the Shakespeare of Bengal, Girish Chandra Ghosh was an
acclaimed playwright, poet, actor and impresario. Fueled by
genius and driven by appetite, his unconventional lifestyle
shattered societal norms. But as his life came to crisis, he met
Sri Ramakrishna and became an outstanding disciple. The
interplay between guru and disciple recounted by Isherwood
allows us to witness Sri Ramakrishna’s large-hearted
catholicity in full stride.
Girish Ghosh in Christopher Isherwood's own words:
had been known to get out of a carriage to dance with
drunkards on the street. The sight of their reeling inspired
him because it made him think of the way a holy man reels in
ecstasy. He danced with his friend G.C. Ghosh, a famous
dramatist and actor, when Ghosh was drunk, and encouraged him
to go on drinking. Ghosh took advantage of Ramakrishna’s
permissiveness and visited him at all hours of the night,
sometimes on the way home from a whorehouse.
became a kind of patron saint for me—I felt closer to him
than to any other member of Ramakrishna’s circle—but I
wasn’t worthy to be his disciple. I failed to go the whole
hog, as he had, either in debauchery or devotion. Ghosh dared
to reveal himself shamelessly to Ramakrishna, thereby making a
sacrifice of his own self-esteem and self-will and submitting
totally to Ramakrishna’s guidance. That was his greatness.
Guru and His Disciple, page 196
It is said
that feeling an affinity for Girish, this is one of the few
subjects Isherwood was comfortable lecturing on in the temple
venue. This is a live recording, delivered at the Santa Barbara
Vedanta Temple on December 7, 1975. The front cover features a
photograph of Girish Chandra Ghosh.
is a memorable story told by a memorable storyteller
Isherwood is also a celebrated writer and collaborated
on numerous books with his guru, Swami Prabhavananda.*
The genesis of
this recording suggests
that every cloud may, in fact, really have a silver lining.
During the gas crisis of the mid-1970s, (shortages, long lines, high prices,
etc.), Mr. Isherwood wanted to carpool to the Vedanta Temple in
Hollywood and then later, Santa Barbara. It was arranged that
Jon and I, also being from the west-side of Los
Angeles, be his drivers. At that time, Jon was recording many of
Swami Prabhavananda's lectures on professional recoding
equipment. Had we not been his ride, this lecture would not have
Mr. Isherwood rarely lectured at the temples, (his break with
the practice of delivering spiritual lectures is documented in
his spiritual journal, My Guru and His Disciple) he
agreed to help out at a time when Swami Prabhavananda was unable
to fulfill his lecture commitment due to poor health.
lecture was introduced and ended with a chant by the Santa
Barbara convent; however, the audio of these chants were too
poor to be included in the CD because the choir loft is located
in a balcony to the rear of the space and only the lectern was
set up with a microphone.
Time: 37 minutes
works are available from Vedanta