Sri Ramakrishna would explain to his devotees in great detail the nature of life on earth. He would say that there are four classes of Jivas or souls living in this world. He would explain their nature using a beautiful analogy from daily life.

When a fisherman casts his net in a huge pond, Sri Ramakrishna would say, that some fish do not ever get caught in the net. He would say that the ever free or the eternally free souls or Nityasiddhas, as he would call them, belong to this category. Continuing this analogy he would say that some fish enter the net, but they immediately escape and go away. These are Mukta Jivas or liberated souls who live in the world, but attain illumination or liberation even while living in the body. According to him the third category of fish are those who get caught in the net, but immediately realise that they are in a death trap and feel a tremendous sense of urgency to get out.

They struggle hard and try to break free by biting the net with their teeth. Many of them escape too. Sri Ramakrishna would compare such fish with Mumukshu Jivas or the souls who desire liberation or struggle for it. Finally, he says a large number of fish, after being caught in the net, bury their heads deep into the mud and smugly feel that they are safe. But, alas! The fisherman pulls the net and along with it the fish that are caught. All of them meet with their death.

Sri Ramakrishna would say that a class of Jivas live like such fish. Even if they are caught inextricably in the net of Maya in this transient world, they never realize it and think they are happy and safe. Such Jivas suffer endlessly. Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say the least one should develop having got a human birth is a deep desire for Moksha or liberation.

-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 28th Dec 2013

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