Sri Ramakrishna used to tell his devotees that one should not try to understand God by worldly estimations under any circumstances. What people normally consider as precious and priceless have no value for Him? To illustrate this idea, he used to narrate an incident which happened during his stay in the precincts of the Kali temple at Dakshineshwar. There are several temples in the campus dedicated to Mother Kali, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
Once a thief broke into the temple of Lord Vishnu and robbed the image of its jewels. Mathur Babu, who was the zamindar managing the temple estate, went to the temple along with Sri Ramakrishna to see what had happened. Although Mathur was a devotee of God, still his vision and understanding were limited. Addressing the image he said bitterly, “What a shame, O Lord! You are so worthless! A thief took away all the priceless ornaments from your body and you could not do anything about it. You are incapable of protecting even your own riches.”
Thereupon Sri Ramakrishna said to him, “Shame upon you. How improper your words are. For you those jewels are precious and priceless, but to God whose consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, the jewels you talk so much about are as worthless as lumps of clay. Do you mean to say that God should spend sleepless nights because the thief has taken away a few jewels? You must never say such things.”
Thus Sri Ramakrishna would clarify to the devotees, since God is the creator of the entire world, the jewels, the thief, the manager, etc., are all His creations. Protecting, stealing, recovering stolen goods, etc., are all mere acts of play for God between the actors created by Him. Thus, one should not try to understand or estimate God in the way we normally understand and look at the things of the world. One must always remember about the omniscient and omnipotent nature of God.
– by Swami Shantatmanandaji, published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 24th Aug 2013