vision of the Atman, you will get everything — the bonds of birth and death will be broken.
Disciple: You bless me to attain to it. You asked me, still I don’t get a deep meditation. By some means, do please make my mind steady.
Swamiji: Meditate whenever you get time. If the mind once enters the path of Sushumna, everything will get right. You will not have to do much after that.
Disciple: You encourage me in many ways. But shall I be blessed with a vision of the Truth? Shall I get freedom by attaining true knowledge?
Swamiji: Yes, of course. Everybody will attain Mukti, from a worm up to Brahma, and shall you alone fail? These are weaknesses of the mind; never think of such things.
After this, he said again: “Be possessed of Shraddha (faith), of Virya (courage), attain to the knowledge of the Atman, and sacrifice your life for the good of others — this is my wish and blessing.”
The bell for the meal ringing at this moment, Swamiji asked the disciple to go and partake of it. The disciple, prostrating himself at the feet of Swamiji, prayed for his blessings. Swamiji putting his hand on his head blessed him and said, “If my blessings be of any good to you, I say — may Bhagavan Shri Ramakrishna give you his grace! I know of no blessing higher than this.” After meals, the disciple did not go upstairs to Swamiji, who had retired early that night. Next morning the disciple, having to return to Calcutta in the interests of his business appeared before Swamiji upstairs.
Swamiji: Will you go immediately?
Disciple: Yes, sir.
Swamiji: Come again next Sunday, won’t you?
Disciple: Yes, certainly.
Swamiji: All right, there is a boat coming.
The disciple took leave of Swamiji. He did not know that this was to be his last meeting with his Ishtadeva (chosen Ideal) in the physical body. Swamiji with a glad heart bade him farewell and said, “Come on Sunday.” The disciple replied, “Yes, I will,” and got downstairs.
The boatmen were calling for him, so he ran for the boat. Boarding it, he saw Swamiji pacing the upper verandah, and saluting him he entered the boat.
Seven days after this, Swamiji passed away from mortal life. The disciple had no knowledge of the impending catastrophe. Getting the news on the second day of Swamiji’s passing away, he came to the Math, and therefore he had not the good fortune to see his physical form again!