Shri Mahendranath Gupt’s (M.) first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna.
SRI RAMAKRISHNA: "Pratap's brother came here. He stayed a few days. He had nothing to do and said he wanted to live here. I came to know that he had left his wife and children with his father-in-law. He has a whole brood of them! So I took him to task. Just fancy! He is the father of so many children! Will people from the neighbourhood feed them and bring them up? He isn't even ashamed that someone else is feeding his wife and children, and that they have been left at his father-in-law's house. I scolded him very hard and asked him to look for a job. Then he was willing to leave here.
"Are you married?"
M: "Yes, sir."
SRI RAMAKRISHNA (with a shudder): "Oh, Ramlal!' (A nephew of Sri Ramakrishna, and a priest in the Kali temple.) Alas, he is married!"
Like one guilty of a terrible offence, M. sat motionless; his eyes fixed on the ground. He thought, "Is it such a wicked thing to get married?"
The Master continued, "Have you any children?"
M. this time could hear the beating of his own-heart. He whispered in a trembling voice, "Yes, sir, I have children."
Very sadly Sri Ramakrishna said, "Ah me! He even has children!"
Thus rebuked M. sat speechless. His pride had received a blow. After a few minutes Sri Ramakrishna looked at him kindly and said affectionately; "You see, you have certain good signs. I know them by looking at a person's forehead, his eyes, and so on. Tell me, now, what kind of person is your wife? Has she spiritual attributes, or is she under the power of avidya?"
M: "She is all right. But I am afraid she is ignorant."
MASTER (with evident displeasure): "And you are a man of knowledge!"
M. had yet to learn the distinction between knowledge and ignorance. Up to this time his conception had been that one got knowledge from books and schools. Later on he gave up this false conception. He was taught that to know God is knowledge, and not to know Him, ignorance. When Sri Ramakrishna exclaimed, "And you are a man of knowledge!", M.'s ego was again badly shocked.
MASTER: "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?"
M., rather surprised, said to himself: "How can one believe in God without form when one believes in God with form? And if one believes in God without form, how can one believe that God has a form? Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time? Can a white liquid like milk be black?"
M: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless."
MASTER: "Very good. It is enough to have faith in either aspect. You believe in God without form; that is quite all right. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false. Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form. But hold fast to your own conviction."
The assertion that both are equally true amazed M.; he had never learnt this from his books. Thus his ego received a third blow; but since it was not yet completely crushed, he came forward to argue with the Master a little more.
M: "Sir, suppose one believes in God with form. Certainly He is not the clay image!"
MASTER (interrupting): "But why clay? It is an image of Spirit."
M. could not quite understand the significance of this "image of Spirit". "But, sir," he said to the Master, "one should explain to those who worship the clay image that it is not God, and that, while worshipping it, they should have God in view and not the clay image. One should not worship clay."
MASTER (sharply): "That's the one hobby of you Calcutta people — giving lectures and bringing others to the light! Nobody ever stops to consider how to get the light himself. Who are you to teach others?
"He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone. He alone teaches us, who has created this universe; who has made the sun and moon", men and beasts, and all other beings; who has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with love to bring them up. The Lord has done so many things — will He not show people the way to worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher. He is our Inner Guide.
"Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn't God know that through it He alone is being invoked? He will be pleased with that very worship. Why should you get a headache over it? You had better try for knowledge and devotion yourself."
This time M. felt that his ego was completely crushed. He now said to himself: "Yes, he has spoken the truth. What need is there for me to teach others? Have I known God? Do I really love Him? 'I haven't room enough for myself in my bed, and I am inviting my friend to share it with me!' I know nothing about God, yet I am trying to teach others. What a shame! How foolish I am! This is not mathematics or history or literature, that one can teach it to others. No, this is the deep mystery of God; What he says appeals to me.
This was M.'s first argument with the Master, and happily his last.
Source: Sri Ramakrishna Kathamrita, Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by M.