Sri Ramakrishna would often warn his devotees about associating with worldly people i.e. those immersed in the pursuit of worldly enjoyments or bhoga. He would call such category of people as those bound by lust and lucre. In this connection, he used to narrate an incident from the life of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

Sri Gouranga, once in a state of Bhava Samadhi (complete absorption in God), fell into the ocean. He was rescued and hauled up in a net by the fishermen, who were fishing in the sea in that area. As soon as their physical frames came into contact with his sacred body, all of them experienced a transformation. Instantaneously, they were all in a state of trance. Abandoning all their activities they were roaming about in a god-intoxicated state, continuously chanting the sacred name of Hari. The relatives could not cure them of this malady by any means. Unable to find a solution, they came at last to Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and narrated him their tale of woe.

Sri Gouranga thought for a moment and suggested a solution. He told them to procure some rice from the house of a worldly-minded person, i.e. from the house of someone immersed in bhoga or enjoyments through the senses and asked them to put the rice into their mouths. He predicted that the fishermen would be cured of their apparent malady. The relatives did as they were told and the fishermen soon lost their state of blissful ecstasy and were back to their normal activities.

Sri Ramakrishna would say that such is the contaminating influence of the worldly-minded on aspirants of spirituality. Normally, the scriptures advocate the company of the holy or satsang for spiritual aspirants. But, Narada Bhakti Sutras, a famous treatise on devotion, specifically warns of the dangers of the company of the unholy or asatsang. If one has to progress in one’s journey towards God, avoiding the company of the impure or worldly-minded is very essential.

By Swami Shantatmananda

Published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 18th May 2013

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