In the East, where mind has been the sole center of all research down the centuries, we have discovered that you can go above the mind. Sufism accepts that state and calls it the state of a masta – a divine madman. He is mad, but he is superhumanly mad. His behavior is irrational as far as our logic is concerned. But perhaps there is a higher logic, according to which his behavior is not irrational.
In India such a man is called paramhansa.
Ramakrishna, in the last century, was one of the men who was called paramhansa. The behavior of a paramhansa is utterly mad, but intensely beautiful, and has a depth which even the greatest genius of the mind does not have.
It happened that in Ramakrishna’s time… He lived just outside Calcutta, on the bank of the Ganges in a small temple. Now many temples have arisen, and in Calcutta… At that time Calcutta was the capital of India, not New Delhi, so the cream of intellectuals, creative people, was in Calcutta. And anyway, Bengalis are the most intelligent people in India, mostly intellectual.
Keshav Chandra Sen was a great genius as far as intellect is concerned, and he was a co-founder of a religion, brahmasamaj – the society of the divine. He was known all over India. Ramakrishna was not known, except to a few people in Calcutta on the riverbank where he lived. He was uneducated, and people thought he was mad — the people of the mind — because his behavior was not explainable by mental concepts.
But slowly, slowly his influence was increasing, particularly in Calcutta – which was very close; people could come to see him.
And Keshav Chandra Sen was worried that a villager, uneducated… And even professors of the universities were becoming devotees; they would touch his feet. And whatever he was saying was so ordinary. The man had nothing exceptional. One day finally he decided to go and argue with this man and finish this whole thing.
He went. Hundreds of people who knew Keshav Chandra and a few who knew Ramakrishna, they all gathered to see what would transpire. Ramakrishna’s followers were very much afraid, knowing that Keshav Chandra could defeat anybody if it was a question of rationality. He had proved his mettle hundreds of times, all over India. He had defeated great scholars without much effort. Now, how was poor Ramakrishna going to stand up before him?
Everybody among the followers was nervous, but Ramakrishna was not. He was again and again asking, “Keshava has not come yet?” He would not use even his whole name: Keshav Chandra Sen. He would say simply, “Keshava has not come yet?”
Finally Keshav Chandra arrived with his great following. Ramakrishna hugged him. Keshav Chandra was not prepared for that. He had come to fight, and he made it clear to Ramakrishna, “These things won’t help. I have come to discuss each and every point of your philosophy. Don’t try to create a friendship. I have come as an enemy: either you defeat me and I will be your follower, or be ready to become my follower.”
Ramakrishna said, “That we will be doing soon – hugging has nothing to do with it! I have always loved you. Whenever I have heard about you and your ideas, that you say there is no God… and I know there is God, but still I enjoy and love you. In fact your great intelligence is proof that existence is intelligent; otherwise from where does intelligence come? You are a proof to me that God is – but that we will discuss later on. What is the hurry? And there is no need for any enmity. The discussion can be in deep friendship.
“And you know, I am a poor man. I don’t know any logic. I have never discussed with anybody. It is going to be a very easy job for you, so you need not be so tense! I have prepared some sweet for you; first take the sweet. I have prepared it with much love. And then you can start your so-called discussion.”
Keshav Chandra was finding it a little difficult. The man was strange; he offered him a sweet, he hugged him. He had already destroyed the animosity, the aggressiveness – in a very subtle way, without saying a word. And strangest of all, he says that my presence – that is, Keshav Chandra’s presence – is enough proof of God, there is no need of other proof. Without God how is such intelligence possible? The world would be dead. The world is intelligent, and God is nothing but the intelligence of existence.
After taking his sweet, Ramakrishna said, “Now you start your game!” And Keshav Chandra was arguing against whatever he had found in Ramakrishna’s small books – his followers collected his sayings and stories, anecdotes from his life. And Ramakrishna would enjoy it, and would say to his followers, “Look how beautifully he has criticized it!” And many times he would stand up and hug him and say, “You are a genius! Your criticism is perfect.”
Keshav Chandra said, “I have not come here to get your approval; I have come to argue.” Ramakrishna said, “I don’t see there is any question of argument. You are the proof. I don’t need to give any other proof; I can take you to the whole world as a proof that God exists – Keshav Chandra is the proof!”
Keshav Chandra had never come across such a man, and what he was saying had immense significance; it was penetrating Keshav Chandra’s heart. And the presence of the man, and the way he behaved, his lovingness… Something happened to Keshav Chandra that his followers could not believe.
By the end of the discussion, Ramakrishna said, “You tell me who is defeated and who is victorious, and I will follow it. If you are victorious, I will become your follower. But I don’t know the ways of discussion and I don’t know the judgment. You judge; you are efficient enough to make the judgment. You can say to me, `You are defeated,’ and I am defeated.”
And Keshav Chandra’s followers were shocked to see that Keshav Chandra fell at the feet of Ramakrishna. They could not believe their eyes! When they had gone, everybody was asking, “Keshav Chandra, what happened to you?”
