A Great Lesson
Saints teach us only what they themselves have practiced. That is why their advice has the power to do us good.
The great Guru Ramkrishna Paramhansa had a poor woman among His disciples. One day, she came to Him with her son and said, “Gurudev, my son wants to eat sweets every day. This habit is spoiling his teeth, and I also cannot afford to buy them for him everyday. My advice, warning and scoldings have all been in vain. Please give him some advice and also bless him so that he stops the bad habit.”
Ramkrishna looked at the boy, but instead of talking to him, asked the woman to bring him back after two weeks.
The woman brought the boy to Him again after two weeks. As both sat down, Shri Ramkrishna kindly looked at the boy and said, “My dear son, is it true that you trouble your mother for sweets every day?” The boy hung his head and said, “Yes, Sir,” and became silent. “You are an intelligent boy. You know that those sweets are spoiling your teeth. Your mother, too, is worried about you. If she spends money on sweets everyday, how can she buy new books and good clothes for you? Don’t you think you are making a mistake?”
Ramkrishna’s words touched the boy’s heart. He looked at Ramkrishna and said, “Yes, Sir” and became silent again. “Then, will you stop asking for sweets from today?” asked Ramkrishna in an appealing tone. The boy smiled this time and said, “Yes, Sir, I will stop troubling my mother for sweets from today and stop eating them everyday.”
Ramkrishna, pleased with the boy’s reply, lovingly drew him close and said: “My son, you are a nice boy. You understand what is good and what is bad for you. You will surely grow up to be a happy man.” As the boy bowed down in Namaskar, Ramkrishna blessed him and turned to the other devotees.
After the boy went out into the garden, his grateful mother asked Ramkrishna, “Gurudev, why did you make us wait for two weeks to give these few words of advice?” Ramkrishna smiled and said, “You see, when you came two weeks ago, I, too, was in the habit of eating sweets brought by devotees. How could I ask your son not to do something which I myself was doing almost everyday? So, from that day I stopped eating sweets. That gave me enough strength and power to advise your son to do what I myself have done. Only when we preach what we practice, are our words full of sincerity and appeal to the listener.”
All the devotees in the room felt that they, too, had learnt a great lesson from Ramkrishna.
Moral: As this story shows, the most effective way to tell others about how to do spiritual practice or live righteously, is by practicing it ourselves. This way there is Truth behind it since we have practiced it and experienced it. Otherwise, we may find that others do not take such advice seriously.