The Passion of Ramakrishna: Libretto cover

The Passion of Ramakrishna: Libretto


Through a highly prized invitation, Pacific Symphony makes its Carnegie Hall debut with this award-winning program during Carnegie’s yearlong celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday. Originally commissioned, premiered and recorded by Pacific Symphony, “The Passion of Ramakrishna” is a work of quiet intensity and unforgettable power—scored for vocal soloists, chorus and large orchestra. Joining Pacific Symphony for this historic concert is sitar soloist Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi Shankar.
Hear this landmark concert before Pacific Symphony presents it during its Carnegie Hall debut! Come early to enjoy live music and dance of India on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza from 6 - 7:45 p.m.
Box Office: (714) 755-5799
Preview Talk with Alan Chapman included.
To learn more about tonight's Artists, please click here
To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.
To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.
Pacific Symphony

“Meetings Along the Edge” is a section from “Passages,” a collaborative record album of Philip Glass and the great Indian musician Ravi Shankar. Bringing together themes by both composers, “Meetings” has the racing rhythm, snazzy syncopation and ebullient pace that exemplified early Minimalism and made it so hard to resist.

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The Passion of Ramakrishna: Libretto

Cast of Characters

Sri Ramakrishna, "The Master" (sung by the Chorus)

"M.", The Narrator (Mahendranath Gupta)

Sarad Devi, Wif of Sri Ramakrishna

Narendra (later Swami Vivekananda)

Dr. Mahendra Lal Sarkar

First Devotee

Second Devotee


Who is this Woman who lights the field of battle?

Her body gleams darker than even the darkest storm-cloud,

And from Her teeth there flash the lightning’s blinding flames!

Disheveled Her hair flies behind as She rushes

Undaunted in this war between the gods and the demons.

Laughing Her terrible laugh, She slays the fleeing asuras,

And with Her dazzling flashes She lays bares the horrors of war.

How beautiful on Her brow the drops of moisture appear!

About Her dense black hair the bees are buzzing;

The moon has veiled its face, beholding this Sea of Beauty.

Tell me, who can She be, this Enchanter? Wonder of wonders!

Shiva Himself lies like a corpse vanquished at Her feet.

Kamalakanta has guessed who She is, She with the elephant’s gait;

She is none other than Kali, Mother of all the worlds.



God can be seen.

One can talk to Him

As I am talking to you.

It was not merely a vision of Him.

We talked together day and night.

Yes, He talked to me.

Under the banyan tree

I saw Him coming from the Ganges.

We laughed so much!

Then He talked, yes, He talked to me.

For three days I wept without stopping.

And He revealed to me what is in the scriptures:

The Vedas, the Puranas,

The Tantras and other scriptures.

He showed me the Maya of Mahamaya.

A small light inside a room began to grow;

At last it enveloped the entire universe.

In those days of God-vision

I felt as if I were passing through a hurricane,

and everything had blown away from me.

No trace of my old self was left.

I am like a cast-off leaf before a storm.

The wind blows the leaf wherever it wants.

The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple

That it is She who had become everything.

The Image was Consciousness,

The altar was Consciousness,

The water-vessels were Consciousness,

The door-sill was Consciousness,

The marble floor was Consciousness,

I myself was Consciousness –

All was Consciousness.

I found everything soaked in Bliss –

The Bliss of Satchidananda.

Then like a madman I began

To shower flowers in all directions.

Whatever I saw, I worshipped.

Men, animals and other living beings

– all Pure Consciousness.

You know I am a fool.

I know nothing.

Then who is it

Who says all these things?

O Mother, I am the machine

And You are the Operator.

I am the house

And You dwell within.

I am the car

And You are the Driver.

I am asleep;

You make me conscious.

It is not I! It is all You!

It is all not I! It is all You!

Hers is the glory;

We are Her instruments.

God alone is the Doer.

Nothing exists but the One.

Mother, here is Your knowledge and here is Your ignorance.

Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.

Here is Your holiness and Your unholiness.

Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.

Here is Your good and here is Your evil.

Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.

Here is Your righteousness and here is Your unrighteousness.

Take them both, Mother, and give me pure love.

I gave up everything at Her Feet

But could not bring myself to give up truth.



My Mother! Who is my Mother?

Ah, She is the Mother of the Universe.

It is She who creates and preserves the world

And who always protects her children,

And who grants whatever they desire.

A true son cannot be far from his mother.

The mother knows everything.

The child doesn’t worry

About the things of the world.


He taught me everything.

I always used to feel

As if a pitcher full of bliss

Was placed in my heart.

