Sri Ramakrishna would often warn his devotees about succumbing to temptations. He would say, luxury often creeps in imperceptibly into our lives and ruins our spiritual pursuits. He would illustrate this idea through a beautiful story.
Once there lived a sadhu who was very austere. He had just two pieces of loincloth. One day he saw a mouse nibbling at one of the loincloths. He secured a cat to keep the rats at bay. But the cat had to be maintained and it required milk. So he secured a cow for this purpose. But the cow had to be grazed. Hence, for this purpose he acquired some land. But then the land had to be tilled, seeds sown and the produce harvested. For this purpose he had to employ a number of servants.
Thus, he became a landlord. In order to look after the huge estate, he needed a wife. So he married and gave up his monkhood. A monk, who was his former friend, came in search of him. Initially, he could not even recognize his old friend. With great difficulty he recognize his former friend living in completely altered circumstances of life. He became extremely curious and asked him as to what had happened. The former monk who had become a householder replied that it was all for the sake of a piece of loincloth.
This story illustrates how the simple idea of protecting a loincloth led to a monk losing his vocation and becoming a householder. Thus Sri Ramakrishna would say that spiritual life is extremely difficult. One has to be extremely careful and cautious and be alert all the times. Quite often desires appear assuming a very simple and innocent form. If they are not nipped in the bud, slowly they assume huge proportions and ultimately bring about ruin. Hence, it is extremely necessary to live a life of intense austerity based on viveka (wisdom) and vairagya.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 25th Oct 2014