Sri Thakur Ramakrishna and the Householders:
Sri Ma (Holy Mother Sarada Devi) said that many people say that Sri Thakur (Sri Ramakrishna) came to show harmony between different religions, but in reality Sri Thakur came to practice renunciation (Tyaga). Sri Ma went to the heart of the glory of Sri Ramaakrishna. When we remember this statement of Sri Ma, we realize that Sri Ramakrishna always talked of renunciation (Tyaga)- art of giving up gracefully.
Sri Thakur taught us the unique lesson that the message of Gita is simply the reverse of it-Tagi (or Tyagi- giving up). This teaching is so elegantly simple that it brings to a halt all intellectual dissection of the Gita.
Love for God is what Sri Thakur wished for everyone to have. He said repeatedly that when one develops the love for God, nothing else remains attractive. The only way to develop attraction to God is to renounce the lure of “lust and gold”. Renunciation is the very basis of God realization (Gita 2.44).
Sri Thakur’s teachings (on renunciation) were always geared to people according to their capacity. His teachings for the pure-minded strivers like Naren (Swami Vivekananda) was different from those offered to the householders. After all, unlike the householders, these young strivers like Naren, Rakhal, Niranjan, Latu and others were determined to give up their all for God realization, their capacity to renounce being the greatest. The fact that the training of Sri Thakur was at a different level for the all-renouncing future monks, and that it was offered in seclusion away from the sight of others, was brought out by Saratcahndra Charkaborty, householder disciple of Swami Vivekakanda, in his unique book Swami Shishaya Samvad (Dialogue between the Swami and the disciple).
Sri Thakur was, however, most compassionate for the householders. They are the ones who needed the most help because their mind is clouded by “lust and gold” (physical desire and yearning for money, name and fame). He advised the householders to be alone from time to time, and perform japa (repeating the name of the Lord many times with focused attention) and meditation. By this process they will be weaned from worldliness at a sustainable pace, and their mind will slowly be directed to the Lord.
In reply to how to keep the mind on God by a householder devotee, Sri Ramakrishna prescribed the following.
1. Keep chanting the God's name, thinking of his glory.
2. Do Sadhusanga, Satsang. Keep the company of holy people. Visit places where holy thoughts have been practiced (place of pilgrimage).
3. Go to a solitary place once in a while and meditate. Stay away from worldly people during that time.
4. Constantly deliberate and discriminate about right and wrong, true and untrue, real and unreal (between 'Nitya' and 'A-nitya', 'Sat' and 'A-sat'). God alone is true- It never changes- It is permanent, everything else is like a mirage.
5. Discharge your duties as a householder with full responsibility, but always keep in mind that none of this belongs to you.
A remarkable advice for the householders was that after having one or two children both husband and wife should live like brother and sister. The compassionate Lord did not tell the householders to become celibate all of a sudden. Householders are not going to become monks. Their life will be filled with duty and desire. While performing duty, he advised, their life to be driven by knowledge (Samsar of vidya), not by ignorance (Samsar of A-vidya). Sri Thakur never said that giving up the lure of “lust and gold” was easy. He always said that the striver has to practice in earnest (Abhayasa-Yoga). The person determined to renounce has to have grits. To drive that point home he used to narrate the story of the farmer who was determined to bring water in his field from the nearby river. Digging continued since early morning. There was no rest, no lunch break. When the wife reminded the tired farmer at midday that it was time for lunch, he sternly drove her away, because the job at hand was not finished. At the end of day, the digging was done, water started to flow into the field, and the tried farmer’s job got finally finished. It was only now that the fatigued and hungry farmer went home, and softly asked the wife to prepare a relaxing smoke for him. A devotee of God has to have this kind of persistence. Later we find that Sri Ma similarly pointed out the virtue of incessant practice to the devotees on a regular basis. Many householder devotees used to get disheartened by the lack of their own spiritual progress and ran back to Sri Ma for advice. Sri Ma told them that the impressions of past births and the worldliness of the present birth can be erased by perseverance alone. The practice is never easy. Love for God can be cultivated by diligence. With her loving reassurance the devotees used to get re-energized on their daily practice. Many of us will not have the fortune of having a compassionate guru who will similarly encourage us. This is the reason we need support group to cultivate love for God and spiritual progress.
Jai Sri Thakur Jai Sri Ma Jai Swamiji