A holy man was living a very simple life and had a pair of loin cloths as his only possession. One day on his return from begging his food, he found that rats had made holes in his spare loin cloth. He managed to procure another loin cloth from the village. This too suffered the same fate from rats after a few days. At the suggestion of the villagers he brought a cat to keep away the rats. But, now the cat had to be fed with milk which he had to beg from the village. After some days the villagers said to him, “O holy man, why don’t you keep a cow so that you don’t have to beg for milk every day?” Soon the holy man procured a milch cow, but found it necessary to beg for straw which led to his cultivating a land close to his house. Soon he had to hire labourers to till the land and had to build a barn to store the crops. Thus he became a landlord in course of time and had married a lady to look after his household. He was passing his days as a householder.
Soon his Guru came in search of him. Finding a big household with a lot of servants and a lady, the Guru felt puzzled and enquired the servants as to what had happened to the ascetic who used to live there in a hut. The servants could not answer him, but soon the Guru found his disciple who narrated how for the sake of a piece of loin cloth he had to acquire ever so many things and ultimately had to become a householder.
Sri Ramakrishna would caution his devotees, in particular those who desired to lead a spiritual life, how one should be extremely careful about material possessions. These often present themselves as dire necessity and ultimately drag one away from the spiritual path.