Sri Ramakrishna would often explain to his devotees with great earnestness how one should be extremely careful and meticulous in spiritual life. He would say that even if one receives divine grace, it is difficult to retain it. In this connection, he would narrate an event which he had heard when he was young.

There was a lake by the roadside on the way to Kamarpukur from Kolkata belonging to a landlord by name Ranjit Ray. He did intense tapasya (penance) as a result of which the Divine Mother was born as his daughter. He was very fond of her and she too was equally attached to him. One day he was very busy in the duties of his estate. The girl with her childlike nature was constantly interrupting him and asking him questions. At first Ranjit Ray affectionately tried to persuade her not to disturb him, but the girl won’t relent. At last, absentmindedly, Ranjit Ray blurted out, “Get out of here”. Immediately, the girl left the home.

A peddler of conch-shell articles was passing by. She took a pair of bracelets from him. When he asked for payment, she told him to take the money from a box in her home. Then she disappeared. Nobody saw her again. When the peddler reached her house and asked for the price of the bracelets he had sold, then her relatives noticed her absence and began to look for her.

The money owed to the peddler was found in the box as she had indicated. They all ran to the lake and saw an arm with conch-shell bracelets on the wrists waiving above the water. A moment later it disappeared. Even now people hold an annual festival in that lake in the month of Chaitra in honour of this divine daughter.

Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that eternal vigil is the price one should be prepared to pay in spiritual life. By a moment’s carelessness one may lose priceless spiritual treasures.

by SWAMI SHANTATMANANDA

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 2nd Mar 2013

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