Girish Chandra Ghosh was a born rebel against God, a sceptic, a Bohemian,
a drunkard. He was the greatest Bengali dramatist of his time, the father
of the modem Bengali stage. Like other young men he had imbibed all the
vices of the West. He had plunged into a life of dissipation and had become
convinced that religion was only a fraud. Materialistic philosophy he justified
as enabling one to get at least a little fun out of life. But a series of reverses
shocked him and he became eager to solve the riddle of life. He had heard
people say that in spiritual life the help of a guru was imperative and that
the guru was to be regarded as God Himself. But Girish was too well
acquainted with human nature to see perfection in a man. His first meeting
with Sri Ramakrishna did not impress him at all. He returned home feeling
as if he had seen a freak at a circus; for the Master, in a semi-conscious
mood, had inquired whether it was evening, though the lamps were burning
in the room. But their paths often crossed, and Girish could not avoid
further encounters. The Master attended a performance in Girish's Star
Theatre. On this occasion, too, Girish found nothing impressive about him.
One day, however, Girish happened to see the Master dancing and singing
with the devotees. He felt the contagion and wanted to join them, but
restrained himself for fear of ridicule. Another day Sri Ramakrishna was
about to give him spiritual instruction, when Girish said: "I don't want to
listen to instructions. I have myself written many instructions. They are
of no use to me. Please help me in a more tangible way If you can." This
pleased the Master and he asked Girish to cultivate faith.
As time passed, Girish began to learn that the guru is the one who silently unfolds the disciple's inner life. He became a steadfast devotee of the Master. He often loaded the Master with insults, drank in his presence, and took liberties which astounded the other devotees. But the Master knew that at heart Girish was tender, faithful, and sincere. He would not allow Girish to give up the theatre. And when a devotee asked him to tell Girish to give up drinking, he sternly replied: "That is none of your business. He who has taken charge of him will look after him. Girish is a devotee of heroic type. I tell you, drinking will not affect him." The Master knew that mere words could not induce a man to break deep-rooted habits, but that the silent influence of love worked miracles. Therefore he never asked him to give up alcohol, with the result that Girish himself eventually broke the habit. Sri Ramakrishna had strengthened Girish's resolution by allowing him to feel that he was absolutely free.
One day Girish felt depressed because he was unable to submit to any routine of spiritual discipline. In an exalted mood the Master said to him: "All right, give me your power of attorney. Henceforth I assume responsibility for you. You need not do anything." Girish heaved a sigh of relief. He felt happy to think that Sri Ramakrishna had assumed his spiritual responsibilities. But poor Girish could not then realize that He also, on his part, had to give up his freedom and make of himself a puppet in Sri Ramakrishna's hands. The Master began to discipline him according to this new attitude. One day Girish said about a trifling matter, "Yes, I shall do this." "No, no!" the Master corrected him. "You must not speak in that egotistic manner. You should say, 'God willing, I shall do it.'" Girish understood. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and surrender himself to the Divine Will. His mind began to dwell constantly on Sri Ramakrishna. This unconscious meditation in time chastened his turbulent spirit.
The householder devotees generally visited Sri Ramakrishna on Sunday afternoons and other holidays. Thus a brotherhood was gradually formed, and the Master encouraged their fraternal feeling. Now and then he would accept an invitation to a devotee's home, where other devotees would also be invited. Kirtan would be arranged and they would spend hours in dance and devotional music. The Master would go into trances or open his heart in religious discourses and in the narration of his own spiritual experiences. Many people who could not go to Dakshineswar participated in these meetings and felt blessed. Such an occasion would be concluded with a sumptuous feast.
But it was in the company of his younger devotees, pure souls yet unstained by the touch of worldliness, that Sri Ramakrishna took greatest joy. Among the young men who later embraced the householder's life were Narayan, Paitu, the younger Naren, Tejchandra, and Purna. These visited the Master sometimes against strong opposition from home.