There is another episode in Ramakrishna’s life…. He did the sadhanas, the spiritual practices, of all religions. He is the only person in the history of mankind who tried to attain the truth through the paths of all the religions. Ordinarily a person reaches by one path. When you have reached to the summit of the mountain, who bothers about other paths? Do you then walk up the other trails? Who cares? – you have attained. The trail you came on, you came on; what’s the use of walking on all the others? But Ramakrishna reached to the summit of the mountain again and again, then descended. He climbed by a second path, then by a third path. He is the first person who practiced the sadhanas of all the religions and attained to the same peak through all of them.
Many have talked about synthesis – Ramakrishna is the first to create a science of synthesis. Many people have said that all religions are true, but it has just been talk. Ramakrishna made it a reality. He gave it the strength of experience, he proved it with his life. When he was doing Islamic sadhana he became a real Moham-medan fakir. He forgot Rama and began chanting, “Allahoo…Alla-hoo.” He began listening to the verses of the Koran and lived right on the steps of the mosque. If he came near a temple he didn’t even lift his eyes, let alone bow in greeting. He had forgotten about Kali.
In Bengal there is a sect, the Sakhis. When Ramakrishna practiced the sadhana of the Sakhi sect…. The Sakhis believe that God alone is male, everyone else is female – Krishna is God, everyone else is his sakhi, his girlfriend – so in the Sakhi tradition men also consider themselves women. But what happened in Ramakrishna’s life had never happened in the life of any follower of the Sakhi tradition. A man can believe on the surface he is a woman, but he remains a man, inside he knows that he is a man. Members of the Sakhi sect take an idol of Krishna to bed with them – this is their husband. But what difference does it make? But when Ramakrishna did this sadhana something unprecedented happened – scientists too will be surprised that such a thing happened…. He did the sa-dhana of the Sakhis for six months and after three months his breasts started to swell, his voice changed, he began walking like a woman, and his voice became sweet like a woman’s. His breasts were growing, becoming the breasts of a woman’s; the male structure of his body began to change.
This much is possible, because man too has breasts, though undeveloped – women’s are developed. So it is possible that undeveloped breasts become developed; the seed does exist. Up to this point nothing great has happened. Many men’s breasts become enlarged – this is not such a great surprise. But when six months were nearly over he started menstruating. This was a miracle! To menstruate is completely against the science of the body. This had never happened to any man.
What happened during these six months? The belief, “I am a woman” – this idea became so strong, this feeling echoed so deep in his being, in every pore…. In every cell of the body it echoed: “I am a woman.” No opposing feeling remained, he completely forgot about being a man; then it happened.
Ashtavakra is saying we are not bodies; it is just that we believed we were and we became bodies. Whatever we believed, we became. The world is our belief. And the moment we drop our beliefs we can immediately be transformed. And to drop it nothing real has to be changed, only an idea must be dropped.
If we were really the body, transformation would be very difficult. We are not really the body. In reality we are hidden inside the body as consciousness – the witness, the observer.