The Baranagore Monastery
After some time, Sri Ramakrishna became ill. He was taken to a garden-house in Cossipore, near Calcutta. Naren and the other boys went there to stay with him and nurse him. When they were not busy nursing Sri Ramakrishna, they spent their time meditating.
One night Naren went into very deep meditation. He had a spiritual experience which filled him with bliss. He told Sri Ramakrishna that he wanted to stay in meditation all the time. ‘No, Naren,’ Sri Ramakrishna said, ‘there is much work for you to do. First, do your work. Then you may stay in meditation.’ Sri Ramakrishna did not get any better. He became more and more ill. He could not live much longer.
One day, he said to Naren: ‘I have given you all my spiritual power. With this great power, you will help all the people in the world. You will teach them how to love God and how to know God. You will help the poor, too.’
Naren was still a young boy. He did not understand how these words of his Guru could be true. How could he teach people these things? How could he help the poor?
It was on the 16th August 1886 that Sri Ramakrishna left his body. The boys felt very sad, for they missed him so much! He was like both father and mother to them.
Then they said: ‘Yes, Sri Ramakrishna has left his body. But he is still with us. He lives in our hearts.’
After that the boys left their homes and became sannyasins. Their first monastery was a tumble-down house, so old that hissing cobras lived under it. Sometimes the boys had nothing to eat. But they did not mind. They talked and thought of nothing but God.
It was while he was at the Baranagore Math that Naren began to think of what Sri Ramakrishna had said. How was he going to teach people and help them to overcome the sufferings of life? That was the question in Naren’s mind.