That joy cannot be described.


When she came to stay with me I said,

“Do you want to drag me down into Maya?”


Why should I do that?

I have only come to help you.


I used to worship my own mother

With flowers and sandal-paste.

The Mother of the Universe

Is embodied as our earthly mother.


How do you look upon me?


As the Blissful Mother who is worshipped in the temple,

The mother who gave birth to this body,

And you who are here with me –

I look upon all as the Divine Mother.

With the ritual required by the scriptures

I worshipped her as the Divine Mother manifest.

I offered to her my rosary and all that I had,

Myself and the fruits of my years of striving.

It was late at night when the worship was over.

All that was mine became hers.


My own mother said,

“You are married to a lunatic.

You will never know the happiness of a mother.”


Your daughter will have so many children,

She will grow weary of hearing

The cries of “Mother, Mother!” night and day.


And as he was dying he said to me,


People live like worms in darkness.

You must take care of them.

Won’t you do anything? Am I to do all?


I am a woman. What can I do?


No, no! You have to do much.


In the fullness of the path you will find

That He Who resides in your heart

resides in the hearts of all others as well.

Learn to make the whole world your own.

No one is a stranger.

The whole world is your own.

Note: the last three lines are her final teachings before her death.


August 1885


Since last April the Master has not been well.

The doctors now say the sore in his throat is cancer.


I cannot tell the Mother of my illness.

I feel ashamed to talk of it.


God will cure you.


Yes, you will be all right.


Well, why do I have this illness?


People are amazed to find that

In spite of your illness

You only think of God.


I woke up again covered with perspiration.

I don’t understand this illness.

It seems I shall not recover.


You will soon be cured

If only you say,

“Mother, please make me well.”


I cannot ask God to cure my disease.

Sometimes I say, “O Mother,

Please mend the sheath of the sword a little.”

But such prayers are less frequent.

Nowadays I do not find my “I”;

I see that it is God alone

Who resides in the sheath.

The body is a mere pillow-case.

The only real substance is the Indivisible Satchidananda.


The Master has trouble swallowing.

He eats farina pudding.


Please cure my illness.

I cannot chant the name and glories of God.


You must not talk.

It will make your throat worse.


I have been coughing and my throat is sore.

In the morning my mouth was filled with water.

My whole body is aching.


Your suffering is indeed great, but it has a deep meaning.

A change is coming over your mind.

It is being directed to the formless aspect of God.


True. My teaching of others is coming to an end.

I cannot give more instruction.

And I say to myself, “Whom shall I teach?

I saw everything passing from form to formlessness.

I want to tell you the things I saw, but cannot.

This tendency of mine towards the formless

Is a sign of my approaching dissolution.


The Master asked me by a sign to come nearer.

The sight of his suffering was unbearable.

In a soft voice and with great difficulty he said,


I have gone on suffering so much

for fear of making you weep if I leave you.

But if you say, “Oh, there is so much suffering!

Let the body die,” then I may give up the body.


These words pierced our hearts.


Is this another crucifixion –


The sacrifice of the body for the sake of the devotees?


Pray to the Mother. She must listen to you.


But I cannot pray for my body.


You must do it, for our sake at least.


Mother, I cannot swallow food because of my pain.

Let me eat just a little.

She pointed you all out to me and said,

“What? You are eating through all these mouths.

Isn’t that so?”

I was ashamed to utter a word.


When the Master said this,

We lost all hope.



On August 15, 1886,

The Master’s pulse became irregular.

He had difficulty breathing.

He said he was hungry but could not eat,

Then went into deep samadhi.

After midnight he revived

And ate a bowl of porridge.

He said he felt strong again

And sat up against some pillows.

We fanned him and

Narendra rubbed his feet.

He said to him over and over,

“Take care of these boys.”

Then he asked to lie down.

Three times in a ringing voice

He cried the name of Kali,

His life’s Beloved, and lay back.

At two minutes past one

A thrill passed over his body.

His hair stood on end.

His face was lit with a smile.

The final ecstasy began,

From which he never returned.

Narendra could not bear it

And ran downstairs.

The next day at noon Dr. Sarkar came

And said the Master had died

A half an hour before.


O Mother, who has offered these red hibiscus flowers at Your Feet?

I beg of You, O Mother, place one or two upon my head.

Then I shall cry aloud to You, “Oh, Mother! Mother!”

And I shall dance around You and clap my hands for joy,

And You will look at me and laugh, and tie the flowers in my hair.

To learn more about tonight's Artists, please click here

To learn more about Music Director Carl St.Clair, click here.

To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.