In Bengal they worship the mother goddess, Kali. So in those days when they worshipped the mother goddess all over Bengal and other places also, wherever Bengalis are in India – they are the only people left in India who still conceive of God as a mother….
In those days, every year Ramakrishna 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 much more meaning out of them 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.
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.
When they reached the other shore, they found a man who had been beaten, and there was a crowd. 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. Of course his way is that of a villager….
One man came to Ramakrishna and said, “I am going to Varanasi to take a dip in the Ganges to get rid of my sins” – that’s Hindus’ belief.
Ramakrishna said, “Very good idea, you can go. But do you know that on the bank of the Ganges there are big, huge trees?”