Girish Ghosh
A Lecture by Christopher Isherwood

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Considered 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.

About Girish Ghosh in Christopher Isherwood's own words:

Ramakrishna 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.

Ghosh 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.

My 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.

Girish’s is a memorable story told by a memorable storyteller.

Lecturer Christopher Isherwood is also a celebrated writer and collaborated on numerous books with his guru, Swami Prabhavananda.*  

A More Personal Note

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 been recorded.

Although 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. 

The 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. 

Running Time: 37 minutes

*Related works are available from Vedanta Press