Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (1836–1886,) the eminent Hindu mystic of 19th-century India, used stories and parables to portray the core elements of his philosophy. The meaning of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s stories and parables are usually not explicitly stated. The meanings are not intended to be mysterious or confidential but are, in contrast, quite uncomplicated and obvious.
In the Hindu and other traditions of the major religions of the world, parables form the language of the wise for enlightening the simple, just as well as they form the language of the simple for enlightening the wise.
The Parable of the Milkmaid
A milkmaid used to supply milk to a Brahmin priest living on the other side of a river.
Owing to the irregularities of the boat service, the milkmaid could not supply him milk punctually every day.
Once, being rebuked for her going late, the poor woman said, “What can I do? I start early from the house, but have to wait for a long time at the river bank for the boatman and the passenger.”
The priest exclaimed, “Woman! There are people who cross the ocean of life by uttering the ‘name’ of God, and can’t you cross this little river?” The simple-hearted woman became very glad at heart on learning this easy means of crossing the river.
From the following day, she started to supply the milk early in the morning, as she was supposed to.
One day the priest said to the woman, “How is it that you are no longer late now-a-days?”
The milkmaid replied, “I cross the river by uttering the name of the Lord as you told me to do, and don’t stand now in need of a boatman.”
The priest could not believe this. He said, “Can you show me how you cross the river?” The woman took him with her and began to walk over the water. Looking behind the woman saw the priest in a sad plight and said, “How is it, Sir, that you are uttering the name of the God with your mouth, but at the same time with your hands you are trying to keep your cloth untouched by water? Your do not fully rely on Him.”
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa concluded the story by instilling some wisdom into the hearts and minds of his disciples, “Entire resignation and absolute faith in God are at the root of all miraculous deeds.”
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa once said, “You can force your demands on God, he is in no way a stranger to you, he is your eternal companion.”
- ‘Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna’ by Swami Nikhilananda
- ‘Ramakrishna: His Life and Sayings’ by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
- ‘Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda’ by Swami Vivekananda and Sister Nivedita
- ‘Vivekananda: A Biography’ by Swami Nikhilananda
- ‘Ramakrishna Paramahamsa: The Sadhaka of Dakshineswar’ by Amiya P. Sen
- ‘Great Swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna’ by Lex Hixon