Ramakrishna and Ishan

Ramakrishna’s Discussions with Ishan

Ramakrishna | Biography & Facts | Britannica

Ishan Chandra Mukherjee was Superintendent, at the Accountant General’s Office of Bengal. He used to visit Sri Ramakrishna often. Sri Ramakrishna loved to hear his own parables and stories from Ishan’s mouth.

Ishan Chandra Mukherjee

Sri Ramakrishna to Ishan: Please tell us also how the heart of the sadhu is the greatest of all.

Ishan: The earth is the largest thing we see anywhere around us. But larger than the earth is the ocean, and larger than the ocean is the sky. But Vishnu, the Godhead, has covered earth, sky, and the nether world with one of His feet. And that foot of Vishnu is enshrined in the sadhu s heart. Therefore the heart of a holy man is the greatest of all.

(To Ishan) Tell us about the renunciation of activities.

Ishan : After the attainment of God, religious duties such as the dawn-and-twlight worship, sandhya, drop away. One day some people were sitting on the bank of the Ganges performing the sandhya. But one of them abstained from it. On being asked the reason, he said: ‘I am observing a period of impurity [asoucha]. I cannot perform the sandhya ceremony. In my case the defilement is due to both a birth and a death. My mother, Ignorance, is dead, and my son, Self-Knowledge, has been born.’

Master: Tell us, also, how caste distinctions drop away when one attains Self-Knowledge.

Ishan : Shankaracharya was once climbing the steps after finishing his bath in the Ganges, when he saw just in front of him an untouchable who had a pack of dogs with him.

‘You have touched me!’ said Shankara.

‘Revered sir,’ said the pariah, ‘I have not touched you, nor have you touched me. The Self is the Inner Ruler of all beings and cannot be contaminated. Is there any difference between the sun’s reflection in wine and its reflection in the Ganges?’

Master (with a smile): “And about harmony : how one can realize God through all paths.”

Ishan (smiling): Both Hari and Hara are derived from the same root. The difference is only the suffix [pratyaya]. In reality, He who is Hari is also Hara. If a person has faith in God, then it doesn’t matter whom he or she worships.