With His Disciples

Now Sri Ramakrishna longed for the company of aspirants who would be able to follow his teachings in their purest form. He once said, “There was no limit to the longing I felt at that time. During the daytime I somehow managed to control it. The secular talk of the worldly-minded was galling to me, and I would look wistfully to the day when my own beloved companions would come. I hoped to find solace in conversing with them and relating to them my own realizations. Every little incident would remind me of them, and thoughts of them wholly engrossed me. I was already arranging in my mind what I should say to one and give to another, and so on. But when the day would come to a close I would not be able to curb my feelings. The thought that another day had gone by, and they had not come, oppressed me. When during the evening service, the temples rang with the sound of bells and conch-shells, I would climb to the roof of the kuthi in the garden and, writhing in anguish of heart, cry at the top of my voice: ?Come, my children! Oh,where are Ou? I cannot bear to live without Ou.’ A mother never longed so intensely for the sight of her child, nor a friend for his companions, nor a lover for his sweetheart, as I longed for them. Oh, it was indescribable! Shortly after this period of yearning the devotees began to come.”

Sri Ramakrishna’s disciples were of two kinds: the householders and the Oung men who later became monks. Sri Ramakrishna asked the householder devotees not to give up their responsibilities towards their families. They must develop mental renunciation. After the birth of one or two children a married couple must live like brother and sister, spending their time in contemplation and spiritual talk. Every now and then they must go into solitude to strengthen their devotion and faith in God through prayer, japa, and meditation.

To the Oung men ho would become monks in the future Sri Ramakrishna encouraged them to develop renunciation both external and internal. They must give up all thought of greed and lust and take the vow of absolut continence. These Oung men who were untouched by “women and gold”, the Master cast them into his spiritual mold. The foremost among these Oung men was Naren, who later on came to be known as Swami Vivekananda. Shortly before Sri Ramakrishna died, he transmitted his store of spiritual energy into Vivekananda, as he had great works to do in the future.

Towards the end of his life Sri Ramakrishna got cancer of the throat. That did not prevent him from continuing to teach his disciples and always being on hand to help anybody who had a genuine spiritual concern. In spite of the best medical treatment his condition only deteriorated and finally on Sunday, August 15, 1886 he passed away.