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
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