He said, “I don’t know. One thing is certain, that that man has experienced something about which I have been only talking. I can talk efficiently, but he has it; he radiates it. I have that much intelligence at least to see the aura of the man, to feel the radiance of his love, to see his simplicity, sincerity; to see his trust, that he says to me that, `You decide, and if I am defeated…’ And he has not argued at all. How can you defeat a person who has not argued at all? On the contrary, he was appreciating my criticism and he was telling his disciples, `Listen, this is the way a thing should be criticized.’
“And as I was sitting by his side, slowly, slowly something melted in me — the antagonism, the aggressiveness. And this is the first time this has happened with anybody. People think he is mad, but if he is mad, then I would like also to be mad. He is far superior to our so-called sanity.”
It was very difficult to take Ramakrishna from one place to another place, because anywhere on the road, in the middle of the road… And Calcutta is a very overpopulated city, with more than ten million people in one city. And the traffic is the worst in the world. It is bound to be because thousands of people are walking; there are all kinds of vehicles – cars, trams, buses. He would start dancing in the middle of the road because something reminded him of God. And anything could remind him of God… a beautiful child, and he would start dancing and singing. His followers would feel very embarrassed – they had to protect him from all sides – that in this traffic… And the police were bound to come, and that man was creating a traffic jam.
But outside India he would have been in a mad asylum because in the West madness is madness; there are no two categories. In India he became almost a divine being, a god, because people realized, slowly, slowly, that he looks irrational but there is something divine in his irrationality.
He had been doing things from his very childhood. His family was worried — what is going to happen to this child? People suggested – as it is customary in India and in other countries too – that it will be good to marry him so he will forget all about God and all about meditation and will become engaged in worldly affairs.
But they thought that he would refuse — and that would have been the ordinary expectation. But he was a madman; he does not follow your expectations.
When his father asked, fearing that he is going to say no, Ramakrishna said with great joy, “Yes! But where is the girl?”
They said, “This boy is mad! This is not the right way. He is so ready… immediately! And he is asking, `Where is the girl? To whom am I going to be married? Do it soon!'”
Just in a nearby village, another village, he was taken on a particular day to see the girl. And in India this is the way: the girl will come with some sweets to put on your plate, and that’s the only moment you can see her – just for a moment – and decide.
When he was going to see his future wife, his mother had given him three rupees, just in case he needs them. When the girl came with the sweets, he looked at the girl, took out his three rupees and put them at her feet, touched her feet and said, “Mother, you are the right girl. I am going to marry you.”
His father said, “You idiot, you don’t understand that nobody calls his wife mother.
But everybody knew that he was a little eccentric – first putting those three rupees at the feet of the girl… everybody was shocked. And then touching her feet and telling the girl then and there, “Mother, you are really beautiful. I am going to marry you – it is settled.”
But just by a very strange coincidence, the whole family of the girl wanted to deny this marriage because they said, “This boy is mad, and if he is starting this way what will happen in their married life nobody knows.” But the girl insisted that if she will marry anybody, she will marry this man.
He was a beautiful man. So the family had to decide for the marriage. The marriage happened; they lived together their whole life. Ramakrishna continued to call her mother. There was never any husband-wife relationship between them. On the contrary… In Bengal they worship the mother goddess, Kali. So in those days when they worship the mother goddess all over Bengal – and in other places also, wherever Bengalis are in India… they are the only people in India left who still conceive of God as a mother.
In those days, every year he would put Sharda, his wife, naked on a throne and worship her — just as naked as the statue of the mother goddess is in the temples. He would not go to the temple; he would say, “When I have a living mother with me, why should I go and worship a stone statue?”
Anybody will say this is madness, sheer madness. But in so many ways his madness cannot be categorized with that of other mad people. His madness is beyond mind, not below mind. Each of his statements is of tremendous importance, simple but full of meaning. Just like a villager, he tells small stories. But those stories are so beautiful that you can get out of them much more meaning than out of a whole scripture. And his life… if you watch carefully, you will find that he is not an ordinary man; he is superhuman.
One day Ramakrishna and his followers are passing the Ganges in a boat and suddenly in the middle he starts crying, “Don’t beat me! I have not done anything wrong. Why are you beating me?” And tears started flowing.
And his people said, “Nobody is beating you – what are you doing?” Even his own followers once in a while suspected that he was insane, because they were only followers. Nobody was beating him, and he was crying. And they could see from his face that he was being whipped very badly.
And he said, “You don’t believe me? Just look at my back.” They removed his clothes and they could not believe it: there were so many lines, blood oozing; he had been whipped badly. They could not believe… what to make of it? This man is mad and he is making his followers mad.
But when they reached the other shore, they found a man who had been beaten, and there was a crowd. And they looked at his back and they were surprised: the marks of the beating were exactly the same on both Ramakrishna’s and this man’s back. Such oneness of feeling, that when somebody else is being beaten – innocently, he has not done anything — Ramakrishna becomes part of that person, they become one.
This is not madness, this is a tremendous experience, a man of Himalayan heights… And although he was not a preacher, not a scholar, in everything that he says you can find the insight of the greatest men who have walked on the earth.
Osho , Beyond Psychology, Chapter-35