At the Baranagore Monastery we used to study scriptures and philosophy a lot. Swami Abhedananda particularly engaged himself in much study. Swamiji did too and also meditated many hours. We all practiced great austerities. Sri Ramakrishna made us do it. Then we attained the bliss of liberation while living through the Master’s grace. Free as the air we have lived—depending on none, feeling no lack, without cravings, fearless! Yes, we know the joy of liberation! We used to wander from place to place, depending entirely on the Lord. We would beg for alms when we were very hungry. Wherever it got dark we made our home. What freedom!
Swami Abhedananda used to avoid all types of work. He would shut himself in a room and engage himself in study and meditation. He used to say that he did not wish to work. Sometimes he would observe complete silence and not talk for days on end. Some of us used to be angry with him for that. But Swamiji said: ‘You people are jealous! You can’t bear that somebody is doing something to improve himself. He is not lazily idling his time away. What if he doesn’t work! Never mind, you don’t have to work either! I’ll do everything!’
Swamiji said at one time: ‘As long as you have been born on this earth, leave an impression on it.’ At the Baranagore Math he remarked: ‘Our names will be recorded in history!’ Swami Yogananda and some other brother-disciples made fun of him. Swamiji retorted: ‘You will see if I am right or not! Vedanta is the only religion convincing to all. If you don’t listen to me, I will go to the quarter of the untouchables and teach them Vedanta!’
In one of his letters Swamiji wrote: ‘When I go for alms, I give people something in return.’ Give and take—that is the motto for a monk. Monks who live only for themselves and don’t even practice spiritual disciplines are impostors.
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