Harinath had led the austere life of a brahmachari even from his early
boyhood — bathing in the Ganges every day, cooking his own meals, waking
before sunrise, and reciting the Gita from memory before leaving bed. He
found in the Master the embodiment of the Vedanta scriptures. Aspiring
to be a follower of the ascetic Sankara, he cherished a great hatred for
women. One day he said to the Master that he could not allow even small
girls to come near him. The Master scolded him and said: "You are talking
like a fool. Why should you hate women? They are the manifestations of
the Divine Mother. Regard them as your own mother and you will never
feel their evil influence. The more you hate them, the more you will fall
into their snares." Hari said later that these words completely changed his
attitude toward women.
The Master knew Hari's passion for Vedanta. But he did not wish any of his disciples to become a dry ascetic or a mere bookworm. So he asked Hari to practise Vedanta in life by giving up the unreal and following the Real. "But it is not so easy", Sri Ramakrishna said, "to realize the illusoriness of the world. Study alone does not help one very much. The grace of God is required. Mere personal effort is futile. A man is a tiny creature after all, with very limited powers. But he can achieve the impossible if he prays to God for His grace." Whereupon the Master sang a song in praise of grace. Hari was profoundly moved and shed tears. Later in life Hari achieved a wonderful synthesis of the ideals of the Personal God and the Impersonal Truth.