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SWAMI VIVEKANANDA

The Attraction and The Test

As days passed, each was attracted towards the other. Neither could bear to be parted from the other. It did not take a long time for Sri Ramakrishna to realize the greatness of Narendra. Moreover, he was guided by the will of Goddess Kali. But young Narendra would not accept Ramakrishna as his guru without a test. Ramakrishna used to say that, in order to realize God, one should give up the desire for money and women. One day Narendra hid a rupee under his pillow. Sri Rama krishna, who had gone out, came into the room and stretched himself on the cot. At once he jumped up as if bitten by a scorpion. When he shook the mattress, the rupee coin fell down. Later he came to know that it was the doing of Narendra.

Narendra was Ramakrishna's favorite disciple. But he would not accept as gospel truth all that Narendra said. Narendra was highly critical of people who worshipped idols. He rejected the theory of "Advaita" (monism). He had no faith in mystic experiences. Advaitic assertions such as "I am Brahman", "I am Shiva" did not impress Narendra.But Sri Ramakrishna would always bring him back to the right path by saying, "There are many roads to reach a destination. No one has the right to say that the path the other man takes is not the right one. It is improper to pass judgement on anything that one does not understand."

One day Sri Ramakrishna took Narendra to a secluded place. He said, "I have attained some powers after a long period of meditation. They will give whatever a man wants. I have given up all desire, and so I have no use for these powers. Shall I bestow these powers on you?" "But will they help me to realize the Self?" - asked Narendra. "No," said Sri Ramakrishna. "Then I do not want them. More than anything, I want to realize God." Narendra's reply filled Ramakrishna with joy. The Master had tested Narendra, and Narendra had passed the test.

Gradually Narendra turned towards renunciation, giving up all worldly desires. The parents came to know of this. He was then studying for his BA degree examination. They planned to bring him back to worldly life through marriage. Sri Ramakrishna became unhappy on hearing this. HE advised Narendra that if bound by family ties, he would not be able to serve mankind. At times, Narendra would lose faith in Ramakrishna would first touch him with his hands. Then Narendra would lose contact with the world around. When he regained consciousness he would surrender to his Guru's teaching. Thus the Guru gradually gifted all his powers to the disciple.

In 1884, Narendra passed the BA degree examination. A friend of his hosted a party. As Narendra was singing at the party, the news of his father's death came like a bolt from the blue.

Poverty hit the family immediately after the father's death. The moneylenders began to harass the family. Some of them even went to a court of law. Narendra wandered far and wide looking for a job. His clothes were tattered and torn; and it was difficult even to get one meal a day. Many a day he fasted so that his mother and his brothers and sisters might have something to eat. HE would tell them that he had eaten with a friend. Sometimes he would faint with hunger and fall down in the street. But in spite of such overwhelming misfortune he never lost faith in God. Sri Ramakrishna would console him saying, "You are here to serve mankind and do mother Kali's work. You should be brave."

One day he said to himself: "God gives whatever my Guru seeks. So it is best to seek my Guru's help." He went straight to his Guru and said, "On my behalf kindly pray before the Goddess to rid me of this poverty. She will give you whatever you wish for, won't she?" The Guru said, "My child, you have no faith in Her, why then will she listen to my prayer? You approach Her yourself. Then she will fulfil you need." So in the dead of night Narendra stood before the idol of Goddess Kali. He lost himself in deep meditation. He begged the Goddess, "O Mother, bestow on me the spirit of renunciation. Let me see you, that is all I beg of you." When he came out, the Guru asked, "Did you submit your prayer to Her? And what did She say?" Narendra said in dismay, "O! Forgot about it completely." "Then go back and ask Her," said the Guru. Again he forgot to speak about his poverty in his prayer to the Goddess. Again the Guru sent him. Back came Narendra and the same thing happened. The Guru's joy knew no bounds. "My child, you should not crave for only food and clothes. They are not the ultimate goals of man. Have faith in God. He will look after the welfare of your family," said the Guru.

Later Narendra took up the profession of teaching. For some time he taught in the Vidyasagar School. Now the family had at least enough food. While he worked as a teacher he continued his study of law. His Guru's health broke down. Sri Rama krishna developed a tumor in the throat. Narendra gave up both his hob and his studies and devoted all his time to nursing his Master.

Once, while Narendra was in meditation he shouted, "Where is my body?" Others had to touch his body and convince him of its existence. When Sri Ramakrishna heard this episode, he was happy that at last his desire to find a worthy disciple had been fulfilled.

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Are you prepared for all sacrifices for the sake of the motherland? asked Vivekananda
of the people who had assembled
About Swami Vivekananda
Introduction
Spirited But Mischievous
Greatness Foreshadowed
The Parents
In Search Of The Guru
You are Here! The Attraction  And The Test
The Guru Is No More
Pilgrimage
Some Experiences
Plans To Go To America
On Foreign Soil
Thunderous Response
Fulfilment
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