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[Letter to Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, a disciple of Swamiji]
[Translated from Sanskrit]
3rd July, 1897.
Constant salutation be to Shri Ramakrishna, the Free, the Ishvara, the Shiva-form, by whose power we and the whole world are blessed. Mayest thou live long, O Sharat Chandra!
Those writers of Shastra who do not tend towards work say that all-powerful destiny prevails; but others who are workers consider the will of man as superior. Knowing that the quarrel between those who believe in the human will as the remover of misery and others who rely on destiny is due to indiscrimination—try to ascend the highest peak of knowledge.
It has been said that adversity is the touchstone of true knowledge, and this may be said a hundred times with regard to the truth: "Thou art That." This truly diagnoses the Vairâgya(dispassion) disease. Blessed is the life of one who has developed this symptom. In spite of your dislike I repeat the old saying: "Wait for a short Time." You are tired with rowing; rest on your oars. The momentum will take the boat to the other side. This has been said in the Gita(IV. 38), "In good time, having reached perfection in Yoga, one realises That in one's own heart;" and in the Upanishad, "Neither by rituals, nor by progeny, nor by riches, but by renunciation alone a few(rare) people attained immortality"(Kaivalya, 2).
Here, by the word renunciation Vairâgya is referred to. It may be of two kinds, with or without purpose. If the latter, none but worm-eaten brains will try for it. But if the other is referred to, then renunciation would mean the withdrawal of the mind from other things and concentrating it on God or Âtman. The Lord of all cannot be any particular individual. He must be the sum total. One possessing Vairâgya does not understand by Âtman the individual ego but the All-pervading Lord, residing as the Self and Internal Ruler in all. He is perceivable by all as the sum total. This being so, as Jiva and Ishvara are in essence the same, serving the Jivas and loving God must mean one and the same thing. Here is a peculiarity: when you serve a Jiva with the idea that he is a Jiva, it is Daya(compassion) and not Prema(love); but when you serve him with the idea that he is the Self, that is Prema.
That the Âtman is the one objective of love is known from Shruti, Smriti, and direct perception. Bhagavan Chaitanya was right, therefore, when he said. "Love to God and compassion to the Jivas". This conclusion of the Bhagavan, intimating differentiation between Jiva and Ishvara, was right, as He was a dualist. But for us, Advaitists, this notion of Jiva as distinct from God is the cause of bondage. Our principle, therefore, should be love, and not compassion. The application of the word compassion even to Jiva seems to me to be rash and vain. For us, it is not to pity but to serve. Ours is not the feeling of compassion but of love, and the feeling of Self in all.
For thy good, O Sharman, may thine be Vairâgya, the feeling of which is love, which unifies all inequalities, cures the disease of Samsâra, removes the threefold misery inevitable in this phenomenal world, reveals the true nature of all things, destroys the darkness of Mâyâ, and which brings out the Selfhood of everything from Brahmâ to the blade of grass!