Devotees would often seek Sri Ramakrishna’s advice on spiritual matters, in particular about the devotees’ relationship with God. While discussing the matter Sri Ramakrishna would advise the devotees how to depend on God. To explain this idea he used to tell a Pauranic story. Once, Lakshmi and Narayana were seated in Vaikuntha. Lakshmi was massaging the Lord’s feet. Suddenly Narayana stood up. He looked extremely agitated and left quickly. He didn’t even answer Lakshmi’s query as to where He was going. But, a few moments later He came back as quickly as He left. Lakshmi asked what it was all about. Narayana replied that one of his devotees was in ecstasy and was walking along a road. Some washermen had spread their clothes out for drying in that stretch. The devotee accidentally walked over them. The washermen became infuriated and they wanted to beat him. At that time the devotee took the name of the Lord (Narayana) and that is why Narayana rushed to protect him. But, Lakshmi asked as to why the Lord came back so quickly. Then Narayana replied that the devotee himself was picking up stones to throw at the attackers to protect himself. When he decided to take upon himself his responsibility, the Lord felt that there was no necessity for Him to intervene. That is why He came back so quickly. Thus by narrating this story Sri Ramakrishna would say that if a devotee truly depends on the Lord, he would certainly be protected. He would always advocate the idea, “I am the machine and You are the operator. I function as I am being made to function by You”. This reflects the idea of true surrender. In the Bhagavad Gita the Lord says :ananyaashchintayanto maam ye janaahaa paryupaasate/teshaam nityaabhiyuktaanaam yogakshemam vahaamyaham “With single-pointed meditation, those who are constantly engaged in my worship, I carry the burden of acquiring what they need and preserving what they have.”

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