Sri Ramakrishna was very compassionate towards householder devotees and would always talk to them very encouragingly. He would say that there is nothing great or praiseworthy if a monk, who is supposed to have given up everything for the sake of God, practises spiritual disciplines. But he would praise the householder devotees who try to call on God amidst trying and difficult circumstances of family life. Often, he would advise the devotees as to how to live in the world.
He would illustrate an incident from daily life. The maidservant who works in the house of a rich man looks after his children very well. She loves them dearly and endearingly addresses them as “My Rama”, “My Krishna”, etc. She loves them so much that the children are freer with her than even with their own parents.
In spite of all that she knows in her heart of hearts that these children are not her own in the real sense. Her mind often dwells on her own children whom she had to leave back in the village because of the necessity to earn money to support the family. Her relationship with her own children is much deeper and endearing than her relationship with her master’s children. Sri Ramakrishna would acknowledge that the householder devotees, while living in this world, have to perform ever so many duties and own up responsibility. In spite of all this, they can live a God-centred life and be happy and peaceful if they assume an attitude similar to that of a maidservant in a rich man’s house.
All their connections in the world or samsara are at the surface level and God alone is their own and their relationship with Him alone is deep and eternal. A person living in the world with such an attitude will surely progress in one’s spiritual life and slowly reach the ultimate goal of life.
-by Swami Shantatmananda, Sunday Guardian, 17th May 2014