How long should one continue with sadhana?
Sri Ramakrishna used to stress upon persistence in sadhana. Some take up spiritual practice, and give it up when no results are derived after sometime; they do not persist in sadhana. One should go on doing spiritual practices persistently unmindful of the results. Only then results come in. Also, ordinary aspirants are satisfied with small achievements such as a vision, or a sound, or even a dream. One should persist in going on with spiritual sadhana until one gets the final consummation. Sri Ramakrishna showed how one could see God face to face, talk with Him, etc. One should not give up until one has actual contact with Him.
Sri Ramakrishna's personality fascinated many; some of them saw him as an unspoiled child of the Nature. He was so childlike. Some even imitated his stammering. Many were thus enchanted to imitate his manners and personality.
The uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna was that he became one with whatever he took up for practice. When he was doing the sadhana of being God's maid, he did everything as a woman, and was, in fact, mistaken for a woman by Mathur Babu and others. When He was imitating Hanuman, he did everything as Hanuman would do, e.g. climbing up the tree, etc. And it is on record that during this period of sadhana, Sri Ramakrishna's spinal chord projected a little beyond the tip (like a tail). Towards the end of his sadhana as Hanuman, a serene-looking lady appeared before Sri Ramakrishna saying, 'I lend my smile to your lips' and merged in him. Those who had read the Ramayana found that the smile of Sri Sita Devi as described in the Ramayana corroborated with that of Sri Ramakrishna.
Sri Ramakrishna used to feel so much for others...
Yes, the uniqueness of Sri Ramakrishna was his feeling of oneness with those in sorrow. When an elderly person came after his son had died, how Sri Ramakrishna described his own feelings! Note how Holy Mother also burst into tears when she saw an old woman simply staring without weeping when her (dacoit) husband died. On seeing Holy Mother weeping, the old woman also burst into tears. Thus the old woman was saved from collapsing. Sri Ramakrishna and Holy Mother became one with the feeling of the person in sorrow; not mere lip-service, but actual feeling.
Is it not advantageous spiritually to lead a monk's life than be otherwise?
Spiritual practice is what counts, and not the mode of life; spend most of the leisure hours in spiritual practice.
To Be Continued
About the author
A disciple of Holy Mother, the Swami was an editor of Prabuddha Bharata. These are the answers given by Swami Satswarupananda to the questions posed by Sri M. Padmanabham in 1960's at Hyderabad.
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