Swami Shuddhananda writes :
Swami Nityananda, only a few days before, took Sannyas from Swamiji. He spoke to Swamiji one day about the need for a systematic training for the Math, as a large number of young men had at that time joined the Math to lead a life of renunciation. Swamiji readily agreed with the suggestion and asked him to gather all the inmates who all assembled in the hall. "Let some one be writing as I dictate," said Swamiji. None seemed to be prepared to come forward, and finally the task fell on me.
It might be said in passing, that at that time with the inmates of the Math, literary education was out of favour, the prevailing notion being that to realise God by Sadhan and Bhajan was the goal, while literary knowledge even though it might bring a little fame and name was really useless for a Sadhaka. Only in the case of those who are chosen by God to carry His Mission or Message was the need for literary training recognised.
When I came forward to take down Swamlji's dictation, Swamiji casually remarked whether I would stick on, and some one answered that I would. All the while I was getting the writing materials ready; and Swamiji before dictating the rules remarked as follows; "Look here, we are going to make rules, no doubt; but we must remember the main object thereof. Our main object is to transcend all rules and regulations. We have naturally some bad tendencies which are to be changed by observing good rules and regulations; and finally we have to go beyond all these even, just as we remove one thorn by another and throw both of them away."
The course of discipline and routine decided upon was of this kind: Both mornings and evenings should be devoted to meditation, while the afternoons, after a short rest, should be utilised for individual studies, and in the evenings one particular religious book should be read and expounded. (Recently, in our stay at Ramakrishna Ashram - Kayamkulam, we observed that this practice is religiously followed and the Swami told, it is followed in all Ashrams.) It was also provided that each member would take physical exercise both morning and evening. Another rule was to the effect that no in-toxicant save tobacco should be allowed. Having dictated the rules, Swamlji asked me to make a fair copy of the rules and instructed me that I should put all the rules in the positive form.
I found some difficulty in carrying out this last instruction. Swamiji's central idea was that it does no good to men to point out their various defects and tell them, "you should not do this, or that" and so on. But he believed that if the proper ideal be dearly placed before the aspirants, it would help them to rise up, and the defects would gradually fall off by themselves. I was at every turn reminded of this principle when I carried out his instruction to put the rules in a positive form. Except in the case of the intoxicant, all other rules I was able to make positive.
Its original form was "that in the Math, except tobacco no other intoxicants shall be allowed." When I wanted to remove the negative form I first of all made it as "all in the Math shall use tobacco". But, seeing that this seemed to make it obligatory to smoke even for those who are free from that habit. After many futile attempts I finally gave it this form "that in the Math (of all intoxicants) tobacco alone can be used". Somehow I now find that we only made an awkward compromise. As a matter of fact in any set of rules and regulations it is not possible to do away with negative form altogether; but it must be remembered that the more the rules embody the positive aspect of the ideal, the more helpful they become. And this was Swamiji's main idea.