Lessons for Spiritual Seekers

Here are some incidents from the life of direct disciples of Sri Ramakrishna & other disciples which will help spiritual seekers in their spiritual journey.
Read more in the book God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda


Only he who loves, can rule

One afternoon Swamiji1 was holding a class for the junior monks, which continued till evening. Seeing nobody in the shrine for vespers, Swami Premananda2 went to the classroom and said to the young monks: "What are you doing? Aren't you coming to vespers? Finish the class and come." Swamiji immediately became angry with Premananda and said harshly: "Is it your idea that what I am doing is not worship? When you ring the bell in the shrine, is only that worship?" He continued to berate Premananda.
Premananda was crestfallen. He went away and finished the vesper service by himself, and then disappeared. All of the monks searched for him everywhere, but could not find him. Swamiji lamented his harshness towards Premananda. He went to the shrine of Sri Ramakrishna and struck his forehead again and again on the threshold, begging forgiveness for having spoken so rudely. It is said that he struck his forehead so many times and with such intensity that the skin broke and his forehead began to bleed. At last Premananda was discovered seated alone on the roof, very morose and melancholy. The monks brought him down to Swamiji and the latter embraced him and begged his forgiveness.

1 Swami Vivekananda
2 Direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

Be a devotee, but not A fool

Once Jogin1 went to a shop and bought an iron pan. He appealed to the religious feeling of the shopkeeper and did not examine the pan closely. After returning home he found that the pan had a crack. When the Master heard about it, he reproved Jogin "Because you are a devotee of God, does that mean that you should be a fool? Do you think any shopkeeper opens a shop to practise religion? Why did you not examine the pan before you purchased it? Never act so foolishly again. When you go out shopping, first determine the usual price of the item by going around to several shops and then thoroughly examine the thing you want to buy. And do not fail to demand the little extras where allowed."

1 Jogindra Nath Roy Chaudhury, later Swami Yogananda – a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

Lust and Gold

Once Rakhal1 found a coin on the street. Out of kindness he picked it up and gave it to a beggar. As a child finds joy in telling his mother everything, so it was Rakhal's nature to inform the Master2 of everything. When the Master heard what Rakhal had done, he reprimanded him: "Why would a person who does not eat fish go to the fish market? If you did not need money, why did you touch it?" What a wonderful logic! The Master wanted his disciples to be free from lust and gold, the two great obstacles in spiritual life.

1 Rakhal Chandra Ghosh, later Swami Brahmananda.
2 Sri Ramakrishna

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

Pull the weeds by root

Once few young monks and brahmacharins were weeding the Math1 garden. Swami Premananda was watching us and he noticed that one of the boys was not pulling the weeds by the roots. He called out to him: "My boy, you must pull the weeds out by the roots, otherwise, you are simply fooling yourself and wasting time. If you do not realize the necessity of rooting out weeds in the garden, how can you weed out your old faults and tendencies? How can you understand the real meaning of spiritual life?" And he added significantly, "Weed them out, boys! Weed them out, roots and all"

1 Old Belur Math.

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

Selfless Work

One afternoon it was drizzling and the sky was overcast with clouds. A hackney carriage came in time to take Swami Ramakrishnananda1 to his class. The swami asked a brahmacharin to accompany him that day. The carriage arrived in George Town (in Chennai) where the swami used to hold one of his classes…There was no one else in the room. The swami waited for about a quarter of an hour but no one turned up. He then opened his Upanishad and began to read and explain with all ardour and amiability. After an hour he stopped, closed his book and said to the brahmacharin, "Well, let us go." The brahmacharin followed him to the carriage which was waiting. On the way he asked the swami, "How is it that you gave the class for fully one hour though nobody turned up." The swami replied, "I have not come to teach anybody. I only fulfill the vow I have taken."

1 Direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

One-Pointed Devotion

Once Latu Maharaj1 went on a tour of North India with Swamiji2 and other monks. While they were in Kashmir, Swamiji rented a houseboat. The boatman and his family used one corner of the boat as their home. Latu Maharaj was not prepared for this. He was the first of the party to get onto the boat, but the moment he saw a woman on board, he jumped out again. Swamiji understood the situation, but no matter how much he tried to persuade him, Latu Maharaj insisted that he must not share a boat with a woman. At last Swamiji said: "I am here with you. What is there to fear? Nothing will happen to you." Only then did Latu Maharaj agree.
One day Swamiji, in fun, asked the boatman's young daughter to carry a betel-roll to Latu Maharaj. Latu Maharaj was surprised when he saw the girl: He immediately jumped into the icy water, even though he could not swim! Swamiji, who was watching from a distance, had not anticipated such an extreme reaction. He rushed to the spot and, with the help of the boatman, pulled Latu Maharaj from the water. Latu Maharaj later realized that Swamiji had played a practical joke on him. Although to a sophisticated person such behaviour might seem extreme, Latu Maharaj's sincerity and simplicity caused him to live out every principle of monk's life to its fullest degree.

1 Direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
2 Swami Vivekananda

Source: God Lived With Them by Swami Chetanananda

Devotion in Service

In those days at Belur, the drinking water was not good, so Swami Nishchayananda1, used to bring water every day in a huge vessel from a tube-well in Baranagore, across the Ganga. He would do this service for his Guru joyfully, wading across the river at low tide. One day he was entering the monastery after crossing the Ganga, and Josephine MacLeod2, saw him. When he came near, she said to him sympathetically, 'Oh, Swami, why don't you engage a servant to fetch the water?' As Nishchayananda was greatly devoted to the service of his guru, he was deeply offended by this suggestion. He retorted harshly, 'You are a foolish lady!' MacLeod, reprimanded by this young monk, felt highly insulted. She became indignant and went straight to Swamiji to express her complaint: 'What wrong have I done that this disciple of yours, a mere boy, felt he had the right to scold me, calling me a foolish lady?' Swamiji affectionately explained: 'This is India! Here service to the Guru is the principle religious duty. Nishchayananda spoke rudely to you because you dealt a blow to his feeling of devotion to me.' Josephine then felt ashamed. Following Swamiji's advice, she went to Nishchayananda to express her apologies. Nishchayananda was by that time digging in the vegetable garden. When she tried to apologize, he replied: 'Yes, yes, I have pardoned you. Please go now!'

1 Direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.
2 Foreign disciple of Swami Vivekananda

Source: Monastic Disciples of Swami Vivekananda by Swami Abjajananda (Original in Bengali)