Sri Ramakrishna used to say that the devotee’s perception of God evolves as he progresses in spiritual life. During the early stages of sadhana, the devotee describes God in all his glories and attributes. But as he evolves he understands the true nature of God and how close He is to a true devotee.
Once, Hazra, a relative of Sri Ramakrishna, who used to stay at the Kali temple of Dakshineshwar during Sri Ramakrishna’s time, told Narendra (the future Swami Vivekananda), “God is Infinity. Infinite are His splendours. Do you think He will accept your offerings of sweets and bananas or listen to your music? This is a mistaken notion of yours.”
On hearing this, Narendra felt depressed. But Sri Ramakrishna immediately corrected Hazra and said that youngsters like Narendra, who were at the early stages of spiritual evolution, should not be discouraged in that manner. Although God has infinite power and glory, yet He is under the control of His devotees. To illustrate this idea he narrated a story.
A rich man’s gatekeeper came to the parlour of his master where the latter was sitting with his guests. Very hesitantly the servant took out a custard-apple and placed it in front of his master saying that it was his desire that the master ate it. The Master was impressed by his servant’s devotion. With great love he took the fruit in his hand and said that it was a very nice custard-apple.
He praised the servant’s sincere effort. Sri Ramakrishna said that similarly God was easily pleased by the love and devotion of his devotees. King Duryodhana invited with all pomp and glory Sri Krishna to have food at his place, but the Lord went to Vidura’s hut and ate rice and greens. Thus God is under the control of His devotees and is easily pleased by the true love and devotion of His devotees.
– by Swami Shantatmananda, published in the ‘Sacred Books of the East’ column, Sunday Guardian, 7th Sep 